My intention was to spend the bulk of the day leisurely rummaging through the different arts and crafts art galleries at Tlaquepaque. Sedona at that point was only a road stop for some photo-ops of Montezuma’s castle on the way to Tlaquepaque. But Sedona, it seems, had other plans for me.
I parked close to Montezuma’s castle and, camera in hand, prepared to snap a few pics before continuing on my way. The moment I stepped out of the car however, I felt it! All around me the air seemed charged with an undefined, palpable energy that could be felt through every nerve ending in my body. Right then and there I decided that this place will become my spiritual mecca.
In the past few years Sedona has become a spiritual retreat for those interested in New Age and Spiritualism; a quick glance at the plethora of fliers promoting “spiritual tours” –tours promising to renew your spiritual energy and be a life-changing experience– scattered across the many visitor’s centers and gas stations nearby.
I didn’t need to read any pamphlets or tourist magazines promoting Sedona’s spiritual wonders to experience this breath-taking destination for myself. I immediately fell in love with the red-dressed canyons. I didn’t need anyone telling me how I should feel as I stood in front of one of these magnificent cliffs. Even those skeptical about spiritual ideas would be hard pressed not to notice the natural energy that recharges your being as you stand in the midst of these cliffs.
My Arizona trip began in Phoenix, where the desert breathes nothing but brown hues splashed randomly throughout with the sparse greenness of cacti. The moment I entered Sedona however, the landscape palette of browns and greens were replaced by the most brilliant tonalities and variations of reds.
Where have I been all this time? And what if I could move here? These thoughts looped through my mind as I stood there quietly breathing in the marvelous scenery. I began to imagine what kinds of things I would do if I did lived here. I pictured myself waking up at dawn every day and practicing my yoga routine right in the middle of these cliffs. It was a glorious image!
Since the 1980s, Sedona became a popular destination for spiritual seeking adventurers. It was even named the “The Number One Most Beautiful Place in America” by USA Weekend. There is a number of information out there about why Sedona’s purported spiritual powers. Books and publications concerning the four vortexes located there and their relationship to the energy that surrounds Sedona are abundant.
Now, to me none of this holds much water. Although I do practice yoga, I do it for health and well-being reasons. I am not a follower of Spiritualism or New Age beliefs. What does matter to me is what I felt when I was standing at the foot of these cliffs and the connection this area has to the people who were here before. None know these mountains better than the people that lived, breathed and made their home at the foot of these cliffs thousands of years ago.
What we know now about Sedona today, including its spiritual and energetic forces was passed down to us by the American Indians who inhabited this place first. Archeological records show that this area of Arizona has been populated since around 9000 B.C. Sedona (before it was given this name by T.C. Schnebly) was occupied by the Sinagua, an advanced American Indian civilization who is well known to archeologists for building pueblos and cliff houses. The Sinagua were proficient in farming, had an understanding of astronomy, and made baskets, pottery and jewelry. The Sinagua made Sedona their home between 900 and 1350 AD, by 1400 AD, the pueblo builders had moved on and the Yavapai and Apache peoples began to move into the area.
Even though you won’t find a lot of information about Sedona and its spiritual connection to the American Indians, who lived here before the coming of the Europeans, one has to assume that if this place served as an inspiration and muse to artists and religious followers, it also served as a spiritual connection and guidance to the first inhabitants of this magnificent place. As it is, we probably know just a minuscule fraction of the mystery and enigmas surrounding these cliffs; much of it lost to the passage of time, the loss of oral traditions and the displacement of the first inhabitants of the area.
I always promote touring places and sites of historic significance to the American Indians, especially when it comes to natural wonders, by a knowledgeable local American Indian. In my opinion, they can give you a different perspective and insight than what you can read on the number of tourist’s guides.
Breath-taking natural wonders such as the cliffs and mountains of Sedona were home to many different groups of American Indians and yet the portion of its history and heritage that is generally covered in modern times is limiting. This place in particular has a long history stretching from ancient times, before countries borders were even thought of let alone drawn, to being part of two different countries; first Mexico and then the United States. Thus it’s worth taking the time to not only read what’s available on the tourist’s guides and destination’s websites, but also to go beyond was easily available and dig back to the old roots and customs of the place you’re visiting. I guarantee you it will give you an enhanced perspective during your travels.
Even if you’re not interested in the cultural and historical aspect of a destination, perhaps you’re only interested in practicing an outdoor sport, going to a nightclub, visiting a winery, or lulling the day away shopping; I can assure you learning a little bit more about native culture will fascinate you in some aspect.
As for me, at the end of the day I spent way more time in Sedona than what I originally intended to. I do not regret it. I have put on hold my plans for moving here in the near future but I do plan to come back soon. My next visit to Arizona will definitely include a robust stretch of time exclusively dedicated to visiting, wandering, and marveling at the wonderful vistas this place has to offer. And I am bringing my yoga mat with me.
Recommendations When Visiting Sedona
Interested in visiting Sedona? I recommend you start with the following sites, also in an effort to support Native American communities, I highly recommend you stay in Native American owned hotels and tour companies. Contact me if you want to hear more about it.
Native American Tours
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