Connecting with a Desert Landscape


I don’t particularly enjoy the desert, mostly because I hate heat.  And I do mean hate!  If it goes above 80 degrees, I’m miserable.  I’m much more a person of the forest and fields, mountains and lakes, than I am a person of the desert or beach.

But there’s definitely something different about Sedona, Arizona.  It’s a cliche to say this, but it’s true: the place is magical.  I first went out to Sedona way back when I was in middle school, around the age of 13 or so.  Older Sister lived out there for a time, and Mother and I went to visit, along with Grandmother, for Thanksgiving.  We took a trip to Sedona, and I was truly amazed.

The scenery was like nothing I had ever seen before.  I have since seen a true desert landscape, but to me it looked so strange and foreign and intimidating.  Where were the trees?  Where was the grass?  Why was everything so . . . beige?  But then we went up to Sedona, and I saw the red rocks for the first time.  That was when I fell in love with the Sedona landscape.  You can almost feel the power, the age, of the rocks and land. It felt old, but not tired.

In case you’re unaware, Sedona is said to sit right on top of a network of leylines and vortexes.  Leylines are lines of energy, said to run all over the earth, and where these lines meet in a group, they form vortexes.  Not vortexes in the terms of outer space or science fiction–vortexes as in pools of the earth’s energy.  Most people are attracted to these lines and pools of energy, because they are energizing and cleansing and powerful.

Last time I was out in Sedona, it was not a good time in my life.  I needed the small bit of spiritual healing I found there.  Mother, on the advice of a trusted and respected aura-reader, took me on a short hike to sit on the red rocks, away from the town and the road.  And then we closed our eyes and just breathed.  Breathed in the air, so different from our East Coast norm; breathed in the dust of the ancient red rocks; breathed in the energy of the place.  I kid you not, when I got up after just ten minutes, I felt energized and better . . . and I did nothing but attune myself a little more closely to the environment around me.  I don’t think that would work if the environment were sick somehow, or tired, but if you live in a healthy place, I highly recommend just sitting and breathing and feeling the earth around you.  I learned later on that what I did was basically a grounding exercise, though I had done nothing conscious at the time–but that explained why I felt so much better afterward.

Still, I was surprised, and still am, about how strongly I feel about a desert-like landscape.  As I said before, I don’t like deserts.  I don’t like heat.  But being out there and experiencing the place for myself really showed me how and why the Native tribes that come from that place feel about it the way they do.  It’s easy to imagine what it would have been like to live in that environment without the benefit of a town nearby, and without electricity.  The stars at night are so much more beautiful and awe-inspiring than any other night sky I have ever seen, and I’ve been a fair number of places around the world.  The land out there just recedes into the distance, not unbroken, but certainly untamed.  I can understand how the Native tribes see that land as sacred space, and how it shaped their worldview into something I, as a person who has never lived in that landscape for any length of time, can never fully comprehend.

I took a mythology course taught by a very well-respected professor.  What I liked about this course was that it also included Navajo beliefs alongside the more typical ones (Greek, Roman, Christian, etc.).  But, when we talked about the Navajo worldview, she told us a story that I don’t think I will ever forget:  When she contacted the university in New Mexico to ask a Navajo professor some questions about the Dine Bahane and Navajo worldview, he told her that he could try to answer her questions, but she would never understand.  He said it very matter-of-factly, without any doubt, and without any hesitation.  She would not understand.  Why? she asked.  And he told her it was because the Navajo fundamentally saw the world differently–their world really was cupped between their four sacred mountains, and the sky really was a dome overhead.  Now, this person lived in the “outside” world as well, as he was a professor, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the worldview of the Navajo’s ancient beliefs is incompatible with the rest of the world.  But he was right–my professor, as someone not raised to this view, would not understand, would not see the meaning.

This might not make as much sense here as it did to me in that class, but it has stuck with me.  I am very interested in Native beliefs, but sadly lack resources to learn more.  However, visiting the ancient places, and seeing them for myself, is as much of an eye-opener as any book I could find on the subject, and maybe even more so.  By seeing the desert landscape for myself, and seeing how the earth melded with sky, seeing how the stars felt close enough to reach out and touch at night–I felt an understanding in my core self of what those ancient beliefs could mean, but it’s not something I will ever be able to articulate.

A long and rambling post short, I’m looking forward to going back to Sedona in a few weeks.  It’s an adventure and an experience I will never turn down.

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2 responses to “Connecting with a Desert Landscape

  1. Reading your first paragraph I thought I wrote it lol I live in Tucson…like I said everything in your first paragraph is me too…I also feel they way you did in Sedona. At least I know I am not alone…I loved your whole post. Blessed Be to you…Jamie aka Sonofae

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