Asatru Folk Assembly
Asatru Folk Assembly
The Asatru Folk Assembly was founded in California in 1994 by Stephen A. McNallen, the pioneer American advocate of the magical polytheistic Norse Neo-Paganism that became an international religious community in North America and Europe in the last quarter of the twentieth century. McNallen founded the original North American group of the Asatru (literally, loyalty to the Germanic deities), the Viking Brotherhood, while a college student in Texas in 1971. (Unknown to him at the time, other groups were being created simultaneously elsewhere: a periodical, The Odinist, was first published in Canada; the Committee for the Restoration of the Odinic Rite was organized in England; and the Asatru movement emerged in Iceland.) That organization became the Asatru Free Assembly (AFA) later in the decade. In 1980 the AFA held the first annual Allthing (national gathering). McNallen also assembled a calendar for seasonal observances, wrote a three-volume book of rituals, and produced a series of booklets and tapes. However, in 1987 McNallen, feeling burned out with his leadership of the assembly, disbanded it and allowed it to continue through several other organizations, primarily the Asatru Alliance.
After serving several years as a junior high school teacher, McNallen decided to return to active leadership in the faith community he had largely founded. In 1992 he restarted The Runestone, the old assembly's periodical. Then in 1994, he created the Asatru Folk Assembly, modeled on the previous assembly. The new assembly continues the beliefs and practices appropriate to the acknowledgment of the ancient Norse deities. New local kindred groups have been organized and the annual gatherings revived. As with the former AFA, several guilds (special interest groups) have emerged, and Wolf Age, a periodical for the Warrior Guild, appeared. The new AFA has even gone to court to protect the remains of an ancient man, believed to be caucasoid, discovered in America.
As of the end of the 1990s, the revived assembly is still very much a small emerging organization. It may be contacted at P.O. Box 445, Nevada City, CA 95959. Website: http://www.runestone.org/.
McNallen, Stephen A. Rituals of Asatru. 3 vols. Breckenridge, Tex.: Asatru Free Assembly, 1985.
——. What Is the Norse Religion? Turlock, Calif.: The Author, n.d.