There is a time in our lives when bewilderment is called for, when we feel tugged towards something beyond the four walls and the spearstraight streets, and for reasons often unknown to ourselves, we take the dark road heading out of town, across the fields, into the wild reaches of this world.
The sitout – or uteseita – is an ancient tradition of the northerners, an ancestral call to leave family and the familiar and be dreamt by the earth. The old stories describe how during the sitout the person would sing in concert with the elements, animals, birds, and nature spirits that were called landvættir. These wild ones were thought to protect and promote the vitality of the places where they live and were a source of wisdom.
This then is our invitation to you: to allow us to guide you into a solo sitout in the woods of Orrevik, a family-run farm on the west coast of Sweden, a region the old ones knew as the borderland between Alfheim, home of the elves, and Ranrike, the realm of the sea godess.
I know that I hung on a windy tree
Nine long nights,
Wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin
myself to myself,
On that tree of which no man knows
From where its roots run.
No bread did they give me nor a drink from a horn
Downwards I peered;
I took up the runes, screaming I took them
Then I fell back from there
-from Havamal in the Poetic Edda
During your sitout, for four full days and nights, you are alone in the wilderness under the sky or the canopy of an oak, seated on bedrock or duff, cloaked in pine needles and the musk of roe deer, washed by rains or sunshine.
There’s nothing here to do but stay awake or dream, nothing to eat but soul food, nowhere to be but here. It’s a strict discipline of staying put long enough to witness the slow churning of geological time having its way with you. This is not comfortable or familiar by any stretch of the imagination. You are slowly ground to dust, die before you die so you can come to be fully alive.
We believe that the wild tutors us like no human or human-made thing can, and that it takes time to become deeply rooted again in all that lives and all that sustains the life we live, being chewed and shaped by the holies of the wild, the flowering trees and lapping seas and the stories the land speaks through us once we have become still enough to listen.
Our modern lives endlessly circle around ourselves, and can drape us in loneliness, anxiety, scarcity. The sitout is neither escape nor retreat. It isn’t yet another way to realize your potential or be all that you can be. You come here not just as another way to get something for yourself, but to look in the big mirror of nature and, if you are lucky, to bring something back to offer as a gift.
Many lays the rain has brought me,
Other songs the winds have sung me.
Many birds from many forests,
Oft have sung me lays in concord
Waves of sea, and ocean billows,
Music from the many waters,
Music from the whole creation,
Oft have been my guide and master.
–from the Finnish epic poem Kalevala
If you keep on showing up to it, it could turn into a nectar of delight and tenderness that might keep the humans you love alive a while longer, your arms full with this new and previously unknown sliver of the wild woods and warbling winds that have ruffled you for days and chewed through the shell of your identity.
You enter across the threshold of your house, return to the familiar smells of your everyday, and hang the scented pelt that drapes your shoulders as you bleary eyed and pink cheeked walk back into the fold of your family, your friends, your little circle of service and love.
The Sitout is led by Lien de Coster and Miki Dedijer over a span of eight days, and includes four days and nights fasting alone on the land of Orrevik Farm. For more information and practical details, please contact Miki.Dedijer@gmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.org