Sunday, March 3, 2013

D is for Disir

The Disir, known also as the Idises, are ones' female ancestors.  That they were worshiped enormously in the past is attested to by hundreds of images of the Matronae, three female seated figures, all over Europe.  I'm not posting a photo because if you Google the term you'll see plenty.  And Plenty is what the Matronae/Disir are all about.  They are usually shown holding bread and apples and sometimes corunucopia (horns of plenty).

Georges Dumezil interpreted the female figures as being the maiden, the mother, and the grandmother, an identification that went well into Wiccan thealogy.  In Asatru, however, we don't deal with Gods or Goddesses in the abstract--they're people.  The Idises are female ancestors who we may or may not know.  If some of them are young, it's because we have ancestors who died young.  A multiply-great aunt who died at the age of 14 of disease is every bit an ancestor as the great-great grandmother whose name we know.  She would undoubtedly have some knowledge for us; certainly she'd know textile manufacture and how to dress a chicken for supper.  The fact that the Matronae hold food and sometimes the means of production such as spindles and distaffs show that they are there to provide.

Which makes perfect sense.  Grandmas and aunts are notorious feeders.  I am blessed to have one of my grandmothers still alive; she's nearly 100 of course, but into her late 80s if I asked for Puerto Rican beans and rice, she was very happy to comply.  Especially since I was taking it back to my barracks to share.  My late grandmother could churn out hundreds of cookies of staggering complexity before the winter holiday season.

Food is love, the Matronae say, and put on this sweater, it's cold.  It's useful to form a devotion to the female ancestors, because they know you.  Just because a person is dead doesn't mean they suddenly stop loving their families.  When Sven had a surgery in January of last year, I assured him that the Idises were watching over him.  (He told me in Danish that he loved me.)  The gods are good to invoke, but the ancestors are the ones who most have your interest at heart, because for them it's personal.

Yesterday was the birthday of Sven's mom, who died in 2007.  We bought a piece of carrot cake, which is presently on our hearth, because she loved carrot cake.  She's still with us, from her Danish folkways to Sven's very DNA.

I once knew someone who didn't honour her Idises because her family had been abusive.  That's her choice, but somewhere down the line she still would have female ancestors who would approve of her.  There are also spiritual ancestors with whom one can connect.  I think that some would react to finding a descendant they didn't previously know about with all sorts of gifts.  (Remember, a gift calls for a gift!)

Love never dies.  Hail the Matronae!  Hail the Disir!  Hail the Idises!

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