We started our exploration of Nordic cosmology by first visiting the upper worlds and then the middle world were we live. Now its time to journey to the under worlds. When we take shamanic journeys we chose the world that we want to visit. There are five worlds or levels below the middle world in Nordic cosmology. The first of those is Jotunheim, pronounced “YO-tun-hame" the World of the Giants.
Jotunheim is one of the utangard or beyond-the-fence worlds. Being outside the fence, outside the settled and civilized world, it is chaotic, anarchic, and wild. The English word "wilderness" comes from Old English, a Germanic language. The word formed from the roots wild-deor-ness literally means “the place of self-willed beasts.” One would therefore expect the cosmological Jotunheim of the Utgard to be a vast, mighty wilderness that surrounds a more civilized world.
This dwelling-places of the giants is described in the Eddas as deep, dark forests with mountain peaks where winter never eases its grip. It appears as an inhospitable and grim landscapes. I visit Jotunheim in shamanic journeys when I need to completely disconnect from midgard and hibernate for a spell. I also visit there when I need the help or counsel that only giants can give. Jotenheim is a cold and desolate place, but it is also beautiful wilderness (remember the meaning). Most of all, I have noted that after I visit Jotenheim I return feeling more self-willed, and that is a feeling that can sometimes be useful.
May you find the power to do what needs to be done and to say what needs to be said,
I'm Dr. Dave, a modern druid. I lived and worked in Bolivia and Peru for over six years, where I and was trained by Andean Shamans, and today practice Druidcraft and contemporary shamanism.