The History of New Age Sedona (Part 2 of 3)
by Toraya Ayres
Jesse Kalu playing one of his many hand made flutes
The front of Boynton Canyon (vortex at small knoll)
Booth at the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany
Medicine Wheel at privately owned Rachel's Knoll
"In those early days, metaphysical gatherings were held at Mary Lou Keller's real estate office, where Hillside is today. There would be church gatherings there with Jon and Patricia Diegel, Michael Mola, and Lou Van Ault. James Hurtak, author of the Keys of Enoch, met with us there... Later, the Center for the New Age held its first fairs in that location...
"One six month period saw the Englishman/author/Sufi, Raced Feld, here in Sedona. He left in disgust at the way real estate was being developed in disregard for the ley lines. I think in part he was disappointed at the lack of 'worship' he felt from the local populace. Still he was an interesting character. And even in those days, Sedona had veteran metaphysicians of many years standing. Woe to the neophytes who thought they could teach these wise ones. Never mind if they had success elsewhere; they had better be prepared to deliver the goods in Sedona or have half their audience exit before a break.
"One of the neat gatherings was for the Golden Word Bookstore owner, Pat Northrup's birthday party in the Episcopal Church. There must have been 100 people who came to honor her. We danced, played and potlucked in celebration of our very first metaphysical bookstore's owner." [Golden Word Bookstore is still operating although it has changed owners in the past two years.]
"Around that time, perhaps earlier," continues Sophia, "there was a gathering at King's Ransom to bring the metaphysical community together, with committees formed to focus on gardening, arts, education and more. Meetings went on and on over a period of a couple of years. Things happened but it seemed to be more meetings than anything else. The core group was The Crystal Circle."
"For a while I was editor for a local Verde Valley newspaper and started to gather information about Sedona's spiritual community. One of the most important organizations was the Sedona Foundation run by Joy and Roger Harter, lovely people whose hearts and intentions were very fine. Once in a while, the Sedona Foundation would sponsor an event and monthly full moon meetings, sometimes held in the meeting room at the former Railroad Inn [now Super 8-Sedona]. The Sedona Foundation would sometimes have their meditations at the Cross on Airport Hill.
"One very interesting Sedona resident was Hirindra Singh, also known as 'The Pink Prince.' Hirindra was the 47th child of the last maharajah of the Punjab. He had been directed in a dream to come to Sedona. A bright and talented Vedic astrologer, he added color to our local metaphysical scene. In 1984, he had a vision of starting a monthly meditation for world peace in which we were to meditate on solutions to the world's problems. I think he was disappointed in the results. He wanted to send our findings to world leaders, but I don't believe he ever did. I did hear that he was in Washington DC for a while and trying to get these meditations going there. He shows up locally every once in a while."
Sakina says Hirindra and Mary Lou Keller used to do a Full Moon ceremony on Airport Mesa each month in the early 1980's offering prayers for World Peace.
Sophia continues: "The Sedona Institute started by Lester Levinson also held courses and weekly meetings here, although they never received the attendance they enjoyed elsewhere.
Tracking New Age Business around the World
Sophia Tarila, of New Editions International, writes
"I came to Sedona in 1981 to help organize a spiritual center. The Aquarian Educational group bought their property in 1980 and when I arrived in June of 1981, I served briefly as director, living on the property for seven months. The group's founder, Torkom Saraydarian would come over occasionally from California to hold seminars until the center was built up enough for him to come permanently. [Saraydarian is author of many books on spiritual topics.]
"In 1982, I met Solara Vayanian and a group of highly creative individuals who wanted to develop Transformational Theater here. We decided to become visible and opted to create a float in the St. Patrick's Day parade. All kinds of metaphysical people showed up to put the float together--over at Alon and Alina's. Locals and visitors came to their Monday night meetings and had the chance to meditate and socialize. We brainstormed on the name of Winged Fire and when a cold, rainy St. Paddy's day came, there were seven soggy dancers on the float, clowns and performers, adults and kids. But we had a ball. A real high. We won the most creative award.
"We had so much fun, three of us optimistically decided to open a dance studio in Old Town Cottonwood [20 miles from Sedona]. At our grand opening, we had a full house where we performed a number of dances. The head of the Performing Arts of the Red Rocks, Hanna Chansky, was there to observe. She was impressed enough to invite us to perform pre-performance for the Phoenix Symphony's first visit to Sedona on the Poco Diablo lawn.
Previous owners had intended to turn Boynton, Long Canyon and the tree farm into a gambling resort, Las Vegas style. A lot of spiritual people prayed the law which would have enabled that in the State of Arizona would not pass. It failed to pass by two votes.
Skeletons had sometimes been dug up when the previous owners were trying to build. Medicine men of the Native American tribes found out. They did chants. There started to be accidents, strange happenings. People vanished. Workers got sick. The owners decided to sell. They couldn't build there.
The third condition of the agreement that Grandmother Golden Eagle made with the Spirit Keepers was that the Native American graves should not be disturbed. This condition was met also. Sakina often goes to Boynton to pray to the spirits of the ancestors. The people who stay at Enchantment Resort receive the powerful spiritual energies of that sacred place, whether they are aware of it or not, and then they go and spread them to the rest of the world. That is good, says Sakina.
Nowadays, Uqualla, of the Havasupai tribe, who live inside the Grand Canyon, is present on weekends to welcome visitors and do his traditional dance demonstrating the legends of his people.
Sakina learned about her special connection with the local landscape in a surprising way.
In the 1980's, at Flicker Shack there would be a
lecture every Saturday afternoon. Many gifted
speakers were presented. Pete
Sanders of Free Soul
was one. You could sign up for a course afterwards.
Frank Baronowski was
another speaker. He did hypno-regressions on TV for
many years and had a radio program in Phoenix. He
would take a subject back to another lifetime, often
to the Civil war or WWII lifetimes and then discover
their name in official records afterwards.
Baronowski did a group regression at one of the churches in Sedona. Sakina recalls that about 100 people came. She regressed to a lifetime in Atlantis. Most people didn't go back that far.
Another time he came up from Phoenix and did a regression at someone's house with a smaller group, choosing Sakina for a demonstration. She relaxed in a reclining chair.
"You are going back in time," he droned.
"What do you see?"
"I see tipis, people scraping hides, a forest..."
"What are you called?"
"I am called Girl-Who-Loves-the-Forest. I love to go into the forest and talk to the animals; the birds, the rabbits, the deer. Sometimes we have to kill the deer, but always we say, 'I know that your life is as important as mine, but if you will feed us now, we will feed your children when we go back to the earth. and every time I pass this way, I will honor your spirit.'"
Going forward five years, she saw herself inside a tipi with her husband and little son. Then Baronowski took her forward to the end of that life. It was a shock!
"Oh! I can't!" she said, seeing her body
getting smaller and smaller on the plains below.
"The Long Knives got me! I fell on top of my
daughter; I was trying to protect her!" She saw
herself running across the plains with her
nine-year-old daughter, trying to escape the Cavalry
who had killed everyone in their village.
Two cavalrymen rode up behind them; one of them skewered her with his sword, and they rode on.
"All right, it's all right," Baronwski
said. "Advance three days. Is anyone else there?
Is your daughter still alive?"
"Yes, just barely. My brother is there."
"How did he know to come there?"
"My spirit went and told him."
Sakina later learned that her daughter of that lifetime, Little Dove, survived. Her brother took the girl up into the Tetons for safety.
Sandra Bowen, a gifted Sedona psychic and co-author of Mysteries of the Crystal Skulls Revealed, gave Sakina a message from her ancestors in spirit. Little Dove, it turned out, was Sakina's Sioux great-grandmother. Sakina has written a book about how she found out about her Native American ancestors and their lives. They wanted her to tell their story. The book is called Little Dove, Lakota Ancestor (Medicine Bear Press).
"This all used to be our land," says a Yavapai woman, speaking of the Sedona-Verde Valley area. "Almost all of Arizona was Yavapai and Hopi territory...There are very few of us full-blooded Yavapai left. When they took us over the mountains to the San Carlos reservation, some of us died along the way. Some of us died while we were there. And some of us died trying to get back."
But some did return to the valley. Because they mixed with the Western (Tonto) Apache, they are now known as the Yavapai-Apache nation. They live in the Middle Verde area near Montezuma's Castle and Montezuma's Well where their cliff-dwelling ancestors once lived.
There is another resort being planned for Long Canyon now, 300 timeshares, a golf course and other facilities. Perhaps the Ancestor Spirits will allow it to be built, says Sakina, but there are over 5000 people who have signed petitions objecting to it. A lot of people love the natural unspoiled beauty of that special valley and want it preserved.
Around 1980, a resort was planned for Long Canyon which is next to Boynton Canyon. It is said the owners ran out of money and went bankrupt. Native Americans say if people come there for the wrong reasons, the project will not be successful. Three houses were completed back then but six others had only studs and roofs erected. Until recently, they stood like haunting skeletons.
One time Grandmother Eagle felt an energy-drain in Long Canyon. She looked out over the valley to see why it was there. A visionary, she could see into the past. She saw a Yavapai village and then the Cavalry riding in. They told the people that they had to leave immediately, and go south to the reservation of their enemies--who were fierce fighters. The Yavapai were a peaceful people, the keepers of the sacred places. But anyone who protested was killed and the rest were taken on a forced march over the mountains in mid-winter. The Yavapai-Apache Nation still commemorates this 'Trail of Tears' with their Exodus ceremony every February.
Long Canyon was ceremonial grounds for all the tribes according to Hopi Elder Grandfather David Monongya, who used to come there at certain times of year to gather healing herbs. When prospectors planned to look for gold there (it was once called Canyon del Oro), they decided to get rid of the Indians.
Jesse Kalu has made many flute and story presentations at Enchantment. He came from the Marianas Islands in the South Pacific and discovered that his people had much in common with the Native Americans. Spirit led him to make his flutes and taught him to play them. His faith and his music are quite extraordinary. Locally, he is known for his ability to imitate bird calls with his instruments (and sometimes without them). Now he travels with his flutes and tells his story in many places. In 1996 he produced his first CD, One In Spirit.
The Benally family dancers, who are in demand worldwide, often do traditional Navajo dances at Enchantment. Jones Benally, the father, was National Champion Hoop Dancer in 1995. Jeneda, his daughter, dances the legend of the Changing Woman. Sons Klee and Clayson do a dance that honors fallen warriors, appropriate in this place where many brave ones are buried.
Boynton Canyon/Long Canyon, Sacred Ground to Native Americans
The Enchantment resort was built in Boynton Canyon in 1984, but it was done by agreement with the spirit guardians. When Cherokee Grandmother Golden Eagle, told the spirit guardians there that someone wanted to build in the canyon--the Spirit Keepers of the place let her know that they would only allow it on certain conditions. At the time Prince Hirindra Singh wanted to have an Ashram there. He thought people would benefit from the powerful spiritual energies.
The Spirit Keepers indicated, first of all, there must be free access to the deep canyon so that the Medicine Men of the various tribes could go into it and do their prayer ceremonies at certain times of the year, which they still do. The path had been cut off by previous owners, who wanted to build a gambling casino. And a gate had been put up at the entrance.
The spirit guardians insisted there should be free access to everyone, and whatever was built should be something which could benefit all people including the Native Americans. The gate was keeping out everyone but members.
The Native American Connection
Sakina Blue Star came to Sedona in 1983. From Rev. Stan Matrunick, a famous psychic artist, she learned to do spirit guide portraits with readings. Stan, a famous psychic artist, lived in Sedona between tours. For 50 years he travelled coast-to-coast sharing spiritual teachings, and doing portraits.
Today Sakina shares teachings and tales of her extended family in the Hopi, Lakota, Wampanoag and Apache nations. She does portraits of spirit guides, master teachers or galactic guardians with channeled messages from them, and offers Native American Wisdom Teachings, Vortex treks and Blessing Ceremonies.
The common values held by New Agers and the Native Americans have to do with attitudes toward the land, nature, reverence for all life, spirit communications, healing ceremonies, and the knowledge of UFOs and star people.
Judy Fisher, a popular local minister of Cherokee heritage, had the Church of the Living God in Sedona in the 1980's. At the end of her service, she would give each person an individual message. One Sunday, she told Sakina, "There's a man standing next to you; a large man. He is holding up a gold watch on a chain." Sakina recognized the description. It was her deceased husband. The watch had been given to his father by his mother as a wedding present.
Sakina's first husband had died more than a year before her arrival in Sedona. She met Sundance, who became her second husband, at Alon and Alina's. They were together for five years. One night Sundance woke Sakina up at 4:00 a.m. and said, "There's a space ship out there!" He had been asleep but heard a voice saying Get up. Go to the window. Look up. He saw a bright light, ten times brighter than a star, just over the trees. As they watched, it grew smaller and disappeared. This was repeated three times.
Sakina says that Judy Fisher often saw UFOs outside of her apartment on Sunset Drive, or out in the canyons late at night. People would follow her hoping to see what she saw! Sometimes the 'bright stars' would move around erratically, disappear, or shoot off at great speed.
A lot of people saw UFOs back then. The Cherokee people say they come from the Seven Dancers, or Pleiades. According to the Hopis, their Kachinas, spirit guardians, came from the skies. Now some Native Americans are sharing their knowledge and their traditions, relating their connection to the Star People. Sakina speaks of these things as she travels and lectures.
Alon and Alina's Monday night meditation was the popular event among the spiritual community in the early 1980's. Alon and Alina were given their names by a Hopi Elder, who had seen them coming in a vision. They hosted the meditation circle every week for seven years, and those who attended the sessions, Iris Clark, among them, remember them fondly. People would sit around in a circle with a large crystal in the center. Beautiful music was played while they meditated and then Alon would read the channeled messages Alina had received that week.
The group would then focus on praying for healing for those whose names were put forth and the crystal would amplify the healing energies that were sent out. This would be followed by the Native American custom of passing the "Talking Stick." Whoever held the stick could say what they wished, and the rest would listen. The meetings would conclude with everyone joining hands and singing a Metis Indian song, and then it would be hugs all around.
Many remarkable speakers came to Sedona, Sakina remembers. One was NASA scientist and UFO-logist Dr. Fred Bell, grandson of Alexander Graham Bell. He demonstrated the effects of pyramid energy-and later felt the energy at Sakina's medicine wheel coming up from Mother Earth in Boynton Canyon, (which she calls Sacred Canyon.) There is a burial ground there where the Great Chiefs, the Holy Ones, the wise and brave ones were brought from all over Turtle Island to be buried, so that some of their essence, their wisdom would remain.
"This core group decided to help organize the upcoming Harmonic Convergence. A nice turnout at the adult community center shared great ideas from Jade Wa'hoo and Joseph Cohen and others about the event, inspiring many. When that event happened, the city was filled with many out of town visitors for day long celebrations and meditations on Airport Mesa and other sacred spaces. I remember heading for a sweat lodge early one [Harmonic] Convergence morning, passing by Bell Rock where the parking lot and roadside were chock full of visitors. A phone tree helped visitors to find homes which local residents opened free of charge to those gathering here. It was an incredible time.
"We went out to Robber's Roost to join a ceremony there--just at sunset the third day. A special ceremony was held dedicated to the physical and other worldly visitors that were in attendance. Magic!"
Sophia met many of the early and later artists, teachers and healers, people who worked with shiatsu, jin shin jyutsu, chiropractic, massage, cranial sacral massage, ear coning, oils and other healing tools. One of them was Johnny Biler (the dreamer/doer behind the Jazz on the Rocks festival).
"There have been so many shared experiences--sweat lodges and ceremonies with Jade Wa'hoo walking on the red hot coals...The Crystal Sourcebook conference organized by Marlene Donovan...Vision Quests with astrologer Daniel Giamario...Crop Circle adventures with British friends Paul Scott and Dean Holden, a women's solstice weekend with Heather Larson and Veronica Vida, the "Knowing" experience with Donna Van Pelt, the Intergalactic cafe with Zoe and Zahn."
The list of talented people Sophia met could go on and on. There were writers, counselors, publishers, and pioneers in sustainable agriculture and solar energy.
"The cast of characters continually changes, but
not the intensity of the place," says Sophia. "After
16 years, it remains a privilege to live and work
"Sedona has always been a place of personal growth and inner revelation for me... Going away for a short period of time, it seems that I have stepped away from a rapidly changing vortex. Returning is like jumping into a quickly moving current taking a bit of time and effort to get into the flow without being overwhelmed."
First Editions, later renamed, New Editions International, was founded by Sophia in 1984. After designing and producing The Crystal Sourcebook for Mystic Crystal Publications, marketing became an important aspect of the company's work. The first New Age Marketing Opportunities directory was published in 1988 and later renamed, New Marketing Opportunities: The Business and Trade Directory for the New Age/Metaphysical Marketplace. The 6th edition came out in 1997.
Sophia is also the author of Flyers That Work; Promoting Products, Events, Services and More and New Age Market: Background and Trends Special Report, which is regularly updated. Both of these publications reflect the company's philosophy of giving clients the tools to help themselves.
New Editions has represented many local authors and musicians at the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany, the largest book fair in the world. James Redfield's book Celestine Prophecy was first presented to international publishers by New Editions there. NEI was co-sponsor of the first US New Age trade show in 1996 and the International New Age Trade Show held in Denver in 1997. The company in West Sedona tracks the rapidly expanding New Age marketplace around the world.
One of the finest metaphysical collaborations I have experienced in Sedona was the first meditation for world peace. Pat Northrup called the meeting at the Golden Word and representatives from many of the New Age/metaphysical groups gathered to plan the 5 a.m. meeting December 31, 1986. The planning drew 300 souls in very cold weather outdoors besides the Flicker Shack to meditate, sing, recite and more. It was a stunning success. Ron McLain [musician] and I visited every public school in Sedona for assemblies to give our large posters of an earth for the children to color and to write about world peace. We had the kids singing. It was a satisfying lead-in to the December 31st program which went on for several years. The years following we were able to rent the Flicker Shack to get out of the cold. There was always a nice turnout for this inspiring event.
"In 1987, a small group of meditators continued the meditation on the last day of each month meeting at churches or on Airport Mesa when weather permitted. It was this core group that decided to be in the St. Patrick's Day parade and raise consciousness about world peace. We called ourselves The Sedona Friends for World Peace. We painted a large world and tossed globes to the parade attendees back and forth-singing "Let there be peace on earth..." That's when I met Oman Ken [musician] for the first time. We had a lovely collection of international musicians, singers and marchers. One of our singers was an opera singer and another, Marge Thompson, local talented songstress.
The Keys of Enoch Study Group
Our eldest active New Age citizen is Gladys Iris Clark, 102 in 1997. She writes, "When I first arrived at Sedona in 1981, I was captivated by a powerful vortex around Airport Hill. To be specific, it was at Rainbow Focus where a "New Age" festivity was taking place. I had come from Santa Barbara, California, where I expected to be settled for the rest of my life and where ashes of my spouse of 62 years were scattered. On my return home to Santa Barbara, I just had to pack up and move to Sedona, regardless! Here I was meeting and enjoying knowing my kind of people. New Agers!"
Iris Clark, as she became known, remembers the Monday night meditation class hosted by Alon and Alina where she met most of Sedona's early New Agers.
Lehman Heisey taught Keys of Enoch (based on the book by James J. Hurtak) in Sedona for 15 years. Iris assisted for eight years before taking on full-fledged duties as hostess and teacher. Mary Lou Keller used to take her and some other local women around to various events when they could no longer drive at night. Iris Clark still leads the class on Keys of Enoch at her home on Tuesday afternoons.
It is illegal to build medicine wheels on Forest Service land. The Forest Service views people who build and leave medicine wheels after a prayer ceremony as ruining the forest. They blamed New Agers for this. Some media reports exaggerated the problem. The Forest Service has admitted there is far more problem with cigarette butts than privately constructed medicine wheels. Nevertheless, some New Agers, not aware of these facts or sacred tradition, have resented the destruction of medicine wheels by the Forest Service.
Pete suggests that if people want to do a medicine wheel ceremony, they create one mentally. It will do just as well. He also mentioned that sage smudging, which is very popular among New Age folk, can leave permanent smoke marks on the rocks, obscuring the ancient pictographs. Fire is a tremendous danger in the tinder dry desert in any case.
Another aspect of Pete's work with the Forest Service has been to allow volunteers to help with trail maintenance at vortex sites such as Airport Mesa and the Cathedral Rock trail dedicated in April 1997.
Pete's first book, You Are Psychic has sold 250,000 copies and is still in print. His booklet Scientific Vortex Information is available in local shops and he is especially proud of his 3rd book, Access Your Brain's Joy Center, which is based on the rediscovery in Sedona of brain research lost 35 years ago. It is about a way to feel better quickly without alcohol, nicotine, drugs or overeating. Pete is excited about its potential contribution to society.
For the past five years Pete has worked hard to get the Forest Service to understand that many people are coming to Sedona specifically for a spiritual experience. He found the Forest Service totally unprepared to understand the significance of this despite the fact all of the famous vortex sites are on Forest Service land.
Pete knew that a Northern Arizona University study of visitors done in 1995 at two different seasons of the year showed that 64% of Sedona's visitors were seeking a spiritual experience. Forty-two percent said they wanted to visit a vortex area. He worked extremely hard to get non-offensive language put into the Forest Service plans. [See pp. 28-30 "The Inspirational Landscape" section in Proposed Actions for National Forest Lands in the Sedona Area, available at the Sedona Public Library.]
Another aspect of working with the Forest Service was Pete's educational effort with regard to medicine wheel etiquette. As anyone who lives in the area knows, many visitors and some local folks have laid out medicine wheels for ceremonies on the land and left them there afterwards. The Native Americans, says Pete, never left a medicine wheel intact after a ceremony was complete. This was considered sacrilegious.
Pete was involved with the original Center for the New Age, a member-based service organization which Christopher Jelm founded in 1988. The first incarnation of the Center for the New Age was in Mary Lou Keller's old house. This organization carried onward the work begun by Marlene Mahre in her monthly Calendar of Creative Happenings, which held the community spirit together for several years. (O'Ryin Swanson bought out Marlene's calendar of New Age events and began Sedona Journal of Emergence in 1991.)
Marlene became president of the Center for the New Age after Christopher Jelm. It had to move out of the Keller house when the Hillside shops were built. The decision to go to the Village of Oak Creek did not work out well. The Center came back to Sedona in 1989 laboring under the financial consequences of two moves and a poor location in VOC.
Peter served as president after Marlene for two and a half years. He is very proud of the fact that he led the organization out of $10,000 in debt to a $11,000 surplus during his tenure. No other President of the Center for the New Age lasted as long.
Towards the end of his career as president, Pete says the Center was visited by 18 Hopi tribal elders. They came to ask for help in preventing the desecration of traditional sacred sites thinking that Pete, as president, had some authority over the behavior of New Age people.
New Age visitors had been leaving crystals and spirit feathers at sites as tokens of reverence. The Hopis had so much respect for the faith of others that they would not remove them. However, these behaviors represented desecration of a sacred site from their point of view and were upsetting to their traditions.
Pete explained that the New Age movement was not organized under anyone's authority. It was simply a world-wide spontaneous spiritual movement. He asked if the Hopi elders could tell him which sites were sacred so the Center could try to let people know not to do this. The elders replied that they could not tell him. This information was known only to the medicine men. It was the duty of the medicine men to carry out certain ceremonies at the sacred sites as part of their responsibility to the planet. Pete said all he could do was try to educate people as to reverent behavior and good manners in sacred space. Basically that meant, take no souvenirs, no rocks or sand, and leave nothing behind, no crystals, feathers, or offerings.
About 1990 the City Council began to consider a business license code, copying the proposed law used in other cities. There was great controversy when it was discovered that while most businesses would be charged $100 a year for their license, psychics, massage therapists and some other people would be charged outrageous fees, as much as $50 a day. It was the artists who rebelled first. They were furious at the idea of having to pay $100 a year for being an artist.
The New Agers, led by Pete Sanders, came to the City Council meetings and brought carefully reasoned proposals. They succeeded in getting the attention of the Council and as a result the reputation of the Center and of New Age people in general benefitted. The business license law was not passed at that time but it has been proposed again in 1997 in modified form.
A very unfortunate thing happened in 1991, which caused great distress to the whole community and acute pain to knowledgeable New Age people. The TV show "48 Hours," made a program about Sedona which was presented on TV March 27, 1991 as Secrets of Sedona. Pete learned afterwards that the producers put the show together by asking local photocopy shops about the weirdest stuff they had ever seen. The people creating the show refused to interview level-headed people or any of the non-profit organization heads. The result was an hour of distortion which made some people think the town was full of flakes. It really hurt.
Music and Dance
Solara Zakeli Vayanian came to Sedona in 1978. She recalls that her family came through town when she was three and again when she was twelve. Her husband came with her on a vacation in the early 70's.
At the time both were involved with theater in San Diego. They loved this area but didn't think they could come to live here. Nevertheless, in December 1977, Solara heard a clear spirit message while in the southern California desert, It's time to go to Arizona. She told her husband and they came.
They found a small house off Brewer Road surrounded by trees. "All my life," she said, "I felt out of place in normal society but here, I felt like I was in heaven. At last I was in a place I could be myself. And finally I understood what it meant to love the land. I feel a part of the land and energy here. This is home."
The town was small and quiet. Within six months, key members of her soul family arrived. Two of them she found were already here, Ani Williams and Aurora Adonai. Aurora was a dancer and painter who also did jin shin jyutsu bodywork.
Pete Sanders visited Sedona on many occasions before coming to live in 1980. He remembers attending several events at the Aurobindo Center near Red Rock Crossing with his mother around 1965 or 1966. Lois Kellogg founded the Center in an octagonal building located on what is now known as Chavez Ranch land by Oak Creek. This was probably the first spiritual center in the area, active in the 1930's and on into the 1960's. There was a library and a reading room. Meditation and discussion groups were held there. It was a place where people gathered in much the same way they do now at the Hub.
When Pete came to live in Sedona, his purpose was to set up the Free Soul Foundation. The information regarding Free Soul had come to him earlier through spiritual guidance, beginning in 1970 during his years at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He refined and tested his ideas between 1974 and 1980 while a Naval Officer posted to many countries around the Mediterranean, including Italy and Greece. He also spent time in Japan. It was important to discover whether his techniques would work in different cultures. They did. It was these multi-cultural experiences which led him to feel ready to begin Free Soul.
The organization is a non-profit foundation for the purpose of helping people be their own teachers in New Age explorations. There are over 200 certified instructors in the United States and 6 other countries today.
Solara's marriage lasted just seven months after arrival. One of her sons, Noel, stayed in town over the years. The other son left to be with his father. Major life changes were a common experience among new arrivals. In Sedona, she says,
"We watched people with big
names come in and get chewed up and spit out unless
they could let go of ego.
"One member of the soul family was a channel for a wise entity called Aton. He held classes and everybody came. Aton told us we were brought together to be purified at the soul level. We helped each other with a lot of processing. The group was called the Crystal Circle. Our job was to clean the mud off the crystals, so to speak, in each other, and to polish them. Twelve people met for years. We helped each other. And more people came to stay who we recognized at soul level."
The channel for Aton left in a few years. After he left, Alon and Alina held meditations for seven years on Monday nights. The same people came for a while and new ones kept joining the group. Eventually there were too many. Neighbors complained of the traffic and the meditations had to stop.
Alina is still in town, also known as Zalina, an oracle. She walks and talks spirit, says Solara. Alon was here for 13 years and still comes back, occasionally. Solara feels close to him. It is as though he were a "brother through time."
Solara's training, a B.A. in dance emphasizing both improvisation and technique, has turned out to be the perfect background for her work. Spiritual guidance told her after she came to Sedona, Now we're going to teach you how to dance.
Excuse me? she thought. I've been performing for years! But spirit taught her how to follow sound and memory lines back to the ancient temples where she was trained. She had invisible instructors.
"I was taught an Atlantean priestess dance, every single step. It was to be done exactly the same way every time, unlike other dances." She was to imagine the head of a doe over her head, feel her way into its essence, then begin the dance.
Gradually Solara realized her instructors were teaching her how to cross time frequencies, how to go into different dimensional frequencies and bring the essence back into the 20th century. "They had me focus on Source and get personality out of way."
In 1979, when she was given the dance and invocation from Atlantis, she was shown exactly how to fix her hair in 12 braids. A detailed vision of every aspect of the presentation came into her mind. The dance was presented at the Flicker Shack. From then on, however, spirit didn't teach specific steps because the interdimensional bridge had been built.
Winged Fire Productions, Solara's company, was birthed in Sedona as transformational theater, a considerable contrast to the conventional theater she had known before. In addition to giving solo performances, Solara has had full production companies of up to 30 people, including musicians, actors, dancers, writers, and technical people. They presented multi-media theater. There would be a major story line with original song and dance, a blending of many art forms. Everything was created from scratch. Solara is in process of writing a production now based on a dream from 1979.
In the early years, Solara says, Ani Williams played guitar and sang. She was just learning harp and had never been on stage. Solara loved everything she did. She recognized sounds Ani made which she knew in her soul. In 1980, Solara put Ani on stage to play her harp dressed like an angel with flowers in her hair. Ani, terrified, froze. Solara recalls hissing from the wings, "Play! play!" At last she did.
At the time of the 11:11 event, November 11, 1991, which was also celebrated by New Agers all over the world, Solara had a full production company. Channels said it was the date of the opening of the window into the next dimension. Earth would be overlapping 3rd and 4th dimension until 2012 A.D. Then Earth would be fully fourth dimensional. Solara co-authored a show with Sal Rachele called "Through the Doorway of the Heart." They played to packed houses both in November '91 and January '92. People came from all over the region to see it.
Ani Williams moved from Sedona to Seattle in 1995 to be closer to her daughter. But she still comes to town at least twice a year. Solara says, "We are both very clearly aware of having been trained in the ancient Egyptian temples. We were trained to use sound, movement, and color for healing work."
Solara uses movement while Ani uses sound. They spark each other. "Sounds open up new dimensions for me," says Solara. "We are major keys for each other in that way. We are still performing together and planning more performances along with sound and movement healing workshops." Ani created the Songaia tapes, 12 healing tapes which correlate sound with body parts, planets, chakras, and colors. "When I do ancient temple dances," says Solara, "that's what I use. They take me immediately back to that frequency. I go into the silence and listen. I keep awakening more and more of myself."
Nowadays, Solara says to spirit, Dance me. And spirit always does. She travels all over country and performs before hundreds of people, trusting that the perfect movements will come through.
Solara brings her own music and sound tapes for performances. Each dance is different because the energy of everyone in the audience is an integral part of the dance. She feels/listens to the group energy. Ani's tapes, which she often uses, seem to cover many different cultures but Solara has collected and used other music tapes, too. Sometimes she performs with musicians in the area.