Gnosis Diary: Life as a Heathen

My personal experiences, including religious and spiritual experiences, community interaction, general heathenry, and modern life on my heathen path, which is Asatru.

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Asatru FAQ: Prison Outreach

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I receive written letters in the mail from prisoners asking questions about heathen practices and asking about Asatru resources and books. (Most people who read my writing and want to contact me do so on the net, but prisoners often don't have access to the net.) I've received a few such letters recently in reaction to my latest article in Witches & Pagans Magazine, which was the Heathen Vs. Hate symbol guide designed to enable people to tell the difference between heathen symbols and hate symbols.

When I was asked to write the symbol guide, I was chosen because I had already done a lot of work on that topic for the Trollslayers' Guide, an internal document for the admins and moderators of my forum, the Asatru Facebook Forum. The article was an interesting challenge to write because the editor wanted a symbol guide without actually showing any of the symbols. The reason for that was because having a hate symbol like a swastika appear in the magazine would get the magazine censored and removed from places like prisons and schools. Print magazines and print books are some of the few resources to which prisoners have access, so making sure the magazine didn't get disallowed is important for that population. So, I had the constraints of prison censorship in mind when I was writing the article, and I'm pleased that some prisoners found it useful.

One of the people who wrote to me also commented on the related article on the history of white supremacy, which my article accompanied. He mentioned that his group was trying to get rid of all white supremacist and neonazi influences within their practice. I'm glad to know our writing is making a difference.

Sometimes those who write such letters just ask for a way to buy my books, which I'm always happy and able to provide. Links to buy my book are on my author website but my book can also be ordered through your local bookstore.

Other times they ask for free books and other resources for themselves, their groups, the prison library, or for the prison chaplain, or to get someone to come into their prison to conduct religious services or to teach. At that point I need to refer them to an organization that does prison outreach, (or in-reach, depending on what they call it.)

I'm not a member of any organization, and I don't usually recommend one Asatru organization over another. On the occasion that an organization contacts me to try to arrange for someone to provide services at a prison near me, I pass the request along to other local heathens. However, when a prisoner or chaplain contacts me looking for resources provided by an organization, I provide the mailing address of The Troth's Prison In-Reach Program. I also pass along the letter writer's request by emailing it to the program's email. I got both the email and the snail mail addresses from The Troth's official website, which was easy for me to find because I already knew the name of The Troth and was able to put it into a search engine. It's not so easy for people who don't already know about The Troth and its prison services or don't have net access.

The Troth's In-Reach Heathen Prison Services
325 Chestnut Street, Suite 800
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Authors can donate copies of their books to the In-Reach Program, and the Program also takes money donations. More info on the Program can be found on this page of the Troth's website, on this link:

Now that I've put this information here on my blog, I'll be able to just find it here on my own blog instead of depending on a search engine every time. And now, you have the information too!


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Erin Lale is the author of Asatru For Beginners, and the updated, longer version of her book, Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path. Erin has been a gythia since 1989. She was the editor and publisher of Berserkrgangr Magazine, and is admin/ owner of the Asatru Facebook Forum. She also writes science fiction and poetry, ran for public office, is a dyer and fiber artist, was acquisitions editor at a small press, and founded the Heathen Visibility Project.


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