The topics that I could have chosen for this issue of the Runestone are vast; tales of heroes of the folk, interesting deep dives into the lore, or historical facts about our amazing Aryan journey thus far. All those things are worthy of writing about, and I will get to those at a later date. This month, however, I wanted to talk about perspective.
We find ourselves in very exciting times, even if it doesn’t always feel that way during our day-to-day lives. We often can miss the bigger picture while working on the fine details, which can lead us to falsely believe that what we’re doing doesn’t matter or that progress on our goals is moving at a snail’s pace. This can snowball into apathy and complacency, which is obviously counterproductive. To that end, I’d like to offer my own unique perspective on just how far we’ve come and the amazing place we find ourselves in today.
I became an asatruar on Mother’s Night of 2001. I did so via a long since forgotten ritual known as a ‘profession of faith’, which was very much in vogue back then. It involved renouncing all ties to Christianity and publicly declaring loyalty to the Aesir, which was a direct reversal of the ritual some of our ancestors were forced to perform in ancient times. It was all very exciting, and I truly felt the power of it. But in the days, weeks, and months that followed I was struck with the question of “now what”?
Asatru was a very different animal back then; sure, I had a community around me, and we observed the major holy days of Midsummer and Yule, but we numbered in the dozens at best. I didn’t even know the AFA existed until a year or so later, and I was told that it was mainly a “California thing”. Learning the Lore was akin to a scavenger hunt, always tracking down a book that some other guy had read, and scouring the internet for sources that didn’t seem overtly liberal/universalist. The only guidelines for performing blot and sumbel weren’t much better, and how it was done was pretty much a regional thing, with no real rhyme or reason.
There was also what amounted to a cold civil war going on, with the universalists claiming that anyone could be Asatru, and the folkish contingent, who steadfastly maintained the correct position of it being for white folks only. There were many fierce arguments, both online and in person, that raged like wildfires during that time, and I took part in my fair share. Our little communities grew, shrank, and completely dissolved numerous times based on this large issue and all the things that revolved around it. I wish I could say that there were good people on both sides of that conflict, but I’m clearly biased, and their position is and always has been illogical and unnatural.
We dreamt big back then, too. As the Alsherjargothi has said on many occasions, intentional Asatru communities have been a dream since the very beginning, and it was no different twenty years ago. Many a night was spent around the moot fire speaking of grand plans for our own little villages, an Asatru utopia, free from the trash of the modern world, where we could live out our lives, worshipping our gods as we saw fit. We fashioned many organizations back then, too. Some were good, a few were great, but none of them had a real infrastructure or leadership. A lot of them devolved into cults of personality, which is always the kiss of death.
There were a few attempts at recurring national events, including one that I attended for at least three years in a row, that was borne out of that not-so-civil war I mentioned earlier. But it, too, eventually came to an end due to personality cults, in-fighting, and lack of solid organization. Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of good times and a lot of meaningful connections made during this time, with many fond memories. It was at one of these moots that I met Founder McNallen, which I consider one of the most important events in my life as an asatruar.
There were no Hofs back then, other than a few feeble attempts at purchasing land and repurposing small buildings for use by isolated regional groups. Any events that took place were at state parks and campgrounds, with the ever-present worry of being disrupted by outsiders.
And so it was, existing in small numbers here and there, doing the best we could with what we had, but always dreaming of ‘some day’. For a lot of us, Asatru was small, personal, and not at all something that extended beyond those small pockets of like-minded folk, getting together when they could, hailing the gods around campfires and worshipping at our home altars.
But, as has happened time and time again in the history of our people, the seed that lay dormant was beginning to grow roots and sprout forth. We learned from those growing pains, as we still do. Founder McNallen continued to put in the work and remained steadfast in his vision for our future. This in turn sparked a fire in many great men and women who lead us today. One by one, they came home to their spiritual birthright and home, and lent their might and main to our noble endeavor. The AFA began growing, expanding its reach and influence beyond California and the western part of the country. Mere words will never suffice to describe the hard work and sacrifices that so many have made and continue to make towards our goal of a truly living faith in our gods and ancestors.
At present, there are four temples to our gods, with more on the way. No longer do we have to resort to those state parks and campgrounds or be content to only worship our gods at our home altars. We have dedicated sacred spaces for the Holy Powers where we can gather and express our piety. That long sought goal of an intentional community is now becoming a reality at Sigrheim, which will one day soon be home to Tyrshof and the headquarters of the AFA. We are blessed by the gods with a strong corps of leaders, led by the Alsherjargothi, the Witan, and our Gothar. These priests and priestesses of our gods and folk strive mightily every day to lead us in proper ritual and give wise counsel. We folkbuilders work daily to bring more of our folk home and do the work of our church. We are more connected now than ever before in our history, and not a weekend goes by that groups of AFA men and women gather together in fellowship and common cause.
The road to this point has been long and perilous, but we have persevered and have stacked victory upon victory, all the while learning from our mistakes and moving ever forward. I find it important to stop from time to time and consider our journey thus far, with all its setbacks, missteps, and also the triumphs. From my perspective, we’re winning.