Nazi-occultism on the ContERN website

Floor mosaic from Wewelsburg castle – from decorative item to occult world domination…

Next up in the cyberproceedings from the Contemporary Esotericism conference is a paper by Eva Kingsepp on Nazi/SS occultism, the changing perceptions of it in “official memory culture”, and its reception and influence on contemporary occulture. The primary focus is on the heavily mythologized symbol of the “Black Sun”, and the SS’  Wewelsburg castle, alleged to be the magical centre of the Third Reich,  where Heinrich Himmler gathered his SS “knights” and performed sinister rituals under the occult sign of the Black Sun.

Or not. As Kingsepp shows, myths of this kind have by now been properly debunked by real historiography. That, however, does not diminish the effect of the Nazi-occult mythology in popular culture and occulture.

From the introduction:

The aim of this paper is twofold, both related to the uses of history. The first concerns the basic assumptions about Nazi occultism as a phenomenon in itself. -What are the discursive relations between official memory culture and popular culture regarding Nazi occultism? The second is to look at the Temple of Set, more specifically its Order of the Trapezoid, as an example of how an esoteric group relates to Nazi occultism and puts this, as it is being conceived by leading members of the Order, into magical use. -From where do practicing occultists working with elements from National Socialism get the theoretical basis for what might be called their magical ideology

Go read the whole thing here.

Parapsychology in Germany – review of Heather Wolffram’s Stepchildren of Science (2009)

In 2009 a fat and promising book landed on my desk, fresh from the publisher. I had looked forward to it for a while, as the topic was highly relevant for my dissertation, and this was the first full-length academic study ever to look at it. It was furthermore written by an author whose articles on the same topic I had been following for a while, with great interest. The book was Heather Wolffram’s Stepchildren of Science: Psychical Research and Parapsychology in Germany, c. 1870-1939. I was going to write a book review for Aries, which I did. It only appeared this spring, however. Since it is already three years ago that the book was published, I think it is about time to share the review with a broader community. So please find the pre-publication version of the review below.


Update: Paganism and European Identity Politics at “Regimes of Religious Pluralism” Conference

The conference on “Regimes of Religious Pluralism” is now only a week away. The final programme has just been released, and you can check it in pdf here: Regimes of Religious Pluralism Conference Programme.

As announced here earlier, we will be having a workshop on “European Identity Politics and the Memory of Paganism” on Friday, April 20. This panel/workshop will take place at 14.30 in the afternoon, and we will be hearing about the “pagan” emphasis of the European New Right, the occultist and pagan-revivalist influences on early-twentieth century Irish nationalism, and, not least, about contemporary New Age Nazism and the Aryan Jesus from outer space.  In short, a perfectly satisfying way to spend an afternoon.