Tag Archives: Desert

Snapshot Saturday: Antelope Canyon, Part 2


Last year, I took a trip out to Arizona. I’ve been out there a couple of times, but I hadn’t had the opportunity or the funds to really go out and do some exploring beyond the town I was staying in. Last year, I had the opportunity to take a tour up to northern Arizona and see Antelope Canyon.

If you ever get the chance, do it. It’s absolutely worth it. The best time of day to tour is about 10:30am. That’s when the light is at its best. Although some of my shots didn’t turn out quite right because I wasn’t using the right settings on my camera in some instances, in others they became the best pictures I took during my trip.

I took a lot of pictures, and last week’s Snapshot Saturday was also Antelope Canyon. This is part two!

Shaped like a heart, from the ground looking up

Shaped like a heart, from the ground looking up

Light on the walls in one of the darkest parts of the canyon

Light on the walls in one of the darkest parts of the canyon

The view called "Monument Valley"

The view called “Monument Valley”

Just light and stone.

Just light and stone. No digital manipulation.

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Snapshot Saturday: Antelope Canyon


Last year, I took a trip out to Arizona. I’ve been out there a couple of times, but I hadn’t had the opportunity or the funds to really go out and do some exploring beyond the town I was staying in. Last year, I had the opportunity to take a tour up to northern Arizona and see Antelope Canyon.

If you ever get the chance, do it. It’s absolutely worth it. The best time of day to tour is about 10:30am. That’s when the light is at its best. Although some of my shots didn’t turn out quite right because I wasn’t using the right settings on my camera in some instances, in others they became the best pictures I took during my trip.

I took a lot of pictures, so next week’s Snapshot Saturday will be part two of Antelope Canyon.

Near the entrance, looking up from the ground.

Near the entrance, looking up from the ground.

For an idea of scale, even though it's kind of blurry

For an idea of scale, even though it’s kind of blurry

Just light on the walls

Just light on the walls

Sunlight coming in through the top while it's dark below

Sunlight coming in through the top while it’s dark below

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Spiritual Places


When it comes to very spiritual Pagan places, most probably thing of Stonehenge.  It’s the most well-known and widely-recognized Pagan landmark.  Those in the US probably think of Sedona, AZ, as it’s a metaphysical and New Age hub.  Other than that, what other places are there?  Do we even need special spiritual places?

I’d like to address the second question first.  Many Pagans revere the earth and consider the earth to be sacred or special in some way or another.  This thinking goes back to ancient modes of thought and belief in which the earth herself was something to worship or revere, and was a goddess.  This has become, to varying degrees, a mode of thought in modern Paganism as well.  The earth is treasured and honored, if not worshiped, and many of us honor and work with personified earth goddesses.

So if we see the entirety of the earth as sacred or special–then what is so special or necessary about spiritual sites?

If you subscribe to the idea of natural ley lines and nodes, then a number of spiritual places around the world are special and of spiritual significance because at those locations the earth’s energy is more strongly felt.  Sedona’s vortexes work from this kind of theory, that those areas are pools of natural energy that we lowly humans can feel and interact with.

We tend to need spiritual places of some kind because we’re human.  We prefer to have tangible evidence, and special places of worship or spirituality fulfill that need.  It’s just as true for Pagans as it is for any other faith.  Even Native Americans and other indigenous peoples have sacred places, and they are faiths and peoples very firmly connected to the earth and who do see the earth as a sacred entity.

Not only that, but spiritual places help bring spirituality into focus.  They can help a person to connect more easily with the divine and with nature than can necessarily be achieved in the home.  Areas that have a natural, more divine feel to them, that speak more directly of the gods and the universe, enhances your connection to the divine and can bring you more into focus.  For example, I can see the stars from my house in Maryland–but from the desert out west, I can see the Milky Way.  My view from home is lovely, but it doesn’t compare to the awe-inspiring view of the universe that I found in Arizona, and it doesn’t give me the same feeling that seeing the Milky Way and all those stars gave me.

So while the earth overall can be our spiritual center, those certain special places around the globe that speak to each of us of something greater, of a deeper connection–those are as worthy of reverence as the earth herself, and vice versa, the earth herself is as worthy of reverence as those special places.

As to what those places are; well, they vary widely.  Some people say their special place is the little grove or forest outside their house.  Some people say it’s a cave, or the beach, or a mountain.  Others say it’s the standing stones in Europe or the natural rock formations in Western America.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge isn’t the only magical place on the earth, and while Stonehenge is still worthy of care and reverence, a lot of people have been saying lately that the area feels tired, depleted, as if the energy of Stonehenge had been sapped.  I’m not surprised–so many people flock to the place every year and take of the energy but give nothing in return.

You don’t need to go to Stonehenge.  There are plenty of other places, some even closer than England.  Sedona, Arizona; the redwood forests in California; national parks; standing stones in England, Ireland, and Scotland; and many more.  A little research will yield a great many alternatives, if you’re willing to look a little deeper.

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.