Mad and Magic Raving

On top of the world at Arches National Park. Image by Charlene Winfred.

On top of the world at Arches National Park. Image by Charlene Winfred.

For 4 weeks we searched for and found magic.

We listened to thousands of tunes, shared thousands of laughs and drove thousands of miles through wild, spellbinding landscapes of New Mexico, Utah and Colorado, scorched by the hard New Mexican sun that I love so much.

We bent all rules to life and gave reality to dreams. We lived a life free of all strings. We celebrated my 901st birthday, which turned out better than the previous 900. Every day and everywhere we were warmly welcomed by crazy, funny, quirky, wonderful people who seemed tuned into the same frequency as we were.

On a sunny Tuesday in early April, I pace the floor at Albuquerque airport, waiting for Charlene’s plane to land so we can continue the Mad and Magic Raving road trip we started back in September 2012.

The open road of New Mexico.

The open road of New Mexico.

At one point it looked like circumstances would prevent this moment. Getting sick and simultaneously working myself furiously to pieces in Guatemala left me in a dark hole. Not much happened the way I wished it – for months things had gone wrong. I then arrived in New Mexico in March and things continued to not happen. Among other things, the follow-up to Una Pura Verdad, which we had been planning for months, literally went down the drain when the plumbing in Daniel Milnor’s house in Santa Fe imploded and repairs consumed all movie production time.

My daemons kept winning. I could not seem to ignite any kind of flame in the darkness. I became convinced I was jinxing everything. I kept digging a deeper hole, and was sure I would doom the road trip.

My only other time spent traveling together with a friend, outside of group travel, had gone down the wrong path 3 years ago, destroyed my world and resulted in years of hurt and pain. I was left in the darkness with the worst possible version of me I could imagine, a version I had been manipulated to believe was the real me, causing more pain and self-hate than seemed possible to recover from.

My instincts told me it would end badly back in 2009 before the trip, a voice I ignored. In September 2012 my instincts said I must do it, it would go well. Still, the terrible memories continued to haunt me and were made worse in 2013 by the state of mind I was in. I find it difficult to be around anyone when I am in this state, consumed by old fears. Yes, MMR 2012 was magic, but it could still go bad in 2013. “It probably will, remember you swore never again years ago,” whispered the daemon in my ear.

There was no way I would be able to live with myself, if I ruined the friendship that Mad and Magic raving rose from. The past experience three years ago scarred me deeply. I would not survive another experience with the shadows.

But I think to gain everything you have to be willing to risk it all. Mad and Magic Raving 2012 changed my life in a week. To climb the dark hole, to once again find magic, the laughter, death to daemons, ability to burn brighter than ever, and most importantly a friend of the heart and kindred spirit I would travel to the end of the world and back with, to share all of this with – I had to be willing to risk failure, risk my heart, my mind, my present life as I know it, again.

Mad and Magic Raving is a state of mind and also a way of being. We were driving through landscapes so vast they seemed of a never ending dream, high on loud music and grinning like the mad people we are. The world was our playground and everything was possible.

The Headless Time Traveler by Charlene Winfred.

The Headless Time Traveler by Charlene Winfred.

New Mexico, where Mad and Magic Raving was birthed, feels like home, where I can be myself, lose myself in vast wild landscapes, and sometimes, weather that was just as wild – experiencing fierce sandstorms and blinding snowstorms in a day. I was born in wide open spaces, or what accounts for them in Denmark: a dairy farm in Northern Jutland where I could wander into the fields. I belong in wide open spaces.

Charlene in a sandstorm in wide open spaces at White Sands, New Mexico.

Charlene in a sandstorm at White Sands, New Mexico.

The landscapes of the Southwest are some of my favourite in the world. Stunning scenery, dramatic weather and wonderful people – on the right days, it all came together. In the heat of the White Sands Desert, it felt like the skin would be blasted off our bones as a sand storm raged violently. We threw snowballs in the mountains of the Gila National Forest. Well, Charlene threw snowballs and watched in glee as snow fell from the sky, I mostly scowled as snow and I have a strained relationship. We arrived at Monument Valley in a fierce sandstorm. The cold wind nearly blew me sky high, and froze Charlene’s face, turning her words into gibberish. The following morning we woke up to a world in white as the valley was hidden by a snowstorm.

Monument Valley while a snow storm rages.

Monument Valley while a snow storm rages.

I have visited most of these places before, but Mad and Magic Raving makes me see places in a new light and experience everything with fresh eyes. Makes me feel things like never before.

Every moment in the car was scored by the presence of music. Music is my favourite drug; every waking minute has me listening to music to get my fix. Music can make me exhilaratingly happy, deeply sad and everything in between. The score to Mad and Magic Raving varies from pounding electronic rave beats that follow no rules and threaten to blow up the speakers – to beautiful movie soundtracks that seemingly blend perfectly with the landscape and stir raw emotions. The common thread is music of dreams, that enchants and binds everything together and creates a universe just for us, where all is right in the world, where all worries are swept away and everything is possible.

At times it felt like we were attracting all of this. As if it happened, because we were open to it.

Out of all this was born the name Mad and Magic Raving. It is like drug through my veins.

A grin splits my face from ear to ear when Charlene appears. Getting to this point, making this reunion happen was harder than imagined, but we are on the road.

New Mexico. The Road. Never Ending. Mad and Magic Raving Forever.

New Mexico. The Road. Never Ending. Mad and Magic Raving Forever.

Mad and Magic Raving taught me that it was possible to share happiness, that it was even better that way. My friends are deeply important to me. I have known what it is like to have no friends, having spent close to a decade in earlier life without them. The friends I have now all over the world I hold dearer than anything else. Yet, I had never thought it possible, never experienced sharing of the search for magic. That had so far been a solitary quest in my lonesome travel life. Not anymore. Mad and Magic Raving was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Dreaming of the Universe at Very Large Array on my birthday. Image by Charlene Winfred.

Dreaming of the Universe at Very Large Array on my birthday. Image by Charlene Winfred.

It makes me feel like I can fly, this Mad and Magic Raving invention of ours. Like everything is alright, possible and that I am ok. The inner daemons smostly leave me at peace, allowing me to burn brighter and be a much better, stronger self. Most of the worries, anxieties and dark days seem to vanish in all the light created by us burning together so brightly. This is a truly remarkable thing for me, a first. I struggle everyday with the daemons and have done so my entire life. They follow me everywhere, sit on my shoulder, whisper in my ear. To have them leave me alone, to have them silenced and to get relief from the eternal inner battle is incredibly healing and freeing. Like a dark cloud lifted and dead weight off my shoulders, I can be much better and spend energy on the world outside my mind. To be able to share my life, together giving life to dreams, that is the magic.

Charlene, sandstorm and the road to Monument Valley.

Charlene, sandstorm and the road to Monument Valley.

The downside to this drug is its withdrawals. It sets the bar higher than ever. Outside of these trips, the days seem like not much at all. Once given a taste of this, makes almost anything else small in comparison. My ‘home’, in as much as I have one, the city of Copenhagen is fantastic in summer. But it is still just a city, not where I belong, and where many daemons from my past lurk. But I would rather enjoy the highest of highs and endure the lowest of lows than a lifetime of no magic. It is why I live like I do. To gain everything, I must risk it all.

4 weeks of chasing and finding magic, of feeling like everything is possible. My fears of recreating Mad and Magic Raving were silenced minutes after we hit the road. Everything was suddenly ok in the universe.

There is now nothing as precious to me as this, the Mad and Magic Raving. I am never giving this up, chasing it to the end of the universe and back.

Charlene and the Setting Sun in New Mexico.

Charlene wandering into the Setting Sun in New Mexico, Mad and Magic Raving forever.



Do also read Invoking the Magic of The Open Road by Charlene Winfred.


15 comments on “Mad and Magic Raving

  1. I think it’s quite fitting that the prelude to MMR was born enroute to Christian’s gallery in Dunsborough, traveling through another kind of Southwest landscape, to pick up tug boat exhibition prints, with me driving, and you DJing. All the right ingredients in the right combination.

    By the time we’d unfolded ourselves from 7-ish hours of sitting in the car, you said something about having us having covered the distance across Denmark 2 or 3 times. I was all “Dunsborough and back? This is a WA Sunday drive to the beach!”

    I recall being amazed that despite being in each other’s faces all freaking day long, we managed to get along better than ever, at the end of the day. Good to know some things don’t change ay?

    Locura y magia. Salud, mi amigo!

    – from a fellow Outlaw, Time Traveler, Jedi, Mad and Magic Raver

    • Yes it was a great prelude with all the right ingredients in perfect sync, may it never change :) And a lot of the MMR music had it’s debut on that “short stroll” to Dunsborough! Nicolas Jaar, Cinematic Orchestra, Trentemøller etc.
      Mad and Magic Raving for altid :) Salud!

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  3. Time Lord worthy (I hope) musical word association notes: The 1965 Jeff Beck led Yardbirds album “Having a Rave UP” featured their version of Bo Diddley’s “I’m a Man”, together with the classic “Train Kept a Rollin” and the Graham Gouldman (later of 10 cc) top YB’s hit “Heart Full of Soul”. But my all time favorite Yardbirds song was “Over, Under, Sideways, Down” which, along with its second line “backwards, forwards, square, and round”, sounds a bit like you guy’s trip. It was released in 1966 paired in its single version with “Jeff’s Boogie” a (gasp) instrumental, that in some “live” versions can also feature Stevie Ray Vaughn.

    Anyhow, classic vinyl for classic time traveling road trips: may there be many more most excellent raves!

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  8. Oh my … so love the four corners states! Envy both of ya but I will make my way down there again soon i hope. Love the landscape, love the steaks, love the diversity of moods. Next time i go there with different intensions than last time, that was for Mountain Biking around Moab, Utah. Keep the spirit up ^..^

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