Panacea Tranquility

Spiritual healing in Sedona hits a nerve

After 15 minutes of this bliss, Dave came in, and we prayed together, and he pushed on my organs for a while and told me I have only coffee and wheat bread for breakfast every morning--which is true--and that I should knock it off. He also told me that sitting at a computer keyboard, writing for nine hours at a stretch with my wallet in my right pants pocket, was throwing my pelvis out of whack.

Then he began the adjustment, singing a refrain from a Sublime song under his breath as he put me through the series of contortions.

Oh, love is, what I've got . . . Yank, crack! Just remember that: I said love is . . . Twist, pop! . . . what I've got.

Dave and I hugged when he was done. I waved bye to the chiro-nymph and walked out feeling two inches taller and floating on the pink cloud of an endorphin rush.

Down the street a block, just across from the Eye of the Vortex bookstore, I met my next healer by chance (although he told me in Sedona, there is no chance, only fate).

I'll call this dude the Shamanator, because he said I could, and didn't give me any other name. The Shamanator had on cut-off shorts, a purple poncho and enough crystals around his neck, ankles and wrists to power the Starship Enterprise. He also had a Rip Van Winkle beard with braids (and more crystals) and a really bitchin' carved wizard's staff with an eagle talon on the top.

The Shamanator said for 20 bucks he'd take me to a vortex and perform a healing ritual to exorcise my pain demons. So we hiked for about a half-hour to a spot near the base of Coffee Pot Rock, where he said a powerful vortex spins. The Shamanator directed me to stand at what he said was the epicenter of the red-rock vortex with my legs spread, and my palms pressed together with arms upraised, so my hands were pointing toward the sky, and tip my head back.

Once I'd hit a good stretch, he began to dance in circles around me, chanting and making clawing gestures with the eagle talon at the left side of my lower back. This lasted about two minutes. Then the Shamanator stopped, obviously winded, and informed me my back pain was due in large part to psychic distress from unresolved sibling rivalry.

I told him I'm an only child. He said the psychic wounds must have been inflicted in a past life.

Who was I to question the Shamanator, who was at least good for directions to Sunset Hills, a 55-plus planned community where Harvard grad and acupuncturist Keith Boericke plies his trade? Boericke's pleasant Chinese wife greeted me at the door. Boericke led me to a room where he listened intently as I described my symptoms--which had returned as soon as I came down from the endorphin rush of Dangerous Dave's back-cracking. He had me strip to my underwear and lie face down on a cushioned table.

As soon as Boericke began to insert the needles, I was relieved to be face down. Because while I don't usually have a thing about needles, I'm used to the doctor putting the needle in and quickly taking it out, and to there being only one needle, and a short one, compared to the javelins Boericke was working me over with.

I counted 19 slow insertions; the most intense was one in the back of my left thigh that pricked the sciatic nerve and sent my lower body into an involuntary, table-rattling convulsion of fiery pain, which I vocally dubbed "the anti-orgasm." Boericke didn't seem to see the humor. He told me to try to relax, put in a few more needles, then he dimmed the room lights to a single green bulb and put on a relaxation tape of synthesizers and harps.

Ahhh, more endorphins. There's no painkiller like natural painkillers.
Ten minutes on the table, two minutes for the needles to come out, and one glass of water later, I was on my way to my final appointment of the day: an "Intuitively Guided Massage Therapy Session" with "Blackfoot tribe Native American healer" Rhonda Gerard, who also operates out of the Center for the New Age.

Gerard had me strip naked and lie on a table, face up. First she waved her hands over me as though she was clearing away smoke. "I'm checking for sickness in your aura," she explained. "If there is any, I'll see black."

She didn't see any, so she put on a Carlos Nakai tape and proceeded to rub my body all over with scented oil for half an hour, which didn't help my back at all and actually wasn't too relaxing, as I spent most of the 30 minutes thinking about baseball, if you see where I'm coming from. Let's just say I was relieved when she told me to turn over.

I got a little shaky on Gerard's Native American credentials when she asked me about the tattoo on my back, which is a Tlingit Indian totem wolf. I got even shakier when she said, "Tlingit?"

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