Sedona,city (2010 pop. 10,031), Coconino and Yavapai co., N Ariz., 22 mi (35 km) SSW of Flagstaff on Oak Creek in the Coconino National Forest; est. 1902, inc. 1988. Tourism is Sedona's main industry. The city is located in an area of spectacular red sandstone buttes and mesas; the scenery has made the area popular with Hollywood filmmakers as well as tourists. The Chapel of the Holy Cross, built into a red rock cliff, is there. Red Rock State Park is to southwest, Oak Creek Canyon and Slide Rock State Park are to the north, and Prescott National Forest is to the west and south.
Sedona (Arizona)(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
A town in northwest Arizona, Sedona sits under the rim of the Colorado Plateau and provides residents a less extreme climate than the large deserts to the south and east. It was founded in 1901 by Carl and Sedona Schnebly. It developed into a retirement center and artists colony, and more recently emerged as a tourist draw.
The largely secular nature of the community stands in contrast to its prehistory. The area around Sedona had once been the subject of religious stories by the Hopi, Apache, and Havasupai tribes. Some of these native peoples associate their creation myths with the spectacular geography of the region. In the decades after World War II, various individuals began to tout the area as being a place where spiritual forces were particularly active.
The metaphysical side of Sedona can be traced back to 1957, when Mary Lou Keller moved there and opened the Sedona Church of Light. She sponsored weekly meetings at which the tapes made by Los Angeles metaphysical teacher Manly Palmer Hall were played. Keller was joined in the 1960s by Evangeline and Carmen Van Pollen, who headed a group in the “I AM” Ascended Masters tradition called the Ruby Focus of Magnificent Consummation, which regularly published messages received from the Ascended Masters. They were then joined by Spiritualist minister Judy Fisher, who opened what she called the New Age Center. The center evolved into the Church of the Living God, which held weekly Spiritualist services.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Sedona grew, as did both its traditional and alternative religious communities. However, things began to change in the 1980s. Around this time, psychic Page Bryant claimed to have discovered several vortexes of psychic energy in the hills around Sedona. This claim integrated well with accepted understandings of sacred sites in the New Age Movement. Many New Age enthusiasts were consequently attracted to Sedona, where they encountered both the beautiful scenery and a welcoming spiritual community. Bryant’s observations were elaborated upon by a number of New Age writers, such as Dick Sutphen, Tom Dongo, and Richard Dannelley.
Given the permeation of the idea of Sedona as a site alive with spiritual energy, it was not surprising that in 1987 it was singled out by José Arguelles as one of the major locations to celebrate the “Harmonic Convergence,” a moment of peaking by cosmic forces derived from Arguelles’ reading of Mayan prophecies. On August 16 and 17, 1987, thousands of New Age believers gathered together in the hope that the energy released through the cosmos on that day would facilitate a major shift in human consciousness. For Sedona, the event served to further its reputation as a place particularly favorable to New Age enterprises. It has become especially identified with channeling, the practice formerly called mediumship in which gifted individuals contact and allow various spiritually evolved entities to speak through them.
Today, in the relatively small community one can find a significant array of channelers, metaphysical centers, spiritual retreats, and occult bookstores. One major national newsstand periodical, built around the material produced by channelers, the Sedona Journal of Emergence, is published there monthly. The associated Light Technology Publications also annually releases a number of books about channeling.