Irminsul Ăttir

A Statement from Alsherjargo­i of the ┴satr˙ar FÚlagi­ of Iceland

Greetings fellow Asatruar;

It has concerned me for some time now that there is no unifying voice of Paganism and Asatru in the world. I have discussed these concerns with the leaders and individuals of different Asatru groups through the years. My ideas have been well received but unfortunately not much in the way of action has happened. In a way I understand this very well. The various Pagan and Asatru groups throughout the world value their independence and are in most cases deeply rooted in cultural and linguistic heritage. This is in fact, the very reason that we in Iceland where hard to reach in the past. It was necessary for us to tie the bounds with our own past and to build ourselves into a cohesive community before advising others on the same.

Now other Asatru groups are discovering their own roots and creating new traditions, so the time is ripe for exchange of ideas and cooperation. We in Iceland feel that we can show the way as we have the longest continuing tradition both in past and present. First there are the Eddas, the oldest religious Asatru texts and the fact that we where the first Asatru group to receive full Government recognition, so we have a lot to share, but the last thing we want is to become a Pagan Vatican dictating to others what and what not to do and believe. This would be against our nature as Asatruar. We openly offer our holy places, such as Thingvellir as common HOF and meeting place for all like-minded individuals. We would like to share the spiritual power so prevelant there.

One of the reasons that this matter has haunted me in the past few years stems from my experience in the former Soviet Union. After the fall of the Iron Curtain I lived there some time. I learned that the persecutions against Pagans where non less than those against the Christians, which you heard so much about. Pagans could not hold any worthwhile government jobs and jet government jobs were the only ones available. To complete the viscious circle, it was illegal to be without a job and to do so sometimes resulted in a free trip to Siberia. Pagans where excluded from taking higher exams and so on. Old Pagan places of worship, such as sacred trees, rocks and mounds where systematically destroyed. Now even though these people where not Asatruar, neither are the Shamanistic hunters of Siberia but we still all have a lot in common. Pride in your own heritage must never include hate or dislike of others. We are all different, thank all the Gods for that.

To the everlasting credit of the people of the former Soviet Union it has to be stated that the persecutions did not stop them. One of the most moving experiences that I had there was an old man who told us that he had dedicated himself to watch over the holy trees of the ancestors while a young man I knew spend his weekends taking care of the sacred mounds. There are bound to be other areas in the world where the same things are going on. We owe such people respect and support.

There are ancient Pagan groups all over the world. Imagine what we could learn from them about the way to regard Mother Nature and all her creatures. Many of these Pagan groups must still respect the laws of their forefathers, what a fountain of knowledge this could be. Each of the scattered Asatru groups could do little to seek out these people, but united we could find them, visit them and learn from them the ancient ways which even we have lost. At the same time we could show them that it is possible to keep the old faith in the modern world. The way to preserve our old religion is not to retreate over the moat and ward off the attackers, real or imaginary. Do as the Vikings did. Go forth into the unknown exchange goods and ideas but never loose your honour or compromise your integrity.

When we established the Asatruarfelag 25 years ago there was at once demand from other countries for membership. For practical and legal reasons this was unfortunatly not deemed possible for non-residents. Many Asatruar all over the world wanted to recognise Sveinbjorn Beinteinsson as a leader of the international Asatru community. After his untimely death these wishes have been directed towards the office of Allsherjargodhi and the undersigned. This is not possible, at least not for the time being. Allsherjargodhi has no international mandate, except by virtue of his personality, and neither the money nor recourses to undertake this important task.

Some weeks ago the idea came up to accept foreigners as associate members of the Asatruarfelag or alternatively to form a new International Asatruar Felag under the leadership of Allsherjargodhi and subject to the same rules and regulations as the Icelandic Asatruar Felag. I asked two young people Modi Thorson and Birgitta Jonsdottir to check this concept on the Internet. I also suggested that they contact Susan Granquist that I know to be well conected and sensible middle of the road person in Asatru in America. This little request of mine has caused quit a stir and some unfortunate comments both from Iceland and America. I suggest that we look instead to the new frendships which we have found as a result of all the commotion and begin building together a more positive future.

Let me state in this context, that if Modi and Birgitta are guilty of anything it is simply that they carried out my request a little too enthusiastically and earlier than I had anticipated. One can hardly blame them for that. We can all learn from this incident and now the time has come for us to do just that and get down to dealing with the owervelmimg international responce. There is one more meeting planned next week for the Godhar and Logretta where we shall formalize things and post the results to the web-site and to the mailing lists.

A final statement: The establishment of the International Asatruar Felag, will not hinder in any way the formation of an International Asatru Alliance, which I proposed last year to some select individuals, this would be by its very nature an Alliance of Groups and the unavoidable adjustment of the by-laws, edicts and doctrines will take a long time. The proposed Felag is for individuals only. Both the Icelandic Asatruarfelag and the proposed International Asatruar Felag could very well take part in the formation of such an International Alliance.

May Thor grant you protection and Odhinn hospitality.

J÷rmundur Ingi, Allsherjargo­i.

Irminsul Ăttir