Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Understanding the Concept of Enlightenment

I have a confession. I never truly understood the concept of “enlightenment,” or the concept of “awakening” either, for that matter. Being the co-publisher of a New Ager oriented magazine, where both terms are used generously by our writers, this may sound like a curious confession. But, bear with me, and I will explain what I myself just started to realize on the subject. I think the lack of understanding is more cultural than spiritual.

In the world of spiritual seekers and explorers that I come from, in my home country Sweden, the words “enlightenment” and “awakening” are rarely used. Having followed for some time how they are used in the States, I might be on the verge of figuring out why this is. Here they seem to mean that you have come to a point where you understand that there is something beyond the material, beyond body, beyond religion, and perhaps even beyond death. Back in Sweden we have other expressions for that - “becoming older” is one of them. This is all well and good. However, in the States there also seems to be a tendency to use the expressions as moving towards the light, the pure, the untouched. This is where the cultural glitch comes in. 




You have to understand that I come from a country where the most popular Christmas tv-show is directed by Ingmar Bergman. And yes, it is just as dark and morose as you would expect it to be. There is a wonderful interview with Bergman that he did many years ago, today available on YouTube, where Bergman casually, even proudly, presents the interviewer with a handwritten note that lists all his inner demons. Reading through the list, Bergman meticulously explains each and every one of his demons, and how they affect his life. “The worst demon is the Disaster Demon,” he says, and continues to explain why. The list goes on. With Bergman’s own words, “There are an enormous amount of them.” There we are. The Swedish psyche on a handwritten note. 

In addition, the concepts of “enlightenment “and “awakening” in the States often seems to be initiated by a dismantling of a fairly sweet world-view. A painful discernment of the world of a sort. This is sometimes referred to as a Kundalini awakening, brushing away all known and true, opening for something larger. In Sweden we call that a nervous breakdown. I am not being cynical. After all, if you grow up in a country with two months of summer on a good year, and a Bergman movie as your Christmas special, a nervous breakdown here and there is not such a big deal. It is expected. To tell you the truth, we take pride in it. When life gets tough we take our best friend for a walk or meet up with our family and get terribly buzzed and pour out all our shortcomings and silliness until we can take no more and either cry sentimentally or laugh our heads off. Next day we go back to work, or life in general, and feel a little better about our place in the world.

Granted, my skepticism towards “enlightenment” and “awakening” is also enhanced by the fact that I’m married to a guy who just happens to have interacted with most teachers, gurus and icons of the New Age arena that you can imagine. Michael’s back-room stories are hilarious. But, not always flattering. Whatever position, the enlightened all have feet of clay. The best-selling author of the-book-on-perfect-relationships cannot hold down an intimate relationship of her own that lasts for more than six months. The harmonious-living-expert is a nasty piece of work that get lawsuits for sexual harassment. The list goes on - just as Bergman’s list of inner demons. My point is not that these teachers’ contributions are not important. They are. My point is that we all have inner demons, and we all have feet of clay. None is more enlightened or awakened than the next person. Frankly, all we can do is stumble along best we can and learn from each other along the way. Which is why I love publishing The Echo World. It is filled with material for the spiritual stumblers … sorry, I mean spiritual seekers or practitioners. 



Speaking of beloved feet-of-clay New Age icons - I hope you haven’t missed Michael’s tell-all-personal story of his interactions with Carlos Castaneda in the previous July issue. This issue contains Part 2. As one of our excellent proofreaders, Susan, put it: “This article is kind of wild.”
So, let’s continue our wild ride of sharing spiritual and alternative knowledge. You, or I, might even get enlightened. If you do, let me know your insights. As an end-note. I may not be part of bringing you enlightenment. But, I am part of bringing you some real good alternative, spiritual information you can find nowhere else.

This is my editorial for the August issue of The Echo World

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Nordic Goddesses, Runes and Magic


Being a Nordic witch living in America is a queer thing. I talk to the goddesses Freja and Hel, cast the runes, and at the same time try to understand what "spirituality" means to the so-called New  Age audience of the USA. I'm still figuring it all out. Meanwhile, I was invited to do an interview with medium Tracey Lockwood. It was fun to talk to someone who came from a very different perspective of spiritual practice, and our conversation was uplifting and ... at least for me ... inspiring. You can find the interview in the link below.



"Witches, Nordic goddesses, and Runes," is the title of a Zoom-interview with Tracey Lockwood. This is a really fun talk with charming and talented medium Tracey.


Several years ago - when writing my book about Nordic goddesses (Nordiska Gudinnor: VarDags magi för Dagen Kvinnor,) I wondered about where they would take me. Little did I know, they would lead me far beyond my beloved home-country Sweden and make me sit and talk about them in a video podcast in the States. Because I have no doubt they made it all happen. Or, at least, were a big part of it.


Here follows a note for my Swedish readers: Boken Nordiska gudinnor: VarDags magi för dagen kvinnor, liksom Vilda runor: magiska tecken i Vardagen, står som "tillfälligt slut" på Adlibris och Bokus. Detta beror på en kort sommarledighet för bokförlaget Livsströmmen. Båda böckerna finns  att beställa hos Häxans Hus under denna tid. Du har väl inte heller missat att jag kommer ha tre kursdagar på Häxans Hus i Skåne då jag är hemma i Sverige i September. Om du är nyfiken - kolla in dem HÄR (En Vild Dag med Runor) och HÄR (En Stark Dag med Freja) och HÄR (Möt Väsen i Häxans Värld.)



Rune -illustration by Sofia Karin Axelsson.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Hel - Goddess of Darkness


Sometimes I go dark. Mood-wise that is. I don’t mean getting sad over anything specific, which is totally natural and should be allowed to pass in its own good time. What I mean is brooding dark, chewing on every bitter mind-bone I can dig up with claw like fingers from seemingly abandoned cemeteries of my psyche. This doesn’t sound so attractive, I assume, and perhaps I should stop right there? But I won’t, because for me it is necessary, essential to my overall long-term wellbeing. When I do, I do not want either pharmaceuticals nor positive affirmations as antidotes. There are no antidotes that do the trick, but rather, the trick is to wait it out, to dig a little deeper into that soil and see what I find. I have to do this … until I’m done. The reason, of course, is to know as much about myself as I can so that a part of me doesn’t stab me in the back by pure un-acknowledgment. I probably also need to get it out of my system. I cannot with a good conscience recommend this practice – but if you recognize this – and want to do this as part as your personal and spiritual path – I would like to introduce you to Hel, the Old Norse goddess of Death and Darkness. She is the best company I have ever known for this state of being.

The Old Norse concept of what happens after death – and what death represent – is complex. You can end up a little here and there, according to circumstance. Many Viking diggers have grand visions of Oden’s Valhalla, of Freja’s Folkvagn. I prefer the gloomy underworlds of Helheim, Hel’s queendom. Simply because Hel is assigned to take care of “all the rest.” That is, everybody who didn’t die in war, or at sea. Symbolically, it means she accepts all of us and all our shortcomings and shadows. To invite her, and talk to her, is a strangely soothing and sobering experience. If you want to try – here follows some advice to make her come to you.
Choose a time of the dark hours, or as it is sometimes called, the wolf hour. If you want to wait for the moon to be set right, choose the time of the dark moon, or, as it is often referred to in the States, the new moon, as in “making new.” Suitable colors for altar, candles and clothes are black, blood-red and dark purple. Clear your mind and make sure you prepared a few questions. She may answer, probably in a softer voice than you think. Or, she may give you time to simply contemplate your questions on your own. If she chuckles, don’t get offended. That is just her way.

Here follow some suggestions of questions that I like to use:
What can I understand, if I embrace the darkness?
What are my fears, and how do I deal with them?
Why is life sometimes hard, and is there anything I can do to soften my path?

You get the gist. Fill in whatever questions you like. If you need to – go dark. Hel is waiting to provide you both comfort and answers.


By me from the midmonthly newsletter: Writing, Magic, and Marketing. Sign up for the newsletter made by me, Michael Peter Langevin and friends at www.theechoworld. com 


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 café, 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.

PART 2 OF THIS ARTICLE WILL BE PUBLISHED IN THE AUGUST ISSUE OF THE ECHO WORLD.

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.

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.