New Apprentice Folkbuilder

Francesco Morese of Italy is our newest Apprentice Folkbuilder. Francesco will work alongside Fiona Aedgar to build AFA Europe. We are very proud to have Francesco working for our Gods and Folk in the land of the Langobards. Francesco has been involved in Asatru since 1993 and brings that experience to bear for our AFA Family!

Hail the Aesir!
Hail Francesco!
Hail AFA Europe!

Categories: News

Joy is Better than Guilt (1985)

by Stephen A. McNallen
from The Runestone: Spring 1985 #51

We live in an age which is, in many ways, overly introspective. Where our axe-swinging ancestors wrought results with bold action, we often find ourselves paralyzed by excessive analysis, and fail to define and to do the deeds required of us. Many things can produce this spiritual sickness, but one of the surest will-wasters is that old enemy, guilt.

Our forebearers before the Christian imposition do not seem to have been contaminated by this virus. While they might have regretted something they had done, they simply tried to put things right and resolved not to place themselves in that situation again. The gnawing, esteem-gnawing feeling we call guilt, on the other hand, they would have considered not only masochistic but just plain silly. Take Action! Solve your problems, or try to, and get on with life! Leave the mental moaning and the breast-beating for those who have nothing else to do.

Guilt, however, has it’s uses – not to the guild-ridden party, certainly, but to the church and state and special interest groups who wield power in our present society. It is a very effective way to control people. By making us feel bad about ourselves, by making us believe that we are evil or fallen or sinful, the various powers-that-be can manipulate our behavior in accordance with their wills.

What are some of the things for which we are made to feel guilty? Television actresses make us feel guilty for our wealth so that we will give that wealth away for the benefit of people on the other side of the globe. “Docu-drama” producers and writers of a particular ilk do all they can to make us feel guilty because of our Northern European heritage. All our natural drives and instincts come under assault. Anger? Bad because we are all supposed to be “mellow”. Ambition? Dangerous – it makes the inadequate aware of their failings. Sexuality? Nasty; God’s gonna get you for that! Prosperity, ancestry, and instincts are all to be forbidden us by the guilt-mongers. What can be more disastrous in the long term than breeding these qualities out of a formerly free Folk?

Our present thralldom has turned values on their heads; instead of condemning that which is strong and good, we should shun that which our inner selves know to be bad – cowardice, dishonor, and favoring the stranger over kin.

Make no mistake, guilt is a necessary tool for forging the brave new world, a world spanning society where all are to be androgynous, docile, and interchangeable economic units designed only to produce and consume and serve. No room there for joy in sexuality or passion of any kind or pride in ourselves as a people.

So how do we fight back? With all the usual ways of devotion to our gods and our Folk – but animated with a joy that consumes guilt and frees the spirit for action just as the severing of the “peace-strings” allows the sleek sword to fly to it’s owner’s hand! The best warrior is the joyous one who clasps his fate to his heart, who’s merriment in battle’s strife confuses the foe and strikes panic in their ranks. Let that joy flow into all the parts of your life so that is suffuses work and battle and play and makes all these diverse things one. Joy is better than guilt – and a sure antidote to it’s manipulative pangs.

Hard words to heed, easy ones to write! Holding onto joy isn’t east because we seem to have so little to celebrate. But is it the things outside ourselves which ought to give joy and grief, or is it the things withing us? If nothing else, we can revel in our freedom from guilt; in our will-to-act, and in our adherence to the troth of our heroic ancestors. These are no small reasons for joy!

We have the gods to inspire us. Odin, pragmatically breaking the rules to safeguard the worlds of gods and men; Thor, indulging his appetites without shame or fear; Frey and Freya, reveling in healthy sexuality; these are powerful, liberating models casting off the chains of restraint. By invoking them into our lives we can experience the joy of existence in a world where strength, ambition, competence, and pleasure are not fettered with alien, life-denying bonds.

Categories: News


Today, it is my great honor to present to the world… Baldurshof: Third Hof of the Asatru Folk Assembly! We have been truly blessed with good fortune this year. Baldurshof is a beautiful 120 year old building in Murdock Minnesota. This hof will serve as a hub for our Northern Plains AFA family to gather for worship, for fellowship, and for celebration. Most importantly, this holy hof will honor the radiant God Baldur. Great appreciation is due Lawspeaker Allen Turnage and Gothar Coordinator Blaine Qualls for making this dream a reality. With Baldur’s blessing, our future is bright indeed.

Hail Baldur!
Hail Baldur!

Matthew D Flavel
Asatru Folk Assembly

Categories: News

New Apprentice Folkbuilder

Please join me in welcoming Connor Norris of Washington as the AFA’s newest Apprentice Folkbuilder. Connor comes to us highly recommended with boundless enthusiasm.

The Northwest is one of the fastest growing regions for us and is poised for greatness. Connor will be a tremendous asset to the region and his future with the Asatru Folk Assembly is bright indeed.

Hail the AFA Northwest!
Hail Apprentice Folkbuilder Connor Norris!

Categories: News

Ancestry is Better than Universalism (1984)

by Stephen A. McNallen
from The Runestone; Winter 1984 #50

Anyone who has spent much time reading about Asatru knows that we place a great deal of influence on the idea we call ancestry. Indeed, our religion is largely based on this concept. Is this mere sentiment and nostalgia on our part – or are there deeper reasons why we are continually referring to our forbearERs?

The ancient lore of Asatru makes it plain that this is no modern notion. Continuity of the clan has always been important to our people, and the god Frey seems to have been specially associated with this principle. The sagas include plentiful genealogies which are much more than literary devices – after all, Icelanders were known for their ability to recite their entire lineage back to the settlement of their ice-threatened island. Clearly, these were folk to whom ancestry mattered.

From a common-sense viewpoint it’s not hard to see why we should have an affinity for those of our own line. Heredity influences not only the obvious things like hair color and shape of ear lobe, it also helps to determine more subtle physical factors – our personal chemistry and neurology – which shapes our tastes, feelings, attitudes, and needs. We are quite simply going to resemble our ancestors in these ways more than we are likely to resemble people who are not our ancestors. Something of this sort is what Dr. Carl Jung meant when he said that the archetypes, or symbolic content of the unconscious mind, were hereditary rather than cultural. It’s only natural that we should most identify with that which is most like us.

To those who follow Asatru, however, our links to our ancestors encompass and go beyond this. A part of our native belief tells us of certain components of the soul which are transmitted down the family line from generation to generation, hopefully growing in quality and strength as they pass from one clan member to the next. One such component is the fylgia, a sort of mobile magical force. Each individual has a fylgia – a “mannsfylgia” – but a group of people like a tribe or family could have one as well – a “kinsfylgia”.

Another element of the soul is the HaMINGJA. It Recieves the actions of the individual and combines them with the accumulated actions of the person’s forebearers to produce a resultant “fate” or “orlog” (meaning “primal Layers” and referring to the layers of deeds done by the ancestors of the individual). Thus, a person is directly connected to those who have gone before them in the line of descent because they inherit, or can inherit these are very special soul components.

These esoteric-sounding theories sound strange to our twentieth-century way of looking at things, but, unfamiliar or not, they are being confirmed by theories on the leading edge of our scientific knowledge. New ways of thinking about human memory indicate that we are influenced not only by our personal memories, but also by those belonging to our ancestors – all stored in some extra-material realm called “transform space”. Beyond this are studies which seem to show that genetically similar beings can interact with each other at a distance, as if their DNA molecules served as antenna responding to the same frequency, or, alternatively, as though their individual memories and deeds were poured into a common pool. This particular phenomenon – called the “hundredth monkey effect” – does not require direct lineal descent but nonetheless does deal with specific sets of genetically similar beings. Our religious conviction that there are special bonds between kin are magnificently confirmed by these theories.

Ancestry, then, is special. We are connected to our ancestors, and to all others descended from those ancestors, in a special way. Common sense, the metaphysics of Asatru, and modern science confirm this. These holy ties give us special duties in regard to our kin, and justify the loyalties we extend to them in preference to the rest of humankind. This way of looking at things is contrary to the dogma of this day. Nevertheless, we know in our hearts – as it was known to our forebearers in the distant past, and as our growing knowledge of nature confirms – ancestry is better than schemes which would deny these truths, and propose a formless, alienated, and unnatural universalism.

Categories: News

New Member of the Witan

During Midsummer at Óðinshof, Gothi Svan Herul was elevated to the Asatru Folk Assembly’s Witan. Svan is a man of deep spiritual maturity and an abounding zeal to serve our Gods and Folk. I am very proud to have Svan’s counsel and exceedingly eager for the great things he will help to see accomplished. Let us all celebrate Gothi Herul’s advancement and support him in his enhanced role.

Hail Gothi Svan Herul!
Hail the Witan of the AFA!

Categories: News

Day of Remembrance for King Athanaric

King Athanaric, King of the Visigoths, ruled his people from 369 CE until he died in 381 CE. Sometimes called the first and greatest King of his people, Athanaric was a staunch Gothic Pagan. Viewing it as his responsibility to foster and promote the faith of his people he went so far as to execute over three hundred Visigoths that had converted to the Christian faith. Their Gothic culture was paramount, and he feared that the advent of Christianity would destroy it.

During his 12-year reign, Athanaric fiercely defended his culture against the advance of the Roman Christian conversion. In the early years he allied with his fellow Visigoth King, Fritigern, to stop the encroachment of the Roman legions into their lands. While the two were allied the Goths managed to stave off the Roman armies. For unknown reasons, however, Fritigern turned his army against Athanaric, causing the Gothic Civil War.
In the early stages Athanaric won every encounter he had with his one ally. This prompted Fritigern to turn and request aid from his former Roman enemy, Emperor Valens. Even so, despite some advances, Fritigern lost the war. The Gothic Civil War took a toll on the land and the Visigoths, however, and when the Huns began to invade shortly after the end of the Civil War Fritigern appealed to Emperor Valen to allow him and his people to cross into Roman land. The appeal was answered, but only for Fritigern, who had since converted to Christianity, and his followers.

The rest of the Visigoths were left to fend for themselves. Despite his best efforts King Athanaric was unable to hold his grounds against the ruthless, and better provisioned Huns. In the face of starvation, Athanaric led his people into the Alutus Valley (modern-day Transylvania) where they settled. In 380 CE Athanaric was deposed and removed himself to none other than Constantinople and the lands of his once upon a time Enemy, the roman empire. The new Emperor, Theodosius I, accepted Athanaric to the empire graciously. Upon his death some two weeks later Athanaric was buried in all state to show Theodisuis’ respect of the Gothic Culture.

Despite all, King Athanaric stood his ground in the face of all. He recognized the importance of maintaining the Culture of his people, recognizing the dangers of conversion for what it was. IN these modern times it is even more important to view Athanaric’s struggles for what they were and to remember that the preservation of our people and our culture is so very paramount. It’s about Roots. It’s about Connections. It’s about coming home.

Let us always strive to make sure we have a Home for our folk to come back to!

Hail King Athanaric!
Hail the Folk!
Hail the Asatru Folk Assembly!

Gythia Catie Erickson

Categories: News

Kinship is Better than Alienation (1984)

The Runestone: Fall 1984 #49
by Stephen A. McNallen

It is quite acceptable these days to point out that we live in an alienated society. It is also standard to offer the idea of kinship in one form or another as antidote to the loneliness and separation so many of us experience in our lives. Since kinship is often praised among us who follow Asatru, let’s remind ourselves of the reasons we consider it important, and, while we are at it, let us ask ourselves why alienation has triumphed in the first place.

First, what’s so great about identifying with our kin, and working harmoniously with them?

Kinship is efficient. Imagine the effects on the average taxpayer if people turned to family and tribe in hardship, rather than to the government! Welfare, make-work jobs designed solely to redistribute the wealth, food stamps – all could be slashed almost out of existence if there was a supporting network of kin ready to help their own. The clumsy bureaucracy which eats up our resources and hems us in with ever more regulation could be largely dismissed, and we would all benefit by better use of funds and by freedom from the petty bureaucrats who currently oppress us.

Kinship is natural. A need for it is programmed into our genes. Humans evolved under conditions that required an “in group” receiving the loyalty of the individuals comprising it. Nature wired us in such a way that we are happiest and most effective when we have such a kin bond with the people around us. Anything less, and we are not likely to find real satisfaction.

Finally, kinship is an integral part of Asatru. We believe that we are linked to our ancestors and our descendants in a special way that takes priority over lesser relationships, and our traditions tell us that mighty spiritual properties are transmitted down the family line from one generation to the next. These intangible properties are a priceless treasure carrying with them weighty duties, and much of the ethics of Asatru revolve around these obligations.

If kinship is such a fine thing, why do we live in an alienated society? We have been seduced by a universalist ethic that insists we call everyone kin, that we love anything that walks, crawls, or slithers. Nevertheless, we have less genuine experience of natural kinship than at any time in our history as a people. If all are special, none are special. “Universal brotherhood” paradoxically destroys the meaning of kinship by indiscriminately bestowing it on every passer-by. Again, we must ask why we ended up with such an unnatural ideology prevailing over our instinctive needs. The answer lies in one word – CONTROL.

Strong special bonds create social units which are harder to control, harder to coerce into conformity with the produce-and-consume system. Alienation, on the other hand, makes us dependent on the present order as it makes us powerless to change it, and encourages us to consume material goods. Any hint of tribal feeling, any stirring of a real social alternative, must be quietly sidetracked into avenues of expression that will not threaten the official ideology or its servants. Much of the counterculture (a very mixed bag indeed) functions as a sort of safety valve or even as a “deep freeze” where changing ideas, good and bad alike, can be rendered harmless. Things have to be kept under control. People mustn’t turn off their televisions or start talking to each other, for goodness sake. The whole artificial mess might come crashing down! While a restoration of kinship sounds fine to us who follow the gods, It’s a pretty threatening thing to some who like the current state of alienation. We, however, must resolutely press forward to make a better world for our people one in which we can be free to experience both the duties and the great benefits of kinship in Asatru.

Categories: News

Courage is Better than Cowardice (1984)

from The Runestone Summer 1984 #48
by Stephen A. McNallen

If most people had to state the single trait most valued by the Norsemen, the majority would unhesitatingly name “courage”. And rightly so – for once, our stereotype does us justice. Courage was a thing of inestimable value not only to the Norse, but indeed to all the Germanic tribes and the peoples of ancient Europe generally. We are compelled to rank it very highly, or even first, among the values of our faith, Asatru.

Today we live in a world where the anti-hero has won (or rather has been given) a niche of prominence. The hard virtues have softened, and the stern code of courage and it’s fraternal twin, honor, are out of fashion. In modern society at large, people are simply not prepared for the trials soon to be visited upon us by history. All the more reason that we who follow the ways of our noble ancestors should be infused with these powerful traits. Let us begin acquiring courage by first understanding it.

Quite correctly, it is often pointed out that there is a difference between courage and fearlessness. The person who does not feel fear may be able to do great deeds, but only because he or she is insensitive or unimaginative. While this may be useful, it is not especially virtuous. The real accomplishment is to fully experience fear, yet to master it. We who opt for the well-rounded enhancement of all our powers in the desire to transcendence so common to our Folk must choose the latter, for we seek awareness and fulfillment of perception in addition to force and mastery. There is no shame in feeling fear. To know fear is human, and to thoroughly overcome it raises one to the realm of the gods.

Another truism is that courage comes not only in the physical variety, but manifests also as spiritual bravery. Again, some things are truisms because they’re true, and the code of Asatru would agree with this statement. We would take this somewhat superficial analysis a step further, however, and say that there is a substratum which underlies both kinds of courage, and that bedrock is the heroic will. Facing an enemy bayonet charge and facing the threat of losing one’s job because of one’s belief in Asatru have little in common – except that both instances test the individual’s mastery of self through a deliberate and unwavering will to take the honorable course.

In reading the sagas, we see such a willful adherence to this high standard of courage. Revenge for wrongdoing was an absolute necessity, because appearing soft and defenseless meant that one’s family and one’s self became targets for others who sensed an easy prey. However retribution was not exacted instantly, in the heart of passion. Rather, the emotional fury had to subside, so that the avenger could demonstrate self control and so that the deed could stand forth as an imperative of duty, not as an act of rashness. Courageous feats (rather of vengeance or not) were best if done deliberately and with calmness, not impulsively. It is worth noting that among the greatest heroes were men like Beowulf and the semi-legendary Ragnar Lodbrock. Neither died in the brashness of youthful impetuosity, but in the coolness of mature, tempered courage under the mastery of will.

All very well for those of such celestial stature, you may say – but what about those of us who lead ordinary lives yet wish to honor our gods and our ancestors.

A two-fold approach presents itself. First, since a powerful will underlies courage in all its forms, develop that will in not just one but in several, or many, aspects of your life. Self-mastery will bring with it courage. Secondly and more specifically, do the thing that you fear. One man’s successful use of this method is described in the book titled (of course) WILL by G. Gordon Liddy.

Courage, out of fashion or not, is one of the cornerstones of personal behavior for those who follow our gods. We may not all be courageous – or, more likely, we have some measure of courage, but not all we’d like. Whatever our failings or our strengths, it is our duty to try – courageously! – to develop this value so praised by our forebearers.

Categories: News