McNallen, Stephen A. (1948-)

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McNallen, Stephen A. (1948-)

Stephen A. McNallen, the pioneer advocate of modern Norse Neo-Paganism in North America, was born in Brecken-ridge, Texas, on October 15, 1948. He attended Midwestern University in Wichita Falls, Texas, and during his college days discovered the deities of the ancient Norsemen and began to identify with the Viking element in his own ancestry. He eventually dedicated himself to Odin and the whole of the Norse pantheon, though he kept this commitment to himself and a few friends. However, in the winter of 1971-72, as his college career was coming to an end, he released the first issue of The Runestone. Previously he had placed an ad in Fate magazine, and compiled a list of potential subscribers from it. From those who responded he founded the Viking Brotherhood.

McNallen completed his degree in political science and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the army. He did his basic training at Fort Benning (Georgia) and was assigned to a unit in Germany, where he served for the remainder of his term. The Viking Brotherhood continued at a minimal level until he returned to the States in 1976. He settled in California and began to meet with Norse Neo-Pagans in the San Francisco Area.

McNallen actively developed his understanding of the Asatru (or loyalty to the Germanic deities) and shortly after his assuming active leadership in the brotherhood, he reformed it as Asatru Free Assembly. His efforts received a significant boost when the first edition of Margot Adler's survey of the contemporary community, Drawing Down the Moon, appeared in 1979. He even appeared on the radio show of Christian evangelist Bob Larson, which provided further national exposure. He continued to edit The Runestone and compiled a book of Norse rituals. Feeling burned out, he dissolved the assembly in 1987, though he did not abandon his faith. Others continued the work of the assembly in various alternative organizations and McNallen moved to northern California. He obtained his teaching credentials and got a job teaching science and math in a junior high school. In his spare time, he traveled to northern India and Burma and turned his observations on the political and military conflicts into articles for national magazines.

In 1992, McNallen felt ready to resume his leadership in what had become an expansive international Asatru community. He revived The Runestone and founded a new fellowship group, the Asatru Folk Assembly, modelled on the previous Asatru Free Assembly. He has also continued his global travels, beginning with Africa and Bosnia in 1993. He maintains the Internet page for the new assembly at


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.