Book Review

The Secret King: Karl Maria Wiligut; Himmler's Lord of the Runes

Translated by Stephen E. Flowers, Ph.D.,
Edited by Michael Moynihan.

The success of the National Socialists can be generously attributed to Hitler’s restoration of pageantry and mysticism to the sullen working classes of 20th century Germans. His famous rallies aroused an extremely passionate religious fervor from the masses, paralleled only by the gatherings of the Roman Catholic church. While Hitler had used this effect to his political advantage, some of his colleagues took the mysticism closer to heart. Perhaps the most famous eccentric in the Nazi party, Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsfuhrer of the SS, has provided the fuel for the admitted cottage industry of Nazi Occultism because of his majestic Wewelsburg castle, his enigmatic SS rituals, and his relationship with the esotericist Karl Maria Wiligut.

The latter is the focus of The Secret King. Born in Vienna in 1866, Wiligut entered the Austrian Army, and rose to the rank of captain. At age 37, he published his first book, Seyfried’s Runen, which showed not only his intellect, but also his great interest in Germanic history. During this time, he also became involved with several occult circles in Germany, including a quasi-masonic Lodge, and became acquainted with figures such as Jorg Lanz Von Liebenfels. Wiligut remained in the army throughout the strife of World War One, and after retiring in 1919, he became very involved in political affairs, and editing a journal aimed at exposing various Masonic, Jewish, and Roman-Catholic conspiracies. Simultaneously, Wiligut began to bring forth his extremely unorthodox beliefs, including his claim to be the heir of the ancient title of “the secret king of Germany.” Unfortunately, these beliefs, coupled with failing business interests and a deteriorating marriage, resulted in his wife declaring him incompetent, and committing him to a mental institution.

Wiligut remained institutionalized until 1927. Meanwhile his fame in German esoteric circles grew, leading to his introduction to Heinrich Himmler. The Reichsfuhrer was quite taken with the erstwhile soldier, and appointed him as the head of the Department for Prehistory and Early History at the Main Office for Race and Settlement; he mainly created personal reports for Himmler on the esoteric sides of theology, cosmology, history, and philosophy. Wiligut is also credited with the conceptualization of the Wewelsburg castle, and the design of the SS Totenkopf ring, as well as several rituals for use within the SS. The notes of one such ceremony are reprinted within the secret king.

The foundation of Wiligut’s theology is GÔT; an ideogram formed by three runes: Gibor (rune of the one who supplies the Light), Othil (the everlasting expression of the Being and spirit-matter) and Tyr (rune of the Victory, in this case the victory of Light over Matter). Far from a Wotanist, Wiligut actually taught the idea that the Germans had been monotheistic throughout history; the deities of Wotanism, normally attributed to runic theology, are taught to be a mistake. It simply appears that Wiligut never got past his own trappings within Christianity, yet never accepted such a widespread religion as the truth for the Germanic peoples. Instead, he identified the ‘ancient Germanic religion’ as Irmin-Kristianity, a parallel based on the idea that “Children of the Light” bring redemption to the “Children of the Stone”, and bring them to the next level. This ideal is based on abstract runeology, and is expounded upon by his writings and poems, some quite impressive, even in their direct translations. Mr.

Moynihan and Dr. Flowers took great care when translating and presenting these supplements, and, appreciably, they don’t disguise that there was all too much madness to Wiligut’s method.

As a viable base of theology, Wiligut’s work is too ideologically muddled and contrived to be put into practice. But the purpose of this book is not to be a Bible, but a reference to bring light to an oft-misrepresented subject. As such, it succeeds greatly; much insight can be culled from this work, whether it is theological, political, or historical. For this reason, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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