To rally the Men and Women who comprise our Folk, the Sons and Daughters of Europe, wherever they may be, to come together for a common spiritual purpose, and to do so in a manner which inspires confidence- this is the mission of our Leadership. The Asatru Folk Assembly has undergone some changes, an evolution if you will. Part of this evolution is a change in leadership and a change in the terminology used for some of our leaders. Our stance on the Folkish nature of Asatru and our position as the leading Folkish Asatru organization remains the same: Uncompromising.
One of the biggest changes was the passing of the duties and responsibilities of Alsherjargothi from Stephen McNallen to Matthew Flavel. The position of Alsherjargothi (Icelandic for “Chieftain of the people”) is one of not only leading those who make up the Asatru Folk Assembly but tending to the spiritual needs of those people and looking out for their interest.
Such a job is daunting and, just as a President has a Cabinet, so Alsherjargothi Matthew Flavel has a great group of individuals to advise him. Our Ancestors relied on the council of wise Men and Women in all manner of things to ensure things ran smoothly. The Witan, our own group of Wise Men, as well as our Lawspeaker, are there to help Matt out.
The original role of the Lawspeaker was to memorize and know all aspects of the law pertaining to the tribe or group of people who they represented. Witan is derived from the Old English “Witangemot” (Meeting of Wise Men). They are there to provide counsel, wisdom, and guidance on all things relating to the AFA.
Allen Turnage, with his wealth of knowledge regarding all things related to aspects of law and legalese, has stepped up to the plate as our Lawspeaker and to provide Matt and the AFA with the best legal advice we can get. Allen is also here to help us stay on track by ensuring that we not only abide by the laws of the land, but stick to our own AFA laws: The Declaration of Purpose, Law of the Hall, and our Statement of Ethics.
Clifford is a long-time AFA Folkbuilder and has headed up the AFA communications team for a number of years. Clifford is responsible for our online presence including our website, social media, event ticketing, and editing of The Runestone newsletter. Also, behind the scenes he manages our systems, databases, and technical support.
During Midsummer at Óðinshof, Gothi Svan Herul was elevated to the Asatru Folk Assembly’s Witan. Svan is a man of deep spiritual maturity and an abounding zeal to serve our Gods and Folk. I am very proud to have Svan’s counsel and exceedingly eager for the great things he will help to see accomplished. Let us all celebrate Gothi Herul’s advancement and support him in his enhanced role.
Together, these fine Gentlemen will provide us with outstanding leadership, direction, and purpose as we continue on this new chapter of AFA history.
These positions are ones of leadership and service to our church. As such, they inherently bear many responsibilities, such as leading marriage ceremonies, funerary rites, naming ceremonies, land takings, coming of age rites, and other rituals for our community. Our Gothar also organize AFA and community events, assist with the formation of new kindreds, provide counseling services, and educating those not familiar with our tradition. Gothar often engage in many other forms of public service that are generally expected of Clergy in this day and age. This is not an easy responsibility, but it is an honorable path. AFA Gothar, recognized as Ordained Clergy, carry weight in most states and regions, having legal rights and legal recognition for ceremonies performed and services rendered to their community due to the direct support and association with the AFA, which is a religious, non-profit organization.
The curriculum is an in-depth study, organized in a collaborative style that is akin to the time-tested apprentice-mentor dynamic, and so each year a mentor is granted to facilitate the learning experience for each new student. Through the course of the program, the student can expect reading and composition assignments, regularly scheduled phone and/or video conferences, educational discourses, ritual performances before leadership, spiritual tasks and assignments, testing, and more. The propriety, professionalism, patience, timeliness, dependability, communication skills, and aptitude of each student are under constant review throughout the curriculum. It is important to remember that students can and have failed the program by not maintaining the aforementioned to a high and acceptable standard. Upon graduation, new Clergy are required to fulfill an obligation to the program, such as mentoring a new student. AFA Goðar are expected to remain active with the AFA, online, at AFA events, and in their local region.
The AFA Gothar Program is designed for those who already give their time and service to the Folk. As of 2020, application to the Gothar program is only open to AFA Folkbuilders. this ensures that our Gothar have already put in work building our church and have shown the concern for our AFA family that is the foundation of leadership and service this program is build upon. Gothar need to be contributing members of society, and be able to maintain a professional and well-composed demeanor at all times.
In the AFA, our greatest priority is our members’ needs. We go to great lengths to ensure that we are not just an online phenomenon where all our leaders are on the other side of the country. We prioritize REAL LIFE interaction between our membership and our leaders and ultimately our greatest goal is building REAL LIFE Folkish community’s of like-minded people, honoring our Gods, and building our Folk. Folk builders are the face of the AFA in the different regions of the world and the local leadership of these communities. These men and women have stepped up to make a difference and not only do the tasks people see, like throwing events and interacting with membership but also are busy behind the scenes doing things like membership, online management, and helping shape the AFA.