Scott Morgan, 29, lives next to Glover Park, where he likes to jog. Sometimes when he's running there -- for reasons he can't explain -- he finds himself thinking about -- or is it sensing? -- American Indians.

"Sometimes I feel like an Indian runner or something ... " says Morgan, who simultaneously experiences "a little bit of an energy shift ... a lightening" during runs in Glover that make him feel "more centered, very grounded, present."

For Morgan, this experience transcends the garden-variety runner's high. He's convinced that a special kind of "energy" with ancient antecedents exists in the busy urban park. Certain other local sites have a similar effect on him, including the C&O Canal towpath, where he bikes, and a lake near Great Falls that feels "very magical, the same kind of feeling, a ringing, a hum, the area's a little more magnetic."

Morgan and others of a metaphysical bent believe that at specific places in and around this power-obsessed city, a whole other level of the stuff exists and can be tapped into. While some Washingtonians might find such ideas a bit too "California" for comfort, a casual perusal of "Pathways" -- the area's resident New Age resource guide -- suggests that more than a few locals are beginning to take this kind of theory seriously.

Others do not: "My organization would have a skeptical view of this," says Chip Denman, a computer scientist at the University of Maryland and president of the National Capital Area Skeptics organization, which takes an overall skeptical view of all supposedly paranormal phenomena.

NASA-Goddard astrophysicist Steven N. Shore, a consultant to the Buffalo-based Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (SCICOP), absolutely dismisses the possibility of such "power spots." There is no evidence, he says, that certain places have unseen natural forces that could benefit people in their vicinity.

"This is nonsense ... ," says Shore, a Washington-area newcomer who expresses shock at what he considers the region's large contingent of New-Agers inclined to believe in power spots, crystals and other such things.

Shore says a 19th-century cult of "pyramidologists" held similar beliefs about the mystical powers of the Egyptian pyramids. "All you're seeing is a transformation from one crackpot view to another crackpot view," he states.

Los Angeles writer Natasha Peterson, on the other hand, believes these power spots do exist and can have potent effects. In her 1988 book, "Sacred Sites: A Traveler's Guide to North America's Most Powerful, Mystical Landmarks," (Contemporary Books, $9.98), Peterson examines a number of such spots around the nation. She calls them "sacred sites" and says one needn't be psychic to sense their unusual aspects or to derive their benefits.

"No one has to be open-minded to experience this," says Peterson, 36, though she has noticed that some people relate better to some "sacred places" than to others.

Sedona, Ariz., for instance -- an alleged hotbed of sacred energies and known hotbed of New Agers -- proved too intense for one friend of hers who became "very agitated" by the energies there, she says.

Though she'd traveled widely and visited sacred sites in other parts of the world, about 15 years ago Peterson got interested in American Indian culture and began studying the history of certain sites -- such as Ohio's Serpent Mound, mysterious Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, and Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas -- known to have been used ceremonially by Native Americans.

"These are the remnants of places of worship," she says, "places where humans have gathered and done a lot of worship, places of prayer.

"Native Americans have a sacred geography," Peterson says. "Forests and mountains are their cathedrals ... Every mountain had its personality, its myth."

Peterson believes Native Americans were drawn to some of these natural sites because of potent -- but unseen -- energies. These energies supposedly result from the invisible presence of "ley lines" -- energy patterns -- that converge at power spots.

Local skeptic Denman disagrees: "The general idea {of hidden energies} is akin to what dowsers claim they feel when dowsing for water or gold," he says, referring to the ancient folk art of using sticks or other kinds of rods to locate underground water or minerals. "Many dowsers have been tested in rigorous trials" but "there's a severe lack of evidence" that they actually tap into hidden energies.

Denman says his group offers a standing $1,000 reward to anyone who can prove their psychic abilities where locating such energies is concerned, and believes ley lines would fall into this category.

"The idea that these lines might be there is not preposterous," says Denman, "but there's no evidence to support this kind of claim." He suggests that individuals' subjective experiences at power spots may be influenced by suggestion or personal expectations.

Peterson, for her part, contends that -- mystical experiences aside -- spending time at sacred sites can help you "forget about your electric bills, your car repair, stress on the job and just to be in the present, and all of a sudden you're seeing the sky and you can know simple happiness." She writes that sacred sites' energies make a good space in which to pray, meditate, do creative visualizations, even experiment with ESP.

And, she notes, it's not necessarily that far out from pre-chemical approaches to medicine.

"Nature heals," says Peterson. "In the olden days, when people were ill, they'd say, 'Go to the mountains, go to the seaside, take a boat ride ... '

"The hot springs of Arkansas were always a neutral place, a place of healing" that were shared by otherwise warring tribes, she points out.

But unlike the more heavily researched American southwest, where tribal lore and customs remain very much alive, much local lore in the Washington area has been lost to time or to old history books. Tantalizing clues about possible Indian sacred sites around this area, however, do exist.

According to "Washington, City and Capital," the 1937 Federal Writers' Project history and guidebook for the D.C. area, the city's early Algonquin Indians lived along the Anacostia river bank in a spread-out settlement called "Nacotchtank" that stretched from Bolling Field to Bladensburg. A major boulder quarry and Indian "implement shop" existed in Rock Creek Park, and other quarries abounded along the Connecticut Avenue corridor from Massachusetts Avenue to Georgia Avenue.

Indians also held "council meetings" at Greenleaf Point -- near what is now the National War College -- at the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers.

According to a 1916 history book, "Conquest of Virginia: The Forest Primeval," a sacred Pamunkey Indian town called "Ut-ta-mus-sack" existed near the confluence of the Pamunkey and York Rivers in Virginia where Indians worshiped an altar-stone called Paw-co-rance, "a solid crystal of between three or four cubic feet ... so clear that the grain of a man's skin might be seen through it, and so heavy that when they removed their gods and kings, not being able to carry it away, they buried it thereabouts. But the place has never yet been discovered ... "

On Maryland's Eastern Shore near Betterton, according to that same book, there is a pond that Indians considered sacred: "Still Pond, one of the mysteries of the Eastern Shore, was an object of veneration among the Indians ... So deep as {never to have been fathomed}, they believed its waters ran down in the earth to supply the happy hunting grounds of their dead ... Indians ... once a year, during the full moon of September, assembled by the side of the pond to worship ... "

Roger Johnson of Annandale, 59, is part Oklahoma Ponca Indian. He believes certain places in nature speak to certain people -- sort of personal power spots.

"Sometimes you'll be in an area and all of a sudden you'll feel, 'This is my spot.' There's a familiarity about it, and a peace and serenity comes to you," he says. "It's like you're feeling the heart of Mother Earth."

Johnson, who loves trees, has planted a good number of them in his yard, and has one that for him is a kind of power spot: "I have a white oak over here that's a power tree, and sometimes I can draw that energy as I talk to that tree," he says.

Aside from such personal power spots, there also are a number of extremely public ones, says Cecelia Cameron of Vienna, a singer and self-described clairvoyant who says power spots abound throughout Washington.

Cameron says some of Washington's most famous monuments are located at power spots because early planners and builders "were very tuned in to the earth energies and tried to cooperate with that."

The Washington Monument itself marks a power spot where a number of so-called "ley lines" converge, contends Cameron.

Alexandria's George Washington Masonic Temple is at another power site, she says, "which is why lots of people love Old Town."

Wolf Trap Farm Park -- where Cameron sometimes sings in a chorus -- has "a wonderful vortex right behind the barn," she says, and the Mormon Temple is "built on a wonderful energy spot." She thinks that when visitors to Washington feel attracted to certain spots, they may well be reacting to hidden energies.

"When friends come to visit -- my redneck friends who're not into anything particularly spiritual, they'll be recovering from the last night's beers -- and I'll take them to a place and they'll say, 'Wow, it feels so good here.' What are they feeling?" she asks knowingly.

Cameron's friend Phoebe Reeve of Annandale, 42, has for years kept track of local places where she senses certain unusual energies, including a couple of spots in the National Arboretum that feel especially lively to her.

"There's one big willow oak tree, the biggest willow oak they have, I always go sit next to it and feel very potent energy there," she says. "I've taken other people there and within a few minutes they have the same experience."

Like Cameron, Reeve believes local sacred spaces also may include some of Washington's most visited buildings.

"I think the Capitol Building itself has some real potent energy fields in it," she says.

Reeve also has experienced some unusual effects at the Jefferson Memorial. "I've had a strong sense around the Jefferson Memorial that there's a lot of energy available," she says. "If I had something I really needed to sort out I'd go there and sit and contemplate."

Another Virginia tourist site, the Natural Bridge, "has been acknowledged as a power spot," she says. But visitors to the privately owned tourist attraction -- which features electronically controlled chimes presumably to help set a sacred mood -- should "get off the beaten path" to feel its full effects, she says.

According to a 1939 book, "The Natural Bridge and Its Historical Surroundings," local Indians considered the high, arching rock bridge a sacred site. Legend has it that the Monocan Indians were fleeing enemies in the forests when they came to an enormous chasm.

"In the anguish of defeat they prostrated themselves and called on the Great Spirit to spare his children. And when they arose and looked, behold a bridge spanned the abyss!" says the book. They crossed it, then managed to kill off their enemies. Afterward, "the Monocan called it the 'Bridge of God' and worshiped it."

Similarly, says Reeve, Berkeley Springs "has some real powerful energy around it."

Not far northeast of Washington, at Rocks State Park in Maryland's Harford County, is a site known to have been used ceremonially by the Susquehanna Indians. Park ranger Peggy Eppig, 30, who's part Cherokee, has experienced unusual sensations a short walk from a picnic area.

The rocky site easily can be climbed, and near its peak are two possibly carved-out rocky thrones (called the "King and Queen Seats" ) where the chief and his spouse are believed to have presided over ceremonies.

Eppig says that some mornings, while alone at the site, she has felt a kind of inexplicable presence.

"You sense you're not alone, and it's not like there's one other person there; it's like lots of people." A few park patrons have reported a similar feeling of having unseen company, but find it "a safe feeling," says Eppig.

Eppig suggests that people in search of synchronous spots look "along river valleys. Up here you can go and sit and be quiet and pray to whoever."

Natasha Peterson says, whether you stumble on sacred sites or seek them out, "Look around; breathe the trees ... let the place love you."

Scott Morgan: "Your average bureaucrat could benefit enormously from a run through Glover Park. You don't have to see tomahawks floating through the air. It's just that Glover Park is a little more sacred than 19th and K."