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“Lifting the Veil”: an introduction to the

Otherrealm of Vanic Norse Shamanism.


By Sigrid Svartvatn, Völva-Seiðkona at Hof of the Íviði - Summer 2018

“Interacting with and navigating to and throughout the Otherrealm is the 


core of any shaman’s practice. Knowing what I know about the Otherrealm 
isn’t necessary for being a shamanic practitioner, but it is my sincerest hope 
that my knowledge, experience, and guidance helps those of you on this path. 
If my ways do not work for you, may they inspire you to find ways which do.”

The Lens I Use:


“Lens” is a good metaphor because though it passes the image of what it sees, but it distorts the
image intrinsically due to limitations in form and imperfections in the lens’s creation. This is
exactly what human perception is like. Even the most enlightened of us all still distorts all they
see through their own unique pattern of limitations. Additionally, lenses can be refined and
improved upon, and so too can our perception and communication accuracy. The cleaner and
more expanded the lens, the better the image produced in terms of likeness to what is being
observed will be. The more we expand our own personal noospheres, the total sum of all our
knowledge and experience and awareness and understanding, the larger our lenses get. The
more we engage in purposeful and determined introspection, and take control of ourselves and
who we become, the clearer our lenses get. Growth is the measure of a soul.

Our souls are not within our bodies. There is a spiritual form of ourselves which is attached to
and superimposed over our mortal bodies called our “ethereal body”, but this is not your soul,
and it is not sentient itself. Our actual souls themselves reside in the Otherrealm. “We”, that is to
say the physical manifestations of our own souls, are bidirectionally and intangibly linked to our
own souls. Our soul remotely controls us in tandem with the consciousness derived from our
mortal brains, our “mortal consciousnesses”. I’ll expand more on the concept of the ethereal
body in the article “Piercing the Veil” where I teach the Ethereal Gateway technique, but for now
know that it is a thought form our consciousness generates which we can project in between
realms, and it has the gifts of prolific energy manipulation and perception of both the mystical
and the mundane worlds.

A great many spiritual, emotional, and mental maladies can and often do result because of
strife, discord, or disconnection between the mortal consciousness and the core soul
consciousness.

The physical world, known to those of us of the northern paths as Miðgarðr, “middle-section”, is
traditionally described as existing centrally along an axis connecting all realms / dimensions /
worlds. This connecting axis is known as “Axis Mundi”, and in the northern paths as Yggdrasil,
“Odin’s Horse”, and is visualized traditionally as a Great Tree bearing the realms upon its
boughs. While this worked exceptionally well to describe our cosmological understanding of the
time to our ancestors, it falls vastly short for us.

We have the words, and the information needed to support the concepts those words represent,
within public awareness. It is our duty now to paint a better picture...

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“Lifting the Veil”: an introduction to the
Otherrealm of Vanic Norse Shamanism.
By Sigrid Svartvatn, Völva-Seiðkona at Hof of the Íviði - Summer 2018

Beyond physical existence is the Veil, and beyond that is the Otherrealm.

What is “the Veil”?


There are several paradigms of conceptual visualization used to describe the barrier that
separates the mundane physical world of Miðgarðr from the spiritual realms beyond. The basic
idea is that there is a divider of some sort which prevents physical matter from interacting with
metaphysical spiritual/mystical existence. The result of this is science’s inability to verify or
disprove anything numinous or metaphysical. If your cosmological / existential worldview follows
a drastically different visualization than mine, my explanations and approaches might not make
much sense, if any, initially. However, beneath the visualization schema I use is a framework
which you can use within your own schema. The “Veil” is the consciousness-permeable
membrane which separates the physical world from the spiritual world. Crossing this barrier
allows the mortal consciousness access to the Otherrealm and one’s core soul consciousness.

What is the Otherrealm?:


The term “Otherrealm” is a modern cognate of the pagan term “Otherworld”. I use the term
Otherrealm because “realm” conveys a more dimensional connotation than “world” does, and
this is important because the Otherrealm is not a discrete place or single dimension of
existence, but rather it is an umbrella concept for all layers of existence beyond the physical one
of Miðgarðr. This application of an umbrella term is most appropriate because existence is laid
out functionally rather than graphically. ​It is perception itself, when in a realm beyond the
constraints of physical reality, that determines reality​ for the consciousness experiencing that
realm. We tie the concept of reality to the concept of something physical and tangible and fixed
only because all we have ever known before spiritual awakening and ascension is physicality.
We are by default set to expect the co-concept of immutability, and treat it as the only defining
aspect of something being “real”. There is no physicality beyond the physical realm, so reality
outside of the physical realm is fluid, mutable, and malleable. It is malleable to thought… to
emotion... to willpower, as this is the realm of consciousness, not physical form.

Traditional northern cosmology teaches us that existence is contained within a gaping maw from
which all form sprang forth; the Ginnungagap! I agree with this wholeheartedly; it is an endless
void from which willpower merged with consciousness grants unending demiurgical power; the
power to manifest reality itself from nothing. Within this endless void, there is another
reality-encompassing membrane or barrier. I’ve never seen it named explicitly as such by
others, but it is akin to a thick fog in my perception, not darkness like Ginnungagap, and there is
no form, only flowing billowing mists so thick you can barely see your own extremities. Niflheimr,
“Mist-home”, our ancestors called this kind of region, and I find that a fitting name.

Functionally, one can lay out the map of existence as three concentric circles/spheres: The first
and outermost: the Ginnungagap. Within this, surrounded by the membrane-mist of Niflheimr, is
the second sphere: The Otherrealm. (Sometimes called “the Otherrealm Proper” to distinguish
this larger view from implied subrealms throughout the Otherrealm.) Within this, surrounded by a
membrane permeable to consciousness called “The Veil”, is the third sphere: the Physical
Realm of Miðgarðr, where we mortals and our individual mortal consciousnesses reside.

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“Lifting the Veil”: an introduction to the
Otherrealm of Vanic Norse Shamanism.
By Sigrid Svartvatn, Völva-Seiðkona at Hof of the Íviði - Summer 2018

“What is existence in the Otherrealm like?”


The issue of the perceptual lens and personal noosphere comes up whenever the issue of
unfamiliar experience is relevant, it just isn’t usually pointed out as such. To someone who has
lived their entire life in the deep jungle, how do you explain what a blizzard is so they
understand more than a vague idea? To the born-blind, how do you describe color? These
questions point out the limitations of another’s lens in reference to one’s own, and similarly, I
must point out the flaw in assuming I can explain to you what existence in the Otherrealm is
really​ like. I cannot do it justice, though I will endeavor to give you enough of a picture so that
you can build your own bridges to understanding it more easily and readily. I endeavor to give
you the tools needed to get yourself there so you can experience it for yourself. If you have a
burning need within you to know but cannot wait until your own perception grants it, contact me
and I’ll see what I can do to describe the Otherrealm to you in a more suitable medium.

The Personal Realm:


There is one more nested layer of existence for which knowledge of is key to a functional
understanding of trancework: The Personal Realm. When you begin to fall asleep and your
consciousness drifts from thoughts of the day, and your mind is filled with disjointed visions and
wisps of sensations from all you’ve ever experienced in this life... and sometimes a bit more
than that, your mortal consciousness stops perceiving Miðgarðr and starts perceiving and
interacting with the reality of the Personal Realm. Most barely notice the transition, because
existence within their personal realm is nebulous, formless, and fluidic by default. You also
reach the personal realm when you start trancing deeply without aim. This realm is the
manifested bubble of reality that a soul spawns forth into the Otherrealm Proper when its
consciousness first sparks “to life” as it is spawned forth into existence. I often just refer to the
personal realm as “your realm”, for as the gods have their own realms of sovereignty said to be
theirs, the personal realm is yours.

Within your personal realm you have supreme sovereignty. Only a deity you believe(d) in can
directly influence or control you, reality, or others in your realm against your will. This is the “seat
of one’s soul’s power” and is indeed where souls by default reside whilst they are living mortal
lives on Miðgarðr. What does it mean to have “supreme” sovereignty, and what is “sovereignty”
in this context? “Supreme” refers to having complete control over reality, including the reality
that other souls in that realm perceive and experience. You have full demiurgical power and can
summon anything into or out of existence at will, and you can make anything as real or as
illusory as you wish. Reality becomes as you decide it and will it to be. “Sovereignty” in this
context is just a fancy way of saying that agency (the actual capability of carrying out an action)
and permission or “right” to carry out said action have been earned by the soul for that particular
realm. In order for a soul without permission/rights in a realm to effect change in that realm
against the wishes of the sovereign of that realm, their willpower and intent must be more
powerful than that of the realm’s sovereign.

Personal Realms are pocket dimensions ( nested bubbles ) of reality within and divided off from
the rest of the Otherrealm by a poorly permeable membrane very similar to the one between
miðgarðr and all other existence (the Veil).

3
“Lifting the Veil”: an introduction to the
Otherrealm of Vanic Norse Shamanism.
By Sigrid Svartvatn, Völva-Seiðkona at Hof of the Íviði - Summer 2018

Soul Ascension:
By definition, an “ascended soul” is a soul which has gained the ability to leave its personal
realm at will and travel throughout the Otherrealm Proper. Many mystics find they are unable to
achieve this essential step in progression (one which grants access to the highest echelons of
shamanic practice) for most if not all of their lives. Many others are literally born to this life
already ascended but merely ignorant of how to access the gifts earned by their soul during
prior lives. The requirement of ascension is not some esoteric knowledge or buried wisdom; the
requirement is merely growth of a soul to exceed some unknown-to-mortals required threshold.
This is represented within and governed by one’s Orlog. The methods presented later in “The
Ethereal Gateway” are only fully functional for ascended souls, for example.

However, there are also souls who have figured out and mastered a clever loophole they can
exploit; they trance into their personal realm and then conduct a working therein where they
essentially “astral project” from their Personal Realm into the Otherrealm proper. The key
difference here is that they cannot affect any change or interact in any way with the Otherrealm
proper whilst in this state. All they can do is perceive targeted sections of Otherrealm reality.
This does not leave them impotent though; this perception can be coupled with a partial
permeability of one’s personal realm, allowing a mystic to contact spirits in the Otherrealm
proper (outside of their personal realm) and request they come to the mystic’s personal realm,
or even to them in Miðgarðr where the contact takes place with comparative ease for the mystic.

Reality within the personal realm is very similar to reality within the Otherrealm, with some key
differences. The first main difference between the two is that there is by default a lack of
permanence or persistence to any and all aspects of reality manifested within the personal
realm. What I mean by this is that unless you have progressed your spiritual / mystical practice
to the point that you’ve explicitly set up the rules that govern reality within your realm so that
they aren’t interfered with by your dreams or other altered mental states, you’ll find that reality
(and all you’ve manifested within) disappears and fades, or warps and changes against your
design over time. Even so, with permanence established, if you open your realm to visitors
(other souls either from Miðgarðr or the Otherrealm) reality itself in your personal realm will
degrade if you do not return to it regularly during waking trance states for upkeep. Dreams are
manifestations of our disordered subconscious and the back alleys of our minds and souls.
They exert an influence upon every aspect of you, including all the manifestations you make in
your realm. A cultivated and refined ego (mastery and understanding of self, and the nature of
one’s existence and place within all existence) by nature provides linearity, regularity, and
structure to one’s personal realm. With even a timid or rabid ego, permanence can be had by
simple evocation of focused will. Indeed, the very permanence we imbue into all our creations
and workings is derived from the permanence of ego. Reality in the Otherrealm is fluid in that it
is ever changing just like reality in Miðgarðr, and also because it is subject to the wills of the
sovereigns of the region. Yet reality in both is said to “have permanence” in that it isn’t the onus
of the observer to maintain reality as it is; reality is self sustaining until another soul induces
change to it.

4
“Lifting the Veil”: an introduction to the
Otherrealm of Vanic Norse Shamanism.
By Sigrid Svartvatn, Völva-Seiðkona at Hof of the Íviði - Summer 2018

The second main difference is that in the Otherrealm, and in any realm where you do not have
supreme sovereignty, there will be hard limits on your agency, abilities, freedoms, and
perception. Ascended souls are free to travel throughout the Otherrealm Proper with little
restriction if any, provided they are capable of advanced mobility and skilled in basic demiurgury
of course. However, within the subrealm of Helheimr for example, souls that enter and take up
residence therein are not free to leave should they change their mind, and they must conform to
the rule of Hel, the goddess of death. Fortunately, Helheimr is a pleasant reality for souls of
honorable orlog, and Hel is likely to honor requests to leave by such souls and those who
willingly hold residence in her realm. The point here is that a request must be made and granted
before the soul can leave, regardless of if it earned ascension or not. Another example is that
ascended souls may reach Valhalla’s gate with diligence, but they cannot enter without
permission from an Asgardian who themselves has been granted access.

Non-ascended souls caught out of their personal realms and abandoned for whatever reason
are at the whims of any gods or souls who happen upon them and take interest. They have no
ability to determine for themselves where they are bound to or what rights they are granted.
Some even are robbed of true dreams and left with only fragmented torturous nightmares whilst
being alive as mortals, as they cannot yet manifest a new personal realm for themselves or
effectively travel to their original personal realm. Even if they could travel or get transport back
to where their personal realm was within the Otherrealm they are “locked out”, and would
require the help of a skilled ascended soul to get them back into their realm, as they cannot
breach the membrane to get back in themselves. This is often referred to as “soul loss” in
modern shamanic vernacular. The ascended soul who performs the function of psychopomp
and brings the lost soul back into their personal realm (or a designated deific realm for souls
that belong there) is performing a “soul retrieval”.

Wyrd Perception and Non-Linearity: The Heart of Seiðr and the Key to Fateweaving.
Non-linearity is the biggest hurdle for the newly ascended soul and seasoned fateweaver alike.
Not all realms are linear in reality or time like Miðgarðr. One of the areas of practice this is most
prominently evident is at the very heart of Seiðr; perception of Wyrd. Seiðr is the foundational
step-stone by which one can learn the arts of Fateweaving. The “web” or “weave” of Wyrd is a
representational manifestation of the interconnected tendrils of causality that can be perceived
by those on the paths of fateweaver, seiðworker, and spáworker. It is this interconnection of all
things in existence which drives the course of fate/history and determines present reality and
existence itself.

The weave of Wyrd for Miðgarðr is very much like the nature of time and causality in Miðgarðr;
unidirectional in flow. Some fateweavers can observe the past, or perceive and act upon the
now, or perceive and act upon the possible futures (or any mix of these) by working different
sections of the weave. The weave being perceiving is fixed and unchanging beyond the actions
of other fateweavers, like a tapestry being inspected under magnifying glass being panned
around. Practitioners often are limited in what regions of the weave they can see and which they
can act upon, at least initially. It is not uncommon to only be able to see the future section
(which is not yet guaranteed to manifest as foreseen!), or only the present section with only a
vague idea of the direction and course of the weave ahead, but it is rare to find someone
capable of all three whilst alive.

5
“Lifting the Veil”: an introduction to the
Otherrealm of Vanic Norse Shamanism.
By Sigrid Svartvatn, Völva-Seiðkona at Hof of the Íviði - Summer 2018

The weave of wyrd for the Otherrealm is not so. It exists in a way that physical matter cannot be
made to represent: it is shifting and writhing in on itself and growing outwards simultaneously;
strands blinking into and out of existence and disconnecting from one section and reconnecting
elsewhere but staying continuous.

Reality, and its representation perceived as woven string, disobey the mortal laws of physics in
many an ineffable way. Where as the weave of wyrd for Miðgarðr is seen much like a
crosshatch topological projection map or a wrinkled linen sheet strewn hastily across a surface,
the weave of wyrd for the Otherrealm is like a three dimensional cross section of a region of
stormy seas. The different depths correspond to parallel and alternate pathways for causality
and reality to possibly manifest into, and each of the currents of water are strings of fate. As the
reference point of the observer is moved through this quantum sea of bubbling causality, the
strings which represent timelines that didn’t/wont manifest into the reality being referenced will
blink out of perception when moving in one axis but perhaps not when moving in others. If new
opportunities and potential realities are made possible their strings blink into existence and
continue on with some trajectory through the axes.

Even as a Völva, i.e. someone very well versed and skilled in Miðgarðr fateweaving, I have to
rely largely on my intuitive sense of direction and wyrd senses to “feel” my way around
fateweaving in the Otherrealm. I make a “linear” mental map of the nonlinear chaos going on in
the weave, which allows me to keep my bearings and make sense of it all when I leave the
trance state. Since it is incredibly mentally taxing, has a high chance of failure (due to
uncertainty) and consequence for failure of judgement (as it is literally messing with fate!), I
personally don’t engage in fateweaving in the Otherrealm unless absolutely necessary. On the
other hand, performing fateweaving here in Miðgarðr is no chore to perform at all. Indeed, it’s
not much more difficult than a proper energy grounding ritual. I think perhaps that’s an important
aspect of why when the skills for fateweaving were taught to me by the gods I was told they are
not to be taught to mortals who were not already performing fateweaving lest I lose the gift
myself; one must earn the trust of a deity before being safe enough to entrust the skills to. This
is one of the reasons I encourage all of my students to cultivate a relationship with a deity they
feel close to in addition to all the other benefits normally attributed to expanding that area of
one’s practice; the path of fateweaver could be before you. I only teach how to reach out to a
deity, you’ve got to build the relationship yourself and seek the gifts of the fateweaver on your
own. Advanced students and colleagues can also get guidance from me regarding developing
their own fateweaving skills and practice as well, but I will not teach or do for another what must
be done by themselves for themselves, especially when I am beholden to the gods and an
honor code.

6
“Lifting the Veil”: an introduction to the
Otherrealm of Vanic Norse Shamanism.
By Sigrid Svartvatn, Völva-Seiðkona at Hof of the Íviði - Summer 2018

Time: The biggest mismatch between the mortal and core soul consciousnesses...
...And indeed the biggest disparity between reality within one’s Personal Realm and the
Otherrealm Proper. We human mortal consciousnesses experience time as linear because the
direction of causality is fixed within Miðgarðr; cause happens before effect, action happens
before reaction, and once a change in state is enacted it can never be literally reversed. When
we “undo” something in physical reality, we really just cause a similar state to what was, to be
manifest over what is. We cannot return to the actual state which was prior. This is not how
things naturally function outside of Miðgarðr though!

Time outside of one’s Personal Realm and Miðgarðr is nonlinear, as time itself there is a
mutable parameter and a bidirectionally explorable aspect of existence in that reality. Indeed, an
ascended mystic skilled in time manipulation and perception can stop time altogether for
themselves, and in doing so extract themselves from interaction with that timeline. At that point
if they can perceive wyrd as well, they can check the multitudes of other timelines for ones
which align better to their aims and inject themselves into that timeline at the point they left in
the previous timeline, altering one’s fate. Indeed, this is personal fateweaving! Since it only
involves one’s own fate, it is something easily earned in one’s practice when on the path to
fateweaver.

Perceiving, understanding, and conveying nonlinear time or information pertaining to functional


or perceptual matters regarding working with or experiencing such type of time falls largely
outside of the capabilities of modern common language and the collective human noosphere.
The best I can do to describe nonlinear time is that causality becomes the metric to use as a
reference point so you reference time by compartmentalized events, not numbers referencing
points along a line. You will find if you take nonlinear time and map it to linear time in an attempt
at expressibility it ends up being impossible for anyone but you to understand because they
won’t see the logical linkages. Draw it out and you become a meme. Effect occurs before cause,
and sometimes wholly without cause, as the cause was manifest in a different timeline yet
somehow the re/action occurs anyway. By suspending expectations that causality will be
mapped to linear time in the Otherrealm one can “let go” and let the shifting currents of causality
take them without disorientation. It is a lot more intuitive when you can see and feel the shifting
rhythms and patterns within the web or look at parallel and alternate realities and timelines while
still having mental map of Otherrealm causality projected linearly, as this allows you to watch for
confluences and coincidences which in turn lets you intuit your way through the process instead
of forcefully thinking your way through it which can often be overwhelming for more than simple
endeavors.

“Simply knowing about the disparate natures of reality between realms 


greatly benefits beginner mystics because it allows them to be dramatically 
less affected by cognitive dissonance, disorientation, and/or distractions 
from the Otherrealm encountered during trance and their other workings.”

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“Lifting the Veil”: an introduction to the
Otherrealm of Vanic Norse Shamanism.
By Sigrid Svartvatn, Völva-Seiðkona at Hof of the Íviði - Summer 2018

Völva’s Note: Be Bold!


Tangential, but related; many newcomers to heathenry are overly timid and demure when it
comes to contacting the gods because they feel that they (not their request) are not worthy of
wasting the deity’s time. Time is immaterial to a deity. That is to say, it isn’t the “waste” of the
deity’s time when things go poorly which causes ire. It is impossible to waste their time.
However, the waste of one’s own limited mortal time pursuing a fruitless, needless, or
misleading endeavor is often a reason for a deity to feel disappointment in a mortal. Of course
the nature of one’s performance in that endeavor is often weighed heavily, so while we may
disappoint deities with the courses we choose for our lives, we are free to choose without
reprisal beyond Oaths and direct causality. Heathenry is about doing things your own way, our
gods expect no less from us. So, don’t waste your own time by being afraid to reach out to the
entities you wish to have a relationship with, you’ll only be disappointing them for sure if you
swallow your soul’s yearnings.

8
“Lifting the Veil”: an introduction to the
Otherrealm of Vanic Norse Shamanism.
By Sigrid Svartvatn, Völva-Seiðkona at Hof of the Íviði - Summer 2018

So, what’s in the Otherrealm Proper?


The Otherrealm is an infinitely diverse and expansive dynamic existence. While alive, your lens
(mind) manufactures a lot of the perceptual aspects of existence you expect or require to see
subconsciously, just so you are able to bridge the gap between realities in a functional manner.
What I can say is that reality there has many layers, and some mimic what is found in Miðgarðr,
but many do not. For example, spiritual energy is tangible, readily perceivable, and ubiquitous.
Each tribe of souls has a different style of personality, different styles of preferred interaction,
and different cultures. Society functions very differently without the effects of physical existence
and mortality, and so too interpersonal matters are quite different many instances.

The first nine realms are indeed represented in the Otherrealm Proper, though not as
disconnected discrete bubbled-off realities like the personal realm. The first realms, aside from
Miðgarðr, are distinct sovereign realities of their own under their own leadership and following
their own fates, but they can be traversed and entered into without any special requirements
much like one can cross the imaginary borders of man to enter into another country. The
Otherrealm has built into its form the requisite liminal spaces and boundaries needed to function
as seamless bridges between realms for souls. To cross from Vanaheimr to Jötunheimr one
need only walk a very long ways, for example.

There is of course, Bifröst, the rainbow bridge! However describing it and teaching how to find,
access, and traverse it is for an article of itself, not for here. I’ll merely say now that you can find
Bifröst and use it as a “highway” between realms, vastly shortening the “distance” one must
travel. Travel on the rainbow while alive is severely costly to one’s spiritual energy, one’s mortal
body, and extremely disorientating for the living to perceive to the point that it is exceptionally
difficult to navigate without a guide. During an early journey of mine into the Otherrealm not long
after ascendancy I happened upon a guide spirit who asked where I was headed, and without a
second thought whisked my then-neophyte soul off to Asaheimr. This wouldn’t have been a
problem if they had asked if I was still amongst the living in Miðgarðr or if they had chosen not to
take Bifröst… but they thought I was an ascended soul on the way to the afterlife, and so they
acted as Psychopomp for me many mortal years too soon, hehe. I got drastically ill in both
realities upon crossing the midway point along Bifröst, and after causing a small scene at the
gates of Asaheimr, my soul was rushed back to my personal realm post haste where I spent
several days time on Miðgarðr recovering.

The Otherrealm is an endless landscape which varies in infinite ways. There are endless
numbers of realms constantly changing, being birthed, and dissolving into nonexistence. “Time”
in the mortal sense is endless and free to explore. There are infinite endless timelines to explore
and experience for the seasoned traveler as well. If you wanted a sneak peak into the afterlife or
to know what is out there beyond this life’s physical existence the answers can be found in the
Otherrealm.