Peter Levenda’s Unholy Alliance: A History of Nazi Involvement with the Occult, is a comprehensive history of the occult background and roots of the Nazi movement, showing how the ideas of a vast international network of late 19th- and early 20th-century occult groups influenced Nazi ideology.
Interview by Tracy R. Twyman
Peter Levenda’s quest for the truth began in 1979 while reading Aftermath: Martin Bormann and the Fourth Reich, by Ladislas Farago, about how Hitler’s former Riechsleiter had escaped to South America after the war pretending to be a priest, protected by the “underground railroad” of Nazi sympathizers that operated and still operate all over that continent, including many if not most of the police and military. Levenda came across a description of one of Bormann’s many hideouts, a Koreshisn cult compound called “Colonia Dignidad” (Colony of Righteousness), which was, as Farago described, “the weirdest encampment of the postwar world, housing a sect that combines Nazism and vodooism.”
Intrigued as he was by such an odd combination, Mr. Levenda decided to check the place out for himself, and actually flew down to Chile to conduct the investigation. He did manage to penetrate the compound, but only briefly, and this led to him being chased out of Chile by a series of unidentified agents, then later fired from his job at “a large, multinational corporation that did a lot of business with the Chilean military.” It also led to the research that eventually culminated in Levenda’s terrifying, spellbinding book, Unholy Alliance: A History of Nazi Involvement with the Occult.
It all started with the Thule Gesellschaft, a pagan, anti-Semitic, right-wing aristocratic society founded by a Freemason and Eastern mystic named Baron Rudolf von Sebottendorff. They met every Saturday in Munich’s Four Season’s Hotel to discuss things like runes (an old German alphabet), racial evolution, Nordic mythology and German nationalism. Registered under the name “Thule Gessellschaft” as a “literary-cultural society”, in order to fool the communist Red Army now controlling Munich, this group had originally been known as the Germanenorden, or the German Order Walvater of the Holy Grail. According to Levenda, ‘The Germanenorden had an impressive series of initiatory rituals, replete with knights in shining armor, wise kings, mystical bards and forest nymphs’, including a Masonic-style program of secrecy, initiation and mutual cooperation.”
But they were not copying the ideological aspects of Freemasonry. As Levenda writes, “What the Germanenorden became was, essentially, an anti-Masonry: a Masonic-style society dedicated to the eradication of Freemasonry itself.” Their symbol was a long dagger on top of a swastika, and their beliefs had been influenced largely by the writings of Guido von List and Lanz von Liebenfels, two men who will feature prominently in our story. Liebenfels had founded the neo-pagan, swastika-waving “Order of the New Templars” on Christmas Day, 1907, along similar ideological lines. In that same year, occult researcher Guido von List began The List Society, part of a then-developing “völkish” (folkish) movement extolling the virtues of Norse heritage, heritage which could be traced by reading the Edda, a compilation of Icelandic legends which Hitler would later take great interest in.
The völkish movement itself was based in part on the ideas of Madame Helena Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society famous for her books Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine. She wrote that humanity was descendant from a series of imperfect races which had once ruled the earth, and which all had a common Atlantean origin dating back millions of years, culminating in the Aryan race, which had at one point possessed supernatural powers but had since lost them. She also romanticized about the occult significance of the swastika, of Lucifer, “The Light-Bearer”, and of a cabal of spiritual “Hidden Masters” called the Great White Brotherhood, who guided human evolution from their abode in the Himalayas and who Blavatsky herself purported to channel during her many self-induced trances. And the philosophy of List and Liebenfels took this a bit further, to the extent that the Aryan race was the only “True” humanity, and that the Jews, along with a host of other undesirables, or “minderwertigen” (“beings of inferior value”) were sapping the race of its strength and purity through the evil machination of Christianity, Freemasonry, capitalism and Communism. They believed that the Aryan race had come from a place called Thule, the north pole, where there was an entrance to a vast underground area populated by giants. “Among the völkish cults”, writes Levenda, “it was believed that — as soon as the Germans had purified the planet of the pollution of the inferior races — these Hidden Masters, these Supermen from Thule, would make themselves known, and the link which had been lost between Man and God would be forged anew.”
There were the beliefs of the members of the Thule Gesellschaft when they met on November 9, 1918 to discuss something of immediate concern; The Communist control of Munich. After a rousing speech by Sebottendorf, the Thule Society began to prepare for a counter-revolution, stockpiling weapons and forming alliances with other like-minded groups, such and the Pan-Germans, the German School Bund and the Hammerbund. The following year, on April 7, a Bavarian Soviet Republic was proclaimed in Munich, causing the Prime Minister of Bavaria to run off to Bamburg in order to prevent a total Communist take-over of the government. Six days later the Thule-Organized Palm Sunday Putsch failed to overcome the Communists in Munich, and now the Thule members were on the Red Army’s Most Wanted list. Sebottendorf got busy organizing an army of Freikorps (Freekorps) to counter-attack. (One of the units of the Freikorps, the Ehrhardt Brigade, later became part of the German Army, and eventually, part of the S.S.) On April 26, the Red Army raided Thule headquarters and began making arrests, including the well-connected Prince von Thurn und Taxis. On April 30, Walpurgisnacht, they were executed in the Luitpold High School courtyard. The following day, their obituaries were published in Sebottendorf’s newspaper Münchener Beobachter (which would evolve one year later in to the official Nazi publication, Völkischer Beobachter.) The citizens of Munich became outraged. The Thule Society organized a citizen rebellion, which was joined by the 20,000-member Freikorps, and together they marched, “beneath a swastika flag, with swastikas painted on their helmets, singing a swastika hymn.” By May 3, after much bloodshed and destruction, the Communists in Munich were defeated. But there was much work to be done. The Soviet threat was still very real. With the help of the local police and military, the Thule began organizing a more full-scale national revolt, using connections with societies of wealthy intellectuals. They also began recruiting among Germany’s working class, by forming a group called the German Worker’s Party, which met regularly in beer halls to discuss the threat of Jews, Communists, and Freemasons. This group would later become the National Socialist German Workers’ Party — The Nazi Party, and in November 1923, they would make their first attempt at national takeover, the failed Beer Hall Putsch, lead by a man who had originally been sent by the German Army to spy on them — Adolf Hitler.
We all know what the Nazi party went on to accomplish. What most people do not know is the extent to which those actions were inspired by the occult beliefs of their perpetrators. As Levenda writes, “The most extreme aims of the Thule Society would all eventually become official policy of the Third Reich, while its purely metaphysical and occult characteristics were adopted wholeheartedly by the S.S.” Hitler himself was fascinated by the occult. While he was a college student he began reading Von Liebenfels’ magazine, Ostara. Later in 1909, while he was living in poverty in a men’s dormitory and hawking his paintings on the street, Hitler actually met Libenfels in his office, looking “so distraught and so impoverished that the New Templar himself gave Hitler free copies of Ostara and bus fare back home.” Hitler’s friend Josef Greiner recalls in his memoirs how obsessed young Adolf was with astrology, religion, occultism, magic and yoga. Hitler loved Wagner, as we know, especially The Ring Cycle, Parsifal, Lehengrin and Rienzi. It was from Wagner that Hitler gained his affinity for knighthood, chivalry, and the Quest of the Holy Grail, a pagan, Teutonic Grail. In 1915, Hitler was at war, and while in the trenches, wrote a poem, one which “sings the praises of Wotan, the Teutonic Father God, and of runic letters, magic spells, and magic formulas.” So there is no doubt that Hitler’s interest in occultism and paganism ran deep. There is doubt, however, as to whether or not Hitler actually performed any magical operations himself. According to Levenda, this was not in his nature, a nature inclined towards action, doing stuff, accomplishing things here on Earth, in the 3rd dimension. He did not have the time and the patience necessary for real spiritual endeavors. “Hitler was a paranoid”, writes Levenda, “and the occult holds special attractions for the paranoid. But Hitler as a cultist? As a black-robed, ritual-performing, invocation-chanting priest of Satan? Probably not.
But Hitler as a tool of other cultists?
In fact, a number of people deeply involved in the occult would have great influence on him and play essential roles in the development of the Third Reich. It would do us well to examine them one by one.
Hitler, while working as the leader of the German Worker’s Party, became friends with Thulist Deitrich Eckart, who published a newspaper called Auf Gut Deutsch (“In Good German”), which “ranks with the Völkischer Beobachter as a racist sheer with intellectual pretensions.” Eckart had a tremendous effect on Hitler, and was he who first introduced Hitler to all the wealthy and powerful people he needed make his crusade possible, including Henry Ford, who would later contribute “vital financial support” to the Nazi party. From Eckart, Hitler learned a great deal about the esoteric sciences, and it is said that they occasionally attended seances and talked to ghosts. Eckart, who died after the Beer Hall Putsch, is quoted as saying, “Hitler will dance, but it is I who plays the tune.”
Eckart protegé, and soon Hitler’s as well, was Alfred Rosenburg, a man who would later become “one of the architects of official Nazi policies.” One of these policies was that all of the Masonic temples in all of the Nazi’s occupied territories were to be raided, and the goods shipped back to Rosenberg himself. This was done by Franz Six and Otto Ohlendorf, both occultists. Rosenberg was also friends with another occultist named Walther Darré, who became agricultural minister of the Third Reich. “Together”, writes Levenda, “they ran around the nation drumming up support for an official state religion based on the worship of the Old Gods, a religion that included purifying the Aryan race of elements that were in the process of polluting it and diluting the strength of its blood.”
Erik Jan Hanussen
In 1932, after his Nazi Party had lost much ground in the Reichstag, and his mistress Eva Braun had shot herself on Halloween Night, Hitler turned to his friend Erik Jan Hanussen, a well-known astrologer and occultist whom he had met back in 1926. Hannusen is supposed to have taught Hitler a number of exaggerated gestures to use in public speaking, ones which could be seen and understood from far away, and which would communicate a message through body language even if a person could not hear what he was saying. Hanussen had never read Hitler’s stars before, but on this occasion in 1932, upon request, he drew up an astrological chart for the future Führer, and told Hitler that his troubles stemmed from an evil hex that someone had cast on him. Furthermore, he said, the only way to get rid of it was for someone to go to a butcher’s backyard located in Hitler’s hometown — at midnight, on a full moon — and pull a mandrake out of the ground. For those who don’t know, a mandrake is a “man-shaped” root with supposed medicinal properties which, according to European folklore, will emit an ear-shattering scream upon being uprooted. Sometime a dog would be sent on a suicide mission to pull the root while the magician plugged his own ears. Hanussen performed the ritual himself, and on January 1st of 1933 came to Hitler predicting that he would return to power on the 30th of that month, “a date roughly equivalent to the pagan sabbat of Oimelc.” Of course, as is known to history, that is exactly what happened. A few weeks later, during a seance held on February 26, Hanussen predicted that the Communists would make another attempt at revolution in Germany, one that would begin by setting an important government building on fire. “The next day”, wrote Levenda, “the Reichstag was in flames and Hitler had all the excuse he needed to go from Chancellor of Germany to Führer of the Third Reich.” Six weeks later, Hanussen was mysteriously murdered.
There was also another astrologer, a shareholder in the Völkischer Beobachter who had been Hitler’s close friend since the days of the German Worker’s Party in 1919. In the memoirs of Walter Schellenberg he is described as “a Munich physician who belonged to the intimate circle around Hitler. Gutberlet believed in the ‘sidereal pendulum’, an astrological contraption, and claimed that this had given him the power to sense at once the presence of any Jews or persons of partial Jewish ancestry, and to pick them out in any group of people. Hitler availed himself of Gutberlet’s mystic power and had many discussions with him on racial questions.
A friend of Hitler’s from way back, he had been arrested at the Beer Hall Putsch with him in 1923, and had transcribed Hitler’s Mein Kampf (originally titled Four and a Half Years of Struggle Against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice) while they were both in prison. He later became Hitler’s Deputy Führer. He was an “intimate” of the Thule Society and was way into the occult. Hess introduced Hitler to one of his professors, Karl Haushofter, a man with an interest in astrology who claimed clairvoyance. Haushoffer later came to wield considerable power in Germany by founding the Deutsche Akadamie, and by heading the University of Munich’s Institute Geopolitik — “A kind of think tank-cum-intelligence agency”, according to Levenda. He was vital in forming the Nazi alliances with Japan and South America, and was responsible for the adoption of the Lebensraum (“Living Room”) policy, which stated that “a sovereign nation, to ensure the survival of its people, had a right to annex the territory of other sovereign nations to feed and house itself.”
Himmler and the S.S.
The S.S. (Schuzstafel) was originally formed as a personal bodyguard to Hitler, and numbered around 300 when Heinrich Himmler joined. But when he rose to its leadership in 1929, things changed a bit. Four years later, membership had soared to 52,000. He established headquarters at a medieval castle called Wewelsburg, where his secret inner order met once a year. According to Walther Schellenberg’s memoirs, “Each member had his own armchair with an engraved silver nameplate, and each had to devote himself to a ritual of spiritual exercises aimed mainly at mental concentration. The focal point of Wewelsburg, evidently owing much to the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, was a great dining hall with an oak table to seat twelve picked from the senior Gruppenführers. The walls were to be adorned with their coats of arms.” Underneath this dining hall there was kept a so-called “realm of the dead”, a circular well in which these coats of arms would be burnt and the ashes worshipped after the “knight” had died. (There are tales of Himmler using the severed heads of deceased S.S. officers to communicate with ascended masters.) In addition to this, each knight had his own room, “decorated in accordance with one of the great ancestors of Aryan majesty.” Himmler’s own room was dedicated to a Saxon King Henry the Fowler, whose ghost Himmler sometimes conversed with.
Outside of the inner order, SS officers were discouraged from participating in Christian ceremonies, including weddings and christenings, and celebrated the Winter Solstice instead of Christmas. The traditional day of gift exchange was switched to the day of the summer solstice celebration. Writes Levenda, “These ceremonies were replete with sacred fires, torchlit processions, and invocations of Teutonic deities, all performed by files of young blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryan supermen.” Although Himmler admired the ceremonial nature of Catholicism and modeled the S.S. partially on the Order of the Jesuits, he also despised Christianity for what he considered its weak, masochistic nature. He held further resentment because of the persecution of German witches during the Inquisition.
Himmler, along with Richard Darré, was responsible for absorbing The Ahnenerbe Society “a kind of seminary and teaching college for the future leaders of the Thousand Year Reich”, into the S.S. The Ahenenerbe was devoted to some odd völkish studies, each of which had a subdivision dedicated to it: “Celtic Studies”, Externsteine (near Wewelsburg), where the world-tree Yggdrasil was supposed to reside, Icelandic research; Tibetan research, runic studies; a strange new twist on physics called the “World Ice Theory”, an archeological research in an effort to find evidence of past Aryan presence in remote locations all over the world, such as South America, giving rise to “Aryans discovered America” stories. Another theory propounded by Himmler was that babies that had been conceived in cemeteries would inherit the spirits of whoever was buried there, and actually published lists of cemeteries that were good for breeding because of the Teutonic heroes resting therein. Himmler was obsessed with the concept of the Holy Grail, and hired researchers to try and prove that the Grail was actually a Nordic pagan artifact.
The Allied Occult Offense
According to Levenda, “Himmler was obsessed by the idea that British Intelligence was being run by the Rosicrucian order, and that occult adepts were in charge of MI5.” Whether or not that was true, the Germans were certainly not the only participants in the war using the power of magick to their advantage. Levenda provides the details of a “Cult Counterstrike” organized by the intelligence agencies of the U.S. and Britain, an effort centering around the “most evil man in the world”, the Great Beast 666, Aleister Crowley.
Crowley had gone to live in New York during WWI after being rejected for military service by the British government, and began writing “pro-German propaganda” for a magazine called The Fatherland, published by George Viereck. Crowley took over as editor. He later claimed that he had really been working for British Intelligence, because “his articles were so outlandish that the journal was reduced to absurdity, a caricature of serious political discussion, which would help the British cause more than harm it.” There is some evidence to suggest that Crowley was working for MI5 during this time, spying on his fellow OTO initiate Karl Germer, a German intelligence agent, so perhaps his excuse for working for The Fatherland is sound. Whatever the case, he was definitely hired by MI5 during WWII. Crowley had become friends with author Dennis Wheatley, well-known for a number of fiction and non-fiction books based on the occult who had once worked for Winston Churchill’s Joint Planning Staff. He had been introduced to Crowley by a journalist named Tom Driberg, who would later become a spy for MI5 as well, and who would come into possession of Crowley’s diaries shortly after his death in 1947. Wheatley also introduced Crowley to yet another MI5 agent, Maxwell Knight. Knight was the real historical figure behind the fictional character “M” in all the James Bond novels, written by Knight’s friend in the Department of Naval Intelligence, Ian Fleming. Crowley met Knight for dinner at Wheatley’s house, and it was there that Crowley agreed to take them both on as magick students. Later, Ian Fleming dreamed up a way to use Crowley’s expertise in a scheme against the Germans. The scheme involved an Anglo-German organization known as “The Link”, a supposed “cultural society” which had once been under the leadership of Sir Barry Domville, Director of Naval Intelligence from 1927 to 1930. The Link had been investigated by Maxwell Knight in the 1930s because of its involvement in German spy operations, and was soon dissolved after much incriminating evidence was found. As Levenda describes, Fleming “thought that the Nazis could be made to believe that the The Link was still in existence, they could use it as bait for the Nazi leadership. The point was to convince the Nazis that The Link had sufficient influence to overthrow the Churchill government and thereby to install a more pliable British government, one which would gladly negotiate a separate peace with Hitler.” The suggestion came in the form of fake astrological advice passed on to the gullible Rudolf Hess, who was already under the delusion that only he could talk the British into peace with Germany, and that it was his destiny to do so. One of his staff astrologers, Dr. Ernst Schulte-Strathaus, under British employ, encouraged Hess to make his mission to England on May 10, 1941 a significant date because of a rare conjunction of six planets in the sign of Taurus. The Duke of Hamilton was also enlisted to let Hess know that he would be happy to entertain him should he plan to go through with such an endeavor. So Hess, a trained pilot, embarked on a rather dangerous solo flight to the British Isles, parachuting into Scotland donned in various occult symbols, where he was immediately arrested by the waiting Brits. According to Levenda, “Fleming tried to obtain permission for Crowley to debrief Hess in order to develop intelligence on the occult scene in the Third Reich and particularly the Nazi leadership.” But this permission was denied, and Hess spent the rest of his days in prison not being much use to anybody. Levenda finds this suspicious, for “What could have been a major propaganda coup against the Nazis went utterly wasted, as if by tacit agreement on both sides.”
After Hess’ arrest, Hitler denounced hi as a crazed madman, and began persecuting astrologers and occultists in his own domains more so than ever before. Crowley continued trying to help the Allied cause, but most of his ideas were rejected. One, however, while initially dismissed, was later implemented. This involved dropping occult pamphlets on the German countryside that predicted a dire outcome for the war and depicted the Nazi leadership as Satanic. A forgery of a popular German astrological magazine called Zenit was created and dropped onto enemy battlefields. It was set for full-scale distribution, but the delivery was intercepted by the Gestapo before it could be completed.
Besides Crowley, there were other occultists involved in the fight against the Third Reich. One of Crowley’s protegés, Jack Parsons, who was the Head of the Agapé O.T.O. Lodge in California as well as a charter member of both Cal-Tech and the Jet propulsion Laboratory, invented the “Greek Fire” rocket propellant which was widely used by the United State Navy between 1944 and 1945. According to Levenda, it was “a solution that could have only come from someone with a working knowledge of the arcane lore of alchemy and magic.” (Parsons later killed himself in an accident involving fulminate of mercury. He had been driven crazy and proclaimed himself the Anti-Christ after becoming involved with one “Frater H”, who was actually a spy sent by Naval Intelligence to infiltrate the O.T.O. That spy’s name was L. Ron Hubbard!) There was also a Golden dawn initiate named Sam Untermyer, an attorney and wealthy philanthropist once called a “Satanist” by a British newspaper. Untermyer started the “Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League to Champion Human Rights” and the “World-Anti-Nazi Council, which both promoted the boycott of German products. He also donated money to the hunt for Nazi agents coming into New York. And with the help of a man named Richard Rollins, he started a secret society called “the Board” which engaged in counterespionage against Nazi groups who were recruiting in the United States.
The World War II that Levenda describes is a magick war, and a holy war, a war in which both sides consider themselves to be fighting the forces of evil. It is a war operated behind the scenes by mystical adepts using their esoteric knowledge of symbolism, astrology, meditation, astral travel, clairvoyance, and mind control against the enemy. A war inspired by age-old beliefs in the Elder Gods of Europe’s ancient past. In the pages that follow, Mr. Levenda discusses that war with the editor of Dagobert’s Revenge.
DR: Your book is all about how occultism, esoteric beliefs and secret societies inspired many of the leading figures in the Nazi party. You also detail how several people in the upper echelons of the Golden Dawn and the OTO were involved in espionage — Karl Germer and Theodor Reuss for German Intelligence and Crowley for the British. And certainly we know that a number of occult societies throughout history, such as the Bavarian Illuminati, various Masonic sects, The Knights of Malta, The Templars, etc., have been involved in espionage and political revolution. What do you think draw occultists into the field of spying and revolutionary activities?
PL: Secret knowledge; the illusion of secret power; the man or woman who walks among us, ordinary and unremarkable or even of low and unattractive appearance, who is in reality a Magister Templi or a Colonel in the KGB. It’s the same attraction that Batman, Superman, Spiderman, etc. have for generations of pre-adolescents. Spies and magicians are a lot like Batman, except that spies really exist and really do exert some hidden influence over mundane events; and magicians thoroughly believe that they do, too, and have the benefit — sometimes — of a cult of like-minded people who prop up their belief system by means of what Robert Anton Wilson used to call “consensus reality”. On a deeper level, I think that many people — intelligent people — resent having to obey authority. Openly resisting authority is usually cause for arrest and torture, if not execution, in many countries. Secretly resisting authority, however, has its charms. One stays alive, and one resists. One has one’s cake and eats it. In the case of spiritual authority, an intelligent person cannot stomach that a black-robed eunuch with a wine-red nose would have some kind of direct connection with God unobtainable by ordinary folk. The intelligent person wants to talk to God directly, and not have to take direction from a tired old priest or minister or whatever. That person — through the act of contacting higher powers or forces on his or her own — becomes a kind of “anti-priest” and thus a cult is born. Conspiracies are a fact of life: they grow like mushrooms around office water coolers. They remain secret from the managers and supervisors; they attempt to cause change, indirectly and discretely. Add God or occult powers into the mix — or politics, espionage, coups d’etat — and you have an irresistible mix for a certain type of person. We all feel there is a mystery at the heart of reality: vide the popularity of crime and detection novels, spy novels, and occult novels. The spy and the occultist live at the periphery of this elemental, Ur-mystery. It has to do with Authority, the King, and Reality. The very word “reality” comes from the same root as “royal”: reality was whatever the King said it was. Real estate was the kingdom; outside the kingdom, there was no King and, hence, no reality. To challenge the King, one had to be from beyond the border of the kingdom: one had to be in communion with non-real forces; one had to represent the anti-King. Spies and occultists live among us, but have loyalties elsewhere. There is a certain attraction to that, and a certain danger. But it is also ultimately a lonely existence, and that is where the spy and the occultist sometimes fail: in their attempt to salve their loneliness by opening up to others they reveal their secret natures to their sworn enemy: reality or the King. I am thinking just now — perhaps in a stream of consciousness — about the Philby affair. A group of old queens (already on the outs with general society by their very natures) spying against society for the enemy, since Russia valued their contribution and ignored their homosexuality. What fun! But in the end it was this very relationship they had with each other — Philby, Burgess, Maclean, Blunt — that doomed them all. For an interesting sidelight, see the BBC production, “Blunt: the Fourth Man” in which Ian Richardson — who plays Anthony Blunt — is lecturing to a group of art students on nothing less than Poussin’s shepherds and “Et in Arcadia ego” …. He is interrupted by an urgent phone call from Burgess. An art student runs after him, asking “But … did Arcadia actually …” And Blunt — panicked and in a hurry — replies, “Not now!” A double entendre?
DR: Are politics and magic inseparably linked? Would you say that throughout history politicians and political movements have always used subliminal occult messages as archetypes to manipulate public consciousness for or against the prevailing power structure? Are political struggles basically magic wars, and power structures kept intact by magical means?
PL: In other words — to paraphrase Clausewitz — is magic a continuation of politics by other means? It depends on your definition of magic. Is it, as Crowley would have it, the “science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will”? Then, yes. But under those guidelines, so is selling used cars. We need a sharper definition of what we mean by magic. It depends on whether or not you subscribe to the conspiracy theory of the day, I guess. If real power is in the hands of a few, secret people behind the scenes who pull strings, then, obviously, politics as we know it does not exist. I mean, the will of the people, the voting booth, the ad campaigns and the mud-slinging, etc., in the end come to naught because the boys in the back room will decide who gets elected. But if political power is the ability to move and mold masses of people, then you have a chance at proving the thesis that political wars are magic wars. The key to this thesis would be, in my point of view, propaganda. Propaganda is the use and manipulation of symbols. Whoever does it best is the better magician, and will probably win the “war”. But the symbols of the political arena — especially in the United States — are not as sublime as we find in the occult symbol system. The political symbols are taken from the environment, from the times; the zeitgeist, if you will. No one actually goes around waving the tattvic symbols or the Tarot deck around during a political campaign; the manipulation goes in different channels. We have Dukakis in the tank, for instance. What should have been a winning symbol was turned on its head and possibly helped Dukakis lose an election. I think political wars are analogous to magic wars, but I don’t think they are necessarily one and the same. A magician does not need a crowd to effect his or her will. A magician operates — like our spies — secretly, and manipulates forces of nature (or supernature) rather than directly massage the psyches of people. We are also in danger of considering all subliminal messages as occult messages; there may be some justification in this, in that any subliminal message probably has its occult analogue, but when you compare a run-off election in Iowa with what Hitler was doing at Nuremberg, you are comparing apples and oranges, I think. Hitler was upfront about what he was doing; the symbolism was deliberately occult, pagan, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic. In fact, he was openly using ritual. Most of our popular politicians today would be unable and unwilling to do this, since virtually any public use of ritual for political ends would be considered crypto-fascist, I think. I am not trying to beg the question; I just think it is more complex than comparing politics to magic on that level. Arthur had Merlin for that; it was a separate department in his government, if you see what I mean. I believe that CIA — specifically the boys at MK-ULTRA — came close to becoming our very own, homegrown version of Merlin but I don’t think Harry Truman was a black magician himself.
DR: On P. 73 you suggest that the Friekorps assassination of Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau (in June 1922) on the eve of the summer solstice was a human sacrifice to the sun god Wotan. (Note: It was believed that Rathenau was one of the actual Elders of Zion.) Do you think that in a larger sense the elimination of 6 million Jews could be considered one giant pagan sacrifice?
PL: We can consider the Holocaust a kind of pagan sacrifice, but more importantly I think it was something far more sinister than that. You don’t sacrifice what you despise; you sacrifice something of value. Rathenau — although Jewish — was considered an exemplary human being even by his executioners, and thus a fitting sacrifice. After all, he was an important element of Germany’s war machine during the First War and had a lot to offer post-War Germany. His was a true sacrifice. But the Holocaust? The slaughter of the Jews — and Gypsies, and homosexuals, communists, etc — was designed to purify the planet of diseased blood and diseased spirit in the eyes of the Nazis. That is why it was kept going until the very end, regardless of the cost and regardless of the fact that the resources being used to keep the camps running could have been better utilized defending Berlin. It was not so much a sacrifice as a purification of the soil. The Nazis believed that the Jews and their fellow travelers were actual representatives of an evil force on earth and had to be destroyed, at any cost. If their race disappeared, the Nazis felt that they had done the planet — and its surviving human members — a favor and would be remembered forever for their contribution.
DR: On page 80 you said that one of Hitler’s astrologers, Erik van Hannussen, had taught Hitler “what body language and hand gestures to use in public speaking.” Is this perhaps why so many of his speeches were so effective — because there were subliminal occult messages embedded in Hitler’s carefully-crafted mannerisms?
PL: Less subliminal occult messages and more an artful carving of space around him. Body language has only comparatively recently become understood as a means of subliminal communication; I believe Hannussen was ahead of his time in understanding that posture, and gesture, communicate as effectively — and subliminally — as the actual words one uses. I also believe that in 1930’s Berlin this would be considered an occult art and not something from a psychology textbook.
DR: You mentioned in the book that Hitler himself did not perform any magickal rituals but had others do so on his behalf. But what about all of the rumors to the contrary? In the notes to your book you dismiss Trevor Ravenscroft’s “wild tales of Hitler attending séances with Dietrich Eckart.” But what makes you so sure? An acquaintance of mine, Fred Berger of Propaganda magazine, published an article several years ago claiming that Hitler had gone to see the opera Parzival in 1909 while on peyote, and had “fallen to a transcendental state in which he perceived that he was the reincarnation of the evil black magician Klingsor”, the bad guy in Wagner’s opera. Then, according to Berger’s article, he went to the Hobfurg museum to check out the Spear of Destiny. Berger quotes some unidentified text supposedly written by Hitler which states, “The air became so stifling that I could barely breathe. The noisy scene of the Treasure House seemed to melt away before my eyes. I stood alone and trembling before the hovering form of the Superman. In holy awe, I offered my soul as a vessel of his Will.” Any comment as to the veracity of this claim?
PL: I dispute this because there is simply no evidence for it. I feel that Hitler was more or less as I portrayed him in my book: not a joiner, not someone who could sit still for long waiting for the table to tip or a ghost to materialize. Hitler makes more sense as an unconscious medium, one being used by other magicians, than as a practicing occultist himself. The stories of his taking peyote, attending seances, etc., are all without documentary substantiation so far. One of the things I tried to make sure I did in my book was to document everything thoroughly, based as much as possible on primary sources (the Captured German Records section at the National Archives; the Rehse Collection at the Library of Congress; etc.) so that I would be immune from charges that I was “channeling” the information. In fact, using the primary sources, I came up with far more craziness than I could fit in Unholy Alliance. Avon cut my Appendices, for instance (yes, it was as painful as it sounds!) which would have contained more reference material. They wanted to cut the Bibliography and Index, as well, but I fought it.
DR: Why do you think Hitler and the Nazis spent so much effort persecuting pagans and occult orders? Was it part of placating the Catholic Church or were they just eliminating competition? Were they afraid of the magickal powers of these other occult orders?
PL: They were eliminating competition. Also, remember that the occult groups were a potential fifth column inside Germany. They had their own means of communication and contacts all over Europe. They had roots going back many years in many countries. They were indeed a threat. I believe that the US felt the same way, which would help explain the Jack Parsons situation.
DR: Why do you think the swastika specifically was chosen as the Nazi insignia? I know that their ideology was heavily influenced by Theosophy, and the swastika was one of Blavatsky’s favorite symbols. The Hindus of course, refer to it as the whirling disc with which God (Vishnu?) spun the universe into existence. But what exactly was its significance to the Nazis? It seems to give one the impression of aggression and power. Crowley, in his book Gematria describes the swastika as containing 17 squares, and in a later chapter says of the number 17, “Here is a magic disc for me to hurl, and to win heaven by violence.”
PL: I pretty much cover this in my book. It was a popular symbol in Germany before the Nazis appropriated it. In fact, it was used by troops during World War One as a kind of talisman. The Germans clearly felt it had racial connections, and was more representative of their people than the Christian cross. Remember, too, that the Nazis idolized Tibet and the cults of Northern India. The so-called “Aryan” race would have had its origins there, and India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet are replete with swastika motifs. I live in Asia, and the swastika is everywhere out here: on Buddhist, Taoist and Hindu temples alike. It represents — specifically — “auspiciousness” but is taken to symbolize a kind of polar energy in the universe, a spinning sun disk (yes) but also a deeper, more mysterious analogue since the sun does not spin in two directions but the swastika does.
DR: On page 95 you write about how Guido von List borrowed the Golden Dawn’s system of degrees, based on the Tree of Life, for use in his own völkish, anti-semitic pagan order the Armanenschaft, and that he might have gotten the information from a Golden Dawn initiate named D.R. Felkein, or from O.T.O. initiate Rudolf Steiner. You write “That List would have based his hierarchy on the patently Jewish Tree of Life and borrowed the concept from the Golden Dawn — by way of the O.T.O. — would seem merely ironic to a lay person but positively frightening to an occultist, for what it implies about the relationship between the anti-Semitic List organizations and the ostensibly apolitical Golden Dawn and O.T.O. lodges.” So what is that implication, exactly?
PL: The implication is that the Blavatskian notion of a racial hierarchy — root races, and all that — would have found a sinister manifestation in a proto-Nazi occult movement, and that the Golden Dawn and O.T.O. themselves might have been fellow travelers; that a spiritual hierarchy might imply a racial one; that a magical war might develop into genocide.
DR: I’ve heard a number of rumors stating that Crowley had a personal meeting with Winston Churchill once in which he suggested the use of the “V for Victory” sign as a subliminal occult symbol to combat the swastika. Can you confirm or deny this rumor? It seems plausible to me, especially after reading the part in your book about how Crowley suggested dropping occult pamphlets onto the German countryside with anti-Nazi propaganda embedded in them — an idea that was eventually implemented with no success.
PL: I cannot confirm that Crowley ever met Churchill. I rather think Crowley would have made a great deal of it in one of his books if he had.
DR: From my understanding the Nazi idea of the Overman entailed much more that just increased physical strength and intellectual prowess. It involved a creature whose ajna faculties — psychic powers associated with the Third Eye — had been fully developed. It entailed a creature more in touch with his higher self, a creature more advanced spiritually as well. What else do you think this entailed? What do you think men like Sebetondorf, Liebenfels, List and Eckart imagined when they talked about the Overman? Did they imagine the Aryan race evolving into something with an entirely different physical appearance?
PL: Yes, the Overman was not merely a “superman” as it is often erroneously translated. It was the next level of human evolution. As Hitler himself says, anyone who thinks that National Socialism is merely a political party had better think again: the goal is to create the New Man. I believe he meant that literally. Else: why the Holocaust? why the Lebensborn organization? why the documented racial purity of prospective SS members? etc. etc. Germany was a laboratory where Hitler would create his homonculus. To the Nazis, this meant a human being that was above compassion; above sentiment; passionate in his ideals and self-image, but conscience-less by comparison to the rest of us. A sociopath, probably. Intelligent, strong, perfectly proportioned. And a remorseless killer. Not exactly ET.
DR: You’ve mentioned that many of these Nazi occultists believed in the Theosophical concept of Ascended Masters and Secret Chiefs. I know that Blavatsky believed them to reside in the Himalayas, while the Thulists deposited them underground, in a subterranean vault accessible by a tunnel which opens up in the North Pole. But is it possible that some of these people believed that the Ascended Masters were extraterrestrials or transdimensional beings? We know that the Nazis were suspected of conducting experiments with flying saucers, time travel and multiple dimensions, so it made me wonder.
PL: I think that recent neo-Nazi authors are toying with this idea, most notably Miguel Serrano in Chile. Crowley and his followers certainly hold these views (see the works by Kenneth Grant, for instance). The Nazis themselves? Well, going through their Canon is a bit tedious but I am sure the resourceful researcher could uncover the odd reference to an extraterrestrial abode for their Secret Chiefs. At that time, space opera was not nearly the advanced art form it is today and flying saucers were not yet the vogue although the foo fighters had already made an appearance, as did the mysterious flying ships of the turn of the century. I think the Nazis still understood the Masters to be a kind of god-force, like Odin or Thor; Horbiger was coming close to an extraterrestrial theory as he developed his World Ice concept, but it had little to do with the Secret Chiefs. I guess what I am trying to say is that I have not found documentation to show that the Nazis had a developed theory about the nature of the Chiefs, and that I have found very little support for an extraterrestrial theory of any kind among the Nazis so far. I am aware of the idea that they were working on a saucer or some kind of space ship, but that does not imply that they held significant alien life theories beyond those of a purely speculative nature.
DR: Please explain the “World Ice Theory”, if you would. This makes no sense to me.
PL: Makes no sense to me, either. The idea is that the basic building blocks of the universe are ice crystals, and that temperature and humidity are the determining factors for the various stages of life, evolution, etc. The Nazis perceived themselves as “ice men” and their Eden was a frozen wasteland; they looked down on the tropical Edens of Biblical lore as being the abodes of subhumans, much as tropical countries are the domain of non-Aryans. The Theory is convoluted and self-referential, and gave rise to scientists running all over the world taking its temperature, so to speak.
DR: In your book you recount stories of Himmler having his inner circle of 12 S.S. officers try to telepathically influence a German Army Commander in Chief who was being interrogated in the next room to tell the truth. You also recount stories of psychics being hired by Himmler to pinpoint the locations of British battleships and to find Mussolini when he had been imprisoned on an island off of Naples after a coup — feats which they performed with amazing accuracy. Then you tell stories of Nazi mind control experiments involving psychedelic drugs, and torture techniques. You quote Rudolf Hess’s statement at the Nuremberg Trials about how he himself was a made a victim of such mind control techniques, and how he believed that the prosecution witnesses at the trial had been hypnotized because of their “glassy and dreamy eyes”. You seem to think that there may have been some truth to this. You seem to think that the Nazis had become rather adept at mind control, and that our own intelligence organizations have copied them. Do you have any more to add to this? What aspects of mind control do you think the CIA and others have copied from the Nazis?
PL: I don’t think that Hess was implying the Nazis had mind control, but that the Allies had it. The man who interviewed Hess for Dulles was Dr. Ewen Cameron, who went on to run the official CIA mind control operation in Montreal. The Nazis were experimenting with hallucinogens and narcotics during the war; their documentation on this was seized by American intelligence and has never seen the light of day. That much is known. The idea that CIA was running a vast mind control experiment in the 1940s-1970s which involved all sorts of people and organizations forms the central thesis of my next book (which has not been finished yet), so I don’t want to ruin the surprise. Suffice it to say that when the Nazis were being imported by the hundreds to the US and other American countries after the War, it wasn’t only an “outer” space program that was being contemplated.
DR: You wrote that Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels created the Order of New Templars as “a secret society bent on reviving the chivalric brotherhood of knights, but in an aggressively Teutonic — and anti-Semitic — format.” Since the original Templar order had so much to do with Judaism — Jerusalem, holy relics like the Ark of the Covenant, Jewish mysticism and of course that Jewish priest king known as Jesus Christ — how did he reconcile the concept of the Templars with his own anti-Semitic beliefs?
PL: We enlightened types realize that Christianity has its roots in Judaism. I mean, the Old Testament should be proof enough of that, right? But just try telling the wrong people that Christ was a Jew and see what happens. If occult scholarship on the Templars is correct, however, these knights were less Christian than would appear at first blush. The Templars — albeit an order of Catholic knighthood — went on an expedition to the Temple of Solomon, found something there that probably challenged their belief structure and caused them to deny the crucifixion and — in doing so — possibly the entire Judeao-Christian edifice they had sworn to uphold and defend. Remember that the Nazis were fond of the Cathars whom they considered — via Otto Rahn, at any rate — to be the “true” Christians rather than the persecuting Catholics. Remember that generations of scholars have posited some sort of Cathar/Templar connection. Remember that the Templars became enemies of the Church and were ruthlessly exterminated (as were the Cathars). When someone like Lanz von Liebenfels decides to resurrect the Templars, it is not as the pious Catholic monk/knights but as heroic enemies of Catholicism and, by extension, Judaism as well. The Grail was no longer a Christian symbol to Lanz, but something more ancient, more “pagan”. The bloodline of Jesus? Not to Lanz, unless that bloodline was purely Teutonic. One can no longer speak of Templarism without the implicit challenge to papal authority. To the Church in the fourteenth century, Templarism was synonymous with Satanism and idol-worship and all sorts of heresy. There has been no attempt by the modern Church to rehabilitate the reputation of the Templars. Von Liebenfels and other “new Templars” such as Crowley and Reuss bore no love for Catholicism. They used esoteric Judaica purely as a key to other mysteries, as a tool and not as an element of their “faith”. Crowley may have been a cabalist, for instance, but by no stretch of the imagination was he a worshipper of the Jewish god. No tallis, tefillim or yarmulka for that boy. Same for von Liebenfels. The Christ that Christians worship — according to the Nazis, both then and now — is a Jewish impersonator. That Christ was Jewish is a lie perpetrated by the Jews to maintain some degree of control over the Gentiles. So, the “new Templars” were able to identify with a Christian knightly order while simultaneously reviling Christianity, since the “revealed” Christianity was a hoax. They were at least half right; what we know of Christianity today is a hodge-podge of other myths, other religions, and some political agendas. Strip away Mithraism, Gnosticism and paganism from Christianity — especially Roman Catholicism — and what’s left? A messianic cult of Essenes with a narrow focus on regaining Jerusalem in its lifetime? The end of the nineteenth century saw a flurry of books and articles attacking the Church and demonstrating how it obtained all the non-Christian trappings over the centuries. Cults like the new Templar orders were created as repositories of the “true Faith”, the secret knowledge behind the Masons and the Jews and the Christians, the pre-Jehovah, pre-Garden of Eden consciousness of the Aryan people. As in the old saying, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”: the Knights Templar were obviously the enemy of the Church, thus it followed.
DR: One of the chapters in your book that interested me most was (of course) Chapter 7, entitled “Lucifer’s Quest for the Holy Grail.” In it, you describe how a mystical Grail scholar named Otto Rahn was enlisted into the SS and hired by Himmler to a write a book proving (A) that Lucifer was the God of the Aryan race (B) that Jehovah was Satan and (C) that Christ was a Teutonic sun god and Christianity the corrupted result of Jews trying to co-opt the German Messiah. All this lead to the conclusion that the Holy Grail was actually a Luciferian relic that the Jews had also tried to co-opt. Rahn was even given a deadline of October 31st, 1936 to finish his book, entitled Lucifer’s Servants. But a few years later, in February 1939, Rahn resigned from the SS for reasons unknown, and died a mysterious death one month later while hiking in the mountains. You intimate that he may have been assassinated because of something he may have discovered during his Grail researches, something he’d “confessed” to another Nazi occultist named Karl Wiligut, with whom he was good friends. Is it possible that he’d discovered evidence that the Grail was actually the Bloodline of Christ, the Judaic bloodline of David? This would of course have been thoroughly unacceptable to Himmler and devastating to his whole cosmology if such facts had gotten out.
PL: I don’t know why Otto Rahn was killed, although I am reasonably certain he was and that his death was not the accident it was made out to be. He may be only another one in a series of individuals involved with Montsegur and Rennes-le-Chateau who died violent deaths. Was he murdered by the Nazis, or were other elements at play here? He was Himmler’s pet for awhile, and a friend of Wiligut (who designed the Death’s Head Ring worn by the SS). Wiligut was a total psycho, so it is hard for me to imagine a less likely friendship since Rahn seems somewhat sane in his writings, if a bit overboard at times. There is no evidence to hand that Himmler ordered an investigation into Rahn’s death, so either it was ordered by Himmler himself or he was satisfied that it was an accident. Had he been cut down by a cult defending the Cathar/Templar secret, it is possible that more would have been made of his death and that there would be a paper trail to follow. (Possibly there was, but it has been lost with time and with the destruction of many Nazi documents during the final days of the War.) Yes, if Rahn had discovered the “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” secret then possibly Himmler would have ordered Rahn killed to keep the secret safe, or he would have had him killed for having the temerity to suggest it. But I think that Himmler would have been fascinated by this discovery and would have had Pierre Plantard and his relatives rounded up and brought to Wewelsburg for some heavy interrogation. The Rahn mystery is one that concerns me to this day, for none of the reports, stories, theories I have heard so far have seemed conclusive enough. Perhaps, as the French say, cherchez la femme?
DR: In the epilogue to your book, when you discuss the cooperation the Nazis received from the Catholic church, despite the openly pro-pagan, anti-Christian stance of Nazi doctrine, you say the following:
“Were the Nazis somehow blackmailing the Church with evidence of some monstrous crime that has never come to light (did the Nazis find the Templar treasure? were they in possession of the Grail?), or was the Church’s notorious lack of conviction during World War II somehow evidence that the Church itself had lost its own faith?”
If you’ll recall, the Prieure de Sion and members of the Grail families have been suspected of blackmailing the Vatican with their knowledge of the continuing bloodline of Christ, knowledge that would have disastrous implications for the Church, since their empire is based on the idea that Christ was celibate and died on the Cross with no heirs. Is it possible that Nazis were implementing a similar form of blackmail, if they had, as you suggest, found the “Templar treasure” or the “Holy Grail”, terms which could be interpreted to mean the bloodline of Christ?
PL: Yes, it’s possible; but why kill Rahn, then? Rahn would have been invaluable for the blackmail operation as he would have an intimate knowledge of the history, the documents, etc. The blackmail theory does have its merit, though. It would explain a great deal, especially the rat-lines after the War. But it’s something that would have been kept from Hitler, I think. Hitler would have blurted it out, and had Goebbels write up a particularly scathing oration on the subject for Nazi sweeps week. If this secret had been unearthed, Himmler would have held onto it and used it in his own way. But there the theory falls apart. Himmler had no friends at the end, no help from any quarter, and committed suicide after he was captured. If he had been in possession of this secret, he could have blackmailed his way straight into Bel Air if he so desired. Something doesn’t ring true, then. Rahn would have been the one to discover the secret, and he would have told it to either Himmler or Wiligut. Both turn up empty-handed at war’s end. Was the secret — whatever it was — an object that was subsequently lost (again) by either Rahn or Himmler? Recovered by the Church? Or hidden by some third party somewhere? There is a retired Army veteran who writes books on the subject, and who claims that a German submarine buried something in Antarctica after the War.
DR: On page 32 you wrote that S. L. MacGregor Mathers had “aristocratic pretensions and was desirous of restoring the House of Stuart.” I recently got a letter to the editor claiming this as well. The man, whose name is Kevin Coogan and is a successful writer in his own right, also said that Crowley and other members of the Golden Dawn supported the Stuarts, and referred me to p. 121 of Crowley’s Confessions, which I unfortunately do not have a copy of. Could you comment on this and tell me what evidence there is to support this? Also, please explain why they might have been supporting this long-exiled royal family.
PL: This could be a long story. How much time do you have? Seriously, I think the best source for background on this would be “The Temple and the Lodge” by Baigent and Leigh. They cover the links between the Stuart dynasty, the Jacobite movement and Freemasonry pretty thoroughly, including data on the Rosicrucian societies and the Royal Society connections. According to Baigent and Leigh, Scotland was an early destination for Templars fleeing the Church and there are Templar graveyards and chapels there and a history of Templar activism supporting the armies fighting the English. Remember that restoring the House of Stuart would have been a romantic concept to Mathers, Crowley, et al. And ties in with their opposition to Victorian English values. Mathers went so far as to have photographs taken of himself in full highland drag, and signed many of his writings MacGregor. Crowley made himself Laird of Boleskine on the banks of Loch Ness, and Boleskine is now the “Mecca” for Thelemites, the place they face when they pray. I could go on and on about Bonnie Prince Charlie, “Charlie over the water”, and the underground societies that supported him with their codes and safe houses, all those elements necessary to attract the devotee of secret cults and hidden meanings. I mean, look at the similarities between the Catholic Church versus the Templars and then the English Empire versus the Templars: the Templars as romantic champion of the underdog, fighting the minions of the Death Star. More to the point, the Stuart connection gives the Templars a dimension on the British Isles apart from its Gallic origins and fame. It makes them more universal, and moreover is credited with being the source of Freemasonry. To restore the Stuart dynasty would be to restore Templarism de facto. Mathers was passionately involved in Stuart-type intrigues and half-baked political movements; Crowley adopted it as a fashion and probably believed in restoring the throne to the Stuarts but I think he was not as politically involved as his mentor in this cause. Crowley came first to Crowley, and unless he could prove to himself that he was a Stuart I don’t think he would have thrown his not inconsiderable weight behind the movement for any period of time. (As I write these lines now, the muezzin outside my window calls the faithful to prayer. It is 6:08 a.m. local time, and the mosques use loudspeakers these days so the volume is at quite a hideous level. I am jet-lagged and have been awake for hours, answering these questions in a cocoon of Asian silence until this moment when I am reminded that the Templars’ fellow travelers have successfully “evangelized” this part of the world. To speak here of Islamic mysticism, though, would invite the wrath of the state religious police organs who can arrest people for heresy. So I look out my window at the darkness, hear the call to prayer, and incline my head over my laptop.)
DR: How is it that Freemasonry — the tenets of which proclaim “liberty, equality, fraternity”, encouraging men to regard one another with brotherly love, and the members of which have fought for freedom of thought and conscience for hundreds of years — could be so corrupted into the fascist Italian Propaganda Due Mason lodge, involved in a number of fascist coup attempts both in Italy and throughout South America? How is it that Albert Pike, author of Morals and Dogma, that essential Masonic tome — could at the same time have drafted the charter for the Order of the Ku Klux Klan? This is also odd since the Nazis, whom the Klansmen are emulating — considered Freemasonry to be the machinery with which the Jewish conspiracy operated.
PL: By way of illustration, a little story: Pope John Paul I was leader of the Catholic Church for about a month before he was assassinated. One of his missions was to fire all members of Masonic lodges — such as P2 — who were clergymen. He never got the chance. Membership in Masonic lodges was at that time (and until only recently) forbidden to Catholics; much more so to monsignors, bishops and cardinals. John Paul I felt that the widespread masonic cult within Vatican City itself constituted a real enemy. P2 was — and remains — pitted against the power of certain elements within the Church, as were the generations of Templars and Freemasons and Illuminati down the centuries. That is not to say that these groups would have been anti-fascist or supportive of liberation movements in South America. If you have spent any time in Italy, you would eventually realize that what constitutes a Masonic lodge there is not necessarily what you would recognize elsewhere. Specific lodges often have specific political agendas. Italy has a long history of secret societies and we probably shouldn’t judge Freemasonry on the basis of P2. But you get a like-minded group of males together for whatever purpose and soon you will find that water seeks its level and what began as a masonic lodge becomes a center for political favoritism, secret deals, a few points off a mortgage arrangement or a real estate sale, you get the picture. Remember that one must be asked to join a lodge: this precludes signing up people who are “not like us.” The corollary is that the brotherhood of that particular lodge takes on a certain complexion, a certain homogeneity. There is an authoritarian aspect to Freemasonry in that there is a hierarchical structure, a graded system of degrees, secrets that are not revealed all at once but only over time, etc. In other words, a system of control over people. Is that a bad thing, necessarily? Should we ask the question? Today, we have very specific attitudes towards what we perceive to be fascism, totalitarianism, etc. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, there was no such thing as an identifiable form of fascism. There was nationalism, and colonialism, and imperialism. And racism. And sexism. Much of this was institutionalized, of course. Did Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism arise as revolts against specific political and/or spiritual leaders? Probably. Would these movements have replaced existing power structures with ones of their own? Possibly. That is probably what happened in America in 1776. The problem for me personally with all of this is that the fashionable morality of one age becomes concretized — petrified — in the system. The high-sounding ideals of a Scottish Masonic lodge of the eighteenth century would not be inconsistent with the views of someone like Albert Pike, for instance. Once again, we have an underdog — this time a member of the failed Confederacy — creating a secret cult to oppose the totalitarian state of America. P2 had a specific anti-Communist agenda; it viewed the Church as soft on Communism. And what was the reverse of Communism to the post-WWII mentality? Nazism. We made the same mistake, hiring Reinhard Gehlen to run European operations for the CIA and Wehrner von Braun to head up our space program, etc. P2 was a continuation of politics by other means. I should point out that when Albert Pike created the Klan, all the votes were not in on the heinous nature of what the Klan supported. For many years the Klan was seen as a romantic symbol of the Old South and as a resistance movement to the greedy carpetbaggers and other scurrilous Yankees coming down from the North. For much the same reason as Nazis are emulated by certain elements of society today — the nicer uniforms, the aura of gentility and sophistication — the vanquished Southern gentlemen officers of the Confederacy were idolized. “Birth of a Nation” told us that, if Major Moseby and stories of the Grey Ghost did not. As for the Jewish elements of Freemasonry, as with the Germans and Templarism whatever was Jewish was conveniently ignored or explained away as elements that were appropriated by the Jews from older, more authentic, sources. The Nazis that I met during the course of the last 20 odd years have never agreed that the Jews were the repository of any special knowledge or ability, only that they had stolen the family jewels, so to speak — which was the core of the Jewish conspiracy — and that the jewels had to be reclaimed and the Jews destroyed once and for all.
DR: Do you think that there was organized participation by Freemasons in the allied resistance in order to stamp out enemies of the craft?
PL: I don’t think the resistance was organized. Probably more of a case of individual lodge members assisting each other to flee the Nazis, etc. The Masons had never organized along military lines as did the Thule and other groups. They were not armed, or hiding guns in their temples. I think if the Nazis had had any proof of that, it would have been highly publicized. But I am sure there were Masons involved with the Maquis in France and may have formed a kind of subset within the resistance group. But that is about as far as I am willing to speculate without documentation.
DR: What do you think about the idea put forth in Holy Blood, Holy Grail hypothesizing that the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, were originally a Masonic document, which was doctored by Sergei Nilus in order to foster anti-Semitism?
PL: It is possible that the Protocols are a corruption of another document; but once we go down that path how do we know what was original and what was Nilus? At one point, Nilus himself says that the Protocols were stolen by a woman from an influential leader of Freemasonry. (That was only one of his many stories of the background and origin of the Protocols; most are mutually exclusive.) It was originally entitled “Minutes of the Meeting of the World Union of Freemasons and Elders of Zion” according to Norman Cohn in his definitive “Warrant for Genocide” which is probably the best source for anyone interested in the history of the Protocols. I should also mention Cohn’s point that in “the eighteenth century the Freemasons were on the whole hostile to the Jews (and so, incidentally, were the Bavarian Illuminati).” (page 29) The irony is that the Nazis (and the Russian anti-Semites responsible for the Protocols) assumed a Jewish-Masonic conspiracy. Both groups were considered secretive, clannish, self-supporting and outside the mainstream of culture; ergo, they were united in a single conspiracy. Paranoia has its own internal logic, I guess.
DR: In the book, you hint about your own involvement with the occult. What can you tell me about that? Why are you mentioned in the “Special thanks” section of the Necronomicon? And what’s up with the Necronomicon, anyway? I always thought it was something that Lovecraft had made up, but the preface to the one edited by L. K. Barnes states that it was brought to him by some guy named Simon in a briefcase containing “additional material on the NECRONOMICON which provided his bona fides.” He also says that the briefcase contained “correspondence from various Balkan embassies.” This I at first took with a grain of salt but after seeing your name in the special thanks section I grew curious.
PL: My involvement was on the translation side. I’ve been around occult groups in New York since the late Sixties. I was a friend of Herman Slater of the old Warlock Shop in Brooklyn Heights before it moved to Manhattan and became Magickal Childe. I was around during the famous Witch Wars of the Seventies, when it seemed that everyone was casting spells on everyone else. I was there when Gardnerians and Welsh Trads and Alexandrians and Sicilian Trads sat down around a table in the back of Herman’s shop to settle the War and make peace once and for all. Herman had once interviewed neo-Nazis in New York in the 1960s and we had a lot of interests in common. I never joined any of the groups, that wasn’t my intention or inclination, but I was a familiar face around the campfire, so to speak. My fascination has always been on the degree to which religion and occultism influence mainstream politics; Unholy Alliance began as an academic study of this before it turned into a Nazi history. As for the Necronomicon, it was part of a stash of stolen books. The story is told, I think, in other places and I have been asked this before — also on the Internet — so to summarize: in the 1970s a couple of Eastern Orthodox monks pulled off the biggest rare book heist in the history of the United States. It was a continuing crime, the books being taken from libraries and private collections all over the country (and, it was said, Canada and Mexico). They were finally busted, and did federal time, but most of the books were never recovered. The Necronomicon was part of this swag as were a lot of occult books. It was in Greek, handwritten, but the problem was that much of the Greek was unintelligible. My modest contribution to this was recognizing that some of the Greek was an attempt to phoneticize Babylonian and Sumerian words. I am not one of the people arguing that this Necronomicon is THE Necronomicon, or that Lovecraft was even aware that it existed. I think Lovecraft heard the name through one of his friends in the Golden Dawn, and used it creatively. If the Simon Necronomicon is a hoax, I think it would have been better done and more closely followed the Cthulhu Mythos. I kind of like the fact that William Burroughs was into it, and wrote Simon and L. K. Barnes a letter praising it as an important spiritual breakthrough.
DR: In Unholy Alliance you talk about how the Nazi occultists believed there was an “Aryan spirit” and a “Jewish spirit”, which was passed along through the genes by way of racial memory. Is this not the same concept espoused in the NECRONOMICON when it talks about how we all have the blood of the Ancient Ones pumping through our veins, poisoning us. It says “a man, being born, is of sadness, for he is of the Blood of the Ancient Ones, but has the Spirit of the Elder Gods breathed into him.” Also, I believe Abdul Alhazred, if there was such a person, refers to the pentagram as “The Sign of the Aryan Race.”
PL: Yes, this is similar to what we find in the Necronomicon but is also what we find in ancient Sumerian religion (for instance). Man is formed from the blood of the slain gods, but has the spirit of the victorious gods blown into him, hence his naturally schizophrenic nature. (I am not sure about Woman.)
DR: In the final chapters to your book you explain how Nazi occultism is being spread throughout various youth countercultures like the skinheads. One of my readers, that same Kevin Coogan, recently sent me an article he’d written for Hit List magazine about a phenomenon popular throughout Europe known as “Black Metal”, hard-core heavy metal called “black” (“an adjective used by Europeans for right-wing”, he claims) because of the radical views espoused by the musicians. Many within this counterculture blend Naziism, anti-Semitism, fascism, Satanism, sado-masochism, and Odinist ancestor worship supposedly as a means of shocking themselves or others out of the mundane, linear mindset. He traces this cultural anomaly back to Genesis P-Orridge, one of the forefathers of industrial music (Throbbing Gristle/Psychic TV) and a Thelemic essayist with whom you’re probably familiar. Genesis used a lot of these elements in his work as well, calling it “Entertainment Through Pain.” Any comments on the usefulness of such practices? It reminds me of your description of Temple of Set founder Michael Aquino and his “Wewelsburg Working”, in which he tried to catch waves off of the magical current he believed to be present in Himmler’s famous S.S. Castle by performing a magic ritual there.
PL: Entertainment Through Pain? That would have been “Ishtar”, I think. Or “Showgirls”. But to answer your question seriously, I’m not sure it’s necessary to shock oneself out of a linear mindset, although that would be the fast approach. Satanic ritual does that, properly performed. But what happens to the psyche thus shocked? Who is in control at that point? In the case of Black Metal, the musicians are ostensibly in control but often their sole contribution has been the “shock” factor. Where does the psyche “go” at that point? What does it learn from the experience? Growing up in the Sixties, we understood acid to be a similar shock factor that disrupted linear time and linear thinking, but our trips were guided. The acid was used as a tool for other purposes and not an end in itself. I think it is more useful that way. The same for Black Metal. I think the music should be part of a larger format — a ritual, if you will — to enable the effects to be more lasting, more profound. But, where’s the fun in that?
DR: Do you think that members of the OTO are involved in espionage today? If so, how prevalent do you think that is? Do you think that by joining the OTO a person is entering into a den of spies and government agents?
PL: No, not really. I have known a lot of OTO people in my time — from various countries — and for the most part they would make poor spies. There were some lodges operating in the former Yugoslavia, though, that might have become involved in the murder and mayhem taking place there now. I don’t know, as I have lost touch with them. But I do believe that the OTO was formerly involved in espionage for the first maybe 50 years of its existence. I think, as it became “hippified” in the States, it lost some of its attraction for the intelligence agencies but that does not mean that it would not be involved somehow in such activities in other parts of the world, or that individual OTO members would not be involved in such activities even in the US. I feel that US intelligence investigated — and possibly infiltrated — the OTO in the 1960’s as they did with the Klan and the neo-Nazis, and that the full extent of the FBI and/or CIA “cult awareness” program has never been adequately revealed or the right questions asked.