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I no 7 (circa 1989) 1- Politics and the Occult: 2An Overview It cannot have escaped many people's notice that this year marks an important anniversary of the most savage war in human history. It is therefore timely to add our own postscript to the history of the period with an examination of the role magick played in this second world war and the subsequent progress, if such it may be termed, of the ideas that did so much to tip humanity into the abyss: Adoph Hitler. Many now want to drawn attention to the connection between extremist politics and the occult. The prime example is the alleged connection between occultism and reactionary, rightwing politics. The usual example was the "mystical" racial myths of the Nazis or the secret manipulation of power wielded by Freemasons. However it can be easily demonstrated that there is no necessary connection between occultism and any particular political stance: right wing or left. Occult or mystical views can constitute a powerful ideological component of any political or social movement. Furthermore a roughly equal number of both progressive and reactionary movements have drawn upon such ideas. Four examples reflect this rough balance: Fascism - Psychological warfare and the New Order Freemasonry and Civic power Voodoo and the world the slaves made Witchcraft and the Land. However for the purposes of this article we will confirm ourselves to a detailed examination of the first of these and leave it to future issues and perhaps other writers to examine the other three. In the first part we look at the argument that Fascism was some kind of New Age Magical Crusade. "The modern mythology of Nazi Occultism, is typically sensational and under-researched. A complete ignorance of the primary sources is common to most authors and inaccuracies and wild claims are repeated by each new-comer until an abundant literature exists, based on wholely spurious "facts" concerning the powerful Thule Society/ the Nazi links with the East and Hitler's occult initiation. "(I) This issue aside, it is additionally sometimes claimed that Fascist ideas were iconoclastic and even a radical project in deconditioning! I hope we will help dispel this dangerous and obscene theory once and for all. For it is indeed an obscenity that the ideas of people so inimical to everything Magick stands for, should still be bandied about by those who should know better, judging by their self proclaimed initiation. 1. Fascism: Psychological Warfare What follows is necessarily restricted to the study of fascism in Germany. During the Second World War, both the Allied and Axis powers resorted to psychological warfare. NB: occultists were to be found on both sides of the conflict. This included the use of faked horoscopes and prophesies designed to weaken the enemy's resolve. This particular practice began on the German side for the following reason. From about 1920 onwards
there had been a remarkable revival of interest in astrology in Germany. Ellic Howe says in his book that a "surprisingly large number of Germans, including many well-educated men and women, began to study astrology in the early 1920s. The reason for this sudden preoccupation with the hitherto unfashionable, even mildly disreputable area, is not difficult to discover. The aftermath of military defeat, with all its problems and uncertainties, including a runaway currency inflation that was only brought under control at the end of 1923, persuaded many to look to the "stars" for information and portents of better times to come. Before 1914 the comparatively few German astrologers were mostly Theosophists and occultists or both. They regarded astrology as an essentially Hermetic science. However, a large proportion of the newcomers were interested in neither Theosophy, its offspring Anthroposophy nor traditional occultism and preferred to think of astrology as a science in its own right, which given time and the breakdown of traditional prejudice, would be widely accepted as such."(2) During the Second World War, the Allied Secret Service became convinced that Hitler and his cronies were benefiting from the advice of a professional astrologer. In response to this they employed their own "tame" astrologer, Louis de Wohl, on the basis that knowledge of the kind of advice Hitler was getting, would be a useful piece of intelligence. The Secret Service eventually produced a number of faked horoscopes and predictions that were then infiltrated into Nazi Germany. One example is a faked edition of the prestigious German astrological magazine Zenit, which made certain unfortunate predictions about Hitler.(3) It is difficult to assess the amount of credence the Nazis actually gave to the astrological and other advice they undoubtedly received. For instance, Hitler's private secretary (193345) wrote that "There were popular rumours that Hitler allowed himself to be guided by astrologers before reaching any important decision. I must confess that I never noticed anything of the kind and the subject was never mentioned in conversation. On the contrary, Hitler refuted this by his firmly held conviction that people born on the same day, at the same place and at the same hour, in no way had the same fate. For this point of view he thought that twins provided the best evidence. He always vigorously denied the proposition that the fate of individuals depends upon their stars or constellation. Nevertheless, the prediction made by a Munich fortune-teller (Frau Ebertin) in the very first years of his struggle for power had greatly impressed him. It seemed that here predictions had fulfilled themselves in every respect. But Hitler only spoke very ironically about this coincidence and considered the whole thing as a joke". (4) There are some other reports that show that Hitler's attitude may have changed in the desperate twilight of the Third Reich.(5) However, the Nazis were undoubtedly aware of the propaganda value of astrological and other predictions. On the eve of Germany's invasion of Poland in August 1939, Dr Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda, was shown an interpretation of one of the prophecies of Nostradame. It "read": "Seven times you will see the British nation change, dyed in blood for two hundred and ninety years. Not at all free through German support, Aries fears for the protectorate of Poland".(6) The interpretation offered said that the seventh of the changes would occur in 1939 - a critical state of affairs in Poland at the same time as Britain faces a great crisis connected with Germany. Goebbels grasped immediately the possibilities for propaganda inherent in
prophesies such as these and he resolved to obtain the services of an expert in order to "extract" further prophecies concerning Britain. The man he got hold of was none other than Karl E Kraft, who as it happened had already been working in a department of Himmler's Reichssich-erheitshauptamf (RSHA) or Intelligence service, for some months. Kraft was just about the most skilled astrologer in Germany at that time, as well as an expert on Nostradame. In October 1939 he miraculously predicted an assassination attempt on Hitler's life - it was this rather dangerous prediction that first brought him to the Nazis' attention. Most of the professional bodies of astrology had been thoroughly Nazified by about 1934. Ie, Jews expelled and Nazis moved into leading positions. This would not be enough to "protect" them from Government oppression and astrology and all other occult activity were completely banned in 1941. Kraft was an enthusiastic supporter of Hitler and willingly offered his services to the RSHA. He soon produced a new edition of the Prophecies of Nostradame, although it never got more than limited circulation. The Nazis were very intolerant of the circulation of rumours other than their own. The fact is that Kraft really believed in his techniques and failed to be as pliant in the production of myths as the RSHA demanded. He was placed in protective custody in 1941 and employed in the calculation of horoscopes of various Allied notables, horoscopes destined for propaganda purposes. He died of the effects of typhus en route to Buchenwald concentration camp on January 20th 1945. Few professional astrologers or known occultists escaped his fate. Thousands were rounded-up after the "defection" of Rudolf Hess in May 1941. However, for every astrologer or occultist arrested, dozens escaped unscathed and continued an underground interest in Hitler's destiny. 2. Fascism Iconoclasm? Was fascism about the smashing of idols? Did it signify a new and revolutionary political force? Many apologists for fascism claim that it was. Including Hitler himself, of course: "Die National-sozialistische Revolution ist als revolutionaerer Machmassiger Vorgang abgeschlossen!...Das neruose Zeitalter des 19. Jahrhunderts hat bei uns endgultig seinen Abschluss gefunden" implies a two-fold attack on the Communists, claiming that National Socialism was in fact revolutionary in its aims and also was the inevitable culmination of the events of the nineteenth century. In view of our present knowledge of the horrors of the Nazi holocaust, it seems difficult to understand any reason why this supposedly "revolutionary" force should appeal. Perhaps one reason could be a feeling of disillusionment with liberal democracy, parliamentary committees and majority votes, a sharing of the anti-intellectual and anti-bourgeois tone of Mein Kampf, a belief that with Bismarck, decisions should be made "not by majority votes in national assemblies but by blood and iron". But it can be shown that Hitler's "national socialism" can hardly be seen as a revolutionary and certainly not a desirable alternative. For one thing, it is difficult to see much revolution taking place, despite the Nazi rhetoric. In theory a revolution should change the fundamental structure of the society. The Nazis certainly made grand gestures, such as the Winterhiife, the Hitler Jugend for boys of all backgrounds and the much-vaunted "peoples' car" (Volkswagen). But did it really herald a decrease in the power of the current ruling classes? The top tax rate increased by a
massive 0.8% to 38.2% (even less than the top rate under Thatcher) under the Nazis, although the income of the wealthiest increased by 148% from 1933-9. The concentration of capital in 1939 was also greater than in 1933, and there was more inequality in income and property. The rich East Elbe estates were still in the hands of the gentry and the army still under the command of generals whose names began with the German nobility title "von". As for being a workers' movement, organised labour under the Nazis became a thing of the past; in 1933 the Trades Unions were dissolved and replaced by the Labour Front, a Nazi organisation. Finally, the fate of women in Nazi Germany is not exactly desirable. Marriage loan schemes, pressure to have increasingly large numbers of children while EvaBraun like "maidens" are scarcely appealing as role models. It is obvious that the Nazi revolutionary rhetoric is no more sincere than Hitler's other propaganda: for instance his claim in 1930 that he had nothing against "good Jews". Alongside this is the sheer banality of everyday life in the Third Reich. Germany's most gifted writers - Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Bertholt Brecht - exiled abroad, sexual repression and the anti-feminist tone of the Nazi rule. Fascism can hardly be called iconoclastic. 3,The New Order Cultus One of the best selling books of the sixties alleges that the second World War was an ideological struggle between Humanism and Magick. This book: Pauwels and Bergier, The Morning of the Magicians, has recently been reprinted and there are several clones including Francis King's Satan and. the Swastika; Gerald Suster, Hitler and the Age of Horus. There is even a genre of fiction, assuming that the former books are intended as non-fiction, beginning with for example Dennis Wheatley's They Used Dark Forces. The story goes that the top Nazi leaders were all members of a secret esoteric group called the Thule Society. The myth of Thule is very much a German equivalent of the Atlantis myth. The Society was supposed to have been founded sometime in the early decades of the twentieth century by Hitler's mentor Dietrich Eckardt. It included amongst its members the seven founder-members of the NSDAP or Nazi Party. Karl Haushofer was its Grand Master and chose the swastika symbol for the flag. The "unknown superiors" of the Thule Society are supposedly the secret directors of the Third Reich. However this assertion and other details are entirely fallacious. The Thule Society was dissolved around 1925 when support had dwindled. (7) Nevertheless, there are several characteristics of the Nazi regime that can make it appear like a parody of a "holy" order. Take, for instance, the Nazi flag. This was designed by Hitler himself. In his book Mem Kampf he devotes a whole chapter to a discussion of its symbolism. Hitler's unconscious capacity for self-parody is fully revealed in this book along with a lot else. A serious book it is not, although subsequent events show how disastrous it can be to underestimate the possibility of a cosmic joke. Concerning the design of the Nazi flag, he says that "As National Socialists we see our programme in our flag. In Red we see the social idea of the movement, in White the nationalist idea, in the Swastika, the mission of the struggle for victory of the Aryan man, and by the same token, the victory of the idea of creative work, which as such always has and always will be anti-Semitic"'.(8) It must be fairly common knowledge that the "swastika" is an ancient Indian religious symbol, probably solar in significance. The term "swastika" is in fact a Sanskrit word from
swasti meaning success. It is also a reference to the distillation of the divine psychotropic drug soma, a key component of the religion of the Vedic Aryans. In Indian iconography this mystic hooked cross usually has its hooks bent around to the left so that the whole emblem rotates in a clockwise direction, the direction of the earth's rotation. Thus early Buddhist stupa temples were laid out on such a swastika ground plan. Significantly the Nazi's iconographers reversed the usual direction so that it rotates anti-clockwise, the direction of the Hermetic cross, as drawn by members of the Golden Dawn.(9) Astrologers have long adopted the convention of charting their calculation "back to front" as it were. Thus the eastern horizon appears on the right-hand side of the page and the western on the right. If one bears in mind the comments I made earlier about the popularity of astrology in Germany from the 1920s on, then the reason for the inversion is manifest and not as sinister as it appears. Whatever inherent meaning once possessed by this symbol, the Nazis managed to destroy it as a benign symbol. Rudyard Kipling had it removed from the covers of his books of Indian stories, which it had previously graced. Kipling was of course a pacifist, his jingoism destroyed by the death of a beloved son in the First world war. Hitler does not mention where he derived the swastika symbol, but it was probably from the principal "philosopher" of the Nazi party - Alfred Rosenberg. Rosenberg's eight-hundred page epic The Myth of the Twentieth Century was only outsold by Hitler's Mein Kampf and it was the main source of the Nazis' absurd racial theories. This book has a large section dealing with Hindu/ Aryan history. In this Rosenberg attributes the foundation of the civilization of ancient India, with its caste system to Aryans who flowed over the mountains from the northwest. They contrasted their own light complexion with those of their darkbrown subject races. These Aryans, so he says, created the philosophy of the Vedas and the Upanishads. Eventually, so the theory goes, race mixture destroyed the basis of their doctrine and Aryan mysticism was corrupted by systems of magic and sacrifice. Thus the swastika on the Nazi flag was a symbol of racial purity and also an evocation of their supposed racial spirit. An examination of the Nazi "cult" would be incomplete without some mention of the SS or Defence Staff (Schutz Staff). They were molded by Heinrich Himmler into a grotesque parody of medieval Teutonic knighthood. They were selected on rigorous "racial" and physical grounds and wore special uniforms. The SS badge was soon metamorphosed into a double lightening flash in imitation of ancient runic characters: Sig Sig: The Sun/Victory. One writer describes their initiation as: "a mystic rigmarole of his "sworn fellowship" before counterfeit bones of King Henry I, founder of medieval German power in the East. All this taking place at midnight in the crypt of a local cathedral''(10) All the pomp and circumstances cannot hide the fact that the SS were little more than concentration camp guards. The first camps were organized in 1933, almost immediately after the Nazis came to power. Their first inmates were communists or people labeled as communists. Himmler's deputy, Heydich, who was no mystic "but a ruthless careerist" took over the administration of them. One bizarre feature they retained throughout was the almost "masonic" system of prisoners' badges, later extended outside the camps by Heydich. The eighteen or so categories of prisoners were identified by a complicated
system of interlocking triangles of various colours - Yellow for Jewish prisoners. Red for political. Pink for homosexuals, brown for gypsies, and Mauve for Jehova's Witnesses etc. The relationship between the Third Reich and the Occult emerges from this as something rather superficial. The Nazis were no more magical than the clients of a successful advertising agency. It is surely telling that General J F C Fuller, one time disciple of Aleister Crowley. as well expert on Tank warfare, eventually rejected Hitler's brand of mystical blitzkrieg. Torn between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, his patriotism eventually got the better of him. (1)N Goodrich CIark, The Occult Scots of fascism, (Aquarian Press ) pp 225. (2) Ellic Howe, Astrology and Psychological Warfare during World War II (Rider 1972) page 21. (3)E. Howe op cit (4) H Trevor Roper, Hitler's Table Talk 1941-44, (1953) page 76 (5) H Trevor -Roper, The Last Days of Hitler (6) The Prophesies of Nostradamus. III.57. Translated by Cheetam (7) Goodriche Clarke, op cit page 221. W As quoted by Wolhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism (Condor 1972). (9) RG Torrens, The Secret Rituals of the Golden Dawm. (10) Eugen Kogen, The Theory and Practice of Hell. (Secker and Warberg 1950) page 17.
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