Book Review - Black Sun
Cultic Studies Review, 1(3), 2002
Book Review - Black Sun
Joseph P. Szimhart
Cult Research Specialist and Consultant
Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity
Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke. New York: New York University Press, 2002, 371 pages. $29.95. ISBN 0-8147-3124-4.
Black Sun by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke is about the proliferation of fascist ideology in post-war culture, especially since 1990. Goodrick-Clarke (Hitler's Priestess, The Occult Roots of Nazism) is no stranger to this unsavory topic of contemporary Hitler cults that mix revisions of Theosophy (Ariosophy), Satanism, Hinduism, and racism.
The author, one of the best historians of the roots of Nazism and its post-war tentacles, weaves in and out of occult beliefs and myths without falling prey to exaggeration or fascination. But Goodrick-Clarke left me a little uneasy. He begins his survey with the origins of American neo-Nazism and takes us through the labyrinth of extreme right-wing groups in Europe and the United Kingdom that include black-metal bands as well as active anarchist movements. He describes the most influential leaders and writers, from George Lincoln Rockwell to Julius Evola, Savriti Devi, Wilhelm Landig, and Miguel Serrano. Black Sun ends with a chapter about conspiracy beliefs and the New World Order. Here, Goodrick-Clarke describes the neo-fascist fear of a liberal, Jewish, Illuminati network that includes aliens in spaceships, with Jan van Helsing and Bill Cooper (Behold a Pale Horse) as two of the prominent although nutty theorists.
The book’s title reflects a favorite symbol among neo-fascists who often fail to find common ground in a patchwork movement of anarchists, occultists, and arch-conservatives who today avoid overt use of the tainted swastika. The cover features a black sun disk with a Sig rune slash underneath. The author tells us that some Nazi pilots toward the end of the war in 1945 painted the black sun symbol on their aircraft. The black sun had significance as the primal source of life and power, harking back to Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine, which proto-Nazis mined for esoteric information. Erich Halik, a Swiss engineer and a member of the Vienna circle of Fascists surrounding Wilhelm Landig (1909-1997), was the first to link the “Black Sun” roundel insignia with the esoteric SS. “The alchemical metaphor of sol niger [black sun] was said to represent occultation, blackening, a sinking into the mystery of self-discovery,” writes Goodrick-Clarke.
I got the impression from this book that neo-fascists have blurred the lines between their agendas and those of the New Age movements that also wish to transform the self and the world with magic, self-realization, and global transformation. We learn that what distinguishes most fascist groups is their Futuristic (i.e., Filippo Marinetti’s Futurism, which had great effect on Mussolini) bent to turn to war and violence as purifying agents of change before a better world can arise from the ashes, Phoenix-like. The belief is that the “Supermen” of the white race will remain to rule. Goodrick-Clarke mentions that Charles Manson and his followers also believed in violence and a race war as a way to a more perfect world.
In the chapter, “White Noise and Black Metal,” we learn that radical, hard-core rock music bands that include Slayer, Satanel, Venom, Mayhem (and more than 60 others in Germany alone) have developed a significant following of skinhead and fringe radicals who revere variations of Nazi philosophy. The author connects the two 18-year-olds who slaughtered 12 students and one teacher in 1999 at Littleton, Colorado to neo-Nazis. The killers chose 20 April, Hitler’s birthday. Their favorite singer was Marilyn Manson, a transvestite, shock rocker who combines elements of Charles Manson, Goth style, and idiosyncratic depravity on stage. One of Marilyn’s songs is “Anti-Christ Superstar,” which reflects neo-Nazi revulsion for weak Christians who would turn the other cheek. A new wave of white power, shock rock appeared in the final decade of the twentieth century in Norway, headed by Euronymous and its demented lyrics. “Very shortly (early 1990s) these fantasies of slaughter and apocalypse were followed by genuine mayhem with suicides, feuds, and murders,” reports the author.
More interesting to me are chapters about the influential theorists:
Savriti Devi (1905-1982, aka Maximiana Portas), who wrote extensively about her theories of Aryan origins in an ancient Arctic culture. Devi borrowed heavily from B. G. Tilak, who wrote The Arctic Home in the Vedas (1903). Devi, a Hilter devotee who saw him as an Avatar in the Vedic model, is influential among current white-power radicals, despite her Hindu leanings. Goodrick-Clarke wrote an extensive study of Devi in his book Hitler’s Priestess: Savriti Devi, the Hindu-Aryan, Myth and Neo-Nazism.
Miguel Serrano, who developed an esoteric Hitlerism with more anti-Semitic mythology. Serrano borrowed heavily from Gnostic myth to create a sinister agenda throughout Jewish history. “For Serrano, the Jew is but the concrete manifestation of the antagonist in a cosmology structured by the battle of opposing archetypes.”
Francis Parker Yockey (1917-1960), who committed suicide while in FBI custody after a career as a neo-fascist agent throughout Europe and America. Yockey wrote Imperium (1948), a voluminous account of Western heritage that approves of anti-Zionist efforts.
Earlier, I mentioned that I was uneasy with this book. Primarily, I find it disturbing to learn that so many hate groups thrive today. I can sympathize with the author’s warning and purpose that he writes at the end: “From the retrospect viewpoint of a potential authoritarian future in 2020 or 2030, these Aryan cults and esoteric Nazism may be documented as early symptoms of major divisive changes in our present-day Western democracies.” Warning noted, but I found too much information to digest at one read, despite my familiarity with the topic. I am not convinced that Nazism is the future threat that it once was. But the author does segue into 9/11 and the Islamic militant attack on New York City as another symptom of a “clash of civilizations” with a continuance of the hatred for Jews and Western, Christian cultures.
And this is the main point of the book: There is a persistent dark or shadow side of our humanity that, for whatever reason, chooses to destroy what it dislikes rather than attempt to resolve the differences. I recommend Black Sun as a compelling read.