Alexander Rud Mills
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Alexander Rud Mills (1885 – 8 April 1964) was a prominent Australian Odinist, and one of the earliest proponents of the rebirth of Germanic Neopaganism in the 20th century. He was a published author, lecturer and barrister. He founded the First Anglecyn Church of Odin in Melbourne in 1936. He was also known by the pen-name Tasman Forth.
Mills was born in Forth, Tasmania in 1885. Around 1910 he moved to Victoria to enrol at the Melbourne University Law School at the University of Melbourne. Mills was admitted to the Victorian Bar in 1917. He married Evelyn Louisa Price at Holy Trinity, Church of England, Surrey Hills, Victoria 2 June 1951. She was the daughter of Frederick Andrew Price and Helena Louisa Rogers. Rud was 65, Evelyn was 62. They had a long friendship and romance continuing for over 30 years prior to their marriage. Witnesses at the wedding were Henry Jamieson and Edward Clare. Rud Mills died on 8 April 1964, buried at Ferntree Gully Cemetery, Victoria. His wife, Evelyn died on 9 July 1973 and is buried with her husband.
Political sympathies and activities
Mills became politically and religiously active during a trip to Europe between 1931 and 1934. While in Russia during this time he became disillusioned with communism, which he had come to view as a form of organized thuggery. In England he attended meetings of Sir Oswald Mosley's 'British Union of Fascists', and Arnold Leese's smaller and more radical 'Imperial Fascist League, receiving Leese's newspaper, The Fascist. When Mills appeared before a Commission of Inquiry, some years later, he conceded that he believed Leese to be “at times misguided in his statements." He pointed out that he also received "Soviet Today" and the "Jewish Chronicle".
Historian of esotericism Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke characterised Mills as a "Nazi sympathiser". In 1933, Mills travelled to Germany and met Adolf Hitler. According to the Odinic Rite website, of meeting Hitler Mills later wrote: "I saw him. Talked to him. He would not discuss my theme." In Germany Mills also met followers of General Erich Ludendorff, the famous strategist and hero of the First World War who was also interested in a Nordic religious revival. Mills disagreed with Ludendorff on philosophical grounds.
On Mills' return to Australia in 1934 he established the Anglecyn Church of Odin and in 1935 he founded the 'British Australian Racial Body'. He had also established two short-lived newspapers, the National Socialist and The Angle as a vehicle through which to espouse his racial, religious and political views. In 1941 he became associated with the anti-War, pro-Isolationist 'Australia First Movement' and contributed to its newspaper The Publicist, which, before 1939, described itself as being 'for national socialism' and 'for Aryanism; against semitism', and which was the mouthpiece for W.J. Miles, a leading member of the Rationalist Society.
Mills' most influential book was published in 1930 as The Odinist Religion: Overcoming Jewish Christianity. In this work he claimed that Nordic races had established the ancient civilisations of Sumeria, Egypt, Persia, Greece, and Rome, but that they had been weakened by miscegenation with other races and by adopting Christianity, and along with it the view that all humans were equal.
Given Mill's known pacifist sympathies and his association with (although he was not a member of) the Australia First Movement, it was unsurprising that he was detained without trial for suspicion of placing Australia's interests before those of the Empire, and for offering his legal services to Australia First members on 10 March 1942. He was interned until 17 December 1942, having been set free at last by a tribunal. No charges were ever brought against him. Mills was cleared of any wrongdoing by a judicial panel, but received no compensation for his imprisonment.
In Parliament in March 1944 Robert Menzies, then leader of the opposition, later Australia's longest-serving Prime Minister, said "I happen to know him quite well..... he was hauled out of his home, imprisoned and put in an internment camp..... his association, so I am informed, with the Australia First Movement amounted to this: some man who had secured appointment with the movement wrote to him and asked him to subscribe, and he forward 10s 6d. as a subscription..... I know this man and I know something of the disaster which this has brought upon him..... Here is a man who for twenty-odd years was building up a practice as a professional man. He was taken out of his home, just as anybody might be. He was incarcerated in circumstances of immense notoriety. When he came out, what happened? His friends were gone, his practice gone, his reputation was gone."
In "The Puzzled Patriots," by Bruce Muirden, Melbourne University Press 1968, page 128 refers to a bashing of Mills by an army officer at Loveday Internment Camp in South Australia. This allegation was backed up by Mills' wife, Evelyn Louisa Mills.
Mills' articulation of Odinism is quite different in flavour to some modern tendencies within Odinism. Having formulated "his own unique blend" of Ariosophy, he was heavily influenced by the writings of pioneering Austrian Ariosophist and Wotanist Guido von List. Much of Mills' ideology focused around what he conceived as the "British race", a group who he believed also inhabited other parts of the world colonised by the British Empire. This concept was problematic given the ethnically and linguistically diverse nature of the British population during the early 20th century. Mills believed that while Christianity was alien to Britons, Odinism was instead native and thus could be better understood by British folk. He expressed the view that "our own racial ideas and traditions (not those of others) are our best guide to health and national strength". He was critical of Christianity, believing it to be "unnatural" because – in his view – it encouraged the breaking down of racial barriers.
In Mills' theology, the Norse gods were symbols of the divine rather than actual anthropomorphic entities, and he believed that each racial group had its own symbolic system for interpreting and understanding divinity. For Mills, Odin represented an archetypal father figure, with other deities from Norse mythology, such as Thor and Frigg, having minor roles in his groups' theology. This emphasis on Odin may represent the influence of Christianity on his thinking.
In his liturgical text, The First Guide Book to the Anglecyn Church of Odin of 1936, Mills gives a version of the Ten Commandments that is only slightly different from that in Exodus and Mill's formulary includes vigils, hymns, evensong and communion, making it abundantly clear that Mills based the liturgy of the Anglecyn Church of Odin on that of the Anglican Church. However, while textually there is a debt to Christian worship, philosophically Mills expresses strong anti-Christian sentiments throughout:
…the Christian religion is, in one phase at least, a form of Jewish propaganda, as well as a condemnation of ourselves
…our Christian culture…has now bought us to ever-greater worship of time-subservient materialism…
…in the Christian religion its doctrines and outlook has been personified and adorned with stories calculated to appeal to a certain weakness of man.
Anti-Semitic comments can likewise be found scattered throughout the Guide Book. The Jews evidently plot world conquest:
…the Jews, generally speaking, recognise the degradation and disintegration of the peoples under Christian culture, and by its direction or otherwise, have hopes of ruling over such peoples…and because Jews try to hasten the process by using the many powers in their control.
… many Jewish Leaders have deemed it an intellectual conquest of other peoples, [if they persuade] other races to forget their own race and Lords, and at the same time induce them to…self –renunciation (take-the-lowest-seat)…making such persons and nations unworthy to live and only fit to be ruled, before their extinction.
Control the media:
…in our newspapers, colleges, wireless and the like news-services (even when not directly controlled Jews [sic])…the word 'Jew' is only spoken with circumspection…
And dominate Freemasonry:
[Freemasonry has] been seriously affected by reason of the pervading Jewish culture, which war against our national and racial identity…and the Jewish racial spirit…and the denial of our own
While Mills' vision of what Odinism involves is still being re-explored and re-evaluated by modern Odinists, nevertheless Mills prefigures many of the concerns of Germanic pagans today - the morally and culturally corrosive effects of Judeo-Christianity, the importance of Eugenics and breeding programmes, the linking of individual with national vitality, the fall from grace of the White Race by being untrue to the spirit of their forefathers, valourisation of heroism, the intrinsic healthiness of freedom of heterosexual expression and so on.
Influence on Germanic neopaganism
Writing in the Australian Religion Studies Journal, A. Asbjørn Jøn characterised Mills as "obscure yet important", having played a "very significant role" in the development of Norse-oriented Neopaganism.
Mills was the focal point for English-speaking Odinists from the 1920s until his death. In his native Australia one of his most prominent supporters was Annie Lennon, who on at least one occasion had to book out the Brisbane Football Ground to accommodate those who wished to hear her message. Since the ground was not big enough for those wished to be admitted, she had to hire a public address system to relay her message to those outside who could not be accommodated.
After Mills was released from internment in late 1942 he continued to promote his vision of Odinism. He remained an active writer, publishing eight books and numerous articles and pamphlets between 1933 and 1957 on Odinist themes.
During the 1960s, the Danish far right activist Else Christensen came across Mills' work while she was living in Canada. Although Christensen believed that many of Mills' ideas were too heavily influenced by Freemasonry for her liking, she was profoundly influenced by his ideas about reviving the worship of ancient Norse deities. Christensen subsequently established the Odinist Fellowship in 1969, then based from her mobile home in Crystal River, Florida.
In the early 1970s, a group of Australian Odinists who were students at the University of Melbourne sought a guarantee from the Australian Attorney-General that if Odinism were formally revived it would not be persecuted (as Mills' church had been). The Attorney-General gave that guarantee, and by the early 1990s the Odinic Rite of Australia had been granted legal status by the Australian government. Today, members of the ORA attend annual pilgrimages to the graves of Rud and Evelyn Mills.
In 1980 Kerry Raymond Bolton from Christchurch, New Zealand, along with David Crawford, co-founded a New Zealand group called the Church of Odin. They both had a background in far-right political activities. Paul Spoonley quotes Crawford as saying that the Church of Odin was exclusively for whites, and specifically whites "of non-Jewish descent" and that "the main Odinic law requires loyalty to race". By 1983 Bolton had left the Church.
Today, the main Odinist religious bodies that honour Rud and Evelyn Mills are the northern hemisphere's Odinic Rite, and the Odinic Rite of Australia.
- The Call of Our Ancient Nordic Religion. Coventry, England: Northern World Pub. 1957.
- The Call of Our Nordic Religion – Reflections on the Theological Content of the Sagas. Calcutta: Northern World Pub. 1957.
- Law for the Ordinary Man. Melbourne: A.R. Johnson. 1947.
- The Odinist Religion: Overcoming Judeo Christianity. Melbourne: Ruskin Press. 1939.
- Ritual Book of the Moots of the Anglecyn Body. 1937.
- The First Guide Book to the Anglecyn Church of Odin. Sydney: Forward Press. 1936.
- Hael, Odin!. Melbourne: Village Belle Press. 1934.
- And Fear Shall Be In The Way. London: Watson & Co. 1933.
- Asbjǿrn Jǿn, A. (May 1999). "Alexander Rud Mills and the Ásatrǘ faith in the New Age". Australian Religion Studies Review. Equinox Publishing. 12 (1).
- Gardell, Matthias (2003). "4". Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism. Duke University Press. pp. 269–283. ISBN 0-8223-3071-7.
- Henderson, Peter (September 2006). "National Socialism in Australasia". Alexander Rud Mills - Esoteric Nazi. Univ of Queensland - Pacific & Asian History: NSA Conference.
- Henderson, Peter (November 2005). "Frank Browne and the Neo-Nazis". Labour History. 89: 73–86. doi:10.2307/27516076.
- Kaplan, Jeffrey (January 1997). Radical Religion in America. Syracuse Univ. Press. ISBN 0-8156-0396-7.
- Kidd, Colin. The Forging of Races. Univ of Glasgow. p. 225. ISBN 978-0-521-79729-0.
- Muirden, Bruce (1968). The Puzzled Patriots, The Story of the Australia First Movement. Melbourne University Press. ISBN 0-522-83907-X.
- Oliver, Professor Revilo P. (August 1989). "Chrétian Malgré Lui – A. Rudd Mills". Liberty Bell.
- Slauson, Irv; Asatru Free Church Committee (1978). The Religion of Odin. Red Wing.
- Winter, Barbara (2005). The Australia-First Movement. Brisbane: Glass House Books. ISBN 1-876819-91-X. ISBN 1-876819-91-X.
- 'A Brief Biography of Alexander Rud Mills' at http://www.geocities.com/osred/Rud_Mills_Brief_Biography.htm>. Archived 2009-10-25.
- Goodrick-Clarke 2003, p. 259.
- Bruce Muirden, The Puzzled Patriots: The Story of the Australia First Movement (Melbourne, Melbourne University Press: 1968), p. 186
- Muirden, p.75
- Muirden, p.106
- Muirden, p.101
- Asbjørn Jøn 1999, p. 77.
- Asbjørn Jøn 1999, p. 78.
- Asbjørn Jøn 1999, pp. 77–78.
- Asbjørn Jøn 1999, p. 80.
- Alexander Rud Mills, The First Guide Book to the Anglecyn Church of Odin (Sydney, Forward Press: 1936), pp.63, 11
- For a further discussion of Christian influence on Mill's Odinism see A. Asbjorn Jon, 'Skeggold, skalmold; vindold, vergold' -Alexander Rud Mills and the Asatru faith in the New Age in Australian Religion Studies Review 12 no.1 (1999), pp.77-83
- Mills, p.18
- Mills, p.20
- Mills, p.24
- Mills, p.34
- Mills, p.45
- Mills, p.43
- Mills, p.25
- Mills, p.21
- Mills, p.26
- Tasman Forth [A.R. Mills], The Call of our Ancient Nordic Religion (Coventry, Northern World, 1957) p.15
- Mills, p.31
- Osred, Odinism: Present, Past and Future (Melbourne, Renewal Publications: 2010), p. 201
- see 'Attachment A: Index of Mills Works' at www.geocities.com/osred/ArticlesaboutMills/Mills_works.htm (accessed 2 August 2006)
- Gardell 2003, p. 167.
- Gardell 2003, pp. 167–168.
- Gardell 2003, p. 165.
- Paul Spoonley The Politics of Nostalgia: Racism and the Extreme Right in New Zealand (Palmerston North: Dunmore Press, 1987), pp. 145-170
- Spoonley, p.170
- Bolton, letter to the editor, Herald (26/6/83), cited in Spoonley, p. 170.
- Asbjørn Jøn, A. (1999). "'Skeggøld, Skálmöld; Vindöld, Vergöld': Alexander Rud Mills and the Ásatrú Faith in the New Age". Australian Religion Studies Review. 12 (1): 77–83.
- Gardell, Matthias (2003). Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism. Durham and London: Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0822330714.
- Godwin, Joscelyn (1996). Arktos: The Polar Myth in Science, Symbolism, and Nazi Survival. Kempton: Adventures Unlimited Press.
- Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas (2003). Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 978-0814731550.
- Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas (2004) . The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology. New York: Tauris Parke. ISBN 978-1860649738.
- Hammer, Olav (2015). "The Theosophical Current in the Twentieth Century". The Occult World. Christopher Partridge (ed.). Abingdon: Routledge. pp. 348–360.