Passings: Mike Gleason, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Anne Ross

Passings: Mike Gleason, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Anne Ross September 5, 2012

Three personages who’ve had an impact on our interconnected communities passed away recently: one a Wiccan Elder, and two scholars whose works have been cited repeatedly by Pagans, and indeed helped shape how many of us perceive ourselves. All three should be honored and remembered for their contributions, for what is remembered lives.

Mike Gleason (1951 – 2012): A beloved Elder within his community, Mike Gleason was an Alexandrian High Priest who distinguished himself as an early supporter of pan-Pagan festivals in the 1980s, and as a strong advocate for Pagan rights. This included serving as the head of WARD’s (Witches Against Religious Discrimination) Massachusetts chapter, the Witches Education League, and the Lady Liberty League. In addition to this, Gleason  was co-editor and publisher of the now-defunct  THINK! Magazine (1996-1999), and contributed to a number of print and Internet publications. You can read a selection of his recent book reviews, here.

“May those of us who mourn Mike’s passing take comfort in the memories of our good times with him and in knowing that his legacy within Paganism continues on in his writings and the many lives he enriched.”Selena Fox, Circle Sanctuary

Mike Gleason is survived by his wife Cindy (Cynthia), his daughter Sheri Lynn, and his son Ed (Edward). Memorials are still in the process of being planned. His ashes are being interred at Circle Cemetery at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve in Wisconsin. His family invites memorial gifts in his memory be made to Circle Sanctuary. May his spirit rest and return to us once again.

Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (1953 – 2012):  An eminent professor of Western Esotericism at University of Exeter, and co-founder of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotercism (ESSWE), Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke is perhaps best known for his works exploring how esotericism interacted with fascist and extremist groups in books like “Black Sun,” “The Occult Roots of Nazism,” and “Hitler’s Priestess.” His most recent publication was 2008’s “The Western Esoteric Traditions: A Historical Introduction.” Sasha Chaitow of Phoenix Rising Academy remembers Goodrick-Clarke as “a gentleman, a fine scholar, and one of those teachers who always made you want to surpass yourself.”

“Through his work Nicholas expressed his great love for the history, culture and peoples of both England and Germany, and in the course of a distinguished academic career he brought his considerable intellect to bear upon their respective esoteric traditions. With his passing we have lost a wise and much-loved teacher, an incisive scholarly mind and a jovial and kind-hearted friend.” – Hereward Tilton (University of Exeter), Wouter Hanegraaff (President of ESSWE)

Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke is survived by his wife, Clare Goodrick-Clarke, also a professor at the Exeter Centre for the Study of Esotericism. In closing, Sasha Chaitow says that “my fellow-Exeter graduates and I have already concluded that the best tribute we can pay him is to try to  live up to his expectations and continue his vision of bringing the study of esotericism more firmly into academia.”

Anne Ross (1925 – 2012): While no official obituary or notice has been posted, I have received word from scholarly sources I trust that famed Celticist Anne Ross, author of “Pagan Celtic Britain” and co-author of “Life and Death of a Druid Prince” passed away recently. A former Research Fellow in Archaeology at the University of Southampton, and teacher of lecture courses at the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth, Ross spoke Gaelic and Welsh, and her work had a huge effect on modern Druidry and reconstructionist Celtic traditions. Interviewed many times due to her theories regarding the famous “Lindow Man,” and oft-remembered for her brief appearance in the television documentary series “The Celts,” her work on the Celtic “cult of the head” is still the primary starting place for study on the subject.

Speaking from my own experience, I know that her work was deeply influential during a time that I was immersed in Celtic scholarship and voraciously pored over  “Pagan Celtic Britain” looking for clues to unlock the mystery of the past. Modern Pagan oriented works like “The Isles of the Many Gods” owe a direct dept to her scholarship. No doubt many obituaries and remembrances will be forthcoming, and I will post them here once they emerge.

May all these spirits be remembered, may their wisdom and work endure, and may they return to us again.

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13 responses to “Passings: Mike Gleason, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Anne Ross”

    FEACHEM Dr Anne Ross (Celtic Scholar) Peacefully on Aug 29 at her home, Dr Anne Ross of Felin Gyffin, Llandre, Aberystwyth; beloved wife of the late Richard, dear mother of Charles and the late Berenice. Public funeral service at Aberystwyth Crem-atorium on Tuesday Sept 4 at 11.15am. Further inquiries to C Trefor Evans, Brongenau, Llandre, Aberystwyth. Tel 01970 820013

  2. Anne Ross’s books have long been touchstones for modern Druidis. Her Pagan Celtic Britain is a seminal work for many Druids and basic reading to understand the many types of Gods and Goddesses and sacred animals of the Celts. The collected photos of statues and iconography in the book are exhaustive and it is one of the few books that shows the Horned Goddess. Anne Ross will be missed by everyone who has studied the Celts and loves their relgion, art and history. May Brighid guide her peacefully across to the Blessed Isles.

  3. sad to read, that Nicholas Goodrick-Clark passed away … in my opinion however, i think, that he overestimates the role of Esotericism in Nazist ideology, his theories have found very little following among historians who deal with Nazi ideology, also due to the fact, that the German translation of the “Occult Roots” was published by a far-right publisher (Leopold Stocker Verlag)

  4. Goodrick-Clarke made a career out of having it both ways. On the one hand he posed as a debunker of the more sensationalistic variety of Nazi-Occult speculations, and even went so far on occasion as to flatly deny that there was any fundamental connection between Nazism and the Occult. But on the other hand all of his major book-length works on the subject were presented as if they constituted definitive proof, from a respected scholar, that the Nazis were inspired by and guided by Pagan and/or Occult beliefs (and his works are often cited, by both lay people and academics alike, as if that were the case).

  5. in Germany, far more influential for this misconception about pagan and occult roots of Nazism are Catholic and Protestant apologists (they have something to hide) and also some authors on the left who focus too much on some (on other points lucid) essays by Ernst Bloch from around 1930 where Bloch confuses the voelkisch and anti-Christian Theism/Deism/Pantheism of a part of the Nazi movement with paganism. Goodrick-Clark’s work isn’t influential outside occult and some far right circles in Germany

  6. What do you think of Faivre and Hanegraaff? Personally I find them both to be scholars who always have something interesting (to me, anyway) to say, even when I disagree completely with what they are saying.

  7. May the Green Mantle of Brigit grant Anne Ross peace and restoration in Emhain Abhlach. Thank you, Anne, for all of your contributions to all of Celtdom!

  8. Oh, no 🙁 I only knew Mike via email back when I was sending him copies of my and other authors’ books to review, but I always knew that he’d give them all a thorough and well-balanced review, and he seemed like a genuinely nice guy. I hadn’t realized about the rest of his accomplishments and involvements, thogh. RIP, Mike.

  9. The main reason that Goodrick-Clarke is considered one of the “big three” as you put it, is because of his chairing the third (at the time) European programme in Western Esotericism, ie being responsible for helping to establish the *academic study* of W.E. within academia (there are now a couple more programmes in Holland & Sweden), and not because of his research on the occult roots of Nazism. Apart from this book, for which he is perhaps best known, he also did a lot of work on Theosophy, the work of Jakob Boehme, and his Introduction to Western Esotericism (2008) is perhaps most representative of his teaching programme. I have only ever skimmed his book on the occult roots of Nazism, as it is outside my area of focus, so I can’t comment on his positions there. Having known him as a professor at Exeter – to be fair I think one needs to consider his whole career rather than focusing on this work, which is after all much earlier and was the focus of his doctorate – by the time I got to Exeter his focus had shifted to other areas of research, Theosophy in particular. The fact that W.E. is now available as a subject of advanced academic study in the UK (whatever one’s thoughts may be on that) is thanks to him.

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