Tuesday, 4 September 2012

In Memoriam: Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (1953--2012)

I have just learned of the recent passing of Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (1953-2012), one of the world's foremost scholars of Western Esotericism. Aged 59, he passed away after a short battle with cancer last Wednesday, 29 August.

Born in the English cathedral city of Lincoln, he studied at both Bristol and Oxford before rising to academic notability during the 1980s, when he published a number of influential books focusing in on the history of Europe's occult traditions, at the time a largely neglected area of study. A prolific author, he continued putting together such tomes in more recent years, in particular focusing in on the role that Western Esoteric beliefs had on the growth and development of Nazism  and Neo-Nazism in such texts as The Occult Roots of Nazism (1985), Hitler's Priestess (1998) and Black Sun (2002). Perhaps his most important book however remains The Western Esoteric Traditions: A Historical Introduction (1988), widely recognised as required reading for all those interested in this fascinating subject.

Goodrick-Clarke was also instrumental in the establishment of the University of Exeter's Centre for the Study of Esotericism (EXESESO), where he worked as a professor in recent years. He was also a formative figure in the creation of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE), founded in 2005, and which publishes an excellent academic journal, Aries: Journal for the Study of Western Esotericism. Goodrick-Clarke was perhaps the most influential scholar of Western Esoteric History of his generation, and his name will continue to be remembered alongside those of other greats in this field like Frances Yates (1899--1981). All of us involved in this area of research owe him a great debt.

More information on this sad news can be found at Sasha Chaitow's Phoenix Rising Academy page. Chaitow personally knew Goodrick-Clarke, having studied for her master's degree at EXESESO, thereby bringing a personal touch to her memoriam.