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  • Writer's pictureErik Lugnet

Words from our Founder

Hail Our Heroes...and Build on What They Created

This Memorial Day, I poured a horn of mead on the grave of a man I was proud to call a friend.

A granite tombstone thrust above the grave, a solid rectangle of stone standing five feet high or more. The inscription on front was standard..."Josef Turner, beloved husband, father, and teacher" and such, with the usual dates of birth and death.

"The usual" stopped there. Walking around to the right you would see a boldly inscribed Thor's hammer, tall, dominant and proud. Under it, you would see the words, "DO RIGHT AND FEAR NO ONE" in large letters. Continuing to the opposite face, you would see something stranger still - the mantra of Babaji Nagarag..."Om Kriya Babaji Nama Om".

Joseph Turner - he adopted "Jost" as a first name, honoring his German ancestors - was loyal to our Gods and our Folk. He had come a long way to be with us - not just in miles, but in experience and scars. As a young man he was thrown into the maelstrom that was Vietnam, serving in the 101st Airborne Division, and went through the hell that was Hamburger Hill. He was also trained as a Recondo - hardly a ticket for a long life, but he survived.

Despite the Yogic influence, Joseph was a loyal follower of Wotan and a passionate defender of our Folk. Somewhere, I have a photo of him taken at a yoga class. He lay flat on the floor, eyes closed, in the so-called "death pose." You could see just the beginning of a tattoo on his arm, mostly obscured by a gray tee-shirt. Was it an "Om" symbol? A drawing of Buddha? A "peace sign" left over from the Sixties? Well, no... I smiled; I knew it was a skull-and-crossbones, adorned with the words "US Army Paratrooper."

When he died a few years ago, we built his coffin under a tree in front of his house. (He lived out in the countryside.) By the time we were ready to redden the runes on the inside of the coffin lid, the light was fading. We carried the lid into the house, and put it on the kitchen table. As I bent over the lid to set it down, my Thor's hammer fell off my neck (something that had never happened before) and landed - with a loud THUMP! - on the inside of the lid. It became my gift to help him on the way. I also put in a set of my military jump wings. Airborne... All The Way!

Joseph was wise, kind to his friends and a nightmare to his foes, patient, and hard working. He composed music and played the flute and harmonium for us at gatherings: When you sing "Herjafather" at Óðinnsblót, remember Joseph; he composed it. In the last photo I have of him he stands, buzzsaw in hand, clearing a location on his land for what would have been a modest Hof for the AFA, had he survived.

Joseph "Jost" Turner is a part of the history of the AFA, and a lifelong inspiration to those of us who knew him. I think of him often...and someday we will "meet upon that distant shore." He is an example of the men and women who built the foundation for what is now the Asatru Folk Assembly. Remember him, and strive to match his dedication, will, and passion!

Founder Steven McNallen


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