USA Today Life
USA Today LIFE, Thursday, December 4, 1997
Succumbing to Sedona's aura
The Arizona haven for mystics and spiritualists is an outpost
for a growing trend in vacations that include exploration of the psyche
Once famous chiefly as a pit stop on the drive to the Grand Canyon, 100 miles to the north, Sedona has become a magnet for mystics and other mind-body travelers. And it's emblematic of a growing trend toward vacations that explore the psyche as well as physical terrain.
"The practical explanation is that baby boomers have reached the age where we've accumulated all the things we possible could, and we're still not fulfilled. We're looking for the meaning in life, and that extends to our vacations," says Robert Scheer, the 51 year-old editor of Power Trips, a new travel magazine devoted to "sacred places where you can communicate with the spirit of Mother Earth."
More than 5,000 new-agers gathered in Sedona for a 1987 mass ceremony dubbed the Harmonic Convergence, and the town has been catering to like-minded vacationers ever since. In a chamber of commerce visitor study commissioned two years ago, 64% of respondents said they were seeking "some kind of spiritual experience" during their trip.
To be sure, the vast majority of gift shops and art galleries that clog Sedona and nearby Oak Creek attract tourists anchored firmly in the physical dimension.
But Sedona's pilgrims can photograph and cleanse their auras, browse for quartz crystals and Tibetan bowls, and choose among several jeep tours of area vortexes -- power spots that ancient Native Americans consider sacred, and modern believers say emit an energy from deep with the earth.
"My intuition is heightened here. It clears the cobwebs of the past, and I feel at home in my soul," says Sheila Hite, a Malibu, California based psychic who recently shepherded seven of her clients on a tour of the area. On their agenda: savoring the sunset from a vortex called Airport Mesa, and joining a medicine wheel ceremony led by a local shaman.
"People are choosing vacations that offer more than a change of scenery and connect them to what's inside as well as outside," says Ila Sarley of the 20 year old Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, N.Y., a holistic cneter that sponsors workshops in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Bali and Utah's Canyonlands. The center expanded its season last year and now offers more than 325 programs.
As Sedona-based anthropologist and photographer Martin Gray points out, travel to sacred sites is nothing new. But the reason for making those pilgrimages has changed.
Call 928-282-4714 for information on tours.