Margie Goldsmith heads to Arizona in search of a vortex.
I have always been skeptical of New Age miracles, including the concept known as a vortex–a location said to be exceptionally alive with an energy flow that amplifies people’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual awareness.
So when I chose to spend a few days de-stressing at Mii Amo Spa at Enchantment Resort in Arizona, it was not because Sedona is known as a major vortex power center. I’d been to this place years ago with my husband back when it was a tennis ranch; one afternoon we’d hiked to a major vortex center, but neither of us felt anything out of the ordinary.
Now, more than twenty years later, I was back in Boynton Canyon, and instead of sunbathing at the pool beneath the majestic red rocks, I’d signed up for the “Vortex Walk.” I was curious. Maybe I’d been too close-minded on my last trip. Maybe there was something real about vortexes.
Our guide Scot, who was leading the walk, told us that Native Americans consider this canyon sacred. He pointed out some Indian cave ruins in the cliffs above, and said that Boynton Canyon is one of four main vortex areas in Sedona.
“A vortex is concealed energy,” he said. “It’s a balance of ying and yang energy which expands and contracts.” I didn’t understand what he was talking about. He pointed to a hiking trail directly behind the spa; one could hike up to the Kachina Woman rock formation (considered one of the most sacred) or go three miles the other way to the end of the trail, a box canyon. Tomorrow, I would get up early and hike–if a vortex existed, surely I would feel it here.
Shortly after dawn, I grabbed my water bottle, hiked up to the Kachina rock, and sat beneath it. I closed my eyes, waiting to feel the energy of the vortex. Would it give me goose bumps? Would it make me cry? Nothing happened. I heard voices–Native American spirits? No, it was two chatty women coming up the trail.
I left and headed in the other direction on the Boynton Canyon Trail.
Beds of lavender lupine and white desert chicory lined the trail. I breathed in the heady fragrance of juniper and pine trees. Off to one side a sign read, “Healing in Progress, please stay on trail.” The path began following a dry creek bed and meandered along the sandy canyon bottom, then rose in elevation, with points where it was so steep that I had to pull myself up while gripping a manzanita branch.
I felt peaceful in the silence. A hummingbird fluttered around its small nest. I stopped to watch and suddenly heard a loud scraping sound. Coyote? Mountain lion? Javelina? It was a squirrel scratching at a tree, probably looking for a knothole.
After 90 minutes, I arrived at a sheer-wall amphitheater of red, beige, and orange sandstone. I sat and waited. Would I feel the vortex in this magical place of towering cliffs? I listened to the sound of my breath. For once I wasn’t thinking about all the work I had to do back home or the people I needed to call or the emails I had to send. I didn’t have a thought in my head.
I stayed for a long while, until the sun became scorching and I started back. And I’d almost reached the starting point of the trail when a gray-haired man in hiking shorts holding a thick wooden stick blocked the path. Next to him were two fifty-something women–one with a set of bongos and the other with a drum. As I squeezed by them, the man asked, “How far is the vortex?”
- Nat Geo Expeditions
“Well, it’s not just one spot,” I said. “The whole canyon is said to be a vortex.”
One of the women sighed. “The whole canyon?” She turned to her companions. “We’ve gone far enough. Let’s just stop here and do our ceremony.”
They’d gone far enough? They couldn’t have been on the trail for more than five minutes! I went past them, and was happy to discover that even though I’d spoken out loud, I was still feeling serene, almost as though I were floating. Was it possible this feeling was the vortex? Or was it just not having constant chatter in my head for a change? I looked up at the cliffs and promised myself that when I returned to New York and stress took over, I’d simply close my eyes, imagine myself in Boynton Canyon, and try and recapture this feeling. It didn’t matter if it was a vortex or not.
Photos: Margie Goldsmith