Letter from Germany No. 1

by Frater U.'.D.'.

FRATER U.'.D.'. is considered to be Germany's most prolific contemporary writer on magical topics. He has worked - and written - in a variety of disciplines ranging from yoga and tantra via the classical, hermetic tradition to shamanism, combat magic, sigil magic and chaos magic. He is acclaimed as one of the founder of modern Pragmatic Magic and has developed the theoretical and practical principles of Cyber Magic.

He has authored an internationally widely renowned anecdotal biography of Aleister Crowley (Aleister Crowley. Die tausend Masken des Meisters - "Aleister Crowley. The Thousand Masks of the Master" -, Knaur Verlag, Munich, 1990) and has translated - among other texts - Crowley's Book of Lies into German.

Presently, he is engaged in unfolding what he terms "Ice Magic, beyond doubt the most efficient approach to practical magic ever", a discipline rooted in the magical practices extant in the Polar regions of Europe and North America, and is preparing a book in German on the subject which will also be published in English.

A number of FRATER U.'.D.'.'s works have been translated into English, French, Spanish and Dutch.

Two of his books have been published in America:

and a third book in English is forthcoming: FRATER U.'.D.'. is currently living in the marshes near the Danish border on the west coast of Northern Germany.

In these letters I will take a diachronic look at German occultism past and present, mixing current news with historical titbits illustrating among other things the strong relationship between German magic and the Anglo-Saxon world. (For linguistic reasons as well as for convenience's sake I will generally include Swiss and Austrian occultism under this heading - no imperialistic takein intended!) Ever and again in the history of magic Germany has been considered to be the stronghold of the Black Arts. Alchemy, Astrology, the Kabbalah, Rosicrucianism, Illuminism, esoteric Freemasonry, Xtian mysticism, Rune magic - name what you want in the Western tradition and you will find at least some German influence behind it. While the Golden Dawn had to fake its Cipher documents purporting to prove its German origins, the O.T.O. was a genuinely German (or, more precisely, Austrian) creation. Aleister Crowley himself spent some time on and off in Germany, and everyone will remember that notable conference in Weida, Thuringia, in 1926, where the Master Therion attempted, albeit unsucessfully, to have himself proclaimed World Saviour by the German Pansophic Movement. Rumours about the occult connections of National Socialism have abounded ever since the war, and in spite of Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke's excellent study *The Occult Roots of Nazism*, which ought to have put a positive end at least to the worst hearsay in the style of Trevor Ravencroft's tabloid press type books, lots of people still fondly nurture the belief that Hitler was basically little more than a black magician gone bonkers. Anyway, interest in Germanic occult thought has never really diminished in the English speaking world.

Indeed, German occultism is currently undergoing an even wider international revival, vide the United States, where Llewellyn's publishers have cornered the market with their *Teutonic Magick* series under the advisory editorship of German speaking Runelore expert Edred Thorsson. One of their latest publications, Flower's Fire and Ice, is the first time ever English language history of Germany's number one magical order, the famous and infamous *Fraternitas Saturni* (FS), and things being as they are, it is to be expected that this will lead to a rise of imitation orders and lots of Germanic kitsch, marketed under pseudo magical labels. The Fraternitas Saturni proper, however, of which I have the privilege to be a member, still exists and has never ceased doing so since its formal foundation in 1928, going underground during the Nazi dictatorship. It does not advertise itself and doesn't have to, either, as there are plenty of applicants and standards of acceptance are very stiff. Today, it maintains several lodges in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The FS is best known for its sex magical practices, which is unfortunate as this view tends to distort the picture. For while one of its degrees does indeed cover sex magic, this discipline is certainly not the mainstay of its system. Similarly, it would be highly unfair to presume that the O.T.O.'s one and only concern was sex magic, which is in truth only one of its many facets and certainly not even its most important one.

Apropos: the Caliphate O.T.O. has a number of strongholds in Germany now, but it has recently come to light that the Swiss O.T.O. under the lately deceased Mezger, for all practical purposes long defunct, is finally coming out of its beauty sleep of many decades again and is being rejuvenated and revived. So we may expect to hear from it fairly soon and it is everybody's guess what spirit of competition may yet develop between the two.

Mainstream occultism in present day Germany covers the usual fare from Rosicrucianism (notably AMORC and the Lectorium Rosicrucianum, but including a whole range of smaller and more obscure groups) via irregular Freemasonry to the odd group of Kabbalists. On the hard core magic front the Magical Pact of the Illuminates of Thanateros (IOT) is certainly the most active and largest group. (At present, the German speaking world covers about 75 percent of the Pact's total membership.) It is employing electronic bulletin board systems for fast communication, online rituals etc. Thus Chaos magic is getting fairly high coverage and its influence on magical theory and practice is undeniably on the increase.

Thus, it is perhaps not surprising that the recent exhaustive reform of the Pact, in the course of which its degrees and all forms and remnants of hierarchy and inquisition were abandoned in favour of a fully democratic structure, was the result of a German based initiative and was indeed decided upon at the 1991 All Pact Meeting in Essen, Germany.

Israel Regardie's tome The Golden Dawn having recently been published in translation by Germany's number one occult publisher, interest in the GD is certainly mounting; but as yet there are, to my knowledge, no groups or organizations working exclusively in this tradition. However, its magical pioneer work, though primarily of a compilatory nature, has a had quite a bit of impact ever since the fifties, when the pseudonymous Fra. Peregregius published his booklet Tattwas, Hellsehen, Astralwallen ("Tattwas, Divination, Astral Travel") - a concoction of G.D. material derived, it seems, from Regardie's earlier American editions.

And then, of course, one must not forget Franz Bardon! He is not unknown in the English speaking world but my impression is that though many people have heard of him, only few have taken the trouble to actually read his books which have been available in English for over a decade now. If they find his style execrable and extremely turgid in translation already, it may hardly comfort them to know that it is no better in German either. Nevertheless, Bardon, a one time German illusionist of Czech extraction, is still Germany's probably most commonly read magician. His dogmatic, simplicistic approach which describes magic (in no certain terms, at that) as a technology of "astral electro-magnetism" involving the manipulation of the polar powers of electricity and magnetism, is really not quite as modern as the layman tends to believe. In fact, it was Bardon's teacher, Ra-Ohmir Quintscher, who back in the twenties invented not only battery magic and his notorious Tepa (sometimes erroneously termed Tepaphone), an electrical device for long range magical manipulation involving the target persons' photographs, but produced practically everything else as well on which Bardon's later fame was molded.

Bardon, however, did not deign to give Quintscher his due credit, as is so common, unfortunately, with magical authors of secondary intellectual import. Instead, his secretary Otti Votavova presented the situation topsy turvy by claiming, in her novel on Bardon's life, Frabato (a classical example of devotees' kitsch), that in fact it was Quintscher who had been Bardon's acolyte and not vice versa. She even purported that Quintscher spent the last years of his life in concentration camp (some of them in Bardon's company), an insinuation bitterly denied by Quintscher's now deceased son, with whom I had a conversation on this matter a few years ago. In fact, according to his son, Quintscher never even visited a concentration camp. Rather, he died in the very last hours of the war on May 8th, 1945 in Silesia, where he was also buried. But to be fair to Bardon, let it be known that I have it on the word of reliable witnesses that Bardon, when he saw the *Frabato* manuscript, was quite aghast and gave strict injunctions never to publish it - unfortunately to little avail.

Contrary to Quintscher, Bardon succeeded in becoming a very popular author if only posthumously, for most of his work was published after his early demise in the year 1958 in the dungeons of the Tchechoslovakian secret police at the peak of the Cold War. In spite of his quite sophisticated system he is essentially a "people's magician" and his real stronghold lies with the working classes, while more intellectually minded magicians have feigned to shun him since the seventies. One reason for this may lie in the fact that the influence of Anglo-Saxon authors with their more pragmatic approach towards practical magic did not set in before that time. Today, it is not unfair to say that Bardon seems to have lost all influence on the continuing evolution of modern magic. In his own, quite ideosyncratic way he was little more than derivative, a second Agrippa so to speak, born too late for his times; but there can be no doubt that any history of German magic after the war would be incomplete without mentioning his import.

(To be continued)


In the next letters from Germany:

* Origin: ChaosBox: Nothing is true -> all is permitted... (2:243/2)