One Folk or Ein Volk

  One Folk or Ein Volk

One Folk or Ein Volk   By Anneleise Glitz ©

The title of this article is of course a deliberate play on a phrase from Nazi propaganda, a reminder of a repulsive political system the remnants of which only exist in the most extreme political margins. Or does it?  When one begins to explore the values of a number of Heathen groups one can find an unsettling number of overt and covert racist notions, notions that seem to be something of an open secret among Heathens, and one which we accommodate at our peril.[1] That this phenomena is common place knowledge can be seen in the following quote taken from Arela Ædelwyrd Hunt-Anschűtz’s article How to Find a Heathen Group You Can Trust

Modern heathen groups are also divided by what has come to be seen as a "political" rather than a religious issue, usually summed up in one word: race . Organisations which describe themselves as folkish believe that people of Northern European genetic heritage are naturally suited to the ancient Germanic religion and that people of other "races" should seek inspiration within the religion of their own ancestors. Most folkish groups (either explicitly or tacitly) do not accept members who are clearly "Non-Germanic" -- in practice this can mean turning away perspective members based on the colour of their skin or the origin of their surname. Representatives of folkish groups will state that they are not racist; they believe that people of all races, cultures, and religions are equally worthy of respect. However, they also tend to believe that, like Yahweh, Oðin champions a "chosen people" and that his choice is genetically based. Folkish heathen groups often defend their stance on the "race issue" by comparing themselves with other indigenous tribal religions which shun "outsiders". [2]

Mattias Gardell in his disturbing book Gods of the Blood, defines these groups slightly differently but the views they express, are much the same. He splits them into three categories, which are listed below.

Radical Racists who claim Asatrú/Odinism is an expression of race soul and exclusively Aryan.  This group is usually unapologetic for their racism, even proud of it. Radical racists tend to be open about their agenda, although unlike their Nazi predecessors they tend to be interested in the notion of ‘white’ rather than that of ‘Aryan’.  Usually, it is claimed that these groups are Odinist, although not all use this nomenclature. [3]

Ethnic Asatrú who believe Northern European ethnicity is needed to understand Heathenism. Both the radical racist heathens and the ethnic Asatrú see spirituality as biological, with access to, and knowledge of the gods and goddesses somehow transmitted genetically and existing in the ‘folk soul’.[4]

Anti-racists, those people that argue if you are sincerely interested in Heathenism you are welcome to join them, and race is no bar to understanding. [5]

How did association between some Heathen groups and racism develop?

The genesis of racist Heathenism took place in the dying years of the eighteenth century, in the Sturm and Drang movement.  Sturm and Drang expressed a shared German identity of folk songs, customs, literature, and an idealized medieval history. Furthermore, the notion of a shared past was used to support the belief in a spiritual union between German speakers and the urge for German unification.[6]  Sturm and Drang in turn influenced the Romantic Movement, which rose to prevalence in nineteenth century Europe.  German Romanticism was strongly nationalist, emphasising German eminence in music, philosophy and philology. Like Sturm and Drang, Romanticism also concerned itself with folk culture, and it was at this time the Grimm brothers made a name for themselves. Jacob (1785-1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786-1859) collected legends, wrote an influential dictionary, and studied the development of the German language.[7]  The Grimm's undertook their research in a conscious response to their homeland, and insisted on the indigenous folk aspects of their stories (although this was an inaccurate claim).[8]

During the same century the notion of the Aryan developed.  The idea was founded in the work of Fredrich Schlegel.  Schlegel was not an extreme nationalist; he was an academic and diplomat who hypothesised the existence an unnamed civilisation of gifted individuals that he believed moved west from India as far as Scandinavia.[9] His brother, August Wilhelm, who named the civilisation ‘Aryan’, developed Fredrich’s work.[10]  This theory began to take on a more racist aspect in the work of Christian Lassen, who argued the Aryans represented a young race that was the most evolved of all racial groups.[11]  Other writers also took this approach, for example, Heinrich von Treitschke believed whites were the highest form of human evolution who would eventually rule the planet, and his work was particularly influential among the student population.[12] By the 1870’s the use of the word Aryan was widespread in the UK and France, but less well known in Germany.[13] Unfortunately, the notion of the Aryan was developed at a time of anti-Semitism, so that by the first half of the Twentieth Century the word was divested of its Indian connection.[14]  This attitude was not just found in the work of long forgotten academic writers, but also in that of minds that still have influence in this century.  For example, C.G. Jung had argued that there was a deep layer of the unconscious which he called the ‘collective unconscious’ this was the deposit of experience and knowledge reaching back in time, even to the pre-human state.  One might imagine that this shared experience might be seen as unifying humankind, but with the arrival of the Nazis Jung studied the Aryan and Semitic collective unconsciousness as separate phenomena.[15]

The use of the romantic tradition allied with the notion of the ‘Aryan’ in a racist context can be seen in the work of Guido (von) List.[16] From 1877 to 1887, he published numerous articles, drenched in Germanic references, about the Austrian countryside, in periodicals known for their nationalist sentiment. He believed the countryside was the home of mythological beings. List produced a novel called Carnuntum, in which he described the battle between the Romans and the German tribes at Carnuntum in AD 375. List argues that this battle eventually led to the sack of the Rome and the collapse of the Roman Empire, but he also saw it as a demonstration of Teutonic bravery.[17]  With sentiments such as these, and the widespread acceptance of some of his notions, it is no surprise List soon made his mark within the pan-German movements of the late 1890s.

In 1902, he had a cataract operation, and as a result of this he was blinded for eleven months. During this period he spent time contemplating the runes[18]. By 1908 List had enough support to enable the foundation of The List Society.   In return List wrote a series of six books on the Aryan Germanic world, although it was not researched in an academic manner, rather he claimed to be able to remember the distant past using psychic ability[19].  List believed that the early Teutons had a gnostic two-tier belief system. The first level he called Wotanism – this was exoteric using popular myths to engage the lower social orders.  The second level he called Armanism, this was aimed at those in high office known as the Armanschaft.  The Armanschaft governed religion and law whilst holding total power.  Groups such as the Rosicrucians, Freemasons and Templars had preserved the knowledge of the Armanschaft to the present[20]

List asserted the need to return to this type of society and claimed he and his followers would lead a Teutonic revival that would take all the Germans in central Europe to a new ‘glorious’ age. However, this age would be draconian in its realisation. Whilst Ario-Germans would be freed from wage labour, non-Aryan’s would be subject to Aryan masters. Furthermore, qualification for public life and education would be dependent on ‘race purity’ and strict marital laws would be observed, with each family keeping records to prove race purity.  The system was not only revoltingly racist, it also facilitated the subjugation of women, since only the male head of a family had majority.[21] He spent World War I working on occult race issues, and well known to vőlkish circles, but his life was drawing to a close; in 1919 he died, without ever seeing the rise of the Nazi’s who would honour him so highly.[22]

List was not alone in his idiosyncratic approach to Teutonic history; a younger man, Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels, also reinvented history to suit his own agenda.  Like List he was willing to adjust his biography to suit his end, and also saw himself as a mystic, he founded the Order of the New Templars (ONT), which despite a pro-Nazi stance was banned by the NSDAP in 1942.[23] He believed all the evil in the world actually had a subhuman nature. Along with this he added existent German racist ideas. He believed the stereotypical fair Aryan races as divine, in contrast to the various darker races of Negroes, Mongols, and what he called Mediterranialites (Slavs and Italians) as their evil chaotic opposite. As List had done before him, Lanz implied that he was rediscovering ancient religion.

In 1905 he formulated a full statement of his theology, in Theo-Zoology or the Lore of the Sodom-Apelings and the Electron of the Gods. He claimed that humans are spiritual beings derived from another higher species. He claimed the existence of a race of gods, which represented an earlier and superior form of terrestrial life. He believed these super humans/gods were telepathic and omniscient. Besides these gods/humans there existed an entirely distinct race of “beastmen” who represented a ‘lesser’ form of man. The darker ‘lesser’ beings are created separate from the Aryans who came from space. Present humanity is the result of the god/men breeding with other races, their closest decedents being the German aristocracy.[24]

However, it was possible to save the Aryan race, and to achieve these inferior races should be ‘humanly’ eliminated via castration, deported, enslaved, sacrificed, or used as beasts of burden.[25] Templar Knights fascinated Lanz, leading him to found the Ordo Novi Templi (ONT) to support his ideas, and he described it as an Aryan mutual aid association that aimed to raise race consciousness.[26] ONT members had to have ‘pure’ blood and, ideally, blond hair and blue eyes.  In 1912 the ONT was renamed the ‘Germanorden’ and by December it had 316 members. All men and women of flawless German descent could join the order, as long as they had no handicaps and were not unpleasant looking. The later group split in 1916.[27]

The Thule Society was founded in 1819 by Rudolf von Sebottendorf, a German occultist, as the Munich branch of the ariosophically inspired Germanenorden also known as "The Order of Teutons" (1912)[28]. A primary focus of Thule-Gesellschaft was a claim concerning the origins of the Aryan race in the mythic northern land of ‘Thule’.[29] The Thule Society believed miscegenation had led to the Aryans loosing mystic knowledge, but once the race was ‘purified’ any lost knowledge would be retrieved.[30] Eventually a worker’s version on the Thule society was formed by Karl Harrer, the Deutscher Arbeiterverein, this group was host to lectures by Hitler, although after a quarrel with Harrer he turn his back on the group.[31] Foolishly, Sebotten claimed he had provided the basis for what developed into the Nazi movement, but the Nazi’s, feeling slighted, had him interned.  After he was freed he left for Turkey where he worked as a spy, and there is evidence he threw himself into the Bosphorus in 1945.[32]

After WWI, one time Thule Society society member Rudolf John Gorsleben decided to create a movement based on the runes, occultism, and the Eddas. On 29th November 1925 he founded the Edda Society, which apart from studying the Eddas was also interested in the production of a racially pure humanity.  This would be associated with the spiritual advancement of the Aryans until they reached a state where their natural occult powers were reactivated, enabling them to rule both the human and natural world.[33] The evidence to support his theories were eccentric and eclectic, based as they were on the existence of Atlantis, the study of runes, astrology and mathematics. The hidden information of the Aryan peoples was also encoded in the shape of house beams, coats of arms, and Dűrer’s Melancholia.[34]  

After Gorsleben’s death, the society was run by Werner von Bűlow, who was also interested in the runes but who seems to have mixed them with other disciplines such as astrology, colour theories and numerology, and during his leadership the groups declared adherence to the National Socialist world view.[35]

In 1925 Lanz von Lebenfels wrote a document which defined his neologism, ‘Ariosophy’, a belief system which accepted a quasi-monist ‘pan-psychic’ energy identical to god.  This animated the universe but found perfect expression in the blond, blue eyed Aryan.[36]  In 1926 the Ariosophical Society was developed by Herbert Reichstein from the overtly racist Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft fűr Menschenkenntins und Menschenschicksal.[37]

Melencolia I, 1514 Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528)

Later, it underwent another name change to become the Neue Kalandsgesellschaft (NKG), the aim of which was to realise the will of the Armanen.  The intellectual leadership of the group still remained with Liebenfels.[38] Reichstein  was involved with another racist group of occultists; the Ariosophische Kultzentrale (AKZ) this group was also Ariosophical. In 1931 the Ariosophical School was opened, which ran various courses including runic occultism, cabbalism and yoga. [39]

Reichstein become interested in Nazism, even going so far as to hail Hitler as ‘an instrument of God’.[40]  However, the most highranking Nazi occultist was Karl Maria Wiligut, who influenced Heinrich Himmler. According to Wiligut the bible was orginally written in German, it concentrated on a Irmanist German god called Krist who was later bowderlised by Christians.[41]Despite claiming to have been taught runes by his grandfather, he was no Wotanist; rather, he argued that Wotanism had caused a schism in Irmanism, until eventually Wotanism emerged victorious.[42]  He also claimed to be in possession of race memory, and to be part of German royalty.[43]

This so impressed Himmler he allowed him to join the SS under the name Weisthor in 1933, becoming head of a pre-historical research department.[44]  As well as his ‘research’, his other services to the SS included designing the totenkopfring worn by SS members. He was also instrumental in the conception of the Wewelsburg castle as home for the order of the SS, while the castle commandant, Manfred von Knobelsdorff, encouraged Weisthor to revive Irminism.[45] In return for all his services Weisthor was promoted to SS Brigadefűhrer, and when he fell seriously ill the SS cared for him.[46] Despite their attentions, Weisthor barely survived WWII dying of a stroke in 1946.[47]

Unsurprisingly, after WWII Völkish activity slowed, only to return later in the US, albeit in a slightly different form. A leading exponent of this school of thought was George Lincoln Rockwell. A born showman, he managed to make his presence felt despite little support by widening the potential audience for racism by moving away from Nazism and instead towards a ‘White Power’ stance.[48] However, Rockwell also added a religious aspect to his beliefs by claiming to have received his calling from Adolf Hitler.[49] James Mason revived the National Socialist Liberation Front (NSLF) in the 1980s, and like Rockwell he had some bizarre notions, including wanting the infamous Charles Manson as a figurehead for his group. Unsurprisingly he got little support for this idea[50].

Like Rockwell and Mason, James H. Madole also united racism with spirituality; he saw the US as the new Atlantis and as the home to a new godlike race.[51] He mixed in esoteric circles, and associated with Nazi mystic Savitri Devi. Matt Koehl further developed the idea of spiritual racism by claiming that whilst Nazi politics was dead, Nazism could survive as a religion. To achieve this he formed New Order which he saw as a faith community and spiritual SS.[52] Like others before him he developed some outlandish ideas to legitimise his racist ideology. He claimed Hitler was a gift from heaven analogous to the Christian notions of Christ. He also compared Hitler’s death to the crucifixion, although Koehl did not believe Hitler rose physically from the dead.

The urge to unite Christianity with racism has also produced some very strange theologies, roughly covered by the term Christian Identity. Although these groups are Anti-Semitic they take on old testament names and rituals, the reasoning behind this dichotomy being that only whites are the descendants of Adam, And that non-white races reflect a time before Adam. (Hardcore Christian Identity groups do not believe dark skinned peoples are humans, but, rather, are two legged animals, whereas the Jewish race appeared post-Adam[53]).

Because only white people are descended from Adam, the gospels are only for whites, and furthermore, whites are morally superior to all other groups. A hardcore group known as the Phineas Priesthood are empowered to punish those who transgress divine law, including the use of violence, although not all groups accept this.[54] According to Christian Identity member Gary Yarbrough, God created white men, therefore they contain a divine spark which sets them apart form all other humans.  As a result of this white blood must not be ‘contaminated’ by other races, and any children produced by a mixed race relationship will totally lack the divine spark carried by their white ancestors.[55]

A powerful player in this perverted type of Christianity was "Reverend" Richard Butler who led Aryan Nations and the Church of Jesus Christ Christian. During the past few years, however, Butler's tenure was fraught with upheaval and uncertainty. In the fall of 2000, with membership already on the decline, both he and Aryan Nations were bankrupted by a lawsuit (stemming from an assault by the group's guards). Butler was forced to relinquish the Aryan Nations compound, and the group's future appeared tenuous. Shortly thereafter, in September 2001, Aryan Nations announced that Butler had selected Harold Ray Redfeairn as his successor and that it would open an "office" in the Ulysses, Pennsylvania, home of August Kreis, its Director of Information. After several months of infighting and recriminations, though, both Kreis and Redfeairn broke off from Butler (and each other) and established separate factions.

Although well into his 80s, Butler claimed to be re-organizing, and in 2003 he even ran for mayor of Hayden, Idaho. At the time of his death in September 2004, Butler remained a revered figure in the extremist world, and was a featured speaker at white supremacist gatherings around the country. Richard Butler was one of the U.S.A’s most prominent and longstanding proponents of white nationalism and religious racism. His ideology joined the fundamentals of Christian Identity with Para militaristic, Nazi-like views and a high regard for Adolf Hitler. He has reportedly asserted that while Jesus Christ was the greatest man who ever lived, Hitler was a close second. He had associates across the spectrum of right-wing extremist groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, the neo-Nazi National Alliance and anti-government militias.[56]

Somewhat ironically in contrast to Christian Identity racists, some Satanist organisations also follow this political path.  Led by Anton Long and Christos Beest the Order of the Nine Angles (ONA) first came to prominence in the 1980s although it claims a past dating back 7,000 years.[57] ONA has nothing but contempt for groups such as The Church of Satan and Temple of Set, and is a much more extreme organisation encouraging terrorism and human sacrifice.[58] The sacrifice can be either conducted physically or using magick, those picked out as suitable sacrifices include journalists, political activists, those who inconvenience the group, Satanists of opposing groups, and those who weaken the racial stock[59] ONA’s doctrine is that Satanists must aid the return of Fascism to facilitate an Aryan Imperium in which Aryans will colonise the galaxy.[60] To hasten the demise of Western culture Satanists should engage in extremist politics, drugs, pornography, and the culling of the ‘worthless’.[61]

A very different approach to the desire to add a spiritual element to racist ideologies can be found in the work of Ben Klassen, who founded the Church of The Creator. Klassen was opposed to Christianity, even the deeply racist Identity variety, but Odinism also earned his contempt since he saw it as a hangover from the past.  In contrast he posited a tradition devoid of any supernatural aspect, in which all morality was based on race loyalty and ‘natural’ law.[62] A wealthy man, Klassen established a World Creativity Centre in North Carolina where he published a tabloid, books, and ran training groups for leaders and paramilitaries. In 1993, feeling that his role was fulfilled, Klassen took his own advice as recommended in The White Man’s Bible and accordingly killed himself.[63]  Before his death Klassen sold his property to William Pierce, an unusually well educated racist as well as leader of both the National Alliance and the Cosmotheist Community Church, and self-proclaimed American füher.

Cosmotheists believe in the oneness of all material and spiritual elements of the universe. Pierce argued man is moving towards godhead, but to reach this state he has to undergo evolution, and Pierce further claims white humans have ascended higher up the evolutionary scale than other races.[64] However, not all white people are equal, so he envisions that the ideal society should span many continents, be eugenically based, and led by strong, intelligent white males who fully understand Cosmotheism.[65]

Although the aforementioned groups mix racism and spirituality, they are not based in the Heathen tradition. However, there are groups that mix Heathenism with other theologies.  For example the Church of Satan and Temple of Set both have Odinist aspects, although The Church of Satan is not a racially motivated belief system. In contrast, Michael Aquino, who also founded The Order of the Trapezoid following a solitary working in Wewelsburg, founded the Temple of Set. Aquino believes that this act enabled him to retrieve ‘positive’ aspect of völkish thought. This attraction to SS mysticism must lead one to wonder at the political sympathies of the group.[66]

In 1994 the White Order of Thule (WOT) was founded. Originally this American branch of the Black Order of Thule was led by Peter Georgacarakos and Joseph Kerrick, although later Nathan Pett took over. WOT mixed pan- European paganism, racist Gnosticism, Ariosphic Satanism and Third Way Politics.[67] Founding member John Kerrick has suggested that Aryans are the descendents of an alien civilisation of white gods; therefore they must once again aspire to reach a god state.[68] WOT aims to rescue the white racial soul from its present void, the order claims that the change of name form black to white order symbolises the Aryan soul’s ability to cross this abyss, and the need to break free from bi-polar concepts.  Thus they argue in a contradictory fashion, that whilst all previous gods are obsolete Loki is the shadow self of Odin and catalyst for the cleansing experience of Ragnanok.[69] Citing betrayal by a WOT member, the group announced in the Summer 2000 issue of  Crossing the Abyss that it was disbanding and would cease publication of the newsletter.

At the time, WOT members were encouraged to write for another newsletter, Fenris Wolf, published independently by WOT members in the Northwest. Fenris Wolf has since ceased publication.[70] In 2001, Nathan Pett was beaten after an apparent road rage incident and suffered severe head injuries. It has been reported that he has left the neo-Nazi movement. To that end, White Order of Thule is considered to be a defunct organization within the neo-Nazi community, although former members have been active on the Internet to some extent. In total, the group is inactive, although there is a great deal of admiration for the group amongst current neo-Nazis, leaving the door open for a possible resumption of the group’s activities in the future.[71]

Unfortunately, as I have already noted, racist Heathen does exist in both the overt and ethnic forms. One of the earliest Odinist groups in the U.S.A. was founded by Else Christensen (sometimes called the volk mother) in 1969 as the Odinist Fellowship. Christensen’s brand of Odinism was political and race orientated, as socially and economically she aimed to develop a communal socialist tribal society with anarchist leanings that would replace the present power structure, which is subject to imminent collapse.[72] Such a society would be environmentally friendly and small scale, devoid of both cities and industry. Despite the image of a peaceable decentralised völkish community which facilitated self-expression based on voluntary cooperation, Christensen argued people would only cooperate with those of their own racial groups.[73] 

Furthermore, since the interests of the race came before that of individuals, interracial marriage would be banned.[74] Spiritually she argued that Norse paganism was the racial soul of Aryans, and that the Gods are race specific. In 1971 she published Odinist newspaper, and as the years passed the paper moved away from veiled racism to becoming much more overt.[75]

In the early 1980s Christensen started a prison out reach project, while in 1993 she experienced life from the other side of the bars when she was sentenced for five years and three months for drug trafficking offences followed by deportation to Canada.[76] From the time of her deportation until her death she seems to have become more cautious in her political comments whilst retaining the role of figure head.[77]

Shockingly, the Odinist Fellowship advertises in Pagan Dawn, the journal of The Pagan Federation.[78]  .  The advertisement itself is unremarkable, an image of Thor’s hammer and a headline asking if the reader is interested in Anglo-Saxon-Norse paganism.  However, if one visits the site, one finds this group seems rather exclusive.  Indeed, we learn if someone who is not European requests to take the Odinist pledge of faith they will not be made overly welcome; rather they should ‘…embrace his (sic) indigenous form of heathenism’.[79]  The Odinist Fellowship is not alone in this stance, Odinist Rite, that also advertises in Pagan Dawn, claims ‘The Natural Religion of Northern Europeans is Odinist’.[80] 

The much more overtly racist Odinist Robert J Mathews founded the Brüders Schweigen (Silent Brotherhood) also known as ‘The Order’ in the 1980s. Members of this guerrilla group took oaths to ‘deliver’ their people from the Jews and protect the Aryan race.[81]  Aside from being vehement racists they were also a criminal gang engaging in armoured car robberies, counterfeiting, bombing a synagogue and killing Walter West and Alan Berg. This resulted in the group being targeted by the FBI and the death of Matthews resisting arrest.[82]  Whilst this made Matthews into a martyr for some, it also focused the attention of the FBI in Project Megiddo.

Odinists (sic) dangerous is the fact that many believe in the necessity of becoming martyrs for their cause. For example, Bob Mathews, the leader of The Order, died in a fiery confrontation with law enforcement. Also, William King relished the fact that he would receive the death penalty for his act of dragging James Byrd, Jr. to his death. Odinism has little to do with Christian Identity but there is one key similarity: Odinism provides dualism -- as does Christian Identity -- with regard to the universe being made up of worlds of light (white people) and worlds of dark (non-white people). The most fundamental difference between the two ideologies is that Odinists do not believe in Jesus Christ. However, there are enough similarities between the myths and legends of Odinism and the beliefs of Christian Identity to make a smooth transition from Christian Identity to Odinism for those racist individuals whose penchant for violence is not being satisfied.[83]

A decade after The Order was founded, David and Katja Lane and Ron McVan founded Wotansvolk.  David Lane is not a ‘pure’ Odinist for he incorporates other traditions in his belief system, including Ariosophy, Theosophy, Gnosticism, and numerical analysis of The Bible.  David Lane believes a hero will emerge who will combine aspects of Thor, Mars and King David, this hero was born on 2nd November 1938, which happened to coincide very nicely with Lane’s date of birth.[84]  Katja Lane converted to Odinism in the late 1980s, marrying Lane in 1994. Although she has hyped her role as that of a mother, she was instrumental in setting up Wotansvolk Web page.[85]  In 1997 McVan published Creed of Iron: Wotanvolk Wisdom, followed in 2000 by Temple of Wotan: Holy Book of the Aryan Tribes.  It is worth noting that Lane’s main interest was the warrior aspect of Odinism, with McVan taking on the ceremonial and magic aspects.[86] 

Wotansvolk aim to connect Aryans to their past, arguing that Wotanism is the natural religion for Aryans. Furthermore, they believe Wotanism will make Aryans aware of their ‘true’ nature comprised of determination and heroic qualities.  Equally, Aryan humans and their gods are not radically different; it is only the difference in power that separates them.  Wotansvolk hold blots, as do many Heathens, but theirs are remarkably in that they are distinctly racist in tone, focusing on the supposed connection between the gods and Aryans, and asking for intervention against their non-Aryan enemies.[87]

All of this would be revolting enough, but certain groups have developed these ideas still further, leading to the ideoilogisation of dangerous criminals such as Richard Scutari.  Scutari was originally a member of The Order but converted to Wotansvolk after reading Voices of Our Ancestors, a booklet written by Heinrich Himmler under the pen name Wulf Sörensen. As a member of the order he engaged in a number of their criminal activities. In April 1985 Scutari was named in a federal racketeering indictment stemming from the Brink's heist. He appeared for several months on the F.B.I.'s Ten Most Wanted list, eluding authorities until March 1986.

Scutari pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering and conspiracy relating to the armoured truck robbery. He received a 60-year sentence. In April 1987, he was indicted along with 13 others on charges of seditious conspiracy. Scutari and other members of The Order were accused of robbing the Brink's truck to fund a planned overthrow of the government. Other counts included assassination of ethnic groups, destruction of utilities, establishment of guerrilla training camps and assassination of federal officials.  Despite his criminal activities, white supremacist leaders have saluted Scutari.

In his Aryan Update, published August 13, 2000, Tom Metzger of White Aryan Resistance referred to Scutari and Lane as "heroes in the racist struggle" who "invok[e] the gods of Odinism to rouse revolutionary action and vengeance around the world." Metzger claimed the two men were "more influential than ever because of their embrace of and energetic dissemination of a racist pre-Christian Odinism....[88]Similarly Max Hyatt describes himself as a godar and is a member of Wodan’s Kindred, but his racism is more insidious in that he claims only white’s can be Asatrú, but for the movement to reach its optimum potential he believes this needs to be played down.  This need to disguise his view is hardly surprising for he asserts that he has ‘no problem with Nazism’.[89]  Furthermore he has claimed his prison outreach projects supplies Odin’s army, should the need arise he believes this army would be willing and able to kill its adversaries[90]

A more subtle, but still exclusionist approach can be seen in Ethnic Asatrú. Stephen McNallen founded the Viking Brother, later the Asatrú Free Assembly (AFA) in1969-70.  During the 1980s McNallen coined the neologism ‘metagenetics’ metagenetics argued that ones spirituality was hereditary, carried in the DNA itself. As a result of this connection between race and religion if the Northern Europeans died out so would Asatrú.[91]  Although the AFA folded in 1987 it was re-established in the mid 1990s as the Asatrú Folk Assembly, emphasising its separateness from universal or non-racist Asatrú. In 1997 McNallen was one of the signatories to the document that founded the International Asatrú/Odinist Alliance (IAOA) a ‘free association of sovereign tribes of Odin’s Nation’.[92]  Despite his exclusionist notions McNallen claims he is not racist, he argues that it is only from the basis of understand ones racial background you can respect that of others[93]

Valgard Murray shares McNallen’s connection with the defunct Asatrú Free Assembly.  Murray was one of the founders of the Arizona Kindred in 1970s; in 1976 it was the first to be certificated by the Odinist Fellowship (eventually Murray was accepted as vice president of the OF).[94]  However Murray left the Fellowship due to theological disputes and joined with the Asatrú Free Assembly, and when this dissolved Murray help found the Asatrú Alliance, an association of kindreds which helped promote völkish Asatrú.  Murray tried to encourage overseas membership of the AA with the aid of Karen and Robert Taylor who encouraged the Odinic Rite (UK) to sign a document leading to the formation of the International Asatrú/Odinist Alliance (IAOA).[95]  

Another Heathen who had had association with the AA is Robert N. Taylor.  He is a poet, artist, musician and writer, as well as claming to be a godi.[96] He has also been quite content in the past to use violence to achieve his aims, having been a member of street gangs and the Minutemen. In 1976 Robert and Karen Taylor established the Northway, this spilt into Wiccan and Asatrú factions.  With the Asatrú group developing into the Wulfing Kindred, this group eventually joined the Asatrú Alliance only to leave in 1999 (although no longer a member of the AA the Wulfing Kindred do cooperate with its projects). Unlike other groups the Wulfing only take ‘talented’ persons such as Michael Moynihan of the group Blood Axis and other writers, artists and musicians.[97]

Whereas Taylor favours artists in his clique, Edred Thorsson (Stephen Flowers, one of the founders of the Ring of Troth in 1987) can be seen as one of the most scholarly Heathens. He is a highly educated man and gifted linguist, and one might see him as potentially the ideal ambassador for Heathenism. But Thorsson is also a controversial figure due in part to his membership of the Satanic Temple of Set, and his use of sadomasochistic sex magic.[98]

Furthermore, he has accepted the notion of metagenetics and developed it into a more complex form which also takes into account language and culture, thus he argues that it is possible for someone who does not have a European background to be an Asatrúer.[99]  Nevertheless, he still maintains the argument that race is such a vital factor in Asatrú he would look into a case very deeply before accepting a person of a non-Germanic background into his group.[100] Less educated than Thorson, but still very vocal, is the author, musician and artist Freya Aswynn. She is also ethnic Asatrú as can be seen in this posting to the internet group , published on 10th March 2004. In which she discussed the ability of different races to practise Seith. 

For example someone who is half Nordic half African could be taught Seith or any Norse trance technique, however for example, someone half Chinese and half Slavic or Iberian Celt would have more difficulty.  They may very well be an excellent trance medium, however what would come through wouldn't necessarily be Norse!  For people to be able to 'connect' so to speak, there has to be 'signature'. Now, I have had both Black and White woman in the High Seat in New York, and it's very very likely that the black female had some white ancestry, so it's NOT a matter of racial purity per se.

Moreoever (sic) blacks have their own excellent system of trance and they have in fact be very helpful in sharing their know how about possession, another hot potato open to the same abuse as Seith.[101]

Even more telling is the following statement when describing who can work with the runes.

 “Anyone with a genuine psychic gift can learn to divine up to a certain point, but to penetrate the deeper levels of rune knowledge, one has to be born into the Northern 'group-soul.' The ability to work with the runes is passed on through the psychic equivalent of genetic memory, the group-soul called in our tradition, hamingja.”[102] Aswynn’s arguments are even more bizarre in that she admits to adding astrology and Hermetic lore to the Nordic tradition, which makes one question why she lays such importance on descent from Northern Europeans.[103] Fortunately, and as one might hope, not all heathen groups share this philosophy. The Kith of Yggdrasil have a policy which clearly states that discrimination in respect of race is ‘..entirely alien to the moral and theological precepts of the Kith of Yggdrasil’.[104]  Other non-racist groups include Raven Kindred, founded in 1991 by Janna Pereira, Lewis Stead and Bill Dwinells, which claims..…the Gods call those who they will to join our Folk [irrespective of] race, ethnicity, national origin, sex or sexual preference.[105] Other individuals have also stood valiantly against racism; Prudence Priest claimed she was told to leave the Asatrú Folk Assembly by McNallen when she questioned its racial policies.[106] She was also forced out of office of steerswoman from the Ring of Troth in 1992, due to disagreements with Thorsson and Gundarsson, but went on to found the American Vinland Association, which is non-discriminatory.[107]

Åsatrufellesskapet Bifrost, (The Asatrú Fellowship Bifrost), is a religious fellowship for modern Asatrú founded on Norse custom, the pre-Christian religious traditions. Since 1996 we have been an officially recognised religion by Norwegian authorities. Bifrost is an umbrella-organisation to blotslag (blotgroups, congregations) and single members. Bifrost keeps aloof from all kinds of discrimination based on gender, origin and sexual orientation, and the group claims:

We want to take back and use the Old Norse symbols and other expressions of Norse custom, so that these shall no longer be associated to the abuse by Nazis and neo-nazis. Our goal is to gather those who want to worship the Old Norse gods and keep the old traditions alive. We want to create a living forum for everybody interested in Asatrú and to increase the understanding of art, culture and traditions with roots in the pre-Christian time. We want to take care of the heathen cultural heritage and keep it alive and updated through practice based in the study of sources and innovation in the heathen understanding of history, myths and the forces. [108]

How then does one refute the notion of race as being a bar to the practise of heathenism? Firstly, one must look to the behaviour of the gods themselves as recorded in Sturleson’s Younger Eddas.  Early on in their history it is clear the gods were not a homogenous group, rather they are split into the Aesir and Vanir, later exchanging hostages. Thus we see the Vanir god, Njord, becoming a valued member of a different race of gods, the Aesir, but the Vanir gave him [Njord] as hostage to the Æsir, receiving from them in his stead Hoenir. By this means was peace re-established between the Æsir and Vanir. [109]

Furthermore, the gods engage in marriage and relationships with other races. For example, Njord married the giantess Skadi, and Frey married the giantess Gerda. [110]  It can therefore be strongly argued that the gods themselves do not engage in racism, which must lead one to question how it gained a foothold in our faith.

Equally, it seems unlikely racism was a major part in the culture from which our belief system has developed. Archaeology supports this suggestion of exogamic practices:

The Ridinas Viking settlement area was fringed by at least three cemeteries. It cannot be excluded that there are more cemeteries awaiting discovery, since the graves, which have been discovered, are well below the surface and not visible on the surface. Many graves remained untouched by ploughing, since they were up to a meter below the surface. The oldest cemetery is situated at the northern end of the area and was almost entirely covered by later layers of settlement at the harbour.We have both inhumations and cremations here, and the cemetery covers the period from the 7th century onwards, remaining in use into the 10th century.

In all, some 30 graves have been excavated. Most of the persons buried are women. Most of the graves were well furnished, especially those of the women. They have the typically Gotlandic type of jewellery. The grave goods suggest that most of the persons buried here were natives of Gotland, but new investigation of the DNA of the male population gives a clear indication of the extensive contacts eastwards. About 40 % of the male population seems to have an origin in Eastern Europe, meaning the Baltic States and nowadays Russia.

One man is in this connection of special interest. He was buried with a broken picture stone. The stone was arranged in the grave in such a way that its upper part was placed behind the dead man’s head and the lower part at his feet. The stone is a typical 9th century product with a ship under sail in its lower part and a man on a horse greeted in Valhalla by a woman carrying a drinking horn in its top part. It is unclear why a person who was obviously a foreigner was buried with such a typically Gotlandic picture stone.[111]

The scholar Kveldúlrf Gundarsson has also pointed out that whilst the Norse valued blood ties they also accepted the practises of adoption and blood brotherhood.[112]  Therefore, in light of the theological and historical evidence, this deliberate exclusion of people from our community is unfounded and unwholesome. It not only rejects people on spurious race grounds, but it must surely deter others from wishing to be associated with heathenism.   Whilst these attitudes are allowed to go unchecked, Heathens do not need to worry about some fictional non-European fifth column sabotaging our faith. We are doing so for ourselves.


Aswynn, Freya.        Northern Mysteries and Magick. Runes, Gods and Feminine Powers. Minnesota: Llewllyn, 2002.

Ellis, John M.  One Fairy Story Too Many.  The Brothers Grimm and Their Tales. London: University of Chicago Press, 1983.

Gardell, Mattias.       Gods of the Blood. London: Duke University Press, 2003.

Goodrick-Clarke. Nicholas.    The Occult Roots of Nazism – Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence of Nazi Ideology. London: I. B. Tauris, 1992.

Poliakov, Leon.         The Aryan Myth – A History and Nationalist Ideas in Europe. London: Chatto. Heinemann, 1974.

The Elder Eddas of Saemund Sigfusson. Translated from the Original Old Norse Text into English by I.A. Blackwell. The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Elder Eddas of Saemund Sigfusson; and the Younger Eddas of Snorre Sturleson, by Saemund Sigfusson and Snorre Sturleson.

Pagan Dawn, Samhain 2006, No. 161. at=Extremism_in_America&xpicked=2&item=butler


[1] For the purpose of this article racism is defined as asserting that members of a race share distinct physical and mental features which make them superior in someway to other racial groups.  Thus a European it would be argued is ‘better’ at forming an understanding of heathenism than a non-European all other factors being equal.  Of course racism is not solely a Heathen issue it can be found in the Celtic tradition, and in Christian groups such as Christian Identity.

[2] Æðelwyrd Hunt-Anschütz, A. How to Find a Heathen Group You Can Trust accessed 4th December 2006.

[3] Gardell, M. Gods of the Blood. Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2003.  p.28, 47, 152, 165.

[4] Ibid. p.17.

[5]Ibid. p. 153.

[6] Goodrick-Clarke. N. The Occult Roots of Nazism – Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology. London: I.B. Tauris, 1992. p.3.

[7] Ellis, J.M. One Fairy Story Too Many.  The Brothers Grimm and Their Tales. London: University of Chicago Press, 1983. p.4-5.

[8] Op cit. p.6, 107.

[9] Poliakov, L. The Aryan Myth – A History of Racist and Nationalist Ideas in Europe. London: Chatto Heinemann. 1974. p. 191-2.

[10] Ibid p.193.

[11] Ibid. p.197.

[12] Ibid. p.301.

[13] Ibid. p.256.

[14] Ibid p.193-4.

[15] Ibid. p. 288-289.

[16] List added the aristocratic ‘von’ to his name, an honour to which he had no legitimate claim. Goodrick-Clarke, N. op cit.p.41.

[17] Ibid.p.36-7.

[18]Ibid. p.41.

[19] Ibid. p. 43-44, 67.

[20] Ibid. p. 57, 58, 63.

[21] Ibid. p.63-64.

[22]Ibid. p. 44, 47, 48.

[23]Ibid. p. 22

[24] Ibid. p.97.

[25] Ibid. p.97.

[26] Ibid.  p.108.

[27]Ibid. p. 128-9.

[28] Ibid. p.145.

[29] Ibid. p.145.

[30] Ibid. p.142.

[31] Ibid. p.148.

[32] Ibid. p.152.

[33]Ibid. p.155

[34] Ibid. p.159.

[35] Ibid. p.159.

[36] Ibid. p.164.

[37] Ibid. p.167.

[38] Ibid. p.171.

[39] Ibid. p.173.

[40] Quoted in ibid. p. 174.

[41]Ibid. p. 180.

[42]Ibid. p.181.

[43] Ibid. p.179.

[44] Ibid. p.183.

[45] Ibid. p. 177.

[46] Ibid.p.190.

[47] Ibid. p.191.

[48]Gardell, M. op cit. p. 47.

[49] Ibid. p.84

[50]Ibid. p. 84.

[51] Ibid. p.84.

[52]Ibid. p. 84

[53] Hardcore members believe the Jewish race is the product of a relationship between Eve and Satan.

[54] Ibid. p.119

[55] Quoted in Ibid. p. 119-200.

[57]Goodrick-Clarke, N. op cit. p. 293.

[58]Ibid. p. 293.

[59]Ibid. p. 294.

[60]Ibid. p. 294.

[ 61] Ibid. p.293-294.

[62]Ibid. p. 131.

[63] Ibid. p.132.

[64]Ibid. p. 135.

[65]Ibid. p. 136.

[66]Ibid. p. 292.

[67] Ibid. p. 313.

[68] Ibid. p.314.

[69]Ibid. p.314-315.

[70]Ibid. p. 315.

[72] Goodrick-Clarke, N. op cit. p.152, 172-173

[73] Ibid. p.173

[74]Ibid. p.174

[75]Ibid .p.152

[76] Ibid. p.175-176.

[77] Ibid. p.177.

[78]Pagan Dawn Samhain 2006. no.161. p.51.

[79] accessed 29 December 2006.

[80] Pagan Dawn. op .cit. Under ‘charites’ in the classified section.

[81] Goodrick-Clark, N. op cit. p.193.         

[82]Ibid. p. 195.

[84] Gardell, M. op. cit. p.203.

[85] Ibid. p.202.

[86] Ibid. p.207.

[87] Ibid. p.214.

[88] American law enforcment network0

[89]Quoted in Goodrick-Clarke, N. op cit. p. 277.

[90] Quoted in ibid. p.277.

[91] Ibid. p.270.

[92]Ibid. p. 263

[93]Ibid. p. 271

[94] Ibid. p.261

[95] Ibid. p.263.

[96]Ibid. p. 263.

[97]Ibid. p. 265.

[98] Ibid. p.163, 164.

[99]Ibid. p. 272.

[100]Ibid. p. 273.

[101] This is not intended to suggest that all members of asatruchat would share Aswynn’s opinions. ‘Warning from Freya Aswynn’.  Dated 10 March 2004

[102] Aswynn, Freya. Northern Mysteries and Magick – Runes, Gods and Feminine Powers, Minnesota: Llewllyn, 2002. p.97.

[103] Ibid, p. 98, 130.

[104] Accessed 29th December 2006.

[105] Quoted in Gardell, M. op cit. p. 162.

[106] Ibid. p. 274.

[107] Ibid. p. 164.

[109] Sturleson, Younger Eddas. v. 24.

[110] Sturleson, op. cit. v.39

[112] Gardell, M op cit. p.163.


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