This summer a prisoner in Virginia, Michael Lenz, was executed for murdering a fellow inmate in the name of Asatru, his adopted religion. Though most adherents of the pre-Christian, earth- and heritage-based faith are honorable, law-abiding citizens who don't advocate random violence, a small (about five percent) but media-magnetic group of them are white supremacists, many of them prisoners.Asatruar worship a pantheon of Norse gods like Odin and Thor and goddesses like Freya and Idun. The warrior archetype is honored, but in no way defines the religion, says Stephen McNallen, 57, founder of the Asatru Folk Assembly, a leading Asatru group.McNallen recently set the Asatru record straight, speaking to Beliefnet from hisCalifornia home about respecting our ancestors, balancing the warrior with the Mother, and how he starts everyday with a pot of tea and a well-fed cat in his lap.
What does "Asatru" mean?
I usually say that Asatru means, "Those true to the gods" or "The belief in the gods."
How would you sum up the core beliefs of Asatru?
Well, people are going to
give you different answers on that.
I believe that the core of Asatru
comes down to about three or four main points. First, we are related to
the holy powers [gods and goddesses], and our task is to evolve to
become more like them. Second, we are specially connected to our
ancestors, to our living kin, and to our descendants yet tocome—the
family line is a continuity that transcends time and space, and even
mortality. Third, by leading lives of power and wisdom, we evolve to a
higher level and this evolution gives us more choices in regards to an
afterlife. And finally, the way of our ancestors is the best way for
us, because we are the representatives of those ancestors in this
little slice of space and time.
How many Asatruars would you estimate there are in the U.S.?
Well, obviously no one
really knows because we’re not a very centralized outfit. There is no
Pope of Asatru and no Vatican. The estimate that I have heard is 10,000
What does a day in the life of an Asatruar look like? Are there daily or weekly rituals?
I can really only speakto
my personal pract......
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