Updated: Feb 14, 2022
I receive common questions every year: 1. Why is Ostara not in the Eddas and Sagas? 2. Did the Scandinavians know Eostre or Ostar? 3. The church uses the full moon after the equinox to date their Easter, so why does Asatru follow solar practice only? Isn't the church more Heathen? The world's foremost scholar on pre-Christian Heathen holidays is Dr. Andreas Nordberg. Dr. Nordberg wrote a book on the dating of Yule, but in his book, he also covers the dating of Disting. Dr. Nordberg states: "The pre-Christian Yule feast occurs at the first full moon after the first new moon following the winter solstice, while the disting took place at the third full moon according to the same method of calculation." Andreas Nordberg, Institutionen för etnologi, religionshistoria och genusstudier, Avdelningenreligionshistoria, Stockholms universitet, 106 91 Stockholm. © Andreas Nordberg och Kungl. Gustav Adolfs Akademien för svensk folkkultur 2006 Dr. Nordberg also states: "Also the time for the old Disablot in Uppsala has been the subject of many discussions. According to Adam of Bremen, this blot took place "around the equinox of spring", while Snorri instead says that it was held in the moon of Goa, which stretched from mid-February to mid-March in the Icelandic calendar during Snorri's lifetime." (Goa in Heathen times was around April, via the lunar cycle, not using fixed solar dates Iceland used later after christianization. The word "moon" and "month" are related, a month is a lunar cycle in the pre-Christian Heathen mindset. It is clear to me, and Dr. Nordberg, Snorri is forgetting that Goa in his time was not at the same as Goa in pre-Christian Heathen times. The Icelanders, once Christian, discontinued their lunisolar pre-chrsitian Heathen calendar in favor of a solar calendar with fixed solar months. The Icelanders moved all moons forward one moon, in an attempt to wipe out the pre-Christian Heathen holidays, as Yule was moved from January to be at the same time as the Christ Mass, or Xmas, and Disting was moved forward and replaced by Candle Mass on February 2nd. Luke's Gospel (Luke ch2) tells the story of Mary and Joseph bringing the infant Jesus to the Jerusalem Temple to induct him into Judaism according to the Law of Moses. This event was celebrated as one of the major masses of the year by the Roman Catholic Church. This was called Candlemass, and occured on the Roman date of February 2nd. Yule was replaced by Xmas, while Disting was replaced by Candlemass, and Sigrblot was "swallowed" by the Christian Passover/Easter.
Dr. Nordberg, in his quote above, is assuming that Adam of Bremen's mention of the 9-year sacrifice was on Disting *(which he incorrectly calls "Disablot."). Adam of Bremen never uses the terms "Disting" and/or "Disablot" when discussing the 9-year sacrifice at Uppsala, but he clearly uses the term sacrifice/blot. Adam never uses the word "Thing." Adam of Bremen says that this sacrifice/blot was around the time of the equinox, but not on it. This is "vague." Adam never says the 9-year blots were in honor of Disir or female ancestral spirits or goddesses. Disting (mid-March-ish time pending the lunar calendar) is closer to the equinox than Sigrblot. But Sigrblot, in mid-April-ish time, pending the lunar calendar, is also "close to the equinox." I believe Adam of Bremen's 9-year blot would be Sigrblot or Yule, not Disting. Disting is a THING, and Sigrblot is a BLOT. One saga passage has "dominated" people's understanding of Disting, and it is a saga passage that is clearly misunderstood. Heimskringla Saga of Olaf Haraldson ch.76 “In Sweden (Svithjod) it was the forn sed (Heathen Religion), as long as heathenism prevailed, that the chief blot took place in Goe moon at Upsala. The blot was offered for peace and victory to the king." Here, Snorri is clearly discussing Sigrblot, this is a blot for victory (sigrblot means victory-blot). However, as this passage continues, Snorri then discusses the Things that also happened at the same location, Uppsala: "People came from all parts of Sweden. All the Things of the Swedes were also held there, and markets, and meetings for buying, which continued for seven days: and after Christianity was introduced into Sweden, the Things and fairs were held there as before. After Christianity had taken root in Sweden, and the kings would no longer dwell in Upsala, the market-time was moved to Candlemass, and it has since continued so, and it lasts only three days. Then there is the Swedish Thing, and people from all quarters come there.” Please note, the passage in bold dark blue is one continuous passage. But I do believe in this passage, Snorri is discussing two different things: Sigrblot, and the Things of the Swedes. And please note, while almost everyone (not myself) equates this entire passage with Disting, the phrase "Disting" is not found in the passage. The word "Thing" is certainly found in this passage, but mostly in the plural. In my opinion, it is a "leap" to assume this entire passage is referring to the "Disting" clearly shown on Swedish calendar rods and PrimeStaffs, that occurs two full moons after Yule's full moon. Swedish Saga references are clear, there are three major blots a year, Ynglinga Saga chapter 8 even has Odin "commanding" three blots a year. “Odin established the same law in his land that had been in force in Asaland… On winter day (first day of winter) there should be blot for a good year, and in the middle of winter for a good crop; and the third blot should be on summer day, a Victory-blot.” Therefore, to argue Disting is a major "Disablot" or even a "blot" is a stretch to say the least. The three major blots are Winter Nights, Yule, and Sigrblot. Therefore, arguing that Disting is a Disablot (which Winter Nights is clearly 'the' Disablot in the Sagas), this is a contradiction to Snorri's other passages that state there were three blots a year.
"Now it is their old ways to hold a blot in haust (haustmanuthr, a moon) to welcome in the winter, a second in the middle of winter, and a third to welcome the summer." [Heimskringla Olaf's Saga Helga, The Slaying of Olvir of Egge]
"As long as heathendom lasted he was wont to hold three blood offerings: one on Winter Nights, a second at mid-Winter, and the third at the start of summer. But when he became a Christian he kept up in the same way with the feasts: In the autumn he had a great feast of friends, then in winter a Yule Feast, when he bade many men come to him again, and the third he had at Paska, when he had also a great crowd of guests." [Saga of St. Olav, ch 117]. It is clear to me that over time, Disting became a "distinct" event in Sweden, when Things were held all throughout the year before. I can show saga passages showing Things around both Yule and Sigrblot. The point of making Disting a major event in Sweden, was to make the christian Candlemass (on February 2nd) important. In summary, Heimskringla Saga of Olaf Haraldson ch.76 is refering to Sigrblot, and Swedish Things at Uppsala in general happened throughout the year in pre-Christian Heathen times. Here is a passage about Yule, as well as Things at Uppsala. I could argue from this passage that Disting was a part of Yule, just like others in the Olaf Haraoldson could argue Disting was a part of Sigrblot. But in reality, Things happened throughout the year in pre-christian Heathen times. Ynglinga Saga ch 38: "Onund's district-kings were at that time spread widely over Sweden, and Svipdag the Blind ruled over Tiundaland, in which Upsal is situated, and where all the Swedish Things are held. There also were held the mid-winter blots, at which many kings attended. One year at midwinter there was a great assembly of people at Upsal, and King Yngvar had also come there with his sons." Ynglinga Saga is important for Swedish history. The Ynglings were the Swedish Royal Dynasty, the Kings of Sweden. Hence, Ynglinga Saga is really focused on Sweden. Why would Ynglinga Saga 8 not list Disting as a major blot if it were a major blot? The simple answer is, because Disting was an All-Thing and Disablot was Winter Nights, the blot to start winter. Viga-Glum's Saga chapter 6 is one of four passages in the Sagas that make it clear as day that Disablot accompanies Winter Nights: "At the start of winter a sumble was prepared, and a disablot in which observance all were expected to take part, but Glum sat in his place and did not attend it." Please note though, Viga-Glums Saga is an Icelandic Saga, and therefore, while we do not have Swedish passages that call Winter Nights "Disablot", we do have Norwegian and Icelandic passages that call Winter Nights "Disablot." I understand the counter argument that Swedish Disablot was at Disting, but this in my mind is still a stretch, as we just assume that Disting would be accompanied by a Disablot, but we have no literary evidence that Disting included a Disablot. Disting is not a word we find in the Sagas. Therefore, my conclusion here is simple: Disablot is Winter Nights (in mid-late October), and Disting is an Althing. This is a Swedish specific Althing on the third full moon after the first new moon after the solstice.
Christian Easter, Wiccan Ostara, The Roman Matronae Cult's Eostre I am not a linguist. I am fluent (obviously) in modern English, Old Saxon (at reading it), and I speak enough German to talk to my family and get around Germany. My point is though, as an Old Saxon (Aldsidu) Heathen, to quote Dr. Jackson Crawford, "I have no horse in this race." Dr. Crawford says that often in his videos to state he is not a Heathen, and therefore, as one who is more than a hobbyist in Norse Lore, Dr. Crawford is not a Heathen and stays out of Heathen and Asatru arguments. As an Old Saxon Heathen, Eostre (or Ostar) is not in our hall of Gods, therefore I do not have a horse in that race. Eostre is not a Scandinavian Goddess, nor is she an Old Saxon Goddess. However, as Dr. Shaw so wonderfully proves in his book, Eostre originated in the Roman Matronae cult, and there are 150 to 200 different Austriahenae stones found to Eostre. The Romans took this Goddess from the Roman controlled Rhineland into Britannia. Eostre was venerated not just by the Romans, but by the Franks and the Brits (Celtic peoples) in England. I have two blog articles on this already (click "Blogs & Beliefs" above, and then scroll down to my Eostre articles.) Also, please note, Dr. Philip A. Shaw, has written the definitive book on Eostre, based on the archaeological evidence (the Eostre Stones), the linguistic evidence (Dr. Shaw is a linguist), and the literary evidence, that prove Eostre was confined to the Frankish/Frisian Rhineland and Kent. Dr. Alex G Garman has also written a book on the Matronae cult, and as you can see, both books have one of the Matronae Stones on their covers.
In the end, Ostara is the name of a Wiccan Sabbat, brought into Asatru by the founders of Asatru in the United States. Asatru in Iceland, older than American Asatru, DID NOT replace Sigurblot with "Ostara." There are only two historical attestations of Eostre, by Bede in De Temporum Ratione in the year 725 AD, where Bede claims Eostre is a moon corresponding to April on the Old English Calendar, and a Paschal Goddess (Bede is full of sh*t there, as Eostre had nothing to do with Christianity, he was just trying to make his Anglish peoples less Heathen by claiming their Heathenry had some divine foreknowledge of Christ.) Einhard in Vita Karoli Magni Chapter 29, lists Ostarmanod (Ostar-moon) as the fourth moon of the year on the Frankish calendar. Einhard wrote circa 830 AD. Please remember, Eostre-stones are found only in the Rhineland (Frankia) and southern England, so the archaeological evidence ties with the literary evidence. Dr. Shaw also uses linguistic evidence to prove Eostre was confined to England and Frankia/Frisia. Please note, Ostar or Ostara, is not a Goddess in the Scandinavian Eddas and Sagas. She is not mentioned in these. What I do know for sure is, Ostar or Eostre is NOT a Scandinavian Goddess, and she is not in the Eddas nor the Sagas nor the several hundred other Scandinavian sources. When one thinks of animal symbols in Scandinavian Heathenry, ravens and wolves immediately come to mind, and rabbits do not. Easter bunnies were born within Christianity itself, 800 years after the destruction of Germanic Heathenry. Eostre is not even a Germanic Heathen Goddess, and even relatively poor websites like Wikipedia get this correct. Jacob Grimm was the first in 1835, to come along and suggest Christian Easter had anything to do with Eostre.
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