The Appalachians are among the oldest mountains in the world, ~480 million years old, formed during the Ordovician Period before there were even plants on land or bony fish in the sea. The mountains were once part of the massive Central Pangean Mountains at the time of earth’s supercontinent. When the continents broke apart, fragments of the Pangean mountain range drifted to different parts of the world. Our mountains’ “other half” are the mountains found in the Scottish highlands. In the process of shifting and colliding continents, the Iapetus Ocean was driven deep underground– there is still an ancient saltwater sea below West Virginia today; the state had a thriving salt industry in the 18th century!
Our home lies in what’s known as the Appalachian Basin, an area known for its temperate climate and rich soil. After the most recent Ice Age, much of the plant life in eastern North America was reseeded from plants that survived in this area. Here in the Allegheny Plateau, where the terrain makes human industry difficult, we have some of the best biodiversity to be found in this part of the world.
Our area was originally inhabited by indigenous peoples of the Shawnee tribe. Our research suggests our property was likely within the area of the Mekoche sect, who provided much of the Shawnee confederacy’s medicinal care and supplies. Today, an abundance of herbs, roots, trees, and berries can still be found growing wild among the hills, remnants of what was likely a well-managed food forest in the days before white settlers arrived.
Calhoun County, like much of West Virginia, saw an economic and population boom in the 1800s when the discovery of oil, coal, and natural gas led to an influx of local industry. Nearby Burning Springs was one of only two oil fields in the U.S. prior to the Civil War. Through most of the 20th century, West Virginia was the nation’s leading producer of natural gas. The Great Depression hit the state hard, and brought major changes and challenges to coal and other mining operations– as mining and drilling companies folded, so did much of the economic momentum that had vitalized the state. West Virginia has suffered from population decline and infrastructure stagnation, as young and working-age people leave the state for financial opportunities elsewhere. To preserve the natural beauty and resources of the state, as well as the lessons of its history, it is necessary for individuals to care for its land and communities that have been widely neglected by people in positions of political and economic power.
West Virginia has its share of cryptids and folktales, with Mothman in Point Pleasant being the most commonly known. You may also hear tales of the Flatwoods Monster and UFO sightings in nearby Braxton county! We have had reports of unexplained lights in the sky or near-ground on and near our property. (These may be earth-lightning caused by subtle seismic activity within the mountains, or ball lightning, which are no less cool and interesting!)
On our own property, there have been sightings of the Not-Deer, a lesser known cryptid that’s been seen throughout Appalachia. As the name suggests, they resemble deer upon first glance, but are larger, with leathery hide instead of fur (though some grow coats in the cold season), more joints in the legs, and front-facing eyes. Some sightings report them occasionally walking on two legs. There’s debate around the origins and motives of the Not-Deer, but we personally believe them to be guardians of the forest who are only a danger to humans who deliberately and maliciously harm the woodlands and animals, and to toxic men of a particularly harmful and misogynistic bent. In some legends, the Not-Deer are said to be protectors of women and children, and to seek justice upon men who have harmed either.
There have also been sightings of Hidebehinds in our forest. As the name suggests, these cryptids are rarely seen and tend to stay out of sight, hidden behind trees. Their elongated, multi-jointed, shaggy bodies easily blend into the landscape. Legend says that they will sneak up and eat unsuspecting loggers, hunters, and hikers, and that the only way to deter them is to have an alcoholic beverage fresh in your system— we suspect that’s a convenient tale made up by old foresters who liked to have a beer on the job, as we’ve not had any reason to think the Hidebehinds want to harm us regardless of our drinking status! Generally, we assume if they wanted to eat us, they would have done so by now for as much as we’ve wandered in these woods. In our observation, they seem to be reclusive, skittish, and only distantly curious about humans.
Our land is also home to a variety of nature spirits, including a strong presence from our peak Rattlesnake Knob. We believe she is a powerful protector, patient healer, and stern teacher– she has been known to appear in the form of a snake, a woman, or something in between!
You may also sense a spirit we fondly call “Boris” on the property– he is an egregore that inhabits the natural gas lines and wells. He is occasionally a bit of a trickster, but a valuable friend for shadow work and trauma healing.
We have also sensed or seen several human ghosts in various places on the property– so far we have only met friendly spirits here, mostly departed neighbors and local woodsmen. At certain times of year, you may also encounter or dream about confused/wandering spirits from the nearby fire in the town of Grantsville.
During your visit, be assured that our homestead property is spiritually warded against negative or malicious entities– you will not encounter any spiritual forces here that mean you harm, though you might meet some who enjoy giving you a startle or spook for their own enjoyment!