Sad to announce the sudden passing of John Belham-Payne

Doreen Valiente altar
© Doreen Valiante Foundation

We have all been shocked and saddened this evening to hear of the sudden death of John Belham-Payne, who passed away this morning.

A statement from Ashley Mortimer to the Centre of Pagan Studies Facebook group read thus:

We are completely devastated to have to announce the sad news that John passed away this morning. He leaves his wife, Julie, son, Danny and sister Glynis and family. John also leaves the dedicated teams of friends and volunteers at both The Centre for Pagan Studies and The Doreen Valiente Foundation, a vast circle of brothers and sisters within the craft and a wide but devoted circle of friends from all walks of life around the world.

John himself will be particularly upset as he was dearly looking forward to seeing his years of hard work and dedication come to fruition this summer with the Doreen Valiente Collections going on exhibition in Brighton, as well as the series of talks he was due to give, starting in London this Sunday.

We have all heard his voice this morning telling us to ‘just get on with it’, to carry on with the things he considered important and to which he was so singularly dedicated. Yes, we will carry on, but right now it’s a time for us to share our grief and to remember ‘our’ John.

It was sometimes easy for John’s huge presence to obscure his very real humility. Despite his position as an elder in the craft and having inherited arguably the most important magical collection in modern history, John’s only desire was to follow his promise to Doreen Valiente to do ‘the right thing’, to this end, he donated the entire collection to The Doreen Valiente Foundation and both he and Julie have served as its trustees along with Ashley Mortimer, Rufus Harrington and Professor Ronald Hutton.

John’s sense of humour, wealth of stories and his amiable personality will be deeply missed by all who loved and knew him, along with his kindness and willingness to help anyone he could on their own spiritual journey regardless of which path they followed. He was very, very much beloved of very many and his passing will leave a very real hole in all of our lives.

In due course we will be able to share further news, memorial plans and so on but for now we simply wish to pass on our love and thanks to everyone for their support and friendship as we push forward together to “do the right thing’ and join together in remembering ‘our’ John.

Everyone at Pagan Dawn would like to pass on their condolences to John’s friends and family and we will, of course, pass on further news about remembering the life and times of a remarkable man as soon as we can.

“I was very sad to hear of the passing of John Belham-Payne on the morning of 15th February 2016,” commented Mike Stygal, President of the Pagan Federation. “In addition to his tireless work in sustaining the memory of Doreen Valiente, his High Priestess, John was also a former member of the Pagan Federation committee. In recent years we’ve greatly appreciated and enjoyed a close working relationship with the Centre for Pagan Studies, the Dorren Valiente Foundation and John himself.

“John was a very good friend to the Pagan Federation and to me personally. John has passed away before the full realisation of a musuem to Doreen Valiente, which is due to open at Preston Manor in Brighton in April, and he was working on preparations for the museum, despite his ill health, right up to his passing. The Pagan community has lost an outstanding advocate and friend. I will remember John for his kindness, his passion and his sincerety, not to mention his wonderful sense of humour.”