The late years of the 19th and the early years of the 20th centuries saw the zenith of an interest in the occult that spread across Europe and into the rest of the world. For England’s upper crust this meant a penchant for dabbling in Secret Societies such as the Golden Dawn and its offspring. The origins of these societies can be found in the burning of the library at Egypt’s Alexandria-but of that more later.
These societies hid beneath the veneer (or perhaps rock) of fashionable occultism in the Victorian and Edwardian age. They were true seekers of gnosis for reasons both good and bad-and Aleister Crowley was among the most outrageous of them all. Crowley was born wealthy. Early in life he set foot on the spiritual path and actually accomplished amazing things.
Much of this was hidden beneath a drive to replace his long spent wealth and an even stronger drive to feed the world’s press with material designed to enhance his public reputation as “the wickedest man in the world”.
The reputation lives on and few are aware today that he played roles as an intelligence operative in New York during the First World War and in London during the second. Fewer still are aware that during the early years of the formation of the Nazi Party, Crowley was drawing the attention of the long established occult masters of Munich, Germany.
Crowley privately published many books and papers on his occult research and experiences. In one of them he revealed information he claimed had been imparted to him from a spirit from the Inner Plane. German members of an ancient occult society recognized their own information-and accused Crowley of stealing and exposing secrets. Crowley met with them in Munich. His accusers soon learned the truth-Crowley really did receive the information “from the other side”.
Realizing he was in communication with “The Secret Chiefs” (read Blavatsky: The Secret Doctrine) they took Crowley under their wing and empowered him to start a branch of their society in England. These same men later formed the Thule Society-the driving force politically and financially behind the fledgling Nazi Party and Hitler. Crowley plays a role in The Watch as an advisor to Winston Churchill on the secret rituals of the SS.
The name is Addolgar Reec. It’s Welsh. It’s pronounced “Atholgar Rees”. The name was nothing unusual back in the little Welsh Village of Treorchi, in the midst of the coalmines above the Rhonda Valley in south Wales. Even so, as soon as I started attending classes, my teachers wanted to use something “a little more English.” These teachers were either English-or Welsh anglophiles-and those were the days when being politically correct meant being as English as possible. The Welsh have many faults. A long memory is one of them. We still harbor ancestral ill feelings for the Romans and the unkempt rag-tag raiders that followed them-the Angles, Jutes, Danes, Norsemen etc. So it was with more than a little satisfaction that my generation began to discard all things English as I reached my maturity. We took back our language, our names our ancient religion and so much more. Nevertheless, I have never been able to shake “Jack Rees”. So, if you see Jack Reec at the masthead of my page, it’s a nod to the past. If you see “Jack Rees” on my book covers, it’s a nod to the marketing department. No wonder I look frustrated.
The three generations that fought WW2, their kids-and their kids are all fascinated by the bizarre story of Hitler’s rise to power. Not to mention the still barely understood murderous racial policies and the largely still secret “wonder weapons” and advanced technology of the Nazi regime.
I can’t remember a time when I was not reading one book or another about Hitler and World War II. To this very day, every year sees publication of one or more “non-fiction” books on these subjects. From “The Hunt for Zero Point,” “The Nazis and the Occult” to “The Spear of Destiny” to “Brotherhood of the Bell,” these books add some facts but mostly pose more questions than answers. Some of the books are sheer nonsense; some amateurish, some excellent journalism and some, such as Goodright-Clarke’s “The Occult Roots of Nazism” are brilliant academic treatments.
Still, more questions than answers. When I did get answers-they generated more questions. In the 1960s I read “Morning of the Magicians” by Pauwels and Bergier. This fascinating book generated so many ideas, not the least being thoughts about Hitler’s involvement with the occult. From that date I began to bring my general interest in Hitler to a focus. I read many biographies, especially any information I could find on his early life. Much was hidden during Hitler’s lifetime but as time went by more and more archives began to open. The tentative connections the young Hitler made, especially in Vienna, led in the direction of books on Guido von List, Lanz von Lebensfels and others whose roots lay in the busy occult world of early 19th century Germany.
A parallel interest was the development of German technology during the Nazi regime. There’s no doubt the Germans were open-minded when it came to science, medicine and technology. Very open-minded. As a result, Germany made great advances in practical and theoretical fronts. So much so that even today we owe much to the foundations laid by wartime German researchers. From rocketry to synthetic oil, the Allies reaped a rich harvest from the ashes of German universities and research labs. Then, there were the still prevailing mysteries-fabulous technologies that disappeared with the Nazi scientists-they still haunt the fringe elements of society today…Zero Point Energy, Time travel, Die Glocke…the subject spark vigorous debate throughout the Internet and elsewhere.
In 1995 this research began to coalesce into the concept for a fictional book that brings all these disparate elements together in one compelling story. And so the idea for “The Watch” was born.
In posts that follow, I explore this research and also discuss the process of building the narrative and the characters that populate the novel.