While living in Sedona, I met a cast of characters who offered intriguing perspectives about SPIRITUALITY. Christopher "MR. UNSPIRITUALITY" Loren was ONE OF THEM.
Christoper reached out to connect with me when I mentioned his “How to Become Spiritual” video on Twitter. I belly-laughed through his whimsical presentation in which he took a tongue-in-cheek approach to describe steps many (including me) have taken in the quest for spirituality . . . .
After we exchanged a few emails, Christopher invited me on a hike to West Fork in Oak Creek Canyon. Along the way, I discovered that I was, at that time, where Christopher when he was drawn to Sedona in 1998. I told him that — awestruck as I was by the landscape and intrigued by people I met there — I still hadn’t caught my breath. Christopher said he hadn't either, even after living here for 16 years.
“I can say in all honesty that I have never ‘come down’ from my Sedona high. That's what was so confirming and amazing about my decision,” Christopher exclaimed. “I still awaken in wonder and gratitude when I look out of the window — hell, even with the window shut, I still feel it!”
As Christopher described it, he came here because he sensed a “warm presence” in Sedona. "When I first drove through, I remember the feeling of having my breath taken away. I knew this was my home, at least for however long the feeling of ‘home' remained,” Christopher muses. “Sedona was and still is my healing place where I could get away from the world and reconnect and grow my deepest desires in a safe environment.”
Christopher said that, like many who come here, he was initially searching for truth. "But I got caught up in theosophical induced fairy tales. Still, I would have had it no different because I love the wonder and imagination of the people in this town."
In an article published by Sedona Red Rock News, Christopher revealed that he originally sojourned to Sedona as part of a spiritual journey that gradually prompted him to ponder the impact of spirituality on humanity. “As I went deeper into the journey, I found that lingering under the glam of spirituality was the lost story of the individual,” Christopher told me.
Elaborating, Christopher said he now believes that spirituality and religion inhibit the actual healing that needs to take place in the life of a young or adult “primate.” Yet, while spirituality and religion exploit the "split-self," both can serve as a stepping-stone for a reunion of the abandoned magic within us, he said.
Christopher chronicled his personal journey and extensive research in his book, unSpirituality: Permission To Be Human. Choosing to self-publish via Amazon's CreateSpace, he exposes perceived delusions of “the spiritual self and its story” — from religious rhetoric to metaphysical absurdities.
“Self-publishing is great in that it provides a lot of freedom to do as you wish. But reaching a large audience is taxing, to say the least. So I appreciate when the content is shared,” he said.
Confident that the message in his book is important, Christopher said the small market he’s reached has responded in “life-changing ways.” But getting his message out there on a mass scale has been daunting. “Still, I do trust the process. I am evolving so fast that sometimes I have to catch up to who the improved version of me is, while reflecting upon the funeral of my old self serendipitously. And sometimes all this happens in nanoseconds."
To broaden his reach and spur sales, Christopher launched unSpirituality.com, setting the tone for his project with a video he dubbed, "I Am Primate." He said he was currently working on new musical creations for his unSpirituality content.
“I'm pretty much a born singer/songwriter/guitarist and my music has a story in itself, which I’m just now discovering in a more authentic way,” he said. “But rather than creating this music as a form of entertainment, I’m more about the message, in that the problems of our world stem from archaic child rearing that produces ‘identification’ and a socially acceptable split-self.”
During my interactions with Christopher, something he said struck me. Referring to his current musical endeavors, he remarked, “Mr. unSpiritual is quite spiritual...he just redefines the juice from a natural perspective.”
Like Christopher, in my own quest for authenticity, I scrutinize for clues that help me balance fairy tales with reality. That said, I can't say I concur with Christopher’s philosophies and research.
Something I do agree with, though, is that as writers and as individuals, it’s helpful to “allow the story” to unfold. I sense that when Christopher wrote that line into his "How to Become Spiritual" video, he was only joking. ❤ v!ctor!a colette
► Postscript: A couple of years after I wrote this post, Christopher changed his name to "ZZenn" and deleted his "How to Become Spiritual" video. Hmmmm.
5/20/2014 06:56:14 am
Very well written and thank you for including me in your blog. I think I would have liked to read a few bits on exactly what you did not concur with regarding my philosophies and research.
5/20/2014 11:25:45 am
Christopher you are welcome!
Soon after i relocated to sedona, an acquaintance emailed me an invitation to an event described as "gALA/Church of the Golden Age."
Envisioning a gala evening of enlightening conversation and appetizing canapés, off I went. Google Maps steered me to the West Sedona address that, turned out, was a row of small office suites behind Domino's Pizza. Really Google? Are YOU sure? Approaching the door, I peered through the window and scanned the room. No tables with appetizers or bubbly beverages. And no one dressed in social gala garb. In stark contrast, people were sitting in folding chairs arranged in a circle. Some folks appeared to snooze as one woman spoke in low, modulated tones.
Awkward! Entering the room, I spotted an empty chair, then took care not to click my heels as I crossed the slick vinyl floor. The talking woman paused to say, “Welcome. Please remove your shoes.” Stowing my heels under my chair, I focused my eyes on her as she continued her discussion — something about planetary matters of great portent and empowered missions. Then she began to muse about entities she referred to as "Ashtar One" and "Galactic Command."
My mind’s eye pictured some giant mothership that would soon hover over Sedona and provide refuge for those who are, as the speaker described it, “aligned with the intent to take our designated places and where everything we need is provided for our enlightenment.” Rest assured, she emphasized, “we will ascend gracefully into our new levels of empowerment for our intended missions, journeys and service roles.”
During the next hour, I learned that GALA is an acronym for Golden Age Light Academy, and the woman speaking — who serves as “seer, planetary healer and facilitator” — goes by the “spiritual name” of Arianha Bialon. As Arianha explained it, this group believes they and others are being prepared for new positions as ground crew for the Crystal City of Light here in Sedona, and various new Golden and Crystalline Cities emerging elsewhere on the Planet.
As she addressed these concepts, I studied her face, expressions and the clothes she wore. Dressed entirely in turquoise — from her scarf and sweater to her ankle length skirt — she sat straight in her chair an punctuated her remarks with twirling hands, wrists and fingers, much like a middle-eastern dancer. As she channeled messages from spirit guides she referred to as angels, her eyes closed and her head wobbled slightly on her frame.
While in and out of these intermittent trances, Arianha asked if anyone had questions for the angels. One woman asked to know her mission. Another wanted to know her spiritual name. Arianha responded with guidance she says comes from angels who speak directly to her. Then she asked if anyone wanted their doors opened. "Sure, I'm all about opening doors!" I spoke up. I had no idea what to expect, but joined hands with others as Arianha said “a special prayer for this purpose.”
Others chimed in to share their perspectives. One woman acknowledged that she was a student of A Course in Miracles. (Been there, done that.) She said that while she agreed with some aspects of Arianha's discussion, she preferred to remain "grounded." (Count me in on that.) Arianha mentioned that each one gathered here was either a healer or a messenger. Turning her attention to me, she asked which one I was. Smiling, I replied, “How about you ask me that after I've been in Sedona for a while?" Arianha then remarked that my necklace — a rectangular silver pendant centered with a dark round stone — signaled that I might be a messenger. She said that when we all ascend to Galactic Command, we’ll wear symbols that signify our purpose there.
“Why can't we just wear one of those 'Hello, my name is...' badges?" I joked. When a few folks laughed, I felt encouraged that, as “planetary healers,” at least they shared my sense of humor.
Of course, if I'd spent more time researching this “church” before attending this event, I would have connected the dots and realized this wasn't my scene or tribe. When I later typed “Ashtar Galactic Command” into the Google search bar, it rendered a post about a 1977 news broadcast allegedly interrupted by an ethereal representative of the Ashtar Galactic Command. Perusing the article, I concluded that everybody’s seeking some form of truth, crazy as truths may sound.
While I remain inclined to seek what resonates with me, Galactic Command is beyond my realm of reasoning. And I'm not in the market for a mothership. Makes more sense to me to stay grounded as I interact with others on our individual and collective paths toward enlightenment.
Less than five minutes from my former home in Sedona's Village of Oak Creek, there's a medicine wheel of which few people are aware. That's because it's hidden in the high desert and concealed among cacti.
I became aware of this site during a magical mystery tour with LaLa and Emmy. During our outing, I also learned about a Native American practice involving circular patterns, cardinal directions, cyclical seasons and the rhythm of life.
LaLa navigated our way to the obscure site, which she previously visited with a hiker friend. The less-traveled path is accessed via a dry desert wash adjacent to a private residence. Hiking up the rocky trail, we passed fallen trees and prickly pear cactus that seemed to point the way. Once we found the site, sun rays beamed directly into the center of the medicine wheel.
To many Native Americans, the term "medicine" refers to forces of nature fused with our personal power for spiritual well being and healing — which starts from within and expands outwards. As I understand it, a medicine wheel is used for meditation, prayer, introspection, enlightenment, and healing. The wheel (also referred to as a circle of life) involves the Great Spirit and one's own spiritual universe. Some believe the wheel facilitates physical connection points with the spirit world, and creates a healing energy vortex that flows from the earth and spirals into the environment — benefiting every living thing.
Mirroring the shape of the moon and sun, the meaningful design of a medicine wheel incorporates ...
Emmy taught us that the medicine wheel involves a ceremonial ritual in which everyone participates. Empowered by her training in spirituality, shamanism and other woo-woo stuff (a phrase attributed to certain "spiritual" practices in Sedona), Emmy conducted our ceremony — maximizing potent precious rocks she brought with her, along with cornmeal and dried white sage.
I was aware of smudge sticks used in numerous Native American traditions to summon positive energy. Smoke from the burning smudge stick is believed to bless, cleanse, and heal the person or object being smudged. (I often used them to rid my home of negative energy when I lived two blocks from the U.S. Capitol.)
Before we stepped inside the medicine wheel, Emmy smudged LaLa. Working in a clockwise fashion, she “wanded” the burning sage while simultaneously "sweeping" the smoke — to drive out negative energy and summon positive influences. After Emmy repeated the ritual with me, I smudged her in turn.
Once purified, we approached a painted boulder designed as an altar, to offer our gifts before entering the circle. Chanting a blessing, Emmy sprinkled cornmeal onto the altar and then offered a rock as her gift. Following suit, I placed a freshly picked branch of lavender from my garden, along with an apricot from a neighbor's tree.
Stepping into the circle, Emmy perched on a rock, pulled out a couple of tuning forks, and began to meditate. Sitting cross-legged, LaLa meditated on the magnificent vista from this high desert hilltop. Awed by the beauty surrounding me, I turned my attention to artistically painted boulders arranged at cardinal points of the circle.
The unknown individual (or group?) who designed this medicine wheel is clearly passionate about nature and art. I was captivated by the boulder painted with a multi-colored tree of life. Within its center, there’s a double-triangle Star of David. Drawn at the base of the tree of life, Mother Earth stands her ground. Broader brushstrokes within the overall drawing depict forces of nature — among them, lightening bolts, snowflakes, rain, and a rolling river.
Shutterbugging as Lala and Emmy sat beneath a twisted juniper tree, I captured rainbows, sunbeams and orbs in my photographs, which we like to think indicates we summoned the great powers that be. Fusing these forces with our own energies, it was our intent to harness spiritual powers aligned with the natural order of nature.
After our ceremony as we trekked back down the wash, we built a cairn to express our gratitude. While gathering stones for the cairn, I found a fragile spiral amongst prickly pear cactus and glittery red rocks. Fittingly, I later affixed that spiral (with découpage) to the heart-shaped red rock that summoned me to Sedona.
To learn more about our ceremony, peruse my captioned photo-backstory about the medicine wheel in the Village of Oak Creek. ❤ v!ctor!a colette
6/16/2014 11:20:24 pm
Such a beautiful and spiritual connection to nature. I am drawn to water, and Oak Creek provided a purifying if chilly connection for me.
6/17/2014 07:46:05 am
Victoria, thank you for sharing this informative backstory and the wonderful pictures.
Patrick (aka Island Boy)
6/17/2014 09:33:55 am
Victoria, I loved your latest blog. The medicine wheel, the wonderful painted rock, the sage smudging ceremony, and of course Emily & LaLa.
6/17/2014 10:29:59 am
Wonderful and so inspiring. Thank you so much for helping us be AWARE.
6/17/2014 09:36:12 pm
I really enjoyed this blog post. It resonated with me as I had recently contacted a friend of mine, Lakota One Heart, with whom I've been out of touch for about a decade. I served as firetender for her sweat lodges in the past.
6/18/2014 07:48:04 pm
Hi V girl!
Tour guides typically publicize the V-bar site in Sedona as the largest petroglyph site in the Verde Valley. But venturing far from the beaten paths of Beaver Creek in Coconino National Forest, my friends Tami and Bobby introduced me to one of Sedona’s lesser-known archaeological sites.
Accompanied by their canine companions, we headed into the wild via Bobby’s beat-up van that he fondly refers to as the “HEAP” (Heavy Equipment Excursion Platform). Unfortunately, the HEAP lacks roll bars, which would have been helpful during the jolting ride along rugged Forest Service roads 618 and 645A.
After reaching Red Tank Draw, we disembarked and hiked down a steep, rocky canyon. Along the way, they pointed out several varieties of cactus and other desert plants. (Tami has extensive knowledge as a former guide for a Sedona jeep tour company.) Seeing that I lacked a hiking cane, Bobby scouted a piece of dried wood to steady me on the rubble of rocks in the wash.
"What's the difference between a wash and a creek anyway?" I asked.
"A wash is where the water runs. A creek is where the water is," Tami explained.
"Go figure," I mused, seeing the creek bed was completely dry. Bobby assured me that during monsoon season, water gushes over these rocks, and the creek is deep and fierce.
When we reached our destination, I was awestruck by intricate carvings of deer, elk, antelope, turtles, lizards, people, crosses, spirals and other mystical depictions chiseled into 40-foot high sandstone canyon boulders. The Southern Sinagua culture — ancestors of the Hopi — created these petroglyphs between A.D. 1150 and 1400.
After we climbed and descended the ancient site, Bobby led the way to a swimming hole deep in the canyon. As he stripped down to his skivvies and took a dip with the dogs, I found a spot under a shade tree and practiced the local preference to "Don't just do something...sit there!"
Later this afternoon when a new acquaintance stopped by for tea, she told me that in some cultures, the spiral represents the flow of water. Digging deeper, I read that in every ancient culture in the world, spiral petroglyphs can be found. Spiritually speaking, the spiral symbol can represent the path leading from outer consciousness (materialism, external awareness, ego, outward perception) to the inner soul (enlightenment, unseen essence, nirvana, cosmic awareness)."
Gratitude to Bobby and to Tami for sharing this rare experience and for treating me to lunch after our hike. To round out my slideshow, Bobby uploaded images he captured as I pondered the significance of chiseled spirals that, to me, represent happiness on the rocks. ❤ v!ctor!a colette
During summer 2013, my friend m!nx!e from the Midwest trekked to Sedona with her sister. For my birthday that September, m!nx!e created a travel brochure just for me that artfully pictured Sedona landscapes and chronicled their adventures there.
Happiness on the Rocks was inspired by a shift in perspective and relocation from America's capital city to Arizona's rocky deserts. Here, I muse about hiking on the rocks and road-tripping across the American Southwest while pondering the nature of existence. Surrounded by mountains and the world's largest concentration of Saguaro cactus, I feel happiness flow like a wash during monsoon season.
🌵 v!ctor!a colette #HappinessOnTheRocks
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