John Bauer’s 1913 watercolour, “Still, Tuvstarr sits and gazes down into the water.” (Ännu sitter Tuvstarr kvar och ser ner i vattnet).

To fully understand the Midsummer magic, I think we need to start by setting the scene. Get us into the feel of the Northern Scandi spirit. (Let’s face it – some Southlanders are more continental. They can’t help themselves.)

Imagine growing up surrounded by nature. Huge forests, wild landscapes, small clusters of people and then wilderness for miles until you reach the next village. You go outside and all you hear is nature. The wind, the trees, the water, the wildlife. In the evening and all through the night silence. Stillness. And it’s still bright enough that you could sit outside and read a book. In the summer. During the winter months it gets dark in the afternoon.

Few have captured the the atmosphere of Scandiland as well as Swedish painter and illustrator, John Bauer. His masterful depictions of our landscapes, mythology and folklore are second to none, and I think it’s fair to say his most famous work are the watercolour paintings of the fairy princess Tuvstarr (Cotton Grass).

So, we’re painting a Midsummer picture here, with Tuvstarr sat alone on the moss floor by the pineland tarn. She’s the embodiment of the stillness I mentioned earlier as she looks into the black water, hoping to find her lost heart. It’s an allegory of innocence lost that I believe resonates with most of us. With our folksjäl – the collective soul of the people.

Now let’s add some music to this scene. Visa vid Midsommartid (Ballad at Midsummer) from 1946 paints a similar picture as the one above, but in music and lyrics. Håkan Norlén’s music is what we would call trolsk (troll-like = magic) and melancholic. It feels just like the Midsummer night. And the lyrics by Rune Lindström puts us right there in the picture, sitting by Tuvstarr’s side helping her look for what she’s lost. Let’s listen to the song and try to imagine it.

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Yes, I do realise Malena sings in Swedish, so I made an effort to translate the words for you:

You’re binding a Midsummer’s wreath of olvon (a type of toxic bush aka ulvtry = wolf’s wood) to hang around your hair. You laugh at the bone-white shimmer of the Man in the Moon as he stands above the pine trees.

Tonight you shall dance by Svartrama tarn, in long-dance, in leap-dance on red-hot irons. Tonight the mist invites you to dance where Ull-Stina, Kull-Lina walk.

Now you take the Moon from Blåberget’s (Blue Mountain) crest, to give you the shine of a halo. And the spawn bred in the sludge of the tarn become steeds on flying legs.

Now you ride to Mosslinda Mosslunda moar (mossfloor pinelands) where Ull-Stina, Kull-Lina, Gull-Fina live. Tonight you will fall asleep by Svartrama tarn, where the night and the moss are smooth.

Can you picture it? Can you smell the resin from the pine trees and feel the soft, fragrant moss against your skin? How about the musty whiffs of warm tarn lingering in the air? To me, this is the smell and feel of Midsummer. Of summer nights in the Northlands. The smell of magic and life itself.

Now, let’s take a closer look at that magic…


a blue ship's door with the sign "LINNEA LUCIFER"
author bio

Linnea Lucifer is the Captain of the imaginary, yet very real, pirate ship Resilience and her merry crew of indie authors and omnivorous readers. But that is not all – amateur liar, weaver of stories, peddler of merch, lifelong spoonie, ancient dragon lady and Maddox Rhinehart’s irreverent pet are a few more words often used to describe the bearer of many names.

The Captain was named after a delicate little flower that grows in mossy, Swedish pine forests, and a certain fiery fallen angel. She spends most of her days daydreaming and writing fantasy, smut and painfully crappy poems. A diva of delight, she takes great pleasure in everything that tickles the senses and adds a sprinkle of magic and spice to our world.

Linnea writes fantasy rooted in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore under the pen name Saga Linnea Söderberg. She also writes Sweet’n’Spicy Spoonie romance together with Leto Armitage under their joint pen name Linn Rhinehart.


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