No platform for fascism

I recently posted on Instagram about a book I was reading by Nigel Pennick, and was informed by Amy Hale that the author has links with the far right (she published an article about it in The Pomegranate in 2012). I was horrified, as I have been recommending his books to people. If you Google his name, the first results that come up will not be related to his links with the far right, but if if you Google his name along with “Arcana Europa”, a far right publisher, you can find ample evidence of these links. He has also published a book with Arcana Europa. Accordingly, I created another post repudiating his work.

Even if he doesn’t have far right views himself (which he very likely has, as he seems to be friends with Stephen Flowers aka Edred Thorsson, and apparently has also contributed to TYR, a new right journal), if you’re getting stuff published by a publisher, you need to do due diligence of checking who they are. Some years ago, I declined to be on a podcast which frequently interviewed far right people, conspiracy theorists, and UFO enthusiasts, because I didn’t want to endorse the far right content by appearing alongside it.

You could argue that it is possible to separate the work from the activities of the author, but the book I was reading has several mentions of the Armanen runes, which were devised by Guido von List, a nationalist and völkisch occultist, and also describes a rune which was used as a symbol by the Nazis (an Odal rune with extra hooks on it) without mentioning that it was used by them.

Many Pagans argue that they do not have a political stance. If you do not have a political stance, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. We cannot stand by and allow fascists to infiltrate Paganism, or use our themes, sacred images, names, and ideas to bolster their horrific views of reality.

This discovery is deeply disappointing and disturbing for me, as I knew Nigel Pennick personally in the 1990s, and always assumed that he was left wing. I also enjoyed several of his books, such as Practical Magic in the Northern Tradition.

If you plan to keep reading his work, I would advise reading it with caution and with your anti-fascism filters set to maximum.

I would also strongly recommend reading Amy Hale’s article on The Pagan and Occult Fascist Connection and How to Fix It, which explains how the infiltration of Paganism by the far right happened, and how to push back against it.

6 thoughts on “No platform for fascism

  1. I thought the name looked familiar, and saw I read this 25 years ago:

    Jones, Prudence & Pennick, Nigel 1995. A history of pagan Europe.

    My comment at the time was:

    “Traces the history of pagan religion in Europe from the ancient Greeks to the present. It is best on the Greeks, Romans, Celts and Germans, fairly good on the Baltic lands, but weak on Russia and the Balkans. Collects a lot of information from a variety of sources not usually found together. Apart from a few minor errors, it is generally factually accurate.”

    I’ll refer people on the New Religious Movements mailing list (Nurel) to your article.

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  2. “…without mentioning that it was used by them.”

    Haven’t read Pennick in a while but I recall his books about runes suffering slightly from this throughout: the archaeology/history he does mention is relatively solid but there are gaps. So, they can work well as a starting point for someone looking for a runic perspective that’s based in pre-Christian practice rather than the more UPG or Wicca-centred syncretism of some authors.

    Whether he deliberately omitted things to make his books an acceptable face of a toxic mimicry of Teutonic practice is hard to tell for certain (although, one might make inference from the fact connection to the Nazis is something most person promoting a non-toxic practice would mention); however, all of his work on runes that I’ve read seems to cover almost exactly the same ground, so it almost certainly isn’t that he wanted to avoid repeating things he’d addressed in a previous book.

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  3. Pingback: Books I read in November | Dowsing for Divinity

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