Pre-Christian Residue in Pennsylvania German Folk Culture

The following is an excerpt taken from chapter IV of Patrick Donmoyer’s book, “Hex Signs: Myth and Meaning in Pennsylvania Dutch Barn Stars”, titled, “Celestial Symbolism in Folk Culture”:

Aside from the sacred context of these motifs, one particular instance of a profane (albeit mild) reference to the six-pointed rosette can be found within Pennsylvania Dutch dialect profanity, where long strings of words are stacked to indicate the severity of the situation, usually consisting of permutations of the phrase Dunnerwedder! – literally “Thunder Weather.” This latter phrase is considered by some to be the survival of an ancient invocation of the heathen god of thunder, Thor, named “Dunner” in old German, from which its disapproval in current times is allegedly derived. Several of such permutations were documented by the Rev. Leonard Shupp, a dialect folklorist who recalled a series of elaborate cuss-words used in Lehigh County. Among the most interesting dialect combinations he cited were: “Himmel Haagel Schtaern Dunnerwetter,” “Heilich Schtaern Dunnerwetter,” and “Kreuz Haagel Schtaern Dunnerwetter nochemol!” These can be translated from Pennsylvaanisch dialect respectively as, “Heavenly Hail Star Thunder Weather,” “Heavenly* Star Thunder Weather,” and “Hail Cross Star Thunder Weather once again!” While significance of these terms may be completely unintelligible to a modern audience, and even to many Pennsylvania Dutchmen, the idea of the “Heavenly-Hail-Star,” the “Holy Star,” or the “Hail-Cross-Star,” is a highly probable reference to the ancient name given to the six-pointed rosette: Hagal, meaning “hailstone” in old German. This emblem was part of the Runic alphabet of the ancient Germanic people and had a sacred connotation connected with fate and the passage of time, however the motif continued to be used long after its initial meaning was forgotten. This pre-Christian origin could be why the phrase was later used as profanity. Yet, some aspects of this early symbolism did survive, as “the first three hail-stones of the year,” according to the 20th century dialect folklore collection of the Rev. Thomas Brendle, held a sacred connotation and had the power to heal, as “a protection not only against fevers but against all sickness throughout the year.” These parallels are useful in studying the origins of art and belief, however they need not be overstated as many of these ideas have been forgotten for hundreds of years.

Buy the book: For the most comprehensive, convincing, and up-to-date research on Pennsylvania Dutch barn stars, see Patrick Donmoyer’s Hex Signs: Myth and Meaning in Pennsylvania Dutch Barn Stars** (foreword by Dr. Don Yoder).

It is interesting to note that in his foreword, Dr. Yoder makes mention of the fact that a number of Pan-Germanic scholars from Germany – one of whom would later go on to become a member of the NSDAP – journeyed to the local region prior to the development of the Third Reich in order to study the culture, dialect, and folkways of this particular group of racial Germans who had been living outside of the Reich for quite some time.

*Post editor’s note: I believe this repeating of the term “Heavenly” as a translation for separate terms, “Himmel” and “Heilich”, to be a simple error by the author. Given the following sentence, it is probable that “Heilich Schtaern Dunnerwetter” should rather translate as “Holy Star Weather”.

Relevant to the history of Germanic symbolism at large, here is a video on folk symbolism among the Dutch proper (as opposed to the Pennsylvania-Dutch, more accurately known as the Pennsylvania-Germans):

This short 1941 Dutch documentary, “Eeuwig Leevende Tekens” (Immortal Symbols), by Hamer (Hammer) Film from the “Volksche Werkgemeenschap” (Folkish Study Group), touches on the six-star, solar cross, sun swirl, swastika, Odal rune, Tree of Life, and more.

Subtitles by Otharus [Jan Ott] –

**This link is to the book’s publisher, Masthof, and is available for $30. It can be purchased for the same price from the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center at Kutztown University or from Amazon for $40.

“Hex Signs” as Solar and Ethnic Symbolism and Other Interpretations

Hyperlinks and images added by post editor. Bias crossed out for accuracy.


The Scholars’ War

Just what are the hex signs supposed to mean, if they have any meaning at all? This question lifts the lid on an acrimonious and ongoing controversy in the world of Pennsylvania Dutch scholarship. At the heart of this controversy lies the the fragmented character of Pennsylvania Dutch culture itself. It has become a culture divided into radically opposing camps.

While the outside world has been aware of hex signs through fiction and magazine illustrations since the turn of the century, the year 1924 marks the beginning of the scholarly hex-sign controversy. Illustrations of hex-sign barns appeared in the October 1924 Journal of the American Institute of Architects in an article by C.H. Whitaker, who described them as “ornaments with sun bursts in yellow or with other curious designs, some said to be symbolic and also said not to be.” Whitaker was quoted as saying, “Some day I may be persuaded to find out just what these curious decorations mean.” We regret to report that he never continued his search.

It was Wallace Nutting’s Pennsylvania Beautiful, which also appeared in 1924, that lit the fires of controversy:

The ornaments on barns found in Pennsylvania, and to some small extent in West Jersey, go by the local name of hexafoos, or witch foot. . . . They are supposed to be a continuance of very ancient tradition, according to which these decorative marks were potent to protect the barn, or more particularly the cattle, from the influence of witches. . . . The hexafoos was added to its decoration as a kind of spiritual or demoniac lightning-rod.

Nutting claimed to have gotten this interpretation from a single informant—a dangerous practice in fieldwork—who convinced him that the emigrants had brought the practice from their European homelands.

Nutting’s statement and his term Hexafoos were widely copied in other treatments of the Pennsylvania Dutch and have been the major contributor to the tourist literature focusing on the supposed apotropaic or evil-deflecting purpose of the barn decorations.

The leading scholarly apologist for the magical and apotropaic interpretation of the hex signs was Dr. August C. Mahr (1886-1970), a professor at Ohio State University, himself of German birth. In several articles that appeared both in Germany and in the United States in the 1950s, one of which achieved canonization of sorts by its inclusion in a major introductory text in American folklore, Professor Mahr held the line that the signs not only had meaning, but they were indeed “hex signs,” looked upon by their painters and possessors as having magical protective powers. His work was comparative, citing examples of the use of these motifs from various parts of Europe. He drew some interesting conclusions. Faced with the fact that in Europe the signs are not usually found on building facades except in places like Canton Bern, Switzerland, he developed the theory that the Swiss emigrant among the Pennsylvania Dutch, in shifting from his usual wooden house facade to a stone structure in Pennsylvania, transferred the geometrical signs that in Switzerland appeared on the front of his house to his wooden barn facade.


It was Mahr’s opinion that the Pennsylvania Dutch preserved and used the hex signs here because their forefathers had used them in Europe. They were part of the traditional community culture of the Rhineland villages, and the Pennsylvania Dutch continued to use them here because they preserved more of the European traditional sense of community than did their ethnic neighbors. He concluded that the average Pennsylvania Dutchman wanted hex signs on his barn because it was part of his “group psychology” to need them. To the outsider, he will probably deny that they are hex signs, while he continues to secretly believe in their efficacy—an attribution of double standardism to the Dutch for which the professor has often been criticized. Yet Mahr’s thesis is a thoughtful one, and right or wrong, he stirred up a great deal of attention.

The direction opposite of the apotropaic theory is the theory that the hex signs have no hidden or occult meanings at all, but are plain, ordinary decorations. The principal spokesman for the decorative theory was Dr. Alfred L. Shoemaker (b. 1913), who aired his ideas in his popular pamphlets, Hex, No! (1953) and Three Myths about the Pennsylvania Dutch Country (1951), as well as in his scholarly volume The Pennsylvania Barn (1955). From his wide research in both Europe and America, Shoemaker came to the conclusion that the hex signs were “pure and simple decorative motifs.” As such, they had no underlying program—that is, they were not used for magical purposes.

Like all other ethnic groups in America, the Pennsylvania Dutch did believe in the powers of witchcraft. They brought from Europe traditional strategies for dealing with witches and for protecting their property against evil forces. In his reasoning against the theory that hex signs were actually put on barns to ward off witches, Professor Shoemaker pointed out that the hex-sign belt is really a limited area, with Lehigh, Berks, Bucks and Montgomery Counties at its heart.

If there were any basis to the witch angle, wouldn’t it be awfully peculiar that half of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country only believes in warding off hexes and the other half doesn’t? Moreover, isn’t it plain, common sense that magic, wherever it is practiced (and no one would deny its existence in the Pennsylvania Dutch Country—isn’t it plain common sense, I say, that a farmer would NOT parade his mysterious doings before all the gawking world to see. No, witchcraft and all that hangs together with it, is a very, very secret matter, all of it surviving underground, well hidden from view to all but the initiated. Anyone with the slightest insight into human nature must sense how utterly preposterous is the whole hex sign story.

John Joseph Stoudt (1911-1981), the pioneer folk-art scholar of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, defended the theory that the hex signs had meaning. His highly symbolist interpretations of Pennsylvania Dutch folk art appeared in a long series of books from Consider the Lilies, How They Grow (1937) to Sunbonnets and Shoofly Pie (1973). To Stoudt, the inner meaning of the signs had nothing to do with witchcraft. They issued instead from the mystical theology of Europe. Like many Dutchmen, Stoudt took offense at the alleged connection with witchcraft.

On all sides one hears the sordid story that the markings on Pennsylvania Dutch barns are the signs put there to keep the witches away. Without mincing words, this is slander on the Pennsylvania Dutch perpetrated by outsiders who, riding through the lovely countryside of Eastern Pennsylvania, are hard put to explain why such lovely farms, such well kept fields, should be marked by what they consider to be talismanic signs.

For Stoudt, it was a New England Yankee who was to blame:

Wallace Nutting in his dilettante’s book Pennsylvania Beautiful, was the first one to say that these designs were placed on the barns to scare witches away. The present writer has interviewed 165 people over 70 years of age living on farms where barns are decorated, and not one was willing to admit that these barn-designs were placed there to scare witches away. One old Lehigh County potato grower said that the nonsense about witches originated with city newspaper writers who were careless about the truth. Another old lady was waiting for the woman writer from Philadelphia to give her a piece of her mind! One man said that he had heard his father call them Dullebawne—tulips! An old lady said they were Blumensterne—flower-stars!

Stoudt felt that if the designs were really “hex” marks, then why should they appear on Bible covers, tombstones, and other “potent” religious artifacts that certainly needed no protection against witches? He found in the signs not a pagan meaning, but rather a Christian one. Though his symbolist theory has been attacked as forced—certainly not every hex sign can possibly represent his “divine lily” of the “Age of the Holy Spirit”—Stoudt was not entirely alone in his thinking.


All these hex-based and symbolist theories do not take into account that one cannot attribute to the Pennsylvania Dutchman of the present day exactly the same attitudes toward symbols that his fur-clad forefathers took in Europe, either during the Middle Ages or in pre-Christian times. Symbols may continue in use in a culture for aesthetic reasons, even after their original spiritual meanings have been lost, and yet retain aesthetic content.

By the 1940s, the scholars’ war over the hex signs had reached a draw. Regardless of meaning, the signs were accepted by the Pennsylvania Dutch themselves as symbolic of Dutchness, a potential not overlooked by Pennsylvania’s tourist industry. Dr. Arthur D. Graeff (1899-1969), by birth a Berks County Dutchman, wrote in his weekly column for the Reading Times of May 13, 1946:

The barnscapes are part of the popular heritage of the people of Southeastern Pennsylvania. You will not find their equal or their likeness in any other part of the world, not even in Europe. Nowhere will one find the geometric figures, the stars, teardrops and sunwheels which our forebears used so artistically to break the monotony of color which would otherwise appear on an 80-foot expanse of painted boards. They are as much our own as windmills belong to Holland, castles to Spain and thatched roofing to Ireland. Let’s keep them for sentiment’s sake.

Second, let’s keep them for their practical value too. Our painted barns become a financial asset to our entire community. How? As an inducement to the tourist trade. People travel thousands of miles to see the survivals of French peasantry in the Gaspé Peninsula to the north of us; they dream about visiting the missions in California and write epics on the grandeur of the plantation manors of our colonial Southland. Let our local Chambers of Commerce have something unique to tell the world about when inviting visitors to Berks and Lehigh! It will mean cash from distant places, not merely cash resulting from trading dollars with each other.

Graeff’s encouragement was echoed by many others worried about the presentation of the Pennsylvania Dutch culture, but little did he realize the radical mushrooming of the hex myth that would result from tourism after the second World War. One thing is certain: The new mythology was evidently here to stay.

A heated controversy also arose in Germany over geometric symbols and their supposed meanings. The positions developed on this question by scholars and pseudoscholars in Germany before and during the Nazi period may have had more to do with the arguments in the United States over the meaning of hex signs than most of us would like to admit.

The background of the German scholars’ war is a long one. The tendency to romanticize the primitive and pagan Germanic past had begun long before Hitler. There was first of all the European Romantic movement, with its discovery of the “folk” and “folklore.” In the first half of the nineteenth century, the work of the Brothers Grimm, particularly Jacob Grimm’s four-volume Deutsche Mythologie (“German Mythology”), provided scholarly underpinnings for interest in the Germanic past and its supposed influences on the present through folk custom and belief. Later came the full-fledged German political nationalism with its racist spinoff, the Pan-German Movement, which in the early twentieth century—before Hitler—concerned itself with “German” settlements and influences outside the “Fatherland.” And in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Germanophiles turned their attention to discovering the hidden meanings of the German folk-art designs that appeared on everyday objects ranging from houses to textiles. They found that these geometric designs—dignified with the “correct” German designation of Sinnbilder (“mind pictures”), rather than the classical word symbols (non-German in origin)—were actually living carryovers from the ancient Germanic past. They were, furthermore, religious symbols, and since most of them were circular in form or enclosed in circles, they were declared to be sun symbols, as well as good-luck tokens, salvation signs, and apotropaic warnings to keep harm away.

A whole school of overenthusiastic symbol researchers developed, who carried the Germanic symbolism to ridiculous lengths. They combed rural and urban Germany for geometric symbols to which they applied their questionable theories. This, along with runology, the study of the ancient Germanic language of runes, they treated as secret knowledge that needed to be deciphered by their own inner circle. In their study, they completely ignored the fact that those who made and those who used the designs had no such understanding of their meanings.


In the 1920s, after World War I, the German people faced economic distress and disillusionment, and there was an upswing in German nationalist organizations. These organizations cultivated and used the Germanic symbols and in a sense enabled some individuals to flee to the Germanic past to escape the present. Unfortunately, the messages of these nationalist and rightist groups were mixed with antislavism and antisemitism.

The National Socialist movement took these developments a significant step further. It politicized symbol research, elevating the swastika to its logo, and furthered the German continuity idea in Himmler’s Deutsches Ahnenerbe (“German Ancestral Heritage”) movement. The principal Nazi theorist of symbols was Karl Theodor Weigel, whose many books, now discredited, played up the theme of “Germanic continuity.” His extensive photographic archive of symbolism, however, is a useful tool for the study of folk-art symbols and is now housed at the University of Göttingen.

One of the leading folk-art scholars in Germany, Dr. Bernward Deneke, longtime director of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nürnberg, addresses the subject in his book Europäische Volkskunst (“European Folk Art”), a volume in the Propyläen Kunstgeschichte Series reprinted in 1985. For a long time, he says, it was customary to ascribe special meanings to folk-art ornaments, which were turned into symbols by some scholars who drew their efficacy from a supposed continuity of faith and practice that once existed in the far-distant, pre-Christian past. The designs included multirayed stars, rosettes, and whirling rosettes—all based on the circle. These were called “sun symbols” and were brought into connection with a prehistoric cult of the sun. Hence, these forms of decoration based on the circle, found on buildings, furniture, and small objects, were regarded as “witnesses of a supposed arcane knowledge that had come down from ancient times.”

“The fact is, however,” Deneke continues, “that such explanations . . . , so far as can be seen, were nowhere recorded as oral traditions by the producers and users of the objects themselves.” Rather, it appears evident that these “elements of decoration satisfy formal requirements, that they grew out of a play instinct related to form, and proved themselves useful for furnishing proofs of dexterity and skill.” Here and elsewhere in his writings he makes the useful suggestion that such geometric designs enclosed in circles were marks associated with the building trades, applied to objects by carpenters, stone masons, and cabinetmakers.

Since 1945, the end of the Nazi era, German scholars, particularly those who deal with folk culture, have in several important conferences debated the influences of the Nazi regime and its ideology upon German scholarship. The most recent of these conferences was held at Karlsruhe in Baden-Württemberg, September 25-29, 1995, and was devoted to symbols and symbol research. In the conference volume edited by Rolf Wilhelm Brednich and Heinz Schmitt, Symbole: Zur Bedeutung der Zeichen in der Kultur (Münster, 1997), the symbol controversy is thoroughly discussed, particularly in a paper by Brednich, entitled “Germanische Sinnbilder und ihre vermeintliche Kontinuität: Eine Bilanz” (“Germanic Symbols and Their Supposed Continuity: A Balance”). The story is not over, however, since Brednich reports that Germanic runology and symbology are still alive and well, as evidenced by books and pamphlets for sale in rightist bookstores in Berlin, Paris, and elsewhere.


Unfortunately, the Germanic theories propounded by Europeans on the meaning of the symbols produced fallout in the United States. Certain Pennsylvania Dutch scholars, among them Edwin M. Fogel (1874-1949) of the University of Pennsylvania and his student Preston A. Barba (1883-1971) of Muhlenberg College, both founders of the Pennsylvania German Folklore Society in 1936—a new, hostile opposition group to the older Pennsylvania German Society founded in 1891—showed in some of their writings that they were aware of the German theories. That they actually favored some of the explanations is clear from the dialect address Professor Barba delivered at the Berks County Fersammling (an annual meeting held completely in Pennsylvania Dutch dialect) at Reading on April 2, 1948. His address, entitled Unser Scheiere (“Our Barns”), begins by saying that outsiders visiting Pennsylvania sometimes call the barn signs Hexefiess—”witches’ feet.” The present Pennsylvania Dutch generation, however, doesn’t have an explanation for them. An old Weisenberg farmer Barba talked to outside the farmer’s beautifully decorated barn said they were yuscht fer schee, “just for nice.” But Barba ascribed meanings to them beyond decoration. Significant parts of his argument can be translated as follows:

Yes, our forefathers brought them along across the ocean. Here in the New World the signs were like links in a long chain that bound them to the past. These signs are found not only in the Palatinate. They are especially found in north Germany. Up there in the dark, cold Northland, for those early men, the sun was a divine thing. What would mankind be without the sun? Without the sun there would be no life on this earth! Behind the sun there was that almighty power that has creating everything, the Lord God—incomprehensible to us human beings. And for those early men in the Northland, the sun was indeed the best proof of that divine power. The sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening. The sun also makes its yearly circuit. In the winter it makes just a little bow [arch] in the heavens, it descends lower and lower, and up there in the Northland it disappears completely—then come again those holy nights in December, and the sun climbs higher in the heavens; it begins its new circuit. A new year begins—with new hope in the heart of mankind. It is spring again; the sun turns higher and higher—everything becomes alive—summer arrives—the grain and the fruit are ripe. The harvest is past—we move toward fall—and here comes another winter. The sun makes a circle—its annual course is a circle.

He goes on to draw the parallel of life as a circle as well. The individual moves from birth to death, with children and grandchildren continuing the circle. And then he comes to the hex signs.

How proud must that first man have been, when for the first time . . . he drew a circle, like a wheel, and further divided that wheel until he had discovered the six-pointed star. And how could he have better portrayed the sun and its yearly circuit than with a wheel with four spokes—for spring, summer, fall, and winter. And how better could he have shown how the sun turns through the year than with a whirling swastika in a circle. [Here he uses the unfortunate term Hokegreiz, a twentieth-century Pennsylvania Dutch coinage for the Hakenkreuz, or swastika.]


He continues more and more in a sermonic vein. “Yes, sun signs in those early times were highly esteemed. With their silent language, mankind slowly made its long, long way to the Eternal Light.” He admits that what was accounted “religion” to early man often later became “superstition.” He concludes as follows:

Today we have little understanding of such things, and yet we should hold the old signs in honor because our forefathers honored them and viewed them with respect as holy signs. No, they were not yuscht fer schee [“just for nice”]. These signs were necessary to them, growing out of their hearts. And it would not hurt if we too would today view those old signs for what they were once in earlier times—signs of that mighty power that slumbers in winter, awakens in the springtime, and brings new life to nature, ripens the grain and the fruit in summer—and then goes to sleep again in the winter, in an everlasting circle or ring which is again the most beautiful evidence in nature of our Lord God. And whoever does view them in this way must agree that the painted stars on our barns are pure prayers. But HEX-FEET? No!—No!—Phooey on that idea! That we can let other and more stupid people believe.

The solid contribution of scholars like Edwin Fogel and Preston Barba to Pennsylvania Dutch linguistics and cultural history far outshine their yielding to symbolist interpretations of hex signs. At least their infection with the continuity ideas was mild. They were certainly free of the racialist bias that stained the work of European symbolists, and they did not insist on the radical sun-symbolism of European scholarship.

Barba’s “sermon” on hex signs does, however, reveal, in its curious emphasis on the “Northland,” a derivation from the European Germanic continuity writers who found “pure” Germanic traits among the “Nordic” cultures of Scandinavia. After all, they did give us the Yule tradition, which Barba refers to as “those holy nights in December.”


The Hex Sign as Ethnic Symbolism

Another theory proposed by scholars to explain the meaning of Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs treats the subject from the development of ethnic identity. This is the most recent of all the theories about the hex sign, yet as more and more scholars sift through the historical evidence, it seems increasingly plausible. The Pennsylvania Dutch, like all ethnic groups positioning themselves in relation to their American neighbors, developed symbols to denote their ethnic identity. Badges of ethnic identity are useful to outsiders because they enable quick recognition of what is or is not Pennsylvania Dutch. Equally, these same symbols minister to the Dutch themselves, giving them recognizable projections of their own inner spirit—that is, a key to who they are as a people.

Like every other aspect of ethnicity, such ethnic symbols are often complex in meaning. Ethnic identity involves both personal identity—one’s sense of kinship to one’s group—and group identity. On the side of personal identity, the farmer who handsomely decorated his barn with hex signs does so because he is proud of his farm and well-kept buildings. The farmer’s individual pride and sense of worth shade over into his sense of group belonging. For him, the hex signs become the symbols of his Pennsylvania Dutchness—of his ethnic group and his sense of belonging to it.

Viewed historically, the hex-sign phenomenon may indeed be connected with the sharpening of Pennsylvania Dutch ethnic consciousness in reaction to nineteenth-century cultural tensions. The Civil War was especially difficult for the Pennsylvania Dutch. The plain sects were confronted with the dilemma of pacifism, and nonpacifist Pennsylvania Dutch often found themselves fighting opposite people of German ancestry, especially in the Valley of Virginia. The midcentury also witnessed attempts by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to rid the Pennsylvania Dutch of their distinctive culture, using the state school system to mount a systematic stamping out of the German language.

The diverse groups making up the Pennsylvania Dutch community reacted to these stresses in their own ways. The plain sects codified plainer forms of contemporary fashion into a sectarian uniform. This plain code is still with us today. About the same time, the church groups began painting hex signs on their barns and incorporated Pennsylvania Dutch motifs in the Victorian architectural gingerbread on their houses. Both Pennsylvania Dutch groups thus made public statements about their cultural affiliations. As attention has changed in this century from national groups to ethnic groups, the Pennsylvania Dutch decorative motifs have, in the fullest sense, become “ethnicity markers.”

The symbols of the Pennsylvania Dutchman’s sense of belonging, as with other ethnic groups, include a range of artifacts, customs, and expressions. In the early twentieth century, in addition to the farmers with their painted barns, a school of literary spokesmen arose for the culture in the form of Pennsylvania novelists. Foremost among these were Helen Reimensnyder Martin, Elsie Singmaster, Georg Schoch, and Nelson Lloyd—all Pennsylvanians of dyed-in-the-wool Pennsylvania Dutch stock. In wrestling with the question of how to portray Pennsylvania Dutchness in fictional form, these local writers—whose efforts coincided with the general flowering of regional fiction—put together a kit of ready-made ethnic symbols, which included the hex sign.

In their attempt to give local color to their settings, novelists of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country sprinkled their stories with props from the culture: witches and powwowers, stern fathers, austere plain sectarians, a whole gallery of shrewd Dutch farmers, and their even shrewder wives. In expressing their “Dutchness,” characters often used Dutch-English dialect. Their creators even put together what has since become the culinary canon of accepted Pennsylvania Dutch folk foods, and—what concerns us most directly—they described the decorations on the Dutchman’s barn for readers across the nation.


One of the earliest examples of this trend toward ethnic identification with barn decorations appeared in “Among the Dunkers,” by Nelson Lloyd, published in Scribner’s Magazine for November 1901. After describing the differences between the various plain sects, Lloyd concentrates on describing a Dunker love feast that he claimed to have attended in a barn in the Lebanon Valley. The barn was “one of those great white structures with green shutters, that so distinctly mark our Pennsylvania landscape.” Hex signs are not mentioned specifically, but the article illustration showing the barn where the meetings are held sports a high, supported forebay with a row of six beautifully drawn hex signs.

Like much of the later tourist literature about the Dutch, Nelson Lloyd’s article contained some indisputable historical facts, along with a great many misconceptions. The Dunkers, like the Mennonites and Amish, do not today normally allow hex signs on their barns. Did any of them slip past the strictures of their bishops in 1900? We cannot answer that right now. But we note Lloyd’s fictional account of the Amish “blue gate”—the earliest known reference to it in literature. He related that “not all in the valley are going to Dunker preaching.” Some are going to the “Mennonite bush-meeting,” or the River Brethren services,

or to the white farm-house with the gates of blue. Within those blue gates the Amish are to worship, and, if their ancient custom had its inception in truth, one could not choose a better place, for it has been hallowed by the visit of many a passing angel, who, marking the heavenly hue of the entrance, has stepped aside to bless the home there.

According to current tourist literature, the Amish paint their gates blue when a daughter comes of marriageable age.

Georg Schoch’s “The Christmas Child,” in Harper’s Monthly Magazine” for April 1906, also brings in barn decorations. In it, a farmer’s wife ventures into the barn at midnight on Christmas Eve to hear the animals talk, with unexpected results. The novelist describes a great “Swiss barn” (as the Pennsylvania Dutch barn was called into the 1950s) with “its red front, painted with moons and stars.” It “looked patriarchal; it had its own pastoral and dignified associations.”

Elsie Singmaster’s classic short story, “Big Thursday,” perhaps one of her best, deals with the Great Allentown Fair and its place in the hearts of the Pennsylvania Dutch. It appeared in the January 1906 issue of Century Magazine. The illustration by Leon Guipon shows a Pennsylvania landscape featuring a barn decorated with three huge hex signs—a barn typical, in fact, of those found near Allentown.

What these literary offerings accomplish with their illustrations is a mood of “Dutchness.” By its very presence, subtle or express, the hex sign is meant to convey a certain psychological impact.

Subtle, but ever present, this theme of ethnicity and symbol was carried forward in the 1920s by one of Pennsylvania’s most influential regional authors. Indeed, the tourist mecca that Southeastern Pennsylvania has become today is due in part to the nostalgic and pleasant discovery of “things Pennsylvania Dutch” by Cornelius Weygandt (1871-1957). His books The Red Hills (1929), The Blue Hills (1936), and The Dutch Country (1939) have become minor classics of American regional literature. Weygandt was himself a Pennsylvania Dutchman who spent a long career as professor of English literature at the University of Pennsylvania. An avid collector of country antiques, he roamed the Dutch counties summer and winter absorbing local flavor and writing charming essays about his discoveries.

It was Professor Weygandt and his books, more than any single source, that developed the Wallace Nutting view of hex signs. In one of the essays in The Red Hills, Weygandt described his own feelings about being caught in a Pennsylvania barn during a violent thunderstorm:

Were there not symbols on the barn? They would keep the lightning away. The barn had stood there a hundred years on the open hilltop, with no lightning rods and no high trees nearer than the pines before the house a hundred yards away. Six-lobed the symbols were, in weathered lead that was still strikingly white against the ironstone red of the wooden front. Six-lobed they were, within their circle of four-foot diameter, the six petals of the conventionalized tulip that is the sign manual of all good things in our folk culture. They were on the south side of the barn, and only four of them, not the miraculous seven that keep away all harm. Yet they had kept away the lightning for a hundred years, and they were, no doubt, still potent, as sure in their efficacy as anything in life may be.

Expert that he was in Pennsylvania Dutch folk art, Weygandt even discovered, long before John Joseph Stoudt, the connection between the tulips on fraktur and the six-lobed design in use as a barn symbol.

Barn symbols are prevalent in many parts of “Dutch” Pennsylvania. They come down close to Philadelphia, but they grow less plenty as you cross the Susquehanna, until in Franklin County, where are so many “Dutch” things else of fine quality, they are far to seek. The symbols are supposed to keep lightning from striking the barn that has them painted on its wooden sides, and to prevent the animals housed in the barn from being bewitched, or ferhexed as we say in the vernacular.

Weygandt was of the opinion (again before Stoudt) that some of the barn designs had their origin in Rosicrucian symbolism, while others were related to the Wheel of Fortune, the Four-leaf Clover, and the Pomegranate.

The final word in the scholars’ war over the meaning of hex signs has obviously not been uttered. Because theories are continuing to develop, to push out in new directions, attracting new meanings in the process, hex signs are worthy of further study.


Source: Don Yoder & Thomas E. Graves’ Hex Signs: Pennsylvania Dutch Barn Symbols & Their Meaning (Revised & Expanded 2nd Edition)

For the most comprehensive, convincing, and up-to-date research on Pennsylvania Dutch barn stars, see Patrick Donmoyer’s Hex Signs: Myth and Meaning in Pennsylvania Dutch Barn Stars(foreword by Dr. Don Yoder).

*This link is to the book’s publisher, Masthof, and is available for $30. It can be purchased for the same price from the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center (Kutztown University) or from Amazon for $40.

Dr. Alfred Rosenberg on Racial Respect

The following excerpts originate from Dr. Alfred Rosenberg’s Memoirs

“I have explained in many speeches that the veneration of Germanic blood does not imply contempt for other races but, on the contrary, racial respect. Since races, as the core of nations, are created by nature, the very respect for nature itself demands respect for such creations.

The purpose of the large-scale development of peoples is the juridical recognition of racially conditioned families of people in their own homelands. Style, customs, language, are the manifestation of different souls and peoples; and just as these cannot be mixed without a resultant deterioration of their purity, so men, as their embodiment, and to whom they belong organically and spiritually, cannot intermingle.

These concepts met with world-wide opposition on the part of those who, perhaps originally influenced by the generous humanitarianism of the 18th century, simply did not have the courage to face the new discoveries, or feared that any corrective measure might affect their economic status. The great questions concerning the fate of the both century [sic] could not be discussed calmly and deliberately because one problem barred the view — that of Jewry.”

“The Jewish question is as old as Jewry itself, and anti-Semitism has always been the answer whenever Jews have appeared on the scene, from Tacitus to Goethe, Schopenhauer, Wagner, and Dostoyevsky.

In the Germany of 1911, they had all rights, and sat in important positions. Anti-Semitism began with war profiteering; it grew with growing usury; and it became widespread after the revolt of November 9, 1918. Their being different was admitted by all Jews. Soldiers were greeted upon their return by the Jewish professor Gumbel with the declaration that their comrades had fallen on the field of dishonour. In a theatre financed by a Jewish millionaire, the Stahlhelm [Steel helmet, a nationalistic organisation] was trampled underfoot, while a poem with the refrain: Dreck, weg damit! [Filth, away with it!] was recited.”

“The war against Jewry came about because an alien people on German soil arrogated the political and spiritual leadership of the country, and, believing itself triumphant, flaunted it brazenly.”

“It would have been sentimental to have expected quick recognition abroad of the National Socialist revolution and its social aims. On the contrary, we were prepared for bitter criticism, but all this whipped-up enmity was anything but natural. Primarily, it was directed against something that serious historians had exhaustively studied for decades — racial questions and racial history.”

“Few deny that different races do exist. But this in itself means that something constant exists, something characteristic which indicates that a certain individual belongs to a certain race; otherwise it would be altogether impossible to speak of racial unity or of races as such. This, in turn, presupposes the existence of certain laws of inheritance, regardless of how these laws may be formulated in detail.”

“Basically, the recognition of the existence of a race — meaning a type of man who has inherited and preserved certain definite characteristics — is no more than the recognition of a law of nature, a law not made by man […] . Today the acknowledged existence of this law is […] completely independent of the fact that it is rejected by some circles […] . The final recognition of lawful occurrences in nature, however, is in itself awe-inspiring.

In some of my speeches I have put it like this: The recognition of race as a fact demands not racial contempt but racial respect. Unfortunately, the close proximity of two races at a time when the basic truth of that law had just been accepted, made for comparisons and disputes. And it was because of this that certain sections of the people rejected not only comparisons but also the truth itself.”

“Races have basic traits and possibilities; peoples, on the other hand, are realities resulting from political fate, language, and nature. This means that nowhere in our historical life is a race identical with a people. The act of becoming a people is a long, rather mysterious process in which inner attitude, outward pressure and spiritual desire gradually begin to form the picture of a unified culture. That, too, is a law of nature, and as such worthy of our respect. Few have expressed this as beautifully as Herder; but it was Lagarde who coined this immortal phrase: Peoples are the thoughts of God.

It was fated, no doubt, that peoples should always be welded together by competition and battle. There is no exception to that rule in this world. In the midst of battle each one of these peoples became conscious of itself, and was confronted with that basic question of fate, the metaphysics of religion.

It is not particularly surprising that, as far as the peoples of Europe are concerned, many individual or collective intermediary stages can be established. Since European peoples are related to each other, they have often been assimilated […] . Nevertheless it is the desire of all nations to preserve whatever they have made their own — their mode of life, the forms of their art and their conception of fate — to preserve these by means of conscious training, education, and living example.”

“…this is decisive, the history of the peoples known to us must be looked upon as the great experiment of life itself, and to interpret that requires not only the services of philologists but of men who have an eye for the symptomatic, that is, for the totality of the outward and inward shapes of art, religion and life itself. These were approximately the points of departure from which The Myth of the Twentieth Century was written, although I had not planned it so.”

See also:
The Myth of the 20th Century: Spiritual Inspiration for the Racial-Soul
The Religion of the Blood

Plagiarizing Dr. Alfred Rosenberg

This first example is in no way intended to suggest plagiarism, rather it is to be seen as an instance where a general idea may have been expressed in similar manner, yet where it is still more than possible that there was—if not merely subconscious influence by the former on the latter—certainly no conscious effort to steal or mimic an idea disingenuously.

As long as a people lives, its gods are immortal. –Dr. Alfred Rosenberg, The Myth of the Twentieth Century

So long as there are people of the European type, the Gods are alive and well. –Stephen McNallen, Why I’m a Pagan

The following two cases, however, demonstrate without question persons blatantly plagiarizing the work of Dr. Alfred Rosenberg.

Case 1: Ron McVan

…Odin as the eternal mirrored image of the primal spiritual powers of Nordic man lives today just as he did over 5,000 years ago. –Dr. Alfred Rosenberg, The Myth of the Twentieth Century

Symbolically, Wotan represents the cosmic life force and eternal mirrored image of the primal spiritual powers and [is] not restricted to any particular era in history. –Ron McVan, Armanenschaft: The Priesthood of Teutonic Wotanism

To awaken the racial soul to life means to recognise its highest value, and, under its dominance, to allot to other values their organic position in the State, in art, and in religion. –Dr. Alfred Rosenberg, The Myth of the Twentieth Century

To awaken the Wotan consciousness in our present life means to recognize its highest value and under its guidance to allot other values their rightful and organic position as well, be it in nature, state, the arts, science, or religion. –Ron McVan, Armanenschaft: The Priesthood of Teutonic Wotanism

Case 2: Frank L. DeSilva

And this sign of our times is reflected in a turning away from absolute values, that is to say, in a retreat from values held to be beyond all organic experience, which the isolated ego once devised to create, by peaceful or violent means, a universal spiritual community. Once, such an ultimate aim was the Christianising of the world and its redemption through the second coming of Christ. Another goal was represented by the humanist dream of mankind. Both ideals have been buried in the bloody chaos of the Great War, and in the subsequent rebirth out of this calamity, despite the fact that now one, and now the other, still find increasingly fanatical adherents and a venerable priesthood. These are processes of petrifaction and no longer of living tissue: a belief which has died in the soul cannot be raised from the dead.

Humanity, the universal church, or the sovereign ego, divorced from the bonds of blood, are no longer absolute values for us. They are dubious, even moribund, dogmas which lack polarity and which represent the ousting of nature in favour of abstractions. The emergence in the nineteenth century of Darwinism and positivism constituted the first powerful, though still wholly materialistic, protest against the lifeless and suffocating ideas which had come from Syria and Asia Minor and had brought about spiritual degeneracy. Christianity, with its vacuous creed of ecumenicalism and its ideal of HVMANITAS, disregarded the current of red blooded vitality which flows through the veins of all peoples of true worth and genuine culture. Blood was reduced to a mere chemical formula and explained in that way. But today an entire generation is beginning to have a presentiment that values are only created and preserved where the law of blood still determines the ideas and actions of men, whether consciously or unconsciously. At the subconscious level, whether in cult or in life, man obeys the commands of the blood, as if in dreams or, according to natural insight, as a happy expression describes this harmony between nature and culture. But culture, with the growth of all subconscious activity and of expanding consciousness and knowledge, becomes more and more intellectual, and ultimately engenders not creative tension but, in fact, discord. In this way, reason and understanding are divorced from race and nature and released from the bonds of blood. The ensuing generation falls victim to the individualistic system of intellectual absolutes, and separates itself more and more from its natural environment, mixing itself with alien blood. It is through this desecration of the blood that personality, people, race and culture perish. None who have disregarded the religion of the blood have escaped this nemesis—neither the Indians nor the Persians, neither the Greeks nor the Romans. Nor will Nordic Europe escape if it does not call a halt, turning away from bloodless absolutes and spiritually empty delusions, and begin to hearken trustingly once again to the subtle welling up of the ancient sap of life and values.

–Dr. Alfred Rosenberg, The Myth of the Twentieth Century

This is the sign of our times, and is reflected in a turning away from ‘absolute values’, which is to say, that a departure from values held to be beyond all organic experience, which the primitive man once devised to create, by peaceful or violent means, a collective racial and spiritual folk-community. Moreover, at one time in our many epochs of evolution, such an ultimate aim was the ‘Christianizing’ of the world and its redemption through the second coming of Christ. A ‘religion’ of altruism, however, unlinked to blood or racial affirmation as a national policy, has failed miserably. Additionally, such goals have been represented by various versions of the ‘humanist dream’, sidelined by foreign analysis, confusion of our original mandate of self-extension, and presented this to ‘mankind’ as spiritual growth.

The White Nationalist understands that phrases like humanity, the universal church, or that sovereign self-image, separated from the ties of blood, are no longer absolute values for us; these are doubtful, even moribund, values which lacks that proper duality and which represent the denial of nature in favour of abstractions or, at worst, the replacement of nature with the idea of cosmopolitan equality. The emergence in the nineteenth century of Darwinism and positivism constituted the first powerful, though still wholly materialistic, protest against those lifeless and suffocating ideas, which had come from Syria and Asia Minor and had brought about spiritual degeneracy. Christianity of today, seen with its inane creed of ecumenicalism and its ideal of humanitas, has replaced the eddying river of red-blooded vitality, which flows through the veins of all peoples of truth worth and genuine culture; blood has been reduced to a mere chemical formula and explained in that way. Today, however, an entire generation has begun to have a sense that values are only created and preserved where the law of folk-community still determines the ideas and actions of men, whether consciously or unconsciously. The white nationalist, deep at the subconscious level, whether in spirit or life, obeys the commands of the instinct of blood – all this is seen as an expression of harmony between nature and culture. This over indulgent intellectualism of today, brings not a nobler tension, but the discordant noise of crass conformity. The white nationalist sees his generation fall victim to the individualistic system of intellectual absolutes, and sees his racial brothers and sisters separate themselves more and more from their natural environment, amalgamating themselves with an alien bloodstream, of which there is no return – not without an even greater sundering. The white nationalist knows that through this desecration of the blood, that unique personality and race–culture perish. Non who have disregarded this belief in the power of blood have faced this nemesis – and won.

–Frank L. DeSilva, Foundations of the Twenty-First Century: The Philosophy of White Nationalism

Dr. Alfred Rosenberg, The Myth of the Twentieth Century
Stephen McNallen, Why I’m a Pagan
Ron McVan, Armanenschaft: The Priesthood of Teutonic Wotanism
Frank L. DeSilva, Foundations of the Twenty-First Century: The Philosophy of White Nationalism

See also:
Dr. Alfred Rosenberg on Racial Respect
Dr. Alfred Rosenberg on the Old Testament
The Myth of the 20th Century: Spiritual Inspiration for the Racial-Soul
The Religion of the Blood

Two Worlds, Not One

by Dr. William Luther Pierce

The great Swiss pioneer in psychology and psychiatry, Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961), was a contemporary of the Jewish “psychoanalyst,” Sigmund Freud (1856–1939). [ILLUSTRATION: The unending war: Jewish charlatanry vs. Western science; Freud, left, and Jung, right]

Initially Jung found merit in some of Freud’s early work in psychiatry, but he did not hesitate to withdraw his endorsement of Freud when the latter deviated more and more from a scientific approach to the study of the human mind and instead began attempting to popularize various kinky sexual theories. Finally Freud abandoned science altogether for unabashed charlatanry and accumulated a fortune in Vienna by explaining to wealthy, neurotic Jews that their problems were rooted in a suppressed desire to have sexual intercourse with their mothers — or, in the case of his female patients, in their subconscious disappointment at being born without penises.

Jung then began to understand that Freud’s peculiar interpretation of man’s nature was not an entirely arbitrary thing but was rooted in his Jewishness. Freud’s fascination with unnatural sex and the willingness of his Jewish patients to accept his theories both had a racial basis — as did also, for example, the Talmud’s obsessive preoccupation with the same subject.

Jung came to realize that the mental world of the Jew and the mental world of the European were two entirely different worlds. He hinted at this when he said:

We cannot help being prejudiced by our ancestors, who want to look at things in a certain way, and so we instinctively have certain points of view. I would be neurotic if I saw things in another way than my instinct tells me to do. . . . I cannot say I have a Freudian psychology, because I never had such difficulties in relation to desires. As a boy I lived in the country and took things very naturally, and the natural and unnatural things of which Freud speaks were not interesting to me. The talk of an incest complex just bores me to tears.

Jung’s insight into the nature of neurosis has particular meaning for us today. He said, “I know exactly how I could make myself neurotic: If I said or believed something that is not myself.” If this offers us a clue as to why Jung could not accept Freud’s point of view, it is also a clue as to why our entire Western world — steeped as it is in alien spiritual, cultural, and political concepts — is so neurotic.

[Source: Attack! No. 66, 1978]

“… It is a quite unpardonable mistake to accept the conclusions of a Jewish psychology as generally valid.”

“No doubt on an earlier and deeper level of psychic development, where it is still impossible to distinguish between an Aryan, Semitic, Hamitic, or Mongolian mentality, all human races have a common collective psyche. But with the beginning of racial differentiation, essential differences are developed in the collective psyche as well.”

“For this reason we cannot transplant the spirit of a foreign race in globo into our own mentality without sensible injury to the latter, a fact which does not however deter sundry natures of feeble instinct from affecting Indian philosophy and the like.”

–Dr. Carl Gustav Jung

See also:
Jung and the Völkisch Movement
Freud and Jung as Representative Jew and Gentile

Wotanism: Toward an Existentialist View

Source: Else Christensen’s “The Odinist” periodical 1989, Issue #123. Author: P.W.

Existentialism is the term given to the spiritual and intellectual rebellion arising over the last 150 years or so amongst European thinkers against established Judeo-Christian religion and systems of philosophy which have failed to offer a satisfactory explanation of Man and his place in the universe. More specifically, the existentialists have sought to transcend theologies and metaphysics to understand the concrete reality of the human situation, the plight of the existing individual.

There is no body of doctrine common to all existentialists, but rather a matrix of shared concerns or themes: the significance of human existence, man’s alienation from himself, from his fellows, and from the world in general, and the extent of individual freedom and responsibility.

The analytical method of many existentialists is phenomenology, the perception and description of the various aspects of “Isness” (existing things and processesPespecially of consciousness, without conceptual prejudice or evaluative intent.

Perhaps the most constructive and influential of the existentialists is Martin Heidegger (1889-1976). Heidegger did not accept the label “existentialist’, but considered himself an “ontologist” (one who studies Being). Nevertheless, Heidegger’s profound explorations into what it means to be a human in interaction with Reality not only fully qualify him as an existential philosopher, but mark him as possibly the greatest.

Heathen man, as best exemplified by the pre-Socratic Greeks, lived in a state of intimate connection with and deep awareness of Being, maintains Heidegger. This “Being”, he explains, is not merely Nature, but also the ground, basis, of Nature; it is the very power of things to emerge and endure. Heidegger refers to man’s creativity arising out of conscious connectedness with Being as spirit.

The source of man’s uneasiness with his own existence, his failure to be all he could be, is his enervated spirit, his “falling out of being”, his ever-growing preoccupation with the object of his environment, with things, with “Beings” rather than with the totality of Being, Heidegger terms this “forfeiture”.

European man’s estrangement from Being was given a specious respectability by Plato’s philosophy of dualistic idealism, which claimed that ‘real’ Reality was somewhere ‘up there’, away from the physical universe which was only an imperfect reflection of that ultimately true ‘Ideal’.

This schizophrenic dualism reached its epitome in organized Judeo-Christianity, whose centuries of mind-warping other-worldliness lingers on to confound us.

Yet another form of dualism, the subject/object dichotomy popularized by Descartes, strongly influenced the scientific method and formed the basis of the secular ideologies of “progress” and technology worship, capitalist and Marxist alike.

Thus, according to Heidegger, even as man advances materially he leads an evermore “inauthentic” existence, wallowing in his obsession with trivia, stifling his potential by yielding to mindless conformity. With technical prowess actually undermining, instead of enhancing, man’s spirit, the “darkening of the world” accelerates, by which Heidegger means “the flight of the gods, the destruction of the Earth, the standardization of man, the preeminence of the mediocre… emasculation of the spirit, the disintegration, wasting away, repression and misinterpretation of the spirit.”

Man must re-forge his primal linkage with Being, he must become a “shepherd and watcher of Being”, overcoming all deceptive dualisms to understand not just cerebrally but in his very guts his total interdependence with the world, physically and temporally as well – remembering the past, in tune with the present, and mindful of the future. But this man can do only by fearlessly confronting his existential situation, and that entails acknowledging the awful reality of death, the looming spectre of Nothingness.

For Heidegger, Nothingness is not simply a vacuum, some final negation of Being; rather Nothingness is ingrained in Being; Nothingness is the dynamo of Being; Being and Nothingness are locked together in an inescapable dialectic. Man achieves authenticity when this dialectical truth takes roots in his soul.

Forgetfulness of death, of Nothingness, means forgetfulness of Being; and it is precisely this forgetfulness which modern thought-systems seek to instigate, whether as theologies which promise eternal afterlife or as justifications for materialism which fool man into seeing himself in some commodity.

In other words, man must not hide from his historic and existential responsibilities, he must not seek a dubious comfort in intellectual narcotics, be they religious or political; he must not forget himself in the cozy anonymity of the crowd; he must not fritter away his life in the pursuit and possession of materialist tinsel. To be truly alive, man must face up to the fact of his finitude, his inevitable appointment with oblivion, and construct his life on that realization. Only in this way can man truly appreciate Being, and thereby truly appreciate himself.

We believe that Wotanism can fill the prescription offered by Heidegger to reconnect us with Being, to reverse the ‘flight of the gods’ and bring these primordial forces, the avatars of Being, back into our consciousness.

Wotanism has the power to restore the ruptured bonds of the past, to recall our pre-Christian, pre-dualistic state of existential purity and reveal its relevance to our contemporary circumstances.

An examination of the Nine Principles of the Wotanist Fellowship in the light of the insights of Heidegger and other existentialists may be useful in establishing Wotanism as a durable ontology:

(1) We acknowledge Wotan as the All-Father, the Ultimate Reality, the Force of the Universe.

“Wotan” is the personification of cosmic power as perceived by our Norse ancestors. Etymologically, “Wotan” is synonymous with power, movement, source of movement, fury, rage and inspiration.

Just as the Indo-Aryans’ god Brahma was based on their earlier perception of an impersonal Absolute they termed Brahman, so also was the Wotanic Being mythologized as the “All-Father”; and among His other titles are Smiter, Destroyer, Protector, All-Knowing and Fulfiller of Wishes.

Wotan was a relative late-comer to the Indo-European pantheon. He displaced as Sky-Father the god Tyr, who in turn descended from Tiwas, a variation of the Aryan “Dyes” meaning “Shining One”, a reference to the sun.

As a mythic figure Wotan himself was subject to the inexorable laws of the cosmos, as related in our Folk’s epic cycle of creation and destruction. But as the embodiment of Energy/Universal Law, as an emanation of what we call the “God-Force”, Wotan is that very Absolute immemorial.

Wotan can be justly described as the Existential God, because to the Norse He represented the implacability of Reality, the dark side of Life in a ruthless age. For Wotan was the God of war, the god of the dead, a fickle, untrustworthy deity who promised no earthly rewards.

Yet He was also the god of wisdom, and wisdom it was – and is – to recognize what the existentialists came to call the “contingency of human existence”: the fact that the universe can get along perfectly well without man, be he individual or species – a truth our forebears knew in their bones when they deified Annihilation.

But the complete truth is to be seen in the Heideggerian unity of Annihilation and Creation, Being and Nothingness. Wotan is this Divine Dynamic, evident in the furies of Nature and in the turbulent vigor of man wherein raging passions and inspired insightfulness coexist. And Mimir whispers to us that all these things are One!

Thus, Wotan’s ‘good news’ is not ‘pie in the sky when you die’, but “Life is All and Life is Struggle!”

(2) Man advances individually and collectively only by living in harmony with the Natural Order.

How is it possible for man, as much a part of Nature as any rock, tree or bird, not to be in harmony with Natural Order? How could man, a manifestation of Being, ‘fall out of being”?

Western man has frequently gazed with envy at the lifestyles of primitive peoples, those ‘noble savages’ who clearly live in deeper rapport with the rhythms of Nature; yet, with some justification he feels superior to such peoples whose vulnerability and powerlessness in the face of Nature’s immoderation and History’s onslaught he considers the mark of man’s ‘underdeveloped’ mind – this contradiction gnaws at the soul of the Aryan even as his left-brain dominance / rationalist supremacy fosters a runaway industrialism that gnaws at the heart of the organic world and poisons its bloodstream.

Forfeiture has been institutionalized. Social dogmas and political ideologies rationalize the greedy stupidity of power elites which manipulate the befuddled individuals of mass society and promote, indeed profit from, in-authenticity, from Everyman’s false consciousness.

At the root of it all, some suggest, is Euro-man’s ‘overspecialized mind’, a mind which came more into predominance as the European sought to gain greater mastery over and ‘improve’ upon his natural surroundings by means of the techniques of civilization, thereby cutting the umbilical cord to Being and weakening, at least to some extent, that sense of oneness with the organic world that was fashioned during his formative years on the plains of the Pleistocene.

This ‘overspecialized’ mind tends to perceive in terms of a subject/object duality which is psychologically isolating. Disconnectedness from Nature, from kinsman, and from self ensues. Being is misperceived through a haze of abstract rationality and a fog of distorting emotions. Language itself has come to reinforce this dualistic obfuscation, as Heidegger points out.

This problem was dealt with thousands of years ago by our Indo-Aryan ancestors who in their religious traditions called it “avidya”, ignorance, the failure to use the “no-thought mind” of intuitive knowing – “Pleistocene mind”. If we credit adaptive evolution with having given Aryan man a ‘technological’ brain, then we must also see evolution as the molder of that brain’s ‘overspecialized’ mind.

Overspecialization is a perfectly natural byproduct of a perfectly natural developmental process that is without aim or design. Aryan man’s ‘overspecialized’ mind is no more an anomaly than the Dimetrodon’s sail-like back fin, the sabre-toothed tiger’s long curved fangs, or the giraffe’s elongated neck. The cosmos abounds with such ‘aberrations’, from the planet Uranus rotating on its side to entire galaxies colliding; and if man cannot grow out of his particular ‘aberration’ of juvenile dualism, then extinction will surely be his fate – an unremarkable fate, not even a burp in the universe.

Thus, man’s apparent disharmonies appear in perspective as part of a greater overall harmony.

Man has an edge in participating in that harmony, an advantage over every other species: ‘overspecialized’ mind notwithstanding, he has the ability to become conscious of his delusive tendencies and transcend them, provided he can muster the resolve to do so.

History will pass judgment on Euro-man’s collective biological mind, as to whether it is truly overspecialized, over-adapted, and effectively self-destructive, or whether it is simply in some tantrum of immaturity prior to a more lucid equilibrium. But individually speaking, Indo-Aryan wisdom teaches that the harmonious mind is ever-present within us; we need only realize it.

To be in Being, or not to be – that is the question!

(3) Life with all its joys, struggles and ambiguities is to be embraced and lived to the fullest.

Heidegger says that living human experience is the pathway to Being – which echoes a truth taught for centuries by the Zen masters. An ancient saying puts it another way: the unexamined life is not worth living.

To know Being through life, we need to live mindfully, in a state of openness and awareness, becoming skillful at what’s been called the art of living.

Honing those skills is essential, because this life is all that we can really be sure we have: this relatively brief process of becoming, flashing out of nothingness and fading back into nothingness, with only some meager physical creations, a scattering of genes and the memory of our deeds left behind.

Swallowing promises of eternal after-life, impossible to verify, only cheapens real life; while blindly following mind-numbing ideologies that promise heaven on earth burns up the one chance we have to know ourselves and fully develop our potentials.

As noted previously, life is struggle: your very existence is due only to the fact that your ancestors killed, out-fought their enemies and persevered through every hardship – a fact which the preachers of indiscriminate ‘love’ and ‘nonviolence’ would do well to contemplate.

Of course, it’s not all battle axes and bloodshed; a hearty laugh is always in order, especially when some other-worldly wimp tells us that life’s pleasures, the joys of the flesh, are ‘sins’.

All the barriers to a full life must be torn down. Suffering in its various forms is inherent in life, but there is also an accretion of ‘surprise suffering’, unnecessary misery caused by outmoded beliefs and obsolete social and political systems. The struggle against these is not just altruism in action, it is the will to achieve that fuller life.

(4) The racialist and cultural heritage of our folk is our most sacred possession and must be satisfied.

A significant portion of man’s current state of alienation stems from his loss of identity; man doesn’t know who, what or why he is.

The pre-packaged answers being peddled today just don’t suffice: Judeo-Christianity incites man to war against his instincts and common sense; the cult of the consumer leaves man bored, empty and yearning for something more; ideologies of compulsory collectivism stifle his individuality; philosophies of egoism violate his We-feeling; “New Age” spiritualisms outrage his rationality.

Where can he turn?

He can turn to the primary fact of his own material existence and see the organic truth that he is an individual spawn from a collectivity, one link in a racial chain extending back into the past.

It has been said that race is the outward expression of soul; and while this aphorism may have the aroma of metaphysics, it is a poetic way of saying that race (or more accurately, our total genetic inheritance) is the essence which in-forms our existence.

So, Jean-Paul Sartre, the French existentialist, didn’t quite hit the mark when he proclaimed “Existence precedes essence”, by which he meant that, as there is no fixed human nature, man has the freedom and the responsibility to shape that nature. This can only be true in a limited sense, for, man’s existence, along with the self-creative capacity Sartre speaks of, is substantially conditioned by biology, by race.

Anthropologist Carlton Coon’s research into racial origins reveals that racial characteristics had emerged among our primate ancestors even before they – meaning we – evolved into Homo sapiens.

We therefore suggest the formula “Ethnos precedes existence, existence precedes essence”.

Although every race and ethnic group is threatened by cosmopolitanism and homogenization, our chief concern must be for our own folk, an endangered minority. We support the awakening of racial consciousness for all peoples as a bulwark against assimilation.

Mixed race people can take pride in their diverse origins and form themselves into a new composite ‘folk’, or simply regard themselves as generic human beings if they so desire. As Wotanists we have no interest in impugning their human dignity. We do insist on our own inviolable right to racial integrity, and will respect all who respect us.

This is not ‘hatred’ or ‘prejudice’, nor an attempt to justify the oppression or exploitation of one race by another; it is a plea to preserve absolutely unique, non-repeatable living phenomena, it is a call to maintain the genetic diversity of the human family; it is a demand for racial ecology.

Culture is the totality of a race’s achievements, the expression of the racial soul, the sum of a people’s past persisting into the present and into the future. Heidegger notes how man’s losing touch with his past has contributed to the “darkening of the world”; and every day huge chunks of our Aryan cultural heritage disappear down the dark, materialistic maw of ‘me-now’ modernity.

Consumerism corrupts culture, crushes folkways and corrodes man right down to his instinctual core, his last legacy from the past, those primeval urges and blood-born impulses rooted in his mammal-hood, now subjected to the titillations and manipulations of Madison Ave., but also more and more frequently erupting into the animal protests we call ‘crime’ and ‘mental illness’.

But man is not a mere consumer, nor simply a raging beast; he is a creator, and to create now and in the future he must know what he has created in the past, and how he felt, thought and lived in the past.

Wotanism seeks the re-appropriation of our past, of what is of and for us as the ever-sprouting seed of our becoming.

Man’s racial heritage tells him who he is, his cultural heritage tells him what he is, it is then up to him to work out his own way.

(5) A community of, by and for the folk is our paramount objective.

Is any kind of real community even possible in the tumultuous conditions of the modern world? Can man overcome what seems to be a kind of entropy rampant at all social levels, disintegrating the bonds of friendship, family, community and nation?

Sartre thought not, declaring that “We” is an illusion. He saw human interaction as leading either to exploitation, with the dominated party reduced to an object, or to the stalemated confrontation of two mutually incomprehensible human monads.

Fortunately, history and social praxis repudiate Sartre’s subjective pessimism, but at the same time delineate formidable obstacles to community.

Man is a social animal: he joins with his kinsmen in social organizations strongly resembling those of his relatives, the baboons and chimpanzees, and for the same reasons: co-operative behavior is programmed into his genes. Man as individual only becomes whole and complete, only becomes an authentic personality, within the context of community, as part of a natural social order.

But man has evolved to the point where his ‘rational’ mind largely supersedes or at least tempers his instincts; genetic predisposition creates a tendency allowing for wide latitudes, rather than a rigid imperative, as in the lower creatures. Man must therefore contrive various structures and devices to help maintain social cohesion.

Blood is the organic basis for community, and shared beliefs – specifically, religion – is the social basis. “Religion” actually means “to bind together”, and this is, or should be, its function: to bind man to Being, to Nature, and to his kinfolk.

Every folk generates its own religious vision; undeniably, common themes are shared by all these visions; nevertheless, each one is unique, featuring nuances of perception and variations of morality peculiar to each folk. Thus, the imposition of one people’s religion upon another can have grave, disruptive consequences.

Such an imposition is the source of much of our Folk’s persistent spiritual confusion. Organized Christianity’s religious imperialism effectively destroyed our folk religion and our folk communities. Of course, the Folk has nobody to blame for this but itself. Any people is collectively responsible before history for its own ongoing weakness, disorganization and resultant vulnerability.

Our historic victimization must end. We must go from being a folk in itself to a Folk for itself, and the self-conscious folk community is the vehicle for this process.

The folk community is bonded by blood and belief; each by itself is inadequate to cement the community together.

Current events testify to this truth. Japanese society is extremely homogeneous racially, yet it displays all the alienating afflictions of modern materialistic industrialism (although perhaps to a somewhat lesser degree than the ‘pluralist’ societies of the West), despite a strong tradition of folk religion. Cosmopolitan capitalism as a secular pseudo-religion will supplant or co-opt genuine religion unless genuine religion aggressively counterattacks (as has Islamic Fundamentalism).

Religion alone, however cannot guarantee social unity, nor for long suppress or overpower differences of blood. Blood proved thicker than religion in the recent Iran-Iraq war, when the majority Arab Shias of Iraq failed to unite with their antagonistic Persian co-religionists, choosing instead national-ethnic solidarity with their Sunni Arab ruling stratum. And in the US increasing numbers of Black Catholics are opting for a distinctly African-American style of worship at the risk of schism with the official, predominantly White, church.

Encouragingly, the up and coming trend in the world today is precisely towards this union of blood and belief, a form of neo-tribalism. The Druze of Lebanon, the militant Sikhs of India, the Moro rebels of the Philippines, Islamic radicals throughout Central Asia, the Black Muslims, even nationalist Jewish orthodox extremists, among others, are all facets of this world-wide phenomenon.

So, self-determination and the preservation of ethnic and religious identity rightly constitute our paramount objective, as they should for every people, because the alternative is genocide, which is accomplished just as thoroughly and finally by means of assimilation as it is by ‘killing fields’.

In fact, these separatist principles, far from generating hatred and strife, are a guarantee for peace and mutual respect amongst the peoples, nations and faiths of the world, because they are aspirations shared by all humanity.

The Folk community is not some utopian goal for the distant future. It is an institution attainable here and now, provided we summon the courage and wisdom to build it. We can draw on the West’s communalist heritage, from the medieval guilds to anarchist collectives to hippie communes, more so as regards the experience of religious communities, such as the Amish and the Hutterites; we could even learn something from the Hasidic Jews and the kibbutz movement.

However we do it, the Folk community must arise if the people and religion of Wotan are to survive. It is a formidable task: the folk community entails ways of living – thinking, working, relating – so different from what we are used to in our privatizing ‘consumer’ society as to be positively revolutionary, perhaps also a bit disquieting, but only because it would mean a return to long-absent, psycho-social health after a lengthy disease.

Sartre’s dismal picture of human interaction is not what we have been or must be; it is what we often are and may very well be our consummation unless we assert ourselves for community.

Another French existentialist, Gabriel Marcel, has a view more positive than Sartre’s, insisting that our relationship with other persons is prerequisite for the growth of freedom, the becoming of what we are. Marcel, striking a Heideggerian chord, says further that living enmeshes us in a web of interdependence with others, with all of Being, a condition which we become aware of when we deeply and fearlessly reflect upon existence, when we resolve “to be”, surpassing the trivial desire “to have”.

The folk community will create the material and psychological conditions conducive to this quest for existential enlightenment.

(6) In the improvement of our racial quality lies our brightest future.

Man’s animal nature, implying his subordination to the laws of evolution, was the Damnable Fact of the nineteenth century, denied and cursed by the obscurantists and reactionaries of the day, whose bigoted offspring vex us still. Man’s racial nature is the Damnable Fact of the twentieth century, anathematized by a new generation of ignorance-mongers.

Unfortunately, any discussion of race quickly shifts to the “Nazi” issue and to “Nazi” atrocities, real and imagined, committed in the name of racial improvement.

The fact that National Socialists may have pursued a certain policy in the Third Reich over sixty years ago does not automatically make that policy “pro-Nazi” here and now. National Socialist Germany, for example, inaugurated certain ecological measures: does that make ecology a “Nazi” idea? Surely not. Abuses that may have been perpetrated by German Hitlerites in their eugenic program no more invalidate the concept of eugenics than the abuses of the Stalinists in their campaign at ‘building socialism’ invalidate the socialist ideal.

(We cannot discuss the “Nazi” question at length here; suffice it to say that no concept should be rejected even if it was endorsed by National Socialists – or by fascists, Marxists, anarchists, Zionists, or any other – ists. Ideas stand or fall on their own merits.)

Existentialists of the Sartre school declare that man has the freedom, nay the responsibility, to determine his own essence. If this is accepted, then none can deny the right, the duty, of a people to determine their biological essence, their racial essence.

The right of racial improvement is an integral part of the overall right to self determination – ‘rights’ which of course are never handed over, only seized and defended. Behind these rights there is no intent whatsoever to impose any eugenic program on peoples who do not want it or to victimize others in the process of implementing eugenics ourselves.

While the social environment plays an extremely important role in the development of individuals and to human betterment, no ‘system’ concocted and tinkered together by man will lead to utopia. The real road to utopia – and we realize that this road never ends – is the road leading directly to the improvement of man himself, the biological roar, built upon the bedrock reality of man’s basic physical stuff.

A people whose social order cannot meet their material and psychological needs can rectify the situation through reform or revolution; a people refusing to take their biological destiny into their own hands face a degredation from which there is no recovery.

(7) The seeking of wisdom is the highest virtue.

Western man is rightly termed “Faustian” because of his irrepressible drive to obtain knowledge. His native religious orientation has always been in the direction of knowing self, Nature and the God-Force, never towards guilt, submissiveness or heavenly rewards.

Wisdom seeking is an attribute of the High One Himself; Wotan sacrificed an eye in pursuit of sagacity. This philosophical application of ‘no pain, no gain’ has been adopted by the existentialists who have the individual confronting the brutal facts of Life in a purposeless universe.

Two types of wisdom may be discussed: external and internal.

External wisdom is that which comes from without us, from the great thinkers and sages of humanity.

Wotanists draw particular inspiration from the ancient legends, folklore, and tales of all the Indo-European peoples, with special emphasis on the Norse and other Teutonics.

Internal wisdom is that which we seek from within. It is the voice of Being, which speaks to us once we quiet the discursive mind and just listen, as the eminent masters of meditation have for so long instructed us. This leads to the most profound wisdom of all. Knowledge of the self – which is no-self!

Wisdom of all kinds is not just its own reward, it also has an evolutionary function, a survival value, enshrined in that timeless epigram “Knowledge is Power!”

(8) Love of truth, honor, courage and loyalty are the hallmarks of the noble soul.

Yesteryear’s Aryans, the “noble ones”, took these values seriously; not only a ready code of conduct for the individual, they constituted the enduring, ever-pure, ethical lifeblood of the tribe and the community generation after generation: a moral guide for this world, with no supernumerary threats of post mortem hell-fire – the stench of ignobility was considered hellish enough. The cynicism with which these values are regarded in the West today, their consignment to the status of “goody-goody” cliches, indicate the true nature of our much touted “progress”. We may be the most technologically advanced society in the world, but we are also un-mistakenly the most backward ethically. It could hardly be otherwise in the wake of centuries of moral confusion spawned by the “religion of love” imposed upon us through fear and guilt. Modern secular society’s ethos of egoism is merely the backlash corollary to Christianity’s neurosis-inducing slave morality.

History doesn’t stand still; in moving on it will sweep away the false standards which at present seem so immutable. The values of Blood, as Oswald Spengler has predicted based on his panoramic surveys of the past, will inexorably banish the non-values of Money. Our task is to ensure that that Blood is Aryan.

To that end we proudly embrace those ‘antiquated’ ideals of our forefathers:

Love of truth – to joyously gaze upon the naked face of Being and spurn all comforting delusions.

Honor – the virtue of virtues: self-respect and righteous conduct under all circumstances, come what may.

Courage – to face all tasks, challenges and dangers fearlessly.

Loyalty – unyielding dedication to every pledge of fidelity.

Paul Tillich, a German-born student of Heidegger and a religious existentialist, reminds us that, as our lives are spun out of the tension between being and non-being, there can never be absolute security; to genuinely live, or live authentically, takes guts – what Tillich calls “the courage to be”.

Our Norse ancestors took this gutsy approach to life under conditions a great deal more precarious than what most of us face now. May we be worthy to carry on their legacy!

(9) Our imperative is to strive constantly to expand our powers of body, mind and spirit.

Colin Wilson, a British writer who has dealt extensively with existentialist topics, has observed that the one clear tendency in the universe even remotely indicative of any sort of discernible ‘purpose’ is the trend toward greater and greater complexity. Science from simple hydrogen to intelligent beings which may be regarded as the universe becoming conscious of itself. Wilson suggests that control of evolution may be a viable goal for humanity, instilling a sense of purpose counteractive to our ongoing drift into alienation and nihilism.

Such a project is consistent with Euro-man’s Faustian will, and has been most dramatically enunciated by one of our mightiest philosophers, the incomparable Nietzsche, who summed up this aspiration with the words, “Man is something which must be surpassed”. Nietzsche’s instruction has always occupied a special niche in the paradigm of modern Wotanism.

Our ability to influence our race’s evolution is obviously questionable at best at this juncture, limited to responsible reproduction; the larger task awaits the flowering of our folk communities. We do have a bit more control over what might be called our ‘personal evolution’, however.

The more we can augment the physical and mental constituents of our individual being, the better will we be able to fully experience our in-dwelling with Being, and thereby enrich our spiritual life. And the more we improve ourselves individually, holistically, the more will we empower the Folk collectively.

These brief comments are hardly a drop in the ocean of possibilities churned up by the convergence of Wotanism and existentialism.

We readily concede in addition that the Nine Principles listed here do not represent any sort of final statement for Wotanism – much less some kind of dogma we would insist be binding on any and all who would pay homage to the High One. They do offer one path for making the Norse religion a vibrant, relevant force, an existential point of reference, for latter-day Aryans.

If Wotan, as previously mentioned, is the Existential God, then Wotanism must be the Existential Religion. And existentialists, for all their differences, seem to agree on one crucial point: you are what you do. Beliefs can be verbally professed long and loud, but beliefs not put into action are empty and lifeless. He who believes without ‘putting creed into deed’ degrades himself and his doctrine.

Whether Wotanism thrives or fades into obscurity depends upon whether or not it is truly lived. Wotanism, like Hinduism, is dynamic and variegated, capable of many formulations; nevertheless, there is a basic set of truths and values which must be incorporated into a consistent lifestyle if Wotanism is to be anything more than a pretense.

As we have hopefully learned by now, there are no guarantees. The fate of the religion of Wotan is in great measure in the hands of those who would call themselves Wotanists: it will become what they make it.

Being a Wotanist in the 20th century is no easy matter. Numerous forces and factors militate against us. Many if not most of us, despite the exhortations here, cannot or will not assert the entirety of our religious convictions, and must bear the anguish of living with one foot in an alien society and the other wrapped in the good intentions of claimed belief. It’s wisdom for the pain, though, because, just as the existentialists tell us, that anguish can be the beginning, the actual motivation, for breaking through all in-authenticity in a genuine thrust for liberation.

Through it all, that flame in our soul always to be kept alight is the fire of spiritual deity-defying daring by our Norse precursors, who had the audacity to voice their distrust of Wotan himself (in the finest existentialist temper!): it has forever been behind the questing, questioning and skepticism that has catapulted our race into world-historical eminence.

Nietzsche called the fighters for spiritual freedom “Hyperboreans. Living amidst the ice and the mountain heights” – how fitting for Folk of the North!

Heidegger’s declaration in this regard will, we hope, always be council for Wotanists:

“A faith that does not perpetually expose itself to the possibility of unfaith is no faith but merely convenience.”