Fire & Ice: Magical Teachings of Germany’s Greatest Secret Occult Order by Steven E. Flowers Ph.D.
Many influences came together to produce the Brotherhood of Saturn. Freemasonry and its derivatives is one of them. The Illuminati are another, as are the Theosophists. There are plenty of Kabalistic and ceremonial magic influences as well, and even bits and pieces of Arthurian lore. A gradually awakening desire of the German-speaking peoples to re-connect with their ancient heritage was also a factor. This desire gave rise to a philosophy called Ariosophy, meaning “wisdom of the Aryans.” This used to be a nice word, meaning “speaker of an Indo-European language,” until Herr Hitler and company got hold of it. Speaking of which, the Brotherhood of Saturn was not a part of the National Socialist movement. In fact, it was suppressed under the Third Reich. However, some of the same nasty Anti-Semitism was also present in the Brotherhood. It had a “no Jews” rule from the beginning. Whatever its successes in other fields, in terms of helping Germans/German speakers reconnect with their ancestral heritage the Brotherhood failed utterly.
The core beliefs of the Brotherhood, insofar as they can be said to have them, seeing how eclectic they are, are based on Gnostic Christianity. Lucifer is not the biblical Satan, but rather a Deity or Demiurge concerned with enlightenment. As with some ancient Gnostic sects, Yahweh/Jehovah is pretty much the “bad guy.” I won’t argue that particular point with the Brotherhood!
The Brotherhood has lots of initiatory orders (remember the Freemason influence) and they have Latin names, which should tell you something right there! It has numerous sacraments as well, roughly derived from and elaborated from Catholic Christianity. Sex magic is stressed as well, of a rather “kinky” sort. There are definite links with the ideas of the late Aleister Crowley. While the goal of the organization is to produce an enlightened Mage, it has its darker side too, including human sacrifice. This allegedly was and still is carried out by a gadget called a Tepaphone which supposedly allows a magician to use his/her will to kill a selected individual anywhere that person may be. I, for one, am not frightened at all!
What does any of this have to do with Germanic Heathen religion and its associated magical practices? As you have probably concluded by this point, not a whole lot! While the Brotherhood of Saturn was partly propelled into existence by the desire of late 19th and early 20th century German-speaking Europe to reconnect with its pre-Christian heritage, the only actual Heathen or Heathen-derived elements I was able to find were a belief in an “All-ruling Principle of Fate” called “Fuotan.” This is a combination of fatum, the Latin word for fate, with Wuotan/Wotan, which are old German dialectical forms of *Wodenaz (Odin). This was based on the belief, erroneous as far as I can tell, that fatum is cognate with *Wodenaz. My understanding is that far from being fate, or its closest Germanic counterpart, Wyrd, Odin is himself subject to the workings of Wyrd. Etymologically speaking, *Wodenaz is derived from a word meaning “fury,” not “fate,” and its closest Latin cognate is “ventus,” meaning “wind.”
The only other Heathen-derived element I was able to find was belief in and use of Guido von List’s Armanen Futhark and Rune work. However, these elements are but distorted drops of Heathen lore in a very diverse pool of ideas, and are not essential to its functioning. They could be removed from the Brotherhood of Saturn and it would remain essentially unchanged. The core of the Brotherhood lies in its lodge organization, initiatory degrees, and Gnostic-derived philosophy.