Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson was born July 4, 1924, and lived as a sheep farmer in Borgarfjörður, a fjord in the west of Iceland. Sveinbjörn was an early practitioner and leader of modern Ásatrú. Sveinbjörn and fellow Ásatrúar founded the Ásatrúarfélagið (Ásatrú Fellowship) on the First Day of Summer 1972 (April 18) and Sveinbjörn was named Allsherjargoði.
Allsherjargoði Sveinbjörn then led the push for the Ásatrú Fellowship to be recognized by the Icelandic government. When Allsherjargoði Sveinbjörn collected the appropriate paperwork from the Minister of the Icelandic Ministry of Justice and Ecclesiastical Affairs, he received vague answers from the minister who did not take him seriously. When Allsherjargoði Sveinbjörn was exiting the ministry building, a thunderbolt caused a major power outage in Reykjavík which left the ministry building and the minister in the dark. Hail Þórr!
After submitting the required paperwork, Allsherjargoði Sveinbjörn still faced opposition. The strongest opposition came from the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland, the head of the state church of Iceland. The bishop took the position that “polytheistic religious organizations founded [in Iceland] would therefore not be protected by the [Icelandic] constitution”. The bishop also criticized Allsherjargoði Sveinbjörn and the Ásatrú Fellowship for not naming a head of their religion, for not having a set written doctrine, and for not having a house of worship. There were also critics in Iceland who agreed with the bishop that polytheism was illegal in Iceland and that “Christ is enough, though he was not enough for Hitler, Stalin or their followers”. However, Allsherjargoði Sveinbjörn’s arguments prevailed and in May of 1973 the Ásatrú Fellowship was recognized as a church by the government and with this was given legal standing to perform weddings, was given a share in church taxes.
In August of the same year, Allsherjargoði Sveinbjörn led the first legal public Asatru Blót since the year 1000 when the Allthing had forbidden Blót and declared Iceland a Christian nation. Allsherjargoði Sveinbjörn went on to lead the Ásatrú Fellowship for twenty more years until he returned to his ancestors during Yuletide of 1993.
Sveinbjörn was also a published poet of several books of Rímur, Icelandic rhymes. He recorded verses of his own and of the Poetic Edda Hávamál, Völuspá, and Sigrdrífumál.
In its early days, the Ásatrú Fellowship was notably Folkish and took ethical positions consistent with Asatru. For example in 1975 the Ásatrú Fellowship opposed abortion on the basis that the movement to legalize abortion is “traced to international movements opposed to the Nordic nations and in particular to the Nordic race”. The Ásatrú Fellowship has unfortunately failed to maintain the ideals of Asatru that the Asatru Folk Assembly continues to promote today, but Allsherjargoði Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson of Ásatrúarfélagið remains a hero of our Folk who heard the call of the Æsir at a time when very few did.
Hail Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson!