Even before Chamberlain, volkisch thinkers had tried to weave…January 29th, 2012 by ExXception Draft received No Comments »
Even before Chamberlain, volkisch thinkers had tried to weave together lessons from history proving the heroism of the ancient Germanic past. Many of them were admirers of the Theosophical Society, which combined for the first time certain elements into a cohesive system considered by some people to be the beginning of modern occultism.
The Theosophical Society was organized in New York City in 1875 by Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, a Russian expatriate countess known to her disciples as H. P. B. At seventeen, her family had forced her to marry an elderly Russian general, whom she promptly deserted. Headstrong, convinced that she had mediumistic powers, and versed in many languages, she wandered about Europe and the East, and decided at age forty to come to New York to investigate spiritualism, which had become an American craze. Her mission, a Society historian observed, was “to explain its phenomena, expose its frauds, to enlarge its spiritual scope, and to give it the dignity in the world of science which was its due.” Depleted of financial resources, if not of energy, she delivered up an unlikely package of Hinduism, Gnosticism, and pseudoscience which had a tremendous impact on the intelligentsia of the West. She even converted the Indians themselves to the “ancient wisdom” in modern dress. Her ideas, about ancient lost races with secret knowledge of the ultimate nature of reality, the immortal soul perfecting itself through endless rebirths, and mastery of superhuman powers which could unlock the secrets of the universe, if they had been presented by traditional organized religions, would not have been credited. But people were perfectly willing to suspend disbelief of a huge Russian countess with magnetic eyes who smoked cigars and used bawdy language.
Darwin’s Origin of Species, published in 1859, had widened the chasm between science and religion. H. P. B. leaped across that chasm with a spiritual concept of evolution. Men could become divine, she said, by advancing in an evolutionary process which was part of an elaborate cosmology affecting whole races.
It was possible to thwart evolution, however. Like most occultists, she believed in the old Gnostic doctrine that there were two worlds, one good and one evil.
In Gnostic thinking, spirit and matter were opposed to each other, matter being an interruption of the order of the cosmos—a fall, and therefore evil. The Gnostics posited three classes: spiritual, or pneumatic, men; animal, or psychic, men; and carnal, or physical, men. The last were said to be wholly material and could not be saved, their nature being evil; they had not a single spark of the divine in them. (THE TRINITY AGAIN: EXXCEPTION DRAFT NOTE)
Matter, according to the Gnostics, was not the creation of the supreme god but of a demiurge, an inferior divinity. A famous medieval Gnostic sect, the Cathars, came to identify the Old Testament god, Jehovah, with the demiurge, the creator of the material world, and therefore the equivalent of Satan. Within Gnosticism, then, existed the idea that the Jewish god was really the devil, responsible for all the evil in the world.
Without intending to arouse hatred against the Jews, H. P. B. repeated this Gnostic thinking in her book The Secret Doctrine: With the Semite, that stooping man meant the fall of Spirit into matter,
and that fall and degradation were apotheosized by him with the result of dragging Deity down to the level of man…. The Aryan views of the symbolism were those of the whole Pagan world; the Semite interpretations emanated from and were pre-eminently those of a small tribe, thus marking its national features and the idiosyncratic defects that characterize many of the Jews to this day—gross realism, selfishness, and sensuality.
She talked of a race of giants that existed in ancient days and argued that the occasional appearance of giants in modern times proved that species tend to revert to the original type. She held that since the days of the giants, whose descendants the Aryans were, there had been an unbroken succession of semi-immortal “adepts” living in secret cities in Tibetan mountains. It was they who had appointed her as their emissary.
Because of the flamboyance of her personality, if not her prose, H. P. B. became the model for other aspiring occultist leaders. She had somehow managed to make magic, witchcraft, and alchemy respectable. With the support of educated people, her ideas spread. She brought to the last decades of the nineteenth century a universal palliative for the materialism from which it was suffering.
The volkisch writers made capital of both Theosophy and Darwinism. Darwin’s book had been hailed in Germany with an acclamation in startling contrast to the storm of protest which greeted it elsewhere. In place of a dogmatic Christian theology preaching a millennium, there came a conviction that human society was moving blindly toward some ideal goal. The struggle for existence, palpable to every German, justified itself in this evolutionary scheme of nature. Origin of Species sold briskly in Germany. The Germans eagerly pressed Darwin with their own writings on the subject, lauding his work. It was said that although Darwin was English, Darwinism really came into its own in Germany. As one German scientist pointed out: “You are still discussing in England whether or not the theory of Darwin can be true. We have got a long way beyond that stage here. His theory is now our common starting point.”
To a growing body of anthropological concepts was now fused the idea that the karma of the Aryans was to engage in a race struggle to the death against the Jews.
(see also: Thule Society)
(see also: Theosophical Society)Regs, Tumblr Feeds