America’s Top Heathen

Odin himself might have had a hard time predicting Dan Halloran’s strange career on New York’s City Council

On the campaign trail, Halloran seemed to go back and forth about his beliefs. During a Tea Party speech from Bowne Park in Flushing right before the election, he said, “My gods!” (plural) at one point. At the end, though, he wound up screaming about “programs that never worked, never will, and ultimately come back to bite us in the ass,” and then slipped back into the singular deity as he yelled, “It’s our nation, one nation, under God, and indivisible with liberty and justice for all!”

If Halloran were ambivalent on the campaign trail, as an elected official, he seems to have abandoned his love of the Germanic deities altogether.

Kristoffersen expressed disdain that, as a councilmember, Halloran has been “giving his money to all of these religious charities, but he’s never given, one time, as far as I know, to any pagan groups,” a sentiment echoed by other former followers. In an interview with the website Pagan+Politics, Halloran said that he had “funded Orthodox Jewish, Catholic, mainstream Jewish, Lutheran, Protestant, Buddhist, and Hindu” organizations. He mentioned nothing about pagan groups and said nothing about his own New Normandy.

Kristoffersen describes the meetings of New Normandy in the Camelot days as being “the most amazing thing. It was like being family. It was like coming home.” With Halloran as their Atheling, for several years, Kristoffersen and others were excited to have a leader serious about the historical accuracy of heathenry. Under his leadership, this wasn’t lightweight fairy stuff like Wicca: This was the real deal, re-creating the life of their heathen ancestors.

Kristoffersen’s job was making the costumes, and she loved getting together for blot and sumble. “It was about boasting, but not about getting drunk,” Kristoffersen says. At its height, she says, there would be “50, 60 people at any one gathering,” and they’d be together until “3 or 4 in the morning.”

Now, she says, “not a single person from that era is still there.” No one the Voice spoke to in 2009 about New Normandy is still in the group.

“There is not a man who knows him well, not a one, who doesn’t hate his guts now,” another former follower says.

Still, even though the Republicanism seemed to bother some of them, many tried to give Halloran the benefit of the doubt when he stressed that he was, as Kristoffersen puts it, a “fiscal, not a social, conservative.”

That went out the window, too. Like Tea Party candidates who attacked Planned Parenthood funding, Halloran targeted abortion rights almost as soon as he was elected.

In early 2011, a legislative fight emerged in New York City over anti-abortion “pregnancy centers” advertising abortion counseling when they don’t actually offer abortions. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn introduced a bill that would force such organizations to advertise that they don’t perform abortions and to disclose if they have any medical staff on hand. (Some centers reportedly had staff walking around in scrubs, even if they had no medical training, just for the effect.)

According to the Gotham Gazette and its “Councilpedia” tool, pregnancy center the Bridge to Life, in Queens, received $3,500 from Halloran in member discretionary spending.

Quinn’s bill would eventually pass overwhelmingly in the council without Halloran’s vote. According to Little Neck Patch, Halloran “did not see the issue . . . as a part of the decades-old debate over abortion rights.” (Still, through a spokesman, he also noted “the Council member is pro-life.”)

The episode infuriated some of Halloran’s former followers, who not only had known him to be pro-choice, but also to be “pro-abortion to nearly the point of endorsing infanticide,” as one put it. The Voice obtained a copy of a heathen Yahoo discussion thread from 2004, in which the issue of abortion came up. A follower of Halloran asked for guidance on it. (We have reached out to Halloran about the discussion thread. He has not responded to any of our interview requests.)

Halloran wrote that when it came to the idea of the soul, it didn’t start at conception, as most pro-life Christians argue:

The lore is fairly well established here. The soul complex does not attach to the fetus until the naming, three to nine days after birth. First, if it attached before the naming it would be impossible for the fetch or luck to manifest in the manner described/attributed to naming in the ausa vatni. Specifically, our forebearers believed that the ancestor the child was named for would be the source material for the soul component attaching, and thus possess some of his traits. The sagas confirm this belief.

When it came to abortion, Halloran wrote, “since the termination of pregnancy by herbal and mechanical methods was known, and not prescribed by Heathen law, it is presumptively not an issue in elder times . . . legal anthropology and folkloric study impute this.” A child who had not gotten its luck a few days after birth would be considered “‘wild’—the child would not be ‘fully human’ unless claimed by the clan/sibb/sipp/kindred.”

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