Guidance: Miki Dedijer & Lien de Coster
Dates: 29 August–7 September 2023
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.
You may be expecting a child for the first time and sensing the swirl of changes soon to come. Perhaps your child is in her early teens, turning away now from your daily attentions towards the wider world, and your role as father or mother is become unrecognizable to you. Or the family as you’ve known it is profoundly altered through illness, divorce or death. Whatever has brought you to this impasse, you sense a need for help, and a guiding hand to lead you.
The sitout – or utiseta – is an ancient tradition of the northerners, an ancestral call to leave family and the familiar for a while 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.
All happened as it should have happened, and the two of you had the perfect intuition and experience of how to let that happen and develop, without stepping in its way.Andries, Sitout participant 2020
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.
In old tales I have heard about the forests of the fey where time flows in strange ways – you wander there for an hour but upon returning realises a month has passed back home. Little did I realise that these where more than mere stories until I wandered with Miki and Lien into the woods.
With tales, poetry, deep sensitivity and of course the forest itself, they spun a magical realm outside the rational where I got lost enough to find myself – or a little part of myself at least – and though they still claim the program was only 10 days, I am sure that I spent at least a month in there with the robin, the slugs, the trees, the cliff, the sprites….Morten, Sitout participant, 2022
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.
The landscape and forest around Miki’s farm is wild and beautiful…It’s a wonderful and perfect spot either to be with a group outside, living very simply, or being all alone, noticing nothing of civilization. I’m very grateful to have spent my Sitout right in those woods. I would love to visit that place again.Ingrid, Sitout participant 2014
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 takes place over a span of eight days, and includes four days and nights fasting alone on the land of Orrevik Farm. Price: Euro 1350. For more information and practical details, or to register your interest, please contact Miki.Dedijer@gmail.com