Forty Years of Asatruarfelagid

This year sees the 40th anniversary of the Icelandic Asatru Association, Asatruarfelagid, co-founded in April 1972 by Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson under “the desire that Icelanders could have their own faith, and nourish it no less than imported religions.” Asatruarfelagid received official government recognition in 1973, and now sports nearly 2000 members. Musician and current allsherjargoði (high chieftain) of Asatruarfelagid, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, commemorated the anniversary by donating 2 million Icelandic króna (around 16,000 US dollars) to the Coast Guard’s helicopter fund.

Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson and members of Ásatrúarfélagið.

Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson and members of Ásatrúarfélagið.

“The donation is for the Coast Guard’s helicopter fund. All of the Coast Guard’s vessels and aircraft bear the names of Norse gods and goddesses. Yesterday’s ceremony took place onboard the Coast Guard’s new cruiser Þór, Fréttablaðið reports. The Coast Guard’s first cruiser was the steam vessel Óðinn, which arrived to the country in 1926. A statement from Ásatrúarfélagið reads that the Icelandic Coast Guard is in charge of surveillance, search and rescue, has contributed to the safety of seafarers and protected the nation’s natural resources under difficult circumstances for decades, for which it is trusted and respected by all Icelanders. Therefore, all members of Ásatrúarfélagið decided to make a donation of ISK 1,000 (USD 7.9, EUR 6.1) towards a helicopter fund for the Coast Guard, with no strings attached.”

This civic-minded move fits very well within the profile of Ásatrúarfélagið and its Chief Godi, who has undertaken protective rituals for their country, celebrated the spirits of their land, and even weighed in on pop-culture. Iceland is fertile ground for Asatru, a place that never quite lost the connection to its pagan past.

For more on Ásatrúarfélagið and Asatru in Iceland, check out the Norse Mythology Blog’s interviews with Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson (Part OnePart TwoPart Three) and Jóhanna G. Harðardóttir (Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart Four). Both, I think, give a good picture of how Asatru in Iceland compares with groups in the United States and other countries.

“The gods had to come back. You can see how the gods are coming in the 19th century. We had some years of rationalism – the Industrial Revolution, people losing their ties with nature and repressing religion and focusing on science and knowledge. You had the president of the French scientific academy proclaiming that we’ve more or less found out everything that there is to be found out – we only need to polish some theories. In an atmosphere like this, the gods need to come back, because they’ve been repressing them so long. Ha!”Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson

Congratulations to Ásatrúarfélagið on forty years of existence, here’s to forty more!

About Jason Pitzl-Waters
  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    Makes me happy to read this. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1186404199 Crystal Hope Kendrick

    Happy 4oth anniversary!  Great news to hear.

  • Eran_Rathan

    Jason wrote:
    Congratulations to Ásatrúarfélagið on forty years of existence, here’s to forty -centuries- more! 

    fixed.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    I’m touched by the heartstring between Icelanders and their Coast Guard. I’ve spent important time, including Pagan time, on a small island off New England and, when things get dicey, we’re glad the US Coast Guard is there.

    And of course having Icelandic Coast Guard vessels and aircraft named after Norse gods is da bomb!

  • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

    Congrats and happy anniversary, Ásatrúarfélagið!

  • RevEllen

    As a second generation decendant of good Icelandic blood, I salute Asatruarfelagid and wish them many more years!!  I wish I had had the opportunity to know my grandparents. 

  • Tara

    I love you, Iceland.

  • Erratic Charmer

    As a Pagan and a former graduate student of Norse mythology, this warmed my heart. Wonderful job and congratulations!

  • Hedniska Tankar

    Well written and well met !
    Good to see that someone outside the Nordic countries has noted the difference between “Forn Sed” and “Asatru”, “Asatro” as these concepts aren’t the one and the same..

  • Hedniska Tankar
  • kittylu

    I’ve always been drawn to Icelandic spirituality.  Unfortunately Asatru garnered some negative press today…   http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2012/05/10/fbi-washington-white-supremacist-plotted-to-kill-obama-in-2010/comment-page-1/#comment-458039 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Carron/100001353268347 David Carron

       I would hope that one would have nothing to do with the other.  Sure, a small minority of folks are racists, kinda like the KKK.  They are really easy to spot when their political agenda take precedence over their spiritual and religious beliefs. 

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

      I don’t think there’s any connection between the Icelandic Ásatrúarfélagið and criminal thugs like Wayde Lynn Kurt and his ilk.

      In fact, if anyone knows of any connection between the individuals or groups named in the SPLC article, and any legitimate Heathen group, then that connection should be a very serious cause for concern.

      If you look at the links provided by Jason to interviews with two leading members of Ásatrúarfélagið you’ll see that there is nothing remotely racist about that group, and that, in fact, they are very anti-racist. In the very first interview linked to, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson talks about how the Ásatrúarfélagið decided, back in the 80s, to restrict their relationships with groups outside of Iceland because often these groups harbored racists. This is what all Pagan and Heathen groups should do: reject racism and have nothing whatsoever to do with racists. And our Icelandic sisters and brothers have set a very good example in this regard.


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