When I first started magical practice, I was a huge nerd. I played a card game called Magic: The Gathering. Players step into the role of powerful wizards that summon creatures and cast spells and such. I was even an avid consumer of the fiction. It was also the late 90s, and in many ways, I was fairly sheltered. Books were what we had, and they had one cultural framework.
I say all that to note this. I am well aware now that the use of dirt AS a magical component is some pretty core Hoodoo. I also came to it for myself without any exposure to Hoodoo. In this game, players "tapped" energy from the land to fuel their spells.
I struggled with the books and things that were out, to learn this raising energy thing. I've obviously learned by now, but part of my experience was experimental. I was fascinated by the idea that this energy could be contained in the land. We talk this all the time in more nature centered paths right? In some of the MtG books and such, wizards carried little bags of dirt that tied into the lands that they tapped. I experimented with that, and while I saw a bit of whatever, it wasn't good. As I poked at it, played with it, i discovered that the dirts are like herbs, are like any number of other things. Yes, the strength in that IS because it ties to the place it came from, but it's still carried in the dirt.
Dirt for me ties into that place, what that place IS and what that place DOES. The Spirits in that land, what happens in that land. Dirt in spellwork is about place, and bringing place to you. For me, I'll Walk to gather these things, and that helps the energy of that Walk be a part of everything that dirt is in. I tend to collect in small batches as part of this. One Walk for one spell. My understanding of this has no tradition, and has been experimental.
Dirt for me is rubbed into tools, put (in small bits) into herbs or oils, sprinkled AS a delivery method. I'll carry it as a base touchstone, and it becomes a way of being IN the place. It's free, and often blends well with other things. Magic isn't often clean, and a little dirt under the nails is a good thing.