Black Sun (symbol)
The black sun (German: Schwarze Sonne) is a symbol, a type of sun wheel (German: Sonnenrad) employed in a post-Nazi Germany context by neo-Nazis, other far-right groups, and some occult subcultures, such as Satanism.
The symbol first occurred during Nazi Germany as a design element in a castle remodeled and expanded by Heinrich Himmler which he intended to be a center for the SS. The symbol's design consists of twelve radial sig runes, similar to the symbols employed by the SS in their logo. Whether the symbol had a name or held any particular significance among the SS remains unknown. Its association with the occult concept of the "black sun", and therefore also its name, developed from the influence of a 1991 German novel Die Schwarze Sonne von Tashi Lhunpo ('The Black Sun of Tashi Lhunpo') by the pseudonymous author Russell McCloud.
In 1933, Heinrich Himmler acquired Wewelsburg, a castle near Paderborn, Germany. Himmler intended to make the structure into a center for the SS, and between 1936 and 1942, Himmler ordered the building expanded and rebuilt for ceremonial purposes.
As a product of Himmler's remodeling, twelve dark-green radially overlaid sig runes, such as those employed in the logo of the SS, appear on the white marble floor of the structure's north tower, the Obergruppenführersaal or "General's Hall". The intended significance of the image remains unknown, but the artist may have found inspiration from decorative Merovingian disks (Zierscheibe). According to the historian Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke:
[I]t has been suggested that this twelve-spoke sun wheel derives from decorative disks from the Merovingians of the early medieval period and are supposed to represent the visible sun or its passage through the months of the year. These disks were discussed in scholarly publications during the Third Reich and may well have served the Wewelsburg designers as a model.
The 1991 occult thriller novel Die Schwarze Sonne von Tashi Lhunpo ('The Black Sun of Tashi Lhunpo') by the pseudonymous author Russell McCloud first linked the Wewelsburg mosaic with the neo-Nazi concept of the "Black Sun", invented by former SS officer Wilhelm Landig as a substitute for the Nazi swastika and a symbol for a mystic energy source that was supposed to renew the Aryan race.
Use by the Church of Satan
Along with other symbols from the Nazi era such as the Wolfsangel, the sig rune, and the totenkopf, the black sun is used by adherents of the Church of Satan and other Satanists. According to scholar Chris Mathews:
In defending their use, Satanists draw attention to their historical origins, as most have origins that precede their Nazi application, some stretching centuries back into the past. [Specifically], they adopt the primary iconography of the SS, the Nazi's own elite order. With these symbols, many of the pre-Nazism connections are questionable. Of the numerous permutations of the Wolfsangle, Satanists adopt the form used by the SS and numerous fascist organizations. Likewise, the Totenkopf used in the nineteenth century by the Prussian military was markedly more cartoonish than the SS's Death Head version, which is the version Church of Satan members use. The Black Sun motif is even less ambiguous. Though based on medieval German symbols, the Wewelsburg mosaic is a unique design commissioned specifically for Himmler, and its primary contemporary association is Nazi occultism, for which Nazi Satanic groups and esoteric neo-Nazis adopt it.
Mathews writes that Satanists sometimes combine Nazi imagery, such as when the Church of Satan's online store sold Wolfsangel rings by presenting them before a Black Sun background. According to Mathews, "Despite the systematic exploitation of ambiguity, any denial that Nazi symbols are being used as Nazi symbols is both disingenuous and unconvincing."
Neo-Nazism, white nationalism, and the alt-right
The Black Sun symbol occurs frequently in print publications and on websites associated with Nazi occult circles and other right-wing extremist groups, in which context it is also called a sun wheel or Sonnenrad.
The symbol has been used by neo-Nazi, neo-völkisch, alt-right, and white nationalist groups, such as Vanguard America-Texas during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Australian neo-Nazi group Antipodean Resistance, and the Azov Battalion, a Ukrainian movement, originally a military regiment, widely associated with neo-fascism and neo-Nazism.
In popular culture
In 2018, the symbol appeared on merchandise for Colombian pop singer Shakira's El Dorado World Tour. According to Live Nation Entertainment, "The necklace Live Nation designed for Shakira's 'El Dorado World Tour' was based on pre-Columbian imagery ... However, some fans have expressed concern that the design bears an unintentional resemblance to neo-Nazi imagery. We sincerely apologize for this inadvertent similarity and have permanently pulled the item from the tour collection".
- Grumke, Thomas; Wagner, Bernd (2002). Handbuch Rechtsradikalismus: Personen — Organisationen — Netzwerke vom Neonazismus bis in die Mitte der Gesellschaft (in German). Opladen: Leske + Budrich. p. 207. ISBN 978-3-81-003399-4.
- Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas (2002). Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity. New York University Press. p. 125. ISBN 0-81-473124-4.
- Goodrick-Clarke (2002), p. 148.
- Strube, Julian (2015). "Nazism and the Occult". In Partridge, Christopher (ed.). The Occult World. Abingdon, UK: Routledge. p. 339. ISBN 978-0-41-569596-1.
- Goodrick-Clarke (2002), pp. 148–150.
- Goodrick-Clarke (2002), p. 3.
- Mathews, Chris (2009). Modern Satanism: Anatomy of a Radical Subculture. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 153. ISBN 978-0-313-36639-0.
- Grumke & Wagner (2002), p. 219.
- "Sonnenrad". Anti-Defamation League. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
- "Deconstructing the symbols and slogans spotted in Charlottesville". The Washington Post. 18 August 2017.
- Nathan, Julie (20 April 2018). "Antipodean Resistance: The Rise and Goals of Australia's New Nazis". ABC Religion & Ethics. Australian Beroadcasting Corporation.
- Porter, Tom (13 August 2017). "Who are the White Nationalist Groups that Demonstrated in Charlottesville?". Newsweek.
- "Flags and Other Symbols Used By Far-Right Groups in Charlottesville". Hatewatch. Southern Poverty Law Center. 12 August 2017.
- Colborne, Michael (10 April 2019). "The Christchurch shooting, Eastern Europe's far-right and a 'cherry-picked reading of history'". Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
- Luhn, Alec (30 August 2014). "Preparing for War With Ukraine's Fascist Defenders of Freedom". Foreign Policy.
- Dearden, Lizzie (16 March 2019). "New Zealand attack: How nonsensical white genocide conspiracy theory cited by gunman is spreading poison around the world". The Independent. Archived from the original on 16 March 2019.
- Schumacher, Elizabeth (19 June 2018). "Shakira selling Nazi-like trinket for El Dorado tour". Deutsche Welle.
- Park, Andrea (22 June 2018). "Live Nation apologizes after Shakira's merchandise features Nazi imagery". CBS News.
- Media related to Black Sun (occult symbol) at Wikimedia Commons