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In Memory of John Michell

April 25th, 2009

John MichellI have just received this email from Rollo Maughfling, founder of the Glastonbury Order of Druids and his partner Donna:

Dear All, It is with great sadness, that I have to report, the passing at about half past midnight last night, of our dear friend and mentor, John Michell. Although in remission from suspected lung cancer, it seems that his heart gave up instead, and he died peacefully in his sleep. A respected name to thousands, to those of us who knew him personally, he was without equal in generosity of spirit, breadth of scholarship and depth of wisdom. Truly, he was the Great Druid of the Age.

For those of you who don’t know him, here is a brief bio:

John Michell, 1933–2009

John Michell lived in Notting Hill, often holding impromptu salons in the cafés of Portobello Road. Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, he wrote more than a dozen books and contributed for over a decade to The Oldie magazine.
Continuing in the great tradition of Aubrey and Stukeley, Michell captivated the readers of his books on the sacred landscape of Britain. In 1969, his View Over Atlantis became a cult classic, popularising the notion that Britain was criss-crossed with lines of magical earth-energy that our ancestors understood, but which we have forgotten.
Blending Alfred Watkins’ ideas about the ‘Old Straight Track’ with cabbalistic numerology, sacred geometry and theories drawn from the Chinese geomancy of Feng Shui, View Over Atlantis suggested that Stonehenge and the other great prehistoric monuments of the English landscape are laid out in accordance with sacred geometry to fulfil a magical purpose: to bring harmony to the land.

(Adapted from The Book of English Magic)

John was a dear, gentle and generous soul. At a summer solstice ceremony on Primrose Hill of the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids in 1992 we awarded him with the title of Presider of the Order and I still remember him standing in the middle of the ceremonial circle surrounded by dozens of participants cheering him as various people presented him with gifts in honour of his work. In the end he was standing there so laden with gifts he could hardly carry them, looking just like a contestant in ‘Crackerjack’ (a TV programme where contestants had to hold more and more prizes). The illustration is of John taken from a painting by his friend Maxwell Armfield (now also in the Summerlands). The last time I spoke to John was when I asked him for permission to use this illustration in a book. Dear John, you will be greatly missed. May your journey to the Summerlands be swift and sure.

4 Responses to “In Memory of John Michell”

  1. I am very sorry to hear this. I did not know him at all well, but I know that he will be missed in Glastonbury and beyond.

  2. Very sad news. I met him once here in New York, long ago, introduced by a mutual friend, and we had a long and lovely chat about things esoteric and British and Celtic. A gracious man and a great scholar; may his journey thrive.

  3. John’s death marks the end of an era, the passing of a certain special kind of scholar. Being with John was like being in the presence of some ancient sage out of the past. We will never see his like again and I feel very sorry for the generations who will never know him.

    “Let us go forward to dancing and Laughter” from the tenth mandala of the Rig Veda. Heaven is smiling today welcoming one of It’s own home.

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