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‘Cultic’ Religious Groups: Order of Nine Angles

‘Cultic’ Religious Groups: Order of Nine Angles
3rd August 2023 Inform (Information Network Focus on Religious Movements)

This series of Insights draws on the GNET report by Inform: ‘Cults and Online Violent Extremism’. Inform are an independent educational charity providing information about minority religions and sects which is as accurate, up-to-date and as evidence-based as possible. This Insight introduces the first grouping of online cultic activity that can glorify and inspire violent extremisms: ‘Cultic’ Religious Groups.  Other Insights in this series can be found here.


Inform’s report, Cults and Online Violent Extremism, proposes three ideal-typical groupings of online cultic activity that can glorify and inspire violent extremisms: ‘Cultic’ Religious Groups, ‘Online Cultic Milieus’ and ‘Cultic Fandoms’. This Insight provides an overview of this first category: ‘Cultic’ Religious Groups. Cultic Religious Groups is a category that is intended to focus attention on the online element of religious groups that also have an established offline presence. Cultic Religious Groups include older, primarily offline religious traditions moving into the online space. These groups may have had existing problematic offline aspects before moving to online spaces. In many cases, interactions in the online environment have also created new ways that individuals who might be prone to violent extremism interact with these ideologies, practices and networks. 

All religious groups are characterised by members interacting with their ideologies, practices and networks. Traditionally, offline ‘cults’ have often been depicted as ‘high-demand groups’ that might have characteristics such as a charismatic leader, all-convert membership and demands for members to commit large amounts of time and money towards the group’s aims and activities. Classically, cultic groups are associated with encouraging members to cut ties with existing friends and family, to leave outside employment and to devote themselves fully to the group.

However, in practice, once a group has been established for a number of years, there are usually a range of ways in which people engage with it, with some people being engaged in more ‘high-demand’ contexts and others more superficially or temporarily engaged with the group or its ideology. The reasons behind these differing levels of engagement and of potential exposure to harmful practices and behaviour are varied. Important variables include the personal characteristics of an individual, the social structure of the group and the nature of its concerns, as well as the extent of social support external to the group and other traumatic or unsettling events for either a particular individual or wider society at any given time.

It is important to keep in mind these complexities and the range of engagement in more traditional cultic groups when considering how individuals engage with groups when the latter move into online spaces. A paradigmatic example of a religious group with offline origins moving into online spaces that has caused concern by its relationship to violent extremism is the occult religious movement the Order of Nine Angles.

The Order of Nine Angles (O9A)

The Order of Nine Angles is a secretive religious movement that combines elements of occultism, Satanism and mysticism. It has also been linked to cases of far-right and neo-Nazi-inspired violence. It was established in Britain during the 1970s by ‘Anton Long’, whose true identity remains unknown. Some scholars believe he is David Myatt, the founder of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement, although Myatt denies this association. The movement is known for games around identity; although Anton Long remains a person of interest, the people claiming this identity may have changed. The O9A’s foundational texts were published in the 1970s. The group was not very active online during the 1990s and early 2000s. However, from 2008, a large online presence was established and now its ideology and symbolism can be widely found on various social media platforms. Its literature has been associated with some offline violent extremist acts in open-source documents and media reports.


The O9A identifies as part of the Left Hand Path, which is conventionally associated with ‘evil’ or ‘black’ magic. It also blends elements of Satanism, neo-Nazism, neo-Paganism and esotericism in a unique way. It encourages its members to assist with the impending rise of a new superhuman civilisation. In our current period (termed an ‘Aeon’), the superiority of Western civilisation has been weakened by Magian (the O9A’s term for Jewish) and Nazarene (Christian) forces. The group’s literature teaches that these weaknesses can be overcome with ‘magickal’ practice and practical action. Magickal is a term used by practitioners of contemporary occult ritual traditions to distinguish their religious practices and lineages from popular associations of ‘magic’, which consist of frivolous parlour tricks or stem from a pre-scientific form of ontology. Although widely associated with neo-Nazis and far-right extremism, a closer reading of the group’s ideology shows that this is not an accurate characterisation of the ideology as a whole. Instead, its ideology advocates more general amorality and training that aims to enable the individual to overcome conditions that limit actualising will. While the ideology is associated with violent extremism, the form or political expression that this might take is not defined by the movement’s literature

Central Practices 

O9A initiates have complex and prescribed magickal processes to follow that are outlined in the Seven Fold Way, a path with seven grades through which to progress. The process is self-selecting and the students initiate themselves through various rituals and challenges. This includes strenuous activities, such as running twenty miles in under two and a half hours. The process also involves the adoption of ‘insight roles’ in which adepts – skilled apprentices – are encouraged to go undercover and join other organisations that challenge their existing conditioning. Such roles might include joining neo-Nazi or militant Islamist groups if the individual’s natural tendency was to be averse to these groups, or the police force or military if the individual was predisposed against ‘law and order’; these roles but could also involve becoming a religious renunciate (e.g. a Buddhist monk or Catholic novitiate) if the individual’s predisposition was against organised religion or stocking shelves in a supermarket (if opposed to mundane, blue-collar activity).

The O9A’s literature does explicitly encourage a practice of incremental violence that starts with magickal practices and gradually progresses to petty criminality before harm to sentient beings is suggested. One aspect of the ideology that has gained attention is ‘culling’ or human sacrifice. In some places, culling is described as a magickal practice by which the victim is not directly harmed physically, while in others direct murder is described (although often categorised as of only ‘historical interest’). According to Della Campion, culling is best understood as a form of “status elevation” to demonstrate that members of the O9A are “superior to mundane people”.

Symbols and Aesthetics 

The O9A’s model of the cosmos is based on the Tree of Wyrd, which incorporates seven planets the energies of which can be manipulated through magick. The ‘Nine Angles’ of the O9A’s name could refer to these seven planets, plus the entire system as a whole and the mystical as the eighth and ninth angles. As part of its belief in bringing about the next Aeon, the O9A emphasises particular symbols or entities that are in charge of completing the process. These include Vindex, Baphomet and others in the O9A’s pantheon of dark gods and goddesses. 

Notable Characteristics 

The O9A is best understood as a fluid new religious movement rather than a bounded, hierarchical group with a definable authority structure and membership criteria. The connections between independent groups (termed ‘nexions’) are often deliberately obscure and it is also difficult to estimate the number of people involved. Individual nexions develop independent cultures and group dynamics. Some of the most publicised groups include the White Star Acception (WSA352) in the United States, the Temple of THEM in Australia and Secuntra Nexion in Italy. 

The O9A’s concept of membership is fluid and ambiguous. On the one hand, it sees itself as ‘elitist’ with demanding requirements. On the other, its writings are easily available online, which has created a following that is not connected to the core or founding members of the group. On discussion forums, those associated with the ‘old guard’ engage in lengthy, intellectually dense posts that show a deep knowledge of O9A ideology and symbols. On more recent social media platforms – such as Tumblr and Instagram, which lend themselves to visual media – the symbols are often used by individuals with only superficial reference to O9A philosophy. This appropriation of symbols may be blended with other beliefs, a do-it-yourself process that sociologist Danièle Hervieu-Léger refers to as bricolage.

Conclusions & Risk Assessment

While the O9A’s symbols remain potent and active, it appears that the most violent and criminal cases in the UK and USA involve neo-Nazi militants who do not necessarily have any direct links to the O9A’s inner circle and who were already predisposed to far-right violence. Individuals identifying with O9A symbolism might have other indicators of potential to actualise violent extremism that should be taken seriously by those responsible for risk assessment. The concern, therefore, is not so much with violence that has been organised and mobilised by the O9A at a movement level, but rather what ‘lone wolves’ and specific nexions might do with O9A ideology in an age of online, self-radicalisation.