Zach was High Priest of the Bricket Wood Coven for over fifty years. A pivotal figure within Wicca and without a doubt one of the most knowledgeable people in the Craft, he was also a much loved and revered member of the Pagan community. In 1977 he and his partner Jean co-founded ‘The Companions of the Rainbow Bridge’, a ritualistic magical group influenced by Crowley’s Gnostic Mass. Zach had also been an active member of the Pagan Federation since 1988.
Acutely intelligent, quick-witted and erudite, Zach did not suffer fools gladly and had little time for pointless small talk. Nevertheless, he was also warm, kind and charming, with an earthy sense of humour. He was a private person in many ways, but not a hermit; when it really mattered, he would fully engage with the wider world. In the early nineties, for instance, during the ‘satanic panic’ media frenzy, Zach and Jean arranged meetings with journalists from the Sunday papers, explaining to them what Paganism and Wicca were really all about. He put so much effort into challenging misconceptions and disinformation. Zach could have ignored that horrible media scare and pulled up the drawbridge, but instead he was determined to do something about it, and that willingness to fight for the truth was really important to him, both for the Pagan Federation itself and for pagans generally.
Zach had two sides: hyper-organised and logical on the one hand, full of the joys of poetry and laughter on the other. It was this highly developed Apollonian side which came out in his dedication to ritualistic magic. He personally created furniture, to exacting specifications, for the regular Gnostic Masses that he and Jean held in their home. He was such a genius at creating the architecture for these ceremonies; all the furniture, all the materials, the floor cloths and everything, were tailor-made for that room. You couldn’t use them in any other space. These were major rituals, very precise, with a lot of detail and Zach was completely dedicated to getting them right.
His other side, Dionysian and playful, was just as well-rooted. He looked a little like Pan, actually, a tall figure with an amazing face, but then he could also pass for Merlin. I remember in Crouch End one day, a little boy coming up to him and saying, “Are you Gandalf?” Zach smiled and said, “Not really”, but I could tell that the boy didn’t believe it – he just thought Zach was keeping a secret! That was his Pan side, mischievous and full of fun and good humour. He was so good with words and his recall was phenomenal: he would recite you a limerick or a poem, perfectly at the drop of a hat. He could recite page after page, an ability he retained until the very end despite the ravages of age. As for the limericks he would teach me - let’s just say they were very colourful! In art he loved the Surrealists, especially Dali; in poetry and literature he loved Swinburne, Poe and Byron, and he wrote his own verse as well. His philosophical interests included Wittgenstein, Nietzsche and Bertrand Russell. He was a scholar who knew the classics, ancient Greek literature, and he had very strong opinions on all of it. Among the occult writers, he especially loved Crowley and Éliphas Lévi, whom he read back in the 1940s.
The Bricket Wood Coven continues and flourishes today, and evolves with the times, but it will also always be a living memorial to the values and magic of Zach and Jean and the Gardnerian tradition which they so faithfully upheld.
Zach's obituary in Wild Hunt: