Ritual Space ~ útiseta in battle magic
The concept of útiseta siting out, seems to represent a kind of nocturnal meditation bring wisdom and contact with other realms (Strömbäck 1935:127-36; Hermann Pälsson 1997: ch 8). We also see this in Vǫluspá 28 after which the seerest has gained new knowledge and insight:
Ein sat hon úti, þá er inn aldni kom,
Yggiungr ása,oc í augo leit:
‘Hvers fregnit mic, Hví freistið mín?
Olt veit eg, Óðinn, Hvar þú auga falt:
í inom mæra Mímis brunni.’
Dreccr miöð Mímir. Morgin hverian af veði Valföðrs –
Vitoð ér enn, eða hvat?
Alone she sat outside when you came,
Terror of the gods, and gazed in her eyes.
What do you ask of me? Why taunt me?
Óðinn, I know where your eye is hidden,
Hidden away in the well of Mimir.
Mimir each morning his mead drinks mead in Valföðr’s pledge.
Well would you know more?
This practice is found occasionally in Old Norse texts and again sometimes connected with combat. A classic example, interestingly set by Snorri in a relatively late context occurs in his Hákonar saga herδibreiδs (16). In the year 1161 as King Hákon of Norway prepares for a decisive battle, his foster-mother Grunnhildr, commissions a woman called Þorδis skreggja to sit out in order to secure victory. She replies that if the battle is fought at night, then Hákon will win.
The person “sitting out” often did so at a crossroads or by a gallows under the bodies of the hanged (de Vries 1957:236). Talking with the hanged is also reflected in Ljóδatal section of the Havamal stanza 157
Þat kann ek it tólpta
ef ek sé á tré uppi
svá ek ríst
ok í rúnum fák
at sá gengr gumi ok mælir við mik
I know the twelfth
if I see on a tree up high
a corpse dangling in its collar,
I carve in such a way
and colour in the runes
that man walks and talks with me