Drengskapr

Drengskapr: A Code of Honor
By Stephen McNallen from THE RUNESTONE spring 1995 #11

Christ’s disciples wanted to know how to pray, and their master gave them the Lord’s Prayer. Asatruar, on the other hand, want to know how to LIVE – and the answer from Asgard is not a prayer for the bended knee, but rather a code for the fearless and fair: DRENGSKAPR, in the ancient tongue of the Northlands.

To understand this concept, we have first to grasp the root word from which it springs. A DRENG was a gallant lad, a young man who was a member of a warrior band or some other relatively small group where one had to be able to depend on others for livelihood or even for life itself. The ship’s crew, the merchant guild, the military unit – all these were examples of that tightly knit in-group. From the nature of these bands, we can infer a lot about what drengskapr must have been in the days of our ancestors, and what it must be to us today.

The dreng must be strong and courageous, but that pretty much goes without saying. These were expected during the Viking Age. Beyond bravery, there were other traits, most of which seem to revolve around how the individual related to the others in the group. Honesty, even to the point of bluntness, was preferred because in the war band of the ship’s crew there was no place for hidden animosities that might boil over at a crucial moment and bring disaster to all. Likewise, a certain cheerfulness or at least a stoic acceptance of hardship helped to maintain morale when times were tough – when the group’s endeavors were not prospering, when the ship had to be hauled over long portages, or when rations were short. Generosity, always admired in Norse society, was even more important for the dreng. One who shared with his fellows – a meal, a knife, a bowstring – furthered the survival of all.

All of these characteristics spring from the dynamic of small teams surrounded with threats to their safety and success. The idea of drengskapr uses these very practical survival traits as a springboard to a larger nobility, a highness of mind, the opposite of all that is lowly or niggardly or petty. It is contrary to the viking stereotype of a cruel, blood-soaked savage with no moral code. True, not every viking followed the high standards of the dreng, but the ideal was there, and all could aspire to it.

Drengskapr implies certain duties to a friend, but also to a foe. The Germanic tribesmen amazed the Roman soldiers by picking them up and dusting them off after a skirmish. Today, we might well consider this as going too far; the survival of the group has to be considered. But it does raise the question of just what we owe our enemies.

The Christians say we should love our enemies, and this is where they go wrong. We don’t owe them love – but we owe them respect in the measure they deserve it. The valor and skill of our foes does us honor, and we should honor them in return.

In the mainstream culture which surrounds us, drengskapr is rare. You can find vestiges of it in the football team and the Army unit, but in general we live in a world that has turned it’s back on noble conduct. It’s widespread revival may have to await tougher times, when the exigencies that called it into being are once more a part of daily life. And it may be that drengskrapr was always for a special group, an adventurous elite. But who can deny that our world needs this model of fairness, generosity, and bravery? And where can it start, if not with us, as we go about our lives each day?

Categories: News

Heralding the AFA in 1994

This is the official announcement heralding the foundation of the Asatru Folk Assembly from “The Runestone” Winter 1994 issue #10.

“ASATRU: Time for a Stand!by Steven A. McNallen

Controversy …again!

Here at THE RUNESTONE we’ve tried to steer clear of the squalls that periodically ruffle the waters of our little movement, but there comes a time when even the most reticent must speak. Now, as the sun readies itself to turn in the sky at Yule, the time for plain speaking – and for new beginnings – is upon us.

Let me try to summarize a very complicated situation in a small space: Since the demise of the AFA in the 1980’s, modern Asatru has been split into two camps which, while not exactly warring, have certainly been in competition with each other. One, the “Folkish” faction, has been made up of Asafolk who feel that there’s an inherent connection between their biological inheritance – their race, to put it bluntly – and their religion. There have always been a few steriotypical “racists” in their ranks, but most are good-hearted people who feel that the physical and spiritual cannot be put into separate boxes, and who want to further the interests of their European-descended kin.

The other group , or “affirmative action Asatru”, holds that race and religion are unrelated. In their view, on can adopt a religion much as one joins a secular organization, or chooses a fashion of clothing. some of the individuals under this banner are raving leftists motivated by hatred for everything White, but most are just decent people who, quite understandably, are put off by the looniness of some racists.

The Asatru Free Assembly was folkish in it’s orientation. When we dropped out of the scene, the Asatru Alliance picked up the torch at our request, and carried on. At about the same time, the Ring of Troth – definitely NOT folkish – began to organize. Until recently, the two groups maintained a balance of power, each speaking for it’s own beliefs.

It seems this is no longer the case. Reports from the last Althing tell of aggressive inroads by the Ring of Troth into what has hitherto been folkish territory. To make a long story short: (1) There is now a safe sanctuary for affirmative action Asatru, namely, the Ring of Troth. (2) The The Asatru Alliance, formerly the folkish bastion, is now an ideological battle-field. (3) There is no reliable stronghold for folkish Asatru, except in scattered kindreds across the country. The situation has tilted drastically out of balance.

The time has come for a group which will clearly and uncompromisingly advocate the folkish viewpoint. It can’t be the old Asatru Free Assembly, because we can’t relive the past. But it can be an Asatru FOLK Assembly, taking the best of the old AFA and presenting it in a stronger, wiser, more mature form. I am now calling for the formation of such an organization.
What will be the guiding principles of such a group? Here are some of the points that are especially important to me:

* Asatru is the indigenous religion of the northern Teutons. As such, it is one expression of a common European spirituality which unites all the far-flung sons and daughters of Europe, weather Germanic or Celtic, whatever their nation of origin.

* Asatru springs from our nature as people of European Ancestry. It is not just what we BELIEVE, it is what we ARE. Thousands of generations of shared evolution in a similar environment have produced a unique physical, mental, and spiritual pattern, and Asatru is its religious manifestation. Thus, Asatru is intimately connected to the interests and destiny of our people.

* As a logical consequence of the folkish viewpoint expressed above, we recognize the validity of other indigenous religions and respect the right of other peoples to achieve their own interests. We want a world of TRUE diversity, one with a mosaic of peoples and cultures. each working out their own fate. We are not “anti” anybody – but woe to those who aggress against us!

* Asatru honors the past while reaching for the future. We do not live in the 10th century. The traditional costumes, artifacts, and skills of our Teutonic ancestors have great cultural and spiritual value for us, but we must not be imprisoned by them. Asatru is not a historical reenactment society, it is a living religion which, a thousand years from now, will have spread throughout the Galaxy!

* Although Asatru has sober, Industrious, and scholarly sides, it must remain a home for those who treasure zest, vigor, color, panache, and fun. We are not monks or ascetics; our Gods laugh, and so should we.

What will the Asatru Folk Assembly do? We will of course present the folkish viewpoint, but beyond that, we will form kindreds, train our own clergy, start guilds, and organize systems to help each other. Ultimately, we will grow into a new tribe, or network of tribes, and gain international recognition as such.

The question might well be asked, how will this effect our relations with the Asatru Alliance?

I have deep respect and admiration for Valgard Murray, and I am aware of the incredible job he has done and the vast personal sacrifices he has made. Many other members of the Alliance have been my friends and co-workers over the years, as well. My intention is to work with, and within, the Asatru Alliance unless it becomes plain that folkish Asatru is not welcome or comfortable there. I have absolutely no desire to compete with the Alliance in any way. In fact, the Alliance, assuming it remains a place where we can speak our beliefs, can only benefit by this burst of Asatru activity.

A decision has been made to start a bold endeavor, and indeed, action has begun. Individual kindreds have stated they would become part of the new AFA, and at least two guilds are ready to come online. But it is you, Asafolk, who must either ratify my move or tell me I am wrong. If there is to be an Asatru Folk Assembly, it must have your support. IF YOU LIKE THE KIND OF ASATRU I HAVE OUTLINED IN THE FIVE POINTS SPECIFIED ABOVE, WRITE ME. Send me ideas, give me input, and tell me you want to be part of such a venture. Better yet, write and tell me how you want to participate!

The runes of our fate are cast. Dare we pick them up?”

Categories: News

Day of Remembrance for Raud the Strong

On January 9th we pay homage to a true martyr of historical Asatru, Raud the Strong.

Raud was a chieftain of his people and a priest of the ancestral ways during the reign of Olaf Tryggvason. Olaf had taken it upon himself to convert all of Norway to the foreign religion of Christianity either by coercion or by force. Raud, being an influential chieftain, was eventually captured and “asked” if he wanted to convert to the new religion. He chose to remain tru to his Ancestors full well knowing his fate was now sealed. Olaf flew into a rage and commanded a snake to be forced down Raud’s throat. Eventually, with a hot poker coercing the snake, Olaf succeeded in his evil deed and Raud died as a result.

Today few of us can fathom such tyranny as Raud and many of our ancient ancestors were faced with. We may bemoan society or our lot in life, but truly we are not even close to the amount of insanity that crept over our homelands during the medieval times. Yet we can take heart from their examples, use their steadfastness to inspire us during our trials. We can use their unwillingness to yield to tyrannical madmen to inspire us to be more and to do more in this time.

We are a noble people, descended from noble ancestors; let us go out into the world and strive with our might and main to forge a new future for our Folk. Let us be the examples for the next generation, let us inspire them just as men like Raud have inspired us.

Hail Raud!!!

Blaine Qualls,
Gothar Coordinator
Asatru Folk Assembly

Categories: News

New Apprentice Folkbuilder

The Asatru Folk Assembly is proud to announce Brandy Callahan of North Dakota as our newest Apprentice Folkbuilder serving the NortherN Plains region. Brandy has been an eager volunteer since she has been with us and most recently she, along with fellow Apprentice Folkbuilder, Jessica Lambert have taken over the AFA Youth Program and are doing an amazing job of it. We are very excited to have Brandy Folkbuilding for us and we are eager to see her succeed.

Hail Brandy Callahan!
Hail the Folkbuilders!
Hail the AFA!

Categories: News

The AFA Celebrates 25 Years!

The Asatru Folk Assembly has officially turned 25!

During the entire year of 2020, the AFA will be celebrating our first 25 years and all of the amazing blessings those 25 years have brought us.

We would, first and foremost, like to thank the Aesir for their blessings over the last quarter of a century. It is our sincere hope that they are proud of all that we do and we renew our commitment to do all in our power to honor these, our holy Gods.

We would also like to thank all of our AFA members and leadership throughout the years for making this possible. To all those that have put in work to build this, those who are still with us, those that have passed, and those those that have parted company, thank you so much for helping to build what we all so much enjoy.

Last, but far from least, we give our deepest appreciation for our Founder Stephen McNallen and his wife, Gythia Sheila McNallen. The McNallens built our church with 25 years of blood, sweat, and tears. The McNallens have given us all more than we could ever hope to repay and this year of celebrating the AFA is a year of celebrating their glory as well.

Let us celebrate our 25th anniversary this year with joy and victory!

Hail the Gods!
Hail the Folk!


HAIL THE ASATRU FOLK ASSEMBLY!


Matthew D. Flavel
Alsherjargothi,
Asatru Folk Assembly

Categories: News

AFA Youth Program

The Asatru Folk Assembly is proud to announce that registration for the AFA Youth Program is now open! Registration is open to all folkish families with children ages 6 to 17. Our program is a Gothar managed curriculum designed to educate folkish children about Asatru lore and AFA Culture.

Younger children and their parents can look forward to creative and educational crafts that will make learning about Asatru easy and fun! Older children will have the opportunity to experience thoughtful character building assignments centered around AFA Values while learning other life skills designed to prepare them for success in the future!

Our first assignments will be sent via e-mail on January 1, 2020. Registration is open year-round.

To register your child for the program, please contact Jessica or Brandy at [email protected]

Categories: News

Gythia Sheila McNallen

On the Solstice, on the hallowed grounds of Óðinshof, Sheila McNallen was ordained as the newest Gythia for the Asatru Folk Assembly. Sheila’s name is well known to all Asatruar, her reputation has over a quarter of a century’s worth of deeds to show. It was a tremendous honor to Ordain the woman that built the AFA as an official priestess of our Holy Gods. We are beyond proud to have her represent us to the Gods and to represent the Gods to our Folk.

Hail Gythia Sheila McNallen!

Matthew D. Flavel
Alsherjargothi,
Asatru Folk Assembly

Categories: News

Day of Remembrance for Egil Skallagrimsson

Egil Skallagrimsson was born in 904CE in Iceland to Skalla-Grimr Kveldulfsson and Bera Yngvarsdottir. He was a renowned poet, warrior, and simple farmer, forever immortalized within the words of Egil’s Saga, a narration of his ancestors all the way to his descendants. From a young age, he exhibited talents for poetry and violence. Egil wrote his first poem at the age of three. He was prone to anger and violence, leading to claims of berserker behavior. This is evident when at the age of seven, Egil, having been cheated at a game, took an ax and split the skull of the boy who had cheated him.

His fury and skill in battle only grew with age. When severely insulted and nearly poisoned by Queen Gunnhildr’s kin, Bardr, he killed the man. This angered King Eirik and Queen Gunnhildr, who ordered Egil to be killed. But Egil bested his assassins and set up a nidpole against King Eirik and Queen Gunnhildr, vowing that the people of their land would not know peace until the King and Queen had been expunged from the land. Egil was also a renowned poet. When shipwrecked in Northumbria, he found that King Eirik and Queen Gunnhildr had fled there and been installed as the monarchs of the land. Imprisoned by the King, Egil wrote a poem (called a drapa) overnight that so moved the King, he offered Egil his freedom.

But Egil was not just known for his fighting prowess and skill with words. He was also skilled in rune magic. When Bardr had attempted to poison him, Egil carved a rune into the horn, causing the horn to shatter, proving his suspicions that it was an attempt on his life. But he also used the runes to heal others. When love runes had been written wrong, causing a woman to fall terribly ill, Egil burned the offending runes and carved new ones for healing. The woman immediately recovered and Egil warned not to use runes if you could not read them properly.

Egil was a skilled man in many areas of life, and always strove to seek justice and do good for others. During this coming Yule season, we should all strive to improve ourselves for the good of others and to seek out ways to help our kin and folk. One does not need renowned battle prowess to seek justice nor mighty rune magic to heal others. We should all focus on the love and support we can give to our folk, to be the person our ancestors hope for us and the one our descendants will speak of one day. We are our deeds!

Katee Allen
Gothar Student

Categories: News

Day of Remembrance for Queen Sigrith

On November the 9th we honour Queen Sigrith of Sweden. Widowed at a still young age, Queen Sigrith had many suitors vying for her hand in marriage. One by one each suitor was rebuffed, earning Queen Sigrith the nickname, Queen Sigrid the Haughty.

Eventually Sigrith did accept an offer of marriage from Olaf Tryggvason, king of Norway, and a rabid christian. Soon Sigrith travelled to Norway for the wedding ceremony. In the course of talking over the wedding plans Olaf asked Sigrith to give up her ancestral Gods and embrace christianity. She refused, and he promptly slapped her across the face with his glove. She rose, told him that strike might well be the death of him, and immediately called off the wedding.  Years later Olaf was killed in battle by Sigrith’s husband fulfilling her earlier prophecy.

Few today are willing to stand up for their beliefs in the face of adversity, Sigrith has much to teach such people. We may be living in a different time than she did, but our ancestral ways are under just as much, if not more, of a threat.  Today we have again chosen to take a stand by embracing our noble ways; we have chosen to take a stand by raising the trihorn banner and living the faith of our ancestors. Just as Sigrith stood strong so many generations ago, we too stand strong. By returning to our roots, building a positive future upon the families of our folk, and living noble ‘tru lives, we do in fact honour Sigrith and all those of our kind who chose not to kneel before the bedouin spirit.

Let us again rise and be a strong people! Hail those strong noble souls of the past! Hail Queen Sigrith!

Gothi Blaine Qualls Jr.
AFA Gothar Coordinator

Categories: News

The Saga of Thorrodd Snorrason and Jamptaland, 1026ce

This is a story from the time of Saint Olaf or Olaf Saga Helga, (ie, Holy), or not so in the case of Olaf II. It took place in the year, 1026ce, in northern Norway at a settlement called Jamptaland, a sparsely settled area, that both kings of Norway and Sweden claimed taxes, a border area along the spine of rugged mountains and hostile weather.

The saga tells a story of an ancestor of Snorri Sturleson, 1220ce., the author of the ‘Heimskringla, the History of the Kings of Norway’, and this ancestor is Thorrodd Snorrason.

Now I will let the Saga tell of how this Icelander, Thorrodd Snorrason, made his journey through this wild and hostile area of Jamptaland and the first time in written sources that we see what is meant by the word, “Troll”.

On the orders of King Olaf Thorrodd Snorrasson had remained in Norway and had not received permission from the king to return to his native Iceland. Thorrodd being ill-pleased with not being allowed to travel wherever he chose and wanted to a master of his own fate volunteered to be an emissary to travel to Jamptaland on the orders of Olaf to collect taxes from the people of that land. However, Thrand the White and eleven others has been sent on the same mission to collect taxes and never returned. Thorrodd thought it better to be free and travel so he set off with eleven others to tell of what the King required, that a tax was to be levied.

They arrived east and met a man named Thorar he was the Law Speaker there and was a man of great distinction. They were well received there, and after having stayed there a short time they revealed there mission to Thorar. He repliedthat for an answer to it, other men and chieftains of the district were as responsible as he, and promised he would summon an assembly. Thorar laid the matter before the people, and they all agreed on not wanting to pay the King of Norway any tax. As to his emissaries, some wanted to hang them and make sacrifices. It was decided to detain them until the bailiffs from the King of Sweden arrived, the emissaries were well treated and lodged, and told to wait until the tax was collected, not knowing that the people of the district were to decide what to do with them and the emissaries were lodged two at a time, Thorrodd and a companion stayed at Thorar’s place.

At this time a great Yuletide entertainment was happening with joint drinking. There were many farmers in that settlement and they all drank together at Yuletide. There was another settlement not far away where lived a relation of Thorar, a powerful and wealthy man, who had a grown son. These relatives were to celebrate Yule at each other’s place in turn, first at Thorar’s. The two knsmen drank to one another, and Thorodd, to the farmer’s son. They held a drinking match, and in the evening a contest arose between the Norwegians and the Swedes. As the drinking progressed it became clear to Thorrodd things that he did not suspected and chose to leave the settlement, so Thorrodd and his companion took their clothes and left.

When it was discovered that they had fled, bloodhounds and men pursued Thorrodd and were found hiding in the forest. They were then thrown into to a pit and ill-treated. Being it was the middle of Yule Thorar left to see other kinsmen and left to guard Thorrodd was Thralls that began to get drunk and in the dark one of Thorrodd managed to get out of the pit by standing on his companions shoulders. Thorrodd tried as he could to lift up his companion only to find he could not, so he used a pulley and brought his friend out to the pit. They made there escape and by placing reindeer hooves on backward on their feet walked into the forest. Bloodhounds and men tried to track them but the reindeer scent and the backward marking hoofs fooled the men and dogs.

Thorrodd and his companion traveled through the deserted forest for a long while and then came upon a small farm. They went in and found a man and woman siting by the fire. The man gave his name as Thorir and said the woman sitting by him was his wife. He told him he had to flee the village due to a killing. Thorrodd and his companion were well entertained and afterwards they were given bedding and a place to sleep on the dias. When the fire in the fireplace was about to die down a man came in from another house, he had never seen so large a man. That man wore a scarlet cloak with a gold lace border and a most stately appearance

Thorrodd heard the man reproach the woman and said we hardly have enough to eat why are you doing this, and she said don’t be angry brother, this rarely happens before, rather you give them some help, because you are better able to do than we. Thorrodd heard the large man was named Arnjot Gellini and gathered that the woman of the house was his sister. Thorrodd had heard that Arnjot was a wicked highway man and evil doer.

They slept for a while and then Arnjot came to get them up and make ready for the journey. They were given breakfast and skis and departed, Arnjot on his broad and long skis and after some time it became hard for Thorrodd and his companion to keep up with Arnjot, so he told told Thorrodd stand on his skis behind him an to grab his belt and the companion to hang on to Thorrodd and Arnjot ran fast as if unencumbered.

After a third of the night had passed the three men came to a shelter and kindled fire and began to eat, but while the ate Arnjot told them to take care and throw away all bits and pieces of food, whether crumbs or bones. When they had finished eating they hid there leavings a prepared to go to sleep.

In on end of the house was a loft above the crossbeams. Arnjot and the two other climbed up into the loft and Arnjot slept on the outside toward the ladder and with his halberd and sword.

Shortly afterwards a group of twelve men came in, they were merchants traveling to Jamptaland with there wares. They were noisy and cheerful with merriment. They had kindled a big fire and ate their dinner and prepared to sleep and had left the remains of their dinner where they slept. After a short time a big Troll Woman came to the house and when she entered in she swiftly swept everything together, bones and everything she thought edible and devoured it. Then she grabbed the man nearest to her and ripped him to pieces, and threw him on the fire. Then other awoke as if from a bad dream, and jumped up, but she killed them one after the other, so only one survived, he ran under the loft and asked for help. Then Arnjot grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him up. Arnjot grabbed his halberd and ran it through her between the shoulder blades so the point came out at her breast. She reared up quickly and shrieked fiendishly, and rushed out of doors. Arnjot had to let go his spear and she took it with her. Arnjot cleared away the corpses and set the door and door frame back in the house, for she had broken both when she ran out.

They slept the remainder of the night, and when it dawned they arose and ate their breakfast and when they had eaten, Arnjot said, “now we shall have to part, you must follow the tracks that the merchants made when they came here yesterday, but I shall be looking for my halberd As a reward for what I did for you I will take some of the things these men had brought along. You Thorrodd shall deliver my greeting to King Olaf.

Thorrodd journeyed on and met King Olaf and the King grand Thorrodd permission to leave Norway and return home to Iceland.

Thorgrun Odden
Gothi,
Asatru Folk Assembly

Categories: News