What is a disablot? The truth is, we don’t know too much about it. A dis is a female spirit and a blot is ritual offering or sacrifice. In the Norse Tradition, the disablot was a sacrifice to the female ancestral spirits but possibly also to the disir (plural of dis) of the land. It gets complicated because other female spirits, such as the valkyries, are also referred to as disir.
Did our ancestors sacrifice to the valkyries as well? According to Arith Härger, the valkyries were part of a person’s norns (destiny keepers) if that person was destined to die a violent death. Hence, if some of your disir and/or norns were valkyries, you may not wish to know about it beforehand. Or maybe you do. No judgment from me.
According to Jackson Crawford, the disir seem more connected with the ancestral collective than with the individual. He contrasts this with the fylgja (animal spirit) that stays with the individual from birth to death. Both Crawford and Härger point out that the valkyries are known as ‘Herjans Disir,’ with Herjan being one of Odin’s many names.
The disablot took place sometime during the winter. Exactly when depends on where you lived at the time. In my native Sweden, the annual Disting at Uppsala where the sacrifice to the disir was made was held at the end of February. In Norway, the disablot took place at the start of the winter. On the British Isles, the sacrifice to the female ancestral spirits was during Modranicht/’Mother’s Night,’ around the New Year.
A Bloodless Disablot
Though the term ‘blot‘ does not necessarily indicate the need for a blood offering, it is no secret that this is exactly what they were in Viking times. However, most modern blots do not include the slaughter of an animal.
There are many ways to honour the disir. One way could be to include a place at the table for the most ancient of our ancestral mothers. Another way is to talk about our ancestors at the dinner table and to mention all their favourable attributes. Lighting candles and burning incense in their honour will always be well received.
How we speak to and about our ancestors is probably the most important aspect of the disablot. That said, it might be nice to offer them a ‘Skål!’ or play them some music as well. You could even invite the spirits to join you in dancing. Far be it from me to tell you how to honour your disir. But please, for the love of all that is holy, do not just call on them to ask favours without offering anything in return. That would just be plain rude!
Disablot at Halloween?
Technically, unless you are trying to reconstruct local rituals, there are no rules for when to perform the disablot. There is nothing to stop you from honouring your disir once a week with a blot. Nor is there anything stopping you from following the modern tradition of honouring the ancestors with a disablot at Samhain/Halloween.
And it’s really up to you if you are going to let yourself be bullied into submission by the Asatru or Heathenry Police. Every community has these types of people who try to impose rules and dogma on others. Top Tip: Give them all wide berth!
Paganism has always been a syncretic religion. Its strength is its adaptability and its lack of dogma. How you choose to honour your gods and ancestral spirits is between you and them. And if you choose to start new customs with a group of local fans of the Old Ways, it’s between you and those people.
Whether working in a group or as an individual, you have every right to experiment and to blend different influences. What is more important than aiming for historical accuracy is that the ritual and the words you use have meaning to you.
My Personal Thoughts
Okay, so the title for this paragraph may be a bit misleading since most of the above are my personal thoughts too. But when it comes to the reason for celebrating the disablot, on a feeling level, it very much comes down to bedding down for the winter. The disablot allows us to wrap ourselves in the warm embrace of our great ancestral mother and all her daughters. Is there a better shield against the cold and dark of winter?
As someone who grew up in Sweden where the disablot was celebrated in February, the idea of celebrating it at the start of the winter like the Norwegians used to do, instantly resonated. I might be the only person celebrating the disablot on Halloween but I don’t really care. I like how well the two fit together and I believe they were born from the same basic human need.