At specific points around the world, the earth churns with tangible, tingly energy at sites known as vortices, visited by those seeking connection, healing, or a good story to tell. This special series in your road map to six such hotspots in the Western United States—and what to do once you get there.
Homelands Of: Karuk, Modoc, Pit River, Shasta, Wintu
Dubbed the earth’s root chakra and the base of our planet’s energy system, Mount Shasta is an active but dormant volcano standing nearly 14,200 feet high in Northern California. Hidden behind disc-like lenticular clouds and year-round snowpack, the mountain—favored by adventurous hikers who don crampons to summit its peak before skiing down—is steeped in Indigenous folklore, New Age hope, and even alien conspiracy.
While the energy center here is venerated by multiple groups with varying beliefs, there’s no denying the land emits power and vibrancy—seemingly from the mountain itself, like a massive battery that recharges residents and passersby. Even folks who arrive without knowing the vortical history report heightened alertness, energy, and creativity when in the area, and it’s not uncommon to hear of residents who came to visit and just never left.
Mount Shasta is considered by the native Modoc people to be a place of light, created by the spirit of the sky (who, as legend has it, settled at the summit) as a way to reach the afterlife. A certain sect of locals share the tribe’s belief in mythical cavernous passageways within and throughout the volcano but assert that those tunnels lead to Telos, a fabled magical city inhabited by seven-foot-tall mystical beings called Lemurians.
In the pint-size town (it’s less than four square miles), the focus is not on doing but on simply being—seek out healers (there are many) if that calls to you, but otherwise turn your attention to the earth, rooting yourself in her energy.
Mount Shasta’s peak, often hidden by smooth, thick clouds, looms over the eponymous town at its base. The eclectic indie storefronts rotate with some regularity, but multiple shops devoted to spirituality, crystals, and self-empowerment remain a constant. Among them, metaphysical supply shop Soul Connections is most well known and widely curated, lined floor to ceiling with amulets, jewelry, flags, and delicate curiosities.
The length of the town can be traversed on foot in about 20 minutes, beginning at either end of the main drag, Mount Shasta Boulevard. Grab a hot drink at Yaks on the north end or Seven Suns to the south, and sip as you trod the icy sidewalk (carefully!)—for even in winter, when snow can pile feet high overnight, Mount Shasta
is not a place to stay indoors.
Castle Lake—formed 10,000 years ago by glaciers and surrounded by craggy granite walls and pine—attracts summer swimmers who bask in the pure crystalline water, said to have healing powers. When the snow comes and the lake freezes over, the sacred site is transformed into a serene snowshoeing destination. Head out on your own with snowshoe rentals from the Fifth Season or let certified outdoorswoman Robin Kohn of Mount Shasta Tour Guide chaperone your excursion, regaling your group with tales of vortices (ask about the portal to another dimension on the far end of the lake) and the area’s flora and fauna.
While winter renders most of the mountain more treacherous, a gentle drive to Bunny Flat passes Ascension Rock, where swells of energy unfurl from a jumble of large stones. Closer to ground level, the Gateway Peace Garden is open daily for meditation from sunrise to sunset (and free to enter)—unless a heavy winter storm buries its paths.