Sunday, November 29, 2015

Questioning Nazi Occultism

Thanks to the History and Discovery Channels, most of us know that Nazism was a political philosophy with strong occult roots. From the Thule and Vril Societies to the runology of Guido von List and the secret rituals of the SS, the Nazis are said to have made extensive use of occult powers to fuel their early victories in World War II. But is that really true?

I've commented a number of times here on Augoeides that generally speaking, occultism is not an area of study even paid much attention to by the mainstream, let alone the financial and global elites. The reason for this is quite simple: to become good at working magick requires an enormous investment of time and energy, but the same is also true of finance and politics. And there are only so many hours in the day.

Look at the schedule of any political candidate and you'll see what I'm talking about. The same thing is true of people who make large sums of money in the financial sector. Generally speaking, with a few exceptions, the only way to succeed to that degree is to basically think about money all of the time. It doesn't leave a lot of room for spirituality, let alone sustained magical practice.

I think that people like the idea of an "occult Reich" precisely because it lines up with the notion of the Third Reich being the most evil government in the history of the world, and Nazis being the closest thing to mustache-twirling villains doing evil for evil's sake that have ever existed in the modern world. Of course they had to be occultists!

However, the idea of an "occult Reich" powered by dark magick has in fact been questioned for a long time. As this article points out, the source for many of these ideas was a book called Hitler Speaks by Hermann Rauschning, who claimed to be one of Hitler's close associates. Unfortunately, his claims don't stand up to close scrutiny, and much of the book contains material that either cannot be verified or was simply lifted from other sources that are now known to be fictional.

One of the few scholarly efforts to trace connections between the occult and the National Socialist party is the late Dr. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke’s Occult Roots of Nazism. Goodrick-Clarke, while establishing a very indirect link between pre-World War I “Ariosophy” and the National Socialist party, rejects the exaggerations that have linked Ariosophy, the Thule Society, the Vril Society, et al to the rise of Hitler. For example he states that Dietrich Eckart, Hitler’s early mentor, and Alfred Rosenberg, were “never more than guests of Thule during its heyday,” while the geopolitical theorist Karl Haushofer, did not have any link to the society, despite much fantasy being woven around these individuals and their alleged occult links. The influence of Lanz von Liebenfels and his Ordo Novi Templi in pre-World War I Austro-Hungary on the young Hitler and subsequently on the Third Reich is also put into context, Goodrick-Clarke pointing out that the Order was dissolved by the Nazis and Lanz was prohibited from publishing with the advent of the Third Reich.

It should be kept in mind that Hitler’s views were rather prevalent in Central Europe in his youth and his ideas in Mein Kampf are not original but came from a widespread intellectual milieu, of which the Lanz movement was one manifestation.

Another was the Wotenist and runic mysticism of Guido Von List, likewise without influence on Hitler. While Rudolf von Sebottendorff, founder of the Thule Society, was influenced by both Lanz and von List, the influence of Thule on the foundation of the NSDAP has been exaggerated. Sebottendorff was gone from the scene by 1919. “There no evidence Hitler ever attended the Thule Society,” states Goodrick-Clarke, “and such theorists were increasingly marginalized well before the party assumed power.” Furthermore, occult societies were prohibited in the Third Reich, including those with a racial foundation.

This prohibition is what landed Karl Germer, at the time the head of the German branch of Ordo Templi Orientis, in a concentration camp. He survived that ordeal and went on to head the order from 1947 until his death in 1962, but his was just one example of the offical Nazi attitude towards occultists and occultism.

Heinrich Himmler is commonly held up as a prominent Nazi who was interested in the occult. Up to a point this was true, but apparently his ideas faced substantial opposition even within his own SS.

Himmler was one of those who promoted a neo-pagan outlook. Under his patronage the most enduring occult influence on an aspect of the Third Reich was Karl Maria Wiligut, the runic mystic who advised Himmler on the redesign of Wewelsburg Castle as the SS “center of the world.” If Wiligut had a certain influence within the SS, he was also met with influential opposition, meaning that the SS, like all other departments and divisions of the NSDAP and the Third Reich administration, were not as monolithic as popularly supposed. Wiligut and other esoteric runologists were opposed in particular by the Ahnenerbe, a scholarly research division of the SS, itself often the center of pop-history fantasies about occultism.

Dr. Stephen Flowers (the author of a number of books on Runic magick under the pen name Edred Thorson -- SMS) provides an introductory biography on Wiligut without ideologically driven interpretations. Born in 1866, Wiligut wrote his first book, Seyfrieds Runen in 1903 when he was a captain in the Austrian army. The book is an epic poem on the legend of King Seyfried of Rabenstein. In 1908 Wiligut wrote “The Nine Commandments of Gôt’ for the first time since the book-burnings of Ludwig the Pious.” He was also at the time associated with several initiates of Lanz von Liebenfels’ Ordo Novi Templi. However Wiligut’s active interest in the occult can be traced to 1889 when he joined what Flowers calls the “quasi-Masonic lodge” Schlarraffia, which did not have a völkische connection. Wiligut resigned from the lodge in 1909, perhaps as a result of the rivalry existing between Masonry and the völkische occult.

So based on the article, it seems to me that the völkische principle, that is, German nationalism mixed with anti-Semitic racism, was the real driving force behind even Wiligut's work. Which, frankly, is pretty much a no-brainer, as fascism is generally understood to be derived from extreme nationalism that bleeds over into racism. In fact, according to Flowers, the spiritual beliefs of Nazism seem to have more to do with a form of Christianity purged of Jewish influences rather than any sort of occult or esoteric religion.

Flowers explains that Wiligut’s theology was not “Wotanism,” but what he regarded as the original religion of the Germanics, “Irmin-Kristianity.” This is similar to the theology of the most well known of the Austro-German runologists of the time, Guido von List, who also believed that “Armanism” predated the more exotic Wuotanism.” However List saw Armanism and Wuotanism as working in historical tandem, whereas Wiligut regarded Irminism and Wotanism as being engaged in an “ancestral feud.” Flowers writes that this attempt to Aryanize Christianity was quite popular among National Socialists. However, that is not to say that Wiligut was the primary or most influential proponent of Germanic Christianity. Indeed, as Steigmann-Gall points out in The Holy Reich, a Germanic Christianity was the primary religious influence among the National Socialists from the start of the NSDAP, not paganism, luciferianism, thelema, theosophy, or satanism. Indeed, such Orders were banned in the Third Reich as inimical to National Socialism of which the fight against Freemasonry was an aspect.

Flowers concludes that Wiligut is the most important person in trying to establish a link between the esoteric and National Socialism. However, Flowers also states that similarities between occultists and National Socialists are more ascribable to them both being part of the same “common cultural matrix and were part of the same Zeitgeist.” Wiligut had an enduring influence primarily as the designer of the SS death’s-head ring, SS rituals and aspects of Wewelsburg castle as Himmler’s visualised center of a Germanic world empire. It depends as to whether one regards the influence in these matters as of notable significance. The value of most of The Secret King is the translation of Wiligut’s texts. The first is “The Nine Commandments of Gôt,” explaining Wiligut’s fundamental cosmology that Gôt is a “dyad” of spirit and matter, acting as a triad of Spirit, Energy and Matter in his “circulating current.” Gôt is eternal, is “cause and effect,” out of which flows “right, might, duty and happiness,” eternally generating through matter, energy and light; “beyond concepts of good and evil,” carrying the “seven epochs” of human history. Much of the rest of the Wiligut documents are esoteric explanations of the runes, the evolution of the races and cosmic cycles.

So Wiligut was an esotericist, and Himmler was a fan of his work. But it sounds like rather than the Third Reich being a regime that wielded dark spiritual forces against its enemies on an institutional level, this is more the case of one of its prominent leaders being fascinated by occult beliefs and having trouble getting anyone else to take those beliefs seriously. You know, just like the way most of the rest of regular life tends to go for practitioners in the modern world.

I suspect the urge to associate anything evil and powerful with occultism is the reason that we wind up seeing people ranting and raving about the "Illuminati conspiracy" today. All evidence suggests that nobody in the global elite takes magick or occultism very seriously, and no, I don't think this is a case where "that's what they want us to think." Occultists in general are few and far between, and competent ones are even rarer. As Alan Moore once noted, conspiracies are everywhere, but they usually are run by - his words - "ham-fisted clowns."

Whether the global elite perhaps should take magick more seriously is a whole other question, but I think a case can be made that they're doing just fine without it. People born into that social class don't need magick to improve their station in life, as they already pretty much won the lottery by being born to particular parents. Most of them can come up with reasons why they deserve to be where they are, too, whether or not those explanations have any bearing on reality.

I generally find Flowers to be a pretty reliable source, and if he is to be believed, the concept of the "Occult Reich" is one that accomplishes little besides increasing ratings for the History and Discovery channels. Perhaps there's other information out there somewhere that can refute his argument, but I haven't seen anything like that yet.

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