Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Echo World Magical Extra: Sofia Drums for Skadi

In this video of The Echo World Magical Extra Sofia talks about the winter goddess Skadi, and take you on a journey so you can meet Skadi yourself, using song and drum. The video is lagging somewhat especially in the second half. But the sound is ok, so this should work anyway.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

GoFundMe Fundraiser to Keep The Echo World in Print

We have started a fundraiser to ensure that we can keep The Echo World in print. For background on why you can check out Sofia's editorials in the November and December editions of The Echo World. The fundraiser is going full force, and we have good hope we will pull it off. For details on how you can help - see below.

We love The Echo World, and hope you do to. If you are interested in its long-term survival – we welcome any help we can get – and will keep putting in hard work and our best efforts to make it sail into the future. You find the GoFundMe fundraiser to keep The Echo World in print below.

Checks for donation can also  be sent to The Echo World P.O. Box 93 Nellysford, VA 22958. These will be accounted for separately, and counted together with GoFundMe. We will report every cent to The Echo World readers. Please remember to add your name and contact, (if you do not wish to be anonymous). Any donation we get in will, of course, go directly into the long life of The Echo World.

Blue Star

There was a blue star hanging on a thread, in the dark blue night sky. But, when he reached out to catch it, the star moved farther away, just out of his grasp. He remembered a story from his childhood about Grandmother Spider, endlessly weaving the world into existence.
In his childhood there had been an abundance of spider webs, dew filled and glimmering in the thin morning light, when he followed his father to the barn.
"Hard workers, those spiders," his father often said. His childhood self too filled with the glory of the moment to answer anything but, "Uh-huh."
They worked the land as brothers, though he himself was only eight when he was considered old enough to first tag along.
The dew filled spider webs. The smell of new cut hay. Him. His father. The sweat. The trust.
He was an old man now, lying in his bed trying to wake up, his own two children fretting around, making him dizzy. It was Christmas Eve and his daughter insisted that they have Christmas dinner as usual, only this year served with him still in his bed. The bed he seldom left these days. His daughter wasn't a very good cook. Not as his wife had been. But he endured small pieces of every dish, including a thin slice of pudding at the end. His son ate as well, sitting awkwardly on a wooden chair close to the bed in his expensive clothes, dinner plate in lap, restlessly forcing himself not to reach for the cellphone in his pocket.
Finally, it was over; plates cleared away, kisses on his forehead, his daughter lingering until he closed his eyes, pretending to sleep.
There it was again: the blue star, mystically sending out light sparks over the deeper blue sky. Different in coloring than the bright, white stars covering the velvet sky had been when they smoked fish in a barrel at the backside of the house; first his father and him, then him and his son.
He had never moved. His wife simply moved in with him, and adapted easily to being a farmer’s wife, in a down to earth way. She was a good woman, as they say. Never complained, steadily working by his side year after year. Only when cancer ate her from the inside and out did he, for the first time, see weakness. He could not stand the sight, nor her moans, or her spasms. So, he overdosed morphine and made her drink strong toxic, herbal remedies he mixed together in a pot on the wooden stove. When the nurse came around that day, she pretended not to understand what had happened.
"Now she won't have to suffer," she simply said, locking his eyes in her summer sky ones a short moment, and then went about practical business. As if death was just another everyday chore. Perhaps it was.
He never moved. He never sold off the land either, just let piece after piece fall into wildness, ignoring his sons complaints, until the only thing he could plant was the tomatoes by the stone wall; shaking paper skin hands patting the soil, picking yellow leaves off the stems, caressing the healthy, hairy green leaves.
The blue star gleamed. A giant spider leg took a soundless step over the sky. He himself stepped right into the dew-wet grass and the scent of new cut hay flowed over him in a wave.
Michael and I saw him once, on one of my very first walks since I landed in the Blue Mountains. We walked up Berry Road and I saw a shadowy figure standing in the middle of the road. Everything was so new to me then: the moist, the thick vines circling up tree trunks, the lookout for snakes on the dusty road. I was a bit jumpy I will honestly admit. So, I took a sharp breath when I saw the shadow man, but said nothing to Michael.
Michael stopped soon thereafter, by a small creek, water falling down on a rock, making splashing, playful sounds. Michael cocked his head to the side, as if listening to the water and started to tell me of a man who had lived close to where we were. A farmer, who didn't want to leave his home, who stayed where he felt safe. The man simply moved farther into the land. Learned the language of spider webs. And listened to the song of the blue star.

Ghost-story by Sofia Karin Axelsson, first published in the December 2019 edition of The Echo World

Thursday, November 14, 2019


A fun interview with the most charming of hosts
 - talented medium Tracey Lockwood.

Light Play in The Tree House

Photographs by Michael Peter Langevin and Sofia Karin Axelsson

Muddy Business

Michael and I have come to love social media, taking photos and sharing silly stories about ourselves and our lives. The little cabin we live in, and its surroundings, must be one of the most well-photographed little cabins in the world. Neither are we in any way strangers to take snapshots of each other – photos that should not be taken too seriously – and flaunt them all over the place. There are expressions for people like us, but I don’t think they are suitable for print.

It is amazing to me that I, once upon a time, was so camera-shy I often – literally – ran out of a room if someone fished up the devious catching-you-at-your-worst-moment device out of a bag. Additionally, it is not so many years ago I was highly suspicious of anything social media, a terrible photographer, and totally sucked when it came to general technology. (I used to be one of those people who thought my computer would blow up if I pushed the wrong button.)

Now, looking at our self-serving, look-at-me-and-my-life way of moving in the world, I know that it is a modern-world phenomenon to show off the happy-dippy parts of our lives in shining colors and successful light. And the cabin we call “The Tree House” has some great photograph light. But, as for all people, there is another side to the sweet-social-media-story. To live in a small cabin, that is also your office, and publish a magazine, has other sides than sweet, shining and happy-dippy. It has also been messy. Messy and muddy. Sometimes very muddy. Let me share a real-life story.
We have one spot in the cabin that has a clear phone connection. it is on the upper part of the stairs, covering an area of approximately five square feet where we use the banister as our office space. One morning, after a period of heavy rain, our delivery truck came driving in on the rain-soaked road. Now, the driver was new, young and fiery. Before Michael and I had the chance to run out and shout to him NOT to back up on the field – that becomes extremely soggy during rains since we are in a valley – he quickly turned around and backed up in the soaked field. Of course, he got stuck. And being somewhat young and feisty, it took him only about ten minutes to dig the wheels of the truck so deep down in the grass that there was no way of getting out, creating deep muddy tracks in the grass. There was no choice for him but to call for a tow truck.

At the same time the tow truck arrived, neighbors and our neighbor’s friend had gotten involved and there was honking horns, and six guys shouting to each other just down from the stairs. This would not have been a problem at all, had it not been at this exact moment that I had scheduled an interview with someone I admired very much, who happened to be in New Mexico. He was very gracious about the whole thing, and even claimed that there where snowstorms in New Mexico that may disturb the signal. I caught enough of the interview to transcribe it to an article.

The story might have ended there, as a mild inconvenience in the world of publishing from your home, had it not been for the fact that Michael and I decided to go down to the fireplace by the creek to celebrate our latest edition. There was, of course, a fire involved, probably a couple of glasses of wine too much, and very animated discussion. For whatever reason, by the time we were walking back to the cabin it was dark, and I had totally forgot about the incident with the delivery truck. So … I fall, face down, into the water and mud-filled tracks left by the truck. After catching my breath, Michael and I broke down in laughter that lasted all the way up to the cabin, through a very muddy shower and even going to bed. Now this was one day. If I had space, I could tell you the stories about:

When I couldn’t create the upcoming edition while on the road because my lap-top refused to even open to the desktop, and I sat chewing on my hands on the airplane because I left Michael all alone running everything else, and my only real mission for the month was to put the edition together.
When I couldn’t get into my “office’ – aka the cabin - because there was a big snake that had decided to settle in on our doorstep. Michael was gone, and I was too chicken-shit to try to make the snake go away (now that’s a better excuse not to work than “the dog ate my homework”), so I had to wait in the driveway until Michael came home to get back to work.

The time Michael fell down the slippery stairs during hurricane season and cracked three ribs with me gone and him responsible to handle everything (yup, same time as my computer broke down on the road).

I could continue. But I will spare you. Just saying this: to make things look all fun, easy and colorful on social media is easy. Life, however, is much more messy than that. And muddy. I did mention muddy, did I not?

This editorial was first published in the September edition of The Echo World

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

What Is a Ghost?

I knew the ghost was there - just as I have felt the presence of many ghosts since I moved to Virginia. And I knew what the ghost was going through. She was thinking of her childhood, and the pain it brought.

I always thought that the painful separation from the real world, the fall from grace, and the suffocating roles that followed, only smothered me alone. Others seemed to adapt miraculously. So, I tried to ignore it, almost managed to, numbing myself in all ways I could think of. And dared to. Because, different from this ghost, whose name was Lou-Ann and who killed herself of an overdose of heroin in the seventies, I have always been chicken-shit when it comes to hard drugs, knowing well I would end up in a psychiatric ward just by looking at them. There are many ways to strive towards oblivion, however. Most are sanctioned by society.

To grow up is a hellish thing. If I believed in hell. Which I don't. No other than the man-made one anyway. Sometimes it seems that the loss of innocence is an accepted thing, only seen as a crime if it can be blamed on abuse. As if your free roaming spirit has to be beaten out of your body by angry hands.

I was never abused. I was a loved child in a grand family. Being the youngest I was sometimes almost forgotten, left to my own adventures. Which suited me fine. Sometimes I was also spoiled rotten. I didn’t mind that either. The abuse was the world crashing in, those dark entangled webs created to hold you in place. I fought with all the might my skinny being could muster up. As it turned out, that was not enough.
"It's part of growing up," they say.
But it shouldn't be.
It wasn't only me. It was also her. The ghost whose name is Lou-Ann. Who turned to drugs because growing up was too hard. I'm pretty sure she never meant to die. Her death was a mistake. A horrible moment of misjudgment with lethal consequences.

Me, I can still re-model myself with time. Perhaps have a near-death experience and see it all anew. Something broken, something gained. Lou-Ann never had the time to set things right. Never had the time to reclaim her innocence, her real self, her strength to live the way she wanted to.

What is a ghost, if not an unlived life?

I had to restore her. Give her what she needed. I decided to do a journey to the Underworld. It was a long time ago since I did that. But the Underworld is the place where lost pieces of self can be found. And Lou-Ann needed those pieces right now.

There should be a word when the terrain has changed shape but is emotionally, absolutely familiar. There should be a word for traveling in the world some call the astral but seeing almost the same thing as you do with your physical eyes, only seeing … a bit more. There should be words, and maybe there are, in some language.

I did not know. I dove down in the muddy waters of the creek and followed the roots of the southwest guardian tree - the tree with the giant branch-arm. Here I found a landscape I already knew, though I never saw it like this. There was a river, wide and still, and trees old with wisdom. A canoe was waiting for me: light and smooth. Stepping into it was like stepping into a well-known secret; a secret of soft movements. The canoe glided effortlessly on the water surface.

I looked for a power animal for Lou-Ann, though I had never heard of journeying for a power animal for a ghost. I didn't know what to expect: something wild and strong perhaps, a ferocious protector. Instead I found a hedgehog, the sweetest thing you can imagine, with squinting eyes. He opened and closed his little hands, making me remember the hedgehogs in my childhood, curious but cautious, hiding behind raised spikes if threat was near. I carried him to the canoe and carefully put him in my lap. Then I headed back through the dreamy landscape, that was as real as any landscape, one water-dripping paddle stroke at the time.

Lou-Ann greeted me unexpectedly on the shore. I left her there, hedgehog in arms, with talking trees and healing grounds all around. For a while she would remain at the corner of my unconscious, in the Underworld, where she could grow stronger. I felt her. Part of her wanted to crawl back into the folds of oblivion. But that was not an option anymore.

"Bring them to the light!" they said. "Bring them to heaven." But Lou-Ann didn't want to go to heaven. She wanted to find a dusty ghost truck and drive from state to state, picking up lost-soul-hitchhikers along the way, and to make friends. She wanted to experience the world, on her own terms, and do everything she longed to do when she was still alive, until one day the truck becomes a spaceship ready to fly over the starry skies.

By Sofia Karin Axelsson
This story was first published in The October edition of The Echo World. More Ghost stories to come ...