Is The Sedona Vortex Real? I Tested The City's 'Rock Energy' To See If It Really Has Healing Powers

Photo: courtesy of the author
What Is The Sedona Vortex? Details About The Arizona City's Reported Spiritual Energy And Whether Or Not It's Real

My investigation began with a call from my mom one afternoon:

“Do you want to go to Sedona in November? I need to take some of its healing powers.”

I had no idea what she meant by “healing powers” and didn’t think much of it at the time. But sure, of course I wanted to go to Sedona. Who wouldn’t? Known for its beautiful red rocks and scenic views, Sedona had been one of my bucket list destinations. And so I agreed to go on this spontaneous trip, unaware of its reputation in the spiritual community.

What is an energy vortex?

As the date for our trip approached, I became more curious about my mom’s motives behind the trip. What had she meant by healing powers?

When I asked her, she directed me to a Japanese website where she had read about the Sedona vortexes. According to the website, there are geographical areas in the world called energy vortexes. These energy vortexes are spiritual centers of power that draw energy from the earth’s natural electromagnetic force and are often visited by people from all over the world for their spiritual powers.

The website says there are three different types of power at the Sedona vortexes: magnetic, electric, and balanced, each depending on how Earth’s electromagnetic energies intersect.

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A typical description of Sedona’s vortexes:

According to the website, Sedona itself is one big energy vortex but has power especially concentrated in four areas: Bell Rock, Airport Mesa, Boynton Canyon, and Cathedral Rock.

My mom planned our trip around these four spots, saying that she needed all the power she could get. I was skeptical about the healing powers of these vortexes, but I agreed that we should go. What harm could it do?

My mom — my best friend and my rock — had struggled with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the past, and is currently struggling with some physical ailments, so I wanted her to do whatever she felt she needed to in order to feel better. I myself struggle with depression, so I figured at the very least, being in nature and being surrounded by beautiful views could only do us good.

I hoped the healing powers of the vortexes were true for my mom’s sake, but I remained skeptical; it just seemed too easy and too good to be true.

The four energy vortexes:

With excitement and skepticism in my heart, we made our way to Sedona. I had a hard time believing in even the existence of the power vortex, but I felt an immediate relief and euphoria as soon as we made it to Sedona. Maybe it was just the relief of getting off a 5-hour plane ride or the excitement of a grand adventure, but I was feeling better already.

Sedona Red Rock Tours says that vortex energy amplifies emotions and everything you are feeling will be intensified: “If you are happy while you are in Sedona, you may become euphoric or blissful. When you experience the sensation of love, you may be ecstatic,” the website says.

Perhaps it was this energy I was feeling. I could tell my mom was already feeling better, too — her excitement was contagious.

We made our way to our first destination: Bell Rock. Bell Rock is known as an Upflow area, or an area that contains electric or masculine energy that is “best for serenity and solving problems from a higher (spiritual) perspective.”

I admit that I didn’t feel any spiritually wiser after spending time there, but I did feel a sereneness, perhaps from being surrounded by nature and the complete quiet and stillness that comes from isolation in nature. My mom asked time and time again if we felt any tingling in our limbs — she had read that we should be able to feel “subtle energy vibrations such as tingling in the hands or buzzing throughout your body.” My mom and I did not, unfortunately, but my sister claimed to have felt something.

Our next destination was Airport Mesa. Airport Mesa is also an Upflow area, or an area that contains electric or masculine energy that “helps your spirit soar for a higher perspective and/or greater oneness and serenity.” This spot gives hikers a 360 view of the town, and many people come here to draw in all the power of Sedona. Here, we watched the sunrise. It was mesmerizing.

Again, I didn’t feel vibrations through my body — I didn’t feel much of anything because it was so cold that morning — but the view did leave me feeling elated, as if my spirit was “soaring.” I even practiced some yoga as we waited for the sunrise, leaving me simultaneously at peace and euphoric.

I could tell that my mom felt the same; she was all smiles. I wondered if there really was some truth to these energy vortexes.

Next, we made our way to Boynton Canyon, which I felt was the most spiritual and my favorite spot. The Boynton Canyon vortex is known as a site of “balanced” energy. This is because at the top of the trail are two rock formations with opposite, balanced energies: the Kachina Woman, containing a feminine energy, and another knoll, containing masculine energy.

Our journey there started out a bit rocky. We had left our hotel later than planned, and our lack of internet connection made it hard to navigate, leaving us all agitated and on edge. We missed multiple turns, leading to a shouting match between my mom and sister.

Just when I was about to suggest turning around, we found our turn. We pulled into the trail’s parking lot, and I already felt instantly better. We found a parking spot relatively easily, and we made our way to the trail.

And just when we were about to make it to the trail, there he was: Robert. I recognized his flute, his white hair, and skin, tanned from years of wandering the vortex, and the enormous, contagious smile on his face.

Now, who is this Robert character? My mom had read about him on her Japanese website. According to the website, a man named Robert wandered the Boynton Canyon vortex every day, playing melodies on his wooden flute and giving heart-shaped rocks to every stranger he met along the trail.

My mom was nearly in tears from happiness when she saw that Robert was approaching us. He walked slowly towards us with his big, friendly smile, and then started his spiel on the power of love and following your heart. I could tell that his speech had been well-rehearsed and recited; I’m sure that after repeating his message of positivity to every hiker along his path for years, he had nearly perfected his message.

At the end of his speech, he gave us each a hug and a heart-shaped rock, and then he was on his way.

I am not a believer of fate — most, if not all, occurrences are merely the product of coincidences, but it almost felt like we were meant to meet Robert that day. My mom even insisted that it was fate. If we had arrived at the trail five minutes sooner or later, we might not have met him.

It almost felt like maybe all the bickering and frustration of that morning had had some kind of significance, because it led us to meet Robert. It made me almost believe in the power of wishful thinking as well. My mom had been so excited about the possibility of meeting Robert after reading about him on the website, and I so badly wanted this for her because I knew it would make her happy. I wanted to meet him as well, because who doesn’t want a heart-shaped rock from a famous stranger who wanders energy vortexes, playing the flute and spreading messages of love and positivity?

I had wished so hard for us to meet him, and we had, right at the last minute. Something about it felt beyond coincidental — almost mystical, like fate.

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After meeting Robert, we continued our hike up Boynton Canyon with a new lightness in our step. We reached the top of the trail, once again amazed by the breathtaking view. Again, we felt no buzzing in our bodies, but there was something about this vortex that seemed more mystical than the others.

For example, we found stacks of rocks along the top of the trail. I had no idea of their purpose, but there was something odd and pleasing about them so I snapped some photos.

A quick Google search told me that these rock stacks were mainly for artistic and aesthetic purposes, and that some people also used them to make wishes. Perhaps the people who had stacked these rocks there had felt some kind of energy that would be conducive to their wish-making.

In addition, I noticed that there were trees with twisted trunks and branches all along the trail. According to Sedona Red Rock Tours, these twisted trees appear wherever there are pockets of concentrated energy, and twist to reflect the spiraling in the energy field.

Whatever the explanation for this phenomenon, the spiraling trees gave the vortex an air of mysticism and power, and the trees’ twisting trunks fascinated me.

For our final destination, we went to Cathedral Rock. The first half of the Cathedral Rock vortex is an Upflow area, “great for soaring and feeling inspired for greater oneness and serenity.” I can’t say I felt any of these things, but more of an excitement.

This trail was a little more difficult and required some more skill than the others, and the challenge thrilled me. The second half of the vortex contains electromagnetic energy, and the top is known to be the number one energy vortex in the world. Also known as a Combination Vortex, it contains areas “that allow you to do more advanced spiritual skills and deeper forms of meditation.”

Again, we found twisted trees along and at the top of the trail, giving the vortex an air of mysticism.

Thus concluded our tour of the energy vortexes. All in all, I felt no buzzing or tingling in my body from the energy vortex; nor did I feel any wiser or spiritually healed.

However, I did feel some kind of change. I felt more relaxed and happier during my stay in Sedona. I was free from the stressors of school and social life while surrounded by nature’s breathtaking views in the company of the people I cared about most.

However, I remained skeptical after my experience with the energy vortexes, so I decided to do some research on what the experts said.

What do the skeptics say?

I was interested in several claims made by the Sedona energy vortex believers. The following are some counterclaims by skeptics:

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Proponents say that ancient peoples were drawn to live in Sedona for its power.

However, the skeptics at Skeptoid say that there is no evidence that people congregated exclusively in Sedona. There is evidence that they lived all throughout the region (along the Verde River), with no archeological evidence that people were “drawn” to Sedona.

Proponents claim Sedona has centers of electromagnetic energy from the Earth called energy vortexes.

However, skeptics say it is not technically correct from a physics perspective. According to Skeptoid, there are two necessary ingredients for a vortex to exist: a fluid and some stirring influence; the “‘energy field’ described by the vortex proponents is not the air or anything else that has the physical properties of a fluid; therefore there can be no pressure differentials or fluid dynamics in play. Since the fluid is not there, there is no canoe paddle or stirring spoon or uplifting warm air against falling cold air to initiate turbulent flow.”

Physically, then, the vortex that proponents describe do not exist.

Proponents claim that the Earth’s electromagnetism is behind Sedona’s powers.

However, skeptics say it is really paleomagnetism that they are referring to when talking about Sedona’s electromagnetism. Furthermore, “Sedona’s variances are not especially remarkable, certainly not unique, and certainly nowhere near the magnitude of much greater variances all around the world[…]Even if Sedona’s vortexes were demonstrated to be detectable and measurable someday, they certainly do not correlate with geomagnetic variances.”

According to proponents, twisted trees appear wherever there are pockets of concentrated energy and twist to reflect the spiraling in the energy field.

However, “of the five species of juniper found in Sedona, the two most common (Utah and one seed junipers) are twisted wherever they are found throughout their ranges in North America.”

Furthermore, scientists have hypothesized that the trees twist in response to strong winds to be more flexible and resistant to the winds. They may even twist to better distribute water throughout the tree.

However, there has been no evidence linking the Earth’s electromagnetism to the spiraling of trees.

Proponents describe human reactions to the breathtaking views of Sedona as spiritual awakenings.

According to Skeptoid, “Sedona’s beauty is such that many people can only compare it to a powerful spiritual experience. To visit Sedona you either have to recalibrate your sense of awe, or your brain interprets the experience as literally supernatural. If you’re inclined to believe in the supernatural, then it’s normal and expected for human psychology to determine that a higher power is in effect in Sedona.”

For that reason, the explanation that most people jump to is that there are unexplainable forces and energy vortexes in Sedona that explain what we feel in Sedona.

What do I believe?

After much deliberation, I remain skeptical of the existence of energy vortexes and their powers. I find it hard to believe that there are concentrations of immeasurable energy around the globe that heal and strengthen, especially with no scientific evidence to back it.

I did feel more relaxed and happy after my visit there, but I have decided to attribute my spiritual relief to the power of being surrounded by nature and good company. Being in nature and being in good company can lift anyone’s spirits.

In addition, my cynical side tells me that Sedona is a town built on profit from capitalizing on its nature and mysticism. A walk around the town’s shops revealed to me that other extraordinary claims were a common trend: physic readings, aura photos, crystals, etc.

Sedona’s image is one of breathtaking nature, psychic energy, and mysticism, and the exploitation of the image that has been created for profit leads me to believe that it is all a hoax.

As for my mom, she still believes in the vortexes’ powers. Although she didn’t feel any buzzing or tingling in her body, she attributes her newfound peace and happiness to Sedona’s energy vortexes. She also still believes it was the power of fate that led us to meet Robert at Boynton Canyon.

Though I myself don’t believe in these powers, I admire my mom’s dedication to her spiritual beliefs. I am all for anything that makes people feel happy, even if it may have no scientific backing.

If not power from the earth’s electromagnetic forces, then what is it that made us feel so good? It may entirely be the placebo effect for all we know, but seeing my mom happy and at peace is all I need to support visiting Sedona’s energy vortexes, even if it may all just be a hoax.

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Read more of Anastacia Cole's writing on Medium.

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.