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Útiseta: The Norse Shaman’s Wilderness Quest

The Journey

The night is quiet, all other travellers tucked away, I am on the trackway, The Sky is dark with cloud and mood, I sit in light rain, wrapped up in my woollen cloak, Its such a gift to be able to walk gently North of The Bothy, picking up a track, that slipped through two hedges, a world within a world, once I rode the hedge, I popped out into a open field, still tracking North, I could see the Mighty Oak and a humble bench beneath it.

I dropped like a stone through water, I journeyed , my breath anchored me and fuelled the way, anchoring and immersing me into the fabric of the landscape , something I learnt a few years back on a “Woodland Immersion and Tracking” experience. “Sit Spots” and “Sitting Out” are so very similar yet Utesitta” Has a deeper thread for me..

I pass the 3 large pines as I make my way to Mighty Oak, he sits on the edge of a Blackthorn and Hawthorn Hedge, beside a natural gateway, alongside the Old County Border. A few minutes from the 5 Bar Gate , its quiet now, its empty at this time of night.

I took a deep breath of thanks, I closed my eyes once more, clutched my Mjollnir that sat around my neck, and I rested easy, letting the breath take me deeper.. , falling, tumbling down into the land, deep down I go, into the well, into the moment, into the twilight and into May Eve , through the gateway I go, I am aware of the mighty Oak above me, I am held , time dissolves, I am held for moments , minutes, its beyond time, I breathe and I resurface from the well, I gently open my eyes, its got a little darker now, and I watch 4 Crows fly Eastwards , I feel the Wyrd at work once more, the day is slipping into the place between places, in between day and night ,the transition point, The lantern a gift , lights the way, tools surround it, A Blowing Horn, Blot Bowl and 2 crystal beings one of heart and one of rooting.

Beloved Goddess, Freya, let our prayers come onto you.

The Old Ones are near… I hear an ancient song that's sweet like a lullaby .. I hear it my bones.. I feel my Kin, who once lived and died in this place.. I take my herbs of Mugwort , crafted and pitched.. I offer the Herbs and Mead up to the sky!! And I journey!!

The song carries through the air and as it does. it carries me also, into the birth of Summer.

Its words are simple yet they carry deep magic.

The song carries...

"Now we all are brought forth out of darkness and water

Brought into this world through blood and through pain

And deep in our bones, the old songs are wakening

So sing them with voices of thunder and rain."

In the centre of a circle under a mighty Oak I lay a wooden bur bowl, Runes burned and etched into its rim and in its heart is Vegvisir our Nordic compass, The word vegvisir means 'wayfinder' and 'sign post'.

Mead poured into the bowl and stirred clockwise 3 times, Blessed and raised and offered to the setting Sun, skywards to our All Father Odin, Gifts for Freya and Brigid. Oats and Honey for The Landwights, asking humbly for a good and healthy harvest within our lands and lives. Permission seeked to hold open rites and workings for community upon this land as the threads carry forwards. I cast and anchor and bless the bounds...

Reaching for the Runes I speak wild untamed words, a mixture of language and prayers.

A Rune is cast in honour of the new Medicine stories that are yet to come, today I stand alone, yet in 3 Moons time under the blessing of Mead Moon at Loaf Feast People will gather here once more. With story, song and heart.

I float and journey into the darkness, in between places I am riding the Hedge, Journeying, and then Beyond. It is a steady and gentle process. Some times I can tear myself form the fabric of this world .. yet tonight its calm and steady between breathing ,song and chant which I feel and hear from deep inside me.. Its a beautiful song sung by by Wyndreth its a s song that I know It's about a Witch, Volva /Seer howling at the moon, watching the stars, sleeping in ditches, and looking for omens in the cracks of old bones.

" My mother's child is a savage

She looks for her omens in the colors of stones

In the faces of cats, in the falling of feathers

In the dancing of fire

In the curve of old bones"

for a time, and then for a time of deep listening.

"My mother's child dances in darkness

She sings heathen songs

By the light of the moon

And watches the stars and renames the planets

And dreams she can reach them

With a song and a broom"

I watch and Listen, for I am seeking permission, sharing my intent my heart. After some time I feel the Answer forming..

There is magnetic feeling to the North and to the Beloved Lady I Serve, to Freya's hall.

There is a question that must be asked, and permission seeked to hold rites here for the land and its people, the sharing of new medicine stories. The magnetic feeling grows stronger as I move forward, staff in hand...the ground feels soft beneath my feet, the torchlight and the flames of the Hearth of the hall ahead of me. I have arrived and I am welcomed.

Yet I sense a answer taking hold.

“You sit where the Old Meets the New”

I watched the candle burn so still and gentle... I am between the worlds..

I looked out East from The Bothy, the distant flicker of light, the signs of modern life, industrial buildings,

"The two worlds are calling if not longing to be merged"

There is no returning to Normal, as the Innate said Winter Solstice 2019, there will be a cosmic pause like no other, and from the shell of the old, the new world will be born..

I felt the words move once more “You sit where the Old Meets the New, Weave The Old Medicine Stories into the New, Feel it, Share it, above all else Live it”

It felt complete and final, I gave thanks, gifted the Landwights a little more mead and a beautiful raw Amethyst Crystal that had been gifted to us, in my Eldership Rite, and for our future community rites, tucking it into the hedge beside the Oak, next to some Bluebells, … I watched the candle burn so still and gentle. I blessed the Bounds, with Mead and Hallowed the ground, raising the Hammer skywards.. I closed my eyes, grasping my old friend my blowing horn that had been reunited with me, gifted back to me by a precious friend, 3 deep breaths and a mighty roar from the Horn.

Once again I walk along the track and I am firmly back in Midgard, through the Hedges I go one then another, before I know it the Tree is way back now, yet he sits in real time, a few minutes From The Bothy, and can be seen from The Hedge, that runs alongside the Five Bar Gate!! Before I know it I am among the modern world, yet the song is carried with me, as its story is also.. I among houses now, Its a Saturday night and people are watching TV, I pass people and their lives, My Hood is now pulled up over my head again, The Wool is keeping me warm, its raining and my Staff knows its way home, I turn onto a little twitten that takes me to my door YET.. There I cannot believe my eyes… Their lying on the path is a Dead Crow., its now pitch black. I crouched down, to say a prayer for this bird..

Trust your inner voice and higher self in those moments. The symbolic value remains. I have worked with the Dead for over half of my life… bridging the two worlds .. Its a honour… One of the first ways of approaching this situation is by noting where the creature is, anything nearby that may influence the meaning, the time of day/date and even weather. I share all of this in its raw and real way, to show you that the most incredible otherworldly things do happen and unfold, and The Wyrd flows through our lives in the most tangible of ways..

The distress of finding a dead animal is difficult enough, but when it’s your Spirit, Totem, or Power Animal the intimacy of this moment is hard to describe. That Animal is part of your soul’s web and matrix and here it’s earthly form has lost its ‘life’. How do we integrate this spiritually?

I returned early in the daylight ,with the intention of moving it from the path, and laying it under the Ancient Yew Tree, The Foxes had not taken it.. I placed my gloves on and gently picked it up with love and care, I carried it up the Yew and placed it down gently , wove prayers and wished it a gentle journey onwards to Vanaheim..

As I stepped back I felt the words “ From the Shell of The Old World a New World will be born!! May Eve is a powerful gateway, its a time of conception that leads to Birth!!! We are moving into a whole new cycle of time!!

Yet I also know in my heart this Crow has become a part of my Medicine its become a fylgia (power animal) in the most literal sense its become a guide when required and when The Gods see fit, I take the gift from the experience. I am humbled..

The wisdom reached from May Eve, Twilight “ Sitting out “ in Utiseta still is unfolding, The voice simply said as I felt it “ You sit where the Old Meets the New, Weave The Old Medicine Stories into the New, Feel it, Share it, Above all else Live it” “The two worlds are longing to be merged, into harmony” There is no returning to Normal, My beautiful Shield and the Death of the Crow hold these medicine stories also. We could not continue as we were collectively, for many this process will be painful and even scary… Some wont recognise the new world, as it's built on the foundations of the ancient world!! Yet Beautiful things are birthing… and the oldest souls are now gathering, micro communities are naturally, organically being forged and built.. A time of radical responsibility and radical compassion yet fierce truth…


The mechanics of útiseta

Wilderness vision questing is an ancient, cross-cultural practice that involves spending time alone in nature while fasting. It is a spiritual tradition that has been practiced for millennia by people seeking to receive revelation and to reconnect to nature, to the spirits—especially ancestral spirits—and with their deeper selves. This time of deep introspection in nature has many beneficial effects on the psyche and the spirit.

During the Viking Age, the útiseta, or “sitting out,” ritual was specifically used by those who practiced shamanic magic to commune with the spirits of the natural world and the spirits of the dead for divinatory purposes.

The word útiseta is derived from a thirteenth-century Icelandic law that outlawed “útiseta at vekja tröll upp ok fremja heiðni,” which translates to, “the act of sitting out to provoke/wake up trolls and practice paganism,” in other words those spiritual beliefs that lie outside of the Christian paradigm. This practice has many parallels to shamanic traditions of spending time isolated from other human beings in nature for the purpose of connecting with spiritual resources or to receive a vision.


And so the forest dreams as we do!!!

Utiseta or “sitting out,” ritual practice within my path I first come across it in the form of understanding “sit spots” as I explored, immersion and forest tracking several years back “To get familiar with who and what you share this place with” encouraged to be a five-minute walk from your front door or wherever you are taken too and listen deeply..

Then as I sank more deeply into the fabric of things I discovered Utiseta, “sitting out,”

I then forged a deeper relationship to Landwights, the spirits that dwell within that place long before I understood its ancient roots .

A person who practiced Utiseta was believed to "sit at the crossroads": between the worlds.

"Uti-seta can also be seen as an encounter between someone who seeks knowledge (the pupil) and someone who has knowledge (the kennari or teacher). That meeting will take place at the point where the paths of teacher and pupil meet and merge: the crossroads."

Over time without realising it I would be drawn along a forest track and find a place to sit that naturally resided at a crossroads or beside a stream or river, a gateway where one world meets another.


If the sitting out ritual was being performed in the forest, the skogsrå (female forest keeper) would also be contacted and the practitioner would provide an Blot offering to the landwights’ willingness to participate. Our ancestors understood that these beings were guardians of the land and his or her protectors. The quester’s protectors might be a fylgia (power animal), a dis (female ancestral spirit).

The quester would offer a Blot or a Song, Flute or Story to the Landwights. These periods of singing, song and chanting would be alternated with long periods of silence to receive the spirits’ wisdom and to feel the connections being woven with the unseen and the natural worlds.

“Utiseta can, in some cases, become “faring forth”, or “journeying”, which are both anchored in the northern-tradition as Utiseta was intended to guide a person and help him or her to find the right path.


To prepare for this time of sitting out in nature, it is important to clarify your purpose. This ritual can be used to spiritually prepare for a transition, ritual or event, to regain clarity when life has become confusing, to connect with an ancestor to gain their insight, to inspirit yourself after a long illness or traumatic situation, to reconnect to your home spirits after traveling, or to strengthen your ties with your power animals, teachers, and nature. While vision-questing ceremonies like útiseta can last over the course of several days, with proper preparation and a strong intention it is possible to have a powerful experience over the course of one night.

When preparing for útiseta the practitioner finds a place in nature where she or he will be safe. The wilder the space in which you experience your útiseta the better, but working within the parameters that one’s life and physical abilities require is always best. The idea is to find a place where you can safely experience nature’s vitality.

Over the course of the night, the seið worker offers songs, prayers and allows experiences of inner and outer vision to unfold. These visions from guides and ancestors and the physical aspects of nature all collude to inform and infuse the practitioner with wisdom. and answers.


Útiseta begins just before sunset and ends with the sun’s rise over the horizon. During this vision-questing ritual the völva would sit with her staff. In the morning, eat lightly and drink plenty of water to rehydrate yourself. You also want to have time to assimilate your experience afterwards. Make sure you can have a few hours of uninterrupted time to allow the experience to be fully anchored in your being.

The key is to be comfortable, take a wool blanket, camp chair if required.

It seems natural that those that seeked Omens would acquire knowledge of the following year by visiting the forest. For me to preform In Spring at the beginning of the year and again in Autumn just as we move into Winter nights feels natural and right!!

Utiseta has not been forgotten and there are still those who practice this ancient meditation technique.

To Journeys Long and Short, Journey Well

“The legacy of Norse Shamanism is alive.” - Ellen Lloyd

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