Stephen McNallen

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Stephen A. McNallen
Steve McNallen.jpg
Born Stephen Anthony McNallen
(1948-10-15) 15 October 1948 (age 71)
Breckenridge, Texas, United States
Nationality American
Education Midwestern University, Wichita Falls, Texas
Occupation Spiritual leader (goði)
Years active 1970–present
Home town Grass Valley, California
Spouse(s) Sheila Edlund (1997–present)

Stephen A. McNallen (born October 15, 1948) is a spiritual leader (goði) and founder of the Asatru Folk Assembly of which he is also the Alsherjargothi.[1][2][3] Born in Breckenridge, Texas, he has been heavily involved in Ásatrú, a reconstructed native European religion, since the 1970s, overseeing the collapse and rise of 3 different organisations.[4]


Born Stephen Anthony McNallen in Breckenridge, Texas, on October 15, 1948, his Roman Catholic parents brought him up religiously.[5][6] After high school, he attended Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.[7]

He started out as a cadet in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps and aspired to a career in the US Army's Special Forces.[4]

In 1972 he reported for active duty as an Army officer, attended the infantry officer course, then earned his parachutist wings and the black-and-gold Ranger tab.[8] He received his degree in political science, trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, and served the rest of his four-year commitment in Germany.[citation needed]

After his discharge from the Army in 1976, McNallen hitchhiked across the Sahara Desert before returning to Europe and then to the United States.[7] and in the same year moved to Berkeley, California.[9]

In 1986-87 McNallen worked as a peace officer in Stephens County Texas sheriff's office jail and Sheila kept books for an oil company.[7][9] in 1986, he and Sheila moved to a semi-deserted mining town in the mountains of California, and from there earned teaching credentials, and for six years he taught science and mathematics in a California middle school, a junior high school teacher in Nevada County, and tried to find meaning in life.[7][10]

He has worked as a journalist, traveling to Northern India and Burma to report on the military conflicts in the region. He later travelled to Africa and Bosnia to report on the wars in those regions in 1993.[7] Some of his adventures were turned into articles and published by Soldier of Fortune magazine, among others.[7][11][12]

From 1987–1996,[citation needed] McNallen was in the California Army National Guard. His unit was called up during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles and was one of the few Americans to have stood on the famous corner of Hollywood and Vine with a loaded M16 rifle.[12]

He married Sheila Edlund in Utah in 1997 at Althing 17 in a ceremony officiated by Valgard Murray of the Asatru Alliance.[13][14] He worked as a Juvenile Hall Group Supervisor and retired from his position as a juvenile corrections officer in 2014.[15][16][17]

He and his wife, Sheila, live in Grass Valley, California.[18][19]


McNallen was one of the earliest advocates of reconstructing the ancient pre-Christian religion of Asatru in modern times. He began publishing a journal, The Runestone, in the winter of 1971-1972. In August 1972, his Viking Brotherhood received IRS recognition as a tax-exempt religious organization. This name was changed in 1976 to the Asatru Free Assembly (AFA). He came across the term "Asatru" IN 1976 in Magnus Magnusson's Viking: Hammer of the North, and used it from then on.[9][20][21] His group of like-minded friends regularly met in the back of Dick Johnson's insurance agency on University Avenue when he moved to Berkeley, California in 1976. Here, Johnson took the religious name Aluric.[9] Over the next few years McNallen wrote rituals, devised a religious calendar, held (starting in 1980) annual national gatherings called Althings, organized special interest groups within the AFA, and produced written and audio products to promote the religion.

In 1986, after McNallen and his wife had asked their members for a salary and were rejected, the AFA was disbanded, with the ashes turned over to Valgard Murray, leader of the Arizona Kindred, who used them as the foundation for the Asatru Alliance.[22] McNallen took a sabbatical for several years, resuming publication of The Runestone in 1994 and forming the Asatru Folk Assembly in 1995, an organization he continues to lead.

On October 24, 1996, McNallen and the AFA filed suit in U.S. District Court in Portland (Asatru Folk Assembly v. United States) [23] to stop the transfer of the prehistoric remains of the Kennewick Man to local native Americans, under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). McNallen argued that modern adherents of Ásatrú have more in common with the prehistoric Kennewick Man than modern native Americans. The court ruled that the human remains were not "Native American" within the meaning of NAGPRA. As a direct result of his portrayal by the media, McNallen no longer advocates public Ásatrú rituals or media presence at Ásatrú ceremonies, leading to the intentional media-stagnation of the growth of Asatru.[24]

In 2015 McNallen published his magnum opus, Asatru: A Native European Spirituality.

McNallen and race

McNallen and his organization denounce racial supremacism,[25] but he believes in an "integral link between ancestry and religion, between biology and spirituality".[26]

In May 2015, the magazine Vice published an article called "How a Thor-Worshipping Religion Turned Racist", accusing McNallen of being a racist.[27]

See also


  1. "Listen to Steve's Interview on Nightwatch Radio!". Asatru Folk Assembly Blog. 2014-12-24. Retrieved 2015-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Two New Asatru Folk Assembly Clergy Take Oath!". Asatru Folk Assembly Blog. 2011-01-18. Retrieved 2015-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "AFA Update 1-15-11". Retrieved 2015-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Stephen A. McNallen, "Three Decades of the Ásatrú Revival in America", in Joshua Buckley & Michael Moynihan (eds.), TYR: Myth - Culture - Tradition, Volume 2 (Atlanta: Ultra, 2003-2004), p. 205.
  5. [1][dead link]
  6. "Hear Steve Talk About the Hof on Red Ice Radio!". Asatru Folk Assembly Blog. 2015-08-12. Retrieved 2015-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 "McNallen Biography - Asatru Folk Assembly". Retrieved 2015-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Stephen A. McNallen, "Three Decades of the Ásatrú Revival in America", in Joshua Buckley & Michael Moynihan (eds.), TYR: Myth - Culture - Tradition, Volume 2 (Atlanta: Ultra, 2003-2004), p. 206.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Stephen A. McNallen, "Three Decades of the Ásatrú Revival in America", in Joshua Buckley & Michael Moynihan (eds.), TYR: Myth - Culture - Tradition, Volume 2 (Atlanta: Ultra, 2003-2004), p. 208.
  10. Stephen A. McNallen, "Three Decades of the Ásatrú Revival in America", in Joshua Buckley & Michael Moynihan (eds.), TYR: Myth - Culture - Tradition, Volume 2 (Atlanta: Ultra, 2003-2004), p. 209.
  11. Natividad, Ivan; Local veteran leads group to save African elephants, The Union of Grass Valley, November 14, 2014
  12. 12.0 12.1 Stephen A. McNallen, "Three Decades of the Ásatrú Revival in America", in Joshua Buckley & Michael Moynihan (eds.), TYR: Myth - Culture - Tradition, Volume 2 (Atlanta: Ultra, 2003-2004), p. 210.
  13. A Marriage! TOP ASATRU NEWS STORIES OF 1997 (2247 R.E.) ONN- Odin's Nation News
  14. "Stephen McNallen Part 4: Stella Natura and What Can be Done | Circle Ansuz". 2013-09-09. Retrieved 2015-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. [2][dead link]
  16. "Nevada County's Employees of the Year". 2006-02-28. Retrieved 2015-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Fusshoeller, Pascale (2014-01-28). "Honoring longtime Nevada County employees". Retrieved 2015-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Irene Loretz". Retrieved 2015-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Gardell 261
  20. "How the Word "Asatru" Came to the United States". Asatru Folk Assembly Blog. 2014-05-05. Retrieved 2015-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. McNallen, Stephen A; Asatru: A Native European Spirituality, Runestone Press, 2015
  22. Stephen A. McNallen, "Three Decades of the Ásatrú Revival in America", in Joshua Buckley & Michael Moynihan (eds.), TYR: Myth - Culture - Tradition, Volume 2 (Atlanta: Ultra, 2003-2004), p. 208-9.
  23. Malcomson, Scott. "The Color of Bones", The New York Times New York , April 2, 2000. Retrieved on 13 October 2015
  24. Buckley (2004) p. 217
  25. [3][dead link]
  26. Kaplan, Jeffrey (1997). Radical religion in America: millenarian movements from the far right to the children of Noah. Syracuse UP. pp. 31–32. ISBN 978-0-8156-0396-2. Retrieved 30 January 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Paulas, Rick (2015-05-01). "How a Thor-Worshipping Religion Turned Racist | VICE | United States". VICE. Retrieved 2015-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


Strmiska, Michael F.; Sigurvinsson, Baldur A. (2005). "Asatru: Nordic Paganism in Iceland and America". In Strmiska, Michael F. Modern Paganism in World Cultures. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. pp. 127–179. ISBN 978-1851096084. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Blain, Jenny (2005). "Heathenry, the Past, and Sacred Sites in Today's Britain". In Strmiska, Michael F. Modern Paganism in World Cultures. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. pp. 181–208. ISBN 978-1851096084. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Harvey, Graham (2007). Listening People, Speaking Earth: Contemporary Paganism (second ed.). London: Hurst & Company. ISBN 978-1850652724.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Adler, Margot (2006) [1979]. Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers and Other Pagans in America (revised ed.). London: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-303819-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Strmiska, Michael F (December 2005). "Asatru: Nordic Paganism in Iceland and America". Modern Paganism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives (Religion in Contemporary Cultures). ABC-CLIO. pp. 127–179. ISBN 1-8510960-8-6. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lewis, James R. (April 1996). Magical Religion and Modern Witchcraft. State University of New York Press. pp. 197–236. ISBN 0-7914289-0-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Buckley, Joshua (2004). "Three Decades of the Ásatrú Revival in America by Stephen A. McNallen". Tyr: Myth-Culture-Tradition Volume II. Ultra Publishing. pp. 203–219. ISBN 0-9720292-1-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Gardell, Matthias (2003). Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism. Duke University Press. pp. 269–283. ISBN 0-8223-3071-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Dobratz, Betty A. (November 2000). The White Separatist Movement in the United States: "White Power, White Pride!". Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018653-7-9. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Kaplan, Jeffrey (November 1996). Radical Religion in America: Millenariam Movements from the Far Right to the Children of Noah. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 0-8156039-6-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Soderlind, Didrik (December 2003). Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground. Feral House. ISBN 0-9229159-4-6. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Simi, Pete (November 2010). American Swastika: Inside the White Power Movement's Hidden Spaces of Hate. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 1-4422020-9-2. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Plowright, Sweyn (November 2006). The Rune Primer: A Down-to-Earth Guide to the Runes. Lulu. pp. 140–142. ISBN 1-8472824-6-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links