After the trauma of defeat in World War One and the despair of the depression, Germans turned to non-conventional solutions for their problems in a quest to rebuild their society. One path that opened up was that of the occult and during the 1920s and 1930s there was a strong revival in interest in knowledge dismissed by science, economics, politics and religion.
Over time a group of individuals hungry to implement a new form of politics used the philosophy of holism and the supernatural to their own ends to establish power. As the same patterns of economic and social deconstruction occur within the early twenty first century, we are starting to see an overlap between modern ‘New Age’ communities and those of the fringe political left and right once again occur. Will we repeat history verbatim or find a new path to create our reality? That is a question only time will answer, as historically humanity appears to love to stay chained to the Miller’s Wheel.
The exploration of a deeper reality to the one that concerns logical positivism, reductionism and materialism is in itself nothing to be concerned about. The path of the gnostic is one that many on a deeper spiritual journey explore, as the initiate seeks to heal, better understand themselves and to release themselves from the bonds that constrain them. Modern science and economics can be similarly misused by those who seek power, but they do not attract the same fascination as that of the occult due to the fact that they are largely conventional and accepted by the mainstream.
German existential questioning in the 1920s and 30s
During the 1920s and 1930s the occult made a revival in German, as the German people started to search for answers beyond the state funded institutions. The occult is a category of supernatural beliefs and practices considered to neither fall under religion nor science, a sort of melting pot of magical and alternative ideas, from complimentary medicine to eclectic spirituality and magick. Because of its mystique the occult is often depicted as a dark path. Yet for the vast majority of explorers it is one of deep understand, genuine initiation and commitment.
There are many reasons why people turn towards the occult and not all who walk this path are extremists, even if there are many who
- feel disenchanted with the sterility of an industrial rationalised approach to the world
- feel restricted by religious dogma; who erroneously believe that there is some secret power to be channelled
- fancy an alternative life-style
- feel that knowledge is being with-held from them.
There are many who seek a personal spiritual path who find deep relevancy in the belief that the world is less physical and rational than the one created as a product of the sixteenth century European Enlightenment.
But there are those who seek power, who believe that our predecessors had access to forbidden knowledge that could access untapped power within themselves or open up dimensions of reality, super-natural skills and knowledge that make the world a better place; or whose intention arises from their ego, coupled with the righteousness that can arise from personal revelation and an unhealed egO. For those souls, the occult can be a breeding ground for millenarian and sometimes extremist politics. After all, in any walk of life, the pursuit of power tends to corrupt. This appears to be the case with the Nazi party, a group of political idealists who fused alternative beliefs and politics into a model that had devastating consequences for the world.
The Nazi’s and the occult
In the aftermath of the collapse of the German economy and social system, there was a desperate search for a New Earth. Yet this search was done without healing the deeper reasons that drove the German people down the path of righteous colonisation. During the late 1920s and 1930s, Germany took a very nationalist hue as occult theories were blended with Nationalist, anti-democratic and racist myths and Nazism emerged from this quest for alternative answers.
Leading Nazis like Heinrich Himmler and Rudolf Hess were deeply invested in occult spirituality such as astrology, dowsing, ley lines, theosophy, the Grail theory and the like and in turn many occult practioneers, the biographies of whom we know little about, supported the rhetoric of the emerging far right. For example, Germany’s two largest astrological organisations endorsed the Nazi party, as did Erik Han Janusson, the country’s leading astrologer.
The Nazi regime also approved a Working Community of German Astrologers. It is widely known that Rudolf Hess and Himmler were both obsessed with astrology. Himmler hired several astrologers to try and find Mussolini when the Italian leader disappeared. Louis de Wolfe was an astrologer who later defected to the British army after he angered Hitler by advising him not to march on Russia.
Within Goebbels’ Reich Chamber of Culture a ‘working group on cosmo-biological research’ was created, fuelled by Goebbels fascination with Nostradamus’ prophecies. Goebbels interpreted the quatrains in favour of the German’s success, as printed on the propaganda pamphlets spread throughout enemy countries.
Dowsing and Ley Lines
In 1934, Hitler hired Germany’s most famous dowser, von Pohl, to police the Reich Chancellery for harmful death rays. German U-boat captain Hans Roeder created a Pendulum Institute to try and help the Germany Navy win the war in the Atlantic. Day after day dowsers were forced by the SS to stand ‘with their arms stretched out across the nautical charts’ just in case the pendulum made the slightest movement! Himmler’s SS conducted extensive research into subterranean geomantic energies and ley lines. Some projects included ‘Atlantian-Germanic Circles’, ‘triangles of Spirit’, and the ‘Aryan pentagram’.
Rudolph Steiner’s Theosophy
Influenced by variants of Theosophy, a spiritual science which emerged in the late 19th century, which put forward a spiritual theory of evolution wherein humans’ spiritual progress is guided by ‘hidden masters’ via successive races. Theosophy was also popular with progressives, but its racial and authoritarian aspects attracted those on the Right.
German varieties of Theosophy, such as the anti-democratic Ariosophy and ‘World Ice Theory, which saw the Aryan race as spiritual superbeings, locked in a cosmic war with subhuman races, were central to the Nazi philosophy. These theories suggested that other races, such as Tibetans or the Brahmin class in India, were really Aryans and the Buddha was actually a blond-haired ‘Nordic’.
Eastern philosophies were the stable of many of the leading Nazi sympathisers. For example, Himmler always carried a copy of the Bhagavad Gita and encouraged his SS officers to practice yoga, seeing them as the modern descendants of the Indian warrior caste. He also sent an expedition to Tibet to meet the Dalai Lama and explore Tibetan magic.
Hitler, Hess, Himmler and others explored alternative medicine, vegetarian diets, homeopathy and natural healing. Hess opened a centre for alternative medical practices in Dresden in 1934. Himmler, meanwhile, supported alternative medicine, such as using plant extracts to heal cancer whilst all the while authorising experiments on prisoners in concentration camps for this research. Advocates of organic farming and of Steiner’s biodynamic agriculture, promoted forms of nature-mysticism and nature-worship, as well as championing pre-Christian rites like solstice festivals.
Fascinated by holism, the idea of ‘wholeness’ for the individual and for society as a way of healing the divisions caused by materialism, industrialism and military defeat, the Nazi’s quest for wholeness led them to a form of environmental holism. They passed legislation to protect forests and rivers, and moved to ban experiments on animals (while simultaneously authorising experiments on camp prisoners). Ernst Lehmann, a Nazi professor of botany, sums up this eco-centric interconnected view of the world:
“We recognise that separating humanity from nature, from the whole of life, leads to humankind’s own destruction and to the death of nations. Only through a re-integration of humanity into the whole of nature can our people be made stronger…This striving toward connectedness with the totality of life, with nature itself, a nature into which we are born, this is the deepest meaning and the true essence of National Socialist thought.”
This eco-bio-politics led to a Darwinian styled eugenics based on the notion that the weak and sick specimens should be killed, and superior breeds should be protected against invasive species.
Us Vs Them
Capitalising on the growing anti-establishment mistrust, Hitler and his fellow Nazis sold the German people a supernatural fantasy and conspiracy theory. They believed that all their problems were caused by a hidden global elite and that they, the magical light-warriors, would defeat them in a cosmic battle ushering in a golden age of peace and love! They also suggested that for the Light to prevail democracy should be suspended and bloodshed and retribution should ensue. This Us Versus Them has nothing to do with the occult, much less to do with spirituality. It is merely human dualistic thinking projected onto the spiritual disciplines and their philosophy. After all anything that divides comes not from gOd but from ego.
Similar to Germany of the 20s and 30s, there is a general occult revival happening at the moment. Within the current anti-government rallies taking place all over the world, you can observe a meeting of ostensibly paradoxical ideologies. Peace advocating holistic animists within the New Age community can be seen standing side by side those of an extremist conspiratorial and politically disenfranchised community. Their anti-establishment perspectives unite them.
New Age spiritual practise does not inevitably lead to extremist politics, even if it lends itself towards alternative views of reality. The vast majority of those consciously engaged in alternative philosophical practises tend towards centrist liberalism. Many explore ecstatic experiences and acasual metaphysics but also engage in critical thinking and humanistic processes.
Whilst patterns emerge over time in a self-similar manner, it does not result in a self-similar outcome. Consciousness is the key variable that inclines the way in which these scripts manifest. Periodically we move through monumental changes in socio-economic and politico-religious orientation which eventually lead to the institutionalisation of those beliefs. We are moving through such times now. And in times of uncertainty it is understandable that people reach towards alternatives, since the mainstay is deemed not to be working. After all you cannot solve a problem using the same solutions that got you into that problem in the first place!
Uranus in Aries
It is during those times that people reach towards philosophies that are associated with times when humanity lived in harmony – with each other and with nature. The awakening of the vision to create a new reality is associated with the movement of Uranus through the sign of Cardinal Fire, or Aries. This unfoldment occurs over a seven year period, every eighty four years. It tends to reflect an impetus towards freeing the sOul from the fetters that bind it, whilst hungering after autonomous and gnostic wisdom. The years 2010 through 2018 mirrored those of 1927 through 1934.
Uranus in Taurus
Following from this awakening of the spirit comes the notion of the spirit made flesh, as the focus moves into the building of that reality. Esoterically speaking, the sign of Taurus, or Fixed Earth, reflects the exploration of the Interiority of Nature, a concept associated with Immanency. Immanency underlines all animistic and holistic philosophical models and the juxtaposition with the preceding signs, can give rise to an evangelistic fervour to find a deeper meaning within our physical reality.
Uranus last moved through this Earthy sign between 1934 and 1941, as it is currently doing since 2018 until 2025. I have written elsewhere on the environmentalism, experimental advances within agriculture and medicine and the encouraged detachedness from the natural world that we generated of this 84 year rhythm. For now, however, it is sufficient to say here that the rise in nationalism, isolationism and territorialism in an attempt to consolidate the individualistic vision, is but one expression of a less conscious manifestation of this unfoldment.
It is plain to observe the extremism of many ideological factions within this very same time, especially within those who believe that they have the truth. Division and isolationism are the opposite to any truly holistic paradigm, so it would be wrong to associate ‘New Age’ advocates with those of the extreme political spectrum. And yet, history has shown how the gentleness of holism can be incorporated into radical philosophies as a means to justify their motives.
Awareness has changed substantially in the past 84 years but has our collective consciousness? That is the big question. I hope that awareness of the destructive implications of what we created in the 30s in terms of mono-agricultural practises, Keynesian economics, fascism and totalitarism is fresh in our muscle memory and we choose a different path. But without awareness of those conditions and without learning from the past, it is easy to see the path that could be re-trodden.
We are living through a monumental redistribution of power leading to our personal and collective creation of new conditions of being and it is my prayer that we embrace a philosophy of immanency, compassionate holism, inclusiveness and discursive thinking. It is up to us to create that world. The conditions are ripe. But will you consciously participate?