Runic Aerobics Disliked by Nazis

i-1db5fd8074923e2f4d25a5565ca957f2-marbysw.jpgIn Nazi Germany and its occupied territories there were many ways to get thrown into an extermination camp. But Friedrich Marby broke some kind of record: he was sent to Dachau for publishing too silly ideas about runes. He survived.

The Nazis themselves were no strangers to occultism, particularly Heinrich Himmler, whose neo-Pagan religious movement I’ve touched upon before. Movements similar to today’s New Age, neo-paganism and occultism flourished in the early 20th century. But Marby was too much even for Himmler: he invented runic aerobics.

Marby’s ideas took off from the cosmic and psychedelic writings of Guido von List and Siegfried Kummer*, and possibly inspired those of Swedish mad professor Sigurd Agrell. His runic gymnastics incorporated astrological ideas. “In Marby’s opinion, the Universe was awash with cosmic rays, which could be both received and transmitted by human beings. In addition, the beneficial influences of these rays could be increased by adopting certain physical postures in imitation of rune-forms (a practice with an obvious similarity to yoga).” (A. Baker, Invisible Eagle, 2000). It didn’t help either that Marby was unimpressed by his country’s anti-semitism.

As Kellgren said so drily, being insane doesn’t mean you’re a genius. And just because you’re paranoid it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. But to my mind, Marby’s fate calls to mind the Falun Gong controversy. Just because you’re persecuted by a totalitarian regime, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t nuts.

* Kummer invented runic yodeling, as pointed out to me by Peter Olausson. Nobody seems to know if Kummer survived the war.

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Comments

  1. #1 Jens H
    August 20, 2009

    Sounds to me like this idea also could be influenced by Steiner. In eurythmy there is a similar alphabetic correspondance to different poses and movements.

  2. #2 Martin R
    August 20, 2009

    Aha, yeah, Anthroposophy grew from the same fertile mould as the rest of German occultism, including the Nazi-endorsed varieties.

  3. #3 Mike Olson
    August 20, 2009

    I’d spent years interested in gaining information and getting an education and being Christian. I’m still Christian, but several years ago I went to a group with a strong religious bend. Bear in mind, like many folks, I spent years thinking that, “God works in mysterious ways.” At times as, a matter of personal consolation, I’d think, “Everything happens for a reason.” These are pretty typical thoughts of many Christians I encounter. The idea that God is in charge is very comforting. However, while part of this group I began studying math and chemistry more deeply. Not to great depths but more than I had in the past. One of the members approached me and proclaimed a great interest in numbers and how they were magical!! I was more than a little disturbed! I began to realize that these folks were spending all of their time dispensing a philosophy that involved all things being out of our control, while at the same time belief that greater forces(occult forces) were in control was not just normal, but preferred. This meant numerology, astrology, and a deterministic God were the norm for these folks. I bailed out. I continue to be a Christian(not a popular thing here) but prefer my answers to events and understanding of the physical multiverse to come from science.

  4. #4 Mike Olson
    August 20, 2009

    My point is that mainstream churches don’t necessarily advocate this sort of thinking, but an institution which is venerated in the U.S.(AA) encourages a great variety of occult thinking and general ideation.

  5. #5 Martin R
    August 20, 2009

    So, what are your supernatural beliefs?

  6. #6 Mike Olson
    August 20, 2009

    Generally, Martin, I enjoy your posts. You’ve got a lot of good things to say. So, I’m not going to go to far with this, but suffice to say, I’d ask, “What are your articles of faith?” I know, not much of a difference, but I believe there to be a huge difference between faith and magical thinking. Many folks I read here on science blogs don’t share that view point. To illustrate: I believe in God and in an after life. I can’t prove this, nor can it be disproven. I don’t believe this faith grants me any sort of immunity or pass. I don’t think it means I’m garunteed anything, in this life. It certainly doesn’t mean I can predict the future, outside of the normal sort of stuff: “If I hold a chair up and let go, it will fall down…””If I mix these two household cleaners together they will create a chlorine cloud which will cause respiratory distress.” It means I believe in a Creator and due to my particular flavor I follow a certain pattern of ethical behavior. A system I can never hope to follow perfectly, but can only hope to improve my performance over time. Yes, it violates, “Diax’s Rake,” in one fashion but follows it in another. I want to believe in God because I like it, but I don’t try to predict outcomes based on what I’d like or what my behaviors or intentions are…too many variables.

  7. #7 Prup (aka Jim Benton)
    August 20, 2009

    Martin, please don’t link to a page about a ‘mad professor’ (I collect mad professors) and have it be in Swedish. The frustration is bloody awful.

    So, in my ‘official position’ as Dis-cardinal — to be referred to as “Your Dis-Grace” — in the True Faith of the Sacred Cat (two ‘core beliefs’ A: the ruler of the Universe exists in the corporeal form of a cat in a sacred temple buried in the sands of Mars; B: anyone who will believe A will believe anything) I command of you the following penance:

    Translate the damn thing into English and get it posted on the English Wikipedia.

    I would threaten you with excommunication, except that Church records show that you were never a member. So, in my official capacity I enroll you — so that I can kick you out if you dfon’t perform the Penance.

  8. #8 Prup (aka Jim Benton)
    August 20, 2009

    On a more serious ‘theological’ point, I agree with you, Mike, that our beliefs — Martin and I are vaguely similar in our atheism and belief in science, and my belief — which I don’t think Martin shares — that ethics are something that evolved inherently out of our being social creatures, that one human by himself is meaningless ethically because no one exists ‘by himself’ — are ‘articles of faith.’ Though I would prefer ‘postulates.’

    That is simply a logical necessity. You have to have some ‘undefined terms’ some ‘rules not derivable from other rules’ as a place to start, or you merely construct a gigantic example of circular reasoning in which, arguably, nothing is provable or everything is.

    Thus you choose to accept a diety of some sort as a postulate, and claim your ethical system is based on that postulate. I believe you have managed to avoid the main trap in this, but I will mention it anyway. This is the tempting belief that ‘sin’ (to use the religious formulation) is an ‘offense against the diety’ instead of an offense against your fellow humans, and that it is the iety, and not the offended or injured person from whom you have to ask forgiveness.

    For me, my ethical system has much in common with standard scientific ethics, that is, honesty, freedom of communication, appeal to evidence, respect, and responsibility, all of which I would argue are inherent to our existence as social beings.

  9. #9 Mike Olson
    August 21, 2009

    I agree with what you have said. From my perspective it is realistic impossible to lie to the Creator, but I still must deal with the reality of the thought process that led to the sin with my creator. AKA recognizing the exact nature of the error and how this is different from what my Creator would want. I should point out, however, I am going to be forgiven by him. I still must confess and deal with whatever person or human agencies I have transgressed against. They may not be so forgiving. I have to accept those consequences as they occur. On a different note, I’ve never read, “Les Miserables,” however, I think it touches on a notion that is similar to one that many of us hold: some thefts and transgressions are rather minor and great consequences can result, was well as some “sins” may save a life and great consequences can still result…even when the crime is perpetrated against someone who is potentially a much greater evil. My point is simply that it is usually easier to make it right with God. Thus, you are correct, the greater emphasis can be on making it right with the rest of humanity.

  10. #10 Martin R
    August 21, 2009

    Sorry Jim, an article on English Wikipedia about an obscure Swedish linguist would get deleted within hours for insufficient notability. But try running the article through Google Translate: [here]!

  11. #11 Fálun Dáfá guy
    August 25, 2009

    Interesting analogy about the persecuted Falun Gong, and how they might be “nuts”. I personally know a lot of Falun Gong practitioners, and they are the best family people, employees and members of society I have ever come across. No matter how good anyone claims to be, let’s see how many charitable things they do purely for the benefit of others. There is no money made from every Falun Gong flyer handed out on the street, yet the people who receive that flyer benefit from being better informed about the practice of Falun Gong, and the persecution in Mainland China. They are touched by the courage and determination of Falun Gong practitioners to end the human rights crisis in Mainland China.

  12. #12 Reinhard
    September 1, 2009

    Such a rubbish; Marby was sent to Dachau, because he critisized the national-socialist Antisemitism. He wrote letters to Hitler, in which he acused Himmler of massmurdering Jews and he crossed Willigut. Nobody was sent to Dachau for such ariosophic Bullshit.

  13. #13 Martin R
    September 1, 2009

    If I understand correctly, Marby crossed Willigut by publishing ariosophic bullshit?

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