• Our Verse

Fiction: Searching for the White Buffalo

Updated: Dec 9, 2019

By: Luke Joseph


The day was fading quickly into night and the dry, cracked ground made a soft crunching sound as I walked along the decaying train tracks. It was cold in the late afternoon streaks of sun and my breath drifted silently away from my nostrils in a white fog of dissipation. I pulled out a piece of paper from the right pocket of my goose-down jacket. Unfolding it, I read the last few lines again, “Along the train tracks, a mile from the village, facing the eastern snow-covered peak, you will find her there.” The letter was given to me by one of the elders. He said it was as exact as he could tell me, but it still seemed far too vague for me to find.

“I'm a journalist,” I explained to him. “And I am looking for something. A story, of sorts. About a ghost, I guess you could say.” My tone reflected embarrassment of such an odd request but he did not seem to notice. Instead he nodded and one braided strand of hair fell in front of his wrinkled forehead.

“I know what you are seeking. I will tell you where to go, but I cannot say whether you will find her or not. She only comes to those who are willing to see. To those who are ready to see.”

“That's fine. I want to take my chances.”

I followed his directions, but it led me to a blank field burdened by time which had been lost. Standing along the old tracks, weathered and cracked, under a cold, fading sun, surrounded by these wicked giants made of rock and snow, I sighed and closed my eyes. It was difficult for me to believe anyone could live out here and survive. The ground was dry and the air beyond any sort of frigid temperature I had ever experienced.

When I was last in South Dakota on a different investigative trip, it was then I had first heard the stories. Rumors really. They told of a white buffalo wandering the plains in neighboring Wyoming where I now stood. Along the clear waters of Ghost Creek it would appear among the plains, always alone. It was rumored to have a black tail and golden eyes. The latter of which if you caught a glimpse of, it was told they would communicate wisdom to help improve your life as well as those around you.

My thoughts on the apparition were abruptly interrupted by a torrent of cold wind running straight through the zipper of my jacket and into my bones. I realized then it was a bit narrow minded of me to try and find a mythological white buffalo in the middle of nowhere based solely on the rumors from members of an ancient tribe which had been dying off in record numbers for the last 400 years. But as the sun began to run behind the tops of the mountains I turned my sights from the rotted tracks up to the sky and witnessed the birth of the heavens in the night. I breathed deeply and audibly gasped at the beauty.

I had forgotten how magical this part of the country was. The sheer size of open land and sky brought forth splendid ruminations of awe and wonder from my spilling soul. I have been missing this in the city, surrounded my man-made light. I have to laugh sometimes in my ignorance and sheer insignificance in the world we occupy and beyond. It is in my limited window I often burden myself with benign trivialities, pushing stress down into my bowels and wondering where my various health ailments manifest. In there I forget about magic and spirits and any ideas beyond the scope of my everyday norms. I was after a story about a ghost. But also more. I was after the soul of what makes these tales possible. The mystery of our being. Just the night sky out here will make you ponder such possibilities. And the cold, that will make you run for shelter.

The next morning I awoke in the hotel room with the faint glimmer of sun cresting over to the bed sheets. The morning outside the window looked clear and crisp. The accents of blue and white wandered through the looking glass as I lazily stared from the comfort of the sheets. Instead of heading back out upon the plains I opted to take place in a sweat lodge ceremony. The elder who had given me the letter and directions had suggested I participate as a way of cleansing myself. He hinted at the fact that maybe I wasn't ready to see the buffalo and therefore it would not appear. Taking his letter and advice to heart I agreed to meet him at the reservation in the afternoon to prepare.

With the sun bowing to the night in the early afternoon I drove along the deserted highway littered with wandering snow banks in a frigid wind. The valley which held the road was pure and free. In the distance, rolling hills gave way to large mountains looming over the reservation like giant gatekeepers. In the midst of such tremendous nature it is easy to see how rituals involving the natural world evolved over time. The peoples of the past were completely dependent upon that which surrounded them. They fed off the ground, the animals, they used the trees to construct shelter and found it a primary necessity to house their tribes near clean water. It was easy to imagine why they would find it necessary to give thanks to the natural world in the womb of which they lived.

Pulling down the road towards the outskirts of the reservation I could see a small group of people milling about a small tarp covered hut.

“Good afternoon!” I gave a cheerful cry.

“Good afternoon,” the elder said as he reached for my right hand with his, placing his left underneath his right elbow. We shook hands and he formally introduced himself.

“My name is Richards. Welcome to ceremony. We will be conducting our sweat lodge in the traditional Lakota style, though I am of Chippewa descent. But that is of no consequence. What we look for in ceremony is not how we reach healing, only that we do. Jocelyn will be leading our ceremony tonight,” he stated as he pointed to an elderly woman with fine lines in her face, wearing long gray hair which was curled at the bottom, clothed in heavy, brightly colored material.

“Is there anything I can do to help with the setup?”

“Yes, there is always something which can be done. Please pick up those stones from the pile and place them near the fire. During preparation we take this time to be introspective. We wish to understand ourselves, why we are here for ceremony, and what it is we hope to achieve. At this point I ask of you to no longer speak. Please, do not take it as insult. Remember this only as we begin to heat the rocks to be placed into the lodge: every thought is a prayer. So, think upon yourself, what is it you wish to change? To move through? Or become?”

Nodding a silent hello to the others participating in the group lodge I began to move the rocks near the gently rising fire. The slowly rising flame gave off a subtle warmth which I first felt in the tips of my throbbing fingers. I found Richards' proclamation a profound one and began to wonder how my thoughts have possibly been shaping my life or how they have in the past. Where have they led me? Where have they stopped me from moving forward? Or what have they saved me from?

As the fire began to grow in size, those around it began to become transfixed by the flame.

“The ancient roots of the flame connect people with those of the past. This old source of energy pervades cultures, time, and space on the globe. It gives healing, provides shelter from the elements, and protection from unknown predators lurking in the dark,” Jocelyn said.

I could see from the other faces being splashed by the light from the flame, their reasons for being here were maybe not the same as mine exactly, but they too were here for their unmasking. Their personal revelation. A way to see themselves as they truly were in the world and if needed, to change.

“Healing is not about only the physical,” Jocelyn slowly stated. “We must first look into the depths of ourselves in order to reveal what needs to be changed in our lives so that we may allow healing to take place. Do not be afraid of what is to come. The lodge is the vessel for which we reveal ourselves to ourselves and those around us. It is nothing to fear. Take each lesson into your heart. And if you feel the demon of fear arising in your chest, pray to the gods to protect you. Our heavenly father and Earthy mother resides in you as well. And luckily for us, the forces of good always win.”

As Richards and his nephew made their way over to the fire with their offerings we began to place the stones inside the lodge, quickly raising the temperature of the small structure. Placing their offerings inside, we followed Jocelyn to the entrance, ducked underneath the tarp and entered the dark space.

“Tonight we offer as sacrifice, tobacco. Take one drag of the pipe as it is passed to you and give it to the next person,” she said quietly. “I will pray to the four corners, as well as sky, which is blue and means protection, Earth which is green and means healing, as well as the center, the direction from which all relationship proceeds and that which we will be focusing on tonight.”

As she began to softly sing words of which I did not recognize, the pipe was passed to me. Ordinary in shape and structure, the dark wood felt smooth on my hands. Taking a small inhale of the smoke, the tobacco reached my tongue and burst through my head in a rush of uncertainty and fear. I had never smoked tobacco in my life and the thought of experiencing a negative side effect of doing so in a sweat lodge surrounded by strangers filled my chest with nervous energy. Calming my thoughts I touched the ground underneath me and clenched tightly onto a pile of cold dirt, the Earth of which my body was produced.

As the singing intensified so did the heat and the sweat and I found myself beginning to sway back and forth with the rhythm of the words. Liquid poured from my brow and I was lost in the circle of darkness. My heart began to race uncontrollably and I could feel a pounding in my ears. A hissing whisper shot towards the back of my skull,

What are you doing here?” It said.

Why have you come all this way?”

“What are you looking for?”

I was hoping you would be able to tell me. I am here to find answers to those questions,” I thought.

“Why should I tell you anything?”

The pressure in the back of my head was almost unbearable, both of my hands began to grip the dirt underneath me. I tried to listen to Jocelyn's voice but it seemed distant and weak. What had I stumbled upon? What was gripping me to the floor of the small lodge?

Fear, unmistakably began to spring front the center of my chest. I could feel it flood down to the soles of my feet and upwards to the tip of my forehead. I began to shiver uncontrollably.

“You should leave this place. Now. You will never find what you seek.”

“I wish to see the white buffalo. The one told of in legends and stories.”

A sudden wind cradled the outside of the lodge and the tarp began to bang on the outside of the entrance. The singing began to grow more faint and my shivering intensified. I felt feverish and weak. In the darkness I thought I had opened my eyes but I could not see anything besides two bright lights. They shone gold and looked like eyes. They came towards me. Faster, faster they sped up towards the top of my forehead. The pain increased and I let out a silent cry.

“Help! Help!” I cried in between struggled breaths.

A soft hand cradled the top of my head and another tugged at my shoulder. I awoke to Jocelyn's soft eyes peering into mine. We were outside of the lodge, underneath the starry night sky. I could feel the heat from the burning fire drying the sweat from my brow and soaked clothes.

“What happened?” I asked feebly.

“You had a vision,” Jocelyn replied.

“You should be thankful. Not many participants experience such traumatic events in ceremony,” Richards said gravely as he threw another stick onto the fire.

“What time is it? How long has it been?” I asked.

“It has been a few hours since ceremony has ended. You have been outside next to the fire for that time,” Jocelyn said.

“That's impossible. I remember hearing your singing. I remember holding tightly to the dirt in my hands from inside the lodge. It just happened.”

Jocelyn smiled, “Time does not exist in the vision world. What you have seen, what you have experienced, belongs to another dimension. You wish to see the white buffalo, is that correct?”

“How did you know that?” I asked astonished. “Did Richards tell you?”

“No. I have seen others follow this path. I am from the Lakota tribe. We do not have this legend. But I have witnessed others try to find her. She is said to be keeper of spirits. Keeper of the doomed. Why do you want to see her?”

“I want to write about it. About the legend. And being a journalist I find experiencing what I am writing about integral to the story.”

“But why do you wish to write about her?”

“I don't have a specific reason I suppose. Most of my work has centered around war and politics. I think maybe I wanted to write about something beyond the norms of everyday life. Something different.”

“You have seen pain then, yes? War, suffering, death, you have seen these things?”

“Yes, I have. And they have begun to weigh heavy on me. I was looking for a change. Maybe even a way out.”

“A way out of journalism? Or a way out of the pain?”

I didn't have an answer for her. I suspected pain would be the answer. But maybe it was a way out of journalism too. Or more specifically, media.

“I'm not sure,” I replied. I had begun to feel very tired. And thirsty. My tongue felt swollen and dry inside my mouth and my eyes burned from the smoke of the fire.

“You must stay here tonight. At our house. So that we may do a final cleansing ceremony in the morning. Whatever you saw, whatever you communicated with, you must not tell anyone what it was. Otherwise your experience will fade much more rapidly. And you will ultimately lose the lessons hidden within. Do you understand?” Richards said gravely.

“Yes,” I said nodding. I was exhausted. And a quick retreat to their couch covered in warm wool blankets whisked me off to a silent sleep the likes of which I had never experienced before in my life.

The next morning I awoke before the sunrise to smell of coffee brewing on the stove. Richards was there with his back turned towards me, his longs braids reaching to the lower portion of his back.

“Would you like some?” He asked without turning around.

Surprised he knew I was awake, I replied, “Yes, please.”

He slowly poured me a cup and handed the steaming liquid over to me. I cradled the warm vessel in both of my hands and blew the top of the coffee off watching the ripples spread in every direction. Richards was doing the same and he gave me a faint smile, the first and only smile I had ever seen from him.

“What is the ceremony we are doing this morning?” I asked.

“Best not to discuss it. Remember, this is a time for introspection, not questioning. Listen to what your spirit is telling you. Allow your guides to continue to show you the way.”

“The thing that was talking to me was my guide?” I asked incredulously. “It seemed so indifferent towards me. So cold, and even evil.”

“Guides are here to disillusion us. Not keep us under the spell of the dark half of the world. Because of this they often times seem cold-hearted, but in reality they are just penetrating. They are going through your outer self in order to discover who you are inside. And to reveal that which they see to you. Quiet now. Finish your coffee and meet me outside before the sun rises.”

Layering my body with an extra sweater, my goose-down jacket and a borrowed hat I stepped onto the frozen ground and walked towards the smokey fire next to the lodge we had used last night. The other participants were already lined up, their eyes closed and their breathing steady.

“This mornings ceremony will be a cleansing one. We will use the smoke of the dying fire to push your diseases, limitations, unsteadiness, and uncertainty out of your spirit. We will replace those attributes with the opposite. Please close your eyes and listen to the singing of my voice,” Jocelyn said.

I closed my eyes and breathed in a heavy plume of smoke. I could hear her singing down towards the front of the line. Peaking through my eyes I could see her whisking an eagle feather with her right hand over the limbs, chest, and head of the first person in the ceremony. She appeared to be controlling the smoke with the supple twist of her wrists and the flightless feather. I closed my eyes again and awaited my turn. As she got to me I could feel her warmth pass over my face. Her singing was subtle now, a low hum. The cold air, mixed with smoke floated around my body- my legs, groin, chest, arms and finally my head. I breathed in deeply and smelled the charred wood enter my lugs and release. As I kept my eyes closed it seemed to me they began to become brighter. The whole world seemed to. Two dots appeared in my mind and the premonition from the previous night reappeared. It's ghostly eyes darting forward and backward, away from my body and then towards it. I wanted to reach up and grab them with my hands, to touch them, to steady their gaze and look directly into them but they were too elusive. They scattered every time I tried to fix upon them.

What were they trying to tell me? What was the lesson?

“Now, slowly open your eyes,” Richards said.

Steadying my gaze I looked upon the plains and saw the dark mountains in the distant. As we all became aware of our surroundings, one golden streak crested upon the peaks and seemed to land directly upon us. We were bathed in the light of the new day. Caressed in the gold found around us and within us. Those next to me started to smile and cry. Slowly we all began to look at each other, deciding to hug. A tremendous weight had been lifted off of everyone there. The air seemed lighter, the ground softer, and the glow of the sun, brighter. I closed my eyes and took one last breath. Exhaling I opened my eyes and saw Richards standing next to the smoldering fire.

“Well done,” he said to everyone.

“Come inside and we will prepare a farewell meal. Remember, you are not the same person who came here a few days ago. Let your spirits and their guides show you the way to whatever it was you were seeking. And if you have found it already, do not let go.”

We entered the house for the final time and ate together sitting at the long, wooden table adjacent to the kitchen. The sun followed us through the window and onto our plates full of food. We were all too transfixed on what occurred last night and this morning to speak to one another. The only noises to be heard were the soft scraping of utensils and hot cups of coffee being lifted and let go.

Soon after our meal, it was time to say goodbye. I thanked Jocelyn for leading ceremony and for her beautiful voice. I shook Richards' hand once again and he gave me a brief nod.

“I wish you luck in your journey. From here and beyond.”

“Thank you Richards,” I stated.

Sitting in my truck parked in the driveway of the old house I pulled out the letter from the inside pocket of my jacket. I read it again. The directions were clear and simple: Along the train tracks, a mile from the village, facing the eastern snow-covered peak, you will find her there. I was determined now more than the previous day. The sweat lodge ceremony lit a stronger curiosity in my bones. I needed to go out there again this evening.

The early morning quickly turned into a windy, cold evening as I packed my truck with extra food, blankets and flashlights. I didn't plan to stay out there all night but wanted to be careful given the conditions and the unfamiliar terrain. All day as I prepared for the evening I kept asking myself what my guide had asked me: What are you doing here? Why have you come all this way? What are you looking for? I hadn't come to a fruitful conclusion to these questions and decided to relegate them to back of my mind instead. I had come out here searching for a story, searching for a ghost. I felt as if I was on the precipice of that discovery during ceremony but was ultimately unable to come to a full understanding or grasp of what I was experiencing. And so I pushed on.

I followed the train tracks along the road and watched the tall grass bend silently in the strong winds around me. My truck window became a portal to a time past where Natives and settlers met for the first time as two cultures intersected, each taking what they wanted and giving what they didn't. History books are clear, native populations suffered across this continent, their bodies and blood giving rise to the vast array of natural life marking this state's landscape. They believed the power to live lie in the natural world, and out here it is easy to understand why. Not only are you completely under nature's grip, but their ancestor's bodies will forever live in these lands as some other form- be it trees, grass, cattle, or rocks. To them, the cycle of death and rebirth in another form was paramount.

I parked my truck alongside the tracks about a mile from the village. Stepping outside I put on my gloves and grabbed a small flashlight. Closing the door I started to follow the tracks noticing for the first time their steady decay from new to old the farther I walked. I hit a spot on the tracks that were in utter disrepair, the metal was twisted and cracked, the wood deteriorated and hollow. It was here I stopped and stared into the distance. Besides the ambient noises of the wind it was silent and cold and I was alone.

Looking down the valley towards my right hand side I saw what looked to be a gate of some kind. I walked towards it and saw it was made of broken tree limbs and rusted wire. Pushing it open I stepped into the closed off circle. There were stones lined up in neatly placed lines each with a different pattern painted on them in white. Straight lines, dots, squiggly lines, they ran throughout the rows, each having it's own unique pattern. Bending down, I touched one and felt a pulse of heat swell through it and into my hand. I didn't understand the significance of what I had found but to me it certainly felt holy.

I found myself awash in darkness as I closed my eyes and listened. Over the strong wind I could hear a strange noise rumbling towards where I had left my truck. In a hurried pace I exited the through the gate and started back on the tracks. The sun had fallen asleep behind the mountains and I was nervously fumbling through my jacket, pulling out my small flashlight. In the distant dark I could see two golden lights, bigger and brighter than I had seen in my trance, approaching me at a quick pace. I felt the familiar cold sweat and pounding in my forehead from the previous night but I kept moving towards the lights. They were stable this time and I could track their movements. I began to run and my breath quickly became labored.

“What are you doing here?”

“What are you looking for?”

The questions came back to me in similar fashion. What was I doing? What was I looking for?

Quickening my pace I started to become close to the lights bursting through the shadowed darkness. They were within a few hundred yards and I heard an awful squeal. The noise penetrated to the foundation of my foot soles, causing me to immediately stop. It was just a train. Not a premonition. Dejected I continued to walk towards the lights.

“Hey! What are you doing out here at this hour? You will freeze to death!”

“Nothing!” I shouted. “Just looking around!”

Walking closer to the pounding beast the engineer exited the cabin and climbed down the ladder.

“Are you crazy? I saw your truck a few yards back, I was about to send out a search party. This place is known for that.”

“Known for what?” I asked.

“People disappearing,” he said, spitting out a splash of brown tobacco juice from the corner of his mouth. He had a curly black beard, heavy lines surrounding his mouth and underneath his eyes, and a shabby navy-blue button down shirt tucked in tight to his jeans.

“What do you mean?”

“Ain't no way about it son, people disappear out here is all. Maybe it's the cold, or the animals, or whatever. This is my last stop and then I havta head back where I came from. This is the end of line for tracks up this way.”

“Yeah I know, I saw the rotted out and rusted metal heading out that way. Are you carrying people?”

“Nah, just cargo is all. Some food stuffs, blankets, medical aid, whatever. Some of it I'm not even sure what it is. It's my job just to stop at the reservation back there and drop the stuff off. Then head back and north from there. What the hell did you say you were doing out this way again?”

“Oh, nothing, just looking around,” I felt embarrassed by my real reason and chose not to disclose any additional information.

“Looking around for what?”

“A story, I suppose.”

“You some kind of a writer?”

“A journalist actually.” “Oh, so you're writing about these tracks then, huh?”

“Not exactly,” I said, looking for a way to end the conversation so that I may head back to my hotel.

“Oh, I thought that's what you were after. I saw you coming from back down that a-way. Figured you were taking a look at the old tracks all torn up and destroyed.”

“I was just down there, yeah. But I'm not sure what makes the tracks so interesting if I'm being honest.”

“Oh, no one told ya huh?” He said spitting another load of brown liquid onto the dirt sitting next to the tracks.

“We used to run our shipping lines straight through here. Back a few years we would make this stop, then continue on up north. Was much quicker that way, but we had to stop running our trains on these plains. You see, the Indians over on the reservation would get all loaded up on whatever they was taking, stand in the middle of the tracks at night and kill themselves. They were committing mass suicides right where you was walking. Legend has it there's some sort of burial ground around here, but I ain't never seen it.”

“Why were they doing that?” I asked horrified.

“Why? Come on son, you're a journalist. Look at this place. It's depressing as hell! Poor food, poor water, poor everything. Only thing colder out here than the weather is the mindset it creates. Ain't nothing out here but struggle. Most of these people ain't have nothing left.”

“But they have their community though, that's something isn't it?”

“Ain't much. Last time I was here a few months back I was talking to one of the old Indians in town. He come out looking at the dock to see what we was unloading. I say 'we' hah! I ain't unloading nothing. I'm just driving. But me and him got to talking. He said something to me that I thought I wouldn't forget, and I haven't. He said, 'It's not so much what they have or don't have that causes them grief. It's what's been taken away. Their homelands, their ancestor's burial locations, their rituals, their understanding of worth, their understanding of nature, it's all been, how did he put it? Decayed.”

“But you know what the interesting part about it was though?”

“What?” I asked sticking my fingers into the pockets of my jacket.

“He said he wasn't just talking about his fellow Indians on the res. He said it was everybody. Everywhere. He said we come from nature and now we are separated from it. And that it was causing mass mental problems or something. I don't know, I feel fine!” He said with a large smile.

“Do you remember the man's name?”

“You know, I never got his name. Interesting fella that one though.”

“I think I know who you are talking about. I just came from his house today. I participated in a sweat lodge ceremony with him and a woman named Jocelyn,” I said shaking my head.

“I came out here looking for a white buffalo. The Natives here say its rumored to run across the plains in this area, and that it possessed untold wisdom of which it communicated through it's big, golden eyes.”

“I've heard of that legend. Heard about it a few times.”

“You have?” I asked surprised.

“Oh yeah. What do you think them Indians were looking for on the tracks before the bright lights came barreling down on 'em?”

“The white buffalo?”

“You got it son. Supposed to be some sort of harboring of souls, or is it arbiter? Guess it don't matter much. Anyway, it was nice talking to ya. I gotta be heading out soon. Don't freeze to death out here, or we might have to try and find that hidden graveyard they talk about somewhere out in the dark!”

“Have a good night,” I said sadly.

Walking my way back to the truck, I clicked open the door and folded into the front seat. I pulled out the folded piece of paper Richards had given to me and ran it through my fingers. On the folded side I noticed distinct ridges running underneath my touch. Had I not noticed this writing before? Unfolding the deteriorating paper I saw on the opposite side, a number. There were no spaces in-between the digits but it had the makings of a phone number. Reaching into my right pocket I pulled out my phone and dialed.

“Hello?” A woman's voice had answered.

“Hi, I'm sorry to bother you, you probably don't know me but I was given this number by a friend of mine, I was wondering if I would be able to reach him here?”

“Are you looking for Richards?”

“Yes! Yes, I am.”

The line went quiet. Waiting patiently, I decided to start my truck. The lights flicked on and in the beams fluttered light snow wandering in the air before softly meeting the ground. Through the white flecks I could see the train tracks, in working order on this stretch of land.

“Hello?” A familiar voice asked.

“Hi, Richards?”

“Why have you taken so long to call me?”

“I, well, I didn't see your number on the paper you gave me.”

“Are you at the train tracks?”

“Yes.”

“Have you found her?”

“No, I haven't.”

“I see. She does not come to everyone. I hope you do not think your trip was a waste.”

“I met the train engineer.”

“You have?” Richards said, quietly chuckling.

“Yes, he told me something upsetting.”

“He spoke of the graveyard then? Of the suicides?”

“Yes.”

“It has been happening for quite sometime now. We must hire guards to stop such events from taking place.”

“The engineer said something interesting, he said people are doing this because of what has been taken away. And he said that it wasn't just the natives on the reservations, but everyone, globally. I guessed he had gotten this information from you.”

“No. Not from me. Most likely from my brother. But it is true. Though that is not a full understanding. What he meant to say is people are doing this to themselves because of our movement away from the shamanistic experience. Our decay in the belief of the other worlds, the supernatural. And our sole reliance on the physical. The global community is intimately connected. What happens on one part of the world, happens on all parts. This is the way it is, and the way it has always been. But what has led to our decay, here on the reservation, and across other parts of the world, is our growing inability to connect with each other. When we are born, we are each prescribed a set of ideas. These may include our religious ideas, our governmental ideas, our societal ideas, and so on. These ideas may be beneficial to ourselves and our community, this is true. As you saw the other night, our rituals can be guiding lights of connection. But what causes them to become harmful is when we try to impose our ideas onto other people. Essentially, we take away how they interact with the world and place upon them something foreign. And this causes much grief and sorrow and solitude. Does this make sense?”

“Yes, it definitely does.”

“Recently, Jocelyn and I have been trying to guide people to a new way of connection through ceremony. It is here, if they wish to participate. But it is also here where they can understand each other and their world through altered states of consciousness which do not require self-destruction. Mostly, we are here to help. We are not here to impose.”

“I understand.”

“But this is not satisfying to you, is it? You wish to see her?”

“Yes.”

“You may have seen her already, or she may come to you yet. You just have to be patient. Time is a wonderful excavator of truth. Wait just a little while longer but make sure you do not freeze to death out there. Many souls have been buried in that area, let them speak to you. Let them guide you. But be sure to not join them. At least not yet.”

As the clicking of the 't' sound left Richards' tongue the line went dead and I placed my phone on the seat next to me. Quietly, “Free Falling” by Tom Petty started to reverberate through my speakers and I turned the volume up a few notches. The wind blew briskly outside sending the snowflakes into a euphoric dance in front of the headlights. This was their performance, and the icy ground was their stage. Intently staring into the darkness, I did not see her. Instead, in this underworld of cold black, I saw something wholly unexpected. Listlessly wandering among the plains, caressing the wicked landscape, touching each other in euphoric motion- were but fallen flowers and broken stars.

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