When trouble lurks, turn toward Me for help. I and your disir, of spirit and blood, will aid you. Call on us, your ancestresses, for power and support. A gift begets a gift. Love, Freya
This is one of those times, like when She conveys messages in runes and/or rune poems, when I remember that Freya is a Nordic goddess. Not that I could ever forget, mind you, but a much of what She does and says is similar to many other love Goddesses. Today, however, is apparently a lesson on the importance of Disir. Dis (plural: disir) are, in the most general sense, female ancestor spirits.
The Old Norse/Germanic cultures had an extremely rich and complex understanding of the various non-corporeal entities present in their world. Unfortunately for us Recon-ish types, the lines between the different types of entities were blurry and highly mutable. Even the most experienced academics have a hard time laying down clean, compartmentalized categories and definitions–see Kveldulf Gundarsson’s work on Elves, Wights, and Trolls, for example. Human culture, both then and now, is just messy.
Disir are one of most commonly referenced spirits in the surviving literature. One of Freya’s roles is as the Vanadis–the main Dis of the Vanir, Her tribe of Gods. These ancestor spirits are often seen as being protective entities (unlike draugr or other “unstable dead”). They act as protectors in several ways. One, they could just generally be around for you to call on for luck or guidance, as in, “Let’s ask/pray to our disir for help”. Two, they could morph into something along the lines of a Valkyrie, helping to send battlefetters against their family’s enemies or appearing right before the family member dies (think Celtic banshee/”washer at the well” type) . Three, they would become something along the lines of a flygia (a complex entity I’ll discuss at some point later on). In this case, she is an ancestor spirit that manifests itself visually (and sometimes physically) as human female and attaches herself to one of the living family members, usually a hero of some kind. In this last case, apparently a hero needs to officially accept Her as his dis, otherwise she goes back into the spirit realm and waits for the next generation of heroes to come along. There are a coupe of examples of this version of a dis becoming the hero’s lover, and one example of this kind of relationship happening over the course of three different lifespans–who are essentially the same two people, just reincarnated.
(So yes, Norse culture has some REALLY COOL, MULTILAYERED STUFF going on, people! One of the many reasons I’m interested in Norse recon and not Wicca. Just sayin’.)
In any event, to sum up this lesson on the Disir: Freya says to go talk to them and rely on them. Personally, I have found working with my ancestors (both the disir and alfar) to be a huge source of power and comfort. Despite Asatru’s huge emphasis on honoring our ancestors, I didn’t really start to build that into my spiritual practice until this past year, and man–I am really wishing I did so much earlier. As a fellow priestess says, we (those of us alive today) are the sole focus of our ancestor’s attention. We are the ones who are still alive and can do things, and generally, our ancestors want us to win and will gladly throw any help they can our way. It’s a shame to ignore help so freely offered.