Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Changes and Growth

Photograph "Sunflower Mutant," by Sofia Karin Axelsson

This is a special issue, insofar that Michael and I decided to drop some ongoing sections, such as the Poetry Corner and Reviews of Everything Alternative. As Michael has already mentioned, this is only temporary for this issue, and the reason is that we had so many wonderful articles lined up, some that had been put on hold for months on end, so we just wanted to get them all in there. The upcoming issue will look more like “usual,” if there is any such thing as “usual” for The Echo World.
Michael has also mentioned that a permanent change, however, is that we decided to move our free Calendar listings online. We do this because we feel we can serve the readers better by having an expanded version of the Calendar of Events online. We also do this to free up some space in the magazine, which is always a juggling act in print media.

Some people and self-appointed media experts have kept saying for years that “print media is dead.” 
This is not true, obviously. Rather, print media seems to be very happily alive and kicking to me. To sit down in your favorite arm-chair, or in a cafĂ©, or on a train or plane, and open a crisp issue of your favorite magazine … is quite a treat indeed. There’s many of us who sigh deep in gratitude when we do and won’t give up that luxury for anything. As a side note, advertising in print media continues to have dependability and create traction. 

Nevertheless, since print has its inherent limitations, a strong online presence is a great complement. Print, however much we may enjoy it, is to a certain degree inflexible, costly and limited in space. Once text and images are set in the printing presses, there is absolutely nothing you can do about the result. Printing costs can be deadly, as seen in the fact that the majority of newly started magazines go out of business within the time-span of one to two years. Print magazines are limited to a certain number of pages that can only contain this and that much text and only so many images.

Cover of July issue of The Echo World.

I like to view the print version of The Echo World and its complementary online presence as two strong workhorses pulling a heavy carriage together. And who doesn’t love a classic double-span? Just take a second and visualize the muscles of two horses working in tandem and feel the power. Every time we come out with a new issue we are excited when people that we have dubbed “the social media queens and kings” help us out and re-post their articles, or reviews and ads, and link to our webpage and The Echo World Facebook and Twitter accounts. We hope you haven’t missed our webpage (www.theechoworld.com), where you can find all issues we have published – as well as the Calendar, Directory, sign-up for our newsletter and much more. These queens and kings use all their social media resources to get their material seen. In the process, they spread the knowledge about The Echo World, print as well as digital versions, and everybody gets more exposure, whether its writers or advertisers. So, I want to say, “Thank you!” to our sweet, techno-savvy collaborators who help spread the word about The Echo World. 

On the other hand, if you don’t feel techno-savvy at all, don’t despair. We’re not leaving anyone behind. If you have 50 friends on your Facebook page and want to share one of your poems we printed, that’s still 50 more people who may not have had the chance to see your accomplishment if you hadn’t shared it. And if you can’t stand social media on any level and think that it brings nothing to your table, you can still pick up an extra issue and give it to a friend who you think would appreciate it. As a matter of fact, occasionally, we get handwritten articles and letters sent to us, and as far as time allows, we print them up and publish them. We don’t mind. Diversity and collaborations of all kinds are very important code-words in our book. We all have to be allowed to move in the world the way that feels comfortable to us. There are many ways to keep moving forward together. If you feel so inclined, do whatever feels right to you to keep getting the words of The Echo World out there. This is how we keep growing and allow for more people to enjoy the alternative voices of Virginia – and as it so happens to be – the alternative voices of the world.
Do enjoy a totally-article-packed July issue, in whatever form you savor it. Share when you can – and everybody wins!

My Editorial from the July issue of The Echo World

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Carlos Castaneda Revisited

This time I want to share not my own writing, but that of my husband Michael Peter Langevin. Simply because ... this article, recently published in the July issue of The Echo World, is great and of big interest to all the people out there fascinated by Carlos Castaneda.

My Personal Experiences with Carlos Castaneda Part 1
By Michael Peter Langevin
When I was in high school in 1968, being sixteen years old, I found a book in my favorite book store called The Teachings of Don Juan; A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, by Carlos Castaneda. I had read books on Native American shamanism. I had experienced my first adventures with mescaline and LSD, and this book put some new meanings into all of that. It offered a whole new way of viewing reality and learning to move in it. I read it multiple times and practiced many of the suggested exercises, from learning how to find my power spots wherever I was, to seeing auras. As the years passed by I read each of Castaneda’s subsequent books as they were released. I also traveled to South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean Islands and studied shamanism, voodoo, sanitaria and a wide range of occult and magical paths.

Eventually I helped found Magical Blend Magazine. The rest of the staff and I would write requests to our favorite famous people requesting articles or interviews. We would write fifty or more for anyone we would get a yes for. One day in 1985, the phone rang in the office. A staff member came to me and said that a guy who says he is Carlos Castaneda wants to talk to you. I was nearly speechless. This was unlikely since Castaneda had more or less removed himself from public view in 1973. But, the man convinced me he was Carlos and said he liked what we were doing with the magazine. He explained he had a magical act he did once a year. He would reach into his mail bag and pull out three letters and try to do what they requested. This month he had pulled out an interview request from Magical Blend Magazine, as well as one from a magazine from Brazil and one from a Latin American journalist. So, if we were OK with the arrangement, he was going to be interviewed in Spanish and send a copy of it to the Brazil magazine to translate into Portuguese and a copy to us to translate into English. We were to print the exclusive English version. This was big. Castaneda had done few interviews since the first book came out and none for many years. I thanked him profusely and we spoke a bit. We got the promised interview. We had it translated and cut it in half to print in two issues in a row to increase sales. It helped establish Magical Blend Magazine as a unique publication. Castaneda called after the second one appeared to basically let us know he thought we had done a good job and to say thanks.

The interview had impact apart from sales. Because we had been able to publish an exclusive interview with Castaneda, we were able to interview Miguel Ruiz, Alberto Villoldo, Victor Sanchez, Ken Eagle Feather, Lynn Andrews, Starhawk, Sun Bear and many other immensely popular spiritual teachers. Who wouldn’t want to be in the same magazine that had featured Carlos Castaneda?
When Castaneda decided to slowly step back into the spotlight in his last years, he lived on a large estate in Los Angeles, which he shared with some people he claimed had been his fellow students of Don Juan Matus. Among those who lived there were Taisha Abelar (formerly Maryann Simko) and Florinda Donner-Grau (formerly Regine Thal). Like Castaneda, Taisha Abelar and Florinda Donner-Grau were students of anthropology at UCLA. Each went on to write books that explored the experience of being students of Don Juan Matus and his world from a more feminist perspective. Living at the estate were also, Carol Tiggs, Amy Wallace, Kylie Lundahl, Bruce Wagner and Patricia Partin.
One day in 1992 we received a call from Florinda Donner-Grau who had just published Being-in-Dreaming: An Initiation into the Sorcerers’ World. We set up an interview and our readers loved it. One year later we received a call from Taisha Abelar who had just published The Sorcerer’s Crossing: A Woman’s Journey, a book on shamanism with a forward by Castaneda. We did an interview and our readers again loved it.

In 1995 Carlos Castaneda and some of his closest companions incorporated a company called Cleargreen and began spreading his new teachings called Tensegrity. This is a term used by Castaneda to refer to a way of being he claimed was taught to him by his teacher Don Juan Matus. It includes some movements called magical passes (positions of body and breath) that Castaneda claimed were developed by indigenous peoples of the Americas who lived in Mexico in times prior to the Spanish conquest, and had been passed down by 25 generations of Toltec shamans. Cleargreen was incorporated as a for-profit corporation founded by Castaneda in order to promote his Tensegrity teachings. The Cleargreen statement of purpose says in part, “Cleargreen is a corporation that has a twofold purpose. First, it sponsors and organizes seminars and workshops on Carlos Castaneda’s Tensegrity, and second, it is a publishing house.”

Castaneda and his people sent us videos and press releases and articles announcing and explaining Tensegrity and we did reviews and ran articles about Tensegrity. I was invited to attend for free at an expensive Tensegrity workshop. I readily agreed to attend and got to spend some time talking with Castaneda and his closest companions. They thanked me for our support over the years and treated me as an honored guest. Unfortunately, the whole experience was a bit of a let-down, and felt mechanical, rather than magical, to me.

Castaneda’s first wife, Margaret Runyan Castaneda, and his son, C.J. Castaneda, came out with a tell-all-book in 1996 called A Magical Journey with Carlos Castaneda. Margaret had been married to Castaneda for six months when his first book was released. Soon thereafter they were divorced. I contacted Margaret and C.J. and asked if they were up for an interview. However, as it turned out, they were so bitter and hateful of him that we decided not to run it.


Michael Peter Langevin is the co-publisher of The Echo World, and former publisher of Magical Blend Magazine. Read more by Michael at www.michelpeterlangevin.com

Monday, June 11, 2018

FREE Download "Call in Your Dragons Meditation."

“I hope that your dragon will teach you his or her name. Just never reveal that to anyone. Having the name of your dragons, means you can call them in, and the dragons are inviting you to do so.”
From Call in Your Dragons Meditation by Maureen J. St. Germain

So starts the June article "Calling in Your Dragons" by Maureen J. St. Germain in The Echo World that explains how you yourself can call in the mighty beings. "The dragons bring clarity, they stand for unlimited possibilities, and who doesn’t need more possibilities?"

Read the whole article in the June issue. You find it on p.29.

AND enjoy your FREE download of the "Call in the Dragons Meditation." 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

I Dream

I dream
     swimming close to the 
bottom of the mountain river,
rounded stones touching my 
soft silvery stomach.

"Deep Dream River," by Appalachian trail, Virginia.

I dream
     walking slowly over the fields,
grazing grass between the fallen leaves,
lifting my antler crowned head for every sound,
fur warming from the rays of the rising sun.

I dream
     Holding my paws gripped to the bark,
steadying myself on the swaying branch,
measuring my goal further away in the tree,
before I take the leap.

"Magic Land," Creekside, Virginia

I dream
     Looking down at the tree-covered mountains,
diving down towards the snake-like river,
looking right through the moving waters,
seeing rounded stones and silver-backed fishes.

I wake up.

Photographs by Sofia Karin Axelsson

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Fifth Chakra Photography

Fifth Chakra Photography
Light, Sage and Words

"Words and Sage in the Tree-House," by Sofia Karin Axelsson

"Light in Trees, Appalachia," by Sofia Karin Axelsson

"Light at Lake Titicaca," by Sofia Karin Axelsson

"Cleaning Smoke from Sage in the Tree-House," by Sofia Karin Axelsson

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Work and Play

Writing this, we are going into deadline week and there are, as always, many pieces to get in place. In our most recent newsletter – Writing, Magic and Marketing – we presented that each issue contains approximately 200 pieces, all smaller ones counted, and we estimated that we send about 150-200 emails in communicating about each issue. Re-reading what I wrote, I sound somewhat pleading in my asking for people to read the guidelines and work a piece over before they submit. I wasn’t. But, there was a good reason I shared this.

This is the 24th issue published by Michael and me. When we took over, things happened pretty quickly, and I have vivid memories of waking up three or four in the morning to try to figure out everything from the layout program to how to tell an article writer that a 3000-word article about fungus may not be a perfect fit for The Echo World. In comparison The Echo World is slowly but surely starting to seem like an easy ride hobby project. Nevertheless, I’m now working hard to re-invite a world outside of The Echo World. Simply because I think this will not only be good for me, but also for the quality of the magazine.

This past weekend Michael and I went out for a weekend hike and sleepover by the Appalachian trail. We hiked up beautiful Crab Tree Falls and sat on sunny rocks by Harpers Creek eating a picnic. We love being outdoors, so this was not, however wonderful, all that special. What was special, was that we had given each other a promise not to talk about anything that had to do with The Echo World, or anything business related. We succeeded – with a few slips – and both felt how great it was to indulge in chit-chat or life-philosophy that was not related to any doing or producing.

Over the last two years The Echo World has increased in quality. The submissions have become more and more professional. Michael and I have created a better workflow and have had the time to create systems that simplify the whole process. With this, I invite more non-doing, or doing-for-no-particular reason, into my life.

The other day I re-installed Spotify and remembered that I, once upon a time in another life, used to make playlists. So, I began one named Appalachia, and another named New Mexico, and started filling them up with gorgeous songs. No one will ever listen to these lists but me and Michael, which is why listening to them is the best kind of energy fillers for my entire creative system. I also found the last book of a fantasy series that I fully enjoyed over many years. I will not review it, because it doesn’t fit in our review section. But, I’m very excited to see how the hero and heroine will manage to get out of fixes involving monsters and trolls this time around. Sometimes I sketch. You will never see these sketches and for that you should be very thankful. They’re very weak. But I’m having fun doing them, emptying my brain of any prestige or deadlines.

I think we need to let ourselves do things without the need for a certain result. I certainly do. By doing this, I have more energy and creativity to put into The Echo World, and putting it together is much more fun. After two years I still think that each issue is a little pearl more pretty than the last. I am convinced that will keep happening as the years go by.

I’m proud of our 24th issue. I’m proud of our talented, smart and fun writers, of the playful artform called layout, of the interesting people we get to present, of all the labor of love we poured in. But, I’m also proud of the fact that this issue was put together alongside with talks between Michael and me that had nothing to do with The Echo World, Spotify playlists, and silly sketches. Now, go do your own labor of love. But don’t forget to play some as well. That way, all you do and produce will become all the better.

First published as the co-editorial for the April 2018 issue of The Echo World.