Louis de Wohl: Former Astrologer and Catholic Convert

Will Duquette has a little review of Louis de Wohl’s Citadel of God.

If you’ve raised Catholic kids, you’ve probably read one or more of de Wohl’s many fine saints biographies from Ignatius. He was a gifted writer and a very serious Catholic convert.

What many people don’t know is that before his conversion, de Wohl, among other things, claimed to be an astrologer who could foretell the future and (what was even weirder) was hired by British intelligence to do exactly this during the early 40s. He was given the rank of captain and called himself Britain’s state seer.

The Allies were willing to try anything, and since it was known that the Nazi consulted astrologers, the Brits decided to get an astrologer of their own to see if he could makes the same predictions as the Nazi astrologers and so get the jump on what the Nazis might be thinking about and planning.

It lasted about six months and then British intel decided, “What were we thinking?” and let de Wohl go. Sometime after that, de Wohl, a German Jew by birth, entered the Catholic Church, abandoned his superstitions and became a devout Catholic writer of books about saints.

I love this big crazy Church.

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  • Rebecca Fuentes

    Proof that life is stranger than fiction. British State Seer was NOT in our history books!

  • Jamesthelast

    Louis de Wohl is a great writter. I had to buy all his books.

  • http://www.dariasockey.blogspot.com/ Daria

    I don’t remember the source, but I’d heard a variation on the deWohl astrologer story. Something to the effect that he cooperated with British intelligence to plant predictions in his astrology columns that might possibly influence Hitler, who believed in that stuff.

    • kenofken

      That is the more likely explanation. Occult experts were thought to be a reasonable way to try to get inside Hitler’s head. Not an unreasonable concept, except that I think Hitler’s occult beliefs are often over-estimated as a factor in his decisions, and, well, his mind took a unique spin on any given topic.

      Intelligence agencies had other reasons to recruit authors and artists as well. They tended to be well-traveled and have large personal and professional networks and were never more than a couple of degrees away from someone of real interest, or who had the scuttlebutt on something happening in Germany. Supposedly Aleister Crowley was retained by naval intelligence during WW I and perhaps at other points in his life. He was apparently recruited and handled by a guy who, like many university men who came of age in the Edwardian era, had an interest in the occult or at least paranormal investigation. Some have suggested that his friends arranged a small government stipend for Crowley in his later years, long after he had squandered his very substantial inherited fortune.

      A more apocryphal story puts Crowley as the inventor of the “V for Victory” hand gesture, based on some symbolism of Apophis crushing the power symbolized by the swastika.

      As for the astrology, nothing in wartime Britain seemed too absurd to consider, and it had some history behind it. One of the last times England faced down a serious invasion threat, the Spanish Armada, Queen Elizabeth had a court wizard/seer! (John Dee).

      Anyway, it’s all interesting stuff to be taken with a fistful of salt. I hadn’t heard of deWohl before. His is an interesting story as well.


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