How the Asatru Leadership Conference Honored the Gods
by Steve McNallen
from THE RUNESTONE Summer 1995 #12
The weather had been warm and springlike all week – so, naturally, as the day before the Asatru Leadership Conference dawned, the sun fled and the temperatures dropped. We began to discuss alternative plans. Where would we meet if it rained? would it be too wet outside for all the people who intended to camp? How many people would stay home by the fire on account of the weather?
Early the next morning, over cups of coffee, Sheila and I waited and watched and planned. Lon and Wayne were already on hand, having arrived the previous night after a long journey. Finally, the decision was made to start the sessions outside, on the chairs and tables Larry had so generously helped us collect the night before, and see how the weather developed.
Only a bit after our declared starting time of 9 AM, we gathered in a circle and called on the Gods and Goddesses to be with us, and to give us their gifts of inspiration, luck, and joy. We drank a toast to them, and emptied our assorted horns and cups on the ground in honor of the land spirits.
So began the (first?) Asatru Leadership Conference. Somewhat more modest than the name implies, it was a meeting of about twenty adults – and another ten kids! – from the California-Nevada area. All were interested in helping the new AFA begin it’s work, and although few were “leaders” in terms of being luminaries in the Asatru firmament,all were leaders in terms of their willingness to participate and to be in on the ground floor of a major undertaking. Some had come from as far as Oregon, or Las Vegas, or the far reaches of Southern California to give their hands and minds to the task before us. Our numbers included everyone from Wayne the bush pilot and Bill the stock broker – to Baby Vidar, the infant.
This was a different kind of Asatru/Odinist gathering. Not a single axe was thrown. No one “played viking”. Kids were running all over the place. Drinking was quite moderate, and was done after dinner. Oh, we know there’s a time and a place for the rowdier event – but we were here to work, to think, and incidentally to draw out families that might have been turned away by a “viking wannabee” atmosphere.
Work and think we did! We talked about goals, and about the target audience we had to reach if we were to break the old paradigms and take Asatru out of the “cult” stage. We brainstormed ways of taking our message to the ordinary dissatisfied European-American. In one exercise, we sought ways that Asafolk could help each other, rather than having to rely on the system outside us. When time came for the sacrifice to Odin for victory, the SIGRBLOT, we were ready to cease the endless discussion and honor the One Eyed God.
The HORG or altar stood in a small, even cozy, clearing hemmed in by ancient fruit trees and younger brush. Taller trees loomed around it, emphasizing the sky overhead. We filled in, stood in a circle, and began the rite. Within moments after calling to Odin, drops began to fall from a sky that had been only mildly threatening only minutes before. As the invocation rose to it’s climax, cold rain turned to ice and white crystals danced on the blue cloth covering the HORG. Our concentration was unbroken; unflinching, we accepted the might of Odin. Mead was passed around the circle as thunder echoed across the stormy sky. Truly, the blessing of Odin was on us!
The evening saw good food and good conversation. Guilds were discussed, duties assigned, and the evening finally wrapped up.
The next day, after a rousing breakfast, we resumed. First, a survey to see what recommendations each of us had on how to make The Runestone a better publication. Then, more on Guilds – the Warrior Guild and the Aerospace Technology Guild, for starters. A discussion on the Computer Guild revealed a list of ambitious projects to serve the Folk. Ways to increase the participation of women in the AFA were brainstormed, and an introduction to the Organic Gardening Guild turned into a lively exchange, led by larry, on horticultural matters. Finally after assigning a feasibility study on a major public relations project or two, it was time for the closing ceremony.
What we had accomplished between the opening ritual and the one that concluded our gathering the next day? A great deal! Truly, the Gods had given us good gifts. In the months and years to come, it is our duty to share those gifts with you, and with all who will receive them.