There is little (if any) doubt that Karl Maria Wiligut was both mystically gifted (i.e. possessed psychic, paranormal, supernatural capabilities) and was mentally unstable (in other words, had some mental health issues). And that he was born that way. Which makes perfect sense – there is no such thing as a genuine psychic without a “touch of madness”.
However, his “touch of madness” was, indeed, but a touch (otherwise he would not made it into the Army – let alone rise to the rank of full Colonel). His psychic abilities were rudimentary – otherwise he would not have even joined the Army, let alone spend four decades in the uniform with an impeccable record.
Hence, he would have definitely not become Karl Maria Wiligut as we know him today had it not been for a personal tragedy. A very personal tragedy. In 1907, his only son (a twin brother of his daughter Gertrud) died in his infancy.
Wiligut was devastated. Later he claimed that it was because his “esoteric tradition” (whatever it was) could only be handed down to his eldest son… but the reality was most likely more prosaic.
Karl Maria Wiligut was a third-generation Army officer so the real tradition was the service to his Fatherland in its armed forces. Consequently, it was a very tangible family tradition of military service (not the obscure occult tradition) that was ended by the untimely death of his son.
It is almost definite that Wiligut suffered a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and from its by-products (i.e. depression). Which got him estranged from his wife and family (no surprise here) and pushed him into the ONT and its esoteric, occult and nationalist environment (ditto).
The latter considered Masons (even of “quasi” variety) their sworn enemies so there is little doubt that very soon Wiligut had to make a fundamental (I would even say existential) choice – quit Schlaraffia society and stay with ONT… of forget about the latter.
Emotionally and spiritually ONT was far more attractive (and powerful) than Schlaraffia – and in his mental state at that time (the state of his heart, mind and soul) Wiligut needed all emotional and spiritual energies (and support) he could get.
So the choice was obvious – he quit Schlaraffia in 1909 and completely immersed itself in esoteric, nationalist and occult environment of ONT and its “spiritual brothers and sisters”.
However, this breakup was not easy for him emotionally (and thus most likely added to his psychological problems). After all, he published his Seyfrieds Runen under the pen name Lobesam (“Praise-Worthy”) – his adopted name in Schlaraffia.
We do not know (and will probably never know) what happened to Wiligut (and his occult and esoteric pursuits) between 1908 and the outbreak of the First World War; however, it would be safe to assume that the war put a (temporary) halt to his “extra-curricular activities”.
His (very much honorable) discharge from the Army undoubtedly created enormous void (vacuum even) in his heart, mind and soul – and in his whole life. Hence it is no surprise at all that immediately immersed himself (this time completely) into occult and esoteric studies.
He either contacted von Liebenfels directly or (more likely) got noticed by the latter (again). Von Liebenfels, impressed by the “occult potential” of Wiligut, tasked Theodor Czepl with renewing contact with the colonel. Czepl visited him three times and once even spent a whole seven weeks with him in Salzburg in the winter of 1920-21.
Unfortunately, by that time the mental health of the colonel had significantly (and noticeably) deteriorated. Not surprisingly – death of his only son (with no hope for replacement – apparently adoption was out of the question), horrors and pressures of the war (for about six months Wiligut commanded a convalescence camp near Lviv and thus saw highly mentally unhealthy stuff on a daily basis) and, finally, his retirement from the Army (the only world he was comfortable in) created a powerful negative synergy.
Which led to predictable results – more than a few screws got loose. In a report to Lanz, Czepl wrote of Wiligut’s belief that he was the “secret king of Germany” (!) as the heir of the Ueiskuning or “holy clan.”
Furthermore, Wiligut said that he believed the Bible had originated in Germany and through mistranslation and intentional misrepresentation it had been revised into its present form.
As a parting gift the colonel gave Czepl a poem entitled “Deutscher Gottesglaube” (German Faith in God), which was supposed to contain the “whole essence and doctrine of Irminic Christianity”.
Now that was seriously insane. Wiligut claimed (among other stuff outrageous even by lax ONT standards) that this “original Christianty” – Irminic Christianity – dated back no less 228,000 years. At that time, there were three suns, and the Earth was inhabited by giants, dwarfs and other mythical creatures.
By 12,500 BC, Irminism (a current of Ariosophy based on a Germanic deity Irmin supposedly reconstructed from various not-exactly-trustworthy sources, if you ask me) had been revealed and from that time became the religion of all Germanic peoples, until the “schismatic adherents of Wotanism” (a pagan religion that worships Wotan/Odin as the main deity) gained the upper hand.
Wiligut claimed that by 1200 BC, the Wotanists succeeded in destroying the “center of the world” at Goslar, which forced the construction of a new temple at the Externsteine, which was (in turn) appropriated by the Wotanists in 460 AD.
This (highly unfavorable, I would say) report did not deter von Liebenfels and his associates from re-establishing contact with Wiligut but apparently decided to keep the latter at arm’s length.
Which left Wiligut with the “void inside” big enough to “pursue other interests”. So he decided to get involved in politics – a fashionable subject in early 1920s. He founded, edited and published a political magazine, Der eiserne Besen (The Iron Broom – of all names) with the objective of exposing the conspiracies of the Jews, Freemasons and Roman Catholics (especially the Jesuits).
The latter was no small feat for someone baptized Catholic and raised in staunchly Catholic family of a second-generation officer in the army of a deeply and fundamentally Catholic nation.
Nothing significant came out of these endeavors so Wiligut decided to pursue commercial ventures, founding a saw-mill company in partnership with an old acquaintance from the army. It turned out that he was a no better businessman as he was a political journalist and publisher so his venture failed miserably.
Which predictably led to a collapse of his marriage which had been slowly deteriorating since the death of their infant son. Finally his wife had enough and petitioned to have her husband declared mentally incompetent and committed to a mental institution (i.e. insane asylum).
On 29 October 1924, while sitting at a Salzburg café with friends, an ambulance drove up, attendants emerged and violently took Wiligut into custody—even forcing him into a straightjacket.
Were there medically valid reasons for his confinement to a mental hospital? In a report filed over a year later, the main reasons the authorities gave for Wiligut’s continued confinement had to do with his unfamiliar cosmological and religious ideas, which included the notion that he “traces his descent back to Wotan.”
These were definitely not valid reasons (not by a long shot), although commonly speaking the guy was nuts – cut and dry, plain and simple, loud and clear. However, Wiligut’s medical records reflect (in addition to his… unusual spiritual interests even by lax Austrian standards of mid-1920s) violence at home, threats to kill his wife, grandiose projects and eccentric behavior and occult interests.
Hence his diagnosis of schizophrenia and megalomania does make sense. So he was probably (mostly) correctly declared legally incompetent by a Salzburg court and committed to a local mental asylum, where he remained until 1927.
And that’s where the real mystery begins.