Stories from the North

In the tradition I study and practice, Mexica, the direction North gives teachings about transformation, death, re-birth, ancestral memories and wisdom from our grandfathers and ancestors. The past few years during the peak summer month July in Sweden, I travel to the edge of this direction: our family house in the far north. Situated in Sapmí and the Swedish Lapland, just east of the World Heritage Laponia, this truly is the far north. Reindeers show us the way as the car drives further and further along the empty roads in the forest. The outback and wilderness of Sweden live precisely here.

Every year I go with my sisters and brothers, blood or heart family or both. This year, Hubby and I went on a long road trip to get there. It amazes me that every year I long for the tranquility, the wild rivers and deep forests surrounding the mountains and it seems I have forgotten about the Story of the North. Every year I seem to forget about the hardship of North’s transformational journey. Or, most likely, that is why I go. To remember. To transform.

The trip itself is a long and, in many ways, challenging one of about 1700 kms. Last year, as some might remember, my partner and I hitchhiked and tried to find various cheap options to travel thru Sweden. We crisscrossed the country with free rental cars, local buses and trains to get here. Previous years, I’ve taken the over-night train or driven all the way with only a few bathroom stops. This year was a compromise with driving divided into smaller journeys. Upon arrival, everybody always gives a sigh of relief, happiness and gratitude that we made it. And then we rest. For several days we rest, with some occasional sauna bathing in between. After about four days the restlessness arrives. It takes over the entire body by allowing tiredness to linger while heaviness starts to make room in the emotional, mental and physical body.

remains of a Sami Kåta (tipi), with the fire in the center

remains of a Sami Kåta (tipi), with the fire in the center

One year, I tried to cure this restlessness by going for a run. It was a late summer afternoon, still warm and bright as daylight as I tied my shoes and went off. Outside the house runs one narrow dirt road and I figured it was best to simply follow it for a few kilometers and then turn around or I would get lost. After a couple of minutes, my skin was warm and moist, attracting mosquitos from the nearby village but I decided to keep going. Running the restlessness away. Suddenly, I see a big four-legged mammal some 300 meters in front of me! In the middle of the road, it stood staring at me. I tried to determine weather it was a moose or a reindeer, but it was too far away to tell for sure. My heart started pumping faster as I knew encountering an angry Mama Moose is nothing I wanted to do by myself in the middle of the forest (i.e. their territory!). The mosquitos bit hard, my pulse pumped and I decided to carry on (nothing could stop me in the pursuit for a cure against restlessness!). The four-legged ran into the forest before I got to see it properly but as I neared the place where it had stood I got the feeling of being observed. I slowed down again and started to listen. Nothingness. Slowly, I continued to run and turned my head to look over my shoulder. And there, in the edge of the forest it stood curiously starring at me! I jumped in surprise! Thankfully, it was a beautiful light grey reindeer that wanted to accompany me. But I had reached the point of return and instead started my way back.

Filled with mosquitos and bites by now, I ran faster while looking down at my feet in an attempt to keep them out off my eyes. Luckily, I kept my gaze at my feet as I turned onto the path towards the house and had to jump half a meter up in the air and to the right because of a fat and sun gazed snake that angrily opened its mouth and rose towards me! My instant jump made me avoid its jaws by just an inch. Back home, I went strait to the sauna to contemplate and decided that the mosquitos were reason enough not go running in this environment again.

Nowadays, I do my practice outside every morning and together with the mosquitos (sure, some mornings this might mean lighting all the incense at once) and the occasional reindeers passing by. I’ve learnt how to accept and embrace that they are too part of my practice and part of my story. But the deep and true teachings come from the hidden allegories inside the vast mountain stories; the endless forests filled with berries, the powerful rivers, and reindeer medicine, never ending daylight, the sauna and the stillness of Nature. Here lies the restlessness and all you have to do is to listen. Listen to the stories of the north.

The teachings of North are the stories of the un-imaginable amount of mosquitos and a never setting sun in summer, of the deep, dark, and cold winter, and of the dark energies that rest here. Dark energies coming from the history of the land(s), from our collective ancestral memory, and for me also from my ancestral blood linage memory. Here, in the silence between the mountains, death is always present. Few of the original habitants remain as they one by one grow older and pass on, their kids being long gone to the city. The abandoned villages and houses become more empty each day. Empty with stories that no one cares to listen to. And every here and there, houses and trees hold the souls that refuse to travel on because they never got to tell their story. They linger on until someone listens, giving the whole area a greyish gloom of unwelcoming bitterness and perhaps a protective shield against intruders. In the midst of this, my ancestral stories come to the surface as I climb the mountain or walk the swamps. Ancestral memories from the blood linage that are planted on this land, as well as those from my own personal story that needs to be healed reveal themselves inside the restlessness, darkness and silence. And just as in Costa Rica and the Mexica tradition I turn to the Temazcal (sweat lodge) for purification and to peel of layers to refine my being, here in the North I retreat to the firewood sauna where I can hide away from mosquitos and let my body and soul heal by listening to the stories wanting to be told. Over and over again.  

Highlights of 2014

2014 was not only the year of the Horse but also the year of Love and, WOW! How many great, magical and life altering moments and journeys I got to experience! Here is my attempt to summarise my travels within and without from 2014. Enjoy and please share your stories in the comments below! 

1.     Around Costa Rica and across Worlds

Starting the year off in one of my favourite countries, and one of the two I currently call “home”, by purging and cleansing and working in various traditional shamanic ceremonies such as the Temazcal (sweat lodge) and the meeting with Ayauaska. Many great journeys within oneself and between worlds are made in traditional ritual and ceremony, personally one of my favorite ways of traveling. I also got the chance to travel around Costa Rica together with my best friend and show him the magic of the country before heading on to the next adventure: Yoga Teacher Training in the desert! The adventures, travels and challenges were overlapping each other these first months of 2014! Thank you all – new and old- friends and family that helped make these voyages MAGICAL!  

2.     Space of Love

As I got back to Sweden in the start of summer, I was guided to visit a Yoga Festival on an island outside the east coast. Little did I know how those 2 weeks would continue the flow and journeys that started in Costa Rica and, at the same time be a trigger point for what would come next. It truly is a Space of, for and with Love. I met long lost friends and lovers- new to this lifetime, served the fire, encountered Grandfathers from the North and traditions completely new to me, and I experienced Love in ways I never knew of. Love, Connections and Journeys within and without with guidance from the medicines of song, dance, yoga, ceremony and human beings with big hearts. Thank You ALL! 

3.     Summer Love Tour

I continued the summer by touring Sweden together with my best friend. We had no plans as how to transport ourselves or where to end up on our way to the North and my family house. We packed yoga gear, food, a tent and all the necessities for camping- yes, we carried more than ever before on our backs! – and we hit the road. There is a special beauty and inspiration in traveling only by intuition and bare feet. We found ourselves creating connections on a yoga camp in the forest of Småland, catching up with old friends, and finding Light in the church. I taught yoga in the park and we got on buses and trains not knowing where to end up. We helped a shaman constructing a Shamanic Museum, danced with the drums and walked bare foot around Dalarna in pouring rain. We visited the native people of the North and learnt more about ancient wisdom; we camped with reindeers and created songs. And somewhere on the road we fell in love.  

4.     Skattungbyn

All the meetings and connections that were made during the sunny summer months led me further and towards new adventures. One of them being the Yoga Festival in Dalarna in October where I got to, once again, experience the magic of the deep forest and wild rivers, connect through love and rhythm, and share the wisdom of my drum and the ancient roots. Guiding a Yin and Drum class for about 50 people was incredible beyond words. I am so very grateful. Thank You Thank You.

5.     Liverpool & Wales

What seems to have started in July, with our Summer Love Tour, came to somewhat of a peak in early December. Me and my best friend went to visit the fairytales of northern Wales and my dancing soul sister Anahí. We watched a psychedelic Christmas parade, had a chat with the Hatter, followed the White Rabbit and we got engaged on the hills of the Welsh coast where the seals have their playground. Indeed, 2014 was a year filled with Love and magic, guided by the great Horse. Thank you all for participating in the ride! 

I ended my highlights of 2013 by saying: “My intentions for 2014 are to continue deeper into my spiritual journey, wherever in the world it may take me.” Summarizing 2014 showed me that I really did dive deeper into my spiritual journeys and practices and in ways and places I never could have imagine. I am grateful for everything I experienced through feelings, vision(s), hearing, touch, taste and smell. And I am grateful for being guided by the magic flow of life, always taking me to new challenges and journeys - within and without. I set my intentions for 2015 to be even more profound; deepening my spiritual practices and, thus, share the wisdoms with the world(s) even more! 

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Skattungbyn, Dalarna: Nomadic Yogi

It's something special about flying, isn't it? Sitting down in your seat, feeling the dry air inside the plane and sensing the smell of adventure; soon to be above the clouds. The airplane is the muggles’ version of a Portkey- a way to transport yourself from A to B by holding on to an object while spinning in between worlds and clouds. Somehow always exciting and somehow always the start of something new, regardless of where you're headed. It is worryingly easy to fly domestically in Sweden. The airport busses in Stockholm and other big cities take you directly to whatever airport you need to go to. You do the check-in yourself and drop off the baggage. The lines are short, there is no fuzz in security, the tiny airplanes have free seating and the transportation time is short. In addition, most departures are way cheaper than the correspondent train ride. There are several options when flying between Stockholm and the south, such as the airports in Växjö, Kalmar, Ronneby, Malmö... And it'll only take you about 50 minutes compared to the train's 3,5+ hours. 

The environment and earth loving being inside of me struggles with this conflict. 

What is the solution, really? A vast improvement of the trains and railway system?  Something that can actually compete with cheap tickets, short hours, motion sickness and all together pure smoothness when traveling...

However, this story is not about the amazement of Portkeys but of the adventures lying on the other side. On the other side of a 4 hours train ride, some good ol’ catching up and a 6+ hours road trip lay stories about Love, connection, fairies, and sisterhood, newly found brothers, sublime nature, and Dance. The Nomadic Yogi went to the North once more: this time to attend a yoga festival in Skattungbyn, Dalarna, to guide a Yin and Drum workshop. Many inspiring creatives from all over Sweden were gathered to share delicious Ayurvedic food, yoga asana classes, songs, dance and shamanism. The event felt like a gathering of catching up with old friends, family, light workers and roots. The entire area around the mythical lake Siljan showers me with inspiration and remembrance every time I visit.

Blessings and Thanks to all that together made it happen! And to those of you who weren't there, I herby invite you to come travel with us.

Travel in stories, times, movement, sound in the body, mind and soul!

Travels within and without. 

The Nomadic Yogi part II: How To become a Traveling Yogi

Bhakti Fest Oxelösund

Rolling out my mat in cramped spaces is no longer an annoyance (if it ever were) rather a part of life, a way of living. These last few months, I have been traveling all over Sweden with my mat on the back, rolling it out in every park I’ve been to and even using it as a sleeping mattress! My yogic and my traveling journeys are, since long, the same. One big, spinning, delightful, life-enhancing, joyous, colorful RIDE of worlds, asanas, music and dance. Both- merged together- take me further and farther- the light is constantly expanding: Travels within and without

And so it were, that this Summer Love Tour led me to Bhakti Fest in Oxelösund, Sweden, in the beginning of September. It was one of those early autumn weekends: the sparkling sun warmed our feet during the days and the crisp air gently tucked us in at night. We sang early morning sadhana followed by pooja’s magic to start the day, had delicious meals, and tried various workshops in yoga, dance and mindful kayak paddling. Food By Magie contributed in the kitchen and Yoga By Magie donated a powerful Yin and Drum session to start the festival Friday.

We shared music, tears, laughter and love. We created new bonds and tied new knots; we weaved the web bigger and wider. The web of Light, of Travels, of Joy and that of Companionship. Oneness. From there, new roads, paths, signs and worlds will show. Always. And that, my friends, is the simple answer to this post’s heading “How To Become a Traveling Yogi” :

The more you expand, the more will unfold before you….

Eka Pada Raja Kapotanasana - Pigeon Pose - in the park

Eka Pada Raja Kapotanasana - Pigeon Pose - in the park

How To Travel Without Money in Sweden

Or How To Travel the World for Free

We got in to Luleå early in the morning, where we spent the day in nature together with yet a magic yogi friend. As the late afternoon came closer, we got on the local bus to Överkalix, where we were to spend the coming week in the mythical wilderness of the Northern forest.

The saga-like Light shines its glitter over us where we stand in awe in the deep forest. Nowhere but in the North will you find endless forests, swamps and light like this.

From here our story takes a different route as we decided to buy a car and name it Björnen (The Bear)- bringing with us some of the medicine from the north! And even though traveling by car might be the cheapest way to get around (and most definitely the easiest!) Sweden and the North, it is part of another story. So, let’s summarize How To Travel Cheap in Sweden for ya:

Transportation:

Combine sightseeing and transportation Like we did with Inlandsbanan

Combine transportation and sleep There are few over-night travel options in Sweden, but in the North is where you can find them. Sleep poorly while transporting yourself and you save one night worth of lodging, like we did between Umeå and Luleå.

Use local buses Harder to find and time consuming but generally cheaper, offers a lot of fun through random countryside experiences and take you further than you might think. Even across county borders, like when we traveled Dalarna!

Hitchhike might be time-consuming and expensive in terms of buying shitty food and snacks in every gas station you end up at in between rides. However, when wanting to get around a certain area (i.e. shorter rides and without the heavy packing) I recommend giving it a go, like we did in Rättvik.

Drive freerider cars Especially good when you want to get from A to B quick and B is really far away, like the first part of our trip.

Food:

Travel with a portable kitchen, in that way you can cook your own food basically wherever you are and save in on a lot of money. Check out foodbymagie for tips and recipes on easy and cheap food to cook both indoors and outdoors!

Use Allemansrätten and the common fireplaces at resting areas near the roads and by the lakes. Just be mindful with the fire! Read more about how I used it and what it allows you to do here

Learn the local plants, mushrooms and berries and just like that you have free food all around you! I will write more about this topic, if you are interested? In the meantime, check out foodbymagie and coming events and workshops here.

Accommodation:

Forest Camping & City Camping Travel with a tent in Scandinavia and you always have a place to crash. Read more about Allemansrätten and how we camped in Umeå.

Staying with friends & Couchsurfing We actually didn’t camp all that much, staying with good friends and locals always offer great experiences!

Work exchange Psst, there are cool work exchanges too, not just for accommodation, like we did on Yoga Camp and at Läkegården.

Hidden Costs: You know what I’m talking about; toilets, Internet, and most definitely where to store the bags when you don’t have a hotel/car or the like!

Library hangout: Good place to charge your devices + use the Internet for free. I’ve used the library both in big cities like Malmö and small towns like Kalix, you might need a library card in some places tho!

Toilets: The church. Even if you can’t find public toilets, you will find a church- go check their opening hours! In addition, I like to hang out in the often times very beautiful old buildings.

Backpack storage: Can’t find any lockers? No worries, locate the tourist information and ask if they have any suggestions. Both in Mora and Umeå they let us store our backpacks and bags for free! 

Do you have any great tips about traveling without money you think I should add? Or a great idea you think I should try? Comment below!

Next post: about the sacred waters and mountains of Arjeplog and how we ended up visiting a Samí family. 

Pura Vida!!