Have you ever traveled somewhere and wish you’d have researched the place a little bit more upon returning from it? I recently did just that with Sedona. I’d been there briefly many years ago, had seen the gorgeous red rocks and darling town center, and knew that at one point during the drive from Phoenix to Sedona the majestic native Saguaro cactus just suddenly stop growing (more on them in a bit), and I knew the town had a certain spirituality about it. But, I didn’t know about the vortexes. “The what?” you might ask. The vortexes. They’re there and not to sound too new agey, I think I felt them.
Each year four of my college buddies and I meet somewhere different in February. We take turns picking the destination, no one gets a vote, and this year was our 19th in a row. GF Ann picked Sedona. A perfect GT location. We Jeep toured, shopped, spa-ed, ate, drank, played games, hot tubbed, pooled, explored, and laughed. It was yet another winner in a 19 year long list of them.
As we explored, we kept hearing about vortexes. We tried to make it to the popular one near the airport but it was always too crowded. But, come to find out our hotel Enchantment actually sits smack dab in the middle of one of the most famous ones: Boynton Canyon. Learning this after I returned home made me want to learn about vortexes.
No better place to turn than to vortex expert Dennis Andres who explains in his book “What Is a Vortex?” that a vortex is simply an energy-filled and healthy place on Earth. Huh? Why such mystery then? And what about all the “weird” things we hear about them? For the most part, not true. Here’s a good way to look at it. A healthy person has more energy than an unhealthy person, right? Well, since the Earth is a living organism, it has places that are healthier and have more energy. One of them is Sedona. In short, Sedona is a very healthy place on Earth. Cool! (And BTW: Sedona weather was very cool. Pack layers!)
Another way to look at it is by considering that we often say healthy and happy people “glow.” Sedona glows. Its light and colors grab your attention and its amazing natural beauty is everywhere you look. And it all changes throughout the day. A person in optimal health is also generally regarded as more attractive and a vortex has a natural appearance we find beautiful. It also has more energy. A vortex is a place that has increased energy and this energy acts like an amplifier. What you see and hear in Sedona is magnified. This is the part of being in a vortex that I think I felt.
I didn’t feel a tingling going up my calves like our Jeep tour driver said many experience and I didn’t see any lights. What I did feel was a heightened state of my intuition, thoughts, feelings, and emotions. I noticed things more and noticed things and people in different ways. It’s like my eyes were opened up. Nothing was troublesome or disturbing; I just found new insight into some people and issues in my life. Call it a different light. I realized realities I hadn’t before and had unexpected insight into what was going on around me. I came away feeling educated, enlightened, and empowered. And, most of this happened in our casita at our hotel not on the top of some red rock or trail head. It seemingly came just sitting around chatting. Call me crazy, but I’m sold.
Sedona itself is magical and powerful, but there are four vortex sites that seem the most popular: Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, Airport Mesa, and Boynton Canyon. The last one, Boynton Canyon, is where our hotel sat and FYI there’s a great little restaurant at the small regional airport! Many also say energy is powerful at the stunning Chapel of the Holy Cross, which we visited and will forever be one of my favorite churches anywhere. Sidebar here: not only does the magnificent Catholic church boast natural beauty as it sits and blends in with the rocks around it, there’s a beautiful crucifix above the altar that, when you put your feet in the bronze footprints in front of it, Jesus looks right at you. I didn’t feel anything “spiritual” per se in Sedona but did so in this church. IMHO it’s a Sedona must-see.
Fun fact: Sedona is the only place in the world where the McDonald’s normally golden arches are teal, as the bright yellow was deemed to not blend in with the city’s strict sign code. This made me happy hearing about and seeing, and if you talk to anyone who lives there, they almost all say they are just happier in Sedona. They may not be making big money or live in a big house but their joy is big. Part of this may actually come from all those cathedral-like red rocks enveloping the town. It’s been hypothosized the mineral composition of the red rocks creates a magnetism that has an impact on people. This hasn’t been proven 100 percent but IYKYK: the rocks are special.
When it comes to the rocks and elements, we can learn a lot from Native Americans who believe that just as the wind is like our breath, the sunlight like our body warmth, the water like our blood, and the land like our flesh, we can enter these special sites and give them proper respect.
The term “vortex” is said to have been first used by Page Bryant and is almost solely associated with Sedona. Places such as Stonehenge, Machu Pichu, and Mt. Everest are said to have similar energies as Sedona but rarely use the term vortex, which Andres defines as “A place where the Earth is at its healthiest and most alive. The aliveness shows up in an increased energy that is present and the energy acts as an amplifier, magnifying what we bring to it on the physical mental, emotional, and spiritual levels.”
Everyone asks, “how will I feel a vortex?” There’s really not one single or universal way; it all depends on each individual and length of stay, with longer stays often resulting in increased experiences. Some sense a tingle in their hands, slight pressure at the crown of the head, a rush of new ideas and dreams, changes of light, tones and sounds, relaxation and calmness, insights on action to take once back home, and some have even said chronic pain disappeared while in Sedona. Like I said, I didn’t arrive in Sedona seeking any improved insight or intuition but I did leave there with both. It was helpful and it was powerful.
As interesting as the city itself is how it got its name. Adventurer T. Carl Schnebly arrived in Sedona in 1902 from Missouri and wrote to the U.S. Postal Service that the outpost needed a post office. It was approved and he suggested the name “Schnebly Station” but it was rejected for being too long. His brother then suggested Schnebly name the town for his wife; his wife Sedona. How romantic is that?!
One more thing I learned is that despite the plethora of crystal stores and crystal readers in Sedona, crystals are not native to Sedona. They, and other precious stones found for sale in town, are mined in other parts of Arizona or come from as far away and random as Arkansas, Madagascar, and Brazil.
I’m no vortex expert and but am satisfied with this humble knowledge of them. The only thing I can recommend is go to Sedona with an open mind and relax. Just close your eyes and do your best not to worry or wonder. There are no guarantees, there’s no right or wrong way to do things, and nothing weird is going to happen. Just go knowing that positive energy is truly widespread throughout the city and that the vortex is a real thing. Just believe and take it all in. You might even leave there with some new insight and joy.
Note: I highly recommend getting Andres’ book “What Is A Vortex” before heading to Sedona. It’s a short and great little guide on everything and anything you need to know about Sedona and vortexes.
And now, a word about that tall cactus…
While driving from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon years ago, I found it interesting that saguaros suddenly disappeared along the way. Come to find out they don’t grow above 3,000-4,000 feet above sea level and are only found in the Sonoran Desert, which is in southern Arizona and northern Mexico. Although often depicted in all things wild, wild west, the majestic saguaro cactus is not found in Sedona and really only found in a somewhat small area. The Sonoran Desert is the only place in the world where you’ll find them and although they have come to symbolize the southwest, there aren’t any in Texas or other places!
Saguaros, pronounced “suh-gwahr-oh,” are very slow growing cacti and only grow 1-1.5 inches during their first eight years of life. They are the largest in the U.S. and are covered in protective spines, which prevent hungry animals from feasting on them although they do serve as “hotels” for birds that carve nest holes in them. They develop branches or “arms” as they age but it might take 50-75 years for them to grow their first arms. Think about this. When you see a tall one with many arms they are probably hundreds of years old! These arms are not only the namesakes for yoga “cactus arms,” they are important as they store water. During a single rainfall, saguaros can capture 200 gallons of water. A typical saguaro can live between 100-200 years, can grow up to 60 feet tall, and can weigh more than a ton.
In the summer, they bloom flowers and strawberry-like fruit. Seeing these flowers means the cactus is around 35 years old. After a saguaro dies, its woody ribs can be used to build roofs, fences, and furniture. Many of the older saguaros you see are older than Arizona itself as their 100-200 year lifespans means they’ve been around longer than the state, which didn’t receive statehood until 1912.
And now you are “armed” with knowledge about Sedona, vortexes, and those lovely armed cacti.