Welcome, queerly beloveds, to a chapter of history and mystery! If you’ve just found me and my writing, this is a chapter-by-chapter release of my LGBTQIA+ centric philosophy book-in-progress, inviting you to debate, discuss, question, contribute; your inputs will be my edits, 'til the finished book speaks for us all. A book called VENUS VALLEY - Queer Philosophers' Forum.
We’ve just been talking about Euhemerism - the mundane roots of mythology - and its impact on Humanism - seeing humanity’s progress from past to present as proof of our potential for the future - by looking at Roman historical-mythical romance novel The Love God by Martin Campbell, modern day devotee of Antinous “The Gay God” of Roman religion, who’s delivering the opening blessing of this year’s Glastonbury Pride: read that piece by clicking HERE.
But today, despite its hermaphrodite deities and their devotee eunuchs and temple prostitutes, there are “alpha males” and “men’s rights activists” who love to think the Roman Empire was nothing more than a patriotic patriarchal paradise raised to power by racial purity, that declined when it fell victim to multiculturalism, sexual liberation, and all the things they’re calling “woke” today. I mean, it was patriotic and patriarchal, but racial purity's not what made it rise, and multiculturalism and sexual liberation weren't what made it fall. So here’s a weighty but (hopefully) worthwhile chapter on what happens when men mistake white supremacy for spiritual wisdom.
Last week, while I was appearing in Shakespeare’s cross-dressing comedy As You Like It, I had the chance to sit in the audience of another play: And Then They Came For Me, the powerful life story of Eva Schloss, stepsister of Anne Frank, who lived to tell hers and Anne’s stories when Anne herself didn't. Eva herself was there taking questions afterwards, and I won’t forget my too-brief moment of meeting her, anytime soon!
Next week (I think/hope), I’ll be off to see the finale of my all-time favourite movie series, Indiana Jones & the Dial of Destiny, about (SPOILERS!) a NASA scientist in the 60s who wants an ancient artefact to turn back time to the 40s and help the - let’s call them “Nasty Party” for this chapter! - win the war.
How does something as Nasty as that Party, and everything they put people like Eva Schloss through, keep turning up in sci fi and fantasy, and get so bound up with magical imaginative ideas?
Maybe if we can answer that, we can also see how the author of a certain other magic fantasy series that also involves a time-turner - Wart-Hog’s School of Wizardcraft and Witchery, or whatever it’s called - can have her imagination full of magic and mystery at the same time as transphobia and antisemitism.
One short answer is Conspirituality - a strange arrangement of New-Age & Far-Right beliefs that says conspiracy theories are higher spiritual truths. You’re familiar with it if you’ve ever seen “Ancient Aliens” on The History Channel!
“Archaeology is the search for Fact. Not ‘Truth’. If it’s ‘Truth’ you’re interested in… Philosophy class is right down the hall.” (Indiana Jones)
Come with me down the rabbitiest of holes, see the Nasties turn legends of Atlantis and the Grail into propaganda for their regime of racial and sexual purity, that put yellow stars on the Jewish and pink triangles on the queer; and meet a gay man named Otto, who gave in to their cultish ways. Because the truth is people like Otto, and the author whose pen-name is Robert Galbraith (named after the founder of “conversion therapy”, which uses torture techniques to “cure” patients of sex and gender “deviance”), sometimes can be both victims and villains. But what are they victims of? Is it misinformation - misguided misinterpretations of facts, leading to fallacies - or disinformation - deliberate manipulation of facts, to push an agenda?
(Quick note: history books typically say specifically gay people wore the pink triangle, but anyone under the umbrella of Queer - overly effeminate men, overly butch women, those "taking the new hormones" or "having the new surgery", cross-dressers, intersex people - were not safe. And, as always in my writing, Queer is a term of pride, never shame)
Let’s start with Atlantis. From the original allegory of Plato, to the Victorian pseudoscience writer Ignatius Donnelly’s The Antediluvian World; Disney movies to DC Comics; you’ve heard of it. “Lost land” legends promise hidden knowledge; but imagining an advanced human race was incredibly appealing to White Supremacists - including the Nasty Party.
My new iPad’s dictation software took the Moustache Man’s name to be “Adult Film Star”, so that's absolutely what I'll call him from now on! Autocorrect turned Adult FilmStar’s chief henchman into Heinrich Himbo, so that’s the name he gets! What Heinrich Himbo brought to the table were occult Foundation Myths and Mythic Descent (if you’re new here or new to those terms, you can read about them by clicking HERE) - That the 3rd Reich was a modern incarnation of an ancient super race. How did the Atlantis myth impact the ideology to justify persecution of the Jewish and the queer?
For starters, the word Aryan (before blonde hair, blue eyes, white supremacy, antisemitism and Nastyism) came from Indo-European - a Middle Eastern language family that spread eastward into Asia and westward into Europe, touching Hindu, Hebrew, Greek & Latin - which we know of from Zoroastrian texts: one of the roots of Arabic & Abrahamic religions. In bible times, they sent the “Wise Men” to see baby Jesus; in modern times, it was queer icon Freddie Mercury’s family faith. “Arya” means “Noble”. For millennia it meant nothing ethnic at all, until 7th century Persians, to distinguish them from Muslim Arab conquerors. Europeans coming face to face with something other than Caucasian culture thanks to the East India Company, and mistranslating Sanskrit texts in the late 18th century, called Arya “masterfully enduring race vitality.”
Colonisers and Imperialists had questions! How did all this hidden history fit Christian chronology like the Garden of Eden and Noah’s Flood - which they absolutely knew to be true? How could white western culture have descended from, spread from, or learned from, races they absolutely knew to be inferior? And that’s where the nonsense begins!
A rogue’s gallery of European pseudo-scholars, whose names I don’t have time or space to list here (I wouldn’t encourage anyone to read anything they wrote, anyway!) through the 19th century cobbled together various theories - by comparing different cultures’ sacred texts, and measuring the skulls of their ancestors and descendants - and convinced their readers that ancient lost civilisations of the East, like the Harappans in the Indus Valley, had been supplanted by superior migrating masters from lost civilisations in the West, like the Sami in the Arctic Circle.
(Side note, Sami lore revolves around reindeer horns and red-&-white-capped magic mushrooms, which might account for the “Lapland Elves” in the stories of Santa Claus!)
What could’ve possibly stood in the way of great western ancestors spreading to Asia, and their eastern descendants spreading back into Europe? What intermingling polluted their pure noble bloodline? Why, the Jews, of course! Lapped up by followers of the composer Wagner, who used operatic reinventions of Viking Sagas (remember Ride of the Valkyries?) to stir pride in Germanic heritage, this was drip-fed into early 20th century political philosophies of Social Darwinism - the idea that “survival of the fittest” applied to better-off vs. worse-off classes in society, just as much as it did to strongest vs. weakest in the animal kingdom - and Eugenics - the supposed right of the superior to selectively breed out the inferior, so the human race can progress to its highest potential. Which brings us neatly to Nasty Party ideology!
From the mid-1920s younger men joined and gained key positions in the Nasty Party for members of the Vril Society - named after a concept like The Force from Star Wars, belonging to a subterranean super race in a novel by Lord Lytton; the Thule Society - named after a Greek history/legend of a great “Hyperborean” (“Beyond the North Wind”) land; and devotees of Theosophy - mystical meditations of Madame Blavatsky, “telepath” with spiritual masters in mythic Buddhist Shambhala, where successors of a superhuman “root race”, Lemurians, resided. After Atlantis’ destruction, she claimed, survivors migrated to the Himalayas. Nasty Party expeditions to India & Tibet, by interpreters of Blavatsky, thought Atlantis was Thule, whose remnants were the roots of the Nordic race, where there was “no darkness in the Summer, and no light in the Winter” - in other words, the Arctic Circle & Scandinavia. Some of these ideologies fed straight into the creation of the Nasty Party’s stormtroopers (yes, that word found its way into sci fi and fantasy from the Nasty Party too!) as they modelled themselves after the Knights Templar - with added Solstice Ceremonies under the banner of their Solar Symbol: the Swastika.
If you hear a rumbling noise, it’s Friedrich Nietzsche turning in his grave, at this corruption of his philosophy of the Ubermensch - the highest potential point of humanity, to be reached when we win the inner and interpersonal battles of light vs. darkness, as laid out in allegories of higher vs. lower beings, by the founding priest and prophet of the Zoroastrian tradition. I’ve got his Thus Spake Zarathustra on my to-be-read list, I’m sure my thoughts will be a lot more fun to share than Adult FilmStar’s were!
If you meet anyone who subscribes to any of this today, you might remind them of three things: 1st - one of the hidden Hindu traditions they would’ve found if they’d kept searching, was Hijra communities, androgynous devotees of androgynous deities with cross dressing temple festivals. 2nd - the Knights Templar were decimated by the Catholic Church under accusations of, among other things, ceremonial gay sex gatherings in worship of the hermaphrodite idol Baphomet, whose image the Satanic Temple in the USA are using today as their banner in their stand against, among other things, anti-LGBTQIA+ discrimination. 3rd - the English title of Nietzsche’s collection of works was The Gay Science, and his word Ubermensch was translated into English as Superman by two young Jewish writers, creating a comics character who swooped down from the skies to save the downtrodden from their oppressors. Oh and also, the Norse mythology they're so fond of, is the same Norse mythology where Loki shapeshifted into a female horse and gave birth to a foal; Thor dressed up as his own mother to retrieve his stolen hammer; and Odin was "wounded in the thigh" (a common euphemism in mythology for infertility or impotence) to gain the secrets of Seidr, a shamanic path reserved only for women.
We can see how convinced by it all Adult FilmStar was, if we do what chief TERF Posie Parker’s followers do - read Mein Kampf. Europe had been “Judaised” and pure blood “tainted” by prolonged contact with Jews, who “wait for hours on end satanically glaring and spying on the unsuspecting girl he plans to seduce, adulterating her blood and removing her from the bosom of her people.”
And also: “the Aryan gave up the purity of his blood and therefore lost his sojourn in the paradise he had made for himself; he became submerged in the racial mixture and gradually more and more lost his cultural capacity until at last not only mentally but physically he began to resemble the subjected aborigines more than his own ancestors. Blood mixture and the resultant drop in that racial level is the sole cause of the dying out of the old cultures.”
And elsewhere: “The Aryan during the Ice Age engaged in building his spiritual and bodily strength in the hard fight with nature, arising quite differently than other races who lived without struggle in the midst of a bountiful world. We know all these people held one sign in common - a symbol of the Sun; all their cults were built on light and you can find in the symbol, the means of the generation of fire, and the cross. You can find this cross as a swastika not only here in Germany but also exactly the same symbol carved into the temple posts in India and Japan. It’s the swastika of the community once founded by Aryan culture. Human culture and civilisation on the continent are inseparably bound up with the Aryan presence.”
And again: “If he dies out or declines, the dark veils of an age without culture will descend on this globe.”
(Rest assured I really REALLY dislike quoting Adult FilmStar, but just to show I’m not making this up!)
Nasties like Adult FilmStar and Heinrich Himbo embraced any Aryan Atlantean alternative to “materialistic Jewish science.” From Wagner’s Norse nationalism, through writer/teacher Rudolf Steiner’s symbolic reading of the bible as messages from bygone cosmic ages, all the way to World Ice Theory, claiming a series of Ice Ages caused by meteor strikes mutated humans into gods and monsters. Anything to shore up Heinrich Himbo’s obsession that he and his Herrenvolk “…did not evolve from apes like the rest of humanity, but our gods came directly from heaven to Earth.”
So much for Atlantis. I also promised you the Holy Grail, and a cute gay guy named Otto. That means going back to the 12th century, then forward again to the 20th. It’s not quite as rabbity a hole as the Atlantis nonsense, but, spoilers, it has a sad ending.
The 12th century part goes like this: A poet Chretien de Troyes wrote the wanderer Perceval’s quest for the Grail. On the one hand, it pretty well resembles an old Celtic tale of the journey of the fool Peredur who magically rediscovers his descent from a line of wise warriors. On the other hand, it also pretty weirdly resembles the real life story of the famous Crusader King, Richard the Lionheart.
Brought up to believe in Chivalry, he made his name by brutally putting down rebellions, then raising one of his own against his father, for imprisoning his mother in France, thus becoming King of England. Along the way he acknowledged at least one illegitimate child. To atone for his sins, the bishops who crowned him sent him to the Holy Land to liberate it from Muslim conquerors, and retrieve the sacred relics they’d captured - the cave of the resurrection, and the wood of the cross. The church preached that anyone who killed, or was killed, for the cause, got a first class ticket to heaven. He and his army captured thousands of invading Islamic forces, but when their leader Salah al-Din refused to hand over the relics, he killed them all, calling his legitimacy as a just and fair Christian leader into doubt. In the poem, Perceval succeeds in war but fails in wisdom, until he’s taught by a wounded healer, The Fisher King, and is finally able to replace him as the keeper of the Cup. In real life, Richard retreated to the cave of a hermit who prophesied he’d not retake Jerusalem, but gave him - he claimed - the wood of the cross, which he happened to have hidden away. Richard returned peacefully to England and, a few years later on his deathbed - fittingly, in a rebellion by a local lord - was finally able to accept the communion cup, having felt unworthy of it before because of his crimes.
This era gave us the stories - at least the versions we know today - of King Arthur, Robin Hood, and the Knights Templar (They left out the part where Richard as a young Prince shared his bed with his future rival King of France, for some reason).
What’s this got to do with German mysticism and a gay guy who fell victim to its propaganda? Enter Germanic poet Wolfram von Eschenbach. Chretien left Perceval unfinished, and Wolfram filled it out and finished it as Parzival.
In his version, Parzival has a long lost half brother who’s a Muslim, and his pure heart is proven by their reunion - a satire of religious purity and a call for tolerance and togetherness. In real life, this time, the exact opposite happened: the church preached that the Crusades failed because the Crusaders’ faith was corrupted, and the Albigensian Crusade started in its place, in which they turned against those in their own supposedly-Christian countries who held them back from God’s grace: witches, gypsies, queers, and Jews. Among those destroyed were the Templars, and a Gnostic Christian sect (meaning one that saw the gospels as an allegory of a lost divinity within humanity, and renounced the outside world to find it) called the Cathars, who were burned in their French hilltop citadel Montsegur.
Enter, as promised, Otto Rahn, almost 7 centuries later: religious history student; European languages teacher; gay; and completely broke, like almost all students and teachers, thanks to the Great Depression in the 1920s. He was determined to prove the truth behind Wolfram’s Parzival: that writings in caves below Montsegur’s ruins would reveal where, when, and why the Cathars kept the real Grail hidden; and once he could reveal and revive it, then their religion - not the occult nonsense we’ve just talked about - would heal and unite the divided homeland. He managed to write The Crusade Against The Grail in Paris and publish it in Germany, spending weeks with writings on cave walls in foothills of the Pyrenees; but it didn’t even sell enough copies to settle his debts.
Until he got a fan letter, from none other than Heinrich Himbo - still buried in his own obsession, to the point he’d built a castle with a round table (“The problem is this: how can we arrest racial decay? Shall we form an order, a new brotherhood of Templars, around the Holy Grail of the pure blood?” - Adult FilmStar). Himbo called Otto to a meeting, and offered him a deal: Join our team, write more books about the Grail that say what we want, and you’ll be rich. Refuse, or publish anything that upsets our plans, and you’ll be in the camps with a pink triangle along with the other queers. Soon afterwards, Otto’s old friend and mentor, Paul Ladame, saw him marching in an SS uniform, and stopped him in the street. “Paul…” said Otto, “… one’s got to eat.”
As long as he could, Otto wrote what he was told: that Cathars practised a variation of Tibetan Buddhist religion originally invented by Nordic Atlantis, transferred to Tibet after the flood, then returned to Germanic peoples via northern India and Persia, millennia later. That Cathar "Luciferians" ("light bearers") protected the Grail according to the old Indo-Aryan tradition of Thule, drawn from survivors of the flood settled in Tibet and India; but, accused of heresy and witchcraft, these last representatives of Atlantis and Thule were eradicated by the Catholic Church.
“I've written many things just to please them... I'm ashamed, but what else can I do? They’ve got me. I’m their slave.” - Otto Rahn, to Paul Ladame
Like so many gay men in hiding back then, Otto tried to escape suspicion by saying he'd found a wife. It didn't work. On March 14th 1939, the day German troops marched into Czechoslovakia, Otto was seen walking alone into the mountains. Locals found him the next day, frozen in the snow, two medicine bottles empty beside him.
To finish, an important reminder that these are the people today’s neo-Nasty protest groups are aligned with, who turn up to support TERF rallies and attack drag queens for telling stories in schools and libraries. They’ve obviously not been fond of books ever since they burned the research library of Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sexology in the 1930s.
(And they almost got Indiana Jones’ dad’s Grail diary, too!)
As I was writing this chapter, I was searching for the proper academic or intellectual phrase for this kind of deliberate manipulation of myth, legend, spirituality, religion, belief or folklore, for the sake of motivating people to fight for your cause. I couldn’t find one. Of course there’s cultural appropriation, but if we look back at the key difference I described earlier between misinformed and disinformed, I think the usual kinds of thoughtless and careless misuse of culture markers, like dressing up one of the Village People as a “Red Indian”, or calling your lifestyle coach a “guru”, I’m giving the benefit of the doubt that it’s mis- rather dis-. When it’s malicious, manipulative, likely known to be false by the speaker, and purposely meant to motivate the listener towards the manipulator’s cause, I’m going to suggest the term WEAPONISED APPROPRIATION.
If you feel yourself or you see your loved ones getting pulled into it by conspiracy theory, political violence, or spiritual fantasy, you can pause, and ask the question that, according to the story, would unveil the truth of the Grail:
WHOM DOES IT SERVE?
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