MODERN ASATRU: Where did it Originate?

(Revised – 2009)


Michael Lee-Price

[The Wayfinder]

Disclaimer: In no uncertain terms does this article intend to assert or associate Modern day Odinists or Asatru Kindsmen with the NAZI movement or White Supremists. The information contained within this article are my findings after extensive research. Many if not All those Asatru and Odinists I have met and associated with in most part are men and women of the highest calibre and ethos. Please also, refer to footnote.

According to Wikipedia, “Ásatrú (Icelandic "Æsir faith") is a new religious movement which is attempting to revive the Norse paganism of the Viking Age - as described in the Eddas - prior to the arrival of Christianity.

Ásatrú was established in the 1960s and early 1970s in Iceland, by the Íslenska Ásatrúarfélagið an organization founded by Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson. Ásatrú is an officially recognized religion by the governments of Iceland (since 1973), Denmark (since 2003) and Norway. The United States government does not officially endorse or recognize any religious group; however, numerous Ásatrú groups have been granted nonprofit religious status going back to the 1970s.

While the term Ásatrú originally referred specifically to the Icelandic adherents of the religion, Germanic neopagan and reconstructionist groups widely identify themselves as Ásatrú, particularly in the USA. In this wider sense, the term Ásatrú is used synonymously with Germanic neopaganism or Germanic paganism, along with the terms Forn Sed, Odinism, Heithni, Heathenry and others.” [1]

From my own research I have discovered other documentation of interests on several inspirational modern figures who may have had a great impact on the Germanic neopagans and reconstructionist movement. To state that Guido Von List was one of the inspirations of modern day Asatru is wrought with danger and will open up a whole can of worms, but irrespective of this,  the evidence is that Von List did at the very least have a great impact upon the movement.

Guido Von List was born Karl Anton List on October 5th  1848,  in Veinna, the son of a prosperous middle class leather goods dealer, and Maria List (née Killian).  List renounced his Catholicism when he was 14 with a solemn oath that he would one day build a temple to Wotan (Woden/ Odin).

By his own account Guido wrote:

“It was in the year 1862 - I was then in my fourteenth year of life - when I, after much asking, received permission from my father to accompany him and his party who were planning to visit the catacombs [under St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna] which were at that time still in their original condition. We climbed down, and everything I saw and felt excited me with a kind of power that today I am no longer able to experience. Then we came - it was, if I remember correctly, in the third or fourth level - to a ruined altar. The guide said that we were now situated beneath the old post office. At that point my excitement was raised to fever pitch, and before this altar I proclaimed out loud this ceremonial vow: "Whenever I get big, I will build a Temple to Wotan!" I was, of course, laughed at, as a few members of the party said that a child did not belong in such a place… I knew nothing more about Wuotan than that which I had read about him in Vollmer's Woterbuch der Mythologie.” [2]

Throughout the latter half of the 19th century and into the very early pre-first world war period of the 20th century, the German pseudo-intellectual circles had became obsessed with the movement compounded of pagan rituals and notions of Nordic purity invented by this Occultist, who even today, is seen as one of the most important figures in Germanic mysticism and runic revivalism in the late 19th , early 20th  Century.

Today, many of List’s detractors will state that Von List can be discounted as his work was largely esoteric involving a version of the runes, and that his 18 Rune system is largely one of personal invention arising from a period of blindness and an experience of UPG during that time. Most Heathens feel that Von List's Armanen rune system detracts from legitimate Rune work in the same way that Blum's rune work does. At best, List is a historical curiosity, at worst he is a clever charlatan.

Personal opinions aside, Von List's belief that religion was a form of sun worship, with its priest kings as legendary rulers of ancient Germany and his claimed that the dominance of the Roman Catholic Church in Austria-Hungary constituted a continuing occupation of the Germanic tribes by the Roman empire, albeit now in a religious form, and a continuing persecution of the ancient religion of the Germanic peoples and Celts, is arguementally the inspiration of many occultist and pagan authors who came after him.

“In fact, by the 1870s Von List had a sizeable group of followers, dedicated to observing pagan feasts at the solstices and equinoxes. [3] The most famous depiction of such an event is his celebration of the summer solstice on 24 June 1875 at the ruins of the Roman City of Carnuntum. [4] As the 1500th anniversary of the Germanic tribes defeat over this Roman garrison in 375, the evening carried a lot of weight for List. Carnuntum became the title of List's first full-length novel, published in two volumes in 1888. [5]

For this - as for so much else - we are dependent on List's own somewhat fictionalised account, first published in Vienna in 1881. Basically, the ritual elements of this outing included the arduous task of gaining access to the so-called Heidentor ("Heathen Gate") of the city (which List mystically identified as the gate from which a German army set out to conquer Rome in 375 C.E.), the drinking of ritual toasts to the memory of the local spirit ( genius loci ) and the heroes of the past, the lighting of a solstice fire, and the laying of eight wine bottles in the shape of the "fyrfos" (Swastika) in the glowing embers of the fire. List and his company then awaited the dawn.” [6]

Whether these events be fictional or not, it strikes me as being very visual and an endorsement of ritualistic ceremonies carried out today by pagans and heathens on solstices and equinoxes all over the world.

Guido Von List died, after many years of ill health, of pneumonia, in Berlin on May 17th 1919 at the age of 70.

It is unfortunate, that it was not until after his death, in the 1920s that the National Socialist movement (Nazis), whilst still in its infancy and under the leadership of a young occultist named Adolf Hitler, adopted much of Von List’s writings for its own purposes.

More over, it was not Von List himself, who inspired Hitler in his own pursuits of the occult, but Dr Jorg Lanz von Liehenfels a former Cistercian monk who in 1907 had opened a temple of the ‘Order of New Templars’ and had in 1909 met a 20 year old Hitler and pursued him to join the order.

Lanz von Liehenfels was a disciple of Guido Von List and ran a magazine entitled, “Ostara”. It was through his influence that Hitler spent a great deal of time studying oriental mysticism, astrology, hypnotism, Germanic mysticism and other aspects of Occultism.

The Thule Society came into being approximately during the rise of Nazism, and took over where von List’s rather amateurish organization had left off in the years before the First World War. As previously stated due to the Thule Society’s direct connection to the Nazis and this connection alone has caused many Heathens to distance themselves from Von List.

It must be stated that there is absolutely no link with the Modern Asatru movement with Nazism, the Thule Society or any other racist motivated movement.

The mid-20th century up to today, as seen passionate men and women like Alexander Rud-Mills, Garman Lord, Else Christensen, Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson, Stephen McNallen, Rurik Grimnisson, Osred, Dirk Schmitt, Phillip Castle and Leif Njordsson instrumental in bringing back the true meaning of the Nordic, Germanic and Icelandic faiths, myths and traditional religious beliefs.

The first real attempt at producing a true Asatru religious movement in the 20th century was Alexander Rud-Mills in Melbourne in the 1930's, This lasted for about 10 years before it was "shut down" by the Australian government during WW2 and Mills interned.

“Alexander Rud Mills was one of the true pioneers of Odinism, not only in Australia but worldwide. Little research has been done on Mills’ life and the events that led him to adopt the faith of Odinism. The Odinic Rite Australia has taken up this challenge, to explore the life and works of Rud Mills whom we embrace as one of our own.

Rud Mills, like many pathfinders, was a man of his era, and some of his attitudes may seem discordant today. But as a seeker of genuine wisdom, he was always willing to amend his views if and when further evidence came to hand.” [7]

“Rud Mills  was an early and prominent Odinist in Australia, and one of the earliest proponents of the rebirth of Odinism in the 20th Century whose role in the emergence of Germanic Neopaganism in that country before and during World War II resulted in his arrest and political detention by the Australian government.

A lawyer and published poet, Mills strongly advocated pre-Christian Germanic faith as a decidedly healthier path for peoples of northern European ethnic heritage than either Christianity or Marxist materialism. He successfully founded an Odinist church in 1936. The Australian wartime authorities, wrongly concluding that Mills and fellow Odinists were Nazi sympathizers, arrested and interned him and other Odinists in detention camps during the period 1942 - 1944.

Mills was cleared of any wrongdoing by a judicial panel, but received no compensation for his imprisonment.

Mills' writings influenced Else Christensen, contributing to the Germanic Neopagan revival of the 1960s and 1970s” [8]

Researching Alexander Rud Mills, I am drawn to the conclusion that although not and never inspired by Von List, Mills fulfilled Von List’s dream of building a Temple to Wotan, in this case, the Odinist church.

"Garman Lord formed The Witan Theod in Watertown, New York in 1976, which was the first Theod group. A few years later, the Moody Hill Theod emerged as an offshoot of the Witan Theod. While having some commonalities with the budding Ásatrú and Odinist movements, Theodism primarily derived its origins as a reaction to Seax Wicca. Theod attempts to adhere to a more historically accurate reconstruction of Anglo-Saxon religion in a distinct contrast with Seax Wicca. The other extant North American heathen organizations such as the Asatru Free Assembly and the Odinist Fellowship were then focused primarily on the Viking Age and the Icelandic pre-Christian religion.

Theodism is focused on the lore, beliefs and social structure - particularly the concept of thew or customary law - of various specific Germanic tribes. The most glaring distinction between Theodism and other modern manifestations of Germanic Neopaganism is that while many groups are attempting to reconstruct the pre-Christian religions, the Theodish are also attempting to reconstruct the tribes, hierarchical social orders and even languages of the pre-Christian Northern Europeans.

In 1983 after being on hiatus, the Witan Theod became the Gering Theod (pronounced 'yerring'), a play on words, meaning "the Sprout of the Sprout". In 1989 the Winland Rice was formed which was an umbrella organization of Theodish groups, with Garman Lord chosen by consensus as the Æþeling or "lord". The Rice, as it is known, is now the oldest surviving Anglo-Saxon Heathen organization in North America. One of Garman Lord's earliest gesiþs or retainers, Gert McQueen, went on to serve as an Elder and Redesman of the Ring of Troth, an international organization serving the Heathen community. Gert McQueen was successful in lobbying the U.S. Army Chaplain's Corps to adopt guidelines for recognizing Heathen religions and Theodish belief in particular. Together they operated Theod Magazine - and Theod Publishing also ran a successful small bookshop venture. In 1995 Garman Lord was raised on a shield as Cynehelmung or presented as king by his followers. After some tumult within the Theodish community in 1996, Troth Elder Swain Wodening and Troth Godwoman Winifred Hodge left the Winland Rice to found the Angelseaxisce Ealdriht, to establish a more democratic alternative to the Winland Rice. The Ealdriht became the largest Theodish organization in the Heathen community, until it was dissolved in November 2004. The dissolution was necessary to facilitate the growth of two emerging communities of slightly differing tribal beliefs: the Mercinga Ríce and the Neowanglia Þéod."[9]

The next attempt to establish Asatru as a religious movement was by Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson.

“Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson, the son of the farmer Beinteinn Einarsson from Litlabotni-on-Hvaljardsbeach and Helga Pétursdóttir from Drághals in Svindal, was born on Apr. 4, 1924. He died on the 24th of Dec., 1993, from heart failure. In 1972 he founded the Ásatrúarfélag, the Icelandic heathen organization, of which he was the chief góði until his death. Since 1991, Sveinbjörn lived on his land in Drághals in Bergmassiv Skardheiði (approx. 60 mi. from Reykjavik), where the 6 ½ foot statue of Þor can be found.” [10]

“Sveinbjörn was regarded with much respect and affection amongst Ásatrú and Heathens. Not only was he a well known rímur singer, or kvæðamaður, in Iceland, he also gained an audience and followers in Europe and North America. Sveinbjörn can be heard performing Ásatrú marriage rites for Genesis and Paula P-Orridge (now Alaura O'Dell) on Psychic TV's LP Live in Reykjavik and on the double LP entitled Those who do not. Additionally, former Psychic TV member David Tibet (né David Michael Bunting) released a CD of Sveinbjörn performing his own rímur and reciting the traditional Poetic Edda under the title Current 93 presents Sveinbjörn 'Edda' in two editions through the now defunct World Serpent Distribution.” [11]

Simultaneously, whilst Beinteinsson was establishing the Ásatrúarfélag, “Stephen McNallen, a former U.S. Army Airborne Ranger, began publishing a newsletter titled The Runestone. He also formed an organization called the Asatru Free Assembly, later renamed the Ásatrú Folk Assembly which is still extant. Else Christensen's Odinism, which is sometimes identified with the term Asatru, originated around the same period. An offshoot of McNallen's group is the Asatru Alliance, headed by Valgard Murray, publisher of the "Vor Tru" newsletter. The Asatru Alliance held its 25th annual "Althing" gathering in 2005.” [12]

 In Australia, in 1995, Leif Njordsson began building FolkvangR Hearth in South Australia and then, in collaboration with Rurik Grimnisson, in 1996, Leif Njordsson started the Assembly of the Elder Troth in Australia, which is now in the capable hands of High Redesmann, Dirk Schmitt and High Redesmann, Rurik Grimnisson. The Assembly of the Elder Troth is based in new South Wales.

 In 1997 Osred development of The Odinic Rite.

 It is through the efforts of the true Folk, Asatru and those who follow the Celtic Traditions, that the movement will be recognized and acknowledged as a religious denomination.

 “The folk tales and folk beliefs of the Teutons have not a few points of contact with those of the Celts. On that account (Gudbrand) Vigfusson suggested that the comparative study of Celtic Lore “might throw light on the origin of much so-called Norse mythology”, for Iceland, which has given us the Eddas, was partly colonized by the mixed peoples from Scandinavian settlements in these islands.” [13]

 In the preface of his book Teutonic, Donald A. MacKenzie attempts to link a common ancestry between the Celts and the Teutons and states, “The Conclusion suggested, however, is that some of the striking resemblance which is found must be traced to remoter influences than those prevailing in the Viking Age. Both Celts and Teutons were blends of the same ancient races – the Alpine “broad heads” and the Northern “long heads”. They had therefore a common heritage of fused tribal beliefs, which must have varied, of course, in different districts.” [14]

 The Asatru and the Celts pantheon are polytheistic. Both traditions worship many gods and goddesses. It is the ancestry, heritage and traditional dreamtimes of those who are descendants of European background.

 In conclusion and to clarify, there is academic debate where exactly the word Asatru originated from. Both Stephen McNallen and Wikipedia are of the opinion that the word "Ásatrú" comes from the Icelandic and means "those true to the gods." In the strictest interpretation, it is the religion of the Vikings. More generally, it refers not just too pre-Christian Scandinavian beliefs and practices, but to the indigenous religion of all the Germanic peoples. (Refer related articles)

 Where as, Leif Njordsson firmly argues that the word Asatru "was originally a Norwegian Word and first applied in that country. The word being increasingly used to describe "Asatruar" is "Folkway" mostly "Northern Folkway" or just simply Folkway, Variants include Teutonic Folkway, Germanic Folkway, Norse Folkway or Elder Folkway.  The reason for this is that 1) it is better descriptive of who and what we are 2) It is more inclusive of the many traditions and variants that make up the Folkway 3) it moves away from the individualism that ran rampant through Asatru in the early years and still does in some places 4) It recognises that our beliefs are more about a way of life than a "belief" system. That said, Asatru is still common term if not THE common term." (Refer related articles)

 The sacred and magic symbol ‘fryfos’  (Swastika) has been misrepresented and its symbolism greatly tarnished since Adolf Hitler reversed its direction and took it as an image to represent the National Socialist Party (Nazis) in the 1920s. “The Swastika had been a widespread symbol of good fortune from earliest times and among all nations; it had been found on Chinese, Mongolian and America Indian artefacts, was used by the ancient Greeks as a pottery decoration, and by medieval architects as a border design for stained glass windows. Its name in Middle English, fylfot, is said to mean ‘fill foot’, since it was a device used for ‘filling the foot’ of windows. “Swastika’ stems from the Sanskrit Su asti, which means, literally translated, ‘Good, he is’. In fact the swastika, with its arms ‘trailing’ as if the whole pattern were spinning clockwise, symbolised the Sun, the powers of light.” [15]

 When Hitler asked for designs to be submitted for an easily recognised symbol, akin to the hammer and sickle of the Russian communists, a Sternberg dentist who was also an occultist, Friedrich Krohn, suggested a swastika on a white disc with a red background. Hitler was reported to have been delighted but for one detail – the traditional ‘right-handed’ swastika was to be reversed to form what the writer, Francis King terms ‘an evocation of evil, spiritual devolution and black magic’.

 This is a common misconception, whilst it is believed that the deosil swastika is the ‘good’ version of the symbol and the reversed or turned widdershins is considered a ‘black-magic’ symbol, it is reported to not be the fact. Forebears of Asatru used both forms of the swastika indiscriminately.

 Ironically, the greatest promoter of the ancient Teutonic lore was a deeply Christian scholar of Germanic philosophy – Professor J. R. R. Tolkien author of “The Lords of The Rings”. It is acknowledged Tolkien’s work draws heavily on Germanic literature. A find example of this is the name “Gandalf” which is from the Prose Edda “Wand-alf” meaning “magical alf” and Bilbo’s stealing of the cup which wakens the dragonf is a direct steal from Beowulf.

 The internment of Alexander Rud Mills in the 1930s as a political prisoner was just as ludicrous as the internment of another great man, David Suzuki and his family because they were from Japanese ancestry.

 Equally as ludicrous was the renaming of the German shepherd dog during the war to the Alsatian.

 From the small seed sown by  the earlier followers of the Teutonic and Celtic beliefs, a tree has grown. Whether it be the sacred Ash of the Asatru or the sacred Oak of the Celts, it is up to all those true Folk of european decendency to ensure it thrives and becomes a mighty tree.

The Asatru and Odinists movemnet in Australia should be recognised as a Denomination.

Select Bibliography:



3.       “Legions of Hell” article by Frank Smyth as appeared in “The Occult 

        Connection” published 1984.










13.     Teutonic by Donald A. Mackenzie published 1995, The Gresham Publishing Company,        


14.    Teutonic by Donald A. Mackenzie published 1995, The Gresham Publishing Company,        


15.     “Legions of Hell” article by Frank Smyth as appeared in “The Occult 

        Connection” published 1984.

 Further Reading and Web Sites:

  1. Removed due to different ideologies and ethics
  2. Removed due to different ideologies and ethics


Footnote: In 2006 -2007 some person spread the vindictive and malicious rumour that I had discredited the Odinists and Asatru movement and claimed that all Asatru and Odinists were White Supremists and NAZI. This was far from the truth. Where I am sure that their may be White Supremists within the ranks, I never made such a claim. That rumour ensured that this article never saw the light of day at the time and prevented publication until now. The person who started this rumour shall go unnamed.

I state also, herein that due to difference of ideologies and ethics and although Leif Njordsson was named within the article as one of the founders of Modern Asatru in Australia, I only give credit where credit is due. He has done much to help build this movement, but wish no association with him or his Folkvangr Kindred. The man stole my intellectual property and is even still now using some of my artwork on his site without paying for it or accrediting me. Please also refer to my Autobiography and this website:

NO portion, section or part of this Newsletter can be reprinted, republished or used without the expressed permission in writing of the Publisher/ Editor of the Newsletter and the authors of particular articles who retain copyright of their own individual intellectual property. Intellectual property thief and Copyright infringement are punishable by law.

Site designed by Mystic Grove. © Copyrighted 2003 - 2009. All Rights Reserved.