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

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