Wednesday, March 05, 2008

How the Astrologer Conned MI5

There are numerous articles today about how astrologer Louis de Wohl conned MI5 during WWII. The story isn't completely new, but the details are nice to know. Long story short, in return for a snappy uniform and a sense of importance, de Wohl convinced MI5 he understood Hitler's mind through his obsession with astrology.

Problem is, Hitler thought astrology was bunk. In fact, he thought a lot of occult things were bunk. But that hasn't stopped a pervasive meme from exploding in entertainment and popular lore that the Nazis and especially Hitler were "nuts on the subject" as the greatest offender, Raiders of the Lost Ark, put it. Yes, there were top Nazis that were obsessed with the occult, most importantly SS leader Himmler (who did involve the SS in archaeological looting, ancestor worship, and occult ideas).

But that's the thing. You get a group of people together, in government or out of it, and interest in these subjects will be held by some of them. The use of MI5 by de Wohl can perhaps be chalked up to low-cost hedging ones bets in wartime. But in addition to leaders or their families taking spiritual advice (Nancy Reagan's astrological advisor comes to mind) as I've talked about here before, other government projects and officials have spent time and/or money on telepathy, walking through walls, UFOs, and finding Noah's Ark. And that's the stuff they believed in, never mind using the subjects to cover up other activities.

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