How Nazi is the Schwarze Sonne?

In debates on the Sonnenrad the favorite rhetorical ploy of the detractors (after gaslighting and outright lying) is to move the goal posts.

First they start off by claiming the Black Sun is a Nazi symbol. When you point out that this is a very ancient symbol with roots in Greece, Rome, Egypt, Mesopotamia as well as Celtic and Germanic lands and further it has a long history in alchemy, Christian and Sufi mysticism, psychiatry, the Romantic and Symbolist art movements, and pop culture generally from the 1980s on – they shift position and say the Black Sun itself is fine, it’s just the particular form of it found at Wewelsburg castle that’s problematic, and then proceed to regurgitate bizarre conspiracy theories about Nazi occultism they learned from a Facebook meme some dude who watched Ancient Aliens or some other “History Chanel” documentary concocted.

Truth, as is so often the case with this ilk, is not on their side.

Consider the following:

ADL Hate on Display™ Hate Symbols Database / Sonnenrad
The sonnenrad or sunwheel is one of a number of ancient European symbols appropriated by the Nazis in their attempt to invent an idealized “Aryan/Norse” heritage. The sonnenrad appears in the traditional symbology of many countries and cultures, including Old Norse and Celtic cultures. […] Because sonnenrad imagery is used by many cultures around the world, one should not assume that most sonnenrad-like images necessarily denote racism or white supremacy; rather, they should be analyzed carefully in the context in which they appear.

Eva Kingsepp, Foreword to The Liber Nigri Solis
The swastika as a graphic symbol of the Sun (or Pole star) is of course interesting as compared to the Black Sun. Throughout history the latter has been depicted (especially in alchemy) most often as a blackened sun, sometimes carrying the corona of solar eclipses. Today this glyph is increasingly challenged by another: the sun wheel with twelve crooked rays, or Sig-runes, of the Wewelsburg Castle in Westphalia, Germany. The castle was the spiritual center of Heinrich Himmler’s SS during the Third Reich, and this striking floor mosaic in the North tower is nowadays supposed to carry esoteric meanings connected to the presumed occult teachings of the SS. In Germany it is used among right-wing groups as a visual substitute for the forbidden Hakenkreuz (the Nazi swastika). But the Schwarze Sonne of the Wewelsburg is today becoming increasingly popularized in mainstream popular culture, especially spawning from the US.

We find it almost every time when ‘Nazi occultism’ is a topic : in speculative popular history, sensationalistic cryptohistory, conspiracy theories, web chat rooms, movies, computer games … I will not go further into this, as the field is truly vast and in most cases historically thoroughly inaccurate. Suffice to say that this particular Black Sun, despite all the writings and all the more or less credible ‘documentary’ films on the History Channel, was not an esoteric symbol used by the Nazis. It was not even known as a ‘Black Sun,’ until post-war popular culture turned it into one.

However, this is certainly not without importance for those who today wish to use the Black Sun in a spiritual context. The popular associations with Nazism significantly add to the Otherness of it, underlining its previous cultural connotations to death, destruction and Evil. This also adds to the dimensions of taboo, ‘holy fear,’ already prevalent in much cultural imagery of the Black Sun. The result is that there is an immense amount of social energy invested in the symbol: if one chooses to use it for spiritual purposes, the whole legacy of cultural meanings associated with it is there as well and must be dealt with. In this respect it is quite fascinating to consider the use of the Black Sun in alchemy and in Jung’s psychoanalytical philosophy as a symbol for nigredo. As already indicated, Jung describes this stage in the process of development as “difficult and strewn with obstacles; the alchemical opus is dangerous. Right at the beginning you meet the ‘dragon,’ the chthonic spirit, the ‘devil’ or, as the alchemists called it, the ‘blackness,’ the nigredo, and this encounter produces suffering.” Already in this short quote from Jung there are obviously several interesting concepts. The fact that the repulsive Other is something that most people do not wish to encounter or deal with, but in fact need to if they are to develop as individuals, is very important.

Julian Strube, Nazism and the Occult
The Wewelsburg castle has been identified, within both popular literature and scholarly studies, as the location for a number of occult rituals performed by the SS, or even as the repository of the Holy Grail and the Holy Lance (Hüser 1987; Höhne 1967; Siepe 2009). Indeed, popular narratives about SS ‘rituals’ even found their way into the studies of esteemed experts (Fest 1963, 159-60; cf. Hüser 1987 68). Recent scholarship, however, has shown that no ‘cults’ or ‘rituals’ of any kind have ever been performed at the Wewelsburg (Schulte 2009). Himmler’s plans for turning the castle into a weltanschauliches Zentrum and an organizational base for the SS were never realized. 

There is no historical evidence to suggest that there has been anything like a powerful ‘esoteric circle’ within the SS. It is clear that Himmler consistently had to hide his private esoteric interests from the public and other party elites like Hitler and Goebbels. His future plans for the SS, including the Wewelsburg or the Externsteine, never left the planning stage (Halle 2002; Schulte 2009). Those individuals within the SS who were following an esoteric agenda – notably Wiligut and Rahn – were pushed out of the organization and met tragic ends. Certainly, there is no evidence to indicate that those individuals interested in esotericism in the SS had the power to develop secret weapons or to build subterranean bases and worldwide networks. 

The official stance of the state towards esoteric individuals and organizations became increasingly hostile after 1933. While there is evidence of continuities between esoterically inclined currents, such as Ariosophy, and National Socialism, those affinities never resulted in ‘occult’ influences at a state level. Esoteric groups influenced by such movements as Theosophy, Anthroposophy, Rosicrucianism, Ariosophy, Mazdaznan, or New Thought were classified as ‘sects hostile to the state.’ In the view of state officials, their unwillingness to adapt to the National Socialist Weltanschauung encouraged disunity amongst the Volksgemeinschaft. As Corinna Treitel (2004) suggests in her study of German occultism, two specific transgressions led to the persecution of esoteric groups by the authorities: the first was the denial of rigid racial hierarchies that, for example, became evident in the Theosophical proclamation of a ‘brotherhood of humanity’; the second was the accusation of ‘superstition’ that would poison the minds of the German people. Hence, in July 1937, all Freemasonic lodges, Theosophical circles, and related groups were dissolved and okkultistische as well as spiritistische publications and activities were forbidden. The famous flight by Rudolph Hess, who, in an attempt to bring an end to the war, had parachuted over Scotland in 1941, led to an increased suspicion of occult influence. It was, for example, claimed that the influence of astrologers and other ‘charlatans’ surrounding Hess had led to his ‘insanity.’ Hitler and, especially, Goebbels had always protested against ‘superstition’ and ‘mysticism,’ which now had to be finally eradicated. The resulting crackdown in June 1941 led to a brutal suppression of esoteric activity in Germany, to the interning of occultists and the forcing of many underground. Ironically, this purging of the occult and the sectarian took place under the aegis of the police chief, Himmler, who, while privately expressing an interest in esotericism, officially supported the crackdown on superstition, which he perceived to be a threat to the unity of the German people (cf.Dierker, Staudenmaier, and Meyer in Puschner 2012).

So basically while this particular graphical representation of the Schwarze Sonne was found in a castle renovated by a Nazi it had almost no currency outside the Schutzstaffel (and very little within it) and Himmler’s esoteric interests brought him into conflict with the rest of the leadership of the Third Reich, which violently rejected such beliefs and persecuted those who held them. 

And for this reason we should soundly reject the Sonnenrad (and all variations thereof) as well as demonize anyone who has the temerity not to. 

Uh huh

How do y’all feel about NASA and the moon landing? 

The CIA?


Ford, GM, BMW, and Audi? 

Hugo Boss?

Fanta soft drinks? 


Chase bank?

Cause all of them and many, many others have a much stronger Nazi pedigree than this poor, maligned symbol – and were directly involved in the atrocities of the regime whereas it, being a symbol, was not. At least be consistent – if you’re going to damn me for my usage of the Black Sun you better go after anyone who has ever patronized those companies too.  

But you won’t, because it’s not really about the symbol, now is it? 

After all, you never call me a Commie though I deeply reverence the Hammer of Thor and Saturn’s Sickle. 

Dasvidaniya, tovarisch. 

10 thoughts on “How Nazi is the Schwarze Sonne?

  1. “After all, you never call me a Commie though I deeply reverence the Hammer of Thor and Saturn’s Sickle.” That got a chuckle and I haven’t even had my morning coffee yet. Picturing a Dionysos t-shirt adapted from that classic Che Guevara graphic design.

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  2. John Michael Greer (former Archdruid of ADOA) said that Neopaganism is past its prime and will be gone in a matter of years. He said that since it is based on pop spirituality, that it has run out of gas and has turned to politics.

    I believe that he is correct in that if you are accessing the tap root of our faith, then politics does not matter. People in Rome fought all the time over politics but still found time to honor the same Gods. Once you start dividing everyone up into the Good People and Bad People, you don’t have a religion.

    Serious theology needs to be explored and discussed. That is what I see you are doing.

    As for the Nazis, it reminds me of another thing that Greer said. He was asked why are there so many Nazis in Pagan groups. He said in his vast experience with Pagan groups, he never met one. But he met a lot of Nazi hunters who were firmly convinced there were. He noted that they were generally from the comfortable classes and were left leaning in their politics.

    I am reminded of the Red Scare (both of them). Both happened and caused trauma to the American psyche. After that people searched for scapegoats i.e Communists to purge and to make pure again their miasmia. These folks are in a lot of pain and want to relief. So they listen to people like McCarthy, eager for power, and purge away. Only when someone stood up to McCarthy, did they realize what a horrible mistake they made. Communists could not be found except maybe one or two.

    People are using the Nazi thing to gain unearned power, while others are seeking relief. Their religion is based on pop spirituality and is fading fast. Politics is the new religion now. I remember what the cohort and friend of Jessie James, Cole Younger said when asked why he robbed banks. “It is either that or commit suicide.” So the attacks are better than suicide or feeling pain.

    The pop spirituality is based on the New Thought which started in the 1830s. Being spiritual, not religious is from New Thought. It got garbled in the New Age since you could think and grow rich. Then got garbled more in Neopaganism.

    Anyway, sorry for the long reply. I dislike this outing of people. I dislike people hanging dirty laundry in public. I dislike people using others for their pain. The spirits know who to listen to and who not to.

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    1. Great comment! I’m a long-time reader of Greer as well and have recently been enjoying his Lovecraftian fiction. Being a veteran myself, my focus went right to that Cole Younger quote. It sounds like he had PTSD before they knew what that was. That’s exactly the kind of thing a veteran today might say.


    2. You know, I just can’t help but worry when I sit here making plans to devote the rest of my life to Polytheism when there are so many signs all around that it’s going to be all for nought because everyone is far more concerned with politics than with worshipping the Gods. It really feels like at times people want our religion to be a club about mythology, philosophy, history, or linguistics as opposed to a religion. I love the Gods and spirits but I hate the people in this religion. They always make me feel like I’ve backed the wrong horse and I think that’s awful. I’ll keep fighting because I don’t want to let their idiocy damage my integrity but I just can’t help but shake the feeling that it’s not going to get any better anytime soon unless a lot of people all of a sudden care a whole lot

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      1. The thing to realize, Tetra, is that we’re not doing this for immediate reward. We’re doing it because it is the correct thing to do, for our ancestors, for our Gods, for our world. We are part of a community that includes our ancestors and those who will come after us and they’ll come. We must look to the future and the seeds we will leave well planted. There’s a saying from the Talmud that I find very inspiring: “you are not expected to complete the work but neither are you permitted to lay it down.” that is so true and little by little, in tiny pockets of devotion and clarity, those seeds will take root and grow. We do not work with an eye to the pollution of now, but rather toward setting down that which such pollution cannot touch.

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        1. It’s certainly the only thing keeping me going. The possibility of a better future. I just wish our traditions had healthier communities and that we didn’t come across the same stumbling blocks over and over again

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        2. Sounds like a topic for a long post/response over at the Grove. How does one keep going and/or maintain morale during the hard times? I have my answer but you can do it far more eloquently.

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  3. So who’s gonna be the one to tell these guys David Bowie is posthumously cancelled lol? I recall noticing a number of years back that the wikipedia article on the subject had been edited down to a quarter of it’s previous length to remove all pre third reich examples of the symbol, which just goes to show your point about it’s detractors lying. What’s most disgusting to me about those who have gone after the symbol and even you personally is the perverse, inverted religiosity they exhibit. They are literally more concerned with making sure that your symbology and politics are in line with mainstream liberal humanist morality than whether those things and even they themselves are historically and theologically correct. Secular Humanism is their actual religion from which they derive their values. You brought up the subject of “Holy Terror” in your post, and I think this is a key concept missing from the theology of most modern polytheists.They don’t view the Gods as objects of awe. Many of them are obsessed with gaining mainstream social acceptance seemingly blind to the fact that no form of religion that retains it’s integrity will be allowed a seat at the table in the modern west. Why should we give a fuck about meeting to the moral and cultural expectations of a post-monotheist open air shopping mall which is openly hostile to us? I don’t think that we should be approved by the mainstream, in fact we should go out of our way to radically separate ourselves from it, both to weed out the impious and uncommitted, and to draw the attention of those looking for something real. The black sun is a great way to “Deface the currency” so to speak. Really hate to see these cowardly chuds piling on you over the last year, hang in there!

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