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name of Violet Mary Firth, a British occultist and author whose books still
influence modern Witchcraft and neo-Paganism. A prominent occultist of her
time, Fortune was an adept in ceremonial magic, and was perhaps one of the first occult authors to
approach magic and hermetic concepts from the psychology of Jung and Freud. For
some Witches and Neo-pagan her fictional works are considered more important
than her nonfiction, because they are filled with Pagan themes and rituals.
Fortune was born into a family of Christian Scientists. In her teens she
begun exhibiting mediumistic abilities. During her early twenties she worked
as a law analyst at the Medico-Psychological Clinic in London. Her interest
in exploring the human psyche led to her being psychologically attacked.
This occurred in 1911, when she was 20. She worked in a school helping the
principal who took a great dislike toward her. When going to tell the woman
that she was leaving her job, the principal subjected Fortune to vindictiveness,
telling her she lacked self-confidence and was incompetent. Later Fortune
said the woman also had conveyed this psychic attack through yoga techniques
and hypnotism which left her a "mental and physical wreck" for
This type of psychological violation resulted in her initial study of Freudian
and Jungian psychology. At first she preferred Jung over Freud, but as she
continued her study Fortune concluded that neither psychiatrist adequately
addressed the subtleties and complexities of the mind. Thus, for her, the
answers lay in occultism.
Fortune joined the Alpha and Omega Lodge of Stella Matutina, in 1919, an
outer order of the Hermetic
Order of the Golden Dawn, and studied under
J. W. Brodie-Innes. She had classes with the wife of S. L. McGregor-Mathers,
one of the founders of the Golden Dawn, which again left her feeling psychic
attacked.She felt Stella Matutina in 1929 and left to found her own order,
the Community (later Fraternity) of the Inner Light. At first the order
was part of the Golden Dawn, but later separated from it.
Following this Fortune worked as a psychiatrist which brought her in contact
with other psychic attack victims. Being a prolific writer she poured her
knowledge into both novels and nonfiction works. She derived her pen name
from the magic motto which she adopted when joining Stella Matutina, "Deo
Non Fortuna," ("by God, not chance"), which became shortened
to Dion Fortune. Her works are classics and continue to be popular.
During the time when she lived in Glastonbury Fortune became deeply interested
in the Arthurian legends and magical-mystical lore which is centered there.
She wrote of Glastonbury in Avalon of the Heart.
As a result of her experience with psychic attack Fortune concluded that
hostile psychic energy can emanate both deliberately and unwittingly from
certain people and that one can mentally fend off such energy. Her work
Psychic Self-Defense (1930) is still regarded as the best guide to
detection and defense against psychic attack.
The work, The Mystical Qabbalah (1936), perhaps her most famous book,
contains her discussion of the Western esoteric tradition and how the Qabbalah
is used by modern students of the Mysteries. The true nature of the gods,
she said, is that of magical images shaped out of the astral plane by mankind's
thought, and influenced by the mind.
Fortune's other major nonfiction works include Sane Occultism (1929);
The Training and Work of an Initiate (1930); Through the Gates
of Death (1932); Applied Magic; Aspects of Occultism; and Spiritualism
in the Light of Occult Science. She published Machinery of the Mind
(1922), under her given name.
However, it was her novels that greatly captivated the attention of the
modern Pagans and Witches. Particularly The Goat-Foot God ((1936),
which concern the powers of Pan, a Horned
God, and offers a wealth of details concerning
Sea-Priestess (1938) which concerns the powers of Isis, the moon goddess, and has been employed by modern
Witches for inspiration in creating rituals and invocations. Her other novels
are The Secrets of Dr. Taverner (1926) about an adapt that runs a
nursing home; The Demon Lover (1927); and The Winged Bull
Fortune married a Dr. Evans. She died in 1946.
The Fraternity of the Inner Light continues to be based in London, but now
is known as the Society of the Inner Light. It offers techniques in the
Western esoteric tradition. The Society stresses that Fortune was not a
Witch, nor was she involved with any coven; and the Society is not connected
with Witchcraft in anyway. A.G.H.
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