A North American Spiritual Arc, Part 3: Tower of the Spirits

Devils Tower, aka Spirit Tower, or Bear Lodge, was originally to be the third stop on a summer-long journey across North America.  Several things combined to effect a change in that plan.  I’m happier for it.  I will reach all the postponed destinations over time.

As it stands, the Tower is close to the culmination of a drive across Wyoming, which lasted three and a half days, and has provided fodder for several posts.  It is also near the western terminus of what has served me as a spiritual arc, along which I have focused on discarding baggage, that would ill-serve me in any future relationship and on putting spiritual energy into focus for several greater goods.

I awoke early on Saturday, July 20, and got myself together by 5:30 AM.  You have already seen the Tower at dawn.  Here are views of the phonolite monolith, from each direction, as well as of the boulder fields that lie at its base.  I started at the Visitor Center, which is one of the oldest log cabins in the region.


My route that morning was counterclockwise, mostly because I had not woken up enough to focus on going through the boulder field and finding the southern part of the trail, which would have gone in a clockwise direction, far preferable in circling a place such as this.


So, here are scenes on the southeastern face of the Tower.

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The phonolite, which gives the Tower its unique surface, is the result of an igneous intrusion, caused by volcanic uplift.  Devils Tower is still rising, throwing boulders out of its way as it shoots slowly skyward.


Many people regard this laccolith as a sacred place.  Shoshone people associate it with  a boy, who turned into a bear, thousands of years ago.  It is held, in this legend, that the bear still lingers here, thus some call Devils Tower “Bear Lodge”.  The mountains north and east of the Tower are called Bear Lodge Range.


Now, we see the Tower from a northeastern perspective.  Note the rougher corrugation of the phonolite on this side.

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The north side brings us to a  scene viewed from the top of  Bear Lodge Mountain.

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The phonolite is smoother on the west side of the Tower.


Here is a full-on view of the Tower, from atop a rock, due west of the laccolith.


When I rounded the corner, I  found the southwest wall looking slightly like the Temple of Karnak, with stone”guards” jutting slightly from the slats.


At each place that is regarded as sacred by indigenous people in the uplands of the Plains region, prayer flags are very common, as people come for Vision Quests and other devotional exercises.  The Tower is no exception.


Once I completed the Circle Trail, I went back to the commercial area and spent some time posting.  Then, it was time to greet my little friends.


I was advised by the volunteer at the KOA counter to take the northern route to the Black Hills , through Hulett, and to stop at Rogues Gallery.  So, I took her advice, saying thank you and farewell to this Tower of the Spirits, from a northeasterly perspective.  I felt a very strong resonance, leaving this magnificent site.  It would give me great strength, in moving through the Black Hills.


Next:  The Northern Bear Lodge Region

10 thoughts on “A North American Spiritual Arc, Part 3: Tower of the Spirits

  1. Were there any climbers on it that day? There were a couple of them about halfway up when we were there. The tower is a pretty awesome sight, standing there, alone. I wonder what was said by the first people who saw it. Something like, “WTF?”


  2. I read this first thing this morning after arriving at work. It served to calm me down after a long drive in heavy traffic. This is a beautiful place that I would love to visit one day. Have to laugh, though…I was just watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind the other night, where the tower features so prominently!


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