The Ásatrú Alliance (AA) is an American Heathen group founded in 1987 by Michael J. Murray (a.k.a. Valgard Murray) of Arizona, a former vice-president of Else Christensen's Odinist Fellowship. The establishment of the Alliance, as well as the establishment of The Troth, followed the disbanding of the Asatru Free Assembly ("old AFA") in 1986. The Ásatrú Alliance largely reconstituted the old AFA, dominated by prior AFA members, and acting as a distributor of previously AFA publications.
Stephen McNallen founded the Asatru Folk Assembly ("new AFA") in 1994 as the successor organization to the Asatru Free Assembly. The Alliance and the Folk Assembly organizations have existed in parallel since, temporarily united within the International Asatru-Odinic Alliance (1997–2002). Gardell (2003) classifies the AA as folkish. The AA defines Ásatrú as "the ethnic religion of the Northern European peoples".
The Ásatrú Alliance is recognized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit religious organization, or church. The AA was formed on June 19, 1988 by seven kindreds, which were members of the disbanded Ásatrú Free Assembly, who ratified on this day a set of by-laws to preserve and promote the beliefs of Ásatrú in the United States of America.
The AA is currently headed by a board of directors composed of representatives appointed by their kindreds, to speak on their behalf for any AA business.
The AA held its 32nd annual Althing gathering in September 2012. Kaplan (1996) estimates the AA has between 500 and 1,000 members.
As a definition of Asatru, AA cites a 1995 essay by McNallen on "what is Asatru", which concludes by summarizing the main goals as the practice of "courage, honor, the importance of the family and ancestral bonds, strength, freedom, the preservation of our kind, and joyful, vigorous life."
World Tree Publications is the Asatru Alliance's publishing house.
Valgard Murray (Michael J. Murray), born in 1950 in Iowa to a Mormon farming family, to Thomas and Marion Murray of Scottish, Lithuanian, Irish, and German descent. He remained the Allsherjargoði of the Ásatrú Alliance of Independent Kindreds, Inc. until entering a semi-retirement in 2015. Valgard has five daughters, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
At the age of four, Valgard was burned on over thirty percent of his body. By the age of eleven, he would have a vision which we would later recognize as Oðinn on Sleipner leading the Wild Hunt. Six years later, he would meet a woman who would introduce him to a group of Northern Folk who kept the old ways. This group would eventually become the Arizona Kindred of Ásatrú Inc. Murray has stated that he has also had a vision of Odin at the age of four.
Murray later moved to Arizona and became an electrical engineer.
Murray was involved with the American Nazi Party (ANP) into the late 1960s. and came to know of Odinism/Asatru through Elton Hall, the Arizona organizer of the ANP. He later became the Arizona organizer of the ANP. He has also been the spokesperson for the Arizona-based National Socialist outlaw brotherhood Iron Cross MC.
In the early 70's Murray and Hall formed a kindred and made contact with Else Christensen.
Between 1984 and 1987 he was a representative of the AA, and was on the board of the International Ásatrú-Odinic Alliance (IAOA), and chosen the first honorary IAOA Allsherjargoði for the three-year period. Although Murray states the IAOA title was 2003 for three years, even though the IAOA disbanded in 2002.
In 1984 the Arizona Kindred instead chose to affiliate with the Asatru Free Assembly (old AFA). When that folded, he and Robert Taylor of the Tribe of the Wulfings, formed the Asatru Alliance in 1987, inviting other kindreds to a formational Althing in 1988, and also served on the Board of Directors and as General Manager of the Ásatrú Folk Assembly.
In 1987 he served as General Manager of the AFA, and in 1986 founded World Tree Publications.
In 1997 he was elected the Alsherjargothi of the Ásatrú Alliance. Although, Gardell says that this decision was made and ratified at the 1988 formational Althing, he was only honorary Alsherjargothi in 1988, and in 1997 officially accepted overall.
At the second Althing of the AFA, Murrary allegedly threatened to kill a homosexual attendee with a Mac-10.
On October 17, 2007, Murray gave a deposition (an out-of-court oral testimony of a witness that is reduced to writing for later use in court or for discovery purposes) in the Eberle v. Wilkinson & the State of Ohio case to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio at the officers of the Attorney General, Columbus, Ohio. In 2009 he was criticized heavily by Heimgest, the Director of the Court of Gothar (DCG-OR)/Alsherjargothi of the Odinic Rite for the views, and alleged lies, he expressed in his Deposition.
In 2013, Murray commented on the killing of the head of the Colorado Department of Corrections Tom Clements as the alleged murderer "practiced a controversial form of religion behind bars" which was Asatru.
In 2014, Murray was interviewed in a three-part series by George Whitehurst Berry on the Sedona Dreams Show. During this interview, Murray stated that Asatru means, "faith in god." Asked if it actually refers to the Gods and Goddesses, he responds, "Well, yes it did, but the word itself is not plural, it just means faith in god. And, it does of course mean, in the old way, respect in honouring the old gods and goddesses of the Northern European people.
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