Disting - A Swedish Thing
Updated: Mar 23
Distings-tungel | Distingsmanuthr | Dísting Moon
Disting is an ancient Heathen spring celebration dating further back than the Icelandic Allthing (900-990 AD). According to the Heimskringla Saga, the Swedish tradition is as old as Heathenry itself. It was originally referred to as 'The Thing of All Swedes' (aka. The Gathering of All Swedes). It was hosted at the Tinget in Uppsala, Sweden. Tinget is the Swedish name of a large gathering place held either indoors or outside.
It is also considered the day to honour the dísir who are the female goddesses and ancestral spirits. The dísir are the protective spirits of family lines who watch over their descendants and act like spirit-guides helping us on our paths.
Before the modern concept of a calendar, Disting was held on the third full moon after the new moon of the winter solstice, making it fall on March 18-20, 2022. In Sweden, this would be called Disting Moon. People from all over Sweden would come together for a week to honor the dísir (ancestors), determine laws, and hold markets and other meetings. Another German scholar, Adam of Bremen, also shared his observations of the Disting gathering. He said, once every eight years a grand celebration would be held here where sacrifices would be held (Dísablot) in honor of the Heathen gods and ancestors using a sacred tree and a sacred well. Dancing and other 'obscenities' would be common at these events. When Christianity came to Sweden, the Disting market was shortened to three days and moved to Candlemas (Feb. 2); but you can still attend fairs at the Tinget in Uppsala today. Deities celebrated include:
Freya for the dís
Thor for good harvest
Thor & Sif together for sustenance
Odin for war
Frey for betrothal and sexuality
How to Honour Your Ancestors Today:
Light a candle in honour of your dísir (ancestors)
Tell stories of honourable tales of the dísir
Offer/sacrifice a plate of food and some wine, ail or honeymead to your deities and ancestors
Light a bonfire in their honor and share stories of your heritage
Open up to your dísir. Tell them your troubles and hopes, and ask them to protect you on your journey forward.
If you are interested in learning more about records from the saga or other perspectives from modern historians, please take a look at the sources section below. How long have you been celebrating Disting? What do you do with your family? Have you been to the Uppsala Tinget for its Disting market? Tell us your story in the comment section. Sincerely,
Jennifer Hartman Pagan Kids pagankids.org
Heimskringla, Saga of Olaf Herladson, Part II.
Nordberg, Andreas. “Jul, Disting Och Förkyrklig Tideräkning.” Kalendrar Och Kalendariska Riter i Det Förkristna …, 2006.
Dr. Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen. "Nordic Animism, The Disathing Spring Celebration." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLa0Pbmz5Ww