Sunday, January 8, 2017

INTO THE SEDONA VORTEX, or Grumpy Old Woman Attempts to Find Spiritual Enlightenment by Andrea Downing

VORTEX:  whirlwind, cyclone, whirlpool, gyre, maelstrom, eddy, swirl, spiral; black hole

Once upon a time, there was a place called Sedona, and it was magical.  Native Americans held ceremonies in that red rock country and regarded it as holy, and in time, Europeans came and thought it was pretty dang good as well.  Back in the mid-nineties, when I last drove up there, it was still a fairly sleepy town with one lazy road winding through.  It was a whisper, a place folks knew about, a place that energized you through its beauty, a land to hike with vistas and grand spaces, and ancient ruins.  Well, time marches on and stuff happens.
     Roll on twenty years and Sedona now wears a necklace of roundabouts strung on a three-mile long parking lot with a western-style Coney Island of shops along its length, punctuated by stores selling crystals and offers for psychic readings.  Yup, the beauty and hikes and vistas are still there but, as everyone knows, progress comes at a price and Sedona has paid in full.  Perhaps if I had visited at another time, less crowded than the New Year’s holiday, I might have viewed things slightly differently, but my visit was what it was.
     Now, in the interest of full disclosure, let me tell you I already owned a crystal ( and I’m not referring to my daughter who bears the name, Cristal), have a set of bracelets meant to protect me from different ills, possess a Kachina and a couple of trolls who look after me, as well as one or two fetishes.  I have a very unorthodox sense of religion, basically monotheistic but with a few original thoughts thrown in.  You can tell I’d be a sucker for visiting the Sedona vortices…
     Here’s the info we were sent upon signing up for the grand tour: 
How to Maximize your Sedona Vortex Experience
The Spirit of Sedona has called you.  You have responded.  Our guides assist you in feeling, experiencing and receiving what the Spirit of Sedona has in store for you.
All of our guides are masters in their fields, and have spent years connecting with this land and leading others into her mysteries.
The first law of the Universe is to Show Up.  You are doing a fabulous job of showing up by booking your Vortex Tour.
We know you want the most from your Sedona experience.  Here are some tips on maximizing your experience and showing up completely.  They will help you to fully take advantage of your Spiritual appointment with the Red Rocks of Sedona
1.       Show up with an open mind and heart
2.       Turn off your Electronic Devices – better still leave them in your room. (A camera is okay to bring along)
3.        Be willing to participate

4.        Use the power of the spoken word.
5.       Share openly with your guide.
6.       Express yourself in the moment
7.       Let go of expectations
8.       Allow the moment to unfold
9.       Practice an attitude of reverence for the beauty and majesty of this sacred land.
10.   Be grateful for the opportunity to accelerate your spiritual growth
11.   Recognize the perfection of the moment.
12.   Let Go and let the Spirit of Sedona engage with you!
Your Time with the Spirit of Sedona is a gift – May you open it fully!

On our spiritual appointment with the Red Rocks of Sedona, I can tell you we showed up completely (how otherwise, one wonders) with open minds and hearts (this was difficult due to a certain somebody’s pragmatism), put the cell phones on vibrate, had little if any expectations, and revered the beauty and majesty around us. As the moment unfolded and the spirit of Sedona engaged, our guide kindly ignored the fact that I had appeared wearing a sweatshirt from my local gun club, though he rather eagerly agreed I might need my extra jacket on top to stay warm.  ‘Expressing ourselves in the moment’ and ‘sharing openly’ proved somewhat more difficult, especially when it came to sitting in a rather public area going through the ahhhh, eeeee, ayyy, iiiii, oooo (did I forget someone?) mantras with rather less enthusiasm than the Von Trapp children singing ‘Doe-a-deer.’  Our guide, who, by the way, looked as if he had come fully formed from his mother’s womb and never aged in all his forty-odd years, so wrinkle-free was his face, seemed to be the one who was most grateful for 'accelerating our spiritual growth.' 
He took us on to a Buddhist Temple where we attempted to meditate.  Strangely enough, it was he who complained about the child playing nearby.  He also owned up to recently eating meat at the so-called best restaurant in town.  Tsk tsk.
     At the end of the day, how did I feel?  What I had envisioned as seeing in the New Year with enlightenment did not exactly cast me into any black hole, but neither did I particularly feel spiritual growth.  What I did feel was a certain sadness that things cannot be left alone, that progress often detracts as it improves, and that maybe, just maybe, searching for something is the worst way to find it.
     Strangely enough, as we walked back to our hotel, I recognized ‘the perfection of the moment’ as the most glorious full rainbow appeared.
     A Lakota friend tells me it’s a good sign.

To learn more about me, please head to  I am here at Roses of Prose on the 8th of every month, and at the 3rd Wednesday of every month.     


Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Progress spoils the natural beauty, doesn't it? I'm glad you were able to find your own moment of specialness, a gift meant for your eye and heart. Thanks for sharing. I've always wanted to see those red rocks.

Sociosight said...

Such honest insights! I'll take it to heart and when I travel there, perhaps forego the guided tour and instead map out my own journey. That rainbow at the end? Wlrth the entire price. Happy New Year!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Sweet piece, Andi. In our month stay there, we were lucky enough to snag a VRBO with unobstructed views of the red mountains-a spiritual experience daily. We even went out to that posh resort where the vortex was supposedly strong; we had a glass of wine and waited for the feeling (found some comfy deck chairs we might buy online...does that count?). Anyway, if you can find a place to stay with a view, it's best to practice hygge there, (tuck in some groceries and stay out of the traffic). Loved this labyrinthine sentence of yours-great writing! "Roll on twenty years and Sedona now wears a necklace of roundabouts strung on a three-mile long parking lot with a western-style Coney Island of shops along its length, punctuated by stores selling crystals and offers for psychic readings."

Andrea Downing said...

VONNIE I do hope you get to the red rocks one day, but you may fare better up in the national parks in Utah, not that Sedona isn't worth the trip. Maybe I needed more of an open mind to the roundabouts and crystal shops but, yes, that rainbow did make the whole thing worthwhile.

Definitely go it alone is my advice, unless you're way into mantras and chanting.

ROLYNN, had I had a month, I, too, would have gone the VBRO way, albeit our mid-town hotel did save us having to use the car lots and was convenient for evening restaurants and so on. But sitting in a deck chair with a glass of wine, admiring the view, definitely has appeal. Thanks for the compliment on the writing.

Patti Sherry-Crews said...

What not to wear to a vortex, andi. Ha ha! We went to Sedona about 8 years ago. I have many memories, but the one that jumps to mind first is my husband grumbling constantly about the commercialism, etc. I loved the red rocks, though. Great piece.

Leah St. James said...

Oh my, I had no idea! Sedona turned into a quasi-amusement park!? For some reason this made me think of an old Linda Ronstadt song, Talk to Me of Mendocino, where she sings about leaving home to roam the country. It always made me feel kind of sad. I've never been to Sedona but would love to see those rocks, and experience the alleged vortex, some day!

Jannine Gallant said...

Commercializing nature is just wrong. I guess that's why I spend most of my time alone with my dog in the woods instead of battling the hordes of tourists during peak winter season in Tahoe. Sedona sounds beautiful if you can escape the trappings.

Brigid Amos said...

I'm so sad to hear of the changes in Sedona. I visited in 1990, and my favorite was a place that I think is called sliding rocks, an amazing natural water slide. It was a well kept secret back then.

K. Lyn Wurth said...

Great post, Andi! I was in Sedona for one day and had a very weird physical reaction including intense anxiety and a sick headache. It was in my pre-migraine days, and I think I was reacting to that subtle magnetism of the vortex. It was beautiful, but I don't think I'll ever go back. If I do, maybe I'll wear a gun club T-shirt to protect me!

Alison Henderson said...

I always wanted to visit Sedona, and you post convinces me I should have done it years ago. Even in my search for the spiritual, I'm far too pragmatic to get much out of the current scene there. You have to be grateful for the rainbow, though.

Andrea Downing said...

PATTI, your husband and I are obviously both of one mind!

LEAH, I think the song that comes to my mind is Joni Mitchell's 'They Put Up a Parking Lot' or whatever it was called.

JANNINE, I think if they had somehow made Sedona a national monument or something things might have been different, but apparently the residents fought it. Our guide told me he approved of the shops because it permitted people to live there and make a living. Understandable on some level I guess.

BRIGID we heard of sliding rocks--I think it's quite an attraction now, sadly...

LYN, interesting to hear of your reaction. Our guide said he sometimes has to leave Sedona for a few days because he gets all jittery and wound up. And there I was thinking the vortices would do good rather than ill.

ALISON, don't give up on Sedona altogether. Maybe do as Rolynn did and stay out of the town itself?

Alicia Dean said...

Ha, I've never been to Sedona, but I'm sorry it's not the magical place it once was. I did enjoy the humor in your post, and the 'enlightenment' about your spiritual quest. I agree, the rainbow at the end must have been a sign. :)

Hebby Roman said...

Andi, interesting post. I loved how you handled it. Spiritualism is definitely not something you can "can" or put into a guided tour or ... Well, you said it better than me. Such an individualistic experience just can't be forced. I mean, didn't the Native Americans go for days into the wilderness and fast to have their experience? Anyway, cool blog, will have to share!

Andrea Downing said...

ALICIA, glad you got the humor and I do think that rainbow was the perfect ending to the day, and far more meaningful than anything else we experienced . Others may have got more from the tour and been less cynical, of course--this was my personal take on the day and I found it difficult to remove the thought of the trinket shops and psychic readings from something which could have maintained its aura far better by being left alone.

HEBBY, I do believe there are many ways to reach a form of 'enlightenment' and, yes, going on a tour to do so is not the smartest move! When the guide asked me at the beginning why we were doing this, I said I just really wanted to know what the vortex was, what it effected. Well, it didn't really put into effect anything for me, nor did it really affect me! But it was interesting in its own way...

Diane Burton said...

I was in Sedona 9 years ago, along with Hubs, Son, my 2 sisters, & BIL. A caravan of 2 cars, with Son who'd moved to AZ a few months prior our guide. It was a whirlwind tour, stopping at different locales to snap pictures then move on. Now that I know so much about it (thanks, Andi & Rolynn), I want to go back and just spend some alone time. Hubs will have to come, too because of the drive from Phoenix where Son lives. I don't want to rush. I don't want to hear what a tourist trap it is (Hubs' fav description) But maybe you guys are right and I should go up into Utah.

Andrea Downing said...

Quite honestly Diane, I found the Grand Escalante and Capitol Reef far more beautiful and interesting, and less spoilt--of course Bryce and Zion, Canyonlands and Arches are all good too though more populated, albeit better handled than Sedona. The one thing I really did enjoy, however, in Sedona, were the ancient ruins, the pictographs and petrographs there--well worth a visit.

Anita Philmar said...

I have been to a number of national parks too. I do enjoy the beauty and agree it is better when you go it alone. Nature for me brings the spiritualism that I enjoy the most. Love the post thanks for sharing and have a great new year.