Fortune, Dion

Fortune, Dion (1891-1946)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Pseudonym of Violet Mary Firth. Growing up in a Christian Science family, Firth demonstrated mediumistic talents while still in her teens, when she studied Freud and Jung (preferring Jung) and worked for the Medico-Psychological Clinic in London. After some years, she came to the conclusion that neither Freud nor Jung had all the answers and that the truth lay in the occult. Although fascinated by the works of Helena Blavatsky, Firth was not enthusiastic about occultism when it was presented in an Eastern setting and therefore was not drawn to the Theosophical Society.

At the age of twenty-eight, Firth joined the Alpha and Omega Lodge of the Stella Matutina, an outer division of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn led by J. W. Brodie-Innes. On initiation, she took the magical name Deo Non Fortuna ("by God, not chance"). This Firth later shortened to Dion Fortune, which became her pen name. Five years later she left the order and founded the Community of the Inner Light, based on contacts she claimed to have made with "Inner Planes" of wisdom.

Firth had learned Ceremonial Magic from Brodie-Innes and quickly became an adept. In 1936 she wrote one of her best known books, The Mystical Qabbalah, dealing with the use of the Qabbalah by modern occultists. She had previously written Sane Occultism (1929) and Psychic Self-Defense (1930), the latter as the result of a psychic attack she said she received from an employer. Firth/Fortune went on to write a number of fiction and nonfiction books that taught the Western Esoteric Tradition. Many Witches and Pagans appreciate her work, especially the two novels, The Sea Priestess (1938) and Moon Magic (published posthumously in 1956). Although these two books are written as fiction, they contain a great deal of practical occult knowledge in telling the story of a priestess of Isis who comes to restore paganism to a world that has lost touch with nature. The Goat-Foot God (1936) is another novel enjoyed by modern day Pagans, as it deals with the powers of Pan.

Fortune, Dion (1890–1946)

(pop culture)

Dion Fortune, occult magician and exponent of the concept of psychic vampirism, was born Violet Mary Firth in 1890 in Wales. She supposedly manifested psychic abilities at an early age, which led to an interest in spiritualism, psychoanalysis, and theosophy. Around 1919 she joined the Alpha and Omega chapter of the Stella Matutina, a group loosely affiliated with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a ritual magic group. While a member of the order, she took a magical motto, “Deo Non Fortuna” (By God Not Luck), which was later shortened to Dion Fortune, her public name. Five years later she founded the Fraternity of the Inner Light to attract members to the Golden Dawn, but soon split with the order and developed her own version of magical teachings. She claimed contact with the “Inner Planes” of wisdom from which she received the fraternity’s teachings. She not only authored the lessons for the fraternity, but penned a number of books, including: Sane Occultism (1929), The Training and Work of an Initiate (1930), The Mystical Qabalah (1936), and The Sea Priestess (1938).

In 1930 Fortune published one of her more popular books, Psychic Self Defense. The book grew out of her own experiences with a boss who had gained some degree of occult training in India and who tried, by occult means, to obtain Fortune’s assistance in several nefarious schemes. In her occult work Fortune also had been witness to various incidents of psychic attack, which she was called on to interrupt. Among the elements of a psychic attack were vampirism, nervous exhaustion, and a wasting of the body into a “mere bloodless shell of skin and bones.” Fortune propounded an occult perspective on vampirism. She suggested that occult masters had the power to separate their psychic self from their physical body and to attach it to another and to drain that person’s energy. Such persons would then unconsciously begin to drain the energy of those around them, especially people with whom they are in an intense emotional relationship. The attack on the psychic self would manifest in what appeared to be bite marks on the physical body, especially around the neck, ear lobes, and breast (of females). It was Fortune’s belief that troops from eastern Europe during World War I had several accomplished occultists among them. These occultists, upon their deaths, were able to attach themselves to British soldiers who survived the war and, hence, made their way to England.

Fortune included fictionalized accounts of the incidents of psychic vampirism in The Secrets of Dr. Taverner. The story of Fortune’s early experience of psychic attack was discussed in some detail in a biographical book by Janine Chapman. Fortune’s work on psychic vampirism was picked up by Anton LaVey and integrated in to The Satanic Bible (1976). It also underlies much of the discussion on emotional vampirism in recent psychological literature.

Sources:

Chapman, Janine. Quest for Dion Fortune. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1993. 190 pp.
Fortune, Dion. Psychic Self Defense: A Study in Occult Pathology and Criminality. 1930. Rept. London: Aquarian Press, 953. 212 pp.
———. The Secrets of Dr. Taverner. 1926. Rept. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1962. 231 pp.

Fortune, Dion (1891–1946)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Dion Fortune was the pseudonym of Violet Mary Firth. Born in Wales in 1891, she grew up in a Christian Science family. Firth demonstrated mediumistic talents when in her teen years and claimed to have memories of a past life as a priestess in Atlantis. She studied Freud and Jung and worked for the Medico-Psychological Clinic in London. She had plans to practice as an analyst and to that end took classes at the University of London. She even undertook clinical work under the auspices of the London School of Medicine for Women (Royal Free Hospital). After some years, however, Firth came to the conclusion that neither Freud nor Jung had all the answers and that the truth lay in the occult.

Although fascinated by the works of Helena Blavatsky, Firth was not enthused about occultism presented in an Eastern setting and therefore was not drawn to the Theosophical Society, though she was a member of it for a brief period. At the age of twenty-eight, Firth joined the Alpha and Omega Lodge of the Stella Matutina, an outer division of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn led by J.W. Brodie-Innes. On initiation, she took the magical name Deo Non Fortuna (“By God, not chance”). She later shortened this to Dion Fortune and used it as her pen name. Five years later she left the Order after a disagreement with Moina Mathers, the widow of MacGregor Mathers who then led the group. She founded the Community and Fraternity of the Inner Light based on contacts she claimed to have made with “Inner Planes” of wisdom. Today this is known as the Society of the Inner Light.

Fortune learned Ceremonial Magic from Brodie-Innes and quickly became an adept. In 1927, she married Dr. Thomas Penry Evans. In 1936, she wrote one of her best known books, The Mystical Qabbalah, dealing with the use of the Qabbalah by modern occultists. She had previously written Sane Occultism (1929) and Psychic Self-Defense (1930), the latter resulting from a psychic attack she received from an employer in 1911. She had, at that time, been working in a school where the principal took a dislike to her. It was this attack that had led to her study of Jung and Freud.

Fortune wrote a number of fiction and nonfiction books teaching the Western Esoteric Tradition. Her two novels, The Sea Priestess (1938) and Moon Magic (published posthumously in 1956), contain much practical occult knowledge, telling the story of a priestess of Isis who comes to restore paganism to a world that has lost touch with nature. The Goat-Foot God (1936) is another novel enjoyed by modern day pagans, dealing as it does with the powers of Pan.

In Spiritualism in the Light of Occult Science (1931), Fortune says,

What have Spiritualists to do with the ancient wisdom? More than most of them realize, for occultism is traditional Spiritualism. Whether we study the Delphic Oracles or the Witch trials of the Middle Ages, we encounter authentic psychic phenomena. Spiritualists would find themselves on familiar ground if they penetrated to the caves of Tibet or the temples of Ancient Egypt, for the Secret Tradition has been built up by generations of psychics and spirit controlled mediums.

It’s a little known fact that Dion Fortune was herself an accomplished medium. She had been taught by Margaret Lumley Brown, who took over many of Fortune’s functions at the Society of Inner Light after Fotrune’s death from leukemia in 1946. Margaret Lumley Brown has been called by some the finest medium and psychic of the twentieth century. Gareth Knight—a student of Fortune’s and literary executor of Margaret Lumley Brown—stated, “The mediumship of Dion Fortune has been a well-kept secret within the Inner Group of the Fraternity, but it has recently been decided to make a secret of it no longer in order that certain of the teachings thus received may be made available for all who follow the Path.”

In the early 1920s, Fortune acted as a medium when working with Frederick Bligh Bond, at Glastonbury. Bond was absorbed in psychic archaeology at the site of Glastonbury Cathedral. The July, 1922 issue of the journal Psychic Science—published by the College of Psychic Science—carried an article by Fortune, using her name Violet M. Firth, titled “Psychology and Occultism.” She wrote in the article, “In entering the trance condition one sees the medium become abstracted, and then, closing down the avenues of the five physical senses, enter a subjective state. In some mediums one can observe this condition very well, especially when it is the intention to get trance speech, the contact is maintained with the vocal organs.”

Sources:

Fortune, Dion: Through the Gates of Death. York Beach: Weiser Books, 2000
Knight, Gareth: Dion Fortune & the Inner Light. Loughborough: Thoth, 2000