Happy Thor’s Day
Interrupting the normal order of things to make remarks about pagan holidays. This time of year we shift from The time period of Yule which began in December to the time of Imbolc or Oimelc (it has a lot of names, depending on the pagan culture it comes from). The day that kicks this off is Disting which is February 2nd but it really starts at sundown on the 1st. This time begins the time of Spring and looking forward to new life. The day Disting is about the celebration of the souls of women in your family and this was the traditional time that lambs were born to shepherds. So the beginning of life begins with motherhood, even if there is still snow covering the ground. It is a time of celebrating cold, ice, healing and the hearth.
In Viking myths this may refer to times where the Ymir gave life out of the ice. There is also a lot reference to any god or goddess celebrating life, hearth and planting and each of theri spheres is celebrated as well. It’s a time of preparation; so as Winter ends, the spring activities are ready to begin. In Viking society “The Thing” happened at this time as well, which is the time of law and justice.
Mostly though Disting itself is about honoring mothers and grandmothers who have passed on but who still watch over the generations. There is an idea of respecting ancestors of the female side of the line. In this regard I have many women who have passed on that I want to remember.
Time to Look Through the Eye:
I suppose when one considers ancestors there is a discussion of the afterlife. Over my time as a Christian, I was always sure of what this entailed, but these days I have to concede that no one really knows what lies after death, except maybe the dead themselves. Assuming there is anything to know. My aunt who was a great mother and my grandmother Alice fit the motherhood motif of this Holiday. If the pagans are right, then perhaps they both watch over all of us.
There is a simple but profound ritual connected to Disting. It is above all a cooking holiday. The Norse Goddess Nerthus being celebrated here. She is the goddess of fertility peace and plenty. Most of the ritual involves cooking of bread, feasting, celebration and lighting of red candles for the mothers who have passed on. Given that chariot riding Nerthus is a fertility goddess, I also imagine couples might pray at this time for children and might go home and have sex in honor of the goddess and the possibility that she will bless them.
Ritual religion has always been a problem for me, but I can get into the spirit of winter merrymaking and celebration of women who were mothers who have passed on. There is a spirit to celebration of the beginnings of life I can respect here.
There is probably a theology of after life in every major religion. The specifics vary widely. I can only say that the door to the afterlife is death and none of us really know what is on the other side. I do believe there is something there, but that is all it is – belief.
What Disting does point out theologically is that in the case of sexuality, pagans are very much about masculinity and femininity . There is no gender fluid but two sexes both strong and clearly defined, but there is also a lot of room to express both culturally in may ways. What you have is an equality of sexuality that is dual and so far in my studies I would have to say balanced. This holiday is about celebration of those feminine sexual traits that we consider honorable, and that is something I can relate to very much.
The spiritual side of me can at least remember the things about women of my family who have died, and it keeps them alive in memory. That is a good thing to do. It is important to remember that legacy isn’t simply genetic. That there is a spiritual side of motherhood and femininity that is celebrated in my heart with this holiday and on February 2nd I will probably take a moment to remember those of my line who were great mothers and examples of being good, strong women.
I like these pauses where I look at the pagan holidays and seasons. The pagans have a better understanding of the cycle of regular change better than most people. I like that they really have six times of year and holidays to kick them all off. There is also a closer understanding to real life with the pagan side of me, and these holidays bring that out.
Continuing to Walk the Path,
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.