Interview with Svinfylkin
It is a pleasure to do this interview SvinFylkin a group Heathen United States. I was lucky enough to meet them in person in the United States and showed great hospitality and be great people and a great community. Hail Svinfylkin! David Wolfheart
Svinfylkin in facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Svinfylkin/?fref=ts
Tell us a little about the Svinfylkin. When was the group founded? What area are you in? How does membership work and what are your objectives for the future?
The Svinfylkin formed in the summer of 2013. Originally we were part of another group and were meant to serve as protectors to that group. Over that period of time there were differences in opinion and direction so a split formed between both groups and eventually a parting of ways. The Svinfylkin then continued on to form it’s own tribe rather than just be protectors. We adapted our structure in order to build a Heathen/Asatru community for ourselves centered on the values that we hold.
Up to now, the Svinfylkin has remained in the NY/NJ/PA area and don’t foresee a change in the future though of course anything can change. Many of us grew up in this region and have established roots here so picking up and moving elsewhere wouldn’t be practical. It’s also a very active area for Asatru and for others looking to discover the old ways. In the years to come what we’re looking to do is establish our own land as a central point for our tribe where we can honor our gods/goddesses and ancestors in peace. Some groups want complete isolation whereas we are striving to create a self-sufficient tribal community that also has ties to the rest of the world.
For those very reasons, membership into the Svinfylkin is extremely difficult. It’s a long process, which most people are not willing to undertake. In that time though, we as a group get to really know the individual from being around them and they get to know us. To be part of a tribe one must truly feel at home and be one with the group and vice versa. It’s a family unit that counts on one another. Most people in the modern world are not willing or ready to make that kind of sacrifice or even understand that level of commitment. That is why at the end of the process we all have insignia that we wear. It’s our mark of our tribe that we don’t take off and that’s also caused us some issues with some groups because they don’t understand.
Tell us about the meaning behind your name and the symbolism of your insignia.
The name Svinfylkin is actually an adaptation of an old Germanic word: Svinfylking. It was a military tactic described as the swine array or boar snout, which was essentially a wedge formation. According to lore, it was Odin that came down and taught the maneuver to the Germanic warriors. According to some accounts the Svinfylking were also viewed as a class of warriors much like the Ulfhednar and Berserkers and would sometimes serve to guard tribal leaders or kings. We adapted the name because our emphasis is not on guarding leaders or kings but rather on building ties of kinship and protecting one another.
The symbols we use are also a unification of Aesir and Vanir. We have two boars mirroring each other representing Gullinbursti and Brisingamen, Freyr and Freyja. The two boars coming out the way they are also represent the boar’s snout with tusks protruding which also honors the original military formation mentioned above. In between the two boars is the shield knot which is often viewed as Thor’s hammer in motion. This is in honor of Thor and his role as a protector and our connection as well for being protectors. Thor is also connected to fertility much like Freyr is. While Freyr watches over crops, plants will never grow without rain. It is a harmony between the Aesir and Vanir.
We see that you are a very active Asatru group (or kindred) with a strong fellowship. Do you organize and host many events? Are your events open to the public?
We’re very active in our event coordination throughout the year. We have three big religious rites that we invite those not in the tribe which are Feast of Vidar, Ullr Blot and Yule. Since we hold these gatherings at the homes of different members we require that one of us actually know you in order to attend. In the future, once we have our own land that can expand. Aside from religious rites that we conduct there are also several hikes and camping trips we put together and those we normally share on our page for people to come out to. Our lead craftsman also holds several workshops at his home (again, if we know you) to teach knife making or general metalworking. These have been things that we’ve expanded on in the last year. Again, our first two years our hands were tied on things to do because we were part of another group. In the last year being on our own we’ve expanded our view and sphere of influence and look to continue just that going into year two. We’ve already started that process by partaking in other events as vendors and educators and looking to expand that role as well.
Do you organize events solely in your area?
Because of our close knit nature we tend to only organize things in our immediate area. We like to establish bonds with other groups and show our support to them by attending when they hold an event. Since we’re not really looking to expand beyond our current base it doesn’t make much sense to put events together elsewhere. I’d rather work with established groups in those areas and help them along rather than try to move in and take focus away from them. Showing a little respect goes a long way in tribal relations.
What does it mean to you to be Heathen or to follow Asatru?
Being Heathen, to us, is honoring the gods of your people and honoring your ancestors while also living in the present and moving on to a greater future. Many times people describe Heathenry or Asatru as a recreation of the Old Ways while others look at it as a New Age religion. In truth, they’re both right and wrong and the reason I say this is because we will never know what our ancestors truly believed or how they did things. You can’t recreate a past that you don’t truly know and even if you tried to, you would find that there were variations from one tribe to the next. It’s also not New Age because we don’t just make up what we want. We look to history as a base and expand from there. Let’s be honest though, there are lot of times that we fill in the blanks. Heathenry is a living and ever changing spirituality. We don’t bow down and worship dead prophets. As Heathens, we honor what was done before us and looking to do even more moving forward. That drive and ambition is not stagnant so our beliefs also cannot be stagnant. Our ancestors adapted and so must we in mind, body and spirit while never losing sight of where we came from. That is Heathenry.
Are you a Folkish group? What does that mean to you?
The Svinfylkin has a tribal focus. Folkish and Universalist both have too broad of a view for us. On the one hand you have Folkish which basically if you’re European you’re one of us which isn’t a Heathen mindset but a modern ethno-nationalist viewpoint. We do use the term Folk but to us, your ethnic background doesn’t make you my folk. The Folk are the tribe and only the tribe. Anyone outside of the tribe is an outsider. We have no established bonds, no trust and have not shared in our experiences or sacrifices. Heathenry is supposed to be tribal by nature. Only each tribe can determine who can and cannot join them. What we do share in common with the Folkish view is that being a spirituality honoring the Germanic people and our Germanic ancestors, there should be a Germanic base in your heritage. Now as too how Germanic and all that, I cannot say and it isn’t my place to say. Each tribe must make that decision for themselves and instead of fighting one another for their different policies they can simply acknowledge them and choose not to associate with one another. That is why tribalism works. Go find the tribe that fits you. Heathenry is not a centralized religion with only one point of view.
What are the most important events for you and why?
I cannot say which is the most important event or events for us. They all share great importance. For myself, the Feast of Vidar and Yule are the two most powerful. If you ask another tribe member they may name two different events. Feast of Vidar we just did this July and it was the first time we did it and also the first time I hear of any group doing it actually but I could be wrong. It was extremely powerful because the focus of the ritual wasn’t happiness and joy or a simple honoring to gods or ancestors. The ritual was extremely personal and really tapped into every person that was there the feelings of pain, anger and rage from betrayals and wrong action. Too often we focus on things that make us feel good, everything is joyful and we often forget the darker side of reality. We have all been wronged and our way is not to forgive and forget but to get even. We come from a very bloody history and no matter if you’re Celtic, Slavic, Germanic etc., your people at one point or another were brutally murdered and forced to convert to an alien ideology. Even for us today, no matter how happy and successful you are, there is always another side to that where you have been betrayed. This ritual was to draw all that out and remind us of that. It really hit hard with a lot of people in attendance and was one of the most powerful rituals I have ever been a part of.
On the other side, there’s Yule, which I always find to be joyous. It’s true history isn’t always happy since it served a very serious purpose for our ancestors. It is a time however of coming together and celebrating. The gift cycle is seen throughout the time of Yule and is ultimately serving to strengthen bonds and strengthen the community. The two events aren’t opposites of each other but illustrate two different perspectives. That’s why to me those two stand out.
We see that you are active at various events with different groups and individuals. You always seem to have a strong and positive presence. Tell us a little about some of the other groups and individuals you deal with.
It’s true, the Svinfylkin were very active at various events up until recently. We had a lot of things happen behind our backs with various individuals and groups speaking ill of us and trying to destroy our name. After those dealings we’ve stopped any interaction with those groups and no longer attend those events. One of those events is actually where I met you David Wolfheart and had a fun time being your personal translator. We’ve since met new people though and stayed in contact with them. In the NY/PA area we’ve met the Ragnarok Brotherhood and Heathen Haven, which we look forward to meeting up more with them and getting to know each other better. They seem to have a lot of the same goals in mind as us. Another individual I met was Matt who is a fantastic jeweler and runs his page on Facebook, Tyrwotor so feel free to check out some of his craft.
Aside from Asatru celebrations, what are other things do you take part in?
As I said earlier, aside from religious rites we get together for nature hikes and campouts. Our craftsmen often get together to work their trades. We’re looking to further expand on all that in the next year. After winter we’ll be starting our own projects to grow our own food and be a little more self-sufficient. We all have properties of varying sizes, no reason not to utilize the space and learn a valuable skill in the process. Other things can just be found as they come up on our page.
What sort of merchandise do you have for sale?
Right now we don’t have a website up so no online store to use yet but that will be coming soon. For now our products can still be purchased online, I just use PayPal to invoice items and deal through email correspondence. Anyone can message the page for those details. So presently we’re a little limited as to what we can mail out but easy products to mail out are our t-shirts, flags, beginner’s guide rune booklets and boar decals. We offer more in person at events which we always post pictures of.
Do you have anything else to add for our readers and for Alfrothul?
The best advice I can give from our personal journey so far is that is a hard road to travel when one stays true to their core values and isn’t willing to compromise. It is also most rewarding. People often talk about what should be done but very rarely get it done. People often talk about being honorable but very rarely practice it. Don’t be the person talking about it, be the person being talked about. It’s a hard path to follow which is why most people don’t but if you start that journey and see it through, I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. Always stay true to what you know is right.