Germanic neo-paganism

As though we didn’t have enough problems to think about, reader M. Mason argues that Germanic neo-paganism could become a serious threat. In the entry, “Can the West reverse course?”, he discussed the long thread at Gates of Vienna in which the commenter Conservative Swede had spoken of the need for defenders of the West (namely yours truly) to divest themselves of the “huggy teddy bear” of Christianity. As Mr. Mason put it, Conservative Swede called Christianity “a silly ‘myth’ along with its ethics that you must let go of in order fully to embrace ConSwede’s glorious ‘New Paradigm.’ ”

In his August 1 comment in that same thread, Mr. Mason further quoted Conservative Swede’s rejection of Christian ethics:

Our very concepts of good and bad, our moral grammar, has to be transformed.

In sort of perspective, even the apparent moral tautology “We should strive for what is good, and fight against what is bad” no longer holds true.

Mr. Mason also quoted CS’s advocacy of reaching back to “the old Nordic gods.”

In a further exchange on this subject, Mr. Mason explained why this was bad. He wrote:

From reading that GoV post, I see that Conservative Swede has gone beyond his rootless, aimless, “intellectual vagabond” stage of two years ago, and has now clearly metamorphisized into something more ideologically sinister.

LA replied:

Why is calling for return of Germanic gods especially weird or sinister? That seems less weird and sinister than other things he’s said. It puts him with the European New Right, which of course I strongly oppose. But it’s not icky and strange. [LA adds: Fifteen years ago I read Alain de Benoit, the leading theoretician of the New Right. I completely rejected the New Right for its rejection of Christianity, which, much like Conservative Swede, it sees as necessarily leading to liberalism and universalism. At the same time, the New Right’s appeal to the pre-Christian gods and myths did not strike me as necessarily demonic, but more as a vapid and futile search for some non-Christian tradition.]

M. Mason replied:

Given ConSwede’s current ideological trajectory, in my view it will result in disaster no matter what substantive form it eventually takes. A person who truly embraces the old pagan Norse and Germanic gods and that cosmology is also going to gravitate toward some level of involvement in the pagan rites and practices associated with it, which includes occultism, spiritism and magic. Which isn’t merely “weird” or “icky”—it’s far worse than that. From an evangelical Christian perspective, it cannot be overly-stressed that any connection to this sort of thing is extraordinarily dangerous spiritually. If a person rejects Christianity with its absolute prohibitions against the kind of unauthorized spirit contact that one finds in these false religions and he “kicks open a door” into the spirit realm by occult means, then sooner or later he’s going to encounter something very evil on the other side waiting for him.

To whatever depth CS is already immersed in his neo-paganism isn’t clear; however, though it may presently only be a useful “myth” to him, his allegiance to it now is such that he says he doesn’t want a secular state. But even if we assume, for the moment, that he’s just being politically opportunistic, his “New Paradigm” vision of “[introducing] another great mythological narrative into the minds of the Germanic people” in order “to replace the moral grammar of Christianity” is itself utterly repellent. I would argue that the telos of such a revived, volkish ideology rooted in the old paganism and incarnated on a national level will be absolutely sinister. We’ve already seen how this plays out. It was early Romanticist interest in the Old North that gave rise to Germanic neo-paganism, mysticism and occultism in the 19th and early 20th centuries; other sects centered around Theosophy and Ariosophy also began to proliferate and these esoteric societies had a massive influence on Hitler and the theoreticians of National Socialism. And that’s just scratching the surface of this subject. If you’re interested in reading more about it you might want to pick up a copy of The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology by English historian Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke for the fascinating story. This isn’t part of the sensationalist and “crypto-historical” literature that has sprung up around the subject of the occult and Nazism (which he also deals with in his book), but nor is it the typical Shirer-inspired playscript of the history of the Reich either.

Goodrick-Clarke’s well-researched book is important for understanding how collective delusions can arise in the mind of a country, particularly through non-Christian, occult-infected, racist ideologies. This component, too often overlooked, is one of the other important pieces of the historical puzzle needed in order to penetrate the mystery of Nazism. The failure to grasp its significance is why most shocked Western historians of the later 20th century were unable to understand how the “Christian” Germany of the Reformation could have degenerated so horribly to become the Satanic Germany of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. It’s even more shocking when we consider that those Germans, taken as a whole, were very intelligent. Many of them were well-educated and well-versed in the arts and high culture; in fact, they seemed to typify just the sort of individuals that non-Christians could point to with pride and say: “See, we told you man was inherently good, and that, if you educated him, exposed him to the better things of life and gave him a philosophy of enlightened self-interest, he would naturally evolve and progress toward human perfection”. They were very sure of themselves in that assessment. Over one hundred million casualties in two bloody world wars and the horrifying evidence of Belsen and Buchenwald proved otherwise.

LA replied

This is very interesting. I was not aware that a revival of the Norse gods was a primary component of 19th century German romanticism and of Nazism; I thought Nazism was about the superiority of the German race, not about the myths of Odin and Thor, though Hitler when facing defeat did seem to be re-enacting the universal destruction at the end of Wagner’s Gotterdammerung. And I certainly didn’t know that Norse mythology had anything to do with mysticism and occultism. They would seem like different and incompatible things.

M. Mason replied:

I just now took a look at the Wikipedia entry on “Germanic Neopaganism”. Here are couple of brief excerpts:

Attitude and focus of adherents may vary considerably, from strictly historical polytheistic reconstructionism to syncretist (eclectic), pragmatic psychologist, occult or mysticist approaches. Germanic Neopagan organizations cover a wide spectrum of belief and ideals.

And this:

The term “Odinism” tends to be associated with racist or racialist Nordic ideology, as opposed to “Asatru” which may or may not refer to racialist or “folkish” ideals. As defined by Goodrick-Clarke (2002), Nordic racial paganism is synonymous with the Odinist movement (including some who identify as Wotanist). He describes it as a “spiritual rediscovery of the Aryan ancestral gods…intended to embed the white races in a sacred worldview that supports their tribal feeling”, and expressed in “imaginative forms of ritual magic and ceremonial forms of fraternal fellowship.

And this:

Seior and Spae are forms of “sorcery” or “witchcraft”, the latter having aspects of prophecy and shamanism. Seid and spae are not common rituals, and are not engaged in by many adherents of Germanic Neopaganism… In the UK, seidr relies less on formal ritual and more informal practices of healing (Blain, 2002b), protection, and for developing links with land and ancestors. It may be related—in past and present—to alterations of consciousness and negotiations with otherworld beings. [i.e. spiritism]

There’s also much more there.

As bad as all this is, such occultic groups also tend to shade together into (or get swallowed up by) other, larger, more dangerous movements, producing exactly the kind of perverse socio-politcal-religious dynamic described in Goodrick-Clarke’s history of the Third Reich.

I should be clear that I didn’t bring this up to be provocative, or even to focus primarily on CS at this point. The subject is obviously much larger and more important than just one blogger’s personal fantasies, and it does deserve our attention. Paganism (in all its various manifestations) is now the fastest-growing religion in the Western world. The widespread embrace of an occult worldview has become an acceptable social position. Sometimes in the endless discussions at VFR about the all-pervasive liberalism, menacing Islam and the fringe (but very vocal) proponents of militant atheism it’s easy to overlook this. What we’re seeing play out now is similar to what happened in previous centuries when interest in the occult grew significantly during periods of great uncertainty and societal breakdown. In our present era, traditional forms of Christianity have been undermined and ridiculed, with the result that many people in their spiritual blindness have turned to counterreligion in quest of aspects of transcendence that lie outside the Judeo-Christian tradition. There exists today a vast international network of such movements, and I believe they will play a significant role in shaping politics in the future.

- end of initial entry -

James P. writes:

I have not read the thread at Gates of Vienna, but in response to Conservative Swede’s view, as you put it, that “defenders of the West (namely yours truly) [must] divest themselves of “the “huggy teddy bear” of Christianity,” we should note that Christianity was once a central force in the defense of the West (along with the educational system and many other institutions that have been subverted) and even the “offense” of the West, i.e. spreading Western ideas throughout the world. We should also note that Christianity is not broken (liberalized) in Africa, so clearly the problem is not Christianity per se. In short, if the Churches are broken, then fix the Churches, because they are the problem, not Christianity.

Trying to create a neo-pagan religion for the defense of the West is just going to marginalize defenders of the West as a bunch of weirdos. Similarly, these folks whom Oz Conservative mentions here, who reenact Viking life in order to “engage their racial heritage”, are just going to ensure that “white ethnic identity” is regarded as the province of weirdos and losers.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 04, 2009 10:42 AM | Send

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