Obituary: David Hall, Sothis Magazine, 1942-2007One must willy-nilly acknowledge that every man should strive to have his own "I"; otherwise he will represent a hackney carriage in which any fare can sit and which any fare can dispose of just as he pleases. Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson, Gurdjieff
For David - from Jan Magee
David had a rich inner life and was a scholar, published author, a painter, a craftsman and an avid book collector. He was also unbeatable at draughts!
My one regret is not being able to tell him that I'd read the draft of what was to become his final book and how much I'd enjoyed it. Once I'd started it, I couldn't put it down. I only wish I'd been able to tell him, but I left it too late, which makes me feel sad.
David, I dreamed about you a night before you died, and you looked fine. Just like your old self, no trace of illness at all, although you didn't speak, there you were inside this large geometric shape, alone but alright.
David loved his old ramshackle house and garden, although I remember a time when his mum was alive when everything was pristine inside and out.
I felt so delighted earlier this year when David told me about his ready-made family plus cats sharing his life. After all those years of isolation, I was pleased to hear him sound happy and complete. Our David, so often stiff and formal but such a knowledgeable man who also had the most endearing giggle too.
Jan Magee, born Jan Bailey, August 2007
For David Hall - from Mike Magee
I had the idea of producing a much more ambitious project than Azoth, a six-monthly journal and David Hall was more than willing to help. We produced volume one, number one at a distance - the front cover was silkscreened by Jan Bailey, while the contents were produced on a Gestetner.
David wrote an introduction for the first Sothis Magazine under the name "Frater I.I.V.", and the first article in the first Sothis was under that name under the title "Time and the World". Geometry, stars, time and our place in the cosmos remained an enduring interest until his death.
This was the beginning of a friendship with David that lasted right up until his death. He was the most kind guy, and proved that in numberless ways over the years we knew each other.
David was the most unusual of people - a born academic. He had a keen interest and curiosity in all matters of the esoteric and when we first visited him in St Albans in the early 1970s, he even then owned a book collection that a library would die for. He was unfailingly generous in letting me borrow books from him as I was avid for knowledge myself in those days - he'd lend me original Equinox volumes and other rarer material that I'd never come across. Once he got cross at me when I returned an original. He said the fact I smoked so many cigarettes had tarnished the gold on one of his original Equinox books.
David was always very generous with his time and was most interested in architecture. He did a tour of the whole of the United Kingdom in the late 1980s, searching out buildings and churches that remained, and probably remain, to be discovered by scholars.
A particularly nice example that illustrates this is when David drove myself and Jan to the church where Robert Flood (de Fluctibus) is buried, and persuaded the vicar of the church to show us Flood's tomb behind the altar, and examine the parapets of the church, which all exhibited alchemical themes.
David had a wealth of knowledge that he was more than willing to share with others. He introduced me to Gurdjieff's books, and to followers such as Ouspensky, JG Bennett, and Frithjof Schuon, Maurice Nicholl and others. One of his favourite Gurdjieff books was "Life is Real, Only then when 'I am'" - he'd read the entire works of any European author on the esoteric you'd care to mention.
David even produced, for his own satisfaction and without any idea of others seeing it at all, the entire ritual paraphernalia of the Order of the Golden Dawn - down to large scale tablets of the Enochian Calls, the magic "wands" that the adepti employed, and even an Enochian altar, which he gave to Jan and myself years ago, and which has caused much bemusement ever since to visitors who see the big double cube and ask what it means.
The truth is that truth was very important to David Hall. He would take any subject and immerse himself completely in it, using a razor sharp brain to go deep down inside a topic and surgically examine it with a sceptical mind and, sometimes ruthlessly, winnow out the wheat from the chaff. This is not to say he came from a purely academic point of view - his heart was always fully engaged in a quest and he had a deep appreciation and sense of the emotional in life. I have seen him, on many occasions, close to tears at the wisdom of the ancients, and angry at the obtuseness of moderns who are so blind they cannot see.
His real interest was ancient wisdom, irrespective of the source of such wisdom. Over more than thirty years I saw him range over a whole prairie of ancient thought. After the Western Esoteric Tradition in all its guises, he explored the esoterism of the Russian Orthodox Church, performing the prayer of the heart for a clear and astonishing nine months to become a member of the Ordo Templi Orientis.
David then started to explore the world of the Sufis and as usual threw himself whole heartedly into that pursuit, finally debunking elements of that tradition in a book called Islamic Mysticism (ISBN 1-57392-767-8) under the pseudonym Ibn al-Rawandi.
After his Islamic period, David became a keen proponent of Humanist philosophy, and wrote many articles for the New Humanist and other publications. During all this time, we were in touch with David. He would come see us and show us some magnificent paintings he'd done of the 22 atus of the Tarot.
In all his different guises, David Hall remained true to himself and a remorseless searcher for the truth. We feel his loss keenly. A full bibliography of David is not yet possible. He wrote many many manuscripts and books, and many, to the best of our knowledge, remain unpublished. Above all, he was a great friend to us and to the world.
Mike Magee, August 2007
** We heard from the editor of New Humanist magazine. He said: "I did not know David personally but I know he has made a real contribution to humanist and NH, especially on issues of Islam. You might like to know that three of his pieces for us are online here. Please pass on our respects to the family."
Artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1996-2006. Translations are © Mike Magee 1996-2006. Questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.orgHome Page