In the mid-1990s my life intersected in a dramatic way with that of Josef Turner, who was known to thousands of people as Jost, his nom de guerre (it’s pronounced Yost, and rhymes with “host”). He was a practitioner and teacher of a spiritual path rooted in a high Hindu transmission-lineage going back possibly two thousand years, while affirming his white racial identity in a positive way. He was a husband and father who guided his family on a new frontier of natural living, for a time in an isolated forest enclave, then later as the center of a larger spiritually-oriented folk community. He straddled the chasm between conflicting subcultures, and provided common ground for individuals who would otherwise have been very alien to each other, or perhaps even adversaries. He met an untimely end in a classic way: attempting to bring down the fire of the Gods in the service of people who are all too human.
1. Serving Two Masters
Jost and I were the same age, born in 1946, and had been in the U.S. Army at the same time. There the similarity ends, because he went to Vietnam, and I didn’t. He wrote: “My experiences there were pretty traumatic. My view of life went through a sobering transition in those steaming, insect-ridden jungles of Vietnam. All around me was pain, disease, death and disfigurement. More fortunate than many, I left Vietnam with only minor damage. I returned embittered and confused.” This assessment could match that of countless other men who were swept into the Vietnam quagmire, but a crucial fact is that Jost volunteered for a second tour of duty there. As bad as it was, then, he must’ve found something worthwhile in the challenge of combat.
In his postwar years Jost was searching for truth, and he felt that he struck paydirt in Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. He was living in the Los Angeles area, and began attending yoga classes at the Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) founded by Yogananda. He was especially inspired by the mythos of Babaji, revered as the Master who had established the lineage some two thousand years ago, and believed to be still living in an ashram in the Himalayas, having attained physical immortality by means of the yoga. His superhuman powers (Siddhis) are portrayed in many colorful stories in Autobiography of a Yogi. In the Fellowship Jost met an Indian named Ramaiah who claimed to have been taught personally by Babaji at his ashram, and from him Jost learned techniques which he felt enabled him to communicate psychically with the Master.
Such beliefs may seem extravagant to the average person, but they’re fairly common among the countless thousands of souls with a New Age perspective. Jost’s uncommon quality lay in the fact that he simultaneously held fast to another worldview, a Weltanschauung which regarded Adolf Hitler as a great spiritual teacher and leader, and the Third Reich as a heaven on earth. This worldview is shared in a general sense by many people whom I came to call Aryanists, a usage which Jost adopted from me. I shared some elements of it myself but had a critical overview of it, and so did Jost; however, our critiques only partially overlapped.
2. NS Kindred
A wide swath of Aryanists construe themselves as a political movement, and actively try to spread the word of racial awakening among white people. Jost was not directly interested in this movement, but wished instead to build a community of high-calibre racially-conscious people living on the land and following a spiritual praxis which combined the yoga of Babaji with the ideals of Hitler. He succeeded to a significant degree: his group was called NS Kindred (for “National Socialist”), which started a commune they named Volksberg on an 88-acre plot in the foothills of the Sierras. It became economically self-sufficient through farming and handicrafts, and had a small “Wotan School” for the children.
The Kindred distributed an ongoing series of pamphlets, mostly by mail, featuring short, pithy essays by Jost commenting on spiritual, historical, cultural, and racial matters. This is how I first made contact with him, for I found his tracts distinctly superior to generic racial propaganda. He believed that the key to transformation was overcoming selfishness in service to the collective, the folk community, to which he assigned the full weight and mystical meaning of the term volk in German philosophy. He felt that Hitler had no ego at all, and was a pure instrument of the German/Aryan volk-soul.
Jost led the Kindred in cultivating good relations with their neighbors in the rural community, and were very successful at it for ten years. In his pamphlets on the subject, he warned against any overt political or proselytizing behavior; what he advised instead amounted to leading an upright life and thereby winning the respect and support of your neighbors on a personal basis. When you are genuinely trusted and admired, sharing your beliefs will produce surprisingly favorable reactions, even though the Aryanist worldview is so demonized in the media and popular culture. He gave an “amusing example” of the fruit of these efforts as follows:
“The local school administration invited a holocaust survivor to lecture the students. However, several of them were our neighbors, and they knew full well that we were National Socialists. When the survivor began to get emotional about the evilness of ‘Nazis’, a blonde-haired girl raised her hand to interrupt. She told the survivor in no uncertain terms that she knew some ‘Nazis’ and that they were really nice people! That really took the wind out of the survivor’s sails, and flattened his esteem to the other students. There were no repercussions from the school staff.”
The careful bridge-building of NS Kindred met with disaster when they were visited by a small band of what Jost scornfully referred to as “Hollywood Nazis”, meaning people of such “low strata” that they relish the caricatures of evil Nazis and act them out in real life. Here is Jost’s description of what happened: “Almost as soon as they arrived, these ‘neo-nazis’ wiped out everything we had accomplished with pointless flag-burnings, intimidations, threats, violence (against Aryan women!), and of course parading around in their childish ‘White Power’ T-shirts. These media-scripted unAryan activities were all directed at whites, most of whom had no interest at all in urban racial problems.”
This incident evidently led to the partial break-up of Volksberg. It happened shortly before I met Jost at the end of 1994, and at that time he only talked about his own family and a few friends as members of the Kindred. It seems likely that the other families moved away after their relationship with the surrounding community got ruined.
3. The Path Of Wotan/Babaji/Jost
In his first visit to my apartment in Marin County, Jost told me that he came down here once a month to teach a local yoga class. I enthusiastically attended it for over a year, and did the yoga faithfully every day at home. I found it extremely beneficial for my psycho-emotional life and spiritual unfoldment. At the class I met Jost’s wife Stephanie and their three children, who struck me as very bright and well-developed for their ages in every way ~ they were high-calibre kids.
The class was usually attended by about fifteen to thirty people, a highly unlikely mix of Aryanists and liberal-minded spiritual-development folks. Some of the latter were from a large intentional community called Ananda, founded by an American disciple of Yogananda who was now the guru of this spin-off group. I learned that Ananda was right across the creek from Volksberg, and that the two communities had close ties, centering mostly on personal friendships with Jost.
Around this time Jost shifted gears: he suspended the NS Kindred publications and launched a new project he called Arya Kriya. “Arya” is the Sanskrit root for “Aryan” and its many derivative terms, and “Kriya” is the name of the system of yoga practiced by Yogananda’s lineage; the word itself simply means “action”. However, Jost was part of a faction which felt that the system had been watered down and popularized for its Western following. An alternative coalesced around the teaching of Ramaiah (whom Jost met at the SRF in LA): a regimen of 144 kriyas believed to be the original praxis as taught by Babaji himself, and hence called Babaji’s Kriya Yoga. A Canadian named Marshall Govindan became spiritually advanced enough through this praxis to become a guru in his own right, and he was Jost’s personal teacher and guide.
Arya Kriya was a creative reframing of the Babaji Yoga to appeal to Aryanists. Jost advertised his new project with a leaflet titled The Path of Wotan, but for those who signed up for it, all the material that followed was under the heading and rubric of Arya Kriya. After completing a series of booklets presenting the 144 kriyas in their unique new trappings, he started a monthly newsletter titled simply Arya, for initiates of the Kriya praxis who were receiving the mail-order instruction.
The worldview presented by Jost in the Kriya writings featured a backdrop of Hindu metaphysics, including the cycle of the four Yugas, the spheres of reality beyond the physical, and reincarnation. Evidently he found no contradiction between this and the basic Aryanist Weltanschauung, which is strongly rooted in Western scientific materialism. I call this Faustian, with a critical perspective; many Aryanists use the same term, but totally affirm it as an ideal. Those of them who profess spirituality usually do so in a strictly Nietzschean sense of developing traits like will and strength of character in a harsh matrix of the physical world as the only reality. They likewise share Nietzsche’s antipathy to Christianity, and a desire to resurrect pagan ideals prevalent in barbarian Europe before the mass conversion in the Middle Ages. They believe that such developments can lead to the coming of the Übermensch, the next step in evolution.
It was clear from his conversation and writings that Jost was very much in harmony with this Weltanschauung, regardless of any metaphysical discrepancies. He emphasized that Arya Kriya and the principles behind it were not a matter of religion but of science. Other teachers of Kriya yoga describe it as a path to spiritual enlightenment; by contrast, the subtitle of the Arya Kriya documents was “The Science of Accelerated Evolution”.
Jost explained that Babaji was a Siddha: a highly evolved (or spiritually advanced) being, living in a state of superconsciousness (Samadhi), giving him superhuman (psycho-spiritual) powers. Today society abounds with spiritual schools, sects, and even cults headed by Satgurus or their equivalent in other traditions ~ e.g., a Sufi Murshid. Anyone familiar with the inner dynamics of such communities is aware of the reality of Siddhas (by any name) and their remarkable abilities; indeed, the definition of “Satguru” is one possessed of Siddha-powers (Siddhis). But for skeptical Aryanists, Jost made clear that a full-blown Siddha is an Übermensch ~ and he added that Babaji was the greatest of all the Siddhas.
4. Chanting for Victory
A big part of the praxis in all branches of Yogananda’s Sangha (“fellowship” in a broader sense) was the chanting of mantras and their use in certain sophisticated ways as handed down in the tradition. Acting on his own initiative, Jost embarked on a new application of this *science*.
A basic premise is that chanting the mantras on a regular basis as part of the yoga praxis will naturally improve your own well-being and bring you good fortune, and Jost felt that he had benefited tremendously in this way during the many years that he had been doing the yoga. Now, starting in his own home with his wife and children, he began directing the energy of the mantras outward to help people he knew who were in need. The first effort was for his mother-in-law, the children’s grandmother, who had been diagnosed with cancer. She lived in England, but distance didn’t affect the outcome, which was that the cancer disappeared before medical treatment could even begin. Jost didn’t jump to any conclusions, but felt encouraged to perform a series of further experiments aimed at other people they knew well. He reported the results in the Arya newsletter: “In case after case, their health or family problems vanished or improved dramatically after we began our mantra transmissions.”
Jost decided to try using the praxis to aid Aryanists who were engaged in political struggles. He and two of his children chanted mantras daily for an imprisoned activist. After a couple of weeks, the man was unexpectedly set free, and reported that he had begun to have distinct premonitions that it would happen, at the very time that Jost had started chanting for him. It looked like another big hit for the mantras!
Now Jost escalated the project: he called on his network of Arya Kriya students and practitioners to join him in the political application of the mantra praxis. In the newsletter he announced that the “recipient” would be a certain activist whom he did not name, but gave enough details to identify him to anyone familiar with the Aryanist movement: he was Ernst Zündel, a German-Canadian Holocaust revisionist who for many years had been targeted for prosecution (or persecution) by Zionist groups. In his greatest victory in the late 1980s, he was acquitted of defamation charges because the Jews were not able to legally prove that anyone had ever been gassed in the concentration camp at Auschwitz. Naturally this infuriated his antagonists, and at the time (1996) he was battling more charges in the Canadian legal system.
In the spirit of scientific research, Jost didn’t inform Zündel of the efforts of the Kriya network to transmit mantra-energy on his behalf, but the next issue of Zündel’s newsletter revealed what looked like a big hit. Jost reported it like this: “The prosecution suddenly, unexpectedly, and in the face of hysterical remonstrations by the Jewish pressure groups, decided to drop all charges against the activist for lack of evidence.” Indeed, the usually skeptical Zündel was so amazed that he whimsically called it “divine intervention.”
5. The Secret Identity of the Sun Goddess
The mantra Jost chose for his group to chant for Zündel was the most famous and beloved of all amongst Hindus: the Gayatri Mantra, a hymn to the Sun. He probably figured he couldn’t go wrong with such a basic choice, but when I read his translation of it I did a double-take. He identified the Sun-deity as the Goddess Savitri, who was addressed as the “creator of the physical, energic, and ideational universes, highest of the Gods and Goddesses. We meditate on the spiritual light of the shining ones which is able to evolve our consciousness.”
I was aghast at the implication that the Indo-Aryans had worshipped an all-powerful Goddess, which I knew from my studies to be false. In order to verify the inaccuracy of Jost’s translation, I embarked on a quest for primary-source information on this abstruse issue, a difficult task in those days when Internet search was still at a clunky stage and Wikipedia had not been invented. Finally in a branch of the San Francisco public library I found an unabridged Rig Veda in English translation, published in 1857 and vast beyond imagining ~ it was bigger than the bible, phone book, and unabridged dictionary put together. Luckily I had scouted some preliminary information on just where to look, and found the Gayatri Mantra.
The name of the Sun deity was indeed rendered as Savitri, but this was identified as a male God. Evidently the problem lay in the transliteration from the original Sanskrit, from which the name is best rendered as Savitr, without a vowel in the last syllable. In other instances this is spelled “Savitur” or “Savitar”, clarifying the masculine gender of the Sun God. I learned that another confusion arose in that the mantra itself is anthropomorphized (or perhaps gynomorphized) as a Goddess named Gayatri after the meter of the hymn. So this could easily be conflated with the devotion to the Sun given in the words themselves.
I wrote Jost a letter in which I told him that his translation lent itself to the kind of corrupt New Age Goddess-worship that prevailed here in the Kali Yuga. I enclosed a photocopy of the relevant page from the Rig Veda, which included commentary on the Gayatri Mantra by Western scholars. This material led me to speculate that the alternative renderings of the name “Savitr” with male and female endings might refer to a male God with a female aspect, perhaps like an anima. If so, then this might well manifest as a radiant Goddess Savitri worthy of devotion by Aryans; but in Jost’s translation she could only be construed as the devouring Dark Mother Kali who rules this degenerate endtime.
I also raised the issue of the magical aspect of the mantra transmissions. I was painfully aware of the dangers of such practice from my own experience. Another newsletter from Zündel reported that one of the presiding judges who had been openly hostile to his case had died. I asked Jost if he were “taking credit” for this via the mantras, and said: “Whenever you get into magic, you have to deal with the possibility that, despite your best intentions, the desired aim may be accomplished by means that create fresh karma.” And I closed with a quote from Zündel regarding the death of the judge: “Sometimes my life takes on almost surreal aspects and near-mystical qualities because of abrupt and cryptic events that seem to come out of nowhere. Is karma involved in this struggle?”
6. Denial of the Gods
Jost made a two-barreled response to my message, first with a letter of his own and then expanding the spiel to fill the entire next issue of the Arya newsletter (September 1996). The tone of my letter had been somewhat accusatory and (as I now see) self-righteous, so I can’t fault him for replying in kind. His first point appeared only in the personal letter, asserting that there was nothing magical about the mantra transmissions ~ “It is all simply nuts and bolts of the true reality of existence”. He said that the group had “stopped sending mantras to Zündel” awhile before the death of the judge, but then started again afterwards, which was followed by another big court victory. He said that the mantra kriya was designed specifically to send only good vibes to Zündel himself, and did not impart any sort of negative force onto anyone.
In both the letter and Arya, Jost explained that he considered the literal meaning of the mantra to be inconsequential to its spiritual power, and so he had made a hasty translation which nevertheless had a certain kind of technical validity. He affirmed my hypothesis about the Goddess Savitri in slightly different terms, saying that she is the “Shakti aspect” of the male Sun God. He also reiterated the point about the Goddess Gayatri; he said that in latter-day Hinduism she had become equated with Savitri and formally declared a Goddess of the Sun. This seemed to resolve the overt contention, but there were other points of which Jost made an issue.
In my letter I had made an attempt to frame my critique in a positive context by saying: “I think that in general you’ve done a good job in cross-translating Hindu doctrine into Odin-oriented Aryanism”. This was my honest impression of the nature of his Arya Kriya project, but evidently he was more upset by it than any of the deliberate criticisms. He launched into a diatribe in which he said: “Arya is not a commentary on Vedic religion, Odinism, or any other ancient Aryan ‘religion’. My interest is one thing and one thing only: an ancient Aryan SCIENCE which was conceived and developed long before religions, Gods, or Goddesses ever existed. Gods and Goddesses are simply superstitious ideas which came about during the dark ages” of recorded history. Jost said that these ancient Aryan “scientists” knew that the reality behind the false belief in deities was simply “various powerful psychic forces within the Infinite Consciousness”.
I was shocked by this revelation that Jost’s worldview was so deeply Faustian, way more than I had suspected. I happened to know that the Gods are real from personal experience and relationships ~ and the Goddesses are best of all!
I had come to understand that the deities of all religions, as well as countless other numenal beings, are metaphysical life forms. The most common places I had encountered them were the rites and services of their believers. In the darkside magical rituals of Thelema I had picked up the distinct presence of Crowley’s unholy “guardian angel” Aiwass. In Catholic and Evangelical Christian services that were enlivened by music or other collective emotional stimulants, I always met up with my old friend Jesus. The actual nature of these beings is usually different from what their worshippers believe, and sometimes extremely different ~ but the beings are entirely real.
Jost’s monthly yoga classes concluded with a Kirtan: we sat in a circle and chanted along with him as he and a family member played a drum and a small keyboard. These sessions produced the kind of altered state that opened me up to the presence of numenal beings, and sure enough, I always got a strong sense of Babaji overshadowing the gathering. In one conversation I told Jost that I viewed Babaji as his personal God. He had vehemently objected to this, and only now when I read his letter did I fully understand why. Clearly his grasp of Babaji as a living being hinged on the literal belief that he had attained physical immortality. To accept the reality of discarnate entities would’ve been sheer “superstition” to Jost.
7. A Force To Be Reckoned With
After refuting my critique to his own satisfaction in the Arya newsletter, Jost concluded with a short paragraph announcing the expansion of his project into a formal “Mantra Circle, a group of initiates who will transmit mantras to selected activists”. He said that there were a lot of people “across the country and around the world” who wanted to participate, and added: “It will be quite an adventure, and our initial experiments indicate that it will be a force to be reckoned with!”
A few weeks later, on October 9, 1996, he died of a heart attack. He had no history of heart trouble. All of us who knew him were shocked.
The next day a mutual friend told me that it had happened while Jost was doing his yoga and one of the children was chanting. Suddenly it dawned on me that there may have been a metaphysical factor involved. Maybe Jost was doing the mantra transmission when he was struck down ~ maybe he actually got zapped by an invisible hostile power. Such things are well known in occult circles, especially in such circumstances. There’s even a common expression for it: he “got heart attacked”.
In the aftermath I discussed it with some friends, including one who was especially qualified, the author of a popular book on spiritual matters. The theory we favored was that Jost’s mantra magic had been opposed by a stronger agency using similar methods. Perhaps Kabbalah rabbis supported the Zionist agenda by maintaining a psychic power grid. Maybe it even worked automatically, delivering instant karmic backlash to anyone who tripped into it without sufficient shielding, like sticking your finger into an electrical socket.
I also now felt vindicated in my point that Jost’s translation of the Gayatri Mantra had invoked the Goddess Kali, patroness not only of the New Age but of Marxoid-leftist feminism, which in this worldview is also in bed with Zionism.
In any case, it was clear that Jost had gotten in over his head. In the course of our argument about the mantras, he had asserted: “It doesn’t matter what they mean, only that they work.” We could see by the outcome that this assumption had been a prescription for disaster ~ there comes to mind the sorcerer’s apprentice. Jost was merely a technician of the sacred, adept at the “nuts and bolts” but lacking the deeper knowledge needed for a project of such proportions. Someone or something had very conclusively reckoned with his force.
Mantra praxis in all Hindu Sanghas is rigorously secretive. Of course there are the outer layers of public teaching, but for his project Jost was specifically using the elaborate methods that are given only by direct personal transmission from teacher to student, including the fine nuances of pronunciation that date back to Vedic times. He had gotten permission for the Arya Kriya project from his teacher, Marshall Govindan, but probably not for the political extension of it. If such a violation of the guidelines occurs, and these potent psychic-magical tools begin to be used by an unqualified person for extracurricular ends, I’m sure that some sort of alarm quickly goes up the network to the head, like the nervous system signaling the brain of an injury.
The head of Jost’s Sangha is Babaji, a Radiant Master who leads souls to enlightenment, but like all such beings he is likely to be a very stern taskmaster when it comes to enforcing the particular Dharma of his Sangha. I believe that Jost’s use of the secret mantra magic for political purposes violated that Dharma, and that’s why he got zapped. It may or may not have been an automatic kriya (action-reaction, like the finger in the socket), but in either case the person ultimately responsible was (according to this hypothesis) Babaji himself, not any mysterious Kabbalists.
An important secondary issue is the nature of the politics involved. Jost touted Babaji as Aryan, which he sincerely believed. For his fliers and booklets he used a drawing of Babaji from the cover of Marshall Govindan’s book about him, in which he has brown skin; but Jost lightened it via photocopy until it was white. The vital point, though, is not really Babaji’s genetics but the question of whether he and his Sangha were compatible with the white racial cause. The outcome of Jost’s “experiment” led me to conclude that it was not.