The Vortex Riddle, Other World of Sedona Arizona
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." — William Shakespeare's Hamlet
It is no secret that Sedona and its environs draw people that live and breathe the arts. No wonder since the environment itself is such a natural work of art that surrounds, permeates, and flows through the community with awareness and enthusiastic desire for beauty. Truth be told, however, like a multifaceted mystery, there is more to the story than stunning landscapes, more even than meets the eye.
Thousands of years ago, only Native Americans knew of this high desert expanse with its rocks and creeks and canyons where they lived, fought and died on what they called their sacred land. They called what is now Sedona, “The Land of Fire.”
Legends, rumors, college research and stories, passed down through the centuries, suggest that Sakina Blue Star, a woman of Sioux, Choctaw-Cherokee and Scottish heritage, avowed that the Sedona area, which they called Nawanda, was traditionally sacred to all tribes of Turtle Island (North America). From all over the land, Native Americans would come for an once-in-a-lifetime experience to seek a vision the Great Spirit might have for their lives.
These prehistoric ones regarded the area to be an inter-dimensional portal. The story goes that Star People were said to have touched down. It was easier for them to come and go here, due to special energies in the red rocks. In these ancient times, Sedona was seen as an island, the Crystal City of Light. People came then—as they do today—to search for spiritual enlightenment. These days, that search has blossomed as counterculture types, from California and elsewhere, beginning in the 1970s, evolved into New Agers today seeking happiness and their life’s purpose. Propelling them, apart from startling beauty, were rumors of hot spots, powerful places for healing and meditation. Called then “power points,” they seemingly “act as amplifiers so that when a person nears such a spot, whatever that person brings to it, physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual has amplified,” wrote Sedona author Dennis Andres, “even magnified.”
Someone needed to pull all the cultural fragments together and that person was Page Bryant, arriving in VOC (the Village of Oak Creek, Sedona) in the late 1980s, a psychic, metaphysician, and a well-travelled expert in Indian ceremonial practices. Indeed, she was the first to dub the power points as “vortexes” (from the Latin word vertere) and she tried to show people how to find balance in their life by using the reported vortex forces. Furthermore, it was Bryant, a woman gifted with piercing green eyes and a body shape that could a fill a large couch, with a drink in her hand, who identified their location in our area: Bell Rock, Airport Mesa, Red Rock Crossing, Boynton Canyon, Post Office, and Indian Gardens.
Her source was an entity named Albion. Who was that? In talks with the author in those early days, she admitted she did not know who the channeler was. “It is a part of myself, another entity, but as long as it is valid information, I will rely on it.” Small groups gathered around town—and at her feet recalls Enocha Ryan, a keen, blonde healer, teacher who hailed in 1974 from Wisconsin – when Sedona had one bar, two gift shops-- and who now runs “Your Heart’s Home” in Oak Creek Canyon, which is on a vortex. “Nobody had heard of vortexes (or vortices) in the 1970s, when I arrived. But due to Bryant’s unearthing, busloads of curious people arrived in search of transformation,” she told the author.
Click a photo to view slide show.
- Sedona Storm Over Airport Mesa Sedona Storm Over Airport Mesa
- Sedona Pyramid Formation Sedona Pyramid Formation
- Fiery Sunset from Sedona Airport Lookout Fiery Sunset from Sedona Airport Lookout
- Sunset over Sedona Airport Mesa Sunset over Sedona Airport Mesa
- Courthouse Butte Along Bell Rock Pathway Courthouse Butte Along Bell Rock Pathway
- Sedona Airport Vortex Sedona Airport Vortex
What else newcomers learned was that there were different labels for the vortexes: Electric/Magnetic or Masculine/Feminine, or Positive/Negative, or Upflow/Inflow. Enter a California wheeler-dealer named Dick Sutphen who with or without Brant’s permission, promoted the vortex story across the land. In 1990, CBS TV did a show about Sedona’s vortex situation and the reporter quipped that Sedona had 45 channels but no TV.
All the while people asked do they really exist. Not long ago, NAU did a study and found that 64 percent of the visitors came to Red Rock Country seeking some kind of spiritual experience: 43 percent specially cited the vortexes. Clearly, what was happening was no joke. Soon, good old capitalism began to rear its head, starting with pricey jeep tours, massage therapies, visionary workshops, books, spiritual destination hikes, speeches, and memberships in the Sedona Oak Creek Chamber of Commerce. Said a Commerce staffer, “”This new tourist force represents a quiet, steady flow. They are very nice people.”
Before long, Bryant developed qualms over the flood of tourists creating fears that her efforts could be copied by others, and they’d distort her findings, that Man has lost connection with Mother Earth and must change, and soon. She began to wonder why she ever let out her findings. Said she to me: “I never wanted to start a new religion.” What really upset her, as the vortex boom gathered momentum, were the phony psychics preying on old women, stealing their savings, promising them marriage and security. “I hate all the exploitation—it makes me sick,” she told a Phoenix reporter.
The years have tumbled by and the Sedona Chamber of Commerce list of spiritual enrichment outfits in Sedona runs to three pages. There are many vortex tours together with a range of items having to do with health and spiritual development. “The magnet that Sedona has become is really all due to Page”, sums up Ryan. “And also the advertising the Chamber is doing. I just hope this town does not get too commercial. I’d weep.” says she.
Meantime, it is safe to say that business in Sedona’s other world is doing just fine. Comments Tom Stanley, a valley based publisher, “whirlwinds of swirling energy have become godsends for the area. A vortex is not something you can drive and snatch from the air like the brass ring and harness its mystical powers. You must stay in hotels, eat in restaurants—GMO and gluten free of course.”
Herewith is a rundown of what the New Age is doing for greater Sedona and the Verde Valley, too:
At least 176 New Age oriented businesses are located in Sedona and Oak Creek, over 200 if other nearby communities is included: Jerome, Cottonwood, and Prescott. The local breakdown includes 16 audio video companies, 21 publishers, 5 publications, 14 retailers, 39 sidelines (manufacturers of a product) and more. These figures do not include any of the numerous holistic health practitioners, psychic readers, channels, sacred Earth tour guides or other individuals engaged in New Age service activities.
Not that this next opinion will stifle the good times for Sedona is other world but ace geologist Wayne Ranney sums up his view: “There may be something to the whole area being a vortex. But a circle of rocks at your feet is unlikely to be anything different than is outside the circle. Humans make things holy, not nature.”
Says healer Ryan, “if anything, more and more people are finding their way here, falling in love with the land and try to focus on healing themselves–at all levels. The vortices are great facilitators. “
Myths, tricks to make jeep drivers rich? Instead of dismissing beliefs in vortexes out out of hand, one wonders why beliefs are so widespread and so resilient? Could it be that lack of “sufficient scientific evidence” might, in itself, be a potent social and cultural force?
— Article by Jim Bishop
— Photos by Victoria Oldham at Gateway To Sedona.
ABOUT SEDONA AUTHOR JIM BISHOP
“My object in living is to unite my avocation and my vocation”
—Robert Frost from “Two Tramps in Mudtime”
James Bishop, Jr., a twenty-five year resident of Greater Sedona, is an author, free lance writer, editor and creative writing instructor who is also committed to grass roots organizing, arts advocacy and environmental sanity. Since leaving the nation’s capital for the West two decades ago, he has served as a consultant to government agencies and non-profit organizations ranging from The RAND Corporation to the Grand Canyon Trust, The Aspen Institute at Wye Plantation to American Rivers and the Coconino National Forest, Sedona Ranger District and the Sedona Creative Life Center. His writing has appeared in newspapers and magazines from Seattle to Denver, Prescott, Arizona to Washington D.C. His book, “Epitaph for a Desert Anarchist – The Life and Legacy of Edward Abbey” is now in paperback.
Before moving west from D.C. and New York City in the early ’80s, Bishop was a senior member of the White House Energy Policy and Planning staff responsible in 1977 for creating the nation’s first comprehensive energy plan focused on the nation’s renewable energy potential. A year later, he became Director of Communications for the Federal Energy Administration, Chief Spokesman for Energy Secretary James Rodney Schlesinger and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental and Institutional Relations. In 1980, Bishop received the Secretary’s Medal for Outstanding Service that included an innovative energy conservation education program. Bishop is the descendant of Nantucket whalers, the Delaware Indian Nation and the son and grandson of distinguished artists.
Sadly, Jim Bishop passed away April 23, 2019. He will be greatly missed by dear friends in and beyond Sedona and left a legacy to future generatons through his writings, sharing and gifting his passion and exuberance for life.
Read more of the writings of Jim Bishop at www.NewTerritoryArts.com