The place where I live is my favorite spot in the world. It doesn’t look much on the surface; a normal suburb, quite near a big airport and right between two big cities. It has one of the best Indian restaurants in the area, Indian Paradise — which is more to Pakistani food than Indian to be honest. Not far away was once one of the best burger joint I’ve ever eaten at, but it later got bombed (the rumor mills says it was a cocaine hub) and closed down. It has a population of 28000, which I never would have guessed if I didn’t look it up on Wikipedia. It’s a relatively small community with a big heart and it belongs to me, that’s at least how I see it. Call me power hungry, but that’s how it is. Märsta, that’s the name, is the most magical place I’ve experienced so far. Maybe that old saying, home is where the heart is, rings true? No matter what, I’ve taken possession of it through what I call the concept of The I-Magi-Nation. Back to that later.
Märsta is powerful in a number of different ways: it’s in the center of the most runestone-packed (and not only that, there’s grave mounds and lots of other kinds of ancient structures all over the place) part of Sweden, the nearby airport makes makes it a connected to all over the world, the community is very multicultural with every kind of nationality, it’s peaceful — no matter what the media says — this is a place filled with love. It have a rich wildlife and lots of nature in every direction. It’s charged with amazing magic, powerful magic.
We (that includes my husband) have created this magic ourselves, through walks in nature, finding special spots, spots where you feel at home and safe and can grow as a human being. As mentioned above, the whole area is filled with history, from runestones to bronze age graves to ruins of churches and fortresses. When walking in the forests you can feel the waves of time, you can sense all the humans and information exchanges the last couple of thousands of years. And that lives on through the airport and the train tracks, making the communication even flow more intensive. Märsta is the hub of everything, a place you need to pass to go somewhere else, where you meet new people and rest. That makes its power even stronger.
I first realized Märsta was something special when I one night sat on top of a hill watching the stars with my husband. Below us we could see Märsta slowly be taken over by a luminescent fog, slithering in between the buildings and forest. The traffic started to move in slow motion, the buses seemed to be giant caterpillars moving through the glowing moist. Up among the stars we could see stars, and during one moment something was flashing at us with a bright light. Did the universe flirt with us? Behind us was, in the night pitch black, dark forest. I never felt so safe, surrounded by nature and love. That made me understand this was our place and I think we subconsciously decided to just take possession of Märsta at that very moment.
The following years we started to map the area, through lengthy walks — and quite soon I felt drawn to a couple of special places, places we even named and introduced to some very close friends. They’ve become that important. Märsta is our own universe.
As a kid I was, like so many in the same age, obsessed with being out in nature. I treated every hill and grove, every forest and rock, as separate entities — different countries or universes. Mostly for playing around, but it also gave me a sense of ownership. Places where I could be alone and be myself, places I could be responsible for. I still do the same thing today. By visiting one of the special spots it wakes up memories in me, or triggers the imagination. I instantly feel more creative by visiting what we call “The Mushroom Road” for example, which isn’t the correct name of it — it’s named after a road nearby, but the name stayed with us . Another place is “Turtle Rock”, a huge rock up in the forest similar to a turtle head. It gives me an emotional calmness, it symbolizes — depending on the direction I come from — a doorway: in one way the path to nature and esoteric ponderings, and the other way, back to civilization and more rational thinking. All these spots wake up different emotions and clear emotional storm clouds, it’s like the area is a map of my mind, from the deepest secrets to the most primal actions. It’s all there, and by being able to walk those thought patterns and paths of knowledge in a more physical form, it makes me stronger and healthier. You can call this a psychological maze, or magic of some sorts. A giant ritual, a spell in the form of footsteps, thinking and conversation. I have charged the area for me, and me and my husband have charged the place with us. Together with friends it’s even more charged with all kinds of magic, knowledge and experiences.
I call this The I-Magi-Nation. I + Magi + Nation. The Magical Country. My Own Magical Landscape. Or your own magical landscape, because I’m sure you also have one even if you don’t think of it like that. Places you can go, nature or city, where you feel at peace with yourself and get this special feeling that this is YOUR place and no one else’s. Walk these routes, analyze them, why are you there and what do they give you? What thoughts come to your mind by entering those zones, these hubs of everything?
Once I did an experiment. I found a new spot. It was an interesting place, but something was off with it. So some months later went back, this time armed with a deck of Thoth cards. While mixing the cards in the center of this place I started to notice papers in the bushes around it, some a vague human stench, possibly human feces. After a few seconds I could also see, behind some trees, traces of a recent settlement. After shuffling the deck I pulled a card: Five of Wands — Strife. Yeah, this was a place of conflict, emotional from my side, but also on the physical side. It was already tainted by others, less respectful humans, and me taking over this place would generate struggle of all kinds. So with pain I had to let it go, and I never been back.
It also taught me to trust my initial feeling, this wasn’t a magical place at all, at least not for me. No matter how you do it; try to map your own I-Magi-Nation. Maybe you already have one, but why not own it to 100%.
It’s all in your mind, if you truly believe it’s your place it will be yours. For real. If you feel for following me when I wander around, check out my Rural Exploration videos on YouTube.
Fred Andersson is a Swedish story producer, researcher 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.