Honor is better than Dishonor (1984)

by Stephen A. McNallen
from The Runestone Spring 1984 #47

Honor is one of those words we don’t see used much anymore. It’s a bit out of date, and to invoke it in conversation may bring cynical smiles and even a snicker or two. In recapturing the spiritual essence of Asatru, however, few concepts could be more important.

The Oxford Dictionary uses phrases like “nobleness of mind… allegiance to what is right… reputation” in defining honor. Let us look deeper.

In thinking about honor it soon becomes apparent that this is a virtue that sums up other virtues. It is honorable to be loyal. It is honorable to be truthful. All the character traits held in high esteem by our ancestors, when lumped together, constitute honorable behavior. When we do these things we are being honorable. From this it follows that there are many different roads we can and must travel to lead an honorable life, and that we have daily opportunities to train ourselves along these lines. Such molding of the personality is not easy because honor so often means placing spiritual considerations over money, personal advantage, and convenience. My dictionary tells me that honor is “allegiance… to conventional standards of conduct” which is only partially correct; in all too many instances the conventional standard of conduct involves lying, cheating and betrayal to kin. A life of honor often places us in direct opposition to the major trends in our society.

Among our ancestors, honor was given an importance which would seem almost fanciful to the cynical, jaded minds of our day. To impugn a person’s honor during the Viking Age might have meant battle to the death. Honor was worth life itself, and lasted after the body was a corpse in a tomb –

Cattle die, kinsmen die,
Every man is mortal:
But the good name never dies
Of one who has done well.

says the poet in the old Norse literature.

Honor is something we acquire by strict self-examination. Look at your actions at the end of the day – can you hold your conduct up to a mirror and say that your deeds have been honorable ones? If not, why not – and what can you do about it?

We can, bit by bit, strive for perfection in all matters of honor. When honor concerns mundane things easily within our control, this is hard enough but not impossible. Doing one’s duty in the daily course of things, speaking truly and forthrightly – these are important for us all and they add to the spiritual stature of ourselves and of those groups of which we are a part. In some matters, though, the price of honor in our society becomes desperately high.

Suppose your mother is robbed and beaten. You see the attack and chase the assailant down the street, throw him into an alley, and begin smashing his face against the sidewalk. Since you have just used “unreasonable force” beyond that needed to restrain the criminal, you will face assault charges. If you honorably resist arrest, you will be forcibly subdues or even shot by the arresting officers. Dishonorable laws made by dishonorable men forbid the exercise of honor. All of us who live in the modern nation-state make compromises because we don’t want to go to prison or die in a police shoot-out; to that extent we are all tainted by the corrupt system around us. Honor is no longer the simple thing it was a thousand years ago. The mugger, despicable as he is, is less threat to your honor than is the very structure of law and order that is allegedly on your side. Honor is no longer person on person or family on family; it is person or family against a system that most obviously includes the police and courts but actually includes the very fabric of modern life, from television and advertising to Christianity. So what do we do about such a dreadful dilemma?

Saga and epic show us that great men – stronger and bolder than most any of us – have used deception and guile against foe who outnumbered them greatly. The Havamal, purported to be the words of Odin himself, advises us that the use of trickery is acceptable. Do we say that the soldier who uses raid and ambush is a coward because he does not meet his enemy in orderly phalanx? Should Herman the Cherusci have fought Rome’s legions on flat terrain, forsaking the forested hills of the Teutoberger Wald?

No, the only disgrace lies in not fighting, in surrendering while life is left. We live in a debased society where perfect honor is impossible. Let us fight then – openly where we can, stealthy where we must, to replace this system, top to bottom, with one where honor can live.

Categories: News

Freedom is Better Than Slavery (1983)

from The Runestone Winter 1983 #46
by Stephen A. McNallen

The idea that freedom is better than slavery is so commonly accepted that there would seem to be little more we could say. Why restate the obvious? At this point in Odinist literature, most articles about freedom resort to the staple technique of praising the liberty-loving ways of our ancestors, surveying our history for appropriate documentation, and affirming our own determination to maintain that freedom. While that approach is laudable and necessary, let us try to get beyond that stage and really look at the issue of freedom in our society.

For the fact is, we are not free. The stark liberty of our forebearers is – for almost all of us – is dead. We have the illusion of living in a free society because we continually confuse the FACT of control with the MEANS by which control is maintained. To see things as they are, we must learn to make that distinction.

First let us consider control itself. Odinists believe that there is an inherent human nature, an inborn set of tentacles which shape our values, motives, and actions. Left to develop organically, in accordance with our nature as a people, we would evolve a social system that would tend not to make us act contrary to our natures or impel us to do things we would not do if left to ourselves. In short we would be free members of the Folk. A controlled, “unfree” society is one where people are made to do things which do run contrary to their own nature. This conditioning constitutes the kind of slavery referred to in the title of this article, and is antithetical to freedom as we define it. Slavery, or non-freedom is an evil in itself, regardless of the conditions which bring it about or the means used to enforce it.

Those means are traditionally secret police, rigged elections, and slave labor camps. Such methods are crude and ugly, but they are not the essence of totalitarianism they are simply the instruments which sustain it. Slavery maintained by any other means is still slavery. The most pleasant tools of social control do not change the real nature of the totalitarian system, nor do they make it more morally justified.

Today in the so-called “Free World”, we are continually manipulated in violation of our own natures, to ends not consistent with our own innate tendencies or our ultimate best interests. This control permeates our society and is in many ways as absolute as any formal dictatorship. The means of control, however, are subtle and even sweet. While openly totalitarian systems use harsh and obvious devices such as torture and labor camps to influence behavior, the trick in the industrialized West is to shape the values, attitudes, desires and tastes from which behavior springs – thus forming invisible bonds which control humans as surely as the crueler ones, but with less chance of revolt, for the chains are comfortable. Our “needs” are shaped by media and advertising. When the system meets these contrived needs we feel grateful, and thus remain loyal to the whole set-up. We are effectively drugged by superfluous consumer goods and pacifying, bovine philosophy. Real choice – that in accordance with our healthy, life-and folk affirming instincts – is strongly suppressed. True freedom of choice becomes an illusion that the consumerist/universalist state fosters to hide the fact that we are wearing chains. It is all-important to remember that the fact of totalitarianism is not changed by the superficially human means of control. By our earlier definition we are slaves.

This doesn’t mean I’d just as soon live in China or Soviet Russia. To trot the love-it-or-leave-it argument is to miss the point. Life is better here, and few of us would trade places with anyone in the Gulag. But that doesn’t mean we are really free here, or that we live in a healthy society, it just means the methods of control are more bearable.

With each T.V. commercial urging us to eat junk food or to purchase gadgets for which artificial appetite has been created, we are being exploited. With each news story slanted to bolster a suicidal foreign policy, our slavery is made manifest. Every time we walk into a store where Muzak makes us more receptive to buying, we are being brainwashed. Every magazine article, or every governmental decree that lessens the will of our people to resist their continued dispossession, is a totalitarian act. In each case, a life-affirming instinct of our Folk is being purposely and deliberately denied – not by physical force, though that option is used when other methods fail – but by pressure of conformity, or the reassurance of buzz words, or by clever subliminal techniques.

So how do we get free?

First, we have to realize we are unfree. Once that fact sinks in, we see through the social mirage and perceive the mechanisms which keep us enthralled. We see television commercials and T.V. programming for what they are and pull the plug. We realize that Macy’s and the automobile companies and countless other establishments are artificially creating needs so they can sell their stuff, and we quit buying it. We analyze the newspapers enough to know how the media masters want us to react, and we fail to respond as they’d like. But all of this represents only the first tottering steps toward personal freedom. Ultimately, we must fashion a new and better society, one in keeping with the inborn aspirations and Truest instincts of our Folk.

Categories: News

A Symbol for the A.F.A. (1982)

By Stephen A. McNallen
from The Runestone: Winter 1982 #42

One of the most important accomplishments of the Althing Three was the selection of the Raido rune, as the official symbol of the Asatru Free Assembly. When used by us in this role, it will be portrayed as a blood-red rune on a black background.

After Althing Two, a committee had been set up to select such a logo for the A.F.A. Many designs were submitted – a wide array spanning sunwheels, swastikas, runes, Thor’s Hammers, and many others. All were considered carefully, but the final choice was between the Raido and another design (ah excellent glyph which henceforth will be used to represent I.R.S.A., the Institute of Runic Studies, Asatru). The ultimate design was made by a vote of those attending Althing Three.

Raido is a rune of weighty significance. In ancient times, it stood for the religion of Asatru itself. Today, it is, as Edred puts it, “a symbol of the way back to right, through the conscious efforts of asatruar to recover the essence of the primal order.” A better description of the role of the A.F.A. would be hard to find.

This rune possesses a great Idea of what David James terms “density” – that is, a great many other runes are contained within its form. One of the obvious ones is Wunjo , a wunjo, which carries meanings of fellowship, binding, the clan or tribe, and the relation­ships of beings descended from a common source. Another is Ansuz , ansuz. Associated with this rune is the idea of the receiver – container/transformer – expression of spiritual power and knowledge. It also is the magical ancestral might handed down genetically from one generation to the next. Finally, it is the rune of the god Odin himself.

If we superimpose Wunjo and Ansuz, laying them neatly one over the other, we get Raido with all its intense meaning. While there are other runes contained in Raido, this fact alone would weigh heavily in its favor as a choice for our symbol.

Still another way of looking at it is to consider that if Wunjo is the idea of the clan and togetherness – a rune representing -our Folk or people – then Raido is a “walking” or dynamic form of that rune. In other words, the Folk is on the march!

A raido banner was made and Formally presented at the Althing. Others are being presented to all kindreds of the A.F.A., and we will be making this logo available in various forms to our members and supporters. 

Categories: News

Strength Is Better Than Weakness (1982)

from The Runestone Spring 1982 #39

Only in a world as rotten and degenerate as the one
in-which we live would it be necessary to state the obvious. Yet there are those who say that it is better to be weak than to be strong, even those who say that to be’strong is to be evil and that to be weak, somehow, is to be virtuous.  Odinists are not counted among that number! 

The prophets of weakness are not always forthright in proclaiming their message. It may be hidden beneath banners
of pacifism or in the curbing of even normal childhood aggressions or in the smirking pride that some few actually take in their lack of physical capability. In its muted form the worship of weakness finds its purest expression in personalities who seek to pull down all greatness, all strength, all the exceptional elite who would rise above the herd. The sickness does not discriminate on the basis of sex; “traditional” women who, unlike their sisters in the sagas, are told that they are weak and incapable, carry it in their breasts. Likewise men who use the “it’s okay to cry” cop-out and who eschew anything remotely related to classical male strengths are also badly contaminated by the virus . The philosophy of weakness naturally thrives in a decaying social body; after all, it’s easy to be weak – until you have to compete with the strong.

Where did all this start? There have always been the weak. But weakness as a virtue seems to be strongly linked with the coming of Christianity. Obviously. not all who profess Christianity are, or were, weak. Christ may or may not have been the pallid peace-monger modern liberals worship, but he does seem
to have had a touch of masochism. Anyone who could make the famous statement about turning the other cheek is – far from being some enlightened guru – a person badly out of touch with their own instincts and hence cut off form wisdom, Many modern Christians seem to suffer from the same lack of wholeness. The Spiritually lifeless wights who forgive monsters who have murdered and mutilated their own sons and daughters, and who do so in the name of Jesus, are an extreme example. More common are stalwarts in their daily lives, but who excuse their lack; of action at times of crisis by appealing to Christian love,
or Christian charity or Christian tolerance.

Noted Christian writer Malcolm Muggeridge was expressing
a many-leveled opinion when he said that:
“We are henceforth_(since the crucifixion) to worship defeat, not victory; failure, not success; surrender, not defiance; deprivation, not satiety; weakness, not strength.”

More to our liking were the fiery Crusaders who; for all their faults and follies, were still untamed. The primal instincts of the Northern European soul lived. in them despite, not because of their Christianity.They were still Nietzsche’s
“blond beasts”, their lips called out to Jesus but Odin had their hearts. 

But why settle for such a compromise? Odinists can look back on a long line of heroes and warriors who were proud of their strength, not ashamed of it. Feats of physical strength abound in the old sagas • the fantastic was the ideal which the common man sought to emulate in real life. Spiritual strength was honored every bit. as much as might of limb. Perseverance, power of will, total control and coolness in the face of danger and death · all of these virtues were praised, and all exemplify a kind of strength. 

Look at the very gods of Odinism, Not_one is a weakling. Mighty Thor is especially a god of strength. His sheer physical prowess is an inspiration to all who would reject weakness. Odin epitomizes another sort of strength, that of the will and the spirit.
Likewise, modern Odinists know that strength is never out dated. Most people accept the illusion that there is something out there called”civilization” • that the police will protect us from all harm · that physical strength and the spiritual strength to wield it are no longer necessary. But ask anyone who has been mugged or raped. Some victims can’t reply;they’re dead.
Odinists know that strength is better than weakness.
Strength doesn’t mean arrogance or crudity, in fact, only the strong can really afford to be gentle. Strength means life and health. Strength means fulfillment of our potential, individually and collectively. To be strong is to be vibrant, wholly alive, on the very cutting edge of life. Why settle for less?
Let the Malcolm Muggeridges of the world worship weakness and hate all that is healthy and life•giving. Odinists, true to .themselves, their ancestors, and their own instincts ,will respond to life’s challenges and wax from strength to strength. We know that, in truth, the strong will inherit the Earth – we, and our descendants, will be strong!

Categories: News

New Apprentice Folkbuilder

I am excited to announce Michael Foley of Louisiana has stepped up to folkbuild for the AFA’s South Central region. This region has a ton of potential and we are very eager to watch our South Central family grow and thrive. Thank you Michael for stepping up, I am sure great things are in store.

Hail AFA South Central!
Hail Michael Foley!

Matthew D. Flavel
Asatru Folk Assembly

Categories: News

Day of Remembrance for Else Christensen

This month, we raise a horn to the Folkmother Else Christensen. As a young girl growing up in Denmark, she felt the call of our ancient ways. As a young woman, she became interested in the future of her folk.  Else worked to lay the groundwork for a society that she believed would act in the best interest of her people.  This would lead to many hardships while living in Europe during the early 20th century.  Else found herself, her husband, and many peers under harsh scrutiny.  This scrutiny then lead to personal hardship, including arrests.

Else carried her goals and dreams for her people across the ocean when she and her husband left Europe for Canada.  There she encountered the works of Alexander Rudd Mills.  From these works, she began to focus on the return of the Germanic pantheon to the hearts of the European peoples. She found further inspiration in the works of Francis Yockey and Oswald Spengler.  While she agreed with their consensus that the European folk-soul was in a state of disrepair and decline, Else also believed that there was hope to be found.   This hope was in the practice of Odinism.  The very roots of this faith, she believed, were nestled with the spiritual DNA of the people themselves, and were part of their natural state.

In 1969, this vision blossomed into the founding of the Odinist Fellowship. This organization began to connect more and more followers of the old ways together, building a network across the globe. Else reached out to those in prison, and provided them with the materials to build themselves. She is a vital part of what we have built ourselves up to today.  It would be difficult to imagine what we would be left to work with if not for her unrelenting perseverance.

Else died in 2005, working to build the Folk until the very end. Her legacy is in the communities that we have, the networks, and the Folk.

Hail Else Christensen!

Gythia Anna Funk

Categories: News

Land! (1980)

From The Runestone Winter 1980


We Northern Europeans are a practical bunch. We can handle abstractions with ease, but we are most at home in the material world, the world of doing

as well as of thinking–hence our strong sense of history, which deals in things and places as well as in ideas.

Asatru, in this country as elsewhere, has ideas. We have people who accept those ideas. But now we need a place–the boden to match our blut, so to speak. In a broader sense we have our local regions and our European homelands, but we need something more specific, something more identifiable–a concrete locus in space-time.

We need a modern-day equivalent to the ancient holy site of Uppsala. Not a carefully preserved monument, rifled by archaeologists and powdered with the dust from the tourists’ clumsy feet, but rather a living, vital religious center –Uppsala as it was a thousand years ago, not as it is today.

We can have it, with your help.

A proper parcel of land could serve all of us as a special center for Asatru. On it we could hold all our future Althings, as well as lesser seminars and meetings. We can teach our children there, in summer camps where they can escape the physical. and spiritual poison of the city. Both the Varangian Guard and People of the Lord and Lady would have the special places they need for their members. The uses of this land could be manifold, extending our capabilities, broadening our horizons, and enriching our faith.

With .each and every issue we have shown that we mean business. The Runestone grows longer and more professional in appearance. Subscriptions continue to climb. People from. all around the-country write us, wanting to form kindreds of the AFA. Make no mistake, we are here to stay! Your trust placed in us will not be disappointed. This is an important project–for you, for Asatru. Let’s all pull together to make it work.

Categories: News

New Apprentice Folkbuilder

Werner Holm of Norway has stepped up to Folkbuild! We have Wanted to see Werner take this step for some time and are very excited to watch AFA Scandinavia continue growing and thriving! Thank you Werner and welcome.

Hail the Aesir!
Hail AFA Scandinavia!
Hail Werner Holm!

Matthew D. Flavel
Asatru Folk Assembly

Categories: News