Brown, Margaret Lumley

Brown, Margaret Lumley

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Margaret Lumley Brown was born toward the end of the nineteenth century, in Northamptonshire, England. Her father was a squire who lost most of his money to a swindling lawyer. He was fascinated, if not obsessed, with preGeorge III England and insisted on schooling Margaret and her sister from school books of that period. Her mother had little in common with her father but was completely dominated by him.

Her father died when Margaret was twelve and after debts had been settled she, her elder sister, and her mother moved into a small house. A great-aunt sent Margaret to boarding school but she soon left school to return to her mother’s home. There she read voraciously and wrote articles and poems that were mostly rejected as fast as they were submitted for publication. She received three offers of marriage but she rejected all of them.

Her mother died when Margaret was twentytwo. She found herself with nothing but half an annuity from a great-aunt. It was 120 pounds per year, to be shared with her sister. She moved to London where she lived in various boarding houses and obtained and lost a variety of jobs. Eventually, after her sister returned from Europe, the two settled into an apartment in Maida Vale where they lived for two years. In 1918, she lived for a while in a house near London’s Marble Arch that was very haunted. From experiences she had there, she developed a strong sensitivity to place memories. In her later years she complained about being kept awake by the marching feet of the Roman Legions, outside the house where she was staying. It was built at an old Roman crossroads.

A variety of literary journals published Margaret’s poetry and a collection of her poems was favorably reviewed. She developed an interest in the legend of Atlantis. She also felt that in a past life she had been a young boy during the 1745 Stuart rebellion, and also had a strong attraction to the Babylonian civilization and to the goddess Ishtar in particular. She tried, unsuccessfully, to make contact with “an Occult Community” and corresponded with the explorer Colonel P. H. Fawcett, who hoped to put her in touch with “one of the Great Lodges.” Unfortunately Fawcett was lost in the Amazon jungle in 1925, before he could do so. He was searching for evidence of the lost Atlantis continent.

Margaret Lumley Brown continued her interest in the occult throughout her life and, in 1944, she joined the Society of the Inner Light and met its founder, Dion Fortune. Margaret’s sister had recently died and Dion Fortune offered to let Margaret live at the society’s headquarters in Queensborough Terrace, London. There Margaret acted as parlor maid and cook while enjoying the lessons, exercises, and rites of the society. It quickly became obvious that she had some natural psychic abilities. Dion Fortune was the Arch Pythoness of the Society, channeling information while in trance. It was, as she later said in spirit through Margaret Lumley Brown, “bringing through these messages from Masters and Entities as well as inspirational messages from the inner planes. It is entirely different from what is known as Spiritualism.”

When Fortune died in 1946, Margaret was encouraged to develop her gifts and take over as Arch Pythoness. She made contact with Dion Fortune’s spirit and was coached by the deceased leader. Margaret’s first major trance address was made at the society’s Summer Solstice celebrations in June of 1946, in front of the whole Fraternity. From there she went from strength to strength, becoming affectionately known to the Fraternity as “MLB” or “Morgan,” after Morgan Le Fay. Charles Fielding and Carr Collins, biographers of Dion Fortune, said of Margaret that she was “probably the finest medium and psychic of this century … She raised the arts of psychism and mediumship to an entirely new level and the high quality of communication that came through her has not been equaled.”

In the early 1960s, the society underwent a change of direction with a greater emphasis placed on Christianity. By then Margaret Lumley Brown was in her seventies and her role as Pythoness diminished. She did, however, remain a member for the rest of her life. She died at the age of eighty-six.

Sources:

Knight, Gareth: Dion Fortune & the Inner Light. Loughborough: Thoth, 2000
Knight, Gareth: Pythoness: the Life and Work of Margaret Lumley Brown. Oceanside: Sun Chalice Books, 2000