The Spiritual Vortexes of Sedona, Arizona

In the beginning of Sedona there was the word and that word was vortex. One word with so many different viewpoints. People come from all over the world just to experience the power of Sedona encapsulated, to many, in one word - vortex. "What is a vortex?" "Where do I find one?" "What am I supposed to feel?" These are all questions that people have in reference to vortexes. I used to think that I had an answer for people but that was when I was looking at life with my mind - from a place of logic. In the world of logic everything makes sense by applying science where we can measure, taste, see and quantify our experiences and place them in a little box labeled: the right answer. In the world of logic "the right answer" then applies to everyone.

Sedona AZ vortexI have found that, by being in Sedona, there isn't such a mold. Since my arrival in Sedona 13 years ago the variety of experiences I have had and those shared by others on countless tours have led me to one truth : there is no single, right answer when it comes to exploring vortexes.

Since coming to Sedona I have had the pleasure of meeting many people with Indigenous backgrounds who have all shared with me the same thing the quantum physicists of today are beginning to realize - that all life is interconnected. If that is so, any part of life can teach us about...anything. It is with this reasoning that I offer some different possibilities for why Sedona is considered a sacred destination and for different ways to define the word vortex. You will empower yourself to come up with your own understanding and I offer this piece as help to get started.

There is a rock formation in west Sedona named Chimney Rock and, when viewed from the airport, it looks as if there is one finger standing tall (hence the name). But as you drive down Dry Creek Rd. and ,view the rock, it looks as if three fingers are sticking in the air. So, if two people are at each vantage point looking at the rock at the same time, who sees the right thing? They both do. Such is life.

Modern Vortex Explanation

In the late 70's a psychic by the name of Page Bryant channeled a being named Albion who told Page there were seven energy centers here in Sedona. She wrote a book on four of those places - Boynton Canyon, Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock and Airport Mesa.

Then a metaphysical practitioner by the name of Dick Sutphen came to Sedona and began to popularize the vortex concept, even appearing on the Larry King Show talking about the energies of Sedona.

Next thing you know we have thousands of people flooding into Sedona who want to know where the four energy centers were. Books were written and maps were made marking definite energy spots which people could visit. It became a commercial endeavor.

I'm not saying this is right or wrong but if I shared with my Native American friends that we have four distinct energy centers in Sedona they would laugh at me because they believe all of Sedona is one sacred energy. One man told me to look at it like an octave of the musical scale- everyone is going to hear a different note at a different time and appreciate it in their own way. So it is with the energy of Sedona.

In other words, it is up to us to determine which places hold the power. Yes, I give Page Bryant credit for getting the ball rolling but those were her energy spots. I've had way too many of my own experiences all over Sedona and listened to stories of others who had powerful moments within Sedona but not at a so called vortex site.

I'm sure nearly everyone who reads this has experienced moments of peace, clarity or oneness at least once in their lives. That is what “vortex” is about. It could happen in nature, church, in your backyard, etc. So don't limit yourself to the fact that you have to go to one the spots marked on a map or in a book. Trust yourself and find the places, wherever they are, that speak most clearly to you. I ask you - what places make you feel good?


The geology of Sedona is an impressive array of rock formations which have been laid down from processes of high wind deserts to the many times we have been underwater as inland seas or the ocean. These processes have left behind a layer cake of rock formations each with their own story.

It's not so much the processes themselves but the content of the rocks which forms a basis from which we can begin to discuss the potential of energy in Sedona.

The bottom red layer, on which much of Sedona is built, is a sandstone layer which is comprised primarily of the most abundant crystal on our planet: quartz. I have witnessed many Indigenous healers and, in their work, they all use quartz as a healing tool as they believe it serves to amplify energy and open up the spiritual doors for ceremony. In addition many sacred sites such as Macchu Picchu, Newgrange and Stonehenge incorporate quartz crystal into the architecture as the "old ones" knew to use the properties of items inherent in nature. But before you go thinking that the use of crystals is a topic reserved for New Age discussions, let me remind you that every time you use your computer you are using the power of quartz to increase the capacity of those computer chips.

Then we have the element which gives the rocks their red color: iron. Basically, people come from all over the world to look at rusty rocks. Most geologists agree that the rocks have a thin coating of iron and, when exposed to the elements, turn red. We do know that there is a large piece of iron in the core of our Earth that generates an electromagnetic field around our planet. Anything that flows - water, blood, electricity, etc. - will generate a magnetic current. And what does the presence of iron do? It intensifies the current. I have read where scientists believe the electromagnetic field is more intense toward the surface of the Earth thus generating the possibility that the presence of iron may increase our interaction with that energy.

Lastly, Sedona and its immediate area is surrounded by volcanoes. Volcanoes can be seen as outlets from the core of the Earth to its surface exposing the surface to intense heats, gasses and energy. While they say the volcanoes here are extinct, I'm sure anyone who experienced the Mount St. Helens eruption will attest that nature is bigger than science.

To tie of all this together, I introduce Martin Gray. Martin studies sacred sites all over the world uncovering their power, myths and stories. You name it and this guy has been there. His website is Sacred Sites and details his findings.

Martin attempts to find what a lot of these sacred places have in common with regards to geology and the local lore. In terms of geology he has found three things in common at many sacred sites - high mineral content, fault lines and volcanoes.

Sedona has all of that. Japan, Hawaii, Central America and a host of other places have this combination of natural phenomena. He surmises that where don't have that confluence of natural elements, people have the tendency to build something to reflect the sacred, perhaps like Stonehenge.

Perhaps the geology of a place can lend to its energetic potential. What I do know is that such places tend to be considered sacred spots to Indigenous cultures and that people flock from all over the world to visit them often recounting stories and miracles that seem to defy rational explanation.

Power of Nature

We can also talk about the power that nature holds for many of us as a context from which to explore the energy of Sedona. Sedona has close to 2 million acres of national forest surrounding the city. So no matter how much building you may encounter, there always is a space to get out on the land and experience natural energy.

We live in a world where the focus is on work, TV, mass media, money, building, clocks and fast paced schedules. No wonder people are stressing out. As we reconnect with nature and its slower rhythms, omnipresent omens and ever changing cycles we discover a bridge that links the physical and spiritual aspects of life. In this connection lies a state of being where one is more in harmony with the surroundings and all life is sacred, balanced and whole.

A program on the Discovery Channel a few years back showed through a computer simulation that, if man were taken off the planet, nature would begin to thrive again. What that shared with me is that a perfect balance already exists in nature and that when we align ourselves with that energy it will help us to restore our own balance.

I have found that nature provides a space from which the constant chatter in our heads is replaced with stillness. In that stillness lies a magic we often overlook - the sound of a raindrop, a rainbow following a storm, the buzz of the hummingbird, etc.

There are places we are drawn to in the natural world - certain landscapes which take us "home" and provide a sense of comfort. We go to the ocean, woods, lake, camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, etc. Sedona, with all its stunning rocks and desert landscape, provides the perfect backdrop from which we can feel the powerful effect that nature has on our lives.

Instead of searching for the "the right place or the exact feeling", allow yourself to get out on the land, relax your mind and let the power of such a beautiful place wash over you. Put your camera away and allow yourself to feel the benefit of being out in nature. That feeling is something you can truly capture and take home with you. I believe that power is what some people have come to realize as a vortex.

Native American History

In Sedona's Indigenous history we find a blend of peoples here over time ranging from the agrarian Pai peoples of the south (Hopi, Sinagua, Yavapai, etc.) to the more nomadic, Athabascan speaking peoples from the north (Apache, Navajo).

The Yavapai and Apache are different peoples coming from different parts of the world yet they share a very similar creation story that has its roots here in Sedona. It is for this reason that the sacredness of Sedona has always made sense to me.

It is believed that the history of man has gone through four worlds: the first ended in ice, the second in fire, the third in water and we now presently reside in the fourth world. Each world started in harmony and balance, but as that balance was disrupted the world was destructed in order to pave the way for a transition to another world. The last world ending in water is the flood story that pervades cultures all over the world. The Bible is just one of many books with such an account. That place where the flood story occurred and life transitioned to the fourth world was here in Sedona.

In fact, the Havasupai and Hualapai peoples, who live in and around the Grand Canyon, still come to Boynton Canyon every year to reenact the creation story of their ancestors and to uphold the spiritual tradition of the area.

A Hopi medicine man shared to a group of us that his family believes that the Hopi emerged from the third world in the Grand Canyon but that everyone else was created here in Sedona through the energy of Grandmother Spiderwoman (akin perhaps to Mother Nature).

So right here we have all of these different peoples who believe in Sedona as the birthplace of their creation. I don't know about you, but that speaks very loudly to me. Our society has lived in ignorance with regards to its Native American history but I feel it wise to take their teachings into account because they connected to the Earth in a much more profound way.

In addition, the symbol of the spiral is seen frequently in the Sedona area on Native American jewelry, pottery and petroglyphs. When I once questioned a Native American friend on the possible meanings of such spirals he told me that the spirals could refer to doorways which serve as a bridge between the physical world and spiritual world. I share with you a true story from one of my tours:

The Butterfly Story

A few years ago I took a couple from North Carolina out on tour. The woman was a recently retired school teacher and, as I normally do on tour, gave them the opportunity for some quiet time. I noticed how, as she stood overlooking Sedona, she began to cry. I asked if she was okay or wanted to talk, but she wasn't ready and would get back to me in the future.

Well, six months go by. I'm driving down Hwy 179 in my work jeep and a yellow and black butterfly flies into the jeep and sits on my chest as I'm driving 30 mph down the road. Then it landed on my foot before flying off.

As I got back to the reservations office, I received a letter from the woman. She explained that upon retiring she had placed her mom in a nursing home only for her to pass away shortly thereafter. Her husband suggested they take a vacation to Sedona to clear their heads. As she was looking out at Sedona that day she took the quiet time to ask her mom to forgive her. No sooner had she done that when a yellow and black butterfly landed on her wrist and she said she began to cry because she felt that butterfly was a sign that her mom had forgiven her.

What are the odds that the same kind of butterfly would land on my arm right before I received her letter?

Stories like this are commonplace on my tours and they remind me that perhaps the Native Americans knew of places on the Earth, like Sedona, where there exists an open door to possibilities in life much larger than the limits of our minds. What we may call a vortex the Native Americans may call it sacred ground.

The Sedona Effect

Many people who come to Sedona agree it has a certain power to it- a magnificence. How you want to box that power into a belief system is up to you but I offer a fact for consideration: many people have deep, profound experiences while in Sedona.

Science would have us believe that there is nothing special going on at sacred places like Sedona because they can't measure anything quantifiable with their instruments. But as the butterfly story, mentioned above, shows - to look at life solely from a place of logic is not a balanced approach. Have you ever gone to church or out in nature and had a profound moment? You may have a difficult time proving such a personal experience to another, but the fact remains that you had the experience. I use the word experience on purpose because it includes yet transcends the mental approach to life by bringing into account the part of us that interprets life through our emotions and spirituality.

On the Lakota Medicine Wheel are four points which represent the different aspects of being a human - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Many people will ask me what they are supposed to feel while here in Sedona. I have found that there are no "supposed to's" and anyone who tells you differently is attempting to control your experience. Whatever experience you are having is perfect and appropriate for you. I've seen/witnessed people talk about physical healing (stuff like arthritis, fibromyalgia, fatigue, migraines), mental healing ( letting go of fears and restrictive thoughts, receive inspirations and ideas), emotional healing ( letting go of old wounds, forgiveness, deep peace, love/acceptance of self) and spiritual healing (intense dreams, feel close to God or Angels, felt Oneness). This is just a small sample of how we can interact and be affected by a place like Sedona.

Some people ask if it's all good energy in Sedona and, to that, I answer that there is a lot of energy in Sedona and it is up to us to interpret that energy as good or bad. I've seen people fall in love with this place after one visit and others leave hear kicking and screaming. I have found each experience to be personal and unique.

Perhaps, as our minds race to catch up with the feeling of this place, we would be well served just to bask in the feeling in the first place. Get out on the land, breathe, open your senses, look around, take a deep breath and be grateful for where you stand. Maybe that is enough.

My Take

During my time in Sedona I have discovered that a vortex isn't about a certain place which gives you a predetermined feeling. For me the word vortex is more like a concept where we can begin to explore our relationship to ourselves and the world around us. Our busy lives have taken the focus off of us and our connection to the land and the power of a place like Sedona - the power of a vortex - can help us to restore us to a more balanced state of being.

Over time, the word vortex has transitioned from a spot of energy that existed outside of myself to a place that helped me to go within and discover the depth of life. And, in that depth, I can begin to see life as through the eyes of a child - with joy, mystery, wonder, awe and appreciation. This shift was so simple; yet, so powerful.

It is here, in Sedona, where a question constantly tugs at my awareness - what are we truly capable of? Perhaps it is time for us to look for answers to that question as our world changes so rapidly around us and many people search for ways to incorporate spiritual existence into all facets of their lives.

I hope, in some small way, I have opened up the word vortex for you to where the person looking for lightening to shoot out of their hands at a place is just as validated as the person who finds peace from the natural beauty. I have found the experience in Sedona to be personal and unique.

So if you see a guy on the trails, walking quietly, it may just be me looking for some peace and stillness in this complicated world.

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My wife and I were fortunate to book a Vortex tour and Medicine Wheel ceremony on our first full day in Sedona with Kurt. We got much more than we had ever dreamed of! Simply put, and as far fetched as this sounds, Kurt has a gift of opening doors through our individual spirit guides(we all have them). Sedona is a magical place where these things can happen if we are given the right guidance. I personally had experiences later that week that I don't think I would have been open to had I not met Kurt my first day there.
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We experienced the Sacred Walk with Kurt. Kurt was passionate and very educational, easy going in sharing his views about the earth and its energies. He was very knowledgeable about Native American history and he has a global sense and understanding of metaphysics. Kurt was very professional in his ability to respond to both of us in terms of where we were in our spiritual journeys.
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Kurt took our family on a hike along Oak Creek near the base of Cathedral Rock. Sharing the history of Sedona, the meaning of vortexes, the importance of silence and balance in our lives were all valuable insights from Kurt. The knowledge Kurt brought to the table is what made this guided tour distinct--not only is Kurt a spiritual man but quite knowledgeable in the sciences--ecology, energy and the environment. He did an excellent job appealing to the three of us with our differences and individual personalities.
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