Steninge, just outside Märsta — a suburb to Sweden’s capital Stockholm — has been inhabited for thousands of years. Just behind Steninge Castle you’ll find a magnificent runestone and if you venture further into the woods a huge grave field scattered around what’s left of a thousand year old fort. There’s more of course, this area of Sweden is packed with ancient structures, standing stones, grave mounts and other remains of a distant civilization. Once upon a time the water was much higher and boats and ships could travel around the area, but all that’s left is hills with traces of bronze and iron age people.
The photo of me above is taken behind the castle, on the road leading up to the graves and fort, on what was maybe the first true spring day of 2021, one of those days where we leave the past behind and look forward. The sun truly brings out the joy in us Swedes after several months of darkness. But there’s something odd with the photo. Do you see it? Yeah, someone — or something — is standing there on the right, lurking in the shadows, merged with the trees and nature. Like a troll right out of a John Bauer painting he looks at the photographer, my husband, capturing myself — and we’re both unaware of the mysterious visitor.
According to Wikipedia pareidolia is “the tendency for incorrect perception of a stimulus as an object, pattern or meaning known to the observer”, but I tend to see some kind of magic in this way of finding patterns. We see what we want to see, and to me nature and the sun is truly magical. My father’s grandma Julia saw fairies, trolls and goblins all her life, so the idea of a spirit world around lies close to my heart. It really doesn’t matter if it’s my brain creating a pattern of a being standing there, that’s not important, it’s what it gives to me from this experience that matters.
Later we sat in the sun on top of was once the ancient fort, enjoying the sun, for an hour or so. On our way home we got lost behind an endless maze of fences and gates, but found our way out with the help of a cat and saw a strange phenomenon in the sky. But that’s a story for another day.
Fred Andersson is a Swedish story producer and writer with over twenty years of experience in commercial television and the author of three books. He lives in Märsta, outside Stockholm, with his photographer husband Grzegorz and two overly active cats. Join him on Twitter and Instagram.