Saturday, 19 October 2013

Searchlight Magazine on Extremism within Black Metal and Heathenism

On March 1st, 2013, Searchlies Magazine featured an 'exposé' on 'extremism' within the Black Metal music scene and the spiritualism of heathenism. This article was entitled, 'A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing: Spirituality, Music and the Extreme Right', and features in full below. After absolute disgust at the lies and distortions perpetuated by Searchlies Magazine, of which they have been exposed time and time again, a torrent of complaints descended upon the magazine and ultimately they were forced to remove the article from there website shortly afterwards. It must be noted that Searchlight issued a 'clarification' on there website after taking the article down. The original article itself is not retrievable through webarchive. However, I saved the article onto my computer shortly after seeing it, with many of the comments by angered individuals still viewable. 

Below you will find a copy of the article.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing: spirituality, music and the extreme right

The Northern Grove, a pagan group on the social networking site Facebook, sets out its objectives as follows:

The purpose of this page is to embrace the history, culture, and heritage of Northern Europe. We respect and embrace ALL cultures, especially tribal and indigenous cultures. We want to celebrate and revive the Old Ways. Tribal Europe shared many similarities with other tribal and indigenous people from other areas. We support all people, and everyone is welcome here. While we aim to celebrate Northern culture, we do not invite and will not tolerate white supremacy, hate, or racism. People espousing that will be banned.

Crystallised in this quote is the very problem experienced by many adherents of the stream of modern paganism that focuses upon the indigenous divine traditions of northern Europe. The British Isles, Germany and Scandinavia are their spiritual touchstones (though not necessarily all together) and they look to Odin, Frigga, Frey and Freya as their key gods and goddesses amongst a broad northern pantheon. But they stress heavily that this does not make them ‘brown’ – that is, that they also espouse a belief in European, white or ‘Aryan’ supremacy.

Northern neo-paganism, like so many branches of paganism today, has many faces. It can also be known as Heathenry, Ásatrú, Odinism, Forn Siðr, Wotanism and Theodism as well as by other names. Each group espouses a contemporary revival of historical Germanic/Nordic paganism (and, it should be noted, the very use of the words ‘Germanic’ and ‘Nordic’ can be contentious within this context). The blurring of the lines between a belief in the Northern deities and their attendant mythology and philosophy and a belief in racial supremacy began in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Germany and Austria with certain branches of the völkisch movement, some of whom provided an intellectual heritage for the Nazis as they intimately intertwined their Eurocentric spiritual beliefs with ideas of European racial superiority. Unfortunately for those Northern pagans without a racial agenda, several basic aspects of their belief system lend themselves well to racialism. The veneration of ancestors, a strong emphasis upon the importance of one’s natural environment and the idealisation of the warrior were all easily co-opted into racist worldviews – reverence for one’s kin becomes a fixation with the supposed superiority of one’s ethnic group; a strong attachment to one’s local environment leads to the idea that one is built up by that environment (hence denigrating other environments) and a focus on the warrior figure can easily take one to a cult of militarism.

This was further compounded by the second wave of the Northern spiritual revival which spread through the United States, Great Britain, Iceland and Australia in the late 1960s. Wotanism, for example, has a distinctively political overtone. It was closely associated with the belief system of American white supremacist David Lane, who claimed that Wotan in fact stood for ‘Will of the Aryan Nation’. Likewise, Odalism (another version of virulently Eurocentric belief) has garnered the support of that notorious figure of the Black Metal scene and the extreme right, Varg Vikernes.

Odinism too makes clear associations between its beliefs and ideas of racial supremacy. The Odinic Rite, based in the UK, has often protested its apparent extreme right leanings but the recent music releases – for one – from Odinic Rite Media suggest otherwise. Three CDs have been put out in recent years entitled Folk Spirit. Their most recent release, Folk Spirit: A third compilation of Odinist artists (2012), depicts a burning sun wheel on its cover, a symbol which, though it has a long history dating back to prehistoric Europe and Asia, is now more commonly associated with the extreme right: it featured on the flag of Quisling’s Norwegian Nazi party, Nasjonal Samling, and has been used more recently by various other white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. Of the bands included on the latest CD, many can be disregarded as straightforward, innocuous medieval or pagan rock. Some, however, require further attention.

Hrafnblóð (Blood Raven), for example, an English band in the Black Metal style, recently released a song entitled “The Fires of Dresden”. The British fire-bombing of Dresden in 1945 is often – though not always, it must be stressed – a key cause of the extreme right, especially in light of the annual “Trauermarsch” (Funeral March) rally which the German extreme right NPD party (and others) hold in Dresden. While Hrafnblóð (whose real name is Gareth Giles) protests on his Facebook page that the song “isn’t in defence of Nazi Germany”, the clip does begin with the words “Forever, this should be known as a War Crime” and this too is a common position of the extreme right who regard the event as equivalent to the Holocaust. The lyrics, written by Giles and Nikarev Leshy, run, in part:

The bombs fell
Overcrowded populous [sic]
Fleeing from the east
The irony of it all
To escape a War Zone
Only to die in an act of Genicide [sic]
On February 13th 1945, a War Criminal unleashed his Holocaust over Dresden. The city was not a military target. There were no grounds for this massacre. It is estimated that over 100,000 men, women and children were murdered by a strategically planned firestorm. So many bodies lined the streets, that there were not enough living left to bury them. To dispose of the thousands of corpses, funeral pyers [sic] were stacked across the city.

This song is dedicated to bringing to light this mass killing that the Zionist-led media do not want you to know.

Giles’s contribution to Folk Spirit III is called “Across the Pagan Vastlands”, written by Nikarev Leshy, who in turn lists his own interests on his blog as Odinism and ‘Aryan Black Metal’. It runs in part as follows:

We are the wolves that will right the wrong
White warriors of our faith hold battle shields high
We are the future, hear our Aryan battle cry!

Equally, Giles recently contributed a chapter to Troy Southgate’s publication, Black Metal: European Roots and Musical Extremities. Southgate is a well-known figure on the extreme right scene and this book is published by his own imprint, Black Front Press. In the book, Giles is joined by the likes of Jarl von Hagall from the NSBM band Der Stürmer (presumably named after the violently antisemitic Nazi era newspaper of the same name), the extreme right writer Alex Kurtagic and the infamous Hendrik Möbus, founder of the German Heathen Front and member of the NSBM group, Absurd.

Another artist on the current Odinic Rite CD is Volksieg (People’s Victory). Also a one-man band, it is led by Volksieg Wodensson (or, Colin Lockwood). Wodensson identifies as an “Odinist and a National Anarchist”. National Anarchism is an extreme rightist set of ideas which dates back to the 1920s but which has been popularised and developed by Troy Southgate since the 1990s. On Folk Spirit III, he contributes two dramatic instrumental pieces, “Reflections” and “Eternal Return (Ragnarok)”, and on Folk Spirit II the similarly styled “Onwards to Valhalla”. Each one encapsulates the same experimental, neo-folkish and often militaristic tone, set against a sweeping thematic framework of Norse mythology of world’s end (Ragnarok) and the heroic afterlife (Valhalla).

Ansund (an Old English word for whole or healthy) contribute “The Wheel” on Folk Spirit I (2009), “Gods and Men” on Folk Spirit II (2011) and “Hail Dag and Shine” on Folk Spirit III (2012). On a YouTube channel owned by ‘greenjackman’ who appears to be a member of the Odinic Rite, another Ansund song, “Sig Tiwaz”, runs with a video showing the text “Justice for the English”. Beneath the clip is the message “[t]he song "Sig Tiwaz" by Ansund reminds the people of England that their old gods live on, and the English must realise that it’s time to reclaim our heritage”. Further, the song itself contains the strident line “The English flame is still alight, hearts preparing for the fight”. The controversial symbol of the Black Sun is shown in the video and the runes highlighted – Sig and Tiwaz – are contentious in themselves. Both derive from Guido von List’s ‘Armanen’ version of the ancient Nordic language of the runes – List himself provided inspiration for Hitler and other leading Nazis. The Sig rune was used as the symbol of the SS while Tiwaz and Sig together are the symbol of the extreme right think-tank, the Thule Seminar.

Equally, “Shine” taps into the common extreme rightist idea that many wars have mistakenly pitched racial brothers against one another (for example, Britain and Germany) with the words “I can’t understand why my kinsmen betray one another … wars have been fought where our best have set brother on brother”. Similarly “The Wheel” runs “This country is my home, my kinsmen stand beside me, I know I’m not alone … my brothers, they will never give up their own sacred ground.”

While this taste of these groups shows the differences in their approach to the idea of a nationalistic spirituality, there can be no doubting the ways in which each contributes to such a notion and, when couched within the wider milieu of mostly innocuous pagan folk, the message seems less threatening and thus more palatable. This is precisely the concern with contributions to popular culture of this kind. While an hour of loud, oppressive hate-rock may have a limited audience (as can be found on the NPD’s Project Schoolyard CDs, for example), this CD (and the associated YouTube clips, Facebook and Myspace pages) can reach a far more varied and wide audience, many of whom would perhaps not even think of themselves as right wing.

Dr Emily Turner-Graham is an independent scholar who has written extensively on the extreme right in Austria and Germany. Her current book is Never forget that you are a German: Die Brücke, “Deutschtum” and National Socialism in Interwar Australia. It is published by Peter Lang Verlag.

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