Thursday, December 08, 2011

David Conway

One of the key texts in the esoteric canon is David Conway’s Magic: An Occult Primer (1972). It is an introduction to the practise of magic, but not the cheesy kind performed by the likes of Paul Daniels or David Copperfield. Instead, Conway’s tome is a handy D-I-Y guide to the occult. Not only is the reader initiated into the secrets of magic but there are handy hints on astral travelling, constructing curses, interpreting prophecies and conjuring demons. The book also contains an occult who’s who.

The author himself is a bit of an enigmatic figure. David Conway is a pseudonym. He was born and brought up near Aberystwyth where his parents owned and ran a grocer's shop. Later in life he earned a diplomatic posting to Brussels; and then went on to become Principal Director of the European Patent Office in Munich. He has also worked as a civil servant in London. He currently resides in Wales.

Over the years Conway has written other books which are of esoteric interest: The Magic of Herbs (1975); Secret Wisdom: the Occult Universe Explored (1985); and, most recently, the autobiographical Magic Without Mirrors (2011).

Conway’s classic, Magic: An Occult Primer, has been reprinted several times with the 1988 edition (see pic) carrying an inevitable introduction penned by Colin Wilson. Wilson said of the Welsh author: 'There is nothing of the phoney or the exhibitionist about David Conway. He is not merely a magician, but a genuine mystic, an intensely private person who is absorbed in what Blake called the inner worlds and their mystery.... David Conway was brought up in a remote country district of Wales.... When he was four he was taken to see a local farmer, Mr James, (who) remained his chief mentor, introducing him to the basic principles of magic... Someone should persuade him to write about his apprenticeship; from the hints he has dropped, I suspect it would be as fascinating as Carlos Castaneda's accounts of Don Juan, as well as being rather more truthful.'