More on the VA Thor’s Hammer Emblem Addition

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  May 14, 2013 — 14 Comments

On May 10th I reported that the Thor’s Hammer (aka Mjölnir) emblem was approved for veteran’s headstones and grave markers by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs. Since then, more details have been slowly emerging as to how the approval came about. We know that the listing went up on May 2nd, and thanks to a statement sent to The Wild Hunt from the Guardian of The Northern Winds Hearth we now know the circumstances of the emblem’s approval.

Thor's Hammer Emblem.

Thor’s Hammer Emblem.

“Due to a number of inquires regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs approval of the Mjölnir – Hammer of Thor Emblem as one of the “Available Emblems of Belief for Placement on Government Headstones and Markers” I have decided to write the following statement to try and answer everyone’s questions. Please note, that at the request of the Departed’s Family, I am withholding the last name and location of the grave markers.

The departed’s name is Shane, he was an Odinist and a Sargent in the United States Marine Corp. He was a Loyal Brother and Comrade to me personally for many years here in Midgard and although not a member of the OR, he was close with members of The Northern Winds Hearth and joined us in Blot and Sumbel on many occasions. Shane had passed from Midgard in August of 2012. After his Bael and Burial Ceremonies were held, I discussed with his Mother about the gravestone marker Emblems and how the Mjölnir – Hammer of Thor Emblem was not on the approved list with the VA, even with the previous efforts made by others to get approved.

It was then that her quest began to submit a request to the VA to get the Mjölnir – Hammer of Thor Emblem approved. She had written a lengthy heart felt letter to the VA with the request for the approval so her son may have an Emblem of Faith representative of his Beliefs on his gravestone. At this time she also requested that her Husband Mark’s headstone also bear the same Emblem for he practiced and lived by the same core teachings and virtues of Odinism, as their Son did. The VA required that she submit: (1) A three-inch diameter digitized black and white representation; (2) Free of copyright or trademark restrictions, or authorized by the owner for use and publication on the list of publicly available emblems; and (3) Reproducible in a production-line environment in stone or bronze without loss of graphic quality. At that time I enlisted the assistance of Comrades within the OR who were more then willing to assist her with this request.

After the VA accepted the image that was provided the waiting game began. She had made countless phone calls and sent numerous e-mails regarding the status of the request. Finally after all of her tireless efforts she received a letter from the VA dated May 2, 2013 advising her of the approval and that both Shane and Mark’s headstones that currently do not have any Emblem of Faith on them, would be replaced with new headstones inscribed with the Mjölnir – Hammer of Thor Emblem. Although it is with sadness and a heavy heart that this came about, a great step forward has taken place for the Odinist and Asatru communities. From our loss a Great Victory has arisen that will positively affect us all for generations to come! Hail to the Fallen, Hail Shane and Mark! Hail to Shane’s Mother for Her Dedication and Perseverance! Hail to all of Our Service Men and Women! Past, Present, and Future!

FFF/HTR Haakon “Hawk” AOR Guardian of The Northern Winds Hearth, AOR”

I’d like to thank Hawk for sending us this information, so that we can know the story, and who we have to thank for this advance for all Pagan and Heathen veterans. In addition, several groups like The Troth, Lady Liberty League, and the Open Halls Project have also released statements on this victory. I think this statement from the Heathen group Hrafnar sums up the general sentiments well.

“Today, Hrafnar stands with heathens across the US in pride as the US Department of Veterans’ Affairs has approved the Thor’s Hammer as an emblem to put on the headstones of fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines. The greater acceptance of our faith anywhere is a victory for all of us, regardless of whatever other differences we may have.

Today, Hrafnar also stands with heathens across the US in sorrow: such recognition can only be made after the death of one who has been sworn to that service. The death of one of us is a loss for us all, regardless of whatever other differences we may have.

Hail the fallen! Hail the heathens!”

As for the future, we now clearly know how future Pagan symbols will be approved. Susan Granquist of Irminsul Ættir and the Our Freedom Coalition sent me this reminder for all Pagan veterans and their families.

“We, as an organization, recommend that veterans make sure that they include their desire to have that particular symbol on their headstones in their wills, and to make sure that their legal representatives have documentation and authority to make sure it is placed on the headstone.”

So if you are a Pagan, Heathen, or polytheist, who has served, or is serving, in the US military, please make arrangements now so that your preferred religious symbol can be approved for your gravestone or marker. If you need help, reach out to organizations like the Lady Liberty League, or your preferred national Pagan organization, to make sure everything is in order. Let’s ensure that all our fallen receive their proper honor.

Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • nothing

    AOR are racialist heathens.

    • I haven’t delved to deeply into the AOR – but it was indeed someone associated with them who got the Thor’s Hammer approved. So that’s the story. My sharing the statement should not be confused with a blanket endorsement.

    • So? Last I checked, that’s not illegal. Does that mean he shouldn’t get the emblem he wants on his headstone? He served his country.

    • Haakon “Hawk” AOR

      AOR stands for Apprentice Odinic Rite. Has nothing to do with your statement as above. Directly from FAQ from OR website:

      membership is open to all (subject to approval of application) who feel
      an interest in and accord with Odinist principles. It is for those who
      are new to the Rite and gives a chance to learn more, make contacts and
      decide if they wish to become fully professed OR members.

      There is no pressure on anyone to become professed: it is a personal
      choice. Many of the Rite’s most active members are Apprentices and
      they are valued as much as any other member.

      Apprentices may use the initials AOR after their name if they so
      choose. This is not a requirement but many choose to show their loyalty
      to the OR in this way.”

      • Thank you for the clarification. I’ve updated the piece to read “The Northern Winds Hearth.”

    • Kennari

      mayhap, and I am no fan of the OR myself, but this transcends all differences. Shanes’s sacrifice pays all. Have respect.

      • Lorrie Wood

        Exactly—and exactly my thought when I wrote Hrafnar’s statement, and why it has phrases like “whatever our differences”.

        Here, and for this purpose, I can choose to honor the service that Mark and Shane gave to this country. I would know their last names, so I could honor their families entirely (clearly they were part and parcel of those men’s strength), but I respect the right to withhold that information.

        I can choose to honor the work that a grieving mother and widow did, as well as the kindred of the fallen, to make sure that these men were honored as befits their faith.

        I /do/ honor that the way will be made easier for other heathen veterans when /they/ grow ripe for Valhalla, Sessrumnir, and the halls of their ancestors.

        In the end, it matters not one whit if Mark and Shawn were raci(ali)st or not. The VA will bury any heathen serviceman under the Hammer who chooses it…regardless of their ancestry or skin tone. That’s the true victory.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      I fail to see how that has any bearing on anything.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        A downvote, how interesting.

        Any suggestions as to why?

  • cernowain greenman

    Having the story behind the acceptance of the Hammer by the VA very much personalizes it. Thanks to those who shared with us their time of sorrow that has given a great deal of depth of meaning. We share in your salutes of the Fallen.

  • The OR is a Folkish organization. While most racist Heathens are Folkish, not all Folkish Heathens are racist. Either way it is beyond disrespectful to speak ill of the fallen.

    Hail the fallen! May they ever feast in Odin’s hall!

  • Thank you for this report.

    I shall tip Minnehorn to Shane (Semper Fi Marine) and his Father Mark.

    I shall further tip Horn to the Mother and Wife of these two men for her love and strength.

    Stefn Ullarsson Piparskeggr

    • Here is the poem I wrote, which will be read on Memorial Day when I speak Mark and Shane’s names, and send words to the Lady of that family in my remembrances. – Piparskeggr

      Line Holders…

      My country’s flag is in my heart
      I wear my heart upon my sleeve
      I served her well for many years
      Twas for my Folk, who I hold dear

      My family came to this land
      Oer many years, oer many seas
      They sought a life where they could build
      Community both Hale and Free

      As the years passed, we took our part
      As farmers, craftsmen and merchants, too
      We also took our place in line
      Twixt foeman’s bane, our home and hearth

      In none of this we stood alone
      Always neighbors would heed the call
      Would see the need to cede their lives
      So all might live in commonweal

      As people grew, so did warband
      So one might know just a few who
      Did see the Need, took the Burden
      Became comrades in this Duty

      This Brotherhood (we’ve Sisters, too)
      Becomes a Bond of promise kept
      To Ward the Peace, to Ward the Weal
      When one is gone, we all feel loss

      So lift we Horn, unto the Gods
      Hail our Comrades, both known and not
      Have joy in Life, for their Being
      Reflect in Death, on their Meaning

      My country’s flag is in my heart
      I wear my heart upon my sleeve
      I served her well for many years
      Twas for my Folk, who I hold dear

  • Pay kind heed to the dead: Sea dead, Straw dead, Sword dead.