CENTURY £20 £18 (P&P FREE) 08700 798 897

Pagan Resurrection, by Richard Rudgley

When Nazis went wyrd

In 1936, the psychologist C G Jung published an essay entitled "Wotan", in which he argued that the remarkable rise of National Socialism in Germany was due not to economic, political or social causes, but to the fact that the German psyche had been overwhelmed by the sudden awakening of the archetype of the ancient Norse god. Wotan, or, as Richard Rudgely prefers to call him, Odin, had slumbered for 1,000 years, put to rest by the rise of Christianity. Now, however, the northern god of frenzy and magic had returned, and would, Jung predicted, more than likely lead the German people into some cataclysmic event.

Nearly 30 years later, in 1960, in a letter to the Chilean diplomat and esotericist Miguel Serrano, Jung warned that once again, the west was poised for the god's return, and that we were "apt to undergo the risk of a further, world-wide, Wotanistic experiment". Jung died a few months later, little suspectingthat Serrano would become the prophet of a particularly odious Odinistic philosophy, "Esoteric Hitlerism".

In Pagan Resurrection, Rudgley, author of Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age and presenter of the Channel Four television series Pagans, takes Jung's warning to heart and explores the variety of ways in which our current "Wotanistic experiment" is taking shape. His scope is sometimes dizzying, ranging from the Wandervogel of pre-Hitler Germany, the Aryan militias of 21st-century America, Tolkien's Middle Earth and the 1960s, to the depraved crimes of serial killers like Henry Lee Lucas and Otis Toole. One part of the Odin myth is the belief in a mysterious land the Greeks called Hyperborea ("beyond the north wind"), a paradise that lay hidden by the arctic wastes. Rudgley's chapters dealing with this myth, which is linked to the idea of a subterranean world, in the fiction of Jules Verne and Lord Bulwer-Lytton, are fascinating.

Verne's classic Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Lytton's less well-known but equally remarkable The Coming Race can, Rudgely argues, be read not only as gripping Victorian science fiction, but also as essays in depth psychology and explorations of the Odin archetype; another novelist he cites is Hermann Hesse. Unavoidably, the Nazis loom large in his account, and Rudgley is at pains to separate the hokum surrounding such "occult Nazi" staples as the Thule Society (named after another hidden northern land) and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, from the often more disturbing facts.

Yet fanatical racists aren't the whole of the Odin experiment, and Rudgely takes the reader on an enlightening exploration of northern Europe's own home-grown mystical philosophy, centred on the practice of "casting the runes". Although popularised by New Agers and pop occultists as a means of divination, Rudgely shows that the cosmology and psychology associated with the runes are formidable and on a par with those of better-known eastern imports like the Tao and I Ching. Little known is the fact that the shapes of the runes can be used to facilitate a northern European form of meditation.

What will appeal to most contemporary readers, however, is the idea that the runes are a link with the ancient notion of the "Web of Wyrd", the belief that humans, nature and the gods are all connected through an invisible but very real mesh of subtle forces and energies. The Odinistic polarities of Fire and Frost, Rudgely tells us, parallel the eastern ideas of yin and yang, and it is between these two that the strands of Wyrd flow. Other parallels are with recent notions of chaos theory in which the flutter of a butterfly can affect the "initial conditions" of a hurricane. The electronic web of information and communication we log on to every day has accustomed us to the idea that actions on one side of the world can effect changes on the other almost instantaneously. The northern Europeans who felt the Web of Wyrd, Rudgely tells us, knew something very similar a millennium ago.

The ecological and cultural aspects of the new paganism, Rudgely hopes, will promote a "global awareness", which is different from "globalisation", which he sees as the dark side of the web, threatening to reduce the world's complexity to a bland uniformity. The jury is still out on that, but if our second Odin experiment isn't to end like the first, then books like this will certainly be a help.

Gary Lachman's latest book is 'Into the Interior: Discovering Swedenborg' (Swedenborg Society £7.95)

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas