Sweden has a fully modern road network. It has been designed by engineers to be the most efficient and straightforward paths between cities and regions. Not much thought has been given to the local environments the roads crosses trough. Neither have they cared about the animals or spiritual values when constructing these roads; if there is an obstacle they just remove it or tunnel through it. There are cases were a modern highway are built right through ancient sacrificial grooves, which is really upsetting! The only positive thing is that the Swedish law demands that they excavate the site thoroughly before they devastate it.
Above; what remains of the holy grove besides one of Sweden’s most trafficked roads.
The road system is sometimes too efficient, one can travel through Sweden without actually seeing much of it at all. The main roads are always outside the cities and villages, and at all the exit points are the same gasoline stations and fast-food restaurants. Finding a decent meal on the road is almost impossible.
The obsession of an effective road system probably started in the 1950´s; when ordinary people were able to get their own cars. Modern logistics probably had an impact too; since people these days are in demand of goods that is transported a long way, instead of buying stuff that is manufactured locally. These modern roads are like scars in the landscape, and the landscape will never be able to recuperate from the intervention.
The biggest and most trafficked road in Sweden is the European route E4, it passes all the way from the south up to the northern border and crosses into Finland. In the 1980´s they were modernizing a small portion of the E4 in mid Sweden. The locals were very upset and said that the road would disturb all the invisible entities living in the forest were the new stretch would be built. The authorities even got angry letters with threats. According to the local lore the forest had lots of different entities living in it, such as; vittror, tomtar and trolls. Even ancestral spirits have been mentioned. As you could imagine, no one really took these worries seriously, business went on as usual and the road was constructed. Perhaps they were right? It was probably just superstition.
short stretch has an unpropitious amount of incidents on it, it is one of the portions
of the over 1500 kilometers long road that really stands out. There are often standstills
at this place, and there are many accidents. There are incidents were cars have
started to burn for no apparent reason, and there are lots of flat tires and
technical malfunctions. A few people have all of a sudden become very ill while
driving on the road. When researching for this article, I found out that just
during the last few months there has been several cars that started to burn
there and some serious accidents. The latest incident happened yesterday. Who can
tell for sure if the invisible entities are to blame? but sometimes people have
a good reason to be superstitious!
Above: Nothing but a small and modest sign reveals that a murderer was executed on this spot in 1785, he was decapitated after murdering a nineteen-year-old maid.
I am very skeptical about these modern roads that are constructed by omnipotent bureaucrats equipped only with a map, a ruler and a pen. Things used to be different! Hidden beyond these tarmacked roads there is a completely different set of roads; which people almost has forgotten. These are the ancient roads and trails of Scandinavia.
started as small tracks in the forests, initially they were perhaps not even
man made. They can just as well have been trampled up by animals; which made
them a natural and convenient path for humans to follow. When people started to
use them they gradually expanded until someone decided to lay gravel on top of
them to make them more stable and able to carry weight. Sometimes the roads
kept growing, and in some cases they were infused in the modern road system. I
have seen many runestones that are erected just beside a fully modern road, and
the runestone still stands at the same place as it did a thousand years ago. The
road has naturally evolved over a long period.
A runestone in western Sweden, in front of it you see the old road; behind it you see the modern road.
These ancient roads were not planned by any engineer, they simply emerged were people traveled. They were the bloodstream of the old society, and they often pass right through old settlements and farms. Often the living house is on one side of the road and the old stables on the other. This was highly efficient since you could trade with anyone that passed by that had goods, or simply catch the latest news. It also created a natural mail system since it was easy just to ask those who passed by to bring messages or goods to the next farm. But these days it can be bit problematic to have the road right through your yard though, especially if the road has grown and there is a lot of traffic on it. In some cases, it has practically meant that parts of the old homestead have been abandoned.
But many of
these ancient roads are still tucked away off the beaten path, only relevant
for the few who lives in the area; some of these roads are hardly used anymore.
These seemingly insignificant roads move graciously trough the landscape and
sometimes two cars will hardly be able to pass each other. I once mentioned the
bad condition of an old road to an elderly man who lived on a farm close to us;
he was the fifth generation inhabitant of the farm, and the last of his line to
keep it. He told me that in the 1950´s the bus to the village used that road,
and the road was not in any better condition back then.
Above: the road the bus used in the 1950´s.
These roads are a good example of all that which has organically grown and been used for centuries or more; which has been discarded during the last decades.
Since these old roads follow the landscape, they often pass the type of places were invisible entities would thrive. Perhaps some of the roads were initially theirs? Due to the longevity of these roads, they are no longer only for the living; they are the roads of those who has been here many generations before us! Perhaps their spirits still use them? When walking, or driving, on these old roads it is appropriate to act respectfully towards those who has used them before us and those who we cannot see. Too many times have I encountered that the modern corrupted mind have found it convenient to use these old roads to drive out in the woods to dump their garbage. This could be very bad idea, remember the incidents on the modernized stretch of the E4…
ever wondered what Helvegen looks like? The road to the realm of the dead, made
famous by the Norwegian band Wardruna. I bet you it is a seemingly insignificant
trampled old dirt road of Scandinavian fashion; but within Norse spirituality
it is perhaps seen as the most important road you will ever walk upon.
Scandinavian folklore and folk-magic knows the significance of the ancient roads. There is a lot of spiritual practices in relation to old roads, especially during the lightest part of the summer, around Balders vigil; or midsummer in modern terminology. At this time of the year it is hardly dark at all in most parts of Scandinavia, and according to the folklore this period is accredited extra potential for magic.
A modern road would be totally useless for magical work; because it simply scares all invisible things away. Not even the wildlife is able to cross a modern and fenced road, so I doubt the invisible entities are able to do it. I would even imagine that they simply stay clear of it, just like most entities flees cities when they become too crowded. The modern roads are efficient, but when it comes to both the living and the non-living in their proximity; they work as a wall that keeps things apart.
If you ever
have the opportunity to visit Scandinavia during the summer, you could find
yourself an old desolated road with no regular traffic on it. Look for an intersection
with another old road, and spend the night there by yourself. Something very
interesting may happen to you during that night! But I am not guaranteeing
anything but mosquito bites and birdsong. On the other hand, I am not giving
any guarantees when it comes to your safety either. Spiritual work is not to be
taken lightly, especially not by the urbanized and modern human being! There
are examples of people who have come to Scandinavia to search out the spirits,
and their quest literally ruined their life. An unbalanced mind may not be equipped
to handle what it might be exposed to.
All pictures were taken by myself, during the summer of 2016.