Saturday, July 13, 2019

A Tribute to Block Mountain

A Tribute to Block Mountain

~In memory of Don Stirewalt (Ragnarr), field camper 2009. Passed in 2014~
Photo by Sammy
Image may contain: plant, outdoor and nature
Rattlesnake poised
Photo by Marli Miller

The rattlesnakes, bull snakes, and fake-snakes,
the rabbits, deer, and bighorn.
The fossils of gastropods, lingula, and fish scales,
and the animated nighthawks, strikes, and Coopers hawks.
The spiny cactus, scratchy shrubs, and pokey grass.
Lichen through a hand lens
Sunburns, rainstorms, and wind gusts. Hail and lightning.

Follow the yellow-brick road.

The Basal Conglomerate, Kootenai
The Astragalus, Artemisia, and  Castilleja, 
the cicadas, crickets, and grasshoppers.
The spiders, flies, and wasps,
the lichen of orange, green, and gray.
Butterflies of yellow, white, and orange,
moths of black, blue, and yellow.

Meet you at the peanut for lunch.

Sand Hill Cranes

The musical Phosphoria, the incompetent Dinwoody, and amazing cobbles of Kootenai.
Large folds, medium folds, and small folds.
Deformed ooids, deformed cherts... deformed everything.
The parasitic, esss and zeee folds,
the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous.

Marie Antoinette in the field
Get high, stay high.

The mahogony, juniper, and willow,
the dinosaur bits and gastroliths.
There is a Rats nest, a ridge known as double din, and a sculpture of (headless) Marie Antoinette.
Hanging in Zieglar Gulch, Sandy Hallow, or Coal Draw.
Sky-mapping from 5645, Dr. Browns lounge chair, or the Tg hill.

I like the way it dips right thr.
Matthew, student-teacher, explains. 

White university vans, Tahoes, and Suburbans,
there are student, and teachers, and student-teachers.
There are student-animal trails, outcrops nearly polished from years of measure, and lost gear.
A time to learn from the rocks, apply your knowledge, and get to know yourself.

Leg day everyday.

Rachel Stands Stoically: Field Geologist
We have map boards, rock hammers, and Brunton compasses.
We wear boots, backpacks, and carry plenty of water.
We are don't follow trails, but go in search of data off the beaten path.
We accurately measure, map, and note.

Think. Map. Hike.
All. Day. Long.

Who else has walked here?

There is much to see, but much is still mystery.
Our planet is dynamic, though these rocks are static.
You must see with you mind (imagination) to hear the stories of the past etched in crystal.

Block Mountain, I honor you. I thank you. I love you.
Honoring Block Mountain


Ragnarr in geologic mapping mode.
Photo by Marli Miller.
No photo description available.
Ragnarr (Don) in armor for his last battle (Society for Creative Anachronism) in his last months of battling cancer. 

Back in 2009, I visited Block Mountain as a University of Oregon Geology Field Camp student. As I discussed in this recent post, I have been coming back to work with Field Campers ever since (pretty close...). At the time of that post, I didnt think I would be coming back. But as fate would have it, my colleague Marli Miller injured her leg and asked for assistance with the students in the field. So I got to come back for year 10!! 
Ten years, my gosh. Both neat and sad. 
Makes me think about what I have been doing for 10 years... 

Anyway, it was that somewhat depressing thought that inspired me to just look around and appreciate this amazing place and opportunity. After crying for a bit, I began to just listen to the birds and buzz of insects. Looking at all my plant friends, and rock friends... and this tribute spilled out into my notebook. 

There is nothing else like this. Hiking around, looking at rocks all day, while mapping the geospatial relations. A dream. It is meditative. 

"Thinkin' about rocks
Thinkin' about rocks, 

Thinkin' about rocks, 
pretty much all day"

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Earth Magick: for Health and Harmony

Earth Magick: for Health and Harmony  
by Sammy Castonguay, M.Sc. Geological Science

Block Mountain Field Area near Dillon, MT. A spectacular area to observe the record of ThisMagickalEarths extreme forces. Take a hike to a high ridge, and see beautiful rock types, large- and small-scale folding of the rock units, and distant snowy mountains. 

Independence! Joyous late summer nights, swimming holes, and full moons!  
           Earth Magick? In this article, we are simply promoting Earth-based practices to promote personal health; we refer to our practice as Earth Magick. Readers may find it helpful to review recent articles on sediments and specifically “Earth is the Alchemist…”[1].  
           Magick is a loaded term, but we promote a particular aspect. While we do not discount whimsical magic, such as wizard magic from the J.K. Rowling books, or forms of practical/ritual magick, like spell craft, divination, or sigil-charging, we focus on the measurable forms of Real Magic. In his book by that title[2], Dr. Dean Radin of the Institute of Noetic Sciences reveals detailed results in parapsychology. It turns out, our mind is the most powerful key to experiencing the magickal reality. Similarly, Biologist Richard Dawkins, in his 2011 book "The Magic of Reality", the scientist encourages the reader to look at the processes of nature as the real magic.  
           We specialize in providing special sediments with exotic geologic origins for this purpose: experiencing your Personal Magick. First and foremost, we supply information to engage the mind in the real, geological crystal world. Though we provide sediments, we encourage adventure. With maps we provide, hiking to sacred locations also improves our bodily health. Earthing, forest bathing and nature meditation are considered spiritual practices that have measurable effects on our well-being. This trifecta, engaging our mind, body, and spirit with the crystal world, is the magick. No matter your personal gnosis, whether a shaman, follower of one god or a pagan, there is little doubt among spiritual traditions that experiencing the grandeur of the natural world has a spiritual benefit.
           The adventure of respectful collection is center to what we provide, but the promotion of harmony between the elements is the whole picture. We promote sacred site visits[3], but it is with the underlying purpose that the experiences promote harmony within us, so we may reflect that harmony to our family, community, nation, and world. As a magickal placebo to put your mind to the work of harmony, we suggest this simple mixture:
1 part -TuffLeslie                     1/2 part - Serpent Passion
1/4 part - Mazama AirFall          1/8 part - Gaia’s Glitter
    Each rich in geologic history of Earth, each with a particular crystalline lattice, with an elemental connection to the other classical elements and respectfully collected[4]. Use this sediment as a base for burning cone incense (we recommend the local MoonShadow Apothecary), a top dressing to a potted plant, a Sunday offering, or casting a ritual circle.
Science. Spirit. Practice.   

1 October 18 - June 2019 archived at
2 Real Magick: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science, and a Guide to the Secret Power of the Universe, by Dr. Dean Radin
3 sacred sites: these are self-identified, not sensitive indigenous sites

4 see Notes on Sediment Collection at 

Friend of the Owyhee, Becky R., lost in the moment as she treks alongside Batch Lake over the basaltic lava flows of the Jordan Craters. The snow-capped High Owyhee in the background. 

Reproduced from HedraNews July 2019, with permission.

Other articles archived at