When our friend Sthenno learned that Aradia and I were going on a road trip to the Badlands, she asked us to bring her back some dirt to dad to her collection of Earth and Waters from various parts of the world. She gave us a baggie to collect the dirt in, and a vial of water and a tea-light to serve as an offering for the exchange.
Although we were happy to oblige, there was the small concern of where and how to do such a thing. After all, the removal of any rocks or plants from a national park is technically a crime (though we carried off enough mud on or shoes and gear to equal easily five times the volume that we collected for Sthenno). Further (and, frankly, more importantly), this was not a region where white people have historically covered themselves in glory with regards to the First Nations peoples or the spirits of the land. Although Aradia got a slightly different vibe off of everything, the overwhelming majority of the spirits that I could percieve in the Badlands were fundamentally disinterested in my existence one way or the other.
The one notable exception to that was a spirit near our camp site. There was a hill to the West of us that called to me. And not just me: a camp of hippies near us took it upon themselves to climb the small mountain in the dark. Aradia and I watched their lights and listened to their yells; I very much wanted to follow them—as I put it then, “carrying our jug of wine and screaming like a maenad”—but Aradia disuaded me.
The spirit knew that we needed dirt, and it called to me. The second day we did climb the hill, and found concentric circles of carefully stacked stones with a set of three piles that were clearly an altar of sorts, and two extra pairs set like gateways at the heads of two paths leading further away from the site. The spirit—who we believe called others there to erect the “standing stones”—accepted Sthenno’s offer of water and fire in exchange for the dirt (though the wind made the latter … complicated), but wanted blood from Aradia and I without making itself particularly clear about what it was offering in return. We politely declined, and—perhaps as a result–the spirit also made clear that we were not to take any pictures of the top of it’s hill, so the above picture from the road is the only image I can offer you; one can just barely see the stones rising up at the top of the hill.
Upon our return, the dirt maintained a clear and potent charge, and Sthenno was startled but intrigued to hear the story. For myself, I look forward to hearing what comes of her workings with the dirt and the associated spirit.
The site, itself, remains clear in my mind, and it is my intention to return astrally to see what I can learn from that perspective.