Pink sand shimmers underfoot as I race the rising sun up the umber rockface of Bell Rock. From the top of the butte, I watch as Sedona’s vast sea of mesas and spires turns crimson in the morning light, but instead of joining the few other hikers snapping selfies or doing their best Dancer’s Pose on the edge, I take a seat and close my eyes. Bell Rock is one of a handful of vortex sites in Sedona, spiritual hotspots that are believed to contain powerful healing and meditative energy.
The vortex magic trickles down into the rest of the city, too. Sedona hasn’t changed much in the past 30 years. Clusters of low-rise buildings dot the main drag, and crystals sparkle behind the faded shopfronts of psychics and tarot readers. Mysticism has always been a way of life in sun-drenched Sedona but these new age haunts are suddenly in vogue again, drawing a new wave of travellers to red rock country. (More than one-quarter of Canadians are turning their backs on traditional religion in favour of spirituality.) Here are some of the best ways to embrace the good vibes.
Hike to a Vortex
You won’t be swallowed up by a black hole or transported to a different dimension but visit a vortex site and you might come close. A vortex is a place in nature where the earth’s energy is believed to be highly concentrated. In some traditions, they are described as energy lines, or ley lines, that run through the landscape. However you define a vortex, people flock to these places to self-heal, manifest dreams, or deepen their meditation practice. “The energy of a vortex will amplify or magnify what we bring to it, whether on a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual level,” says Dennis Andres in his book What is a Vortex? A Practical Guide to Sedona’s Vortex Sites. Andres suggests tapping into the energy by getting quiet and experimenting with a visualization exercise, any personal rituals you may have, or a healing-focused meditation.
There are four main vortex sites in Sedona, including Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, Boynton Canyon, and Airport Mesa. While you’re steeping in vortex energy, you’ll also get a two to six kilometre hike through Sedona’s postcard red rock landscape, depending on which site you visit. Bell Rock is best hiked at sunrise, when the sprawling desert landscape turns from mauve to crimson. A relatively flat, well-marked trail will take you around the perimeter of the craggy bell-shaped formation, or you can forge your own path up the rockface as high as you dare. The dramatic spires of Cathedral Rock turn a deep burnt orange at sunset, and after a short but steep hike up involving sections of ropes and scrambling, it’s a tranquil place to rest and watch the sun dip below the horizon. Sedona may be a hotspot for spiritual reflection, but this desert country is a must-visit for wellness fanatics.
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Experience a Spiritual Spa Treatment
Sedona is home to a rich Native American spiritual history dating back to 5000 BCE that is still alive today. Some of these traditions have even made their way into healing and cleansing rituals visitors can take part in. Not only does Amara Resort and Spa offer a glorious view of Sedona’s red rocks from the infinity pool and a s’mores and stargazing happy hour, but the spa’s signature treatments take their cue from Native American spiritual tradition, offering guests a holistic, transformative wellness experience. Indulge in the Rain Dance treatment and you’ll be sprinkled with ceremonial oils including lavender, rosemary, and sage before a rhythmic full-body healing massage clears away mental and physical stress. The Winds of Change treatment puts guests in the hands of a healer who works to balance chakras and integrates native rattles, sage smudging, and a ceremonial oil massage to help guests reconnect with their spirit and release tension.
At Mii Amo, a striking modernist resort and spa tucked into an enclave of red rocks, treatments are also inspired by Native American spirituality and led by a traditional energy healer. The Inner Quest treatment integrates sacred elements of Native American ritual such as the burning of sweetgrass and a ceremonial blanket that mimics the warmth of a sweat lodge to cleanse and clarify. Sign up for the Soul Seeker treatment and you’ll be guided through meditation, breath work, and emotional release therapy to help create self-awareness and new perspectives. (Looking for more guidance? A soul coach might be right for you.)
Work Some Magic
Take a short walk along Main Street and you’ll come across more psychic boutiques than you can shake a tarot card at. For something a bit more unusual step into one of the shops that offer aura readings. At Mystical Bazaar, the aura photo room uses biofeedback to pick up on your energy field, which the camera interprets and captures as a colourful field around your body. The size and colour of your aura is then analyzed to give you information about your state of mind, energy levels, personality, and chakra balance.
If an aura reading is where you draw the ‘woo-woo’ line, then at the very least, stop into Crystal Magic, a Sedona institution and veritable treasure trove for healing crystals, metaphysical books, and just about anything else a new age heart desires. Pick up a small sandstone rock and drop it into your purse as a memento of Sedona, and a harbinger of creativity, clarity, and happiness. New to healing crystals? Check out our beginner’s guide, including the 10 most popular crystals.