Given the recent arrest of a US soldier for conspiring with members of the UK-based occult group the ‘Order of Nine Angles’ (O9A) to orchestrate an attack on fellow soldiers, and with the UK anti-fascist collective Hope not Hate calling for a ban on the O9A after labelling them “an incubator of terrorism”, it is timely to examine the relationship between the extreme right and occultism in the UK, with a focus on the O9A.
Scholarship on the radical right and religion has tended to focus, however, upon “the links between the churches and fascism”. Nevertheless, some occult groups and the extreme radical right also have a long history, with National Socialism in the late 1930s being heavily influenced by a particular genus of racist occultism, often known as ‘Ariosophy’. Worryingly, elements of the same Ariosophic thinking connect a number of recent violent episodes globally.
James Alex Field, who was arrested for murder in Charlottesville, marched alongside a flag depicting the Black Sun (or Sonnenrad), a Nazi symbol drawing on Ariosophic imagery. This same emblem appeared on the cover of the 2019 manifesto published by the Christchurch murderer. The murderer of UK MP Jo Cox,Thomas Mair, also had Ariosophic runic links, subscribing to publications such as the ‘Secret of the Runes’. Furthermore, in 2020 UK teenagers with occult neo-Nazi inclinations were being convicted of terrorist offenses.
Join the COVID-19 DemocracyWatch email list
Sign up for our global round-up of attacks on democracy during the coronavirus pandemic.
Whilst by no means are all occult groups racist (e.g. Heathens Against Hate), a number of US extremist groups have received substantial scholarly attention. Now there is a need, however, to start engaging further with UK-based occult “groupuscules” who are intent on pursuing an ultranationalist overthrow of the liberal-democratic order. This reflects Emilio Gentile’s concept of a “political religion” whose primary aim is to fashion a “new supranational civilisation”. The first and the most violent of these UK groups is the afore-mentioned O9A.
According to their own words, the O9A is “a secretive esoteric – Occult – association whose primary esoteric concern is the interior change of selected individuals by means of particular Occult methods and Arts”. The angles in their name are said to have associations with a magical and secretive rite associated with their initiation ceremonies. Nevertheless, it is difficult to glean information on the organisation because it is so secretive, it delights in misinformation and contradiction, and a fuller account would require a monograph of its own given that the group has allegedly published “over 5,000 pages of written material”.
According to some sources, the O9A was first established from a pre-existing wiccan (or modern witchcraft) coven by its founder, David William Myatt, who is also known by a number of other names, including Anton Long. Myatt denies that he is Long and that he has links to O9A, and has additionally stated that he has renounced all prior associations with Nazism and Satanism (having also been a Christian monk and a Muslim convert). Nevertheless, there is no denying his previous association with the extreme radical right. Myatt was Colin Jordan’s former bodyguard, the co-founder of the UK’s National Socialist Movement (NSM), and Myatt’s extremist thinking remains influential across a range of Satanic internet platforms.
Many within the radical right agree that given the failed history of the ultra-nationalist political route, a religious-cultural change is needed instead
Nevertheless, there are many striking resemblances between the writings of the O9A and Myatt’s. Both date their literature from the year of “Fayen”, namely 1889, the year of Hitler’s birth. Another commonality is the importance of personal honour, with the O9A calling for members to undertake “duels”, a penchant that Myatt also supports. Given the O9A’s deliberate misinformation, stating that it “does/does-not exist, never has existed, and is/is-not defunct”, media reticence to take Myatt at his word is understandable.
Secondary literature suggests a significant theme in O9A practice is a belief in “cosmic evolution”, the idea that various “aeons” have marked the progression of human evolution; according to the group, humanity currently resides in the Fifth Aeon from which a “Galactic Imperium” will eventually emerge, albeit on the condition that humankind rids itself of the perceived shackles of “Judeo-Christian tradition”.
There are striking similarities here with Ariosophy: Guido von List, one of that movement’s founders, also created a secret society very much like the O9A with the aim of ushering in a new Aryan civilisation purged of Jewish and Christian influence. The fact that the O9A advocates, like Ariosophy, an extreme form of Social Darwinism which derides the weak and is anti-Christian and anti-Jewish, suggests further parallels.
In addition to the O9A having a family resemblance to Ariosophy, its influence is of concern since it seems to have expanded into the US where it stands accused of infiltrating another extremist group there, the Atomwaffen Division (AWD). Intriguingly, another occult inspiration for the AWD are the writings of prominent neo-Nazi, James Mason, whose commentaries espousing racial terror also pay homage to the work of List. Nevertheless, the fact that “ritualised rape, random attacks on innocent victims and ‘human culling’” are also apparently being advocated by the O9A; that it encourages its followers to infiltrate their opponents; and that it may have as many as 2000 followers, makes the movement more dangerous.
What is also troubling about the O9A is its approach to magical practice, namely its determination to create a revolutionary order through the spreading of new radical cultural memes: “What if we could use…magic to create a new world 300 years from now?” Many within the radical right agree that given the failed history of the ultra-nationalist political route, a religious-cultural change is needed instead. According to Wulf Ingessunu, leader of Woden’s Folk, another UK-based racist occult group, one way to achieve this change is to create a successful ultra-nationalist religious worldview: “The strongest movements in the world today are religious (Zionism-Judaism-Islam) so we must recognise the power inherent in a Religious Movement, a power that overrides concepts of class and left-right which have been used to trick our people”. As racist occultism grows, it is vital to report on and monitor this thinking, and to put a stop to this new dark magic.