Sedona is a small town in north-central Arizona, 110 miles south of the Grand Canyon. Sedona's spiritual significance is enhanced by its location near many Native American communities and ample lore about energy sites in the earth. Sedona is known for its stunning natural setting, especially its breathtaking red-rock formations. The rocks' signature red hue comes from hematite, an iron oxide abundant in the sedimentary formations. At 4,500-ft elevation, Sedona has a biodiversity of desert and forest flora and fauna, with a widespread juniper-pinyon pine ecosystem and a lovely combination of desert cacti and succulents and forest vegetation, all dotting the red-rock formations. Sedona was "put on the map" in the early 1900s by businessman and farmer Carl Schnebly. Schnebly named it Oak Creek Canyon, for the large creek flowing through the area, but the government told him the name was too long to fit on a cancellation postmark. Schnebly then honored his wife-Sedona-a Mennonite woman from Pennsylvania, and thus this lovely town received its lovely name.
Almost a thousand years earlier, the area was home to Sinagua and Anasazi Indians. Settlements preserved to this day include Tuzigoot and Montezuma's Castle, the latter a cliff-face dwelling. Both sites were home to 12thand 13th-century Indians, though these sites are shrouded in mystery as the Native Americans disappeared suddenly from this region leaving few clues behind.
Today, Sedona shows Native American influence. Large Navajo and Hopi reservations cover much of Arizona and neighboring states, and Sedona's atmosphere is enriched by authentic Native culture. But in addition to, for example, the rug trade based on local Navajo women's rich tradition of rug weaving, the area is also littered with kitschy gift shops selling dream catchers and other popularized Native American artifacts, many manufactured overseas.
As well as its natural beauty and Navajo flavorings, Sedona's local lore has it that a spiritual energy arises from so-called vortexes in the earth. Some sources point to the 1970s as when local talk of such sites began. These geospiritual locations are said to induce in visitors a deeply meditative spiritual experience. The formations of Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock are said to be home to such energy sites. Some vortexes are said to have upflow energy, others an inflow energy. Upflow sites are common near mountains and mesas and enhance a sense of contemplation or prayer; inflow sites are common around canyons and valleys and promote the search for life's deeper truths. The vortex "business" is part of contemporary Sedona. Local merchants and spiritual centers offer vortex "tours," some promising to take the visitor "deep within the Mother Earth energies"; other spiritual centers offer "total bliss in sacred space." Such claims of spiritual energy emanating from the rocks are laughed off by some yet sworn to by others. Though it is difficult to know whether these claims are grounded in geologic science, Native American traditions, or the musings of the area's many "New Agers," with its dramatic beauty and Native essence Sedona creates an indelible spiritual experience. This place surely evokes spiritual contemplation, deep reflections on one's inner being alongside feelings of genuine connectedness to what is beyond.