Nevill Drury 1947 – 2013

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  October 16, 2013 — 2 Comments

“Magic and religion are ultimately experiential in nature and should be treated as such.” – Nevill Drury

It has been announced that Australian art publisher and writer Nevill Drury passed away on October 15th. Drury co-wrote the first serious overview of Australian Paganism, “Other Temples, Other Gods,” published in 1980, and is the author and editor of several books exploring history, shamanism, magic, and modern Paganism. Some of his most recent works include “Pathways in Modern Western Magic,” as editor, and “Stealing Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Modern Western Magic.” You can see a full list of publications at his web site.

Nevill Drury in 2006.

Nevill Drury in 2006.

“He is one of the most prolific authors in Australia on contemporary occultism and Paganism. He co-authored a defining early work “Other Temples Other Gods” (1980) on occultism and magical practice in Australia, directed a film “The Occult Experience” and wrote a key work on Rosaleen Norton, a Witch who lived in Sydney Australia in the early 1900s. He was awarded a doctorate for his work on Norton, and authored many other books on magic, shamanism, and related topics. He will be sadly missed.” – Douglas Ezzy, author of “Sex, Death and Witchcraft: A Contemporary Pagan Festival”

For many Pagans and occultists of a certain age, one of Drury’s most famous contributions to our movement may be his involvement in the 1985 film “The Occult Experience,” of which he was co-producer, researcher and interviewer. That documentary was many people’s first glimpse of Pagan practice outside of books, and included luminaries like Selena Fox, Margot Adler, Alex Sanders, and Janet Farrar doing ritual on camera.

Nevill.2013.Lesley Drury2.corrected_72dpi“This was a wonderful experience for me and came on the back of a television series on holistic health that I presented on ABC-TV in the early 1980s. I was approached by Sydney-based documentary-maker Frank Heimans to plan a 90-minute television programme on occult beliefs and practices around the world and Frank managed to raise $350,000 to finance it, which at the time was quite a lot of money. We filmed in Perth, Western Australia, where there were several Wiccan covens and also in the Yanchep caves north of Perth where a group of local enthusiasts carried out rituals based on ancient Egyptian magic – that made for some spectacular visual imagery. We also filmed a group of Sydney-based Christian fundamentalists ‘casting out demons’. However some of the most spectacular sequences took place overseas. We filmed well known American witch Selena Fox and her close associates conducting a ritual in the snow in Wisconsin; a wonderful, spontaneous ceremonial gathering of radical feminist Goddess worshippers in Oakland, California – including interviews with Z. Budapest and Luisah Teish – and a meeting with Dr Michael Aquino and his wife Lilith, key members of the Left-Hand path Temple of Set in San Francisco. We also filmed a shamanic workshop with Michael Harner and conducted an interview with Margot Adler in New York in the ritual space at the back of Herman Slater’s Magickal Childe bookshop. In Europe we visited visionary artist H.R. Giger at home in Zurich amidst his remarkable, hellish paintings. We also filmed an initiatory sequence with Janet and Stewart Farrar at their coven in Drogheda, north of Dublin, and visited the founders of the Fellowship of Isis at their Jacobite castle in Clonegal. Later we conducted an interview with Alex Sanders at home in Bexhill, Sussex and filmed him invoking an Aztec deity – a somewhat surprising variant on Wicca! – where he nearly set his pants alight with the flaming torches he was holding.” – Nevill Drury, on the making of “The Occult Experience,” from a 2013 interview with Ethan Doyle White.

Like many people involved in Pagan and esoteric practices, Drury was deeply invested in the arts, and enjoyed a separate career as a influential art publisher in Australia, co-founding the Craftsman House publishing imprint.

“After working in the Australian book industry as an editor for Harper & Row and Doubleday between 1976 and 1982, Nevill co-founded Craftsman’s Press with Judy Hungerford and Geoffrey King. Craftsman’s Press specialized in limited edition monographs, including publications on such artists as Justin O’Brien, Brian Dunlop and Lloyd Rees. But in 1985 a decision was made to change the direction of the company, moving its orientation more broadly into the visual arts – including printing, ceramics, sculpture, graphic design, jewellery and architecture – and making the books substantially more accessible, both in price and style. Nevill proposed changing the name of the company to Craftsman House but the essential focus remained the same: the aim was to produce high quality books on the Australian visual arts and publish monographs on the emerging generation of mid-career artists who had not yet earned widespread recognition across the country – something no other publishing house was doing at the time.”

You can read a full obituary about Drury’s life and works at his website. We thank him for his work and many contributions to our movement. What is remembered, lives.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Watched “The Occult Experience” right here on the blog– a bit surprised at the Pentecostals but realized that the Protestant exorcism, shamanic power-animal search and Esalen human-potential exercise were not that different if you ignore the soundtrack. Makes it clear it’s not only non-Abrahamics that “dabble.”

  • Robert Mitchell

    Recently, while doing some research for a project, I found a book review and thought that the volume would be a valuable reference. Called “The Search for Abraxas” and edited by Drury (1973), it seemed like it would be cutting edge if published today, much less 40 years ago. But sadly it was out of print. How thrilled I was when I discovered that Salamander & Sons is re-issuing the volume, and I promptly pre-ordered a copy. I’m watching the mailbox for it to arrive — and wondering how I could have missed for so long the works of this accomplished man.