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.

Endorsement for LangevinAxelsson Marketing by Maureen J. St. Germain


"My latest book, Waking Up in 5D was voted number one best-selling book in retail stores by the stores themselves in a survey done by Retailing insight. I have used LangevinAxelsson marketing PR resources., I have no doubt that this success is in part due to Michael and Sofia’s terrific lists and resources. They’re easy to work with and full of wonderful ideas.
In fact I wouldn’t dream of releasing a book without their help. Even though Waking Up was published by mainstream publisher, I still elected to hire an additional PR firm. You should too. You’ll thank me later."
- Maureen J. St. Germain
Author, mystic and teacher. Most recent book is Waking Up in 5D: A Practical Guide to Multidimensional Transformation.



You can find out more about LangevinAxelsson Marketing on www.facebook.com/LangevinMarketing

Maureen J. St. Germain's website is www.marueenstgermain.com 

For the full article of Bestsellers in America go to: issuu.com/retailinginsight/docs/vol322018_showcase_edition



Monday, March 5, 2018

Let the Spring Frenzy Take Over

Spring is coming! Thank the gods and goddesses. Ever since I moved here, spring in Virginia has blown my socks of. The beauty is breathtaking. The weather wonderfully dramatic. And don’t get me started on the diversity of plants and animal life. Every year I’m in awe.


I’m just as in awe of the kindness and generosity of the people we interact with. Apart from our friends, whom we see less than we would like regarding workload, we mostly interact with The Echo World readers, contributors and advertisers. Which is really neat, because the support we have gotten is as breathtaking as a Virginia spring. And sometimes there are also the classical spring storms. This is to be expected. You just don’t take over a legacy like Jim Ward’s Echo – and think that everyone will love every move you make. I like storms. They make us appreciate diversity and passion. They also make us re-think and analyze what we’re doing and try to do better.

We often get comments that many people want more local and more environmental content. We would love to have more of both. What is lacking is contributions of articles in these areas that we can use as is. It would be a very boring magazine indeed if Michael and I wrote the most part of each issue. Neither would we want to, as that counters the whole idea of diversity and many different voices. So, send us articles, ready to print, about the topics you want more of, especially local and environmental oriented ones. Or, if you’re not a writer, see if you can encourage someone you know, or know about, to submit articles. The only thing we ask is that the material is exclusive to the The Echo World and follows the general guidelines.

A section where we have started to get great contributions, but often seem to need more, is our Cuisine Section. I know there are nutritionists, great cooks, as well as people with extensive knowledge about food and health, whose texts we would be proud to publish. Pieces of 250-500 words on what excites you in this area is welcome, including recipes. Bring it on!
We are also looking for more material for our section Ghost, Mysteries, Oddities and Miracles in Virginia. We have gotten some very interesting pieces over these two years, but often fall short. Michael and I are both very excited about this section and want to keep it going. We know that there are stories out there in abundance that would fit. Remember, it can be a personal encounter with something out of the ordinary, a local legend, a story your grandmother or grandfather told you when you were a kid, or a write-up about a historical site with claims of ghosts and oddities. The only requirement is that the content has Virginia origin. 


Spring is coming. Actually, it’s already here. We heard spring peeper frogs the other day on a morning walk, high pitched music stemming from the ponds, occasionally mixed with the bass contribution of bull frogs. We took a pause in our walk and allowed ourselves to be showered in the music. It lit up all the spring frenzy feelings you can imagine. Spring, for me, is about trying to balance the need to run, create, pour out ideas with keeping your vision, and your head, somewhat clear. Not all spring energy is expressed  as an actual activity or a  creative end-result, mind you. Sometimes it just has to wash through us, and with that we can leave the slow, cold gestation period of winter behind. 

Let’s run, let’s get frenzied by the spring sounds, let’s finally warm up and shake things up. Pour out your writings and ideas and send them to us. Together we can create something really fun. Enjoy the March issue of The Echo World. And don’t forget to listen to the spring frog peepers. They have a way of setting your whole being in motion.

First published in the March issue 2018 of The Echo World. Read the whole issue here.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

En recension från Norrshaman av Vilda Runor - magiska tecken i vardagen


For my English speaking readers - this is a review of my new book that is published in Swedish. 
So is the review. Thanks for your understanding //Sofia

Till mina svenska läsare. Nedan hittar du Jörgen I. Erikssons recension av
Vilda Runor - magiska tecken i vardagen. Recensionen som publicerad på Jörgens Blogg Norrshaman hittar du här.

Vilda och dynamiska runor för vår tid

När det rör sig i den kosmiska väven föds nya tankar också i den ordinära verkligheten. Impulsen kommer från Drömtiden som har sin egen logik och följer sina egna inre lagar för att vid en bestämd tidpunkt springa fram likt en källa. Känsliga människor läser av dessa impulser på olika sätt och därför kan en impuls från Drömtiden ta sig en mångfald olika uttryck. Just nu visar sig detta bl a i ett stigande intresse för runmagi, framför allt den riktning som betraktar runorna som cykliska processer stadda i en ständig förändring. Och som, förstås, baseras på teorin om de 24 runorna som en uthark

Nu har ytterligare en runmagiker manifesterat en sådan hållning i en bok som är en ambitiös och genomarbetad introduktion tillutharkens kosmos. Författaren heter Sofia Karin Axelsson och hennes bok Vilda Runor – magiska tecken i VarDagen(Livsströmmen 2017). Axelsson beskrivs som ”praktiserande häxa med förkärlek för fornnordiskit inspirerad magi”. Hon har tidigare gett ut boken Nordiska Gudinnor – VarDagsmagi för dagens kvinnor, är bosatt i USA där hon är medredaktör för den andliga tidskriften The Echo World.
Axelsson förklarar begreppet ”vilda runor” med att runorna aldrig kan kapslas in och tämjas: ”Runorna är vad de är, de lever och anpassar sig till den tid de rör sig i och visar olika ansikten för dem som samverkar med dem.” Just så är det! Vi kan inte beordra eller befalla runorna att göra saker och ting, vi kan bara samverka med dem och när vi utan självviktighet samverkar med dem kommer de också att tala till oss och avslöja sina hemligheter. Jag gillar Axelssons grundhållning att runorna är ”grundläggande livskrafter som innefattar allt som existerar”, ”en ständigt flödande helhet, utan början och utan slut” och hennes attityd att runorna ”måste upplevas av var och en direkt”. 
Boken är en systematisk genomgång av utharkens 24 runor där runorna får varsitt fylligt kapitel och här har Axelsson gjort några innovativa saker. Varje kapitel inleds med en berättelse som hon kallar saga och som försöker sätta in respektive runa i ett större sammanhang. Ibland har sagan sin bas i någon fornnordisk myt men för det mesta handlar det om Axelssons egenskapade berättelser på ett skimrande språk. Ett sätt att lära sig av runorna är att ”bära runor” och här har Axelsson en del kreativa förslag om hur en kan visualisera runorna i olika kroppsdelar för att maxa inlärningen. Hon har också för varje runa något som hon kallar ”ögonblick” som innehåller ett 20-tal olika begrepp som inspiration för läsarens fortsatta runarbete. För Ur-runan är det begrepp som Noll, Tomhet, Urtid, Styrka, Början, Den Kosmiska Kon, Drömmaren etc. För varje runa beskriver hon också olika strukturerade övningar eller ceremonier som kan göras dels hemma, dels i naturen för att utröna runans innebörd. Varje runa är dessutom kongenialt illustrerad med teckningar som för tankarna till klippmålningar och hällristningar. Mycket snyggt!
När det gäller Axelssons texter om varje enskild runas innebörd tycker jag att hon blir alldeles för långrandig. Det ska inte behövas två sidor för att beskriva essensen hos en runa. Om hennes ”ögonblick” är en inspiration för läsaren så kan de långa runbeskrivningarna tvärtemot hämma och begränsa läsarens upptäckarlusta. Det finns också en risk för att texten trivialiserar och spär ut runans essens. Boken hade alltså vunnit på att kortas rejält. Och även om Vilda Runor ska ses som en introduktion till runmagin så är det ett par viktiga dimensioner jag saknar. Ingenstans ägnar sig Axelsson åt runornas ljud, alltså deras arketypiska namn; hon använder konsekvent översättningar som Vagnsrunan, Fackelrunan, Hästrunan etc. Där missar hon en stor potential. Jag ser runorna som 24 olika frekvenser av Urjätten Ymers allra första vrål under skapelseakten och att sjunga runor är att ta del av denna kosmiska historia. Inte heller nämns något om den komplexa, intrikata och kraftfulla talmagi som ryms i utharken och Axelsson tycks inte heller ha tagit till sig upptäckten av Den Tomma runan. Den är egentligen en icke-runa och kan inte användas i magi, däremot vid divination, och framför allt har den betydelse för runornas skapelse och för deras kosmiska dimension. Jag är dock övertygad om att den som arbetar enligt Axelssons övningar förr eller senare ändå kommer in på dessa saker eftersom runorna kommer att berätta om dem!
Vilda Runor kan kanske beskrivas som en manual i självförädling med hjälp av runorna och en sådan självförädling kan ju vara en förutsättning för det som jag är mest intresserad av, nämligen att ”laga världen”. När vi helar oss själva bidrar vi till att hela världen men jag lutar mer åt det omvända – alltså att vi helar oss själva när vi hjälper till att hela världen. Visserligen skriver Axelsson under Tyr-runan en del om att försvara land- och vattenrättigheter, ursprungsfolks rättigheter, bevarande av ekosystem m m men den som söker råd om hur en med hjälp av runor kan göra stor magi, verklig magi för att ”laga världen” och rent av ingripa i alltings kosmiska urgrund, Unus Mundus, hittar inte så mycket i denna bok. Hen får vända sig direkt till runorna i stället, och det tror jag att också Sofia Karin Axelsson tycker.  // Jörgen I. Eriksson.


Foto av Anita Thomason.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Skadi - the Goddess of Winter

Presenting a friend for cold winter days – Skadi the Nordic goddess of winter.



Skadi is the goddess who helps us find our independence and become self-reliant. Together with Skadi, we can continue further down the road into our selves, with wolfs at our heels, hiking boots on our feet, and the hunting bow over our shoulder. She is the giant daughter of the oldest race, who has never been civilized into patriarchal society.

Skadi and the Stars
I’m outside a small cabin with heaps of snow as far as I can see. Stars are glistening in the dark sky, and the moon is full. I know that Skadi is close by. I can feel her in the beauty, the cold and the silence – the kind of silence that is only born from cold winter nights. She breaths down my neck, and I understand that freedom is a state that includes both gains and risks. Freedom permeate me, but just one moment of inattention, and I could die of the cold. No one can live on freedom only. I look up at the stars and my mind is expanded further.
Suddenly, I understand that freedom, and its companion, independence, makes our soul grow, as well as causing our ego to shrink – and not the other way around, as we often have been misled to think. Under the stars I can taste eternity, and I am more deeply connected to my ancestors. Something awakens in me, that has been there all along, waiting. I can almost feel how quiver and bow are hung on my back. Skadi wants a companion for the hunt. I let my mind soar.




Excerpted and translated from Nordiska gudinnor: Vardags magi för dagens kvinnor, (Translated title: Nordic Goddesses: Every Day Magic for Women of Today) by Sofia Karin Axelsson.

First published in the mid-monthly newsletter Writing, Magic and Marketing by Sofia Karin Axelsson and Michael Peter Langevin. Sign up at www.theechoworld.com 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

That Little Flame of Passion

The beginning of the year is clean and crisp. An unwritten piece of paper, full of possibilities. Or, at least, that may be something to aim for. Because, in the quiet time after the holidays we have a chance of hearing our own inner voices, and rekindle that flame of passion that is only ours. If this is not how things feel for you, January is the perfect time for some physical, emotional and mental detox.

While the trees are bare and sound like squeaking old bones in the wind, we can shed some of the excesses of too much rich food, too much social obligation, and perhaps too much engagement in what is good and bad in the world. While detoxifying the body is a pretty easy thing to do – many of us really don’t want to put anything else than what is fresh and light into our physical systems right now – detoxifying the emotional and mental body may take a little more effort. However, for me, it’s not until I do that extra effort, that I can be free enough to find that flame of passion that rises from inside. At this time of year, I always have to go back to basics. What is really mine? When am I genuine, and when am I simply reactionary? 

Here are some things I learned years ago, by a stressed-out mother, who practiced this on her troubled teenage daughter, with surprisingly good results. And if something can improve communication between a mother and a teenage daughter – well, then it ought to be good stuff. Here’s the first thing this woman taught me: State your truth, without accusing anyone or anything. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? It usually isn’t. I was shocked when I started practicing this statement - how many of my opinions and life-values were not really mine, but reactions to someone or something else. Thus, they were not genuine. To put it simply, they were based in addiction to drama. But, when I get back to finding my truth without needing to react to anyone or anything, I can untangle myself from drama. If you try this, you might find that you are forced to find your own stand as an independent being, whether in relation to family, business or politics. 



Have you noticed lately that you bind people and ideas tightly to you by constantly criticizing them? (Oh, yes, I know you’re just “trying to help,” but this is a rare result of criticism. Most people are already heartbreakingly aware of their shortcomings. Or, they simply don’t agree with you.) If this is the case, you might want to give yourself the gift of untangling yourself by stating your truth without accusing. It can be very liberating. 

Here’s the second thing the mother of a troubled teenage daughter taught me: If someone doesn’t agree with you, just keep asking questions, listen to the answers with interest, without reacting to them. 

This may be a scary exercise for people who are taught that we live in a world built on dualistic forces, and that our identity is dependent on an opposing force. This is an illusion. We do not necessarily lose ourselves because we listen. On the contrary, we probably come closer to our genuine voice by sincerely listening to the voices of others. Heck, we might even learn something.



The more we let go, the more we detoxify ourselves from reactionary patterns, the better chance that we find that flame of passion inside that is truly ours. I asked Little Grandmother, who spent nine years fulfilling a mission given to her by Mother Earth, traveling all over the world to do so, if she considers herself to be a brave person. Little Grandmother laughed her sweet laugh and said, “No, I don’t think I’m brave. I just get so passionate about what I believe in, that I can’t help myself doing what I think is right.” Don’t miss the interview with Little Grandmother on page five. And if you need some more inspiration for taking that brave step forward, why not read Maria Majjsan Kindgren’s article about stepping into the swamp? You can find it on page 13. And with that, we welcome Majjsan back as our ongoing columnist. The response we have been given about her articles, they are just too grand to resist. Or, why not learn something about letting go of your fear with the help of Maureen J. St. Germain? (page 17). And if that isn’t enough, you can find balance with the help of our new three-month columnist Candice Covington, who teaches us about the spiritual practice of working with essential oils. This is just a small sample of what’s in this crisp and inspirational January issue of The Echo World. 

Isn’t this a wonderful time a year? It gives us an opportunity to drop whatever doesn’t work for us, and just be with ourselves and what we are passionate about. Let’s use this time of year to shed whatever we need to shed, and find our own genuine voice. To find our very own flame of passion. 



Editorial from the January issue 2018 of The Echo World.

Photographs from top: "Sofia on the stairs," "On the porch of the Tree-house," and "Let there be light." By Michael Peter Langevin and Sofia Karin Axelsson.