Highgate and the Occult

Highgate and the Occult

After World War II, when many of its groundsmen were called up to fight, never to return, the once magnificent Highgate Cemetery began to fall into decline.  By the 1960s the once pristine cemetery was going to seed, with now-crumbling tombs being left open to the elements and its once manicured lawns and paths becoming overgrown and reclaimed by nature.

As the decade rolled into the 1970s, the cemetery increasingly began to attract people of various magical persuasions, who were inspired by the opportunity to practice their rituals in such a unique environment without fear of disturbance.  The appeal of the neglected cemetery had for some years previously extended to those of a darker persuasion, and soon evidence of necromantic rites taking place in secluded vaults began to emerge.

In 1974 David Farrant, who will be speaking on this panel, was imprisoned on charges relating to black magic and tomb desecration at Highgate Cemetery, charges which he continues to vehemently deny.  David’s exposés of the activities of local people who he claims were responsible for the crimes of which he stood accused, resulted in, amongst other acts of intimidation, a series of threatening letters and hexes, some signed in blood.  Charles Walker, who has been the subject of similar if not worse intimidation as a consequence of his investigations into the use of Clapham Wood in Sussex by a group known as The Friends of Hecate, will be sharing his views and experiences of the manner in which such groups can influence the energies of the natural environments where they operate.

This session will attempt to explore the possible connection between the use of the cemetery for magical purposes – especially those of a negative persuasion – and the increase in manifestations of an apparently malevolent (and certainly very angry!) entity during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Amongst other areas of his study, Occult scholar and blogger Fox the Rebel will be offering us some insights into what the extant evidence of an allegedly necromantic group using Highgate Cemetery during this time tells us about what they were attempting to achieve, and why they chose to work where they did. We will also be exploring the concept of servitors and whether this could in some way help explain the entity’s ’emergence’.

As discussed, 1960s London saw a boom in popular interest in the occult and witchcraft, but was also a hub for serious practitioners of the magical arts.  Geraldine Beskin, who then ran (and still runs) Atlantis Bookshop, London’s oldest supplier of occult books and supplies, came into contact with many well known figures on this scene, including some with connections to Highgate Cemetery. We look forward to Geraldine sharing her memories of this exciting period in London’s history  – and reminding us that not all magical exploration during this era was negative, or harmful.