Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Myth-Busting: Indiscriminate Viking Lust

The first in a Monday mini-series...

I've seen it a hundred times on Facebook:  "The vikings had sex with just about anything that moved...They spread their seed indiscriminately wherever they went regardless of race, culture or anything else."

This is not true.

Professor Jenny Jochens is the author of Women in Old Norse Society and an acknowledged expert on women in medieval times.  Some years back she wrote a paper titled "Race and Ethnicity in the Old Norse World."  In it, she notes how the Norse interbred with the Irish they encountered.  As she puts it, "Norwegians were able to overlook the differences between themselves and the Celts which they considered minor."

On the other hand, "Greatly pronounced differences apparently set limits for Norse experimentation with genetic mixing"  -  which directly contradicts the myth of unrestrained viking lust.  Jochens notes that the Norse lived in Greenland for five hundred years without mingling with the Inuit!

She also makes the point that the Norse colonists in Vinland never mixed with the natives, even though they had a shortage of their own women: "Norse men may not have sought sexual encounters with local women because the Indians of the New World  -  as the Inuit in Greenland  -  were of strikingly different physique."  The appearance of the Indians "appears to have generated revulsion in the Norse."  She concludes that in Vinland "the combination of sexual frustration and reproductive needs were not enough to overcome the Norse bias."

Did mixing occur from time to time?  Undoubtedly.  However, this occurred mostly with closely related peoples such as the Celts.  Why? Because they found their own women more attractive than foreign ones.  Today, the politically correct would call such preference "racist." The rest of us might note that the Inuit preferred their own women as well, and that the tribes of Vinland presumably felt the same about their own mates.   We don't call that racist, we call it "natural."

You can purchase Dr. Jochens' full paper here:

Steve McNallen

Asatru Folk Assembly

[Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter using the handy links below!]

Friday, August 22, 2014

Asatru Says Yes to Life!

Many of you will recognize the title of this post as a re-working of Friedrich Nietzsche's "Pagans are those who say yes to life."  I have always liked the original, but have deliberately changed it here to reflect an important truth.

Asatru DOES say yes to life!  Like our European ancestors, we strive to face life squarely, to relish its challenges, to delight in the daily battle of working our Will, to find joy in that which surrounds us.

We do not hide from life.  Life is consciousness, awareness, and choice.  A difficult life is no curse; an easy life is no blessing.

LIVE your life!

Steve McNallen

Asatru Folk Assembly

[Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!]

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Paganism to be Included in Cornish Curriculum


Cornwall is part of England, and also one of the traditional six Celtic nations.  Like many parts of Europe, it is starting to acknowledge its ancient past.

Cornwall Council has told its schools that pagan beliefs should be taught alongside Christianity, Islam and Judaism.  The Council says that from the age of five, children should begin learning about standing stones, such as Stonehenge. At the age of 11, pupils can begin exploring "modern paganism and its importance for many in Cornwall."

The syllabus adds that areas of study should include "the importance of pre-Christian sites for modern pagans."

There are two stories here.  One, the more politically correct, has to do with tolerance and religious rights.  And I support that.  But there is another narrative lurking in the background that is also important:  The awakening of the various European peoples to their deeper heritage.

All across Europe, our kin are struggling to find their ancient souls.  We in the European Diaspora are a part of this phenomenon. The continent of our ancestors is under siege, with an imploding native population, homogenization imposed by the European Union, and the replacement of our native peoples by an influx of immigrants from outside Europe. If we do not reconnect with the spirit of our ancestors, we face a grim future.  Luckily, there are articles like this one to indicate we are stirring from our long spiritual slumber!

Hail the Awakening of our Folk!

Steve McNallen

Asatru Folk Assembly

[Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter with the handy links below!]

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Asatru and Space Travel

I have always been fascinated by the possibilities of space travel.  As a young child I wanted to go to the moon, and I clearly remember badgering my older sister to take me to see the classic sci-fi production "Destination Moon" when it was playing in my little rural Texas town.  All that dreaming came to naught, and my life went a different direction.  I am satisfied with that direction...but if I decided to be anyone else on Earth it would be Elon Musk, owner of SpaceX.

I wonder if there are any other AFAers out there who had similar leanings?  Or maybe even some of you who ended up in aerospace science and engineering?

I have always believed that space exploration was compatible with Asatru.  Adventure, Faustian reach, upward urge, the seeking of new frontiers, Overcoming  -  surely these are part of our hardwiring as Northfolk.  Back in the 1980's (and later!) we had an Aerospace Technology Gild as part of the AFA, and for several years we launched rockets to open our annual Althing.  Our main purpose was to keep the dream of space alive, and particularly to keep it alive for Asafolk.

From dragon ships to space ships...the spirit remains the same.  (At least when it is not being stifled by government bureaucracies!)

Any more hard core space enthusiasts out there?  Any real rocket engineers?

Steve McNallen

Asatru Folk Assembly

[Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter with the handy links below!]

Monday, August 18, 2014

Freyfaxi, Surrounded by Horses!

WOW! WHAT A GREAT EVENT! There were about 50 of us, pretty evenly divided between men and women, with three generations represented...four, if you count the one (or two!) babies on the way. Wonderful!

After the opening ritual, our hostess Jean welcomed us and gave a safety briefing.  Then I gave a short talk on the role of horses for us Eurofolk generally, and for Asatru in particular.  Then we shared horse stories, focusing on the sacred relationship between our Folk and beasts, the healing power of horses, horses as a means of accessing wisdom, and the values of trust, companionship, vitality, and cooperation which they epitomize.  The flow of ideas and horse tales was wonderful!

Then we adjourned and spent the next couple of hours generally getting familiar with our equine friends  -  learning how to interact with them, and riding them around the arena.

Later we blessed the meal, enjoyed a copious feast, held an auction (Thank you, our wonderful AFA members for their generosity!), and prepared for blot. 

Thorgrun, our Frey's man, did the honors.  There is something to be said for doing a Frey blot surrounded by horses!  Seriously - the horses, which had been quiet after dinner, were stirring and whinnying as we did our rites.

We are building the bonds of the Folk, strengthening our ties, deepening our spirituality.  This is what the AFA is all about!

THANK YOU to our hosts Jean and Ken, and THANK YOU to all you wonderful people who were there with us!

Steve McNallen

Asatru Folk Assembly

[Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter with these handy links!]

Friday, August 15, 2014

Frey, the Harvest, and Us


Many of us celebrate Freyfaxi sometime during August, honoring the God of the Vanir and giving thanks for the harvest.  It is only right that we should pause for a moment and reflect on Frey, and on the Earth's bounty. We should also consider what the harvest means for us, today.

Food doesn't really come from the grocery store, it comes from farms and slaughterhouses.  All too often it is laden with poisonous pesticides, or GMOs, or high-fructose corn syrup.  Most of our meat comes from cattle pumped full of hormones and ankle-deep in manure, or from chickens jammed into tiny cages, filthy and sick and unable to move. All these organisms are profoundly separated from Nature.

We, too, are separated from Nature. 

We are not unlike those chickens in the cramped cages, or the cattle who will never again walk on grass or graze naturally.  We have the illusion of freedom, but we are locked into systems that determine our destiny from birth to death as certainly as any death-doomed cow in a slaughterhouse. 

But it doesn't have to be that way.  We can break out of the farm, escape the corporate culture, run free!

One great first step is to reconnect with Nature.  I have written a lot on that, and there are plenty of ways to do it, so I won't elaborate.

We can also change the way we relate to our food.  We can eat more natural, certified organic, or non-GMO products; we can patronize small local farmers.  Best of all would be to grow our own and become more self-reliant!  All these actions honor the Earth and the Holy Powers, especially the life-giving Vanir and, at this time of year, mighty Frey!

Perhaps the ultimate act of resistance is to build a new culture, one that works in harmony with the Earth, and which allows us the reality, rather than the illusion, of freedom.  That, as I see it, is the primary task of Asatru in this century.

Steve McNallen

Asatru Folk Assembly

[Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter with these handy links!]

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Difference Between Asatru and Modern "Paganism"

Asatru has much more in common with traditional American Indian religion, indigenous African religion, or similar ethnic beliefs than with what passes for "paganism" in the modern industrialized West. It is the “way of a people”  -  in our case, the people of Northern Europe.  It is a part of our deeper identification, our way of relating to the Holy, an expression of the soul of our Folk.  We have been cut off from these root for too long...but every day, our sense of reconnection grows!

Steve McNallen  

Asatru Folk Assembly

[Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter with these handy links!]