Spiritual Tourism Drops in Sedona

An only slightly snarky article (it is the New York Times, after all) reports on a decline in “spiritual tourism” in Sedona, Arizona..

Local New Agers seem divided as to whether the economy or the James Arthur Ray sweat lodge deaths are more to blame.

After all the sweat lodge deaths “could have happened anywhere.”

“It was a very unfortunate and sad situation that could have happened anywhere,” said Janelle Sparkman, president of the Sedona Metaphysical Spiritual Association, who attributes the woes that New Age practitioners are experiencing to a lack of disposable income for spiritual needs and not what happened that awful afternoon. “It was not indicative of Sedona or Sedona’s practitioners at all.”

But they happened in oversold Sedona, which has been touristy for much of its existence.

My mother and stepfather moved there in the 1970s. She was teaching at Northern Arizona University, but he had retired and claimed that he could not handle the altitude of Flagstaff (though he was from Colorado), so they lived in Sedona as a compromise.

At that time, Sedona was mostly about art galleries and giving kitschy names to the big rock formations. There was one called Snoopy (after the Peanuts comic strip dog), no less. Young idealist that I was, I found it disgusting. As a newly come-home  Pagan, I was not impressed by the desert chapel either when they hauled me out to look at it.

I had not yet developed the ability to appreciate the touristy stuff in a hip and ironic way!

So between that and some family matters that I will skip over, I was unimpressed by Sedona. When the talk about earth vortices and spiritual power points began, all that I could think of was a rock called Snoopy.

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  1. […] James Arthur Ray Hurting Sedona? Chas Clifton links to a New York Times article about a decline in tourism at the New Age hub of Sedona, Arizona. Is it […]