Disting - A Swedish Thing
Updated: Apr 28
Distings-tungel | Disting Moon | Disablot
What Is Disting?
Disting is an ancient Heathen spring celebration with pre-historic origins. According to the Heimskringla Saga, the Swedish tradition is "as old as Heathenry itself." It was initially referred to as 'The Thing of All Swedes' (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.
Dísting is also considered the day to honour the dísir - female goddesses and ancestral spirits who watch over their descendants and act like spirit guides helping us on our paths.
Before the modern concept of a calendar, Dísting was held on the third full moon after the new moon of the winter solstice, making it fall on March 7-10, 2023. In Sweden, this would be called Dísting Moon.
During Dísting, people from all over Sweden would come together for nine days to honour the dísir, determine laws, and hold markets and other meetings.
Later, when Christianity arrived, the Dísting market was shortened to three days and moved to Candlemas (Feb. 2).
In 1895 Dísting was abolished, but the market festival continued informally. A local Nordic pagan group in Sweden, Nordic Asa Community, is credited with its official revival in 2000. In 2023, they held a Dísablót ceremony on March 12th just north of Uppsala.
Although more of a cultural event than pagan, an annual Dísting market is scheduled in Vaksala Torg, Uppsala from February 6 to 7, 2023. Annually, over 150,000 people gather at Market Square for it. This particular Dísting market claims to be a tradition as old as the dawn of time!
Dísablót Versus Dísting
Looking back at all I have learned, Dísablót and Dísting may be similar but different occasions.
Dísablót (Dís = ancestor, blót = sacrifice) would be a sacrifice ritual for the female deities, whereas Dísting (ting = gathering) refers to a market, festival, government/community gathering. The two may have been happened at the same event, but as different activities.
Historical record of Dísablót come from a German scholar, Adam of Bremen, who shared observations of a sacrificial holiday for the ancestors. He said once every nine years, a grand celebration happens in Uppsala, where sacrifices are made to honour Heathen gods and ancestors using a sacred tree and a sacred well. Dancing and other 'obscenities' would be common at these events.
Note: If Dísablót occurs every nine years, it probably happens every Nordic leap year when an extra month is inserted into the lunar calendar to ensure the moons and holidays continue to line up with associated seasonal occurrences. 2023 is the lunisolar leap year! Many are celebrating it as The Year of Aun - A year full of rituals and gatherings where we (as a collective) sacrifice toxic traits and make our children, community and planet our priority.
Deities celebrated include:
Freya for the dís
Idun for a fruitful season
Eir for healing and growth
Sunna for the sun
Frigg for the hearth
Thor for good harvest and prosperity
Thor & Sif together for sustenance
Freyr for betrothal and fertility
How to Honour The Disir
Light a candle in honour of your dísir (ancestors)
Tell stories of honourable tales of the dísir
Cook their favourite meal, or a recipe that has been inherited
Offer/sacrifice a plate of food and some wine, ail or honey mead 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
Do something that would make them proud - something that shows you're protecting your next of kin
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.
Modern Disting Market
To read the following two links: Open the links on a Google browser, right click and select 'translate to English')
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
Did you know, this article initially took over 8 hours of research and fact-checking? Further hours go into revisions and updates.
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