Stephen McNallen

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Stephen A. McNallen
Stephen McNallen
Born Stephen A. McNallen
(1948-10-15) 15 October 1948 (age 66)
Breckenridge, Texas, United States
Nationality American
Education Midwestern University, Wichita Falls, Texas
Occupation Gothi, author, poet, teacher, lecturer, philosopher
Years active 1970–present
Home town Nevada City, California
Religion Asatru
Spouse(s) Sheila Edlund (1997–present)

Stephen A. McNallen (born October 15, 1948) is an influential spiritual leader, environmental advocate, and writer. 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.[1]


After his discharge from the Army, McNallen hitch-hiked across the Sahara Desert before returning to Europe and then to the United States. In the years that followed he worked for a family oil production company and as a jailer for the Stephens County, Texas sheriff's office. Later, he taught science and mathematics in a California middle school. He retired from his position as a juvenile corrections officer in 2014.

He married Sheila Edlund in 1997, in a ceremony officiated by Valgard Murray of the Asatru Alliance,[2] and currently resides in Nevada City, California.


McNallen was one of the earliest advocates of reconstructing the ancient pre-Christian religion of Asatru in modern times. He began publishing a modest journal titled 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).

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 many written and audio products to promote the religion.

In 1986 the Asatru Free Assembly ceased operations due to burnout and disputes within the membership. McNallen took a sabbatical for several years, resuming publication of The Runestone in 1994 and forming the Asatru Folk Assembly in 1995. He continues to lead this organization today.


In December 2012, McNallen created the Facebook page Green Asatru dedicated to the environmental implications of Asatru and the idea that “Asatru serves Life!”. McNallen started the non-profit organization Forever Elephants in June, 2013 to fight ivory poaching in Africa, and created a Facebook page of the same name.

Other Activism[edit]

McNallen has been active in the Tibet freedom movement as a member and supporter of the Tibetan Youth Congress as early as the late 1980s. He traveled twice to northern India to meet with leaders of the Tibetan resistance and to write about their plight.

In 1991 he went to eastern Burma/Myanmar to aid the Karen ethnic group in their struggle for independence, and to recover the personal belongings of an American journalist who had been killed by a mortar round during the fighting there.

McNallen has spoken out in praise of executed Nigerian democracy advocate Ken Saro-Wiwa, and in favor of Fourth World movements in general.

Kennewick Man[edit]

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) is a federal law passed in 1990. It includes provisions that delineate the legal processes by which museums and Federal agencies are required to return certain Native American cultural items—human remains, gravesite materials, and other objects of cultural patrimony—to proven lineal descendants, culturally related Native American tribes, and Native Hawaiian groups. Specifically, these types of items which are found and scientifically dated to a time prior to 1492 C.E. are to be turned over to native American tribes. This would include any future discovery of Viking burials, such as those from Leif Ericson's lost colony (which is thought to be similar to L'Anse aux Meadows).

On October 24, 1996, McNallen and the AFA filed suit in U.S. District Court in Portland (Asatru Folk Assembly v. United States) to attempt to stop the US Army Corps of Engineers from turning over the prehistoric remains of the Kennewick man to local native Americans. Several prominent scientists and archaeologists also filed suit, to block the reinterment of the remains. Kennewick Man was the oldest intact human fossil ever found in the Pacific Northwest. Genetic tests to identify ties to modern people or tribes were inconclusive due to the deteriorated condition of the remains. McNallen became embroiled in the Kennewick Man issue and appeared in Time Magazine, The Washington Post and on television, arguing that modern adherents of Ásatrú have more in common with the prehistoric Kennewick Man than modern native Americans. This claim, as of now, can be considered false after the DNA tests proved that the Kennewick was a native American.

After a protracted legal battle, the court ruled that the human remains were not "Native American" within the meaning of NAGPRA. The remains currently are curated at the Burke Museum in Seattle. As a direct result of his portrayal by the media, McNallen later stated that he no longer advocates public Ásatrú rituals or media presence at Ásatrú ceremonies, leading to the intentional media-stagnation of the growth of Asatru.[3]

Written works[edit]


  • “Invisible Merc of Cotonou,” Soldier of Fortune Magazine, August 1998.
  • “War with a Designer Label,” Soldier of Fortune Magazine, July 1989
  • “Leadville to Lhasa,” Soldier of Fortune Magazine, April 1991.
  • “South African Headhunters,” Soldier of Fortune Magazine, May 1995.
  • “Three Decades of the Asatru Revival in America,” Tyr: Myth-Culture-Tradition, Vol. 2, 2003- 2004.

Asatru Publications[edit]

  • Asatru: A Native European Faith, Runestone Press, 2015 ISBN 978-0972029254
  • Rituals of Asatru. 3 vols. Payson, Arizona: World Tree Publications, 1992.
  • Living Asatru: A Handbook of Simple Celebrations. Nevada. City, CA: with and Matty Hutter, 1993.
  • Thunder from the North: The Way of the Teutonic Warrior. Nevada City, California: Asatru Folk Assembly, 1993.
  • Runestone magazine (The Runestone Journal)
  • An Odinist Anthology: Selections from the Runestone, 1983
  • Asatru Book of Blotar and Rituals, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 1, 2009)
  • What Is Asatru, 1985
  • The Values of Asatru, 1985
  • The Lessons of Asgard, 1985
  • Asatru Book of Faith: For Those in Harm's Way
  • The Twelve Days of Yule
  • A Book of Uncommon Prayers
  • The Philosophy of Metagenetics, Folkism and Beyond
  • Asatru: The Soul and Initiation, 1997
  • So you're a European-American who's attracted to Native American spirituality..., 1995
  • Portraits from the Past
  • A Runic Inspiration
  • Vinnish Word Hoard


  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.
  2. ^ A Marriage! TOP ASATRU NEWS STORIES OF 1997 (2247 R.E.) ONN- Odin's Nation News
  3. ^ Buckley (2004) p. 217


  • 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. 
  • Gardell, Matthias (2003). Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism. Duke University Press. pp. 269–283. ISBN 0-8223-3071-7. 

External links[edit]