Ascafolc Kindred

It is my honor to welcome home the Ascafolc Kindred of Oregon as a official Kindred of the Asatru Folk Assembly. Ascafolc is Old English for The River Axe people. The Northwest region is growing and this is just another example of people coming together and putting in the hard work. The foundation has been laid down and now the sky is the limit. Gaining Kindred recognition is not a easy thing, it takes dedication and loyalty and willingness to stand with our church and family. Ascafolc thank you for stepping up and taking on the responsibility and helping to bring our folk home
Hail the Ascafolc!
Hail the Kindreds of the AFA!
Hail the Asatru Folk Assembly!!!

Jason Gallagher
Kindred Coordinator ,
Asatru Folk Assembly

Categories: News

The Gathering of the Gothar (1996)

by Gothi Thorgrun Odden
From The Runestone Fall/Winter 1996 #16/17

Kirby Wise, of Helga Ve Kindred, had called a “gathering of the gothar” at which Asatru priests and priestesses would meet at Odin’s Hof, in Arizona – the first such event in a thousand years.

Men and women came from all over the United States, and one visitor came much farther: The Alsherjargothi of Iceland, Jormundr Ingi Hansen, made the journey to America for this historic meeting which included blots, sumbels, feasting, rune casting, dowsing, Kirlian photography… and 100 degree temperatures!

This gathering was prompted in part by concern for the future, and a desire to see what lies before the people of Asatru in the years to come. Hence, divination by runes was an important part of the agenda. Nine gothar (“priests”) and gythjur (“priestesses”) tossed the staves, and the results held the attention of all who were there.

We are in for great changes, and indeed we are now in the beginning of those changes.

The question of a homeland – a gathering place, a place to rest the dead, an Asatru community – was asked of the runes. Past influences were adjudged favorable, and that-which-should-be, the “future,” indicated the support of the Gods for this idea. Some rune-workers stated that, with struggle and hard work, this may be an auspicious time for the birth of an Asatru community.

Three runes predominated. NAUTHIZ told us to kindle the spark, to make heat and expand energy. This is the work! We have counseled long enough, and now it is time to act! URUZ shows our strength, raw energy, good health, and vital wholeness; it expresses the overall state of our spirit, nurtured by our ancient religion. ELHAZ gave protection and guardianship. In order to have a successful Asatru community or homeland, we have to be willing to work hard, be steadfast to our ways, and guard the community which emerges.

THese readings must enter the sphere of individual experience, of course. Carrying with me the joy and enthusiasm of this weekend, I have my own personal assessment of our prospects:

By praising the land spirits, honoring the elves, and acknowledging the great forces of Nature, we can begin!

By honoring our ancestors, respecting our elders (who have done the work before us), uniting our kindreds, and raising our children with a knowledge of our great Northern Gods and Goddesses, we can begin!

With our hands, tools, the skill of our kinsmen, and the spirit of persevering pioneers, let us begin!

Kirby’s longing for a spiritual gathering was a brilliant vision which bore great fruit for all of us, and for Asatru in general. I was honored to be present!

Categories: News

Hof: Building a Home for our Gods

By Stephen A. McNallen
From The Runestone Fall/Winter 1996 #16/17

For the most part, Asatru in the early years of the Reawakening has been something practiced in private homes, parks, and rented rooms. Occasionally, an actual hof, or temple, has been erected, but these are the exceptions. Arizona Kindred built such a structure a few years back, and more recently, Robert Taylor of Wulfing fame erected a hof on his land – but the majority of Asatruar still honor the mighty powers out-of-doors or in buildings designed for some other purpose.

This is not to say that a hof is absolutely necessary; indeed, our ancestors usually worshiped under the open sky, or under the branches of trees in sacred groves. In many times and places among our early folk, it was thought inappropriate to try to confine our Gods and Goddesses within walls of wood or stone. Sometimes, however, simple protective roofs were erected, and of course we have records of much more elaborate temples built in places like Uppsala, in Sweden.

For our purposes today, a hof has some advantages. Most of these are psychological, but nonetheless real for that. A permanent structure dedicated to the Gods is a sign, to ourselves and to others, that Asatru is here to stay. It sends a visible testament about our seriousness, our commitment, and out persistence.

The Asatru Folk Assembly has begun constructing such a hof. It is located on private land along the Yuba River, in northern California. Sheltered under oak and pine, surrounded by hills and intermittent streams, it is a place of refuge from the urban madness. The site will feature an outdoor ritual area and camping facilities, in addition to the hof itself.

Thorgrun, of Gullinbursti Kindred, is in charge of this project. We can be thankful to the owners of the land for their generous permission to use the location, and to several of our supporters for their liberal financial backing. Actual construction is being done, not by paid laborers, but by AFAers and their supporters who want to see their sweat transformed into something of spiritual importance.

The completed structure will stand 27 feet long, 18 feet across at the widest point, and 12 feet high in the center. Walls will be of river rock, with a wooden, inverted-boat shaped roof. Thorgrun obtained construction details and information on traditional proportion from none other than Jormundr Ingi, Successor to Alsherjargothi Sveinbjorn Beinteinsson of the Icelandic Asatruar.

When AFAers come together to honor the Gods next spring, they will do so in a structure worthy of our devotion and loyalty. This hof will be a solid reminder of what we can do when we try – and the next step toward even greater endeavors! Hail the hofbuilders!

Categories: News

Taking Control of Our Lives

We will all go through many trials in life. Tough times may seem like they will never end in the midst of them. Our thoughts govern so much more of our ability to navigate even the darkest of depressions or the tightest moments of anxiety. Yet we have made it through them time and again. We have all approached this faith with the idea and hope of something better. Our gods and ancestors have shown us by their actions that we do indeed have what it takes to take control of our lives. There is so much potential with that idea in action in our lives we might hardly comprehend it. So what does it look like when we quit finding other things to become upset about in our new faith? Well, we have an image of that as well.

LIII. Then spake Gangleri: “Shall any of the gods live then, or shall there be then any earth or heaven?”

Because that is the real question of the day. What will I look like if I let go of all the things I am supposed to be outraged about? What if I let go of all the pain I think makes me important or worthy of attention in someone else’s eyes? What will I feel if I am no longer anxious about every waking moment and what people think? Will I still be important? Is there some kind of divine in my life if I let go of the self-imposed sense of struggle so common in social issues?

Hárr answered: “In that time the earth shall emerge out of the sea and shall then be green and fair; then shall the fruits of it be brought forth unsown. Vídarr and Váli shall be living, inasmuch as neither sea nor the fire of Surtr shall have harmed them; and they shall dwell at Ida-Plain, where Ásgard was before. And then the sons of Thor, Módi and Magni, shall come there, and they shall have Mjöllnir there. After that Baldr shall come thither, and Hödr, from Hel; then all shall sit down together and hold speech. with one another, and call to mind their secret wisdom, and speak of those happenings which have been before: of the Midgard Serpent and of Fenris-Wolf. Then they shall find in the grass those golden chess-pieces which the Æsir had had; thus is it said:

In the deities’ shrines | shall dwell Vídarr and Váli,
   When the Fire of Surtr is slackened;
Módi and Magni | shall have Mjöllnir
   At the ceasing of Thor’s strife.

In the place called Hoddmímir’s Holt there shall lie hidden during the Fire of Surtr two of mankind, who are called thus: Líf and Lífthrasir, and for food they shall have the morning-dews. From these folk shall come so numerous an offspring that all the world shall be peopled, even as is said here:

Líf and Lífthrasir, | these shall lurk hidden
   In the Holt of Hoddmímir;
The morning dews | their meat shall be;
   Thence are gendered the generations.

And it may seem wonderful to thee, that the sun shall have borne a daughter not less fair than herself; and the daughter shall then tread in the steps of her mother, as is said here:

The Elfin-beam | shall bear a daughter,
Ere Fenris drags her forth;
That maid shall go, | when the great gods die,
To ride her mother’s road.

But now, if thou art able to ask yet further, then indeed I know not whence answer shall come to thee, for I never heard any man tell forth at greater length the course of the world; and now avail thyself of that which thou hast heard.”

Once we begin to let go of certain self-sabotaging ideas, given to us by others, our perception of the Gods themselves change. The sons of Gods and Goddesses lead the way into a new, far green horizon. Where we might reminisce about our pasts and chuckle about the mistakes of our life as we have seen our grandparents do. Laughing at their failures and smiling towards the sunset. Sunsets they know they will see fewer and fewer of as their life nears an end. Our children will lead the way into this bright future. But right now, the battle is ours. To relinquish patterns and old behaviors we have given a fresh coat of paint. Our children will be the ones who recognize the best of the changes within us. They will see it as the sun shining brightly on the promise of their future.

LIV. Thereupon Gangleri heard great noises on every side of him; and then, when he had looked about him more, lo, he stood out of doors on a level plain, and saw no hall there and no castle. Then he went his way forth and came home into his kingdom, and told those tidings which he had seen and heard; and after him each man told these tales to the other.

Our children will see this and they will tell others of the power of these old gods and how it made their moms and dads so much better people. That is how we ensure a future for the descendants of the ancient tribes of Northern Europe. With love, right here in our own homes.

Bryan Wilton
Asatru Folk Assembly

Categories: News

Noregr Kindred

The AFA is proud to welcome home the Noregr Kindred of Norway as a official Kindred of the Asatru Folk Assembly. Noregr is our first Norsk Kindred, and now the foundation is laid for more to follow in their footsteps. Gaining Kindred recognition is not a easy thing, it takes dedication and loyalty and willingness to stand with our church and family. All over Midgard our Folk are coming together and building communities and Kindreds and a future for our children. Noregr Thank you for stepping and making a difference!

Hail the Noregr Kindred!
Hail the Kindreds of the AFA!
Hail the Asatru Folk Assembly!!!

Jason Gallagher
 Kindred Coordinater,
 Asatru Folk Assembly!!!

Categories: News

A Symbol for the AFA (1996)

A Symbol for the AFA
by Stephen A. McNallen
from The Runestone Spring 1996 #14

Every organization which aspires to touch it’s followers’ hearts needs a symbol, a sign which proclaims it’s nature and provides a standard around which to rally.

In the old Asatru Free Assembly, that symbol war the RAIDO rune. We chose it because, first of all, it was used i the old days to designate our religion. It denoted harmony with the cosmic order, and a path to wholeness. Moreover, superimposed in it are the runes ANSUZ and WUNJO. ANSUZ represents the reception, transformation, and re-expression of spiritual might. Since our goal is to receive the power of the Gods into our lives and then manifest it in the world around us, this rune seems very appropriate. WUNJO means fellowship, and the bonds that tie together a clan and tribe; that’s pretty descriptive of both the old AFA and it’s new incarnation.

We could, I suppose, just use the RAIDO rune for the new AFA’s symbol. But would that really be right? We’re not exactly the same organization, and since we want a different ORLOG, or fate, than the old AFA, Maybe we need something different to represent us.

Here’s where we need your input. Here are some bind runes that have been proposed – essentially, combining the “ancestral heritage” of the OTHALAZ rune with all the aforementioned attributes of RAIDO. What do you think? Which of these is the best choice, and why? Or should we adopt something altogether different? What about color schemes? We’ll consider what you have to say, and announce a decision in the next issue of The Runestone!

Categories: News

American Crow Kindred

Today the AFA is proud and honored to welcome the American Crow Kindred of Florida as a official Kindred of the Asatru Folk Assembly. Gaining Kindred recognition is not a easy thing, it takes dedication and loyalty and willingness to stand with our church and family. AFA Kindreds are the local congregations and representatives there to help bring our folk home. If you are in Florida look these guys up and attend a event.Thank you for stepping up American Crow Kindred!

Hail the American Crow Kindred!
Hail the Kindreds of the AFA!
Hail the Asatru Folk Assembly!!!

Jason Gallagher
Kindred Coordinator 
Asatru Folk Assembly

Categories: News

Kindreds (1996)

by Stephan A. McNallen
The Runestone, Spring 1996 #14

I couldn’t believe it had only been a year since we started the AFA, so I pulled down my back issues of The Runestone, just to check. Sure enough – issue #10, Winter 1994, was when we blew the war horn, banged the drum, and started marshaling the troops for the Asatru Folk Assembly’s next big step.

One year… holy Harbard! What a lot we’ve done – A Declaration of Purpose and other basic documentation, lots of successful gatherings, an expanded Runestone, guilds, membership… It’s quite a list. Only in the last couple of months have the winds of change died down to a mere gale force, and we can look at the next task before us.

Our membership program gave individual Asafolk a chance to connect with the movement. Isolated followers of the Gods could sign on as Associate Members, and those who were in a position to benefit from the fellowship of a kindred were just right for membership. People who wanted to contribute in an extraordinary way had the option of supporting membership – there was a category for everyone.

However, it’s not enough to provide memberships; Asatru is at it’s best when shared by others, and this means – KINDREDS. The time has come to nurture and develop local AFA “congregations” from one end of the country to the other. So what does this mean to you?

If you’re happy as a lone practitioner of Asatru, fine. No one is going to insist that you change what you’re doing, or demand that you fall into step with the rest of us. On the other hand, belonging to a kindred offers advantages that are hard to beat – companionship, shared skills, resources, intensity, protection from the storm, and help in the daunting task of making the world a better place.

Exactly what do people in a Kindred do? Well, they honor the Gods and Goddesses, but that’s only the start. A kindred can be an extended family made up of Asafolk who interact socially and perhaps even economically. It might host a potluck, brew mead, play games, share books, tell stories, bake bread, go skiing, study Asatru, take in the Scottish games, sing songs, network for goods, services, and jobs, soak at the hot springs, or goodness knows what.

Sounds pretty good – so how do you get involved? Well, the first step is to join the AFA, assuming, of course, that you find our fundamental documents to your liking. Then, find a kindred. But, you say, who don’t know of one close to home? No problem. We can network you with other AFA members in your vicinity, and together you can start one! (In fact we’ve published a booklet on how to go about it! Send us $3 and we will rush it to you).

Oh, a note on AFA kindreds: Your kindred can belong to both the AFA and the Asatru Alliance. This is one of the points we wanted to make when our own Calasa Kindred, “The AFA Headquarters,” joined the Alliance. We don not consider this to be an “either/or” situation, or some sort of competition.

Kindreds are a logical extension of individual AFA membership. The’re the next step in building a viable, permanent, growth-oriented Asatru community in Vinland. And you can play a part in this adventure!

Categories: News

Report from Rock Island: Althing 15

from THE RUNESTONE fall 1995
by Steven McNallen

On the long drive from California to Wisconsin, I wondered what it would be like to once again attend an Althing. It had been a long time since I had last stood around the fire with Asatruar from around the country. My first Althing was – Althing 1! My last such gathering was in Texas for Althing 6. This was Althing 15…

We had packed the car carefully. plastered an “Odin Lives!” bumper sticker on the back, and pointed the car eastward. Most of the trip was uneventful, but there was one startling exception. In the middle of Wyoming, we got a sign from the Gods – or if not a sign, at least a bumper sticker! Let me explain.

We had dodged the rain for hundreds of miles, but in Laramie, Wyoming, it caught up with us. As drops of water splashed against the windshield, we thought of the bags strapped to the top of the car and knew that we had to put them inside, or they’d get soaked in the imminent downpour. So we turned off the freeway and into a gas station, where I unhooked the bungee cords and tossed our belongings – which were getting wetter by the second – into the car.

As I finished the task and slid into my seat, my eyes caught an “Odin Lives!” bumper sticker on a vehicle about 50 feet in front of us! I was momentarily confused – was I in the right car? If so, how did our bumper sticker get on that OTHER car? It took several heartbeats to really understand that we were sitting a few yards away from other Althing-bound souls. I hurriedly has Sheila pull up to the curb in front of our fellow Asafolk, and I got out of the car. The man in the passenger seat was pointing at OUR bumper sticker and talking excitedly to his companions!

After introductions, we had dinner with Ragnar, Kveldulf, and Hildulf. They escorted us to the motel where we were staying that night, and continued on their way. Our amazement at the meeting, and the sense of “rightness” conveyed by such an unlikely twist of ORLOG, stayed with us for the rest of our journey.

Two days later, we parked our car at the ferry which would take us across to rock Island, on the very tip of Wisconsin’s peninsula. Coincidentally, Valgard Murray, Bob and Karen Taylor, and a boatload of other Asafolk were on the same shuttle. It was a time of renewed friendships, to say the least!

Someone we hadn’t met before was our guest from the Odinic Rite, in England. Heimgest was witty, a good conversationalist, and was amazed at the freedom with which Asatruar are allowed to assemble and worship in this country. If I understood him right, there are all sorts of bureaucratic restrictions on what they can and can’t do in England – they can’t meet outdoors, for example, he certainly seemed to be enjoying Vinland’s freedom and we hope he had a great experience here.

The site for the Althing couldn’t have been better selected. Islands had religious significance for our ancestors; they were chosen for duels, and were cult sites for some deities. Rock Island, itself off the tip of Washington Island, is wooded and wonderful. One of the things that makes it unique is a structure built by an Icelander named Thordarson. He was very aware of his heritage, and expressed his pride by building a sort of viking hall out of native stone. I’ve included a sketch of it with this article, but the crude drawing can’t convey it’s magnificence. There is an immense fireplace, above which is carved an inscription in runes. The main room – perhaps thirty feet wide and sixty feet long – is graced by lovely but unViking-like windows which fill the room with sunlight; at night, the hall is lit by a unique chandelier in which honrs, made to resemble the drinking horns of old, hold candles.

But even more interesting than the building itself is the furniture which fills it. Carved wooden chairs and tables depict scenes from our old lore – Tyr binding Fenris, Skathi on her skis, Thor riding on his chariot, and maybe fifteen or twenty more. Thordarson’s personal desk is also part of the collection. Four dwarves support it’s corners, and other Norse motifs decorate it’s panels. Truly, Thordarson has left a great treasure for posterity.

What was accomplished at the Althing?Five new kindreds were accepted into the Asatru Alliance, including our own Calasa Kindred. Obviously, we made new friends, and we renewed bonds with old ones. It was good to see Valgard again, and Bob and Karen, and the others from the old days. Beyond that, our attendance showed that the Asatru Folk Assembly and the Asatru Alliance are not in competition with each other and that we have, in fact, formed stronger ties of friendship and cooperation. Needless to say, we came away full of energy and ideas; a yellow pad crammed with notes was never far from us during the return trip.

One particular thought kept surfacing again and again these three days – in sumble, at meals, during rituals, in the course of countless conversations – and it is this: We of Asatru share an amazingly rich culture. I don’t mean just our ancient culture, but even more the habits and customs that have grown deeper, more intricate, and more detailed with each passing year of the Reawakening. From the way we lift a horn, to the gestures with which we bless meals, and the greetings we call to each other across a meadow of tents, we are a people bound to each other.

And that is wonderfully precious.

Categories: News

Sigrblot in the Sierras

How the Asatru Leadership Conference Honored the Gods
by Steve McNallen
from THE RUNESTONE Summer 1995 #12

The weather had been warm and springlike all week – so, naturally, as the day before the Asatru Leadership Conference dawned, the sun fled and the temperatures dropped. We began to discuss alternative plans. Where would we meet if it rained? would it be too wet outside for all the people who intended to camp? How many people would stay home by the fire on account of the weather?

Early the next morning, over cups of coffee, Sheila and I waited and watched and planned. Lon and Wayne were already on hand, having arrived the previous night after a long journey. Finally, the decision was made to start the sessions outside, on the chairs and tables Larry had so generously helped us collect the night before, and see how the weather developed.

Only a bit after our declared starting time of 9 AM, we gathered in a circle and called on the Gods and Goddesses to be with us, and to give us their gifts of inspiration, luck, and joy. We drank a toast to them, and emptied our assorted horns and cups on the ground in honor of the land spirits.

So began the (first?) Asatru Leadership Conference. Somewhat more modest than the name implies, it was a meeting of about twenty adults – and another ten kids! – from the California-Nevada area. All were interested in helping the new AFA begin it’s work, and although few were “leaders” in terms of being luminaries in the Asatru firmament,all were leaders in terms of their willingness to participate and to be in on the ground floor of a major undertaking. Some had come from as far as Oregon, or Las Vegas, or the far reaches of Southern California to give their hands and minds to the task before us. Our numbers included everyone from Wayne the bush pilot and Bill the stock broker – to Baby Vidar, the infant.

This was a different kind of Asatru/Odinist gathering. Not a single axe was thrown. No one “played viking”. Kids were running all over the place. Drinking was quite moderate, and was done after dinner. Oh, we know there’s a time and a place for the rowdier event – but we were here to work, to think, and incidentally to draw out families that might have been turned away by a “viking wannabee” atmosphere.

Work and think we did! We talked about goals, and about the target audience we had to reach if we were to break the old paradigms and take Asatru out of the “cult” stage. We brainstormed ways of taking our message to the ordinary dissatisfied European-American. In one exercise, we sought ways that Asafolk could help each other, rather than having to rely on the system outside us. When time came for the sacrifice to Odin for victory, the SIGRBLOT, we were ready to cease the endless discussion and honor the One Eyed God.

The HORG or altar stood in a small, even cozy, clearing hemmed in by ancient fruit trees and younger brush. Taller trees loomed around it, emphasizing the sky overhead. We filled in, stood in a circle, and began the rite. Within moments after calling to Odin, drops began to fall from a sky that had been only mildly threatening only minutes before. As the invocation rose to it’s climax, cold rain turned to ice and white crystals danced on the blue cloth covering the HORG. Our concentration was unbroken; unflinching, we accepted the might of Odin. Mead was passed around the circle as thunder echoed across the stormy sky. Truly, the blessing of Odin was on us!

The evening saw good food and good conversation. Guilds were discussed, duties assigned, and the evening finally wrapped up.

The next day, after a rousing breakfast, we resumed. First, a survey to see what recommendations each of us had on how to make The Runestone a better publication. Then, more on Guilds – the Warrior Guild and the Aerospace Technology Guild, for starters. A discussion on the Computer Guild revealed a list of ambitious projects to serve the Folk. Ways to increase the participation of women in the AFA were brainstormed, and an introduction to the Organic Gardening Guild turned into a lively exchange, led by larry, on horticultural matters. Finally after assigning a feasibility study on a major public relations project or two, it was time for the closing ceremony.

What we had accomplished between the opening ritual and the one that concluded our gathering the next day? A great deal! Truly, the Gods had given us good gifts. In the months and years to come, it is our duty to share those gifts with you, and with all who will receive them.

Categories: News