Tales from the Road: The Magical Mystical Tour of Sedona

…what’s the difference between thinking and knowing?

I lugged an entire backpack full of books with me on this trip, since I’ve had my nose deep in spiritual tomes every since leaving my job gave me the free time to actually read for fun again, I assumed I would tear through them in the days ahead. After the first two nights in Ojai, I stopped bringing the heavy leather sack inside and instead left the books in the car. Wild Feminine, Salt, The Artist’s Way, The Untethered Soul, I had absolutely zero desire to read them. Every time I opened my trunk, they peered out, chock full of wisdom and inspired opinion that on any other day I would pour over searching for resonance. Now, with Mother Nature leading me, the words and ideas in those pages didn’t make sense. I had filled my head with them for months, years, roughly a decade, seeking guidance for my soul.

Something clicked when I found myself in Sedona, a gorgeous geographical enclave that attracts millions of visitors to its Red Rocks for awe-inspiring views and its spiritual, sacred land which the Native Americans deemed to have tremendous power. Zusanna, the Polish girl who greeted me upon arrival at Casa Sedona Inn, which, much like the rest of the town, felt like it was designed by an artsy woman in midlife who was reconnecting with herself in the 80s, asked if I needed any recommendations as she showed me to my room, her personal favorite, the Garden Pueblo. Why, yes I do. I’m here to experience the magic of the land, I told her, and I don’t want any of that tourist-y bullshit. I’m looking for the real deal. You see, Sedona is like Disneyland for spiritual seekers with psychics, healers and crystal shops littering the main streets like t-shirt vendors. She recommended Suzette, a woman she personally trusts due to her own experience, to take me on a healing tour of The Vortexes, the area’s famous tornado-like energy centers. After a few more suggestions on crystal shops and where to eat, she left and I made myself at home in the pueblo, especially cozy in the jacuzzi tub.

I still hadn’t decided what day I would spend exploring Sedona and when I’d make my way to the Grand Canyon so when I woke up the next morning and the skies were overcast and gray, I knew Sedona was up first. I grabbed the paper on the nightstand and dialed up Suzette, hoping she was free on such short notice. She answered in a thick accent I couldn’t quite place, mused about the weather for a few minutes (it was supposed to rain) and after not hearing any hesitation on my end of the receiver, she said she’d pick me up in an hour. She pulled up in a silver minivan, questioned my Californian attire (she had brought some extra layers and an umbrella just in case) and behind her sporty mirrored sunglasses I couldn’t tell whether she was 50 or 70 years-old.

The first stop on the tour was her beige apartment building to get some more clothes for me as my (super cute!) army jacket was just not going to cut it in this 40 degree weather with the chance of rain. And then we were really off! Oh wait, Suzette had to pee. Did I have to go? Sure I guess to be safe I probably should. She whipped the van into the Burger King parking lot and we walked in discussing cheeseburgers. The conversation turned to In-N-Out as we went into our separate stalls and pulled down our pants. Her friend was obsessed, she couldn’t quite understand. I told her to try it and then she’ll know. My first lesson in today’s theme.

We drove up a residential street, parked at the cul de sac and I threw on the black and pink hoodie she lent me as she gathered the items we’d need. Gloves, hats, blankets and, of course, the umbrella. Before we began our trek into nature we said a prayer and blessed the land we were about to step on. During the walk through the woods I found out that Suzette was Turkish and had lived all over including Germany and New York before she settled in Sedona in the 90s. She dated a Native American and learned about the land living with his tribe. She also teaches Kundalini Yoga and said it was the only thing proven to completely remove her anxiety. It’s all about the breath she urged. When I asked how long she’d been a healer, she looked at me sternly and told me that she doesn’t like labels like that because it puts expectations on her shoulders that she doesn’t want. With other people’s expectations comes ego. Oh snap. What she did tell me was that she would help guide me to connect to the sacred land and that when we were through, I would feel an energetic shift had occurred.

Up we came on Oak Creek, the serene babbling brook that runs through all of Sedona. We put down the blanket and sat down. We meditated for a few moments, absorbing the energy of The Vortex, before she told me to go wherever I was drawn. I wanted to jump in the water but knew this wouldn’t fly. Instead she took me down to the creek and told me to put my hands in the water and splash it on my face, then purify my aura by throwing it over my head. Even though it was freezing outside, the water was not cold, in temperature maybe but there was a soft, familiar warmth to it that was comforting and refreshing. Next she took me to the side of the river, facing upstream, and instructed me to ask the Water Spirits to take away whatever was between me and Inner Peace. Take your time. Say it over and over out loud, inhaling a big breath through my nose in between. Never before have I had such clarity in what has been holding me back. From deep within came the insight, every time I would say the words “Dear Water Spirits, please help me to let go of _____,” the blank switched between various forms of fear, specific and vague, past conditioning and patterns and the resulting toxic behaviors in my present.

I finished up my conversation with the faeries and headed back over to the blanket. Lay down, she said. As my back hit the cold ground, Suzette put another blanket over me. With my eyes closed, she began guiding me through a meditation, repeating that I was safe and could relax and fall into a deep sleep. Cold raindrops began hitting my face, startling me every single time, when I heard the umbrella open. She put it over my head as we lay there in peace and continued, “Imagine a scene where you are free and happy.” In front of me a bright green field filled with sunshine and wildflowers appeared, I was playing with my husband and our children. Everyone was beautiful and full of light. We were all laughing and embracing one another. Love surrounded us. Once I had been laying there for a while in my happy place she instructed me to envision a warm, pink light in my heart with my mind’s eye. Inside was a rose with its soft petals opening one by one. After my heart blossomed, she drew my attention to the little blonde girl inside, so beautiful, so innocent. She asked me to run to her and hug her with all my might and hold her tight. Tell her you’re never going to leave her again. She then began describing a scene similar to what I had concocted in my head, where me and a young, innocent version of myself ran through a field of flowers, laughing and playing. Let her know you are going to take her to the most magical place in the universe and that she is going to love it, then slowly open your eyes and introduce her to the world in front of you. As I opened my eyes, I realized it was snowing all around me. I immediately sat up and knew the little blonde girl inside me wanted to play with the soft red clay on the ground — so we did.

Walking out of Oak Creek I confided in Suzette that I often saw things and it was somewhat jarring. “What kinds of things?” She asked. Fourth dimension shit, like something bigger trying to communicate with me. Don’t be scared, tune in and allow it, my non-healer guide told me. It’s true. I’ve always seen life through a poetic lense where everything and everyone is connected and believe our world is filled with magic. You just have to be willing to see it. We hopped in the minivan and made our way to the next stop: the Medicine Wheel, where all the answers are. First rule of the Medicine Wheel is no talking about what happens at the Medicine Wheel. But I can tell you this, afterward Suzette took me to get a real bear claw from the Sedona Trading Post. And that’s all I can say about that.

The last stop on my magical mystical tour of Sedona was the Mystical Bazaar, recommended to me by Suzette who reckoned “Angels work there.” I knew this was where I wanted to do a psychic reading, fresh off The Vortex energetic cleanse I had just experienced I was truly ready to get in there. As I opened the doors I was met with rows and rows of crystals in bowls, all meticulously organized by color and labeled with detail. Two girls were sitting in the middle of the shop gushing to one another, divulging personal details from the readings they had just had done. The women behind the counter offered me tea as I made an appointment with the Clairvoyant on call, Mary Ellen. Perusing the bookshelves stocked with insights on crystals, intuition and spirituality, I recalled the book bag in my trunk which hadn’t been opened in almost a week. I flipped through a few but the information just washed over me. With her curly hair and youthful, angelic appearance (seriously, she looked 20 years-old), Mary Ellen ventured out to find me for our session. Once in the backroom, she instantly started scribbling on her paper and jumped right in. We got so deep, so fast, there was a moment I felt scared, thinking to myself are we really doing this right now, talking about sexual shame and family dynamics and the intense guilt I feel in my heart around mistakes that have been made in my past? Sure, I wanted to get in there but, like, whoa. She said she felt compelled to spend our time together helping me make sense of the confusion clouding my spirit, sharing her own similar intimate experiences, and in an instant we were peers. She let me know that right when I walked in she saw my aura was very clean (game respect game) but she sensed there was this one feeling hanging over me that was keeping me in purgatory. Oh, yes. I know what you’re talking about. But I can’t seem to release it. After all the work I’ve done on myself, I still don’t know how. Then we hit on a topic that completely flipped my switch in that moment. How the mind is clouded with millions of psychological influences (some conscious, many not) that shape our perception of ourselves and the world around us. What happens in our lives, the good, the bad and the ugly, play out in reality based on repressed energy, that’s why sometimes the most pain we feel in the world is that which we put on ourselves. We replay old wounds over and over again. We get stuck and confused. But in our essence at our core, we know. Mary Ellen and I went over our time limit as we held each other’s deepest darkest secrets and at the end she asked me if I wanted to keep the paper she was writing on. I quickly said no. Or maybe I should burn it? I want to release that energy. She said she’d do one better, as my spirit sister, she was going to burn it for me during a ceremony she was doing that evening. Game respect game.

As Suzette and I were watching the water flow down Oak Creek she said, “The water knows what to do, it doesn’t think about turning around and going upstream or worry about something ahead. When rocks get in it’s way, it just goes around.” Deep within us we have all the information we need. A tree doesn’t ponder growing, it just does. That’s the difference between thinking and knowing. And I didn’t read it in a book.