Kenneth Grant 1924 – 2011

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Yesterday Michael Staley at Starfire Publishing announced to the public that British occultist and writer Kenneth Grant passed away on January 15th.

“Kenneth Grant died on 15th January 2011 after a period of illness. Our condolences go first and foremost to his family, whose privacy is something which we all wish to respect at this difficult time.

Kenneth Grant had an extraordinary life, and his work has a remarkable depth and breadth of magical and mystical insight. In particular, his monumental series of Typhonian Trilogies is creative, innovatory and inspiring, extending across thirty years from the publication of the opening volume The Magical Revival in 1972, to the appearance of the final volume The Ninth Arch in 2002. This is a substantial body of work, constituting a solid foundation for further development, widening and deepening in the years to come; his work will continue.”

Portrait of Kenneth Grant by Austin Osman Spare.

Grant had a long and passionate interest in the practice of magic. He studied and corresponded directly with Aleister Crowley, and subsequently devoted a large potion of his life and writings to Thelema and the the Ordo Templi Orientis. Grant and his wife Steffi also had a personal and working relationship with artist and occultist Austin Osman Spare. By the 1950s, Grant had fallen out with Karl Germer, Outer Head of the Order (OHO) of Ordo Templi Orientis, which sparked a schism and the foundation of The Typhonian Order (aka the Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis). Over the subsequent decades these two groups would battle over legitimacy and the use the name “O.T.O” until very recently, when Grant’s order lost the right to use the name.

Despite, or perhaps because of, this tension over succession, Grant was a hugely influential writer, thinker, and magician. At the news of his death yesterday, tributes from all corners of the magickal/occult world started to pour out.

“Rest well, occultist Kenneth Grant. May the next leg of the journey be as interesting as your time on earth.”T. Thorn Coyle

“Kenneth Grant was a most significant author to many of us young magicians in the 1970’s. He revived Austin Spare through his books and articles in Man Myth and Magic and deserves to be remembered for that and his kindness to the artist during his life. His remarkable magical partnership with Steffi Grant is without parallel. His life spanned contact with the Old Guard occultists and he spoke the language of the modernist magician. He was a generous correspondent and kind to me and others in our interactions with him. I shall miss him.” Geraldine Beskin, The Atlantis Bookshop.

“Kenneth Grant’s occultism was not the fervent, dry adherence of the ideologue. Rather, he fashioned a deeply personal, fantastical, dynamic, and intricate system of magic woven together from syncretic elements of Tantra, Voudon, Gnosticism, Surrealism, fiction and a variety of other exotic threads. Building on the foundations of Crowley’s work, Grant expanded the current understanding of the meaning and implications of the “Law of Thelema”. Much like the mystic William Blake, Grant forged his own path beyond esoteric speculation, writing first-hand accounts of what he perceived to exist outside of the range of mundane experience.”Scott Spencer, Coilhouse

“Grant left a powerful and irreparable stamp on the practice of ceremonial magick and occultism, and those who practice chaos magick, emulate the practices of Austin Spare, seek to integrate ATR beliefs and practices into their western occultism and magick, develop a system of magick based on the Necronomicon and the Chthulhu mythos, practice lefthand tantra, or who seek a deeper understanding and appreciation of the writings of Crowley, owe him a great debt of gratitude. Grant seemed to leave no stone unturned, and he managed to forge together the dispirit threads of post modern occultism, science fiction and fantasy, horror fiction, exotic ethnic traditions and obscure antiquities, producing a blend of dark occultism and Lefthand Path practices. If you have even the faintest attraction to the dark side of occultism and magick, then Grant is likely your spiritual godfather, whether or not you have read his books.”Frater Barrabbas

For more on the life and influence of Kenneth Grant, I would recommend checking out artist and researcher Scott Spencer’s obituary for Coilhouse, and the Fulgur publishing house biography. Many of Grant’s works can be purchased through Starfire Publishing.

My best wishes and condolences to Grant’s friends and family. I wish Kenneth Grant well as he begins the next leg of his journey.