John Michell Passed Away
May 1, 2009
Druids, hippies and crop circle enthusiasts will be to the fore today
for the funeral of eccentric Old Etonian mystic John Michell, 76, who
died after a long battle with cancer.
Michell - who was an Eton contemporary of David Cameron's
father Ian, and Britain's leading authority on ley-lines - helped
establish Glastonbury as the capital of the new-age movement.
Two years ago, he wed Druid priestess Denise 'Denny' Price, 57, at
St Benedict's, Glastonbury, attended by hundreds of well-wishers,
including music festival founder Michael Eavis and society shoe
designer Emma Hope.
But within two months, the unlikely couple, who first met 36 years
ago, split up and then divorced. Michell's friends were scandalised
when Denny tried to claim half of John's multi-million-pound Notting
'When we heard Denny was trying to get half of John's house, after
being married only for two months, we were incandescent,' says a
friend. 'John told us he didn't mind. He was completely cool about it.'
Fortean Times tribute by Bob Rickard
John Michell, the visionary author of The View Over Atlantis, The Flying Saucer Vision, City of Revelation
and many more died early this morning, 24 April 2009, aged 76.
John was central in introducing ancient notions of the sacred into the English counter-culture of the 1960s,
and in shaping both the Earth Mysteries movement and much of what we would today recognise as
contemporary paganism and modern antiquarianism.
I met John on a handful of occasions and we tended towards good-natured disagreement on the crop circle
phenomenon, which he felt was ultimately mysterious, even divine in origin.
The current issue of Fortean Times features a lengthy tribute to one of its earliest supporters, who was also
a good friend of its founding editors.
Curiously, I am convinced that I saw John – a very distinctive character – on Charing Cross Road in London
twice in the past two weeks, looking very frail and walking with a stick, on one occasion supported by a
friend. When I mentioned this to David Sutton at Fortean Times yesterday, he informed me that John had left
the city a few weeks ago to die peacefully in the countryside.
John Michell’s official site
By Colin Andrews
I first met John Michell at the
launch of Pat Delgado and
my first book, Circular
Evidence' in 1989. He
arrived in a coach from
London along with the media
who had travelled down to a
wheat field near Winchester
in Hampshire, to no less
than a crop circle, where the
official launch of the book
This visit lead to him
becoming obsessed with the
mystery, like many have
We met on many other
occasions over the years,
either presenting at various
events around the world or in
the fields of southern
A brilliant mind, not afraid to
stand his ground with
completely new thinking even
though it was often not
socially in favour.
His last crop circle book
'Crooked Soley' is a must
read, written in the style only
John Michell could write. It
was recommended to me by
a mutual friend, Lord John
Haddington just weeks
before his sad passing.
A very big loss to us all.
Pat Delgado greeting John Michell in a crop circle in Wiltshire.
Copyright: Colin Andrews
John Michell. Copyright: Fortean Times
John Michell: Expert on ancient knowledge and pioneer of the New Age
John Michell was a great British antiquarian, the veritable successor to John Aubrey, the 17th-century explorer of
the megalithic temple at Avebury, William Stukeley, who studied Stonehenge in the 18th century, and Alfred
Watkins, who in the early-20th century rediscovered ley lines – the lines of earth energy running between ancient
Michell's research was characterised by his belief, stated in the preface to his The View over Atlantis, that: "The
important discoveries about the past have been made not so much through the present refined techniques of
treasure hunting and grave robbery, but through the intuition of those whose faith in poetry led them to scientific
truth." His life's work was to use his own dazzling intuition and ability to communicate complex scientific and
philosophical ideas, through lectures and some 40 books, and to bring ancient knowledge to a wider public,
much like a philosopher in the Platonic tradition.
Michell was born in London in 1933 and was educated at Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he
read modern languages. He served in the Royal Navy and later joined the civil service as a Russian interpreter.
His writing career began in 1967 with the publication of The flying saucer vision: the Holy Grail restored.
Emerging at the height of UFO interest, and a year before Erich von Däniken's Chariots of the Gods, this work
proposed the idea that flying saucers were not necessarily craft from other planets. Instead, they could be seen
as emanations of the human psyche, archetypes in Jungian terms, which were being observed especially at
sites with ancient religious significance. As Michell put it: "The strange lights and other phenomena of the post-
war period were portents of a radical change in human consciousness coinciding with the dawn of the Aquarian
In 1969 he published the first of his works on sacred geometry, The View over Atlantis, where he examined the
research of Alfred Watkins, reawakening and developing the ideas from Watkins's 1925 book The Old Straight
Track. Michell showed how the rediscovery of ley lines and the patterns both within and between ancient
monuments demonstrated traces of what he called "a gigantic work of prehistoric engineering".
In May the same year, Michell established the Research into Lost Knowledge Organisation (Rilko), together with
founder members Keith Critchlow and Mary Williams. The organisation was headed by Commander G.J. Mathys,
with Janette Jackson as honorary secretary and Elizabeth Leader as archivist. Rilko, of which the present author
is a member, continues its charitable activities to this day, in organising lecture series and republishing
previously lost or ignored works of ancient wisdom.
Alexander Thom's research into prehistoric monuments, espoused by Michell, showed that a measure known as
the megalithic yard – close to the modern yard – was being used by the builders of old. Michell's desire to
preserve traditional weights and measures led to his establishment, in 1970, of the Anti-Metrication Board.
Speaking about this later on, Michell was proud to note that this "radical traditionalist" organisation had "outlived
its bureaucratic adversary, the Metrication Board, by several years."
The book City of Revelation (1972) built upon the success of The View over Atlantis. Here, evidently inspired by an
obscure work from the Victorian author William Stirling, he described how the monuments of the ancient world
were designed according to the principles of gematria. This science associates the numerical values of the
names of the gods with the dimensions of the temples in whose honour they were built, and in turn links those
dimensions with the measures of the cosmos. "He is a genius," a Time Out review of this book noted at the time,
"short-circuiting established channels of thought and offering a brilliant network of his own." Michell subsequently
provided a preface to the 1974 edition of Stirling's work The Canon, re-published by Rilko.
Michell's 1977 book, A Little History of Astro-Archaeology, reviewed the science of the same name from
Stukeley's time onwards. Here Michell observed wryly how the view of the field, like much of the other research he
pursued, has evolved over the years "from lunacy to heresy to interesting notion and finally to the gates of
In 1990 Michell founded The Cereologist, a magazine on crop circles and related matters, which ran a total of 36
editions through to 2003. For Michell, research into the crop circle phenomena followed on naturally from his
existing investigations into megalithic monuments and sought answers to how and why these peculiar
formations came about.
The book Who Wrote Shakespeare? (1996) treated the controversial authorship question in a typically balanced
and reasoned way. He leaned towards a hybrid Baconian/Oxfordian theory, whereby a group, centred on Francis
Bacon and including the Earl of Oxford, may have been the authors.
Aside from his writing, Michell was also a painter. An exhibition of his watercolours and geometrical paintings
was held during 2003 at the Christopher Gibbs gallery in London.
The April 2009 edition of the Fortean Times contains a long article about Michell's life and work, which he just
missed seeing in print.
Of all his works, Michell's magnum opus is probably The Dimensions of Paradise: the proportions and symbolic
numbers of ancient cosmology (2001). In this book he furthered his thesis that the measures used by prehistoric
man, his constructions, his gods, and the universe itself are all intimately and inextricably related. One can hope
that he is now enjoying the next stage of his cosmic journey, in researching the dimensions of Paradise for
John Michell, writer: born London 6 February 1933; married 2007 Denise Price (one son from a previous
relationship); died Stoke Abbott, Dorset 24 April 2009