I was born and raised in the Tennessee Valley.
As a child, some of my most vivid memories are those of funerals and graveyards. For whatever reason, our mother enjoyed taking us to visit dead relatives.
It was in one of these graveyards, at the young age or four, that I had my first brush with the occult.
As with many headstones, there was a family picture on this one. It was taken in the 1950s or 1960s. However, one face had a black block over it, obscuring any features from the head down.
When I asked my mom, she told me simply, "He was possessed. They say when the picture was developed, his face looked like a demon."
That was it. No other backstory provided. I felt the tingle right between my eyes itch.
After that, I came into contact with many things over the years I accepted as normal.
Shadow people in my house all the time. Things following me in the woods. Speaking with the surrounding land, feeling the life that teemed around me.
There was a point, when I was very much into experimentation with psychonautic experiences, that I took a rather large dose of psychoactive fungi that had the serotonergic hallucinogen psilocybin contained within. I was also exhausted, so I fell asleep before the juice kicked in.
While asleep, I had what I can only describe as an OBE. I was taken to a place, swore oaths, and found myself in the presence of what can only be described by myself as a deity of some fashion.
It was a profound experience. Wild magick had found me.
A world of old magicks.
Not long after I entered the world of adulthood, I joined the US military. I needed a job. We weren't at war, and I thought college might be cool.
A week after I made it to my first base, 9/11 happened. For the next decade, my life was a constant hurricane, as I saw a lot more of the world than I had ever intended.
During those trips, I did everything from walking the Suicide Forest in Japan to glimpsing what I believe to have been a djinn in the deserts of Iraq. I noticed the strangest things, but they always felt very normal to me. Even the more frightening bits.
Finally, I came back home to the United States, and the wild magicks of the land sang to me again.
I moved a lot when I first got out of the military.
I lived for a time outside of St. Louis, a magickal town if there ever was one. There's literally a giant ritual gate on the banks of the Mississippi.
However, it was also a magick tinged with sadness, which could easily be understood by stepping foot in or around East St. Louis. This had long been the ancestral home of POC in the city, dating back to the era of open slavery in our country.
While dilapidated, there was still a desperate clinging to life, and magick was abundant there. Belief was rife, hope was a well-ripened fruit, even though despair tried to spoil it with rot.
This place was the first where I truly felt the old magicks underneath it all. The land beneath the place whispered to me, in the wind, in the reverberation of the noises in the city.
After some study, I learned of the great city that once stood in the place before the current one. The magick of Cahokia, just across the river, led me to meeting my first land spirit.
The wild ones start to make more sense.
I have never met a land spirit anywhere other than in the United States of America, so I cannot speak about it happening elsewhere or the feeling you may have there. This is all personal experience.
I took a fall weekend and toured the mounds of Cahokia, the leftover remnants of a once great city. I'd been in the ruins of many great cities, but this one was different.
I felt a hum in my bones and blood. My ears were hot even though it was frigid out. The area was clear of all humans that day. No bird sang. Only the trees moved with the wind.
I could feel this old thing brushing against my mortal coil. I could feel its living pulse deep beneath me. It was real, and it was present.
Shortly thereafter, I found an opportunity to move west. Like any good explorer and perpetual mystic vagabond, I jumped at the opportunity.
I drove, a U-Haul trailer attached to my dangerously underpowered Elantra, and did what thousands upon thousands of settlers had done before... headed west.
As I plodded along Route 66, I was privy to the weirdness that is the American occulture, hidden in the nooks and crannies along the journey. The untold tales of mirth and madness which permeate each stop along the way.
I ate in an Oklahoma diner that I'm not even sure was there.
I had coffee at a gas station where the American Dream found little purchase.
I drove through ghost towns full of the living.
And then I landed in Phoenix.
What can I say about Phoenix other than it's a city that should not exist. It was here that I dove into chaos magick and the occult headfirst.
The city was artificial on the surface. Tech savvy, all the modern comforts of humankind, liberal and conservative in equal parts. A wannabe utopia built on blood and lies.
Underneath hummed the displaced spirit of the land before, which had learned to enjoy eating people. And Phoenix constantly and consistently had its fill.
It was here I learned the depths of my madness and the true cost of magicks wrought with only gratification and greed at heart. There, I learned the darkness that dwells within us all.
There I lost friends, love, and light. There I faced my shadow in full.
I came home to Tennessee, the place of my birth, and the wild magicks inside of it.
Torn in my mind, I fought the strongest enemy we all face... ourselves.
I looked for guidance; I looked for crutches, and I looked for answers. I wandered the lands and forests of my childhood. They whispered to me still.
I found myself on the edge of the much talked about 'Bell Witch' property, whispering to the creature locked inside that space. It whispered back to me, silent serenades of longing and wishes of being free once more.
The wild magick was all around me now, and the healing could begin. Not a perfect replica, but one made with the flaws of experience.
A teapot, inlaid with gold in the tradition of the Japanese.
What left the clearing that day was a chaote ready to explore the mysteries of this world and beyond.
I would take this wild magick, old and untameable, over the city magicks I've seen any day of the week.
It is the magick of the land beneath, the souls still whispering in your dreams.