Nazi Mysticism, sometimes called Esoteric Hitlerism by practitioners, is a philosophical undercurrent of Fascism and National Socialism (Nazism).
High ranking Nazi officials such as Heinrich Himmler are widely known to have been interested in mysticism and the paranormal. The role played by occult in the development of Nazism and its ideals was identified by outsiders at least as early as 1940, with the publication of Lewis Spence's Occult Causes of the Present War.
The concentration of Nazi Mysticism is on the National Socialists' race-specific pre-Christian (also contemporary Hindu) "pagan" mythologies, and the inclusion of Adolf Hitler in the network of these mythologies. The Nazi party saw the conscience as a false pseudoscientific term of Jewish origin.
The foundation of Nazi Mysticism was Heinrich Himmler, who, more than any other high official in the Third Reich (including Hitler) was fascinated by Aryan (and not just Germanic) racialism and Germanic Odinism.
The creation of an Aryan race religion, based on the idea of a descended race of god-men from Atlantis who had escaped the sinking continent, landing first in the Himalayas before resettling in Northern Europe, where they forgot their heritage and became weak by intermingling with "lesser" beings, was the ultimate aim of the Nazi regime. The goal of the Third Reich wasn't nearly so mundane as the political and economic conquest of the Soviets, but nothing less than the recreation of that primordial god-race, whose blood ran most strongly (according to Nazi mythos) in the Germanic peoples. And that goal ran hand in hand with the aim of the complete annihilation of all the "lesser" races.
Himmler actively supported a German expedition to Tibet to search for the origins of the Aryan race. To this end, the expedition leader, Ernst Schäfer, had his anthropologist Bruno Beger make face masks and skull and nose measurements. Giulio Evola, Benito Mussolini's ideologist who tried to move Mussolini (unsuccessfully) towards paganism and away from concord with the Vatican, was also an influence on post-war Nazi Mysticism in his idea that powerful men such as Mussolini and Hitler had discovered the secrets of power that would allow them to bring in the "culture of the future".
To this end, Himmler, formed the SS partly to be an Aryan stud project: Each was selected for physical characteristics and encouraged to breed well and breed often.
Young German women were encouraged to bear children for these strapping blonde-haired, blue-eyed lads - marriage was an optional formality. And what of the children of such unions - some 11,000+ between 1935 and 1945. They were planned for as well, with the creation of the Labensbaun, a huge nursery project that cared for the infants and either raised them in state-run institutions or farmed them out to good Nazi families.
All of this was done with a ruthless warrior efficiency, a pseduo-Darwinian ethic of holy racial survival which very clearly contradicted some of the basic tenets of Christianity (Hitler spoke of it as "wash[ing] off the Christian veneer"). So how did such a philosophy take such hold in a traditionally Christian country? Through three basic inroads:
- Anti-Semitism, while by no means basic to Christianity, was never-the-less a common idea throughout Europe. It fit in perfectly with Hitler's racial ethos, and provided the German people with a common enemy: The Jews. (Let me just say here that anti-Semitism has never made any sense to me. I can understand, without condoning, garden-variety racism: 'Othering' another people, considering them inferior and filthy, has been an unfortunate part of human society since its beginning. But the idea that Jews are both inferior and at the same time clever enough to be running things and ruining the lives of "deserving Aryan families"... Well, the contradiction is so clear... it frankly makes no sense at all!)
- Unlike the later Communist regimes, Hitler didn't make the mistake of simply obliterating Christianity, leaving a void in the name of rationalism. Hitler's new state religion replaced the pomp of Christendom, dulled by tradition and long use, with a new set of rituals and pageantry, overflowing with mythic significance and sustained by revolutionary fervor. Huge rallies with parades of warriors in Teutonic armor, speeches that frothed with excitement, and a fully-formed religion that mimicked so many themes familiar to a Christian audience - martyrs, a chosen people, and a Messianic leader - couldn't help but be intoxicating.
- And the most important feature: Nazism told the people that they were innately superior and deserving of better than they had. The fierceness of the old Teutonic heritage had always had an uneasy truce with the Christian virtues of humility and repentance; here was an ethic that required no humiliating servitude. Hitler presented them with an ancient Golden Age come again, and an assurance that they were deserving of it through no merit beyond birth; how could he not have their allegiance? The Hitler Youth was brought up singing hymns to Hitler and the Reich, and about the "greatest race on earth."
A Prayer to Hitler
Führer, mein Führer, von Gott mir gegeben, beschütz und erhalte noch lange mein Leben
Du hast Deutschland errettet aus tiefster Not, Dir verdank ich mein täglich Brot
Führer, mein Führer, mein Glaube, mein Licht
Führer mein Führer, verlasse mich nicht
This was a prayer offered to orphans at orphanages. This roughly translates to:
Führer, my Führer, given to me by God, protect me and I would yet receive a long life
you have rescued Germany out of its deepest need, to you I owe my daily bread
Führer, my Führer, my belief, my light
Führer my Führer, you would leave me not
Such was the strength of belief in the occult and it's potential power, that Himmler ordered the construction of a spiritual Valhalla deep below his SS fortress at Wewelsberg in Westphalia. He purchased this former ruin in 1934 and had it rebuilt over a number of years at a cost of some 13 million Reich Marks. It was dedicated to the cult and belief system of the SS, the Teutonic Knights and other mystical/occult doctrines. Below the castle's elaborate main banqueting hall he ordered the construction of a 'Hall of the Dead', supposedly to house urns containing the ashes and crests of his twelve closest 'disciples' when they died.
This consisted of a circular chamber with twelve low stone platforms around its walls. In the centre of the room, in a circular depression accessed by three steps, was a form of altar. This alter or dais was the focal point of the room. Another school of thought is, any attempts to invoke whatever dark, mystical powers lay within the 'Black Sun' would be carried out here.
Twelve Initiates would stand, one on each of the stone platforms against the walls facing the central dais. Each one concentrating, summoning up part of the necessary energy and focusing, channelling the power to the celebrant, the high priest, probably Himmler in person. Certain of these ceremonies required human Blood Sacrifice, which presented no difficulty; the concentration camps and prisons were full of them. A small group of victims was kept at the fortress for this purpose. There is no positive evidence that any dark powers were actually released during these hellish rituals, but, depending on your religious persuasion and how one views the conduct of the war, perhaps they were. One thing is certain, if they were not, it wasn't for the lack of trying.
The emblem of the 'Black Sun' was essentially an elaborate mandalla, like a spoked wheel surrounded by Runic symbols. It is, even today, forbidden to belong to this order or even display the insignia in Germany.
In 1912 a group of highly anti-Semitic German mystics formed the Germanenorden (Order of the Teutons).
The Germanenorden was a mystic society based on proof of Aryan ancestry. The biographer Ian Kershaw does not classify it as mystic society but as a "völkische" organization. Founding members of the order included Theodor Fritsch, Philipp Stauff (pupil of Guido von List) and Hermann Pohl (Pohl later formed the Walvater Teutonic Order of the Holy Grail in 1915).
Many members of the Germanenorden would go on to achieve high-ranking positions within the Nazi party.
In 1915, Pohl was joined by Rudolf Glauer. Glauer, also known as Rudolf Freiherr von Sebottendorf, came to Germany with a Turkish passport and was a practitioner of sufi meditation and astrology. Glauer is known to have been an admirer of the rabidly anti-semitic Lanz von Liebenfels and Guido von List.
Glauer was a wealthy man (the source of his wealth is unknown) and quickly became a Grand Master of the Bavarian Order in 1918. Later that year, he founded the Thule Society with Pohl's approval.
The Thule Society had a number of highly positioned individuals in the Nazi party, although Hitler himself never became a member. However, it was a member of the Thule Society, dentist Dr. Friedrich Krohn, who designed the Swastika flag of the Nazi Party.
Perhaps the most significant Thule influence on Hitler came from Dietrich Eckart. Eckart was the wealthy publisher of the newspaper In Plain German. He
was a committed occultist as well as a member of the Thule Society's inner circle. While no direct connection between Eckart and Hitler has been documented, he is believed to have taught Hitler a number of persuasive techniques (some possibly mystical in nature). So profound was the influence, that Mein Kampf was dedicated to Eckart.
The Vril Society, or Luminous Lodge, has no documented activities until 1915, but is believed to have been founded by Russian magician and metaphysician Gergor Ivanovich Gurdyev (also known as George Gurdjieff).
The Vril Society was reportedly founded to explore the Atlantean origins of the Aryan race. The Society taught exercises in concentration designed to awaken the forces of Vril. Members of the Vril Society are believed to have included Hitler, Alfred Rosenberg, Heinrich Himmler, Hermann Göring and Hitler's personal physician Dr. Theodor Morell.
General Karl Haushofer was a university professor and director of the Munich Institute of Geopolitics, as well as an avid student of Gurdjieff. He is believed to have studied Zen Buddhism and initiated at the hands of Tibetan Lamas. Further, he worked closely with Hitler while he was imprisoned and working on Mein Kampf. Haushofer and Gurdjieff claimed to have had contact with secret Tibetan Lodges that possessed the secret of the "Superman," an idea that would become central to the eugenics movement of the Nazi Party.
It is said that Aleister Crowley and Gurdjieff sought contact with Hitler, but actual contact is unconfirmed. Hitler would later go on to reject many German mystics, openly ridiculing them, particularly practitioners of Freemasonry, Theosophy and Anthrosophy.
The Nazi party actively discouraged certain mystical secret societies, in fact executing a number of high-ranking mystics in Europe, particularly members of the Freemasons and Rosicrucians.
The Nazi Occult Bureau
The Ahnenerbe Society, also referred to as the Nazi Occult Bureau, was dedicated primarily to the research of proving the superiority of the Aryan race but was
also involved in occult practices. Founded in 1935 by Himmler, the Bureau became involved in searching for Atlantis and the Holy Grail (and is believed to be the basis for the Nazis in the Indiana Jones series of movies).
Post War Nazi Mysticism
With the fall of the Third Reich, Nazi Mysticism took off as Hitler, who had died at the end of the war, was now able to be deified.
Savitri Devi was the first major exponent of post-war Nazi Mysticism, and connected Hitler's Aryan ideology to that of the pro-independence Indians (specifically Hindus) such as Subhas Chandra Bose.
For her, the Swastika was an especially important symbol, as it symbolized the Aryan unity amongst the Hindus and Germans (and was also a symbol of good fortune for the Tibetans). Devi integrated Nazism into a broader cyclical framework of Hindu history, and called Hitler an avatar of Vishnu (preparing the way for Kalki) and the "Man against Time," having an ideal vision of returning his Aryan people to an earlier, more perfect time, and also having the practical wherewithal to fight the destructive forces forestalling his vision from fruition - a combination of the best traits of Akhenaton (a vision, but ineffectual) and Genghis Khan (violence, but senseless), without
The next major figure in post-war Nazi Mysticism is Miguel Serrano, a Chilean diplomat. He wrote both The Golden Ribbon - Esoteric Hitlerism and Adolf Hitler, the Last Avatar.
He believed that Hitler was in Shambhala, an underground centre in Antarctica (formerly at the North Pole and Tibet), where he was in contact with the Hyperborean gods and from whence he would someday emerge with a fleet of UFOs to lead the forces of light (the Hyperboreans, sometimes associated with Vril) over the forces of darkness (inevitably including, for Serrano, the Jews) in a last battle and inaugurating a Fourth Reich.
He also connected the Aryans and their Hyperborean gods to the Sun and the Allies and the Jews to the Moon, and also had a special place in his ideology for the SS, who, in their quest to recreate the ancient race of Aryan god-men, he thought were above morality and therefore justified in their cruel deeds.
Modern Neo-Nazism is often linked to Ásatrú (often unfairly), and the black metal scene. Mystic influences often appear in modern Nazi music, particularly references to artifacts such as the Spear of Longinus - which legend has it was the spear that pierced Christ's side at the crucifixion.
Occult-obsessed Nazis have been featured in the Indiana Jones films, and in the Hellboy comic books and movie.
see also: VRIL; THULE SOCIETY; NAZI UFOs
For More Information
Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, 2001, ISBN 0814731554
The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, 1994, ISBN 0814730604
Arktos: The Polar Myth in Science, Symbolism, and Nazi Survival by Joscelyn Godwin, 1996, ISBN 0932813356
Himmler's Crusade: The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race by Christopher Hale, Wiley 2003. ISBN 0471262927
Hitler's Priestess: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth and Neo-Nazism, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, 1998. ISBN 0814731104
One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.
Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans. Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.
Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church. Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.
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