Winter Nights (2013)

from The Voice: November 2013

A Few Words From The Alsherjargothi:

As October ends, we can look back on an eventful month since our last issue. The high point, of course, was Winter Nights in the Poconos – the AFA’s major East Coast gathering. And what a gathering it was, as the articles and pictures in this issue will attest! Our joyous throng pretty much filled up Camp Netimus; any more people and we would have to have eaten in shifts! The event had a great balance of activity and relaxation …
one hand to Asatru elder David James, on the other! This was indeed a community of the Folk. David was sworn in as AFA Clergy, and the Folkbuilders likewise grew: Charlotte Hoxie advanced to Folkbuilder, and Dennis Boltenhouse renewed his Folkbuilder oath. We grew, in every sense. When I gave my opening presentation at Camp Netimus two weeks ago, I listed the things we had accomplished since we first gathered there last year. Some of these things I mentioned in the last Voice, like our awesome web site statistics. But there was so much more – AFA membership up 20% in the last year, numerous Freyfaxi and Winter Nights gatherings both large and small sponsored by Folkbuilders from one end of the continent to the other, our highly successful trip to Denmark, and more.

The AFA is doing very well – thanks to our excellent leaders who make my job infinitely easier (or for that matter, possible), and thanks to the support of men and women like you, our members. You have all accomplished great things!

In the months to come we can look forward to various Yule events held locally and regionally around the country … and it’s not to early to start thinking about coming out to California next June for our big West Coast event, Midsummer! 

Winter Nights In The Poconos – 2013

Jon Upsal blogs –

I had the very good fortune to spend Saturday in Pennsylvania attending the now-annual AFA Winternights event. Unfortunately, although I had originally planned to spend the whole weekend at the event, the world conspired to not make that possible. Still, I spent the day, and was able to bring my daughter. Gotta say it was a blast, as was last year’s … 
I could mention the excellent DAsabloat, and the Tyr bloat where various weapons were blessed, and the auction, and the talk by Steve McNallen on ritual and the nature of the Gods. All were superb as expected. But what I would like to mention is the simple act of hanging out with fellow Asatruar.

What I love about these sorts of events is that I come away feeling energized. It’s all too easy to live in a bubble, talking with the same folks day in and day out, and doing ritual with the same group of people, and even interacting with folks online.

But I find there is something incalculable about actually being on the same land with new people (and old people with whom one has not been in touch with in years, as I had the great good fortune to do). There’s something energizing about being in a ritual with people from all over the country (indeed, all over the world, in this particular case), who have come together to worship our Gods and honor our Folk. I, in particular, love to see the little variations in the way different people from different places do things. Whether it’s the blessing of the food before the meal, or the structure of the bloat itself, I love to see the various ways we all find to do things – different, yet recognizable.

We all benefit not only from the cross-pollination of ideas, but also from the simple act of human contact. Get off the computer, get out of the rut of your usual group, and go honor the Gods with someone new. At the very least, you will have an opportunity to learn and share.

Embrace The Mystery … Create The Mystery 

Winter Nights in the Poconos was an amazing event. The event was beyond words, so I will let the people that attended and the photos speak for themselves.

Stefano Bertoli, member of Tears of Othila – What a great weekend, what a wonderful event, what a great concert.:. Many thanks to …

Suzanne Conkling – great time this weekend with everyone a€” thanks again to all my volunteers and zombies!!

Nicholas Ferreri – I would like to share an experience I had this weekend with you all, something that sums up how I feel about this weekend. On Saturday after the bands were playing and everyone was socializing in Birch Hall, I watched an amazing 
The big deal was that these six men, during all the noise and commotion of the moment held Sumbel. Amongst themselves in a crowded hall and remarkably, not a soul noticed. Well I did, everyone should have. It was Robert, Steve, Brad, Michael, Nicholas and Josh. Generations of our folks leaders, all together, lock together, as brother and not a soul noticed. So I watched the most powerful thing I have ever seen, these brothers locked in close, doing Sumbel and celebrating the fact that this may NEVER be together in this way again. Towards the end, Thor came to speak with his father Robert, and was pulled into this circle. I watched this and was made proud and humble by it. It reminded me of the theme of this weekend, Embrace the mystery. It also reminded me of what you can see if you just keep your eyes open and look. You might just be surprised by what you find.

Eirik Westcoat- Hail to another wonderful AFA event in the Northeast, and a big thank you to everyone who listened to my poetry.

Patricia L. Hall- THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU EVERYONE! You give me purpose!

Stuart Sudekum- Another brilliant AFA event. Can’t think of a better way to cap off the honeymoon.

Tony Lester – It was a wonderful weekend of energy, wisdom and joy. Proper Heathenry at its best.

Clifford Erickson – Awesome event! Thank you everyone who put so much effort into making this a success.

Categories: News

Denmark Moot – Part 2 (2013)

from The Voice: October 2013
by Brad Taylor-Hicks 

I emerged from the burial chamber into the Danish sunlight. Those who know me will testify that l’m not often lost for words, but I was quiet as we drove away from the farmer’s field, still coming to terms with the experience I had inside that tomb, and trying to place it within the framework of all the various notions of death and rebirth. 

I walked into the room at the National Museum, and my eyes immediately focused on one object out of perhaps half a dozen, many of which were larger or more colorful. It was only about three feet tall, but to me it stood high above the others …

As many of you know, the Snoldelev runestone is of special interest to the AFA. The triple­horn motif which we adopted as our emblem appears on this monument, signifying the three containers of mead Odin drank to win the gift of wisdom, of the divine ecstatic… Our magical mystery tour continued (being truly magical and mysterious), and in short order we arrived at our next destination. If the burial chamber was the place of stasis and contemplation, then this was a place of action and abundance. The Trelleborg at Slagelse was a massive Viking age ring fort, used as a staging post for raids into other lands; it was built under the auspices of the King, Harald Bluetooth, son of Gorm. We were welcomed with the laughter of joyous children as we made our way past the museum’s playground, complete with miniature God poles, a felled tree in place of a climbing frame, and a miniature long house. 

The Long House (the full sized one) was something to behold, huge in its scale. Reconstructed in 1948, it stands as one of the earliest efforts to reconstruct our ancestral halls. Modern historians debate the reconstruction as new information has come to light, but that did not dim our pleasure as we took our lunch there, sitting like ancient kings under the high shingled roof. 

We crossed the bridge over the moat and started to make our way toward the entrance through the 16-foot-high dirt walls. Steve leapt up the wall charging as if into battle; I think a part of him wanted to know how it would have felt to have scaled the walls, sword in hand. And what a view greeted him from the top of the wall! Laid out in a sun wheel, the massive fortification was breathtaking. There were concrete markers that showed where the various houses would have stood and one could imagine the place filled with warriors where now there were only sheep grazing freely. Alongside the fort ran a river; perhaps there had been ships laden with goods, well earned or well won, their oars pulled by men coming home to a glad Jarl and a full horn. A more sobering place was near the exit where we walked past the numerous small burial mounds. We paid our respects to the 157 ancients who lay there; most had been Christianized, though some were buried with grave goods.

We drove again through the Danish countryside; this time our goal was the small village of … much larger stone in commemoration of the original, which now sits in the National Museum in Copenhagen…

We raised a horn in honor of Gunnvaldr, and it was impossible not to feel the connection made in that place, that sense of the old and new, of the carrying of that Gothi’s work into the future, of remembrance of our Gods and Kings, of honoring the strength of our people and pushing back against a thousand years of Christianity. I left a small gift at that site, a token of thanks: a round pin, with a tri-horn on it. 

Categories: News

New Apprentice Folkbuilder

Please join me in welcoming Benjamin Cooper of Idaho as the AFA’s newest Apprentice Folkbuilder! Ben will be working alongside Connor Norris and Joe Rozanek to build and serve our Northwest membership. The Northwest has seen rapid growth over the last year and a half and we have big plans for the future. We are excited to see the great work Ben is poised to do for our Folk and our Gods.

Hail Ben Cooper!
Hail the AFA!
Hail the Aesir!

Matthew D. Flavel
Alsherjargothi,
Asatru Folk Assembly

Categories: News

Denmark Moot (2013

from The Voice: August 2013

Here are a few pictures of the first AFA Event in Europe. The next issue of THE VOICE, will contain more stories and photos from all whom attended the moot. 

I walked into the room at the National Museum, and my eyes immediately focused on one object out of perhaps half a dozen, many of which were larger or more colorful. It was only about three feet tall, but to me it stood high above the others …

As many of you know, the Snoldelev runestone is of special interest to the AFA. The triple-horn motif which we adopted as our emblem appears on this monument, signifying the three containers of mead Odin drank to win the gift of wisdom, of the divine ecstatic condition. 

The Snoldelev stone – named for the village in which it was found – is dedicated to the honor of Gunnvald, “son of Hroald, thulr at Salhaugar.” In this context – and especially considering the heavily Odinic associations of the three-horned symbol – thulr would be a reciter of the religious lore, and perhaps a seer himself. The inscription dates from around the year 800, just as the Viking Age was getting underway.

Another strange thing about the Snoldelev stone is that it contains not one, but three, …seems to me to be significant, indicating a sort of succession from the age of bronze, to the age of iron, to that of the odr/subtle energy. But that’s just my personal interpretation.

I lingered in the room as long as I could, contemplating this stone that is so important to the organization to which we belong. I asked it for its wisdom, for the secrets contained within, and I thought on Gunnvald, deprived of his memorial stone.

-Steve McNallen

Denmark – Part One

It’s hard to describe our pilgrimage. It wasn’t a vacation, not a simple snapshot tour of the European countryside, nor was it merely an AFA ‘business trip’. It was the quenching of a thirst I didn’t know I had; an ecstatic mead of people and places pouring their spirit into the cauldron that hangs in my heart. Looking back just a few weeks later, it becomes difficult to separate the experiences; impossible to think which stone circle we visited first or last, or to count the seemingly endless bottles of mead that we poured on the ancient mounds of the great dead.

Denmark is the storybook land. As I write this, hundreds of people gather to celebrate the centennial of The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen. Everywhere we went, thatched cottages sat at the end of meandering country lanes, fields of wheat were being harvested, and the Danish flag flew proudly atop flagpoles everywhere, dwarfed only by the multitude of windmills.

I could write at length about the land of Jutes and Angles, but I’ll just point out a few highlights that I felt transformed me spiritually.

The Copenhagen Museum – Surrounded by items I have long seen in pictures was fascinating. The Gundestrop Cauldron was a real highlight, as were the numerous hammers, idols, swords and helmets, but two moments of greatness happened here. The first was standing in the shadow of an Auroch’s skeleton. Together with Matt Flavel, our Folkbuilder Coordinator, we stared at the mighty beast, hunted and lost to a bog, not eaten by his killers, but preserved for all time. Perhaps his destiny was not to sustain another’s …have breezed the bones. Uuuuuruuuuzzz .. .for the might of the young hunters …. Uuuuuuruuuzzzz … for the might of the beast… .. Uruuuzzzzzzz …… a destiny fulfilled, 
perhaps for us and for the Auroch’s.

It was just a few rooms later, past the wagon, the bog bodies (I admit to mixed feelings about their being showcased) the shields and Lur trumpets that the Hall of Runestones appeared. It was not the largest, nor the most elaborate, but for us it was the most important. That day, the Trihorn emblem of the AFA came home. I was honored to be present when Stephen McNallen set eyes on the Snoldelev stone for the first time. The symbol which has meant so much to us as AFA kin was taken from the engraving made on that stone in the 9th century. It was the perfect first day, and set the tone for the days to come.

We visited standing stones and dolmens, but I had a true awakening deep in the womb of the earth. Our Danish Folkbuilder Lars lrenesson along with our new friends Soren and Aziza had planned an amazing tour (most of which Steve has detailed in his regular postings on the web). We drove our cars along country roads and made our way on foot up a dirt path in the middle of a farmer’s field. I don’t know where it was. I couldn’t point it out on a map, nor tell you the name of the place, but those are details, unimportant and unnecessary as we made our way up the gentle slope to two tree-lined burial mounds. They stood as a shocking green crown atop the golden wheat that covered the land. We made our way past the first hill, under shady beech trees and past brambles, to the second mound.

My breath left my body. I’ve stood at burial mounds before, but never have I stared at the entrance to one. The long stone-lined tunnel invited us deep within, where Aziza had lit candles to illuminate the chamber. As Shiela McNallen entered the tomb, a rabble of Butterflies made their exit, jet black and beautiful in the sunlight.

The tomb was big enough to fit eight of us comfortably, and tall enough that I could stand upright, albeit barely. We sat against the cool stone. We passed a horn and absorbed the silent beauty of the chamber. Here we sat not in a place of death, but in a gateway to the next realm. I found it strangely comforting and humbling. Matt asked if I would lead us in a… down the entrance and see the world from that perspective. From the stony dark to the blue skies and fields outside. Life, to death, to rebirth. Something shifted inside me. In that moment, the sunlight washing over my face through the darkness, I changed.

-Brad Taylor-Hicks

Categories: News

Sonnenwald Kindred of Northern California

Today I’m honored to announce the Sonnenwald Kindred of Northern California as a official Kindred of the Asatru Folk Assembly. California now has another Kindred. This group has hosted meet ups and hikes in the past and they are keeping up the momentum and pushing forward. Gaining Kindred recognition is not a easy thing, it takes dedication and loyalty and willingness to stand with our church and family. Sonnenwald Kindred thank you for stepping up and representing our church! Hail the Doers! Hail the Kindreds of the AFA!

Hail 25 years of the Asatru Folk Assembly!!!

Jason Gallagher AFA Kindred Coordinator kindred@runestone.org

Categories: News

Brandy Callahan Oathed in as Folkbuilder

At Fallfest V the Asatru Folk Assembly was proud to oath in Brandy Callahan as Folkbuilder. Brandy has shown a professionalism and competence that that few can match. The AFA has benefited from Brandy’s hard work tremendously. Brandy Runs the AFA Youth Program and under her direction that program has surpassed all expectation. In addition to Folkbuilding and the Youth Program, Brandy leads our history projects. Brandy is the Hof Historian for Baldurshof and coordinates the other Hof Historians. We are very grateful for all the ways Brandy has served and continues to serve our Gods and Folk.

Matthew D. Flavel
Alsherjargothi,
Asatru Folk Assembly

Categories: News

Zachary Cato Oathed in as Folkbuilder

At Fallfest the Asatru Folk Assembly was proud to Oath in Zachary Cato as Folkbuilder. In his time as Apprentice Folkbuilder, Zach has shown a persistent dedication towards the AFA and towards the membership in his region. Zach has put his heart and soul into his work for the Gods and Folk. Please join us in celebrating Zach’s advancement to the position of Oathed Folkbuilder.

Matthew D. Flavel
Alsherjargothi,
Asatru Folk Assembly

Categories: News

Day of Remembrance for Prince Hermann of the Cherusci (17 B.C. – 21 A.D.)

I have the profound pleasure and honor to talk to you this month about a great man, a man that all Germanic people owe a debt of gratitude to. Hermann Von Cherusci, known to the Romans as Arminius. Hermann was born into a royal family of the Cherusci tribe in either 17 or 18 BC in Germania. As a child, he was a hostage to the Roman empire. Hermann was afforded every luxury in Rome and learned the ways of the Roman empire. He eventually earned his Roman citizenship and was made a Roman Knight due to his capability as a Roman officer and soldier fighting in the great Illyrian revolt.

Soon after Hermann’s service in Illyria, he was sent Germania as a commander to help Governor Publius Quintillus Varus complete the conquest of the Germanic tribes. The Romans trusted Hermann to command Roman troops against his own people, but Hermann had other plans. Secretly Hermann worked at uniting several Germanic troops and plot against the invading Roman army.

Hermann knew the Romans were incredibly capable on open ground, and it was suicide to take on the legions in an open field, so he convinced Varus to march the legions through the now-famous Teutoburg forest. The Germanic warriors had the advantage in the deep forest, it was their home ground and a place they felt comfortable, whereas Romans were not accustomed to deep woods and had a healthy fear of the forest. Once in the Teutoburg forest, the legions were destroyed by the combined effort of several Germanic tribes. Stopping cold the march of Rome into Germania.

After the seminal battle of Teutoburg Forest, The Romans made several small attempts to again invade Germania. Notably, Hermann’s own brother, a Roman officer, was involved in the fighting and a plot that had Hermann’s wife and child captured and be lost forever into Roman Hands. All further Roman incursions into Germania were defeated and Rome never was able to conquer or cow Germania.

Hail Hermann! If Hermann had not been successful, Germania may well have fallen to roman arms and been subject to the Germanic culture being subjugated to the Roman ways, much as happened to the Celts of Gaul. We owe thanks to the great Hermann for two thousand years of continued German culture and language. Despite the incredible personal cost to himself, Hermann never wavered from love and service to his folk. He gave up a life of privilege and luxury in the greatest empire of the classical world in order to fight for his people. Hermann lost his family, his own brother was made enemy, and yet Hermann still persisted in his dedication to his people.

Herman would be eventually assassinated by other Germanic nobles, fearful of the great power he had amassed, but his legacy lives on. Hermann and his honor and dedication serve as a powerful example for our folk to follow. Hermann is still beloved by Germans today, his statue looms over the forest where he had his greatest triumph as a stark reminder that Germanic spirit will not be conquered.

Rob Stamm
Folkbuilder,
Asatru Folk Assembly

Categories: News

Mother of All Moots…and more (2013)

from The Voice: May 2013

Mother of All Moots – For Those Who Missed It!
by Steve McNallen

In short, the Moot was fantastically successful!

The Asatru Folk Assembly was already pushing beyond the boundaries by having not just one, but two major, well-attended annual events – one in California, and another in Pennsylvania. And then, at MoM, we announced that our Danish members were sponsoring the first-ever AFA conference in Europe. This is unprecedented in modern Asatru!

The Danish news was one of many signs that the AFA is breaking new ground. Other indicators: A joint statement by Ed red Thorsson and Steve McNallen made it official that the Asatru Folk Assembly has purchased rights to a number of Edred’s important works which had become unavailable with the demise of Runa-Raven Press. More significant publishing projects are also underway, with details to follow. 

student Carrie Overton stepped forward into Daniel Updike’s shoes on short notice to give blot to Frigga, when Daniel’s journey was interrupted by illness. Pat Ha// led us in a moving rite of healing for Daniel’s wife (which certainly seems to have been effective). Folkbuilders renewed their oaths while standing in front of a huge new hand-stitched AFA banner that dominated the ritual area. At the end of MoM, Clergy student Bryan Wilton blessed our going. Each meal, of course, was hallowed by one of the folk before the chow line formed.

Spiritual opportunities abounded, most especially in Brad’s runic galdering sessions and Steve’s notes on his personal, practical techniques for working with the mysteries of Odin’s mead theft.

But not all was intense! Tony Rochman built an unbelievable may pole, tall and graceful and festooned with ribbons, which our ladies and children decked with real flowers. We all danced around it – ineptly, perhaps, but with much laughter and delight. Stuart Mason and John Weed of the band Molly’s Revenge had us tapping our feet and nodding our heads to their fine Celtic and Appalachian tunes. The fireplace was a scene of joy and camaraderie.

Permeating the whole event was the presence of the Viking Brotherhood, a California-­based fraternal order with quite a few AFA members. Made up of young men interested in the history and culture of the Vikings, its members wear distinctive vests complete with raven flags and the powerful Viking Brotherhood logo. This may sound intimidating to some, but they were uniformly polite, respectful, and constructive. If you needed a task done right away, you could look for one of the fellows wearing a vest and rest assured it was a done deal.

There is more, so much more, but space prevents further expansion. Suffice to say it was wonderful – and that you can find out what it’s like for yourself by coming to an AFA event such as our upcoming Danish adventure, or next October’s Winter Nights in the Poconos! 

Notes from your Leadership about MoM:

Matt Flavel –
All AFA gatherings are amazing, but MoM had a feeling of kinship and dynamism that was above and beyond. For me, the weekend started off with seeing our new banner, I could not take my eyes off it all weekend, it is truly inspiring. The weekend was full of powerful rituals and inspiring talks, we learned of brave new endeavors that the AFA is doing and we developed skills and techniques to evolve spiritually. The galdr sessions were powerful for all involved. One of the highlights for me was the oathing of our Folkbuilders. The atmosphere pulsed with fellowship of tribe and family. My life is better for having gone and I hope more of my AFA family can attend these gatherings in the future.

Daniel Updike
The trip my wife and I had was a challenge to say the least. We did not make it to the moot as my wife was developing DVT (deep vein thrombosis) in her legs while we were travelling. We deeply appreciate the positive energy sent our way during this experience, and a special thank you to our AFA kin at the Moot who held a special healing rite for her when they found out about what was happening. We truly know without a doubt that we are all part of a family and TRIBE in the AFA! As a note, Kelly is doing much better, and has almost fully recovered from the DVT. Next time we fly.

Brian Wilton say that his most powerful experience at MoM was “charging the offering to Odin during the Wayfarers blot. Leads me to believe that we should all endeavor to become more involved in our worship activities”.

Notes from Members that attended MoM:
The gathering at Enchanted Hills for the Mother of all Moots was truly a coming home for those of us who attended. Folk from far and wide showed up to celebrate and further the awakening of the Spirit. From the moment that me and Andrew arrived there was an energy that radiated about the place. We knew empirically that we were exactly where we needed (nauthiz) to be. We were greeted as if we were family and had known everyone for a lifetime. The feeling was mutual. WE all felt like we belonged together and that feeling never waned throughout the entire Moot. Read Michael’s entire letter here. 

Michael Hartrich says he enjoyed the rune chanting and galdering hosted by Brad Taylor­-Hicks

Channcie Bean
MoM was my 4th AFA event, and with each one I build new friendships and further bond with old friendships. It was an awakening of my soul once again. I traveled 4,684 air miles and drove over 1,200 miles to and from home. I was welcomed with hugs and said goodbye even more hugs. I look forward to the next event, see you all at Winter Nights!

News and Notes from Shelia McNallen –
Hail to our Mary
Imagine reaching retirement age and leaving the work force, to then volunteer for a nonprofit organization! This describes Mary Minshall, who has given the AFA over a dozen years since she took on the formidable job of managing our membership database. For those of us who have worked closely with Mary, her professionalism has made our jobs much easier.

Mary recently underwent successful knee-surgery, but is still in the recovery stage. Along with some membership-related tasks, she’ll be assisting with our Runestone Press and other publishing ventures as an editor and proofreader. We know she’ll shine in whatever she does. Thank you, Mary! 

Categories: News