Margaret Bain (1934 – 1994) was a teacher of Qabalah. She was a member of Alan Bain’s group in the late 1950s, and was married to him for several years. In later years she taught Qabalah and ritual to students in London and Cambridge.
Margaret seems to have been born in India, the family returning to live in London when she was 13 years old  . Ten years later in 1957 she married Gordon Huntingford, and at about that time the couple became involved with Alan Bain’s Qabalah group in London.
In the early 1960s Margaret’s marriage to Gordon broke down and she became close to Alan Bain. A year or two later Margaret and Alan left London for the West Country, and in 1965 they were married in Wells in Somerset. Around this time, Margaret wrote an article for Gareth Knight’s New Dimensions Magazine [v2 #12, February/March 1965] titled The Creative Power of Thought.
1970s in London
In the late 1960s Alan left Margaret and they separately returned to London. As well as mingling with members of the original Qabalah group, Margaret had close working relationships with Marian Green, the editor of Quest Magazine, and the author and occultist Elizabeth A St George.
Margaret wrote a series of articles for Quest Magazine in the early 1970s, showing an extensive knowledge of Qabalah:
- A Journey up a Tree (Quest No. 3, September 1970)
- The Place Of Ethics, Morality And Responsibility In Occultism
(Quest No. 4, December 1970)
- Isis on the Tree of Life (Quest No. 5, March 1971)
- Working with a Glyph (Quest No. 7, September 1971)
- The Beard of Microprosopus is the Field of Freud (Quest No. 8, December 1971)
- The Triads on the Tree (Quest No. 10, June 1972)
Margaret became briefly involved with a young man in Elizabeth St. George’s circle called David Franklin, a fervent student of the Qabalah. Margaret and David produced a few issues of their own cyclostyled magazine called ARC, published and printed by “The Society of Synchronocists”.
After a few years Margaret and David parted company and Margaret began working with Doug Donleavy.
By 1976, when I (Rod) first met Margaret, she was living in the East end of London and teaching Qabalistic ritual to students in London and Cambridge. She and her partner Doug gave me (and other members of the Cambridge Kabbalah group) an experience of formal ritual in a room at a Cambridge college. The following year I visited her a few times with some friends where she and Doug taught us some elements of ritual work. I recall very clearly her no-nonsense approach to the work – her wariness of ‘glamour’, and also her incisive analysis of ritual.
Margaret and Doug published some issues of a cyclostyled magazine called The Fool. The first issue come out in 1976 and there was a second issue in 1978. In Issue 1 the magazine reviews itself as follows:
“The Fool, a magazine dedicated to demystification and de-glamourisation, compiled and contributed to by occultists who realize that if ‘serious’ occultism is ever to take its rightful place in this troubled world, laughter and humour are indispensable as the cleansing weapons against the polluting fog and cobwebs and illusion, delusion, posturing and aggrandisement of pathetic personality cultists and their even more gullible victims. Each issue has a theme, that of the first issue being ‘Initiation’. A combination of competent and well thought-out articles on the theme subject combined with telling wit and satire, this little magazine could develop into a very real contribution to the evolution of a mature occult society not afraid to laugh at and with itself and its contemporaries – a condition long overdue.”
Margaret and Doug continued teaching and moved to Blackburn in the late 1970s. But shortly after moving they split up, and Margaret returned to London. She reconnected with a past student, Robert Shaw, and they married in 1982. The marriage ended under difficult circumstance and Margaret’s health was failing. She died in 1994.
Margaret wrote an as yet unpublished book on Qabalah towards the end of her life, entitled Kingdom at Your Feet. It was written with the aim of enabling the complete beginner to grasp Qabalah, with a practical approach from the beginning. In the introduction she talks about the teaching:
“Our teaching is based, first of all on that of Dion Fortune, but brought up to date as I have explained elsewhere, and then on over thirty years of practice. We have not sought fame or renown, believing that to be out of keeping with the spiritual goals of Qabalah. We are content to be judged by our fruits, without any hype – for us, there is only one governor, and He is ‘up there’.”
Margaret’s students carry on her work through a registered charity called the Rockwax foundation (rockwax.org.uk), whose purpose is to keep alive the Hermetic and Kabbalistic traditions through public lectures, publications, and small-group teaching:
“The Rockwax Foundation owes its origin to various esoteric groups that existed in the UK in the late 1950s and 60s. These groups, influenced by but not directly connected with the work of Dion Fortune, preserved initiatory traditions of western occultism and mysticism, and coalesced in the teaching of Margaret Bain/Shaw. Margaret died in 1994 and the Rockwax Foundation was created in 2011 by her students as a public face to preserve and promote the traditions and teaching.
“The name “Rockwax” is taken from the name of Margaret’s personal stone, and was chosen to honour her memory and teaching.”
 I believe that Margaret’s birth name was Margaret Cynthia Platt.