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Rangers Battle Crystal Folks Over Rearranged Rocks

September 14, 1991

SEDONA, Ariz. (AP) _ The wheel-like rock formations in the scenic red-rock canyon below Munds Mountain look unnaturally symmetrical.

That’s because they’ve been rearranged several times by New Age mystics who say the pattern of circles helps channel spiritual energy. The Sedona district ranger, Robert Gillies Jr., says the mystics shouldn’t be messing with Mother Nature.

Thousands of years of natural movement by wind and water had arranged the black rocks - from pebbles to 3-foot boulders - into a flowing S-curve on the red ground. Now they lie in a series of interlocking circles, some with spoke- like patterns inside, covering an area some 50 yards across.

After the circles first appeared in 1987, Coconino National Forest rangers repeatedly tried to return the rocks to some semblance of their natural arrangement. But when the New Age people kept rearranging them the rangers finally gave up.

″I have no qualms with people using the resources; it’s theirs,″ Gillies said. ″But messing with Mother Nature’s fancywork. It’s gone. It was a unique formation. You can’t duplicate it.″

The wheels lie about five miles from Sedona, an artsy enclave in the mountains 100 miles north of Phoenix. The town in recent years has attracted upscale New Agers who believe the energy of the cosmos is strong where the pine forest meets the red-rock spires of canyon country.

New Agers call the circular formation a vortex, something like the American Indians’ prayer wheels, and say it helps focus spiritual energy.

″The Indians that settled in Sedona found the power spots and held their ceremonies at the medicine wheels,″ said Ron Babin, director of Sedona’s Center for the New Age.

The town was among several hot spots worldwide for the 1987 Harmonic Convergence, in which New Agers gathered in the belief their combined psychic energy could work wonders. Healings and other such events were enhanced around the wheels, Babin said.

″Psychics, channelers and healers all felt the acceleration,″ Babin said. ″It was more powerful at the medicine wheel, even scientists measured force fields at the site.″

John Wittman, of Wheatridge, Colo., recently visited the wheels located a few hundred yards off a dirt road outside town.

″I can’t tell you anything about the metaphysical with this,″ Wittman said. ″But, there is something to be said for the area. I just feel good when I’m here.″

His companion, Suzi Sims, went a step further.

″We had dreamt of Sedona long before we ever came to Arizona,″ she said. ″We both saw this area, but we didn’t know where it was, until we came here.″

The rangers wish fewer people would discover the area.

Dismantling the largest vortex created by the New Agers was a task that used to take a 10-person crew several hours until the rangers finally gave up. However, they continue to scatter rocks from hundreds of smaller wheels that occasionally appear overnight in the area.

″It’s frustrating,″ Gillies said. ″You have a predicament. You don’t want to limit the use of the area, but you don’t want the area ruined for everyone.″

Babin insisted that local New Agers tear down the wheels after using them.

″Outsiders come in and don’t tear them down, which is what the rangers are complaining about, and rightly so,″ Babin said. ″The Indians also put the rocks back.″

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