McNallen, Stephen A. (1948– )
Stephen A. McNallen, the pioneer advocate of modern
Norse Neo-Paganism in North America, was born in Breckenridge,
Texas, on October 15, 1948. He attended Midwestern
University in Wichita Falls, Texas, and during his college days
discovered the deities of the ancient Norsemen and began to
identify with the Viking element in his own ancestry. He eventually
dedicated himself to Odin and the whole of the Norse
pantheon, though he kept this commitment to himself and a
few friends. However, in the winter of 1971–72, as his college
career was coming to an end, he released the first issue of The
Runestone. Previously he had placed an ad in Fate magazine,
and compiled a list of potential subscribers from it. From those
who responded he founded the Viking Brotherhood.
McNallen completed his degree in political science and was
commissioned as a second lieutenant in the army. He did his
basic training at Fort Benning (Georgia) and was assigned to
a unit in Germany, where he served for the remainder of his
term. The Viking Brotherhood continued at a minimal level
until he returned to the States in 1976. He settled in California
and began to meet with Norse Neo-Pagans in the San Francisco
Area.
McNallen actively developed his understanding of the Asatru
(or loyalty to the Germanic deities) and shortly after his assuming
active leadership in the brotherhood, he reformed it as
Asatru Free Assembly. His efforts received a significant boost
when the first edition of Margot Adler’s survey of the contemporary
community, Drawing Down the Moon, appeared in 1979.
He even appeared on the radio show of Christian evangelist
Bob Larson, which provided further national exposure. He
continued to edit The Runestone and compiled a book of Norse
rituals. Feeling burned out, he dissolved the assembly in 1987,
though he did not abandon his faith. Others continued the
work of the assembly in various alternative organizations and
McNallen moved to northern California. He obtained his
teaching credentials and got a job teaching science and math
in a junior high school. In his spare time, he traveled to northern
India and Burma and turned his observations on the political
and military conflicts into articles for national magazines.
In 1992, McNallen felt ready to resume his leadership in
what had become an expansive international Asatru community.
He revived The Runestone and founded a new fellowship
group, the Asatru Folk Assembly, modelled on the previous
Asatru Free Assembly. He has also continued his global travels,
beginning with Africa and Bosnia in 1993. He maintains the Internet
page for the new assembly at httpwww.runestone.org.
Sources
McNallen, Stephen A. Rituals of Asatru. 3 vols. Breckenridge,
Tex. Asatru Free Assembly, 1985.
———. What Is the Norse Religion Turlock, Calif. The Author,
n.d.

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