When we look at what we know about Disting, we see three different functions occurring. First, it was a trade market that looks to have catered to hunting and trapping. It would have been an opportunity for people to trade what the furs and pelts they had collected so far, as well as other goods they have lots of in stock for things they are running low on. Second, we see it as a legal event. The law was recited and changes to the law was made at this time. Lawsuits and other legal business could be addressed and settled at the Thing. Third, we see the religious activity and this is where it gets a little fuzzy.
Today, we believe that it was a disablot that was performed at the Thing. Given the name, this is a reasonable assumption. Snorri tells us that the sacrifices were made for peace and for victory. It is my speculation that what this obvious contrast in goals is “peace at home” and “victory abroad.” In this case, however, I think “peace at home” is about more than just not being invaded or dealing with local raiders and outlaws. When we examine the broad range of association we find with the disir, it is extremely reasonable to believe that this is also a sacrifice for fertility and growth of livestock and crops. One of the best ways to ensure that there was limited strife and conflict was to have plenty of food. When it comes to “victory abroad,” we see other elements of the disir come into play, namely that of magical aid and assistance in battle. Your wife, aunt, or sister may be safe at home while you are away raiding or making war on other lands but your disir, the ancestral women of your clan, are there with you performing magical acts on your behalf. They are placing fetters upon your enemies and breaking those placed upon you. They are their wiping up winds that cripple the fleets of your enemies. They are there, causing all sorts of mayhem. And if you should fall, they are there to claim you so that you can remain with your kin instead of being lost in foreign lands.
Now, what I say or do during my offering to the disir is deeply personal and not something I care to share openly. Those words are for them alone. What I can tell you is that the “legal” side of the event is much more open to discussion and sharing. This is the time of year that I make changes to my ritual format, the way certain things are conducted outside of a blot or sumbel, and when the liturgical calendar must be set for the year. Any new rules for the year are implemented at this time and old rules that didn’t quite work are modified or removed. Additionally, if I have the money, this is also the time of year that I like to buy goods from other Heathens.