Winter Nights in Poconos (2012) AND News and updates from Members across the Nation (2012)

from The Voice 2012

In October a truly historic event occurred named Winternights in the Poconos. The AFA hosted it’s first major event in the Northeastern United States. The gathering was held at historic Camp Netimus in the beautiful Poconos Mountains of Northern Pennsylvania among the crisp fall leaves. It was a weekend full of powerful rituals and deep fellowship. It was another spiritual charged weekend with new and old friends. 

News and updates from Members across the Nation:

Here’s a mini-report about yesterday’s Nevada County Food and Toy Run where the AFA had two booths. Emily and Diane had spent preceding weeks shopping, baking, and roasting pork so our “Pulled Pork Plates” were ready to go when the 2000 bikes rode into the fairgrounds. Meanwhile, Sheila set up a booth right next to it with AFA materials, and stayed pretty busy talking to the folks wandering by. We had perfect weather with clear skies and about 60 degrees, in the prettiest fairground setting in California. It was simply a great day, very busy and upbeat.

Thanks go out to all who helped: Diane, Jim, Sandy, Katie, Thorgrun, Knute, Linda, Marc, Lindsey, and Sheila. And a very special thanks goes out to Thom Staser, friend of the AFA and organizer of the Toy Run for twenty years, who offered us free space and who encouraged us to have an information booth. How did we do? We cleared about $500, including some book sales.

Deep South. We had a pretty busy year here in the Deep South during 2012. Towards the beginning of the year the Asatru Alliance held a day moot at the European Street Cafe in Jacksonville. We had a great turn out of AFA members at this event. Shortly thereafter the Asatru Alliance held a weekend moot in Georgia that was attended by several AFA members. There, we were privileged with handful of us traveled by air and car to attended the AF/\s Midsummer in the Sierras, and what a spectacular event that was. Several of us attended a Njord blot that was held for a friend’s deployment. Yet again, we had members who drove and flew to attend the AF/\s Winter Nights in the Poconos. As to be expected with the AF/\s major events we had great speakers, musicians, and very powerful rituals. There was a luncheon held in downtown Savannah, which afterwards we visited some of the cities historical sites. A small group of our Deep South members partook in a beach clean-up in St. Augustine. Out of all the groups that attended the event, our AFA members collected the most trash. We also had many small meet ups with members throughout the year.

Sylvia Sawyer, one of the Folkbuilders for the Northeast attended the Buffalo Pagan Pride day for the AFA, she met a lot of people there and got the news out about the AFA. She and husband, Alan, attended the Winternight in the Poconos. Alan and Sylvia led a small Kindred in West New York area and have monthly book studies for Asatru.

Mark Macleod, one of the Folkbuilders for the West, attended the yearly event, Midsummer in the Sierra’s in June. With the help of his kinsfolk, they attended and helped with the March Moot at Camp Norge, hiking and picnic at the Sequoia Big Tree State Park, BBQ at Jack London State Park and their day trip Muir Beach. They did fundraising at the Nevada City Toy Run for the AFA. 

Denny Boltenhouse, Folkbuilder of the Midwest. He set up a table to advertise the AFA at a huge outdoor market. He organized a moot at the Hofbrau Haus in Pittsburgh. He spends he time meeting with people interested in information an the AFA throughout the region.

Bryan Wilton, Folkbuilder for Central Corridor, He attended the Ostara Meetup at Heavener Runestone, A midsummer event in Eureka Springs Arkansas hosted by White Wolf Kindred, He held a small Winternights celebration in his home. Him and his sons drove to CA to attend the AFA midsummer event along with Robbie Ashmore and his family.

Judy Floyd, Folkbuilder for South Central, Co-hosted a 4 day event is April and hosted a 1 day event is August.

Daniel Updike, Folkbuilder for Canada, started folkbuilding in September 2012. Note from Daniel – In September Har’s Hall Kindred (which started in January of 2012) was established enough to create a membership criteria. At the same time we took part in the “Pagan Pride” celebration in Edmonton, where we represented Asatru to the community at large. We passed out a great deal of literature to the public about the AFA and I gave a 45 minute lecture on our faith to those in the general Edmonton community who had come to see the event. Most were non-pagan.

We held a pubmoot in October for Kindred members to bring interested people to for information on Asatru. We had a turnout of 10 people.

In terms of the rest of the country, we are starting online public meetings through an ingenious software platform called “anymeeting”, which is a free service that allows conference with up to 200 people at once. We held a meeting this month, and had a small turnout of 4, but this is new and will grow. It is the situation in Canada (a LARGE territory) that many AFA members are scattered and isolated. It is my hope to use the technological toys of our age to provide a way for our people here to unite and break the isolation barrier -that everyone can feel that they are an active part of what’s going on here in our own country in the AFA.

AFA members in Har’s Hall Kindred along with myself are also putting out a bi-monthly podcast called “Northern Runes Radio” in an attempt to bring a sense of connection to our folk, both here in Canada and around the world. Also to attract listeners who are not yet awakened to who they are, and give them inspiration to look into their true ancestral heritage. So far, NRR (Northern Runes Radio) is now listened to with varying audiences in Northern Runes Radio.

In Alaska, we started the year with a small gathering for Ostara, where we feasted on rabbit stew. It was a record year for snow and we walked down a path with 4 feet of snow on each side, to preform a Blot at the edge of a beautiful lake under the bright stars. Half way during blot we had realized that we had built the fire on top on the dock not the lake! We completed the blot and then laughed at the large burning hole in the dock. The first large gathering we had was Midsummer. We feasted on a turkey that was raised by Matt Flavel. It was an all day event in which everyone, old and new friends, helped prepare the feast and blot. We enjoyed an amazing blot by Matt, then feasted. It was a good feeling that the only hitch was we had to find another table for all the guests. The night ended with a moving sumble and then Matt, Channcie and Eric being whisked to the airport to catch a flight to Midsummer in the Sierra’s. We had various other gatherings throughout the year including but not limited to a flag blessing, Day of Remembrance for Radbod, Day of Remembrance for Hermann of the Cherusci, Day of Remembrance for Erik the Red, Winternights, Feast of the Einherjar and Yule. Matt and Channcie were able to attend the wonderful Winter Nights in the Poconos. As a group we had decided that we wanted to meet everyday of Yule, that was harder then planned. But during the days and nights of Yule we met for Mead Tasting, Gift Exchange, Dinner, fires with a large feast and blot on Mother’s Night.

Categories: News

Midsummer 2012 Notes from Steve McNallen (2012)

from The Voice 2012
by Steve McNallen

They came from one end of the continent to the other. Local folks, of course, and a trio from Alaska. A carload of young folks drove all the way from Florida. New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Washington, Oklahoma, Maryland, Arkansas – plane tickets and gas receipts from a dozen states bore witness to their pilgrimage. Some had planned their journey months in advance, some not so. One came in response to a cast of the runes.

All, strangely enough, were coming home.

Midsummer 2012 was designed to be a meta-ritual, from the first gesture of the initial blessing to the last word of the closing. Everything – the presentations, the sumbel, the meals we ate together in the hall, was part of this great, all-encompassing meta-ritual. Specifically, the objectives included a noticeable degree of spiritual evolution for each and every individual present…the evolutionary advance of the Asatru Folk Assembly as a whole … and the application of that evolution to the objectives of the AFA.

Throughout the gathering, I felt like an arrow in flight: focused, committed, unstoppable, pure.

My main presentations followed a sequence. First, one on the “how” of individual evolution. I mentioned runes, the connection between Odin’s mead quest and kundalini yoga, the idea of pushing yourself! “Pain is just weakness leaving the body.” My second one was titled “Awakening and Will: Ourselves, Our Folk, Our Mission.” The title says it all.

Other presenters supported this theme. Perhaps most relevant was Brad Taylor-Hicks’ talk on “Eddas, Vedas, and the Odinic Quest.” Pat Hall gave two sessions on “hexology” – the application of Pennsylvania Dutch traditions to modern Asatru symbolism, including the runes. Ann Taylor taught us about meditation techniques. Marlene Slichter led us in a session on runic divination. 

our purposes not just for that moment, but for the entire gathering – it was not undone until the last day. In it, we asked for the blessings of the Gods and Goddesses, the ancestors, and the wights of the place. The Midsummer blot was next day, when we placed our spiritual offerings on the sunwheel and burned it in the roaring fire. Immediately afterward, we performed a healing rite for all those in need. The web of folk, surrounding the afflicted ones and sending might through each other to those requiring it, was a humming net of healing and love.

Perhaps the high point of the event, ritually, was the blot to Odin. Late at night, torch-lit, with Dylan Sheets of the band Lasher Keen pounding out our passion, we honored the All Father and asked for his blessings – again, in the forms of individual and collective evolution, and for the destiny of the AFA!

But next day’s Wayfarer Blot, performed by Clergy student Matt Flavel as his final requirement for ordination, was also spectacular and particularly moving. Immediately afterward, he took the oath of gothi in the AFA.

The final ceremony was the next day, in which the camp was returned to its original condition and the meta-ritual concluded. After the last of the folk had departed the area, I stepped outside the circle of standing torches … and the rite was done.

All the rituals and presentations made up the framework and the anchor points of AFA Midsumer in the Sierras, but other things made up the blood and flesh. Take our meals, for example: We followed AFA custom, in that (1) every meal was blessed before we ate, (2) we all ate together, (3) children ate first, leadership ate last – and most definitely (4) no one went away hungry! Kitchen-meister Diane has prepared and served us food for decades now, and her daughter Emily has born a big share of the burden for years. We saw her daughter Elle, generation three, in an apron for the first time this Midsummer. (Emily did all the wedding provisions as well as all our breakfasts!)

A host of informative talks, workshops, and activities filled out the themes described earlier in this report. Sheila on genealogy … Knut with his telescope .. .David James on Germanic naming … half a dozen different crafts … Jim on preparedness, me on building resilient shirts” prepared by Sean of Northlanders. Inc. were the perfect prizes for the winning tribe, the Franks). Marc, who along with Knute organized and led the games, later broke
his hip and had to be taken to the hospital. His health was toasted many times in the days that followed and we are sending healing folk-love to him still.

Lauren’s wedding to Jonas deserves mention all by itself. It was a storybook scenario – the bride was stunning, the groom handsome, the wedding party delightful. Their oaths were sworn on the ring, and sealed with a horn of mead. Afterwards, we shared a little more mead and champagne and, after lots of good conversation, headed over to the hall for dinner. It was very elevating for all of us.

The marriage of Lauren and Jonas capped a day of drama. Earlier, Bryan Wilton’s youngest son had managed to get trapped on a cliff, unable to move up or down. Bryan tied a rope to a tree, made a bowline in the other end, and went down to rescue his son. The young Ashmore boys, sons of Bobby and Roxie, pulled them up. That’s the kind of folks we have in the AFA.

Music tied it all together and fed our souls. Robert Taylor and Nicholas Tesluk of Changes regaled us with song and story as they described “A Fifty Year Odyssey.” The next evening – just prior to the late-night Odin-blot – they joined our friends with Lasher Keen for the musical peak of Midsummer. Mystical Dylan, vivacious BlueBird, and wise Sage led us in a journey into ecstatic spaces in an experience none will forget.

The days have passed since I stepped so deliberately outside the circle after that last ritual, of the last day, of AFA Midsummer in the Sierras, 2012. Already the sun rises a little later and sets a little sooner, and life goes on. Has anything changed? Speaking for myself, yes. Speaking for the AFA as a whole, I must also answer in the affirmative. The light of the fire and smell of the smoke, the folk feasting in the hall, the (surprisingly) chill nights, the laughter and friends and all the rest remain … waiting to be renewed when, again, the sun approaches her highest point next year.

It is good. 

Categories: News

New Apprentice Folkbuilder

We are very excited to announce Etienne Louw as our newest Folkbuilder covering South Africa. We have seen a lot of growth and interest from our Folk in South Africa over the past few years and we are excited to start this new phase with Etienne leading the effort. We greatly appreciate Etienne stepping up and leading.

Hail Etienne!
Hail AFA South Africa!
Hail the Aesir!

Categories: News


from AFA Update: August 2005

“Winter Nights in the Redwoods” started out as just another regional gathering, drawing on our members and friends in northern California. We picked out a really nice location on the coast, in a redwood forest near the town of Mendocino, and started putting together our agenda. It didn’t take long for us to realize that changes in the AFA necessitated another approach. The success, not only of the AFA Member’s list but also of the “think-tank” approach used by the AFA Working Groups, convinced us that it was imperative to draw together as many of our emerging leaders, as well as a sizable chunk of the general membership, to assess where we were and to stimulate action for the future. The result? On October 21 – 23, the AFA will host a gathering in one of California’s most picturesque areas. We will of course celebrate Winter Nights with blot and sumbel, but we will also conduct a leadership training session and formally introduce our “Fundamentals of Asatru” course (previously known as “Asatru 101”). Perhaps most important of all, many of our most active AFA members will have the chance to meet each other face-to-face. The expected outcome will be a greatly enhanced ability to fulfill the AFA’s ambitious program.

Categories: News



from AFA Update April 2005

For some time, the AFA has heard from our friends and supporters within the Germanic spiritual community, urging us to accept members. These were people who wanted a sense of community, fellowship, and common cause in furtherance of our Folkway – people who, reading our AFA Updates or visiting our web site, wanted to take an active part.

We’ve decided they’re right. By popular demand, the AFA is now offering membership to individuals supporting our goals.

In the paragraphs below, I’ll describe our mission statement, our goals, and a vision of what Asatru can become, and explain how those who are interested can become members in the AFA.

The AFA’s Mission

The AFA, in the words of its mission statement, is “to practice, promote, and further evolve the religion of Asatru, thus forging it into a powerful and effective tool for building a better world.” Note the active tone here: We want to make a difference!

Since its founding in 1994, the AFA has sponsored countless gatherings, written groundbreaking documents, published successful newsletters, and been repeatedly quoted in the national and international media. The AFA has proposed new ideas, challenged the status quo, and generally pushed the boundaries of the possible.

…And now, we are ready to do much more!

The AFA’s Goals

Some of the tasks we have set ourselves, are:

1. Encouraging people to live noble lives and to grow spiritually, with ever-increasing wisdom, personal empowerment, and joy.

2. Bringing the might of the Holy Powers into the world through sacred ritual, on the group and individual level.

3. Making Asatru a viable, respected, and well-known alternative in the modern world.

4. Vastly increasing the number of people who follow Asatru. We have not even begun to tap our potential for growth!

5. Making the world a better place by positively influencing the culture in which we are embedded, enhancing the life-affirming and freedom-promoting values of our ancestral Folkway, and building a strong community among followers of our faith. The AFA’s Vision Imagine a world where the names of our holy Gods and Goddesses are instantly recognized in ordinary households across the country…where our places of worship are dotted across the land, regularly packed with scores – or hundreds! – of eager men and women who have come home to their spiritual birthright…where the writers of textbooks, the shapers of legislation, and the molders of public opinion will have to take into consideration those of us who follow the Germanic Folkway – in short, a world where our cultural voice is loudly heard.

Imagine, too, that these people (Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands?) are bonded together with our own voluntary systems to help each other in a multitude of ways, both spiritual and practical…Odin’s Nation here in the realm of humankind. This won’t happen overnight. It will take time and hard work, but with the help of people like you, it can be done!

Categories: News

Day of Remembrance for King Radbod

This month we celebrate glorious King Radbod of Frisia. King of Frisia from about 680 CE onwards he was responsible for keeping his lands free of Frankish domination and is often described as Frisia’s last independent ruler. Radbod spent the bulk of his reign battling against the neighboring Franks, first fighting against Pippin II until he died in 714 and then against Pippin’s son, Charles Martel. Radbod also did all he could to push Christianity out of his lands, in it he saw an extension of Frankish influence and control……he saw it as a destroyer of his own native Frisian culture. The battles between Radbod and the Franks went back and forth until finally in 714, with the death of Pippin, Radbod was able to send all the priests and monks out of his lands and pushed the Frankish armies completely out as well until his death in 719.

Radbod is perhaps best known to us for his refusal to be baptized in the Christian faith. Radbod was on the verge of being baptized when he turned to the priest and asked something about if he would see his ancestors in heaven. The priest, being honest, said no, anyone not of the Christian faith was sent to suffer in their horrid fiery realm of punishment which they called Hell. Radbod replied, ” Then I would rather be suffering there with them than go to heaven with a pack of beggars.” He then promptly pushed the priests out of his country and remained tru to his ancestral ways until his death.

Radbod has much to teach us today. We aren’t forced at sword point to accept alien religions, but we do find ourselves in a similar position. For many today the forward march of political correctness has led to our very doorsteps. We become pariahs in the eyes of society if we refuse to accept its decadent ways and yet here we are. Here we are remaining steadfast in our loyalty and devotion to our Gods. We have shunned the foreign influences of our age and sent them scurrying from our homes. Rather than slide into the negative mindset of a beaten opponent we hold our heads high and boldly build positivity in ourselves, in our families, and in all those we can around us. We are assured of the rightness of our deeds by the echoes from the past of men like Radbod.

Hail noble King Radbod of Frisia!

Blaine Qualls,
Gothar Coordinator
Asatru Folk Assembly

Categories: News

Operation Butterfly Wings (2005)

From AFA Update 1/19/2005

The field of mathematics known as “chaos theory” holds that seemingly insignificant actions can, under the right conditions, produce incredibly large results. The example most commonly used is that of a butterfly which flaps its wings and sets in motion a chain of events culminating in a hurricane a thousand miles away. Obviously, we can never know if a butterfly’s wings created a huge storm, but the basic idea – that unnoticed incidents can trigger gargantuan responses – is not only believable but, according to chaos theorists, mathematically certain.

In recent issues of AFA Update you and I have discussed the other end of scale. We have touched on public relations breakthroughs, marketing campaigns, and similar plans dealing with the “macro” rather than the “micro.” In this issue, I’d like to put away the telescope and drag out the magnifying glass. Let’s consider how the tiny things we do in our everyday lives can make a big difference – and what that has to do with our spreading of the Germanic Way.

Suppose, one day, you decide to wear your Thor’s hammer on the outside of your shirt rather than tucked out of sight. You’re walking down the street when a woman sees your hammer, asks you about it, and is given the address of the AFA website. A month later, she gives that URL to a friend who visits our site. This friend in turn mentions it to a multi-millionaire, who is so impressed that he leaves his entire estate to the AFA. Within five years, Asatru has a million adherents from coast to coast and is making significant, long-term changes in the culture of the United States….all because you decided on a whim to wear your hammer where it could be seen by passers-by. You’d never know what you had done, any more than we can blame a butterfly for starting a hurricane, but nevertheless you are ultimately responsible.

Suffice to say that Wyrd’s web is tightly woven.

We cannot predict which of our tiny, daily deeds will bear fruit next week or next century. But we can increase the odds by doing many such deeds, any one of which might make a difference in the long run. I try to build a lot of such occurrences into each day. I wear my hammer proudly. I don my “Odin’s Folk” tee shirt at the gym, or maybe the tie-dye one with runes on it that my son found at the thrift store. I drop comments in public dealing with heritage or the ancestors, just so see if anyone will bite. And of course, when I send out this AFA Update, I’ll wriggle 650 pairs of wings – amazing how this list has grown! – excluding bad addresses and those who delete these words unseen .

I have no illusion that any of this is going to bring the AFA a million dollars. But then, it might! At the least, it contributes however slightly to building a new culture, one more influenced by the Germanic Way.

I hereby invite you to join in Operation Butterfly. I know many of you are already making these little efforts – but if we do it more deliberately, more often, we can have a greater impact. Who knows what a few hundred of us can do if we try? Get out there and stir that pot of chaos! Vibrate the Web of Wyrd! Flap the wings of your Will and let the storm arise!

Categories: News