In truth I take no pleasure in writing obituaries despite my more necromantic interests placing me in the perfect position to do so. To my mind every death among the pitifully few people who fully embody the heart and soul of modern magick stands as a massive loss to our wider movement, as well as their loved ones and friends. The following short article originally saw print in the Lammas 2019 issue of Pagan Dawn Magazine. It was a huge challenge to keep the text below five hundred words, but for those looking to deep dive into the wider topics teased below my earlier essay, Highgate Hindsight, can be found here.
Remembering David Farrant
By Gavin Fox
It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of a true elder within the UK Pagan community. David Farrant journeyed beyond the veil at 9.20pm on the 8th of April after a long and protracted period of ill health.
While many will only know of Farrant through the media circus springing up around Highgate Cemetery during the 1970’s, as well as the resulting court case and witch trial in all but name that ultimately saw him spend over two and a half years in prison, there was much more to David than his involvement with that urban myth would suggest.
Born in 1946, Farrant was softly spoken and erudite figure who appeared at various events in and around London as well as on numerous television programs, radio shows and internet podcasts too. As president of the British Psychic and Occult Society he sought answers to many supernatural questions that others were afraid to ask, and as a result of this ever inquisitive attitude should be remembered an unsung hero of modern occulture.
He famously co-hosted The Highgate Vampire Symposium back in 2015, bringing together many of the most interesting modern thinkers on folklore and Forteana in an attempt to set the record straight about exactly what was prowling around that infamous location after hours. Though the event failed to lay this most elusive of spirits to rest it remains an important moment in the alternative history of London to this day, as well as a rare opportunity for Farrant to make his case without mainstream ridicule and editorial bias.
David proved time and time again that he was deeply knowledgable on matters relating to both paranormal investigation and magic in general. He also spent many years attempting to clear his name, and weathered the storm of undeserved infamy with a stoic dignity that many in the same position would have been hard pressed to achieve. Both of these aspects were neatly underlined in his autobiographical works In the Shadow of the Highgate Vampire and Out of the Shadows. Not only do these books provide a candid window into the magickal climate of the 1970’s and early 1980’s, but also present a no holds barred exploration of the highs and lows of a truly mystical life.
David is survived by his wife Della and son Jamie. While his family and closest friends shall of course miss him the most his absence will also be felt by the many people who had the pleasure of his company over the years. Western Paganism has just lost one of its most unique and interesting voices, a man who faced ridicule and ultimately served a custodial sentence in defence of Wicca and witchcraft long after freedom of religion was enshrined in law. For this reason, as well as many others, he should never be far from all of our thoughts.