Atlanta Heathen Hof breaks ground

Cara Schulz —  April 11, 2017 — 7 Comments

ATLANTA, Ga. – Although it was delayed by a year, this weekend the Vör Forn Siðr began clearing land for what will eventually be a Heathen Hof, or worship temple, along with a hall. The nine acre property is located 10 miles from the Atlanta metro area. A building suitable to be converted into the hall is already onsite while the Hof still needs to be built from scratch.

[Courtesy Photo]

[Courtesy Photo]

Rangvaldr Marvinson Yngvi-Martin heads Vör Forn Siðr and is the sole financial backer of the project. He says there are approximately 150 people in his meetup groups, while around 40 Heathens are more consistently active. Of those 40, a smaller subgroup are directly involved with the creation of the Hof through their labor at last weekend’s land clearing party. As of now the group is not soliciting donations from the wider community.

While this attempt at acquiring land for the Hof and Hall complex was successful, it follows a failed attempt last spring. At that time, Mr. Yngvi-Martin found a property with a home and larger buildings for sale on a contract for deed. He put his earnest money down, signed the contract, and waited for a closing date.

The closing date never happened due to a very complicated situation. “Our closing lawyer is in Georgia, the seller is in Texas, the people selling it for them are in India, our underwriter is in California, our loan originator is in Florida and our coordinator is in Wisconsin,” he explained.

After several delays in the closing date and requests for more earnest money, the contract was cancelled. Initially the seller said they would not return the earnest money Yngvi-Martin had put down, which is a normal practice when a closing falls through.

Yngvi-Martin persisted and received his money back, which he was then able to put down on the current property.

Vör Forn Siðr has a small board which makes the major decisions and their mission is to create more Heathen infrastructure and to combat public misconceptions about Heathenry.

Yngvi-Martin hopes their success can be a roadmap for other Heathen groups seeking to build dedicated spaces across the United States, “We hope to build a Hof and Hall in every state of the US to better serve the community and we’re not adverse to going international if it’s in the Wyrd.”

Current structure to be used for the hall [Courtesy Photo]

Current structure to be used for the hall [Courtesy Photo]

He says the Hof will be open to anyone who has respect for the Heathen faith, similar to how the group has hosted open Blóts in the past.

Yngvi-Martin hopes the Hof and Hall complex survive and thrive past his lifetime, “Wouldn’t it be amazing to see the next generation of Heathens take up the task of maintaining Frith with the land and keeping traditions alive, and their children when they are old will tell tales of us and raise a horn in our memory under the shadows of our burial mounds, celebrating in the Hall that their forebears built and worshipping their Gods in the Hof we bled to make reality.”

Yngvi-Martin says his group, by creating this religious space, is reforging forgotten relationships with the Landvaetr and nurturing the spiritual health of the land. They see this as a first step in creating a living and worship environment that too few Heathens have access to.

“If we have our way,” says Yngvi-Martin, “Heathens all over the country will one day have a sacred place to gather in their own state.”

The group says they plan to have an altar completed inside a sacred enclosure area, along with the Hall in usable condition in time for their Sigrblót/Varblót and Eostra Celebration on April 15th. The Hof’s projected completion date is 2022.

Cara Schulz

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Cara Schulz is a journalist and author living in Minnesota with her husband and cat. She has previously written for PAGAN+politics, PNC-Minnesota, and Patheos. Her work has appeared in several books by Bibliotheca Alexandrina and she's the author of Martinis & Marshmallows: A Field Guide to Luxury Tent Camping and (Almost) Foolproof Mead Making. She loves red wine, camping, and has no tattoos.
  • kenofken

    It’s heartening to see people building for the future. As with many such temple projects, I wonder about long term sustainability. A “smaller subgroup” of 40 seems like a razor-thin base to launch from. The funding base is exactly one man wide. As a starting point, almost anything can work, but I think if it is to become a multi-generational thing, it will need deep personal and financial buy-in from many dozens of families, at a bare minimum.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      It’s possible to do this and still follow the two principles Wade Mueller set out in talking about going back to the land: 1) Only those who contribute get to help plan it, and 2) understand it’s a sacrifice for the future. Clearly Yngvi-Martin has (2) covered.

    • Friday

      Eh, sometimes thinking too big means nothing happens at all. Any size land for Pagan/Heathen people has a chance to be of import to the wider community, it’s continuity that’s hard to acheive in this rootless day and age.

      • kenofken

        The conceptual question is does a temple become a seed for a thriving community or is a successful temple an outgrowth of a community which has grown to the point of needing a temple? What I’ve observed over the years tends to suggest the latter.

        The new Asatru temple going up Reykjavík, Iceland, is arguably the nicest and most functional Pagan temple built in at least the past 1,000 years in the West. It isn’t being built in the hope that Pagans will come to appreciate it. It is the culmination of a movement which began in 1972. With some ebbs and flows, it struggled for many years to build even 100 steady followers and to maintain a schedule of rituals.

        Once it reached a critical mass, the campaign for the current temple began in earnest and they spent well over a decade raising funds before breaking ground. Now, these folks have the advantage of being able to secure a piece of land from the government, but they still came up with the better part of $1 million on their own. Rather than a converted barn or something makeshift, they’re going to have a magnificent 4,000 square foot facility designed by an architect around their ritual needs and theology. It has the feel of something that will be around and grow for a long, long time.

        • Rangvaldr Marvinson

          The barn is going to be the foundation of the Hall, the Hof is going to be purpose built from the ground up using traditional architecture.

          When Ingólfr cast his high seat pillars into the ocean and built his temple where they washed up in the ocean, there were few people present to enjoy it.

          That place is now known as Reykjavik.

        • Friday

          Which is of course nice if you can have it: (I do think there’s a substantial Heathen community in the area already, from what I’ve heard.) But in America, there’s a tendency for the Pagan and Heathen community to be spread all over, not to mention modern life tending to mean people are moving all around: in some areas, it really seems someone’s got to be the first to pick a spot. If we want more stable gathering places, anyway.

          It’s pretty hard to try and outguess what’ll be going on in the world and country on any sort of timescale at this point, but some means of resilence and adaptability looks like it’ll be key, as well as of course the need to deal with the economy as it *is.*

  • Cathryn Platine

    Sometimes you build a Temple because you are called to do so. Cybele tasked me to build a Temple for Her and I did so on land deeded to an incorporated religion to ensure future stability. Even though it is not a popular position today, actual Pagan infrastructure is the future if Paganism is to have a future. Too many today forget that the huge Temple structures of the past were all Pagan long long long before the rise of the Judaeo-Christian cults.

    When spirituality returns to Paganism, the wisdom of looking to the future instead of today will once again become the norm, sadly that is just not true today where words on the internut are substituted for places of spirituality that feed the soul.