Pagan ‘King’ Has Council GOP Nod
Dan Halloran performs a ceremony with other members of his faith.
By Brian M. Rafferty
Dan Halloran, the Republican candidate for City Council facing primary winner Kevin Kim in the 19th District, already has a leadership role in a vast community that very few people know about – or understand.
Halloran is the “First Atheling,” or King, of Normandy, a branch of the Theod faith of pre-Christian Heathen religions assembled in the Greater New York area. A group of dedicated fellow pagans swear their allegiance to him through oaths of fidelity, allowing luck from a series of ancient gods – specifically the “Norse” or “Germanic” gods Odin, Tyr and Freyr – to pass through the King to his kinsmen.
“It is our hope to reconstruct the pre-Christian religion of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European peoples, within a cultural framework and community environment,” Halloran – who in many circumstances surrounding his religion goes by his ancestral name O’Halloran – wrote on his tribe’s Web site.
“We believe in and honor the Gods and Goddesses of the North, spirits of the land, and the memories of our ancestors,” he wrote.
Within minutes of speaking with the Tribune Wednesday, Halloran’s site was listed as “under construction.”
When asked Wednesday about his faith, Halloran was uneasy. “I am not comfortable with injecting my religion into my politics,” he said. “I grew up born and raised Roman Catholic. I went to Jesuit schools. Most of my life has been in traditional Irish household.”
He added, “I don’t think any of this is really relevant to the City Council race. It’s like talking about what church you pray at. That you understand the divine is the most important part.”
Theodism relies upon an interlocking ring of honor, wisdom and generosity to motivate the individual members to achieve a spiritual evolution. “Any earthly life that a man doesn’t die out of as a better and worthier man than he was born into it is seen, in these terms, as a wasted life, ultimately bound for Hel [sic] after death,” Halloran wrote on his Web site. He also is listed on at least one Web site as a “Pagan Attorney” and served as legal counsel and incorporating attorney for the New York City Pagan Pride Project.
“Theodism is… an entirely kin and oath-bound community, operating by certain set standards to which the important business of oath-swearing is regularly and officially held,” Halloran’s site reads. “This has the effect of creating a vast web of social and personal connections high and low, weaving together the doom (fate) of those in the web. It is through this web of oaths that the beneficence of the Gods filters down to the individual members of the tribe, through a mechanism called luck.”
Halloran said that his leadership position in his faith is not simple to explain. “Things in non-mainstream religions are not as clear cut and obvious as in mainstream.” Just like Mormons, he said, the hierarchy, roles and responsibilities of members are difficult for somebody outside the faith to comprehend. “It’s different than being a bishop in a Catholic church.”
Though Halloran’s site notes that “Theodism regularly practices blood sacrifice,” he explained that it is similar to the kashrut practices of the Jewish faith.
Active with the Boy Scouts for more than 30 years, Halloran noted that there are existing Scout troops that recognize his faith. “They want you to be cognizant of the divine,” he said.
State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), who said he has known Halloran since the candidate made Eagle Scout, said he was not aware of Halloran’s faith, but did not consider it an issue if the practitioners are “an honorable group.”
“We have every religion under the sun in this district,” Padavan said. “It’s all here; so what? As long as everybody is properly motivated, so be it.”
Halloran explained that Queens GOP Chairman Phil Ragusa and the GOP executive committee were aware of his faith.
Ragusa said Wednesday that Halloran’s religion is not an issue.
“If a person performs and does what he has to do for his district, then he will be a welcome breath of fresh air,” Ragusa said.
He described Halloran as “a traditional person.”
“He seems like a regular guy,” Ragusa said.
Halloran maintained that his faith is not an issue when it comes to serving either the people or his party.
“As long as we proceed in our civic lives with dignity and honor, that’s what matters,” Halloran said.
Reach Editor Brian M. Rafferty at email@example.com, or (718) 357-7400, Ext. 122.
Dan Halloran from his Paganspace Web page.
Theodism, or Þéodisc Geléafa (Old English: “tribal belief”) is thought by some to be a variant or sister movement of US Ásatrú. Theodsmen themselves do not consider Theodism as a variant of Asatru and contend that the two religions are very different. The term Theodism encompasses Norman, Angle, Continental Saxon, Frisian, Jutish, Gothic, Alemannic,Swedish, Danish and other tribal variants. Þéodisc is the adjective of þéod ”people, tribe”, cognate to Dutch/deutsch.
While having some commonalities with the Ásatrú movement following McNallen, Theodism primarily derived its origins as a reaction to Wicca. In 1971, Garman Lord and other practitioners of Gardnerian Wicca founded the The Coven Witan of Anglo-Saxon Wicca. Theodism is focused on the lore, beliefs and social structure – particularly the concept of thew(Old English þeaw) or “customary law” – of various specific Germanic tribes. The main distinction between Theodism and other modern manifestations of Germanic Neopaganism along with pre-Christian religions, the Theodish are also attempting to reconstruct aspects of pre-Christian Germanic social order (including sacral kingship).
In general, Théodish religious festivities are referred to as ‘fainings’ (meaning ‘celebration’). As a rule, there are two sorts of rituals; blót and symbel. Húsel is technically part of blót. Symbel is normally held after the feast, inasmuch as it is custom not to have food present.
Garman Lord formed the Witan Theod in Watertown, New York, in 1976. A few years later, the Moody Hill Theod emerged as an offshoot of the Witan Theod. In 1988 the Winland Rice was formed as an umbrella organization of Theodish groups. Gert McQueen, Elder and Redesman of the Ring of Troth, was successful in lobbying the U.S. Army Chaplain’s Corps to adopt guidelines for recognizing heathen religions and Theodish belief in particular.
The Winland Rice dissolved in 2002. In 2004, Garman Lord stated that the religion of Theodism does not work in practice, dissolving Gering Theod and declaring Theodism as defunct. Several groups that have continued to call themselves Theodish. Axenthof Thiad originated in the early 1990s as the Fresena Thiad and part of the Winland Rice. In 2005, Gerd Forsta Axenthoves changed the name to Axenthof Thiad. Eric Wodening founded Englatheod in July 2007, while Sweartfenn Theod was founded, by Jeffrey Runokivi, in December 2007. Both groups practice Anglo-Saxon Theodism, and have members that have belonged to both the Winland Rice and the Ealdriht. In New York, the New Normannii Reik of Theodish Belief was founded in 1997 and is led by Dan Halloran but in 2009 many members split off and formed the Arfstoll Church of Theodish Belief, White Marsh Theod, and Álfröðull þjóð.
One famous follower of Theodism is New York City Councilman Daniel J. Halloran.