Me: How bad do you wanna come to my graduation?
Dad: What do you mean?
Mom: What a silly question, we can’t wait to see you, hun!
Me: You know…
I continued explaining to them that I wish to experience diversity and get out of my comfort zone much more than a prom and a ceremony. High heels and a cute dress didn’t sound better than one month and a half of traveling with different projects.
It’s my last free summer before getting a real job and “growing up”. I have to do it now!
And so I did.
In the same day I had my last exam at the university, I grabbed my small luggage, a backpack and the list with all the flights, bus rides and emergency phone numbers I needed for 3 projects in a row. They accepted me as a participant and I knew I had to enjoy this opportunity! When I was convincing my parents it is a good idea to do it, I held the speech for me also. I was scared because this felt a little too much. Knowing I will always cherish learning experiences over parties or fancy things, I just followed my heart in the plane that went to Gothenburg.
Come on, Cris, you’ll manage! Just take it step by step!
Our first night at Hastekasen farm was so strange and felt like out of reality. We left our luggage in a tent and went in some kind of a barn with wooden tables and benches, with the ground beneath our feet and no windows. It was getting darker and candles were burning in jars for tiny bits of light and the tavern was warmed up by a fire pit. A tall, skinny and no age Sebastian started storytelling about the place and what we were going to do.
I knew it right there, in that handmade tavern full of international students, old larpers with long beards, swords and costumes, that this experience will always feel like a dream long ago lived in a charming wood. And maybe by someone else, not by me.
To imagine the plot: we were more than 60 international participants in an old forest next to the North Sea, in an eco village near Gothenburg, Sweden. This means we had no access to modern technology. Our valuables were stored away and we slept in our sleeping bags, had no internet access and did larping- L.A.R.P. Live Acting and Role Playing. Cold summer nights and showers, no makeup, no mirrors, sharing tents with strangers in an old forest. It probably sounds terrifying for some of you and it did for me, too, in the beginning. Anyhow, the upcoming adventures made me feel lucky for this unique experience.
Our activities included acting workshops, developing characters, plots and studying northern cultures and mythology. We listened only to live music at campfires and after being trained, we put our acting suits and had 3 days of a 24/7 acting game in the Swedish wood.
The nature here was wonderful!
You could feel the softness of the moss that was clothing the lands, toning down your every move, being aware of the magic of possibility floating in the air. My heart was beating so fast in the night we started this L.A.R.P….
Nana, the mother of all the witches, was scattering the place with her green eyes sparkled by yellow moonbeams. She was all painted in symbols, gathering the sounds of the northern myths in her dances. Under the torches’ light, we felt the trees reacting to the sounds of the wood, as mother nature approached us with a mystery to be solved. The chills this opera singer, in a white lace dress, with her echoed voice gave me, made me realize I had never imagined I will take part of this type of experience and how life itself is an exciting play.
My name was Ruta, I was reading the runes for the Vikings, the Saxons or for any passerby who wished to hear the secrets of life and our inner nature. For only 1 silver! Many things happened and I don’t want to make a spoiler alert in case Sebastian decides to repeat this L.A.R.P.. Anyhow, I do have to tell you that we had a wonderful marriage between Mercia and East Anglia to restore peace, but despite our efforts, the king got poisoned and we had to search Nana to save him. The torches guided us in the depth of the forest and we used all our pushing spells to chase Tazmania back to Nifelheim. No matter how many druids we had, the white stones couldn’t help the king. Only the loyalty of one of the East-Anglian soldiers brought the healing artifact to the crazy kingdom of Nifelheim, so Velva raised the king from the dead. This night was incredible!
Rituals, medieval dances, magic, battles, intrigues between different camps, loyalty and betrayal, real actors/ singers infiltrated between us were boosting the play and created a unique and vivid experience. Many stories continued to keep the night alive, creative an amazing one to take back home!
All this is a great gift- any time I will watch a movie or read a book like this, my experience will be so enhanced! Now I know how it is to sleep in the cold, walk in the woods at night to find a fire camp only using the light of a candle. Or reading people, poisoning them or selling love potions.
L.A.R.P.-ing is much more than a game!
It’s an intense lesson of empathy, of recreating yourself and being part of a tribe. It’s a coping mechanism to re-balance the artificially constructed self of the modern world. Staying in your character for 3 days makes you conscious of how fast we can adapt to circumstances and be influenced by others, it’s a lesson about both losing control of our life story and owning it in the same time.
An intense immersion in this kind of story is cleaning the soul from our dusty daily routine.
Was it crazy to climb the highest rocks in the middle of the night, with the sleeping bags on our shoulders?
Yes, crazy beautiful!
The moon shined so bright to guide us to the breathtaking view of the North Sea making her way through the mountains. We were playing the guitars, singing all night long until we saw the sunrise. Our Swedish hosts were amazing, they really did their best and surprised us with fire juggling on the cliffs. Greek sunflower seeds, Elisa’s voice echoed by a Spanish guitar, the sea and the fire…
Gaia marked our perfect night with Hallelujah.
We had 3 clothes in a suitcase, a bath in the North Sea, stained fingers from harvesting berries, happy feet from dancing near the fire pit lighten up with pine cons. We had no make-up, no track of time and no online friendships. The charmed wood listened the Tsunamis of our lives under candlelights and brought us together, embracing our human identity through real connections! It’s almost scary how fast we could adapt to such harsh conditions and how happy we were together!
I have learned a lot of things, but the most important is that no matter where you are or who you’re with, freedom is the gift deserved if one shall choose by heart!
Thank you, my friends: Tiziano, Roberto, Greg, Stav, Stelina, Irina, Mathias, Lea and the caveman, Josefin, Markos, Stefania, Bianca, Mada, Nana (Patrycja), Cristi, Markus, Serena, Mada, Elisa, Andrej, Gaia, Brandon, Amin, Sebastian, George and all the others! Copyrights for the pictures: Stelina, Stav and Bjarne Bodhi Johansson.
After mother nature sang out our triumph over the Black Raven, a strong clapping got lost into the woods: Congrats! This L.A.R.P. is over!