Thursday, April 1, 2021
New Age mystics believe the earth is scored by invisible lines (energy or ley lines), that otherworldly power accumulates where these lines intersect, and that such intersections are the holy places of the planet—its chakras. Saul Bellow called them axial lines. The instructor at my yoga studio calls them energy vortexes. They say it’s no coincidence that shrines and places of pilgrimage congregate in the vicinity of such intersections. The pyramids of Giza. Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives. Uluru and Kata Tjuta, domed rock formations in central Australia. Ibiza in Spain. Mount Shasta in California. And—my personal obsession—Otero County, New Mexico and the surrounding terrain: the railroad town Alamogordo, the missile range and observatory, the black military sites and secret installations, the hunting ground of the southern Apache now reduced to the 463,000-acre Mescalero reservation, and the surreal gypsum desert known as White Sands.
The area around Alamogordo was the first part of the American Southwest to be added to maps of the “new world.” It’s where Geronimo made his last stand, where black members of the Union army came to be called “Buffalo Soldiers,” where the first modern American missiles flew, and where flying saucers are cited and sometimes crash. It’s where the first atomic bomb was dropped. This spooky, irradiated place is the closest thing America has to a spiritual capital.
I also am very fond of the deserts and culture of the Southwest, as is LWJ, though we have spent far less time there than we would have liked. My spirituality, such as it is, tends more towards the beautiful, tiny Catholic shrines in the little villages of northern New Mexico. For example, El Santuarino de Chimayo. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Santuario_de_Chimayo)