Tuesday, April 26, 2022

#AtoZChallenge2022: V is for Vril

The A to Z of Conspiracy Theories V
The A to Z of Conspiracy Theories: V is for Vril

Vril is an energy or the species that uses this energy depending on who you ask.  They would be as about as relevant as the Mahars of Pellucidar (the species, not the book) if it were not for the later involvement of Nazis and UFOs.

Vril comes from the book "Vril, the Power of the Coming Race" by Edward Bulwer-Lytton and was published anonymously in 1871. It deals, as was common to many "Science Romances" of the time with an unnamed but wealthy first-person narrator.  This narrator finds himself in an underground world occupied by these majestic angel-like begins, the Vril-ya who have advanced psychic abilities, but of course, need a proper Englishman to teach them how to speak English.  He also finds his lost wife, two sons, and daughter.   He learns that these beings also known as the Ana, used to live on the surface but came here sometime before the Great Flood.  He learns of their energy, the Vril, which is like an "all-permeating fluid."  

It was pretty much pre-Pulp, Victorian Science Romance (the precursor to Science Fiction). While not great, it has some interesting ideas that men and women were 100% equal in society and the notion of wireless communication and the potential of electricity.  It was, I do note, popular in its time.

It would have been a semi-forgotten bit of science fiction had it not been for various theosophists,  most notably Helena Blavatsky, who took it for Occult Truth (yes. with capital letters).  It seems that in addition to his work on Vril, Edward Bulwer-Lytton also wrote books about Rosicrucians and other occult matters.   Blavatsky took this bit of fiction and ran with it.  Ran so hard in fact that when I first encountered it years ago I was a little surprised to learn it had not been her idea.  As learned more and saw she was a con artist who stole ideas and claimed them as her own I became less and less surprised. 

As I said the book had some popularity with Vril becoming synonymous for a bit with "life given exlirs." There was even what amounted to a Sci-Fi convention at Royal Albert Hall in 1891 called the Vril-Ya Bazaar.  It all has the feel of a Star Trek Convention.  I like other sci-fi properties, there were those who really wished it was real.

But what makes this part of a Conspiracy Theory?

The book and the notions of Vril were taken up by various occultists, in particular theosophists, as truth.  They began to ascribe all sorts of properties to it and to Edward Bulwer-Lytton (who they felt was telling a first hand account in some cases).  Blavatsky used Vril and the idea of "The Common Race" (and "Race" in general, but I am getting to that) in her books Isis Unveiled (1877) and The Secret Doctrine (1888).  Likewise, theosophist William Scott-Elliot used "Vril-energy" in his The Story of Atlantis & The Lost Lemuria (first ed., 1896).  

Likely because of Blavatsky, Vril and the Comming Race became wrapped up in the fertile land of German paganism and pseudoscience that lead to the rise of Nazism.   As noted by Willy Ley, a German rocket engineer who came to the US in 1937, pre-Nazi Germany saw the popularity and widespread proliferation of many irrational ideas including Vril. He published "Pseudoscience in Naziland" in the magazine Astounding Science.  There is far more in that article than I can discuss in one post. But suffice to say that it is a gold mine of ideas.  One of the results of this was the belief in the "Vril Society" existing in Berlin prior to the rise of the Nazis.

After WWII the Vril Society supposedly went on to continue the works of Nazi Occultism which gave us ideas like the Black Sun and various UFOs.  That is another rabbit hole I don't feel like going down today.


I have spoken about various underground races already, the Derro and the Ophidians. The Derro share some commonalities with the Vril.  The Vril was published as science-fiction and others took them to be real.  The Derro was also published as science-fiction but their author claimed they were in fact real. Both featured anonymous first-person narrators. Both featured an underground lost civilization with advanced technology and energies.  But the Derro are invariably described as insane and stunted humans.  The Vril are "angel-like."  So it is not likely they are the same sort of folk.

There is some similarity between the Vril and the Nordics of UFOolgy.  Throw in some of the ideas of Ultima Thule and the "benevolent" Nordics start looking less benevolent. Sure they want the best for humanity, but only the humanity that looks like them. 

Vril of course is the common thread. It is the energy that both the Derro and the Nordics use.  Hmm...is there an association there that the characters need to tease out?  What are the Derro to the Nordics? Is there more here?  I think there is!

The NIGHT SHIFT RPG is available from the Elf Lair Games website (hardcover) and from DriveThruRPG (PDF).


PT Dilloway said...

That does sound pretty crazy but it'd make a good religion like Scientology as a way to con people out of money.

Cross Planes said...

Great post. I find it amusing Blavatsky published a book called the Secret Doctrine. Not much of a secret then LOL.

@PT, as someone who has become more spiritual and less religious as I get older, I think you could make the point that all of the religions due that.

Jon Bupp said...

I was using the Vril as my "ancient alien" race on Eska for a bit, but decided to steer away from the nazi overtones.

I ended up using Magic the Gathering's Thran.