Episode 20 - STRICK, STEIN, GRAS, GREIN!


          By my estimation Guido von List spoke three hours and some, entirely from memory and never at a volume less than a shout. Those who later marvelled at how Winnetou, a miserable painter of postcards turned Corporal, could move the minds of millions with his will and tongue never knew of Guido von List, never heard the Runemeister speak... my father used to praise the oratory of Daniel Webster and Henry Clay, whose politics he tolerated, even William Jennings Bryan sometimes received his grudging admiration as an orator, if never his vote. He lived only long enough to blame radio for the precipitous falling off of public speech... had he been present he may have allowed von List to be, at least, the equal of a Bryan. You see, we all rather tended to associate Socialism with the Germans in those days; we were quite incapable of imagining anything emerging from the Russian wastes save their Black Hundreds and religious fanaticism. Yet these Aryans who professed to despise Christianity proved the most vehement and, at heart, unrelenting Christians ever baptised... for theirs was a baptism initiated in blood, consummated in fire.

          "It is no Christ the Secret Chiefs revere, but Votan," the Cistercian translated, "who died that Aryans might live, who descended from Valhalla in order that the blood might rise again, pawning an eye which is to be redeemed at the ascension of the Messenger. That is why von List does not begrudge his blindness, for all is but a test given to those who spring from the Mime's Head."

          (Lanz von Liebenfels was making, in this instance, reference to the Norse deity of Memory, Mime, and not those tedious street artisans of Paris who grimace and beg under that name. Hitler would also, coincidentally, be blinded by gas near the end of the Great War... he, too, did not mourn his plight but welcomed it as having contributed to his political development. Circumstances of this sort that have left me the critic of coincidence!)

          The shadows lengthened, I began to wonder whether we would be finished before the last train to Vienna. Gradually, Lanz von Liebenfels fell silent, swaying like a man enchanted by the mermaids' song.

          "Is he still talking about runes?" I finally interrupted.

          The Cistercian blinked. "Forgive me," Lanz said, "but the master has reached the octaves of Kala... note Hindu and Finnish connotations, for there are no coincidences, in words least of all. The tarot, for one... it is composed of the land of Tyre, under tyrants subsequently, in German, das Tyr... a tower as this one... and rot, a wheel among other shadings. If you desire to invoke heroic Gods, you need only cry "Rita!" All words exist upon three planes or octaves... the rising, being and the transcending."

          Viereck and other young men had raised a banner behind List so I asked "What are those symbols?"

          "You really are a neophyte!" the monk remarked. "There are eighteen runes in the mortal realm, seventeen further death runes of das Unterworld... feminine or inverted, their gates are forced when the man-rune... that which resembles the English letter 'Y'... lies broken, head-down on the harlot's cross. Lastly are the hidden runes... only the fylfos cross is visible, the other eighteen are of the Ipsissimi."

          I nodded, looking across those fields of flags and weeping Aryans with confusion that, I hoped, my hosts misperceived for reverence. Finally the discourse was at end, the flag bearers stepping forward... to drums and trumpets the flag of the Fylfos Cross was raised above the rest.

          "It is also what Red Indian tribes call their swastika," Lanz von Liebenfels allowed "...for that reason the Meister contends with English racialists by numbering, among the partially enlightened races of man, certain strong-climate Asiatics as Tibetens, of course, and the Japanese. Look now! the choir... I have chosen them myself, as much for purity of their souls as of their throats..."

          The six boys did possess remarkable voices - they sang an ancient hymn and the company stood at attention, then excerpts from Wagner's "Parsifal" with certain favored boys taking the parts of Amfortas, Klingsor, even the ancient witch Cundrie. The flags were lowered and folded, and Charles Viereck could not help but favor me with a gesture of hatred, implying some reckoning to occur after the sun went down.

          "We are done," said the Cistercian. "Tomorrow at dawn, I shall escort you to Untersberg where you shall learn what it is you desire. But, for now, indulge yourself... there are sausages and beer, though I would practice temperence in the presence of the master... his nose is as uncanny as is his abhorrence of vice. We shall sleep here and depart for Untersberg at dawn... returning these boys to Lambach on our way..."

          "I am grateful for your hospitality and your observations," I replied. Lanz placed his hand on my shoulder in a fraternal gesture.

          "But are we not seekers along the same path, nein?"

          So... instead of returning to Vienna and its comforts, I spent the night at Grein, freezing in the rubble whilst Anna guided von List to one of the few finished rooms. There, a huge fireplace warmed the Runic nobility while we mere peansants shivered. No dreams visited my pallet, only a mix of vain expectation that Anna Wittek might invite me to her chamber and apprehensions that Viereck might lurk within the ruins of Grein to execute his vengeance. My enemy, however, had been packed off after a few words between von List and von Liebenfels; I finally slept only to be routed at dawn... sleepy boys were being bundled into an open horse cart and a bright eyed lad squeezed himself between Lanz and myself, the one who had sung Klingsor's part during the recital. The driver started, all eyes quickly focusing on the profile of a man hanged from a bare oak against the red dawn.

          "An unfortunate affair," Lanz sighed. "You see, we are an Order but also a court of law... do you know of the Holy Vehm?"

          "Inquisitors, weren't they?" I made my voice sound as tired as I hoped I appeared. "Middle aged folks... in cloaks and daggers..."

          "The daggers are only ritualistic - usually," the monk appended. "When the accused was brought before the Stulherren... the Lords Justices... it was upon personal service of a bill of accusation, or posting near the suspect's quarters if he chose to hide. Fugitives who resisted could be slain with this dagger on which was inscribed the motto Strick, Stein, Gras, Grein... that is String, Stone, Grass and of Grein, wherein our temple has been reconsecrated.

          "I see where yesterday's ceremony must have been of ritual significance," I told the young Cistercian, summoning up the ghost of many nights over card tables at University to see to it that I maintained the poker player's face.

          "It shall be remembered as the beginnings of the ascent of Ace Man over the Ape Men and their pathetic Galilean," Lanz promised, as if divining my cartomantic thoughts, "...the rising dawn of die Vehmgesellschaft, our scientific Order whose digest the Master has already named Ostara... after that goddess of Dawn whose torch obliterates the Merovingian night. The Aryans of the East, who are called Brahmins now, or else Tibetans, found wisdom but lost their material empire to the British as did the Red Indians to America and Spain. Mediterranean peoples - the Greeks and Romans - enjoyed their day, but allowed themselves to decline through mixing of the races, so their empires failed, too, as shall those of France and Norman Britain some day."

          "So that is what Crowley meant..." I wondered aloud. "There is a Scottish pretender whom he and his man in France would restore..."

          "And he is right... as was George Washington, who thought to institute the Stewart line as Regents of America, but failed... as your countryman also failed... by just one vote! during your Constitutional Convention... to make German, not English, the language of the American States. With the Vehm reconstructed, stronger even than in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries... such opportunities shall never again be squandered."

          "Then you agree with that comical Italian that war is on its way?"

          "Marinetti is picturesque but far from stupid. He correctly anticipates that the Twentieth Century shall be the century for heroic wars... final wars of the Untermen against we priests of Elektrons and the Holy Grail!"

          The boy seated between us had been pestering Lanz for some time, and now interrupted with a torrent of dialect. Liebenfels smiled, rather than taking offense.

          "Young Adolf wished to know, since you are American, whether you have made acquaintance of any Red Indians. They are a sort of obsession with German-speaking youth of a certain age... it is the doing of that writer of adventure stories, Karl May."

          Young Adolf fired off more questions off for me, through Lanz.

          "One of May's heroes is Chief Winnetou... a patriarch of the Apaches. He wishes to know if such a man really exists."

          "Well I'm afraid I wouldn't know," I'd answered "...for the Apaches are a tribe of the Far West, which is as distant from New York as Djinnistan from the banks of the Danube. But tell him I do have a tale, if you shall translate for me?"

          "Certainly!" Lanz replied, and then informed his choir.

          "Very well," I said. "This is a story... not about Chief Winnetou, but of another leader of Red Indians of the Wampanoag tribe. A Chief who fell in battle... and his head, which was taken as trophy by his enemies."

          Adolf paled as von Liebenfels translated. The rest of boys in the carriage ceased their horseplay and inclined towards us.

          "Years passed," I said, "and all the flesh fell from the bones so that, one day, nothing remained save Wampanoag's skull. Evil men placed this skull in a chamber in a dark house until the people of Wampanoag cried out for a hero who would bring back the skull of their hero. They made entreaties through their medicine men and the Great Spirit finally took pity upon them... but there was only one problem... the deliverer..."

          Adolf, drinking in the tale, asked only "Was?"

          "He was a man... but a man accursed, cursed with the face and black nose and long sharp fangs and yellow, discerning eyes of... a wolf!" I exploded.

          The boys shuddered. The carriage followed the Danube west meandering towards Salzburg as my tale also began detouring from reality; I allowed the wolf-man powers of reincarnation... that he should restore flesh to Wampanoag's skull by the enchanting arts... that the Chief, reincarnated, should take up his axe and wreak vengeance upon his foes, those who fled falling beneath the claws and fangs of the Wolfman. With the last of these villains slaughtered in the bloody manner boys adore, we entered the city of Mozart, making lunch of bread and cheese from the market before proceeding west towards the monastery. At the outskirts of Salzburg, the monk withdrew a copy of Guido von List's most famous romance of Austrian Goths laying waste the armies of Christian Rome in the Fifth Century; the sun was low in the sky when the village and monastery of Lambach was achieved.

          "By a fortunate accident," Liebenfels told me, the master here is Father Hagn who studied the strange arts of the Far East and hidden Joachimite gospels on Patmos Island before accepting this post thirty years ago; though I am of the Cistercian Order of Christ... Frauja... and Hagn is Benedictine, we share a common interest in the Aryan Christ, in clairvoyance and in the theories of Roentgen, the Curies and Vartanian..."

          Soon we were fairly flying onto the grounds of the Academy; Lanz von Liebenfels pointing out that gate under which we passed, into which the Fylfos Cross was boldly stricken.

          "Behold!... Hagn's Cross! He caused these gates to be raised years ago and, because the word Hagn means hook, you see, the Benedictines approved this symbolism thinking, wrongly, that Brother Hagn was merely vain."

          "Whereas" I anticipated, "he already had seen Pan, as an acquaintance puts it, wrestled the faun and made him his prisoner in irons..."

          "You are an Adept!" Lanz replied brightly. "Well here we are... locals call this Academy the Wolf Trap!" I stirred... lazily pretending to stretch and scratch my ear as the Cistercian barked out orders to his charges. "Boys!... off you go..."

          "That one seems a strange lad," I remarked when the last member of the choir departed; the youth who'd so poignantly sung the poisonous lullabies of Klingsor. "Aged beyond his years..."

          "He has had a perilous life." Lanz nodded gravely, waving for the driver to take us back into town. "The father, Alois Hitler is a brutal drunkard, a sort of Henry the Eighth for this region though he is no king, only a civil servant. Bastards dropped all over, from Passau to Linz, and all left hungry... Adi trapped dogs and cats for meals before the Abbot took interest in him, probably the source of his constipation that makes him squirm so. It's a rare honor to be awarded the role of Klingsor in this part of the world - as Wagner composed his opera the Grail court was made Carolingian, not Saxon or Arthurian. You've heard that the enemy of one's enemy's a friend? Well... Hagn is a wonderful fellow... we shall sup tonight and it may even be that he will reveal to you some wisdom of the Secret Chiefs who, knowing all, surely know of your Fraulein Sprengel. And then tomorrow... Untersberg!


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