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Born out of an atavistic defiance of modernity and rationalism, present-day neo-Völkisch, or Folkish, adherents and groups are organized around ethnocentricity and archaic notions of gender.


The count of active neo-Völkisch hate groups increased from 38 in 2022 to 40 in 2023. The Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA), recognized as the largest neo-Völkisch group in the nation, expanded from 31 kindreds (chapters) to 33 during this period.

Throughout 2023, adherents of the neo-Völkisch movement rallied around issues that aligned with broader concerns of the American right. These included vehement opposition to critical race theory, challenges to educational frameworks, and the propagation of conspiracy theories surrounding immigration. At the heart of much neo-Völkisch ideology lies the unfounded fear of the purported replacement of white individuals. Consequently, numerous hate groups persisted in emphasizing homeschooling initiatives as a strategic avenue. This tactic, particularly championed by the AFA, serves to disrupt the dissemination of accurate educational content pertaining to the history of racism and various manifestations of structural oppression within the United States. Under the leadership of Gothi Rob Stamm, the AFA Academy has witnessed significant expansion, with suggestions of plans for a physical school alongside its existing online academy.

Furthermore, many followers of the neo-Völkisch ideology fervently adhere to many conspiracy theories, notably the “great replacement” theory, allegedly designed to assert control over and eventually suppress white populations. Similar to members of other hate groups, neo-Völkisch adherents opportunistically leverage such conspiracies to evade their responsibilities in fostering an equitable, multiracial democracy.


2023 marked significant developments within the AFA, notably with the initiation of the Freyshof Fund aimed at establishing its fifth Hof. Additionally, the acquisition of land in Jackson County, Tennessee, for the construction of Sigrheim stands out. According to Matt Flavel, the current national leader of the AFA, this location holds strategic importance because it is conveniently situated within a few hours’ drive from numerous AFA members. Flavel’s statement suggests that upon completion, Sigrheim will serve as a pivotal site for the AFA.

Moreover, within the Wolves of Vinland group, Matthias Waggener has successfully established a Devotion Jiu-Jitsu gym in Los Angeles. This move effectively establishes a central operational hub for the group on the West Coast.


With the continued acquisition of real estate, the expanding online and social media presence, and the expansion of the homeschooling program, the membership and relevance of the Asatru Folk Assembly continues to grow. Across the neo-Völkisch landscape, adherents rely on imagery and myths of a romanticized Viking era to transcend nationalism and wield whiteness to suit their ill-conceived ends. The aesthetic these groups masquerade behind and the malleability of their messaging, coupled with connections to and coordination with the AFA, will ensure their relative stability in 2024.

The AFA and other neo-Völkisch groups have continued to expand across various social media platforms. Adherents have turned to VK, MeWe and Telegram platforms while moving away from more mainstream spaces, such as Facebook. They continue recruiting, proselytizing, hosting podcasts and coordinating events across the country using a false message of inclusivity, brotherhood and fraternity.


Neo-Völkisch adherents base their spirituality on the survival of those descended from white Europeans and the preservation of what they claim are dead or dying cultures. Such individuals and groups use a variety of terms to describe their spirituality, such as Odinism or Wotanism, but sometimes they co-opt other nonracist denominations such as heathenism, Asatru or paganism. Qualifiers like “Norse tradition,” “Germanic” or “proto-Germanic” are sometimes attached to those terms. These categorizations can be confusing, as no form of paganism is inherently bigoted.

Some believers actively distance their religion from neo-Völkisch dogma. Neo-Völkisch groups in the U.S. that embrace racial, ethnic and/or cultural essentialism generally identify themselves and their groups as “Folkish” and/or “Folk”-rooted, English translations of the German words “Völkisch” and “Völk,” respectively. While some neo-Völkisch groups attempt to cloak their ethnic exclusivity in claims centering on the victimization of white people, other groups overtly promote racial supremacy.

Folkish ideals and myths are derived from the Völkisch movement of the 19th and 20th centuries, which coalesced in present-day Austria and Germany. The movement grounded German ethnicity in an amalgam of geography, race and esoteric spirituality. Just as the original Völkisch movement can be understood as one of esoteric and ethnocentric nationalism, the neo-Völkisch iteration is a movement of esoteric and ethnocentric tribalism.

Present-day Folkish adherents also couch their bigotry in baseless claims of bloodlines grounding the superiority of one’s white identity. At the intersection of hypermasculinity and ethnocentricity, this movement seeks to defend against the unfounded threats of the extermination of white people.

A late 2017 Instagram post by the Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA), this country’s largest neo-Völkisch hate group, exemplifies how Folkish adherents profess their urgency for preserving Folkish ways. The post’s caption, drawing on a popular racist meme, reads: “In these mixed-up times it is important to remember not only that it is OK to be white but also that we owe to our descendants the same sturdy roots from which we ourselves have grown.”


While neo-Völkisch hate groups romanticize pre-Christian Viking culture in slick, stylized manners, the foundations of the ideology emerged in the mid-19th century.

Two of the foremost thinkers in these ideological groundings were Austrian nationals Guido Karl Anton List and Adolf Josef Lanz. The pair are better known by their pseudonyms, Guido von List and Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels, respectively. Aggrieved by the acceleration of societal change during their lifetimes – particularly stemming from the Industrial Revolution and a perceived lack of ethnic cohesion exacerbated by foreign influences such as Catholicism – these men recoiled from times they felt were further dividing their people.

Von List and others promoted notions that visible biological differences determine one’s intellect and worth. Their ideas intersected popular concepts at the time, such as “social Darwinism,” which applied the biological competition for survival to economics, politics and social power. Von List capitalized on the popularity of such concepts to argue that those of Germanic descent have always been superior. Such notions guided his development of “Armanism” (also known as “Ariosophy”), a belief system premised on pseudoscientific notions of Aryan purity and the mystical indivisibility of spirit and body. Von List presented such ideas in his text from 1910, The Religion of the Aryo-Germanic Folk: Esoteric and Exoteric.

Arriving on a crest of von List’s work, von Liebenfels later developed his own popular theory within Ariosophy. Liebenfels’ Theozoology developed into a quasi-religious doctrine intermingled with sciences like biology and zoology to classify humans into a racial hierarchy.

With similar beliefs bound to genetic essentialism, Ariosophists relied on occultism to bolster the myth of Ariosophy and Aryan peoples within influential social circles. Some of those circles were crucial in cultivating and helping propel the National Socialist German Workers’ Party to power under Adolf Hitler during the 1920s and into the 1930s.


Neo-Völkisch ideology debuted in the United States in the late 1960s and gained traction through the early 1970s with help from Stephen McNallen and Danish immigrant Else Christensen. In 1969, McNallen created the Asatru Free Assembly in Northern California, the precursor to the present-day Asatru Folk Assembly. At the same time, Christensen founded the Odinist Fellowship in Crystal River, Florida.

McNallen remains a seminal figure in the Folkish community. His idea that religion and genetic inheritance are intrinsically tied is fundamental to the argument that Folkishness should be practiced only by white individuals of European descent. McNallen asserts in his 1985 essay “Metagenetics,” “We are thus a religion not for all of humanity, but rather one that calls only its own.” Pernicious notions of heredity underpin his “dogma,” despite his occasional past protestations to the contrary.

Despite McNallen’s explicitly racist ideas, some neo-Völkisch contemporaries have criticized him as a race traitor due to their perception that he has failed to consistently support white supremacy. Most notable among those critics were David and Katja Lane. Along with Ron McVan, the couple founded another significant Folkish group in the 1990s, Wotansvolk.

David Lane was a member of the neo-Nazi terror cell The Order, which rose to prominence in 1984 after waging a campaign of hate that included murder, the bombing of a synagogue, counterfeiting and a series of robberies. Lane is credited with authoring the “14 Words” slogan and the “88 Precepts,” a series of white nationalist tenets that many Folkish devotees use to guide their life choices. In his own writings, Lane, who was more straightforward than McNallen, believed that “the White race cannot share Gods, religion, technology, food, women, territory or anything of value with another race” and that the tribal, ethnocentric, Wotanist society he envisioned would be attainable only after a period of oppressive dictatorship.

More recently, McNallen disposed of pretenses, particularly in a video monologue on race in which he quotes Lane’s “14 Words” verbatim. Titled “What I Really Think About Race” and posted to in 2017, McNallen states: “We need to change our attitude. We need to say … ‘I will defend my race.’ I will fight for my race, primarily with words and ideas, but I will fight more literally if I have to.”

Similarly, in an effort to justify AFA’s views after the Southern Poverty Law Center listed it as a hate group in 2018, Matt Flavel defended his group, describing it to the Appeal-Democrat newspaper as a “folkish religion, as opposed to a universal religion.” He continued, “So, we believe each ethnic group has a right to their belief and to the divine.”


In line with rhetoric adopted by much of the far right, Folkish devotees veil their ethnocentric beliefs in arguments for the necessity of microsocieties, or tribes, to preserve their ethnicity and combat alleged white genocide. Despite their rebuke of modernity, leaders have embraced various social media platforms to spread Folkish ideology.

While outward-facing violence rarely erupts from the Folkish movement, it is premised on an ethnically or racially charged warrior pathos. This mentality further entrenches the asymmetry of power and agency between men and women. Fetishized images of hypermasculinity, juxtaposed with nurturing femininity, reinforce misogyny and rigid gender roles within Folkish spheres. This objectification is conflated with notions of cherishing women as keepers of the home and bearers of life. However, this pseudo-pedestal forces women into subdued and regulated roles, a trend that undergirds the far right.

Since the movement’s inception, Völkisch adherents explain away this sexism with intricate narratives. In von List’s text on the Aryo-Germanic Folk, he claimed, “They held women and marriage in such high, divine reverence and issued such strict laws against mixed marriages and bastardization, since they also recognized that the strength of the race was founded only on its unity and purity.” Casting the female body as a vessel for purity and genetic unity is a manifestation of patriarchal violence with implications reaching far beyond the immediate misogyny.

As the neo-Völkisch ideology coalesced in the U.S., Lane sought to substantiate its tenets through extensive writings. His most well-known phrase, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children,” echoes throughout the white supremacist movement. At its core, this concept necessitates control over women’s bodies and reproductive functions. More in-depth essays by Lane claim that “males are designed to capture females,” a pursuit he contends women amicably indulge because “nothing makes a woman happier than to be desired by a great warrior.”

Given these ruminations on gender, feminism is approached with contempt and accused of undermining the so-called natural order. These rigid gender roles continue to bolster Folkish groups, as evidenced by Flavel’s August 2017 Facebook post: “Today we are bombarded with confusion and messages contrary to the values of our ancestors and our folk. The AFA would like to make clear that we believe gender is not a social construct, it is a beautiful gift from the holy powers and from our ancestors. The AFA celebrates our feminine ladies, our masculine gentlemen and, above all, our beautiful white children.”

Outline map of US states with number of Neo Volkisch groups


View all groups by state and by ideology.
* - Asterisk denotes headquarters.

Asatru Folk Assembly
New Hampshire
North Carolina
North Dakota
New York
Northern Ohio
South Carolina
Southern Ohio
West Virginia

Dakota Prairie Asatru
Hettinger, North Dakota

Easter Tidings/Carolyn Emerick
Rochester, New York

Hearth & Helm LLC
Nashville, Indiana

Order of the Black Sun, The
Mesa, Arizona

Wolves of Vinland
Los Angeles, California
South Carolina
*Lynchburg, Virginia

Women for Aryan Unity