03/07/2012 12:04 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Let's See If This Magic Dirt Works

All pictures taken by Angora Holly Polo

New Mexico, the land of enchantment, is one giant alternative lifestyle slumming experiment (to an outsider). Especially Taos. With its rich cultural history (go to: the Taos pueblo), to its insanely awesome hippie artist communities (check out: Earthships), to its strange and unexplainable phenomena (see: the Taos Hum), it's one of the most beautiful and intriguing places on the planet. People there just live differently than the rest of the world. There's no other way to describe it except that something mystical is in the air, like there is medical grade marijuana silently permeating the atmosphere. Like the air is just made out of relaxing hot springs (I am a poet, so shut up). Especially at night, with the coyotes howling,  gazillions of glittering stars, and unending darkness -- if anything magical were to exist, it would be here.

On this particular jaunt -- and I do anticipate more ALS columns coming from New Mexico, namely sweat lodges -- we visited a church called El Santuario de Chimayo, a shrine in the Sangre de Christo mountains just over an hour southwest of Taos. Sometimes referred to as the Lourdes of America, the church is famous for, get ready for this... its miraculous dirt.

Nestled in a room next to the chapel is what they call "el pocito" ("the well") -- a small pit of dirt that is said to have healing qualities. People make pilgrimages from around the world for alternative treatments, and you can even request some holy dirt here! Just make sure to donate, or you're a jerk. The church is also said to have a miraculous crucifix that appears and disappears, just for funsies.

I bought a magic dirt container from the gift shop, which is an alright deal, since the dirt itself is free. Seeing as how I didn't have any ailments at the time, I decided I'd send mine to the target demographic for magical dirt: my slightly foreign Catholic grandmother. I happen to know from our awkward phone conversations that she does have quite the long list of ailments.

We entered the small chapel, which was very hushed, and to the left of the alter was a small side room, barely larger than a closet. Sure enough, part of the floor was missing, and there was a pit of sandy dirt. Photography was prohibited. Hanging on the walls were handwritten letters espousing the power of the dirt, some of them even going so far as to show brain scans before the magic dirt (with brain tumor) and after the magic dirt (sans brain tumor). Some of the letter writers went into great and specific detail about their health conditions. I can't speak on any miraculous incidents while I was there, but I can say the atmosphere was that of a very sacred and beloved place.

I mailed my little tin of magic dirt to my Mémé in an envelope with a handwritten note telling her about the church. I felt pret-ty happy with myself, solving all of her problems for her. Well, the strangest and most unfortunate thing happened: several days later, she received the envelope and letter explaining the dirt, but there was no dirt to be found. While it could have just been heavy enough to rip open the envelope in transit, the rip was neat enough for me to suspect foul play, probably from some magical wi. Perhaps someone wanted to get their hands on my magic dirt! It must indeed be very valuable.

So we shall never know of the efficacy of the magic dirt. Would someone like to be our next test subject? I bet you could grow some pretty gigantic tomatoes in it. Rub it on your forehead if you have a headache. Order today!

And for more pics of our three batshit crazy days in New Mexico, check out my Flickr.