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Why Pagans Need to Reclaim Runes from Nazis

I saw a lot of awful things watching the news during the Charlottesville “rally,” but one of the things I saw that got me thinking the most was how the Detroit Right Wings (based off of the Detroit Red Wings hockey team) had adjusted the Red Wings’ logo to have the Sonnenrad (a national socialist symbol based on Germanic mysticism) placed inside it. This got me thinking a lot about how white supremacists have been appropriating ancient esoteric traditions since the time of the Nazis in Germany.

Yes, I say “appropriating,” because these people have no occult intentions in mind when using these symbols and they are tarnishing their original meaning by using them in the way that they do. I am sure most of you are aware of how the swastika was originally a symbol used in Buddhism and Hinduism and then perverted by Nazis, but they did so to far more Nordic runes and symbols, and symbols inspired by Nordic runes.


Many nationalist socialists and Nazis see Nordic runes as symbols for Aryan purity – but to think this is to blatantly ignore their true purpose. According to the Poetic Edda (Old Norse myth poems), the runes were of divine origin to be interpreted by the reader. So, essentially, they were more messages from the gods than they were a true alphabet. Each rune had a distinct meaning and was supposed to convey something to you, or imbue you with its essence if you kept it with you in a meaningful way. The way Nazis parade around with runes attached to their own symbols to imply that they will keep their race “pure” is to spit on the Norse gods in a sickening way.

Nazis used the “Odal” rune, that originally had meanings of heritage, as a symbol of bringing together people of similar blood or race, and a division of the SS used it on their uniforms, in addition to its use by the Hitler Youth. They often used the “Algiz” rune (often associated with protection and defense) as a symbol of man, life, and health – a representation which had no association with the history of the rune or the traditional meaning. Perhaps most recognizably, other than the swastika, was their use of a variation of the traditional Sowilō rune on a badge on the SS’ uniforms.

 

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Modern pagans and occultists will use Nordic runes in what they consider to be their original intention, but of course, because of the Nazi connotations and some Nazi-related occultists becoming involved in the rune scene in the past, most seem to do it quietly or choose to do something like tarot instead – but I think this is the wrong approach. I believe it is up to pagans and occultists to try and reclaim these symbols. Now is the time to step up and show the world the true powers and meanings of runes, especially since we are in such a culture war where these symbols are being bastardized. If we do not fight this, then white supremacists will continue to perpetuate the message that Nordic paganism is evil, no matter who is practicing it – which is simply not the case. Not to mention on a grander scale, people might even start associating the Norse gods with Nazis and white supremacy as well, which is an awful result to consider in all of this.

Some would argue that paganism has always had a bad rep, making it better to practice our art in secret, and normally I would agree with this; but we cannot let people like Nazis and white supremacists pervert our symbols and teachings to this degree all over again, without at least decrying their actions and showing that they do not speak for us as a vocal majority. Occultists rarely gather together for any one purpose, but I think now might be one of those times: to protect something important to our culture and keep it from being overtly perverted.

 

 

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Written By

Makenzie is a budding occultist and storied metalhead living out her 20's in the pacific northwest, soaking up the rain and the booze. Writing and music take up most of her daylight hours, and she is perfectly okay with that.

101 Comments

101 Comments

  1. Zach

    November 12, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    You do know that Alred Rosenberg, appointed by Hitler as official Nazi ideologist, was a neo-pagan, along with top party member Heinrich Himmler when was paganism not inexorably linked to Nazism? As early as 1940 folklorist Lewis Spence denoted a neopagan undercurrent to Nazism despite less than 1% of Hamburg’s population identifying with the faith. I think you may have missed the boat dear.

  2. Gene Trosper

    August 29, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    Toothpaste has already left the tube and you can’t put it back in. What’s done is done.

  3. Aaron Frost

    August 29, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Outstanding.

  4. Frank Turecek

    August 29, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    does it pay well to be an annoying pedant or do you just do it for shits and giggles

  5. Teresa Dröfn Freysdóttir Njarðvík

    August 29, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    In Iceland more than 1% of the nation belong to the pagan society, Ásatrúarfélagið. It was founded in 1972 and recognized by he sate in 2973, making the oldest active pagan religious group. It is based on the literary heritage and surviving, living Icelandic folklore. To these people the use of their (yes, their because they are the ones who recorded them, their meanings, passed them down and actively used them throughout the ages) is cultural appropriation. Ásatrúarfélagið uses the sun cross as its main symbol, a symbol that has been placed on a list of international hate symbol. It was placed on the list because various neo-nazi groups use it. This actively labelled he entire society as a hate group, even though such hateful ideology has no place in the Ásatrúarfélag.

    Various members, including myself, have the sun cross as a tattoo. As the symbol is now on a list of hate symbols it affects he members. I can for example be arrested and fined, even jailed in unlucky in Germany, for having it. The same goes for the Icelandic Thor’s hammer symbol, closely similar to the swastika. It was widely used in Iceland until the mid-second world war when we were essentially forced to stop using i because everyone thought we’d been occupied by the nazis (like Denmark our then capital and king), when in fact we were occupied by allies. Some people have the Thor’s hammer tattood with the same conswquence, they can be arrested in other countired for having sacred symbols, passed down to them by the generations.

    It is a living tradition and the sad fact is that nazis and neo-nazis have actively abused, misinterpreted and misrepresented runes and other symbols for so long that alot of people can’t tell the difference. Runes and runic symbols have nothing to do with nationality, race, poliics or ideology. Anyone who thinks otherwise is ill-informed.
    Regards,
    The Academic and active heathen from Iceland.

  6. ResonanceCascade

    August 29, 2017 at 11:41 am

    I sympathize with the point presented here, but just let the Nazis have them. It’s not worth flaunting iconography that is deeply tied into white nationalism just to save a minor part of a culture that basically only still exists due to revivalism. Especially not right now.

    All this would accomplish is to give Nazis yet another coded way to broadcast their affiliation without actually having to directly admit it (“I’m not a Nazi — haven’t you heard? It’s just a Nordic pagan symbol.)

  7. Mike Zee

    August 29, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Lucas Taylor

  8. Emanuel Cardozo

    August 29, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Danu Gómez

  9. Jason Wagoner

    August 29, 2017 at 9:34 am

    GREEK GODS….all you fuckers, Both sides need to grow up. Greek Gods…hahahahahahaha!!!

  10. Joshua Eccleston

    August 29, 2017 at 8:32 am

    Kate Gilbert

  11. Jason Bunch

    August 29, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Agreed. I realize in the scheme of things that the appropriation of our symbols is at the lower end of the spectrum in terms of the horror show that is the rise of nazism in American, but at the same time I am furious when I see the valknut or any of the runes being used by these scum.

  12. Johann Currie

    August 29, 2017 at 6:59 am

    Most of y’all in this here comment section

  13. Bram Feys

    August 29, 2017 at 5:24 am

    k zegge, brecht eit gelijk. let’s spread the wisdom :p

  14. Brecht Withouck

    August 29, 2017 at 5:23 am

    Assholes is een goeie term.

  15. Shelagh Jackson

    August 29, 2017 at 4:50 am

    Bryan Noteboom made me think of yesterday’s convo

  16. Niels Werbrouck

    August 29, 2017 at 4:37 am

    Kevain Vermeulen

  17. Steve Hirst

    August 29, 2017 at 3:59 am

    Lgrw!

  18. Kyle Ruby

    August 29, 2017 at 3:08 am

    I’m not even pagan and I’ll still wear my Ansuz all day erry day. I love Scandinavian folklore.

  19. Micah Yochanan Watz

    August 29, 2017 at 2:31 am

    this page is getting to political.

  20. Rob Eruafel

    August 29, 2017 at 2:22 am

    Paulus Magnus ça parle de rendre des runes

  21. Jake Welham

    August 29, 2017 at 2:14 am

    Never forget. Loki fucked a horse.

  22. William Kampen

    August 29, 2017 at 1:20 am

    Yes! Great! More political crap rather than music. Let the extreme left and right ruin it all! Yay!

    • Alexander Mac

      August 29, 2017 at 1:50 am

      And the irony being that what you said is political too 😀

    • William Kampen

      August 29, 2017 at 1:51 am

      I was expecting some boring wise-ass to comment.

    • Pencil Joshua Hatfylld

      August 29, 2017 at 2:45 am

      Sorry for partyin broh

    • Bear Bob

      August 29, 2017 at 2:54 am

      I’ve grown increasingly tired of all of this myself; both the “blood and soil” race baiting losers of the alt-right and the banshee-like, hammer-and-sickle sporting “anti fascist” left who think anybody to the right of Noam Chomsky needs to be violently silenced can fuck right off.

      The next thing I hear about any of this better be a crowdfunding effort to send both camps off to a remote island where they can have their dickhead battle re-enactments ’til death and let the adults get on with their fucking lives.

    • William Kampen

      August 29, 2017 at 3:04 am

      Bear Bob Yes.

    • Alexander Mac

      August 29, 2017 at 3:44 am

      William Kampen even more irony 😀

    • Alexander Mac

      August 29, 2017 at 3:47 am

      Bear Bob ahh the hand wringing liberal with no understanding of the rich and varied history of anti-fascism

    • William Kampen

      August 29, 2017 at 4:04 am

      Alexander Mac I am just gonna block you

    • Michael Mitchell

      August 29, 2017 at 5:15 am

      Bear Bob- totally. And meanwhile things that really need to be in the spotlight more (humans helping each other!) are outshown by both of these extreme groups. Between them both I feel that freedom is being slowly chiseled away.

    • Chris Low

      August 29, 2017 at 5:36 am

      Note to all morons: If there weren’t nazis there would be no need for opposition to them. If you don’t have cancer you don’t need chemotherapy.

    • William Kampen

      August 29, 2017 at 5:48 am

      Chris Low 😂😂😂😂

    • James Henderson

      August 29, 2017 at 7:41 am

    • Espuma Mcduff

      August 29, 2017 at 7:42 am

      Cry more please. Just unfollow The page.

    • William Kampen

      August 29, 2017 at 8:02 am

      Espuma Mcduff Haha. Upset?

    • Karro Dahl

      August 29, 2017 at 8:04 am

      Someone is fishing for attention ^

    • William Kampen

      August 29, 2017 at 8:06 am

      Karro Dahl Of you are referring to me: No. You are wrong. You have no idea how tiring it is to hear extremists whine against each other EVERYWHERE

    • Bear Bob

      August 29, 2017 at 8:10 am

      Alexander Mac aah the internet armchair psychologist who somehow knows EVERYTHING about my understanding of history. Please tell me more about myself, and my own understanding of antifascism; you must know a lot about me, even more than myself! For instance, you even guessed I was a liberal despite me not knowing that myself! You’re such a clever guy, I want to learn how you do this 🙂

    • Bear Bob

      August 29, 2017 at 8:14 am

      PS. Prove, and I do mean *prove*, with *EVIDENCE*, as opposed to unsupported assertions, namecalling or other Alinskyite nonsense how my statement makes me EITHER of those things by default and I’ll happily concede. Go on, I’m *very* interested.

    • Ian Keith Henry

      August 29, 2017 at 10:19 am

      Cvlt nation as always been left leaning deal with it or leave.

    • William Kampen

      August 29, 2017 at 10:28 am

      Ian Keith Henry You are not reading properly, mate.

    • Kai Deno

      August 29, 2017 at 11:39 am

      “Extreme left”🤣🤣🤣 boy if you don’t read a god damn book…

    • Andrew Fawcett

      August 29, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      I’m sure there are a few people who disagree, but I think most comments like this just want more music and less politics.

    • William Kampen

      August 30, 2017 at 1:23 am

      Kai Deno: You are the one not reading what I wrote. Edgar P Bernal: Are you 12?

      I am getting tired of you assholes bringing your shitty problems everywhere. I read nothing but your whining. I wish it was about music again

  23. Karro Dahl

    August 29, 2017 at 1:19 am

    You don’t have to be pagan to want to reclaim the runes, as a Nord it disgusts me that our ancient way of writing is misused by the white supremacists. Ps, assholes, even the Vikings were of mixed race due to slaves taken from America and the Middle East. Go drawn your own stupid symbols

  24. Jeffrey Mireles

    August 29, 2017 at 1:10 am

    About fuvkn time someone materializes this thought

    • Jaz Byrne

      August 29, 2017 at 1:31 am

      If you’re really into runes why not give back to the culture you’re taking them from instead of fighting about which group that stole them gets to keep them?

    • Pencil Joshua Hatfylld

      August 29, 2017 at 2:48 am

      Please tell us who they were.

  25. Alexander Mac

    August 29, 2017 at 12:45 am

    Fascists and Nazis always steal and appropriate from other cultures or political groups. In Europe they use symbolism from Anarchism and anti-fascist groups, they stole and bastardized the look of the skinhead culture. The swastika was taken from Hindu culture, runes from paganism, the Roman salute etc.Just shows what a vapid and dead movement they are.

    • David Schmechel

      August 29, 2017 at 12:53 am

      Plus they twisted the word Aryan which was the name of ancient Iranian people. So in other words nazis are proud to be from the dessert 😉

    • William Kampen

      August 29, 2017 at 1:19 am

      Proud from the dessert?

    • Richard Patten

      August 29, 2017 at 2:00 am

      I don’t disagree with you but the swastika came from all indo European cultures, not just Hinduism 🙂

    • Hydronychus Borkowski

      August 29, 2017 at 3:43 am

      The swastika can be found everywhere, they used it in acient Egypt, South America (Mayan culture), China, native Japanese people used it… it’s harder to find a place where it can NOT be found.

    • Richard Patten

      August 29, 2017 at 4:30 am

      Indeed, it’s a very old symbol

    • David Schmechel

      August 29, 2017 at 5:16 am

      William Kampen Oops. Fixed that =p

  26. Maximilian Fritz

    August 29, 2017 at 12:42 am

    the black sun IS a nazi symbol, it never existed in any context before.

    • Scott Guzovsky

      August 29, 2017 at 2:23 am

      Oh, really…

    • Jusallah Ceeking

      August 29, 2017 at 2:28 am

      The shape of the symbol as it is used within Germanic mysticist esotericism is based primarily on the design of a floor mosaic at the castle of Wewelsburg (built 1603), a Renaissance castle located in the east of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

    • Terence Foy

      August 29, 2017 at 5:58 am

      Look into alchemy you might find some material there to counter your claim

    • Klaus Meiners

      August 30, 2017 at 1:39 am

      The exact design of the “Schwarze Sonne” as depicted in the article (and in the Wewelsburg), *IS* a symbol originally created in the Third Reich – and nowadays it’s used by the Nazi’s mental offspring (in Germany it comes in handy as a replacement for the banned swastika).
      The older symbols (like germanic “Zierscheiben”) on which it is based look different and are not used by neo-nazis and their kin.
      Whoever bears this version of the “Schwarze Sonne”, expresses his affiliation to the extreme right.
      Period.

    • Maximilian Fritz

      August 31, 2017 at 12:30 am

      @Terence Foy – Oh I’m sure I might find some esoteric works by people never heard of, to counter my claims, but no thanks I’ll keep relying on scientific sources instead. But if you think you can contribute anything meaningful to our little conversation go on and show me an exact depiction of the “Schwarze Sonne” from before 1934.

  27. Marcia Deville

    August 29, 2017 at 12:36 am

    They do to the Norse gods as IS does to Islam! Sickening indeed!

  28. Jaz Byrne

    August 29, 2017 at 12:23 am

    Pagans can’t retake anything on the basis that they’re pagans.

    Paganism is inspired by other cultures, it is not the same as them or even a product of them. Paganism has no more of a right to runes than prison gangs do.

    Atleast prison gang culture has an excuse for stealing. Multi generational poverty, violence and no access to education. What’s a pagans excuse going to be? That a bad thing was done with good intentions?

    • Richard Patten

      August 29, 2017 at 2:04 am

      Wait what? Who did our ancient Germanic forebears steal them from then? Clearly some have been copied or inspired by other writing systems but how can you say they “stole” them?

    • Jaz Byrne

      August 29, 2017 at 7:37 am

      Richard, if you are from a Scandinavian country they are a part of your culture.

      If you’re not then saying you belong to a religion doesn’t give you any rights over another person’s culture.

      Ancient forbearers ffs.

    • Karro Dahl

      August 29, 2017 at 8:06 am

      Um so Nordic pagans is inspired by Nordic paganism by other cultures? Stop talking out of your ass and think for a second

    • Jaz Byrne

      August 29, 2017 at 8:20 am

      Paganism started in the uk and was popularized in america. If you think that’s not true I challenge you to read the triumph of the moon by prof ronald hutton.
      Brits n yanks can say what they do with home alters, offerings and talking to gods in their heads originates from scandinavian cultures but it provably doesnt.

    • Jaz Byrne

      August 29, 2017 at 8:23 am

      How are you gettin on Lou?

    • Riku Forsman

      August 29, 2017 at 8:27 am

      Umm… You should read what a word “pagan” means. Paganism isn’t an single culture at all. It’s basically all of the smaller religions in Europe before Christians came and stole all of our traditions, holidays etc.

    • Richard Patten

      August 29, 2017 at 8:33 am

      You’re an idiot. I’m English. The runes were not only used by Scandinavians, but by all Germanic tribes including the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians… You know, the Anglo Saxons… who used the futhorc runic system and established England…? Not to mention England had the Danelaw during the viking age. Get a clue, mate.

    • Jaz Byrne

      August 29, 2017 at 8:40 am

      Richard, youre wearing a burzum shirt what did vikerness say capitalism and americanization did to norway and specifically paganism there?

      Congratulations for being british btw. I hear its like winning first place in the lottery of life. Im from Ireland. Read the ronald hutton book.

    • Corey Davenport

      August 29, 2017 at 9:18 am

      Ancient Nordic and Germanic Europeans invented the runes. They were pagan. Your history is so backwards it’s scary.

    • Richard Patten

      August 29, 2017 at 9:24 am

      What are you even talking about?

    • Jaz Byrne

      August 29, 2017 at 9:24 am

      Corey Davenport I don’t mean to seem pissy but im getting tired of this. What they were and what pagans are today are completely different things.

      At the risk of getting stuck in some kind of gordian knot of repeating myself. Modern Paganism was invented by rich bored Brits. It was popularized by yanks who turned religion into a business. It has no relationship with the past.

      Read ronald huttons the triumph of the moon. Theres pdfs online for free. Hes a pagan and a professor of history at a world class university. Theres no hidden bias just fact.

    • Richard Patten

      August 29, 2017 at 9:28 am

      What makes you assume I’m a neo-pagan? I’m aware of the modern BS in paganism and I steer clear of it. The runes are what we are talking about here though, and they are not a modern invention.

    • Jaz Byrne

      August 29, 2017 at 9:34 am

      Richard if you cant sus it out after all this… fuck sake.
      Is gerald gardner a fuckin viking? Were any of the hippy stonehengers in the 19th c vikings. No.

      Being a pagan doesnt give anyone any rights to anyone elses culture.

      Being a brit might give you rights to runes, and roman numerials and celtic blue bodypaint and french crusader swords. All on the basis that in the romantic misty past it was a part of your culture in ye ancienty times.

      But paganisn doesnt. It was invented by rich dopes. Do you see the point now?

    • Jaz Byrne

      August 29, 2017 at 9:40 am

      Richard if you’re not a that type of pagan cos you know the story. If youre from a country that has a history with runes… wtf are you jumping in for!?

      My point is these yanks involved in the antifa/neo fascist bs cant go around claiming other people’s cultures as their own on the basis that theyve some viking themed religion.

    • Riku Forsman

      August 29, 2017 at 9:48 am

      Seems like you two are talking about totally different things

    • Richard Patten

      August 29, 2017 at 10:14 am

      Yeah, I really don’t see your point. Neo-paganism, asatru, people calling themselves vikings, etc… totally agree. I don’t see why you have a problem with European spirituality or ancestor veneration, however. Maybe we are actually talking about different things and actually agree? Didnt realise you were talking about Antifa or neo-Nazis.

    • Ian Keith Henry

      August 29, 2017 at 10:20 am

      Pagans need to “reclaim” them so people don’t think they are racists, not because they have have the only historical claim to them.

    • Jaz Byrne

      August 29, 2017 at 10:50 am

      Ian pagans don’t have any claim to them just because of their religion so theyve no right to reclaim runes. The way facists and hippies use the symbols of other people’s cultures is embarrassing. Cringeworthy.

      Richard I think we are on a similar page. I wouldn’t be into ancestor veneration outside real family lines though. If someone’s not a relative its not cool.

      It smacks of the typical yank thing of blood excusing having no idea what a culture is about but still claiming to own it. “Im 1/8th something so Ive the right to turn that culture into mcdonalds”‘

      Its like they think they’re leeches and culture is passed on by chemical memory. Theyre half right anyway.

    • Richard Patten

      August 29, 2017 at 12:35 pm

      Yeah sure, I wouldn’t honour somebody else’s ancestors

  29. John Lyons

    August 29, 2017 at 12:17 am

    Never knew the Detroit Red Wings logo was a rune…

    • John Witte

      August 29, 2017 at 12:28 am

      yeah, don’t drag the detroit red wings into all of this. they’re cool as fuck.

    • James Henderson

      August 29, 2017 at 7:41 am

      This comment wins the thread. Period

    • Makenzie Marsland

      August 29, 2017 at 8:29 am

      Maybe read the very first sentence of the article and look at the logo a little more closely and you’ll understand why it is there.

    • Klaus Meiners

      August 30, 2017 at 1:43 am

      How about reading the article? (The first paragraph should suffice.)

  30. Mindi Burji

    August 29, 2017 at 12:11 am

    So many beautiful runes and symbols have been ruined through affiliation with the right. Instead of refraining from using them we should fight back by using them in their original expressions and purposes.

  31. Robert Black

    August 29, 2017 at 12:05 am

    I’m all in for taking back everything those nazi’s & alt-right stole, no sign, no song, nothing for the enemy! swastika = Life, Love Luck, Light ! read up on this, study reality instead of propaganda: http://www.little-swastika.com/about-swastikas

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