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Friday, October 23, 2009

Nazism, Theosophy, Gnosticism and the Occult

I've been exploring some of the many roots of the Nazi movement—and there are many. One of these is Theosophy, a movement related to Madame H.P. Blavatsky and her book The Secret Doctrine. Thanks to Google, one can now read the entire 500 plus pages of this work online—if you're so inclined.

In her book Blavatsky claims to provide a synthesis of science, religion and philosophy. In the philosophy of G.W.F. Hegel and others, human knowledge unfolds by a process of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. A thesis is a proposal such as that the world is flat. The antithesis is an objection. No, it cannot be. Take a look at the horizon falling away. So how do we bring these two together in some kind of synthesis? Since ancient times there were many methods, but please do not ask me to go into them.

By the way, there is a publisher that seeks to bring free digitalized textbooks into university learning systems. They call this Flat World Knowledge. No need any longer to keep knowledge from textbooks beyond the students' horizons. It can all be available on their desktops. Applause for the modern, digitalized world. But I'm off topic.



Back to Blavatsky and those who followed her lead. She claimed to take human knowledge to a new level. In New York City in 1875  Helena P. Blavatsky, Henry S. Olcott, William Q. Judge, and others founded the Theosophical Society. Blavatsky (1831-1891) is the primary force behind the modern theosophical movement. In October, 1879 she founded the journal The Theosophist.

What is theosophy? Below is an accurate definition provided by way of Our Lady's Warriors, a Roman Catholic organization.

Theosophy is essentially a modern version of Gnosticism. Within it one can find clear GnosticPantheistic and occult influences, including Sophia. The new twist is the "space alien like," but clearly demonic connection whereby Theosophy was "delivered to the first human protoplasts, the first thinking human beings on Earth by highly intelligent spiritual entities from superior spheres." Some actually claim that various of these "ascended masters" have been living on Venus for some 18,000 years and will shortly return.

Theosophy made its way into Lutheran circles through Frederick Rittelmeyer. Rittelmeyer was a Lutheran pastor of a congregation in Berlin, who studied under Adolph von Harnack. Harnack was a history professor and a prominent leader of the higher critical movement that undermined confidence in the Bible as the revealed Word of God. He did not believe in the supernatural or in Biblical miracles.

In 1910 Pastor Rittelmeyer met Rudolf Steiner, a theosophist and founder of anthroposophy. Rittelmeyer wanted to modernize Christianity, bring it up to date with the new, synthesized knowledge. With Steiner's help, in 1922 he founded a renewal movement called the Christian Community, a kind of new age denomination active to the present day in the United States and other parts of the world.

When the Nazis took charge of Germany in the early 1930s, Rittelmeyer was able to perform a kind of balancing act that enabled his Christengemeinschaft (Christian Community) to survive. But then, both his movement and Nazism had its roots in the work of Blavatsky, so that was entirely possible.

There were other things going on in Germany, of course. I'll wander into them with you on another day.