Monday, November 23, 2015

When is a Second Coming not what it seems?

When is a Second Coming not what it seems?

I pen these words as we approach the religious period called Advent, which is popularly associated with the coming, or advent, of Christmas, although more fundamentally it refers to the Second Coming of the Messiah, which in the eyes of Christians represents the end of the world and the coming of a better one.

Whatever the eschatological possibilities, to occultists it calls to mind matters rather closer to home and the question of the return (spiritual, astral, etheric or physical) of certain gurus or significant forerunners close to our hearts.

I am reminded of this question by a remarkable little book just published by Alan Richardson entitled Me, mySelf & Dion Fortune. A very personal work by one of her biographers and also a bargain (currently about £4 on Amazon) for a hundred odd pages of rare and honest wisdom and self revelation.

As the author admits: “The older I get, the less I understand about Dion Fortune. The more I read (and write) about her, the less I actually know. Is Dion Fortune simply the pen name of a woman who died in 1946? Or a convenient name given to an entity who has floated in and out of many peoples’ minds ever since?

“Yet again, could ‘Dion Fortune’ be more accurately described as ‘It’? That is to say, instead of being seen as a wise and powerful soul on the Other Side, could ‘It’ be more in the nature of an energy, an inner plane impulse which pushes us in certain directions? Honestly, I don’t know.

“But here is how she influenced me from a very young age. I have often said that it would take a book in itself to describe the incredible levels of chance, coincidence, synchronicity and totally bizarre serendipity that enabled (and often forced) me to research and write about this energy/entity/great magical soul known as Dion Fortune.”

Anyway, this is the book. And a valuable one because what it has to say about Dion Fortune can be applied to a whole host of inner plane gurus or legendary or ancestral characters, together with  a range of startling serendipities and synchronicities involving such figures. Some that may appear puzzling or pointless. Others open to being glamorised or misinterpreted.

When researching his biography of Dion Fortune, Alan discovered an awful lot of people who felt they had meaningful links with her. In fact he doubts if there is any DF fan who does not claim some link. And although to anyone else such links might seem far fetched, to the person involved they can be important keys.

Some links seem so powerful that those concerned have even wondered if  they were Dion Fortune reborn – although more likely to have been cases of being temporarily overshadowed. A possibility with which I would concur from my own experience and of others known to me. As Alan Richardson is called, from personal experience, to say, the only danger is when you expect everyone else to believe this, and fail to accept within your own self that – almost certainly – something else is going on.

 These days he is more inclined to think in terms of Other Lives rather than past lives. That is, that time is not linear. That everything is happening now, at this instant, ever-becoming.

Be this as it may, it seems we all have our own stories to tell and puzzlements to express. And Alan reckons that the only thing we can be dogmatic about is that no-one can be dogmatic about it! That whether ‘Dion Fortune’ is a great soul on the inner planes or a flow of energy rather like an electrical current shouldn’t worry us too much.

To which I would add that it is of course possible to be both – or even something quite Other. My esoteric sparring partner, the Rev Anthony Duncan, was thus ever chary of an occult tendency to call the Second Person of the Trinity a ‘Christ force’ rather than a Divine Being. It can be spiritually demeaning to make an abstraction out of life.

Much the same could be said about various inner contacts one might have had, including the three canny lads that jumped me into writing The Abbey Papers. Anyone who has a copy could here profitably turn to Section 55 for some handy hints about much of this, but for those who have not I abstract the following.

When, under guidance in the Mysteries we come upon the spirits of the Ancestors, they are like guardian angels of the race, for they partake more of the angelic than of the human spirit that gave rise to them. So when we come upon them we are not taking part in a kind of spiritualist séance. These are not spirits of the departed as commonly understood. They are more in the nature of intelligent holograms – to use a souped up image of modern technology. They are representations of power – or ensouled magical images.

They are not put there or imaginally created by us. They have an objective existence of their own and  may be used by those who are invested with sufficient authority and who have the power and ability to do so. Much of their emotive power comes from emotions embodied in the ideas attached to the particular archetype they represented as individuals when in incarnation.

In normal circumstances they are put before us with a purpose. They are brought before our field of attention, to be, in a sense, restimulated within our aura, thereby imparting a certain energy to the image, and also stimulating a corresponding energy in us.  An exchange of energy takes place, an energy that may last and be drawn from for some time.

In other words it has the effect of dedicating a certain part of our aura to the works and the powers of that particular archetype and its needed work in the world today. This may be by realisation as much as by physical action. It is what practical magic is all about.





Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Reports and comments on the recent Dion Fortune seminar have been coming in over the past few days, suggesting that it was a very good do, with support from members of a number of related groups and individuals. All topped off with some interesting and unusual lunar phenomena which will not be seen again for another generation.  With this in mind it seems appropriate to round things off with a piece I once wrote on Dion Fortune’s last novel – “Moon Magic” – where the sea priestess moves off to London to do her stuff on the banks of the Thames. I think my piece was intended as a Introduction to an American edition of the novel but in the end was not used. However, the story in all its glory is still available from Red Wheel Weiser.



In Moon Magic Vivien Le Fay Morgan, Dion Fortune`s charismatic “sea priestess” from the novel of that name, reappears to work some more of her unique brand of magic. She is now far from the sea, living in London, although not entirely disconnected from the element of water, for her apartment overlooks the River Thames. In keeping with the slightly changed nature of her magical role she has also taken a change of name, now preferring to be known as Lilith Le Fay Morgan.

Lilith has also chosen a rather different type of man to train as her priest in the magic she has in hand. In place of the small town estate agent dominated by his mother and sister she now finds Dr Rupert Malcolm, a highly successful medical consultant at the top of his profession, yet married to a demanding invalid. His earthy masculinity combined with a domestic life of sexual and emotional frustration make him an irascible tyrant to patients, nurses and students alike.

Dion Fortune had a great feeling for the sense of place, as she has demonstrated in her evocations of the western coast of Somerset in The Sea Priestess. This sense of place is now extended to London and the river that runs through the city. Rupert Malcolm`s first awareness of Lilith Le Fay Morgan is upon the north side of the river, upon the Victoria Embankment, along which, after finding her haunting his dreams, he compulsively follows her, along the stretch from Blackfriar`s Bridge, past Cleopatra`s Needle, to Westminster Bridge over which she turns. She now resides in an old converted church on the south bank, whose lighted window can be seen across the river from Rupert Malcolm`s own apartments.

          Nowadays this location is taken up by the Royal Festival Hall and other leisure facilities extending down to the New Tate Gallery and the Millennium Bridge, although in Dion Fortune`s day it was composed mainly of warehouses. Yet the original building that inspired Lilith`s house and temple still exists, although it is located north of the river, about a mile distant from Chelsea Bridge, in West Halkin Street, Belgravia. Known as the Belfry, it started life as a Presbyterian church in about 1840 but was eventually converted to secular use, and for a time acted as the headquarters for a somewhat idiosyncratic spiritualist organisation.

In 1936 a wealthy member of the Society of the Inner Light leased it for the use of Dion Fortune, and it was here that she staged, to invited audiences, celebrations of her Rite of Isis, extracts from which are featured both in The Sea Priestess and in Moon Magic.  The outbreak of war in 1939 put an end to these activities, but the striking looking building remains and in latter days has operated as a restaurant.

          Dion Fortune did not find Moon Magic an easy book to write, and made several false starts before she turned to writing it in the first person, in the words of Lilith herself.  Then it began to gel. She also had some difficulty in finishing it, probably because of the exigencies of war, which put a great strain upon her energy and organisational abilities. And when shortage of paper had all but crippled the publishing industry, the writing of novels might well have taken a low priority in a busy life. As a consequence the manuscript was incomplete at the time of her death in 1946.

In consequence of this the book falls into three parts. The first part, (chapters 1, 2 and 3), may be regarded as the best of her early attempts to start the novel. It sets up the action, introducing Dr Rupert Malcolm and his meeting with Lilith, at first telepathically and then in the flesh.

 In the second part, (chapters 4 through 15), Lilith takes over, explaining much of herself and her intentions, her magical temple, and the work that she intends to do within it with Rupert Malcolm as her priest.

The third part, (from chapter 16 to the end), which brings the magic to a natural close through the eyes of Rupert Malcolm, was provided by a close associate of Dion Fortune, who attempted to channel the material after the latter`s death. The completed novel eventually saw publication in 1956, some twenty years after Dion Fortune started it, and ten years after her death. 

Dion Fortune claimed that she mostly wrote her fiction by allowing the images to rise, letting the characters have their head and listening to their conversations, not entirely sure what the eventual details of the story would be. This applies to the style of her narrative in Part One, as well as the whole of The Sea Priestess and her earlier novels. In Part Two, she pursues much the same method, but writing in the role of the main character herself, brings about a much more vivid ambience. We might say it gives a more direct glimpse into the soul of the author than does narrative written in the third person.

Once again, as in The Sea Priestess, there is a fairly close identification of the character with the author, in her mode of dress – the large floppy brimmed hat, the long cloak, the furs and the chunky jewellery. What is more, she goes out of her way to justify this mode of attire, explaining that it is not simply the facile exhibitionism of a poseur, but a way of creating a role in which to focus the magical imagination of those with whom she comes into immediate contact.

Now that she was writing directly from Lilith`s point of view, she began to find that the character was also taking on a greater feeling of independence from herself, which led her to wonder, half in jest, if she had created a kind of “dark familiar” for herself, or that the character might well represent her Freudian subconscious. Certainly we are here at the borderline between the mental processes of the creative artist and those of the mediating occultist, which is by no means a hard and fast one.

She recognised that she had a great deal in common with Lilith Le Fay but that there was also a great deal that they did not have in common. Lilith revealed far deeper knowledge of magical things and taught Dion Fortune a great deal she had not known before. Dion Fortune throughout her life was staunchly Christian in principle, if a little unorthodox about it in practice. Lilith Le Fay, on the other hand, as Dion Fortune admits, was purely pagan, a rebel against society, and bent upon its alteration – which she intended to do by magical means.

One strange point in common between author and character is the idea of being some kind of changeling. (Oddly enough, a thought that also crosses Wilfred Maxwell`s mind with regard to himself in The Sea Priestess). The origin of  this story came from Dion Fortune`s mother, Jenny Firth, who confided to her more intimate friends that the child she bore had died soon after birth, but had revived some hours later with a completely different look in its eyes, as if it were another being. This idea  Dion Fortune revealed in a paragraph in an issue of The Occult Review, a major esoteric magazine of the inter-war years, and it is much the same story that appears in Lilith`s introduction to herself in the novel.

The claim to being 120 years old we can perhaps best regard as a symbolic statement, deriving from Rosicrucian or numerological lore, rather than speculate what she might have been doing since 1815 or thereabouts. 

          An odd sequel to this melding of author with character is that after the publication of the novel in 1956 a certain confusion developed in peoples` minds between Dion Fortune the author and Lilith Le Fay Morgan the character, exacerbated by the paucity of photographs of the real woman that were then available. Therefore a year later an attempt was made to lay the character to rest by a further sequel, called The Death of Vivien Le Fay Morgan. This short piece entered the public domain as part of a collection of Dion Fortune articles under the umbrella title Aspects of Occultism in 1962, with the annotation: “This fragment which was mediumistically received after Dion Fortune`s death, is an epilogue to Moon Magic.”  The medium concerned was Margaret Lumley Brown, some of whose remarkable work I have edited, along with her story, in Pythoness  (Thoth Publications) and her account of her remarkable psychic beginnings in Both Sides of the Door (Skylight Press).

          In this fragment Vivien, or Lilith,  prepares for her death, and after taking leave of her  friends, ritually assisted by a fellow senior initiate, voluntarily passes out from her physical body to enter into the dissolution processes of the post mortem state, described under the ancient Egyptian symbolism of the Judgment Hall of Osiris.

          It is interesting to note the ancient Egyptian ambience of this fragment, as compared to the largely ancient Greek basis for Dion Fortune`s Rite of Isis. But as Bernard Bromage notes, a London University academic who befriended Dion Fortune and attended a performance of the Rite of Isis, the costumes she used were more Egyptian than Greek; and on being asked about this confided that it was the ancient Egyptian overtones to the Greek symbolism which had always attracted her.

In any case, Bromage came away impressed by what he witnessed, afterwards writing that it was “one of the best attempts I have ever witnessed to stimulate the subconscious by means of `pantomime` drawn from the more ancient records of the hierophant`s art.”  Whilst his use of the word “pantomime” may seem odd in a modern context, he is using it in its original technical sense, which was an ancient art form with a close connection between ceremonial and theatre. One principal difference from modern theatrical performance is that ceremonial magic is performed for the benefit of the participants rather than the spectators, in addition to whatever objective results, via the inner planes or the collective unconscious, might be deemed to accrue therefrom.

          Objective results were certainly sought by Lilith Le Fay Morgan as (in chapter 15) she tries to explain to Rupert the existence and nature of etheric magnetism, which is given out in any form of human interchange but more especially when the emotions are aroused and focussed upon a single person.  What Lilith is trying to get across to Rupert is that the process of magic requires the two of them to form an imaginative, not a physical relationship, one with the other. An important point being that magic of this type, although dependent upon the polarity of gender, is not preliminary or an accompaniment to erotic games. A physical relationship, should it occur, would simply be the operation of a safety valve if the forces – via the instincts and emotions – ran out of control, and would consequently spell failure in magical terms.

As she explains: “The physical is simply the end result, and we never let it get there. When you and I work together in ritual, you are the archetypal man and I am the archetypal woman…What I do to you, I do to all men; and what you receive from me, you receive from Great Isis Herself, for I am Her priestess and you represent the people…Telepathy is the active factor but it is more than that. We are telepathing the group mind of our race, but we are transmitting cosmic forces…This was what was practised in the temples of the Great Goddess in ancient times. It is practised to this day in India, and they call it Tantra.”

          At the time Dion Fortune was working upon her novel and practising the Rite of Isis at the Belfry, she was also in close contact with Bernard Bromage, a specialist upon Eastern religions at the University of London. His current research included texts on Hindu tantra, and he put some of this material at her disposal. She began to draw her own conclusions from this in a series of articles published in the Inner Light Magazine from February 1939 to August 1940, under the title The Circuit of Force (subsequently published in volume form by Thoth Publications), in which she examined what, in her view, constituted “the lost secrets of western occultism”.

It is of some interest that her immediate successors in the running of her Fraternity did not share her enthusiasm for this line of work, and probably not without reason. It is a type of magical relationship which is easily misunderstood, even by sympathetic colleagues.  As Lilith had warned it can easily run out of control and if sex creeps in through the door, magic flies out of the window – to say nothing of whatever personal and social consequences may result if those concerned have obligations outside their charmed esoteric circle. As Dion Fortune had pointed out years before, in Sane Occultism and Practical Occultism in Daily Life, this is an area of esotericism that is fraught with hypocrisy, involving specious claims of reincarnationary links, twin souls and linked destinies that at root are no more than mutual self deception.

Its most positive manifestation, outside of the esoteric world, is probably best seen in the function of the poetic or artistic muse – where the artist is stimulated by some desirable member of the opposite sex without necessarily entering into a physical relationship. Examples abound ever since the troubadours of Languedoc spun enchanting lyrics inspired by inaccessible 12th century ladies, and perhaps saw its apogee when the young Beatrice transported the imagination of Dante into writing one of the greatest works of western literature.

Lilith reveals at the same time something of her high magical intentions and the difficulty of retaining the necessary impersonality of the adept at the end of Part Two (and incidentally in the last words of fiction written by Dion Fortune herself):  “As I thought of him as he lay sleeping in the room below with my cloak thrown over him, there came to me a wave of such intense tenderness that it alarmed me. I must not feel like this towards my priest, I thought, or I shall spoil the magic; and then it came to me that only thus could I do magic with him – the magic that was to be done through one man for all men in order to lift burdens grievous to be borne in a world that has forgotten the holiness of the Great Horned One.”  By this somewhat unusual title, it should be said, she refers to the goddess Isis, whose head dress is the horned moon, rather than to the god of the witches, “Old Horny”.  For that side of things she had already written The Goat-foot God with its Rite of Pan.

By the “burdens grievous to be borne” she has in mind the rigid sexual and social mores of the 1930`s. This was a time when, for instance the heir to the throne of England, who would have been Edward VIII, had just been forced to abdicate for insisting on marrying a divorcée. At the same time a play by Charles Morgan, The Flashing Stream, caused something of a sensation, provoking the playwright to justify himself by publishing an explanatory book. Dion Fortune was moved to call it “one of the great plays of all time.” It certainly was not that, but its theme was close to her heart,  that “the face of the whole world would be changed if the experience of sex were considered to be innocent unless its circumstances made it guilty.”  Such an idea might be regarded as commonplace today but was quite beyond the pale in 1938. 

The subsequent liberation of sexual mores in the succeeding decades would have been much in line with what Lilith Le Fay Morgan was trying to aid with her magical rites. As she later says to Rupert: “We have done what we set out to do. Something is present in the world that was not there before, and it will work itself out in its own way.”  Perhaps it began to do so in the liberating decade of the 1960`s.

However, for the inner side of the magical experience we must turn to Part Three, which reverts to third person narrative, although expressed largely from the point of view of Rupert. In the magical climax of the novel he finds himself passing through a number of stages of consciousness, as memories of incarnations of the distant past come welling up from the depths of the instinctual and emotional levels. These his rationalising mind tries to cope with, explain or justify as best it may. Then passing through the levels of consciousness of the personality in the world, he finds himself at a level of higher awareness that transcends all  previous doubts and justifications and rationalisations.

He feels the beginnings of the gathering of power as the magic starts to work. He feels a tide rising within him along the hollow rod of the spinal column until with a flash the spiritual and physical levels coalesce, beyond the bounds of physiology and  even of psychology. He finds himself floating amongst the stars, with Lilith as Isis before him. The two have passed beyond personality, are no longer two circles bounded by their peripheries, but two centres of radiation, whose contact and interchange is like a lightning bolt as the cosmic forces run down through the lower levels, blowing clear all obstructions and blockages. After this virtual initiation he feels as a man utterly reborn or re-made.

He has, in other words, passed through “the Door Without a Key”.  This is the subtitle of the concluding part of the novel, and it has been previously defined by Lilith, as “the Door of Dreams; it is the door by which the sensitive escape into insanity when life is too hard for them, and artists use it as a window in a watch-tower. Psychologists call it a psychological mechanism; magicians call it magic, and the man in the street calls it illusion or charlatanry, according to taste. It does not matter to me what it is called, for it is effectual.”

          Here speaks the voice of the pragmatic magician that was Dion Fortune, and in this, the last of her novels, she demonstrates how, and in what way, it can be effectual. The tools of her trade may be the magical temple, with its symbols and mirrors and lights, but within that construct is the power of the trained mind and imagination honed into diamond sharpness by an unreserved dedication to the forces of light as she understands them.


Note: Similar essays of mine on Dion Fortune’s The Secrets of Dr Taverner, The Demon Lover, The Winged Bull, The Goat-foot God, The Sea Priestess and Moon Magic can be found in THE OCCULT FICTION OF DION FORTUNE published by Thoth Publications in 2007. Also recommended is Dion Fortune's Rites of Isis and of Pan Skylight Press, 2013.










Sunday, October 11, 2015

Dion Fortune and the Three-fold Way

Looking back over my many years of our shared vocation and tribulations as editors of esoteric magazines, my thoughts still dwell with affection on Michael Howard, whose presence will be sorely missed as an intelligent flag waver for what he believed in. I sometimes had the impression that he never quite got over the fact that as a Christian occultist I would deign to talk to a Pagan one. However, whatever part of the spiritual spectrum we come from, we all have to make the best of how others choose to see us, and I do not lack, among the righteous, a fair number who regard me as somewhat to the nether side of a Dennis Wheatley villain. With this in mind I append a lightly edited article I wrote for the Inner Light Journal in 1998 after I had rejoined the Society after a lapse of 33 years doing my own thing. It endeavours to show the all round aims and capabilities of Dion Fortune – after which I went on to write her full biography ‘Dion Fortune & the Inner Light’ in 2000, which should still be available from Thoth Publications.


The three major strands to the Western Mystery Tradition, using the colour symbolism popular when the Society of the Inner Light was first founded, were called the Green Ray, the Orange Ray and the Purple Ray.

The Green Ray consists of the nature contacts in the broadest sense, and encapsulates most mythopoeic formulations relating to nature and to the Earth, including Elemental and Faery traditions. The Orange Ray describes the study of symbolism and its manipulation in ceremonial or visualised forms, frequently in terms of the Tree of Life of the Qabalah. The Purple Ray denotes religious mysticism, a direct approach to the spirit, and the devotional way usually expressed in the West in Christian terms.

These three Ways can be equated with the three Paths that depart from Malkuth as we leave earth consciousness on the Tree of Life and visualise the three immediate Sephiroth in their Queen Scale of colours: the Green of Netzach at the base of the Pillar of Energy, the Orange of Hod at the base of the Pillar of Form, and the Purple of Yesod on the Middle Pillar of Aspiration.

The reason for this short dissertation upon the Three Rays is because Dion Fortune’ s whole life and work was based upon them. I was recently reminded of this when approached by someone seeking information about her, and whose preconceptions were so inaccurate as to be bizarre. They assumed she had started out as a pious moralist in the 1920’ s, had become an active convert to paganism in the 1930’s, and by the time of her death was on the way to becoming a disciple of Aleister Crowley. In colour terms I suppose this might have been expressed in terms of watery violet, turning bright green before relapsing into rather murky grey.

Taking this scenario for granted the question put to me was, had she lived longer, what direction would her next work have taken? The answer to this question was simple. She would have gone on writing in much the same way that she always had - by a balanced exposition of the three fold way.

As in any practical occult work, there is always a certain cyclic action at work, based upon inner tides of one sort and another. One aspect may come more to fore at any particular time, but overall the balanced picture will be seen. One simply has to make out a chronological list of Dion Fortune’s published work for this to be plain.

However, a little learning is a dangerous thing, and it would appear that a cursory glance at the 1920’s titles of The Esoteric Philosophy of Love and Marriage and The Problem of Purity, were enough to give substance to my respondent’s assumption that Dion Fortune began life as a pious moralist. Her novel The Winged Bull was sufficient to label her as a pagan evangelist in the 1930’s, and an entry in Crowley’s diaries recording some correspondence from her in 1945 was enough to put her in the ranks of the followers of the Great Beast.

To appreciate the full picture of a great occultist we have to take account of the many other books she wrote and their true nature. The 1920’ s titles mentioned above are of the nature of psychology rather than sanctimony, to which we might add The Machinery of the Mind, with an introduction by an eminent scientist of the day. Together with The Secrets of Dr. Taverner they reveal her early interest in psychoanalysis and in the medical applications of esoteric knowledge. She was married to a doctor with esoteric interests in 1927, and her principal teacher in the Golden Dawn, from 1919 onwards, was the wife of an eminent head of a large psychiatric hospital.

.During the same period she wrote a number of articles on the nature of the esoteric tradition as it was currently being practised. These were collected and published in volume form as Sane Occultism, The Training and Work of an Initiate, The Esoteric Orders and their Work and Avalon of the Heart, rounded off by Psychic Self Defence and an early occult thriller The Demon Lover.

Moving into the 1930’s we have an analysis of spiritualism in Spiritualism in the Light of Occult Science and a couple of popular booklets Through the Gates of Death and Practical Occultism in Daily Life. The major event of this decade however is her pioneering textbook The Mystical Qabalah, that spelt out the theory of occultism in readable and commonsense terms. The clutch of novels that immediately followed it, The Winged Bull, The Goat-foot God, The Sea Priestess and Moon Magic were written to exemplify in practical terms some of the theoretical principles expounded in The Mystical Qabalah.

Whether they were altogether successful in this respect is a matter for informed debate, part of which she initiated in a series of articles in the Inner Light Magazine. The novels were written to demonstrate certain applications of particular Sephiroth, Tiphareth for The Winged Bull, Malkuth for The Goat-foot God and Yesod for The Sea-Priestess, whilst its sequel Moon Magic also has elements of the higher analogue of Yesod in the “hidden Sephirah” Daath. She was not an advocate of working directly upon the side Sephiroth, at any rate in her public works.

With their commercial requirement to entertain as well as instruct it is arguable whether the full demonstration of any particular Sephirah of the Tree of Life is attained by any of the novels, or even whether this aspiration is possible in works of popular fiction. However they may rate in terms of esoteric or commercial success or failure, the novels were an interesting and courageous literary experiment and have proved to be a lasting monument in genre fiction.

To appreciate some of the thinking behind the experiment we have to cast our minds back to the general atmosphere of secrecy that was very much a part of the Western Esoteric Tradition in those days. Israel Regardie, as he later confessed to me, was distinctly nervous at the time and for some time afterwards, of what might happen to him as a consequence of publishing the Knowledge Papers of the Golden Dawn. There is also evidence to suggest that Dion Fortune had a qualm or two as to whether she had gone too far in revealing esoteric secrets in The Mystical Qabalah. Such fears over such an innocuous book may seem little short of ludicrous today, but only a few years previously she had been bitterly attacked for allegedly revealing secrets in some of her early works. “Secrets” moreover that she had not been vouchsafed in the first place!

Nowadays at any weekend “workshop” one can sample magical techniques that were once held sacred to the innermost inner, whether presented in these terms or in the guise of some form of psychotherapeutics. My own first introduction to “path working” was conducted in most guarded Lodge conditions but nowadays similar techniques are the stock in trade of anything from day centres for the elderly to adult education classes in creative fiction.

Thus have the Mysteries progressed over the past sixty years in what is sometimes known as “the externalisation of the Hierarchy.” This does not mean, however, that the Mystery schools are denuded of all power and wisdom. The greater secrets are concerned not so much with techniques but with the mythopoeic calibre of the material being processed, where indeed the secrets do not have to be artificially guarded for the simple reason that they are likely to be incomprehensible to whoever is not of the “grade” to work them. The pearls of wisdom are quite safely rolled before the snouts of the porcine fraternity.

The outbreak of war in 1939 put a sudden stop to the flow of publications, fictional or otherwise. In Dion Fortune’ s case this did not mean a withdrawal from the world or some kind of mental collapse as some have speculated. The reason is rather more prosaic, that is to say - paper rationing.

Even the Inner Light Magazine had to fold for lack of paper in May 1940 but Dion Fortune still kept writing away in open letters for students and associates, first on a weekly basis until 1942 and then, rather more expansively, every month. It has been my privilege to sort through much of this recently with a view to book publication.

Already published under the somewhat bizarre and catchpenny title of  The Magical Battle of Britain is a selection from the weekly letters of 1939-41. It is odd to hear that some have chosen to look at this phase of Dion Fortune’s work in terms of jingoistic patriotism. One can only say, as one who still remembers those times, that being machine gunned, bombed and threatened with invasion puts a rather different emphasis upon what may be deemed to be politically correct, whatever the long term merits of universal pacifism. Even so, the general tenor of Dion Fortune’s approach to current danger, without rancour or vindictiveness, gives nothing that calls for apology.

Other writings of this time include The Circuit of Force, which appeared between 1938 and 1940 before closure of in the magazine, and Principles of Hermetic Philosophy  together with Esoteric Principles of Astrology that date from the monthly letters of 1941-2. . Most of this work, it should be said, is of a more practical nature than the pre-war material. She discusses in some detail the circulation of force within the human aura, comparing western methods with those of the east, including tantrik yoga and the raising of kundalini.

Another initiative she pursued of a practical nature in 1942, evidently under inner plane direction, was an approach to the spiritualist movement, seeking common ground. She gave lectures at the Marylebone Spiritualist Association and wrote some articles for Light a weekly newspaper of the spiritualist movement since 1881 that is still published as a quarterly journal by the College of Psychic Studies. It also appears that C.R.Cammell, then editor of Light, was given the highly unusual privilege of being invited to the headquarters of the Society to attend trances at which Dion Fortune was the medium.

Her mediumistic skills were announced in the Monthly Letters in 1942 although there had always been a series of articles called Words of the Masters in the Inner Light Magazine, and in an article of April 1938 entitled How Communication is Made she quite openly describes the technique of trance mediumship and what it feels like to the medium concerned, which is obviously herself.

The Editor of Light was not the only outsider to be allowed into the inner recesses of the Society however, for there are scripts surviving of medical doctors being invited in for trance interviews with one known as the Master of Medicine through the mediumship of Dion Fortune. These were of variable success. One early attempt shows the doctor concerned trying to trip up the communicator with technical questions and the atmosphere is plainly sceptical. Later interviews with a more open minded medical practitioner seem more promising and useful to all concerned however.

Some of these scripts circulated privately to those sufficiently discrete or qualified and the earliest date from 1921 and have since been included in Principles of Esoteric Healing. It is worth bearing in mind Dion Fortune’s long association with medical practitioners, since her pioneering days in psychoanalysis in 1913 through to her meeting with Dr Penry Evans in 1925 and their subsequent marriage. This regrettably did not last much beyond 1938 but it is an interesting synchronicity that in the immediate post-war years a very bright young medical student was generally regarded as likely to be her eventual successor as Warden in the years to come. That this did not come to pass is another matter.

This is a far cry from the mysterious correspondence with Aleister Crowley in early 1945 and the last year of her life. They had known of each other for some years, but kept rather distant relations, as if often the way with occultists of some reputation, who find no call to cosy up and join each other’s groups. He did send her a fulsomely autographed copy of The Book of Thoth upon its publication but whether she returned the compliment with copies of her own books is open to question. The resemblance of the villainous Hugo Astley in The Winged Bull to the Mega Therion suggests that she was not entirely impressed by Crowley as a person but if he was aware of the parallel it would probably have amused rather than irritated him.

There is evidence to suggest that a rather sinister oriental group was flinging its inner weight about in the disturbed political conditions of 1945 and this may have led her to seek some advice from one who was certainly familiar in one way or another with various kinds of occult unpleasantness. There has even been speculation that an occult attack of some sort may have led to her death. Unexpected as this event was, it is not a theory I subscribe to, nor is it confirmed in the esoteric diaries of those actively involved at the time.

Indeed, by some accounts she seems to have been quite a bouncy inner plane presence very shortly after her physical demise, even becoming involved in helping to finish writing the incomplete Moon Magic. Some intermittent inner unpleasantness from an oriental source certainly went on for those sensitive enough to receive it, of which Margaret Lumley Brown bore the brunt, but it seems that all was satisfactorily resolved by August of 1946.

Contrary to popular fiction and film that sees occultism in terms of cops and robbers there is a very much more weighty and metaphysical side to it, which because of its abstruse nature, tends not to attract the public eye. Central to this is one of the first books that Dion Fortune wrote, on a high cosmic trance contact, The Cosmic Doctrine dating from July 1923 to February 1925. Until its publication in 1949 it was a text reserved as a senior study course, and was only published in full in a new edition of 1995.

The problem that one finds with outsiders trying to assess the work of any occultist is that most of the important work goes on behind the scenes, that is to say upon the inner planes, where few commentators have the ability to operate. Even if they have a certain facility in this respect they tend to be limited by their own esoteric horizons. Thus those not capable of appreciating the three-fold nature of the Mysteries, as expressed by Dion Fortune, will ever be lumbered with somewhat dim and distorting spectacles, only able to register the limited wavelengths to which they happen to be focused.

There is nothing that tends to throw this problem into glaring light as the so-called purple ray of devotional mysticism. Time and again one sees problems being thrown up by individual occultists or schools trying to come to terms with the Christ force. I use the term “force” with some reluctance as it is a very personal contact. However, in metaphysical and personal terms it is also a very potent force - and one that is not easy to deal with, by virtue of two millennia of historical presence in the west with many misapplications and distortions of it upon the way, by those who have sought to bend its power to their own institutional devices or dogmatic preferences.

The history of modern esoteric movements is becoming a fashionable subject in academic circles these days and I recommend to some aspiring PhD to attempt a thesis upon this particular subject. I have no time to develop it in depth but can give a few pointers to crisis points in the past where one can see the sparks fly. The electrical analogy is appropriate for such crises are just like a lightning flash - complete with rumbling thunder. They are caused by the same kind of hidden conditions, a difference of potential (electrical or spiritual) between the above and the below.

An early thunderclap and pyrotechnic display was to be witnessed at the foundation of the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society in 1883. The two poles between which the sparks flew were those who looked to the east for wisdom, as represented by Madame Blavatsky’s protégé A.P.Sinnett (the recipient of most of the Mahatma letters) or the photogenic and charismatic Christian hermeticist Anna Kingsford.

Later we see similar sparks flying in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn which led A.E.Waite to form his own more mystical group, the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross. One of the more distinguished members of this was Charles Williams, who went on to write some profoundly occult novels shortly before Dion Fortune was writing her own. I have analysed his fiction at some length in The Magical World of the Inklings (Element Books 1990) together with that of his friends C.S.Lewis, J.R.R.Tolkien and the anthroposophist Owen Barfield.

We find Dion Fortune herself involved with the self same spark generating problem when she had a profound vision involving the Christ and the Lord of Civilisation that propelled her in the direction of the Theosophical Society in 1925 and its Christian Mystic Lodge, despite already being a member of the Golden Dawn and having her own small informal but very active group. So hot and fast did the sparks fly that little documentary information has survived to tell the story. Suffice to say that the official Theosophical line at the time remained with a largely Hindu perspective of the Christian dynamic as interpreted by Besant and Leadbeater, and the Christian Mystic Lodge, of which Dion Fortune was then President, relaunched itself as the Community of the Inner Light.

The Christian element continued to be nurtured by a regular Sunday performance of a Grail related communion rite under the banner of the Guild of the Master Jesus. Dion Fortune herself also published a series of mystical meditations upon the Collects of the Anglican church.

So things continued in the three fold strand of Hermetic, Pagan and Christian Mystical celebration until the outbreak of war. It is true that for a number of members, any one of these three strands might be the preferred option. One of her stalwarts, an ex-military gentleman who wrote some fine pagan articles in the magazine under the pen name of F.P.D. was famous for his attitude to those he considered his esoteric and intellectual inferiors by his recommendation to “chuck ‘em in the Guild!” However, although specialisation has its place, either in the beginning of an esoteric career or at certain more advanced stages, true adeptship requires that one play more than a one-stringed fiddle, and sooner or later all three paths from Malkuth have to be trodden on the long and complex road to higher consciousness in Tiphareth.

The post-war Society of the Inner Light as I knew it no longer operated the Guild although there was a genuine mystical religious strand within its workings, as one might expect under a Warden who had been educated by the Jesuits and whom some even suspected of being an under cover Jesuit himself! However, a very powerful Christian dynamic burst into the group in 1960/1 and one which was sufficiently powerful to cause many sparks to fly and various members to disperse and go their separate ways.

I had a very powerful experience of this myself whilst by myself in the Library. Suddenly, out of thin air, it seemed that Jesus, the Risen Christ, simply walked into the room. He did not do anything or say anything, and the experience lasted but a few seconds, but it was sufficiently powerful for me to go straight out and buy a devotional book to mark the occasion. It was a copy of Thomas a Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ and I wrote the date in it. I have it before me now: 27th September 1961.

The group as a whole took a new turn as a consequence of all this. The old graded structure was abandoned and all reverted to the 1st Degree again. Members were encouraged to wear plain clothes or ecclesiastical cassocks instead of magical robes. I was prepared to accept all this as a necessary cleansing period prior to building up the structure of the lodge again. However after four years of things, according to my lights, remaining much the same almost exclusive emphasis on the purple ray, I felt a yearning for the orange and the green and came to the conclusion I would have to seek elsewhere to find it. So reluctantly I resigned. If you don’t like where you are being led there is no point in dragging your feet and grizzling.

Anyhow if your dedication remains in the Mysteries, when one door is closed another will open, and “coincidence” caused my path to cross with that of a highly psychic and mystically experienced Anglican clergyman, who as a young curate had the daunting task of preparing me for confirmation into the Anglican communion. The result of the sparks we struck off each other led to the writing and publication of a handful of books, including The Lord of the Dance and The Christ, Psychotherapy & Magic by Anthony Duncan, and Experience of the Inner Worlds by myself. [Also, very latterly, Christ and Qabalah, from Skylight Press, a record of our forty year relationship.]

Suitably equipped with what I hoped was now a stable foundation, I set about building my own lodge, with a structure incorporating bricks of purple, orange and green. How well I succeeded over the subsequent years is part of another story. [I Called it Magic – also from Skylight Press.]


Wednesday, September 30, 2015



By accounts received so far the recent Dion Fortune Seminar at Glastonbury was a great success and already plans are afoot to continue the tradition. The occasion only marred by the sad news that Michael Howard, editor of that remarkable  journal, ‘The Cauldron’ is no longer with us – and by extension the journal too! By way of a farewell memoriam I append a few ideas I had back in 1999 about cauldrons and the power that might be found within them.


When we speak of magic we do not mean a bizarre indulgence in some fantasy world that promises to provide some means of escape from reality. Nor do we mean a mental toolkit to gain power or influence over others by dubious methods of applied psychology. True magic is something that lies at the very heart of human consciousness and the expression of the human spirit in an evolving universe.

Some of the subject matter of true magic may seem somewhat strange when we come upon it for the first time. Yet as we progress, certain topics turn up again and again, regrouping in various ways. These recurring topics refer to a complex of mysteries that includes concepts such as:

a)       the place of the Earth among the Stars,

b)       Power within the Land,

c)       Divine and Sacrificial Kingship,

d)       the Poetic Inspiration of the Bard,

e)       the Principle of Sovereignty.

Our use of capital letters signifies that we mean something rather more than is commonly implied by these astronomical, cultural or geophysical terms

Some of these ideas might seem easier to understand if put in psychological terms. We might regard them, say, as structures of archetypes in the collective unconscious – whether of races or of nations, or ultimately of humanity as a whole. After all, the terms of psychology are more familiar to most modern readers than those of ancient magic.

However, although psychology may give a rough approximation of what true magic is all about, its assumptions tend to promote some serious misunderstandings. For in terms of magic, psychological labels are at best half-truths. They confine us to a self-imposed “psycho-sphere” that is itself the product of physical brain consciousness. A prison house of the skull.

When we speak of magic we speak of a far wider world, and not one that is simply subjective, or even telepathically shared. The psychic and spiritual worlds are supremely objective – as objective as the Earth itself. As objective as its rivers, lakes, seas and mountains, and the stars and planets in the vibrant space that surrounds the globe in which we live and move and have our being.

The physical shell of the universe is investigated, catalogued and manipulated by physical science and technology. But resonating within and beyond it are the psychic and spiritual worlds that embody consciousness in many different modes and forms.

These concern not only the psychic and spiritual elements of the human, animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms but extend into realms that may commonly be regarded as fantasy. They have their ancient roots of exposition in folklore and in myth – which are none the less potent today, presented through popular fiction via the media. They are preserved in traditions embracing our own ancestors, whether near or remote in time; in tales of the worlds of faery, “the lordly ones” who dwell in the hollow hills; and in religious beliefs incorporating heavenly messengers and angelic choirs.

There is nothing new in any of this. It is no recently hatched fantasy fiction. Beneficent beings and spirits of nature and of the starry firmament were well known to the ancients, and it was by a strange quirk of human nature that the medieval church elected to demonise them. Unfortunately, in our cocksure faith in the wonders of science and technology, we have gone to the other extreme. With sceptical rationality have very efficiently banished them.

This does not mean that these wondrous realms have been destroyed. It simply means that we have adopted the defence mechanisms of the ostrich and voided them from our own sight and consciousness. The discipline of magic is a means of withdrawing our heads from the sand and looking around at a wider world. Hopefully, even communicating with it.

                Communication, however, requires a common language. The vocabulary of which is contained in the characters, objects and events of myth and of legend, or in metaphysically loaded symbols. Much of what is left of the ancient commerce between the worlds is now fragmented folklore. It is as if a once universal language remains only in isolated pockets of local dialect. Is this perhaps the true meaning behind the story of the tower of Babel and the confusion of tongues?

There have been many attempts to fashion some kind of common language between the outer and  inner worlds. One example is to be found in alchemy. In particular the acrostic VITRIOL to represent the idea of a “universal solvent”. It stands for “Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem” which we might render as “Visit the interior of the Earth to find and rectify the hidden stone.”

Even so this may be difficult for us to comprehend, confined as we are within our concrete intellectual bunker. Nonetheless, the solidity of the concrete is gradually crumbling. Some have deplored this tendency as “a flight from reason”. However the flight is one of eagles not of fugitives. We do not seek to escape from reason, but merely to put it in its proper place. To see it as a mental tool whose use may be better understood from a higher and wider perspective.

There is a useful Celtic term that pertains to this: “Awen” – which might be translated as Inspiration. In its fullness however, it is untranslatable in a single word. It signifies a kind of irradiation of the soul from paradisal origins, which in turn depends on what we may understand  by Earthly or Heavenly Paradise.

Our descriptions and definitions can only be rendered in poetic terms. Hence the importance of the Bard. And in bardic language the source from which this Awen or inspiration rises is the Cauldron of the Underworld, of Annwyn,  or, in alchemical terms, “the interior of the Earth”.

This has its later cultural manifestation as the Holy Grail. In classical times it saw the sun god Apollo surrounded by the Nine Muses around the Pierian Spring. Apollo also, of course, was patron of the oracle at Delphi, to which the wisdom of inspiration ascended from the inner earth, emanating from a dragon power. The dragon, known as Ladon, originated in the far west, to which various heroes went in search of various inspirational treasures that were kept by various guardians, from the head of the Medusa, to the golden apples of Atalanta. There are many ways by which we may approach this fount of inspiration. Indeed, left to the speculations of the concrete mind, they may seem to lead us only into an encyclopaedic labyrinth.

Yet an Ariadne’s thread to lead us to the source has been preserved in the Celtic folk soul. This is not the only vehicle of inner wisdom, but nonetheless is one of the most evocative guardians of the lost and ancient tradition.

The Celts provide an immediate bridge that leads to a very ancient world. They preserved much of the traditions of the Bronze Age beaker people, and beyond them of the Neolithic builders of stone and wooden circles and burial mounds. Behind these, yet again, some believe there to be an even more ancient wisdom – derived, it is conjectured, from the lost world of Atlantis. The existence of that world may not conform to modern scientific theories but scientific theories do not extend to the provinces of Annwn.


At the same time it was Celtic bards who laid the foundation for the knightly legends of the high middle ages. Most of what has come down to us as Arthurian Tradition was seeded by Celtic bards who, leaving Wales and Cornwall for Brittany, after the Saxon invasions, sought service with Frankish lords, and provided the tales that informed the Arthurian romancers of twelfth and thirteenth centuries.


Chrétien de Troyes, Robert de Boron and others, wove them into tales of Merlin, Arthur, Lancelot and Guenevere, the Lady of the Lake and the Questors of the Grail. Later Sir Thomas Malory rendered these tales in Old French into the English tongue, his works being one of the first great volumes from Caxton’s printing press. So if we find our imagination stimulated by Arthurian tales, we may get closer to their origins by a studying their ancient roots, and the Celtic inspiration which lies directly behind the medieval French.

Fortunately no knowledge of ancient Welsh is required, thanks to Lady Gregory, who translated what has become known as The Mabinogion, and to later scholars for surveying the ground with more scholarly vigour. Furthermore, many clues have been given us as to where to pan for true gold in these remote mountain streams of wisdom.            

We may cite Robert Graves, (The White Goddess), R.J.Stewart, (The Underworld Initiation, Earth Light, Power within the Land, The Prophetic Vision of Merlin etc.), Caitlín Matthews, (Mabon and the Mysteries of Britain, Arthur and the Sovereignty of Britain, etc.), John Matthews (Taliesin), and most recently Awen, the Quest of the Celtic Mysteries by Mike Harris, who presents an account derived from magical field work in his native Snowdonia.

Despite its cosmic resonances, it is not a tradition of  remote metaphysical abstractions. It speaks in terms of the relationship of people to the land upon which they live. It speaks of the inspired songs and stories of the minstrels and the bards. It speaks of great kings and heroes. It speaks of wondrous hallows and consecrated objects. It speaks moreover of the powers of the inner Earth and the hollow hills. Of  the faery tradition. Of  the Earth’s  relation to the stars. Above all it speaks of the great game of life played out on the chequer board of daily experience, known as the chess like game of Gwyddbwyll, (approximately pronounced as gweeth-buth), which also signifies the land.

The general public has an intuitive realisation of the current importance of these things. This is largely undefined, coming through instinctive channels. It is expressed in cultural terms by the explosion of interest in stone circles and other ancient sites. Time was when I can remember visiting Stonehenge and having the place to myself; likewise Avebury.  No chance of that now!

Fortunately it is not essential to confine one’s esoteric interests to famous sites. There are many other places of power, untouched by commercial exploitation. The important point is that the universal may well be found within the locality, even, if you are lucky, within your own back yard.

This is simply a down to earth demonstration of the philosophical axiom that the microcosm is a reflection of the macrocosm. In its ultimate sense, this is to see the world in a grain of sand, as the modern bard William Blake proclaimed. Less rigorously, a postage stamp of land can contain the pattern of the greater universe. A recent book, The Star Mirror, (by Mark Vidler, Thorsons 1998), has analysed this in relation to the pyramids of Gizeh and the stars of Orion, amongst other locations and constellations. Mike Harris has found similar effects in the lakes and mountains of Wales.

Much the same local discovery was made by the pioneer anthropologist W.Y. Evans Wentz. He crossed the American continent and the Atlantic Ocean to research The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries. Having produced this book he proceeded to the Himalyas, and over thirty years established himself as a world authority on Tibetan Buddhism with translations and commentaries on The Tibetan Book of the Dead and other major texts. In the evening of his days he went back to the place whence he had started, and found wisdom back home in San Diego county, California, on Cuchama, a local sacred mountain. Yet this is no parochial matter, the focus is universal.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Dion Fortune in Bristol and Somerset

Sorry I can’t be with you all at the Dion Fortune conference at Glastonbury next Saturday but as a starter I attach a talk I gave at a similar event laid on by Marian Green at Bristol, nine years ago.
I am not sure that Bristol is entirely the most appropriate place to celebrate Dion Fortune, as she tended to express a certain antipathy to the city. This was based in part, I think, on an assumed reincarnationary memory of once having been hanged here as a pirate!
However she did have happier associations in her most recent incarnation when affiliated to a temple of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, that operated here under the control of her friend Hope Hughes. She was very grateful for this at the time, having been drummed out of her original temple through falling out with Moina Macgregor Mathers. The formidable widow of the founder of the Golden Dawn, it seems, considered her something of an upstart. And perhaps what is more unforgiveable, a highly successful upstart - with her own group, establishments in Glastonbury and London, and her own direct access to the Secret Chiefs, under whose aegis she published a raft of teachings which Moina felt ought to be reserved for the elect of the innermost inner.
Unfortunately, her reinstatement to the Order, albeit by another branch, did not last for long. For Dion Fortune and her husband were instrumental in introducing the young Israel Regardie to the Bristol temple. In fact they were present at his initiation – coyly referred to in correspondence as his ‘vaccination’. It turned out to be however a vaccination with a violent and painful reaction. For Regardie found the kind of magic dispensed by Hope Hughes and her friends at the Hermes Temple of the Stella Matutina to be far beneath his expectations.
This is perhaps not surprising given the fact that, despite his youth, he had already written two books on the subject, and had just spent three years in Paris as an acolyte of Aleister Crowley. The upshot was that he denounced the Golden Dawn adepti, root and branch, and published all their secret papers, on the grounds that they ought to be out in the public domain rather than kept under close concealment by those whom he considered to be incompetent.
Whilst it is arguable that this may be have been a good thing in the long run, it shattered Dion Fortune`s relationship with Hope Hughes and she was once more cast upon her own resources. Again no great harm was done in the long run, for she proved quite capable of establishing her own school which became, and still remains,  a  force to be reckoned with upon the esoteric scene, through the portals of which many well known occult writers and teachers have passed.
Nonetheless, whether or not she did end a former life swinging from a yard arm on the Bristol waterfront, there was arguably something of the buccaneer in Dion Fortune. Indeed such an element might well have been deemed essential in the character of one destined to prove such a pioneer and adventurer. One who, so to speak, built, vitalled and captained her own ship, and made up her own rules of engagement on the esoteric scene.
We could well ask how much of a transition there might be from plying the trade of Captain Morgan, to following in the footsteps of Morgan le Fay?  She was not afraid to cut loose from any organisation which seemed to her to be falling short of her expectations, and then set to, to do things better herself.
Her interest in the inner side of things started with psycho-analysis, which in her early twenties, before the 1st World War, she hoped to make her living as well as her life`s work. However, despite achieving some standing among her fellow practitioners she became increasingly aware that none of them seem to be  having much success in alleviating human misery, and that because a whole dimension was missing from orthodox psychological theory. Thus she moved on to para-psychology, having been greatly impressed by the case work of Dr. Theodore Moriarty, a maverick anthropologist, freemason and practical occultist, who became her exemplar and first teacher. She later eulogised him in a series of short stories entitled The Secrets of Dr. Taverner and went so far as to claim that if there had been no Dr. Taverner there would have been no Dion Fortune.
She also joined almost everything esoteric in sight, including the Theosophical Society and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. But spurred on by the example of Moriarty, she was not content with taking other people`s theories or psychic impressions for granted, but deliberately set out to develop mediumistic powers of her own. Which took her some years to achieve, her method being intense concentration in identifying herself with an inner communicator to the point of losing awareness of the physical vehicle. She could keep this up for several hours. This technique was the secret weapon in her armoury, the source of most of her own teaching, and, she maintained, the source of spiritual power to inspire others and make things happen.
The first written evidence we have of her seership was in collaboration with Frederick Bligh Bond, at Glastonbury, in the autumn of 1921. Bligh Bond was an architect and antiquary who many years before, in 1907, had been appointed by the Somerset Archeological Society to direct excavations at the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey.
 He achieved remarkable success, but provoked a storm of controversy when, in a book called The Gate of Remembrance, published some years later in 1918, he revealed that he had been guided where to dig by recourse to a psychic skilled in automatic writing. The Church of England authorities, who had subsequently come into ownership of the ruins, were horrified rather than enthused by these disclosures from beyond the grave, and took firm steps to distance themselves from Mr Bligh Bond and Mr Bligh Bond from their hallowed ruins.
Somewhat frustrated and sidelined, and shortly to emigrate for most of his life to the United States, Bligh Bond, who had become editor of a journal of the College of Psychic Science, was apparently interested to try out the burgeoning talents of Miss Violet Firth, as Dion Fortune was then more generally known.
The result was an interesting document, generally referred to as the Glastonbury Script, which formed an important plank in Dion Fortune`s platform of belief. It proclaimed the uniqueness of Glastonbury as a gate between the Seen and the Unseen, and one that had been open from long before Christian times. And one where, in accord with the legend of Joseph of Arimathea founding the first Christian church in England, a link was established between the ancient Druid faith and the incoming religion for the new age, at a time when no antagonism was felt between Christian and pagan. Indeed where both Christian and pagan felt the best way was to hedge their bets and have a foot in each spiritual camp.
 This meant that there was an unbroken line of descent of mystic power, from past to present, connecting directly with the elemental powers of the soil, in which are the roots of the soul of the race. That is to say, of those who inhabit the land, who are its children. It is this heritage that is the power behind the wide field of esoteric lore surrounding Glastonbury, not least of which is the Arthurian legend.
Much of this heritage is celebrated in Dion Fortune`s little book Avalon of the Heart, which began as articles in her monthly magazine, and was published as a book for the general reader in 1934. It is still in print, albeit published in America, and remains a moving evocation of the place and its varied traditions.
Growth of the work she had so tentatively begun with Bligh Bond at Glastonbury was rapid, when she found herself linking up with a wider spectrum of inner plane contacts than the medieval monks. Some years before she had been much impressed by Annie Besant`s book The Ancient Wisdom, whose teaching about hidden Masters in the Himalayas induced in the young Violet Firth a profound early visionary experience, in which she felt herself to be confronted by two of such beings.
Those with whom she now found herself in touch were not, however, the largely oriental contacts promulgated by the Theosophical Society, but a group of individuals with strong connections to the west. Of ancient Greece at the time of Pericles, Plato and Socrates; of Georgian England, via a former Lord Chancellor, animal rights pioneer and defender of human rights; and a representative of the recently fallen in the 1st World War. Later too, with a 19th century pioneer of modern medicine.
This inner group had a specific end in view, which was to found an esoteric school, and moreover seemed to have the ability to operate the levers of power by which to do it. The small group of like minded friends and psychical experimenters, who first met up in 1922, thus became a formal group by 1927, with sanctuary and guest house at the foot of Glastonbury Tor and headquarters in the west end of  London, who published a monthly magazine, followed shortly by a series of textbooks and works of occult fiction. The Society thus founded continues its work to this day.
Times pass, and priorities change, and it no longer owns a nest of chalets at the foot of Glastonbury Tor. The last material link with Glastonbury are perhaps the physical remains of Dion Fortune herself, which lie within the municipal cemetery, with that of her close friend, colleague and general factotum, Thomas Loveday, close by. A steady flow of visitors still goes there to pay their respects, although, as was said in another context, there may be better places to seek for the living than amongst the dead. The spirit of Dion Fortune, and the spirit of what she stood for, is closely associated not only with Glastonbury at large, but with the country surrounding it.
And so as we are all met today in Bristol, which is not a million miles away from any of these places, it would seem appropriate to pay attention to this particular tract of land, the wider Avalon, which embraces most of the county of Somerset. And hopefully, some of you may feel inspired to take a trip to this fascinating territory, this doorway to the Unseen, that lies upon your doorstep.
As Dion Fortune says of it, in the opening pages of Avalon of the Heart,  “Legend and history and the vision of the heart blend in the building of the Mystical Avalon. It is to this Avalon of the heart the pilgrims still go. Some in bands, knowing what they seek. Some alone, with the staff of vision in their hands, awaiting what may come to meet them on this holy ground. None go away as they came. Here the veil that hides the Unseen is thin. Here the invisible tides flow strongly; here indeed rests the foot of Jacob`s Ladder whereby the souls of men may come and go between the inner and outer planes. Glastonbury is a gateway to the Unseen.”
Nor is this confined to the more obvious historical and religious human associations. She was also aware of another level of the powers behind the Veil of outer appearances.
An opening up to her of this level was at the Glastonbury Festival of 1920 – which, I hasten to add, was a rather more decorous affair than the pop music raves of our own day. She attended a performance of The Immortal Hour at the Glastonbury assembly rooms – with lyrics by Fiona McLeod, the Celtic secondary personality, if you will, of the journalist William Sharp, and haunting music by the local composer Rutland Boughton - which apart from its literary or musical merits is a powerful evocation of the realm of faery.
As she wrote more than a dozen years later, “I had the unique privilege of seeing a performance of The Immortal Hour, which, timed to fit in with the exigencies of the local buses and trains, began at sunset. The first scene started with broad daylight shining in through the uncurtained windows of the Assembly Rooms. But as it progressed the dusk grew on, till only phantom figures could be seen moving on the stage and the hooting laughter of the shadowy horrors in the magic wood rang out in complete darkness, lit only by the stars that shone strangely brilliant through the skylights of the hall. It was a thing never to be forgotten.”
Indeed, one can believe so, simply by contemplating the lyrics of the voices from beyond the Veil, as King Eochaidh`s faery lover is drawn back to her own people:
How beautiful they are,/The lordly ones/Who dwell in the hills,/The hollow hills.
They have faces like flowers/And their breath is a wind/That blows through summer meadows/Filled with dewy clover.
Their limbs are more white/Than shafts of moonshine, They are more fleet/Than the March wind.
They laugh and are glad,/And are terrible./When their lances shake and glitter/Every green reed quivers.
I am pleased to say that it is now possible to savour, in some degree, something of what Dion Fortune experienced all those years ago, as an excellent recording has been released in two CD`s on the Hyperion label. (CDD22040). Two hours of sheer magic.
But as in all things Dion Fortune was not content to experience things at second hand. And in the Pentecost of 1926, walking with some friends on Glastonbury Tor, shortly after performing an invocation of the Element of Air apparently, they were all overtaken by a feeling of ecstasy - which set then whirling spontaneously in an impromptu dance. Then they saw a  friend rushing across the fields below, who raced up the hill to join in their revelry. In the whirling dance a repetitive chant seemed to beat through into consciousness, which they rendered into words, a kind of affirmative ritual, often used in later years as a means of stimulating Elemental contact and vitality.
The wind and the fire work on the hill –
            The wind and the fire work on the hill -
                        The wind and the fire work on the hill -
Evoke ye the wind and the fire.
The wind and the fire work on the hill -
            The wind and the fire work on the hill -
                        The wind and the fire work on the hill -
Trust ye the wind and the fire.
And as they later sat in their newly erected hut at the foot of the Tor one of the Masters under whom they worked explained that they had met a messenger from the Elemental kingdoms, and that this was no chance contact, but part of their development and training as a group.
He went on to say: “In the Elements is power if you dare to use it. And that is a thing we have always tried to teach you, that you must have Elemental power if you are going to do anything. Many people have the best of intentions but they have not got the Elemental power, and therefore their intentions are fruitless. That is why you have been given this house at the very centre of these forces. It is not for nothing that you came to the Tor and have built on the Tor. Not for nothing believe me. You will have your devotional aspect in the city. You will have your nature contacts here, but you will have your deeper wisdom contacts where earth and water meet.”
I find these latter sentiments quite intriguing. It is true that at their headquarters in London, together with their hermetic ritual working, they did have a focus for devotional mysticism open to the public on a Sunday morning that eventually became known as the Church of the Graal. Here they endeavoured to bring a direct mystical experience to those who attended, by evoking the presence of the Holy Graal, which was built up in the form of a chalice over the heads of the congregation by a band of acolytes trained in the techniques of magical visualisation and the descent of power. These meetings continued until the outbreak of war in 1939 when hostilities and restrictions on travel and public meetings made them impracticable.  
However, what is this we hear about this other place, and the “deeper wisdom contacts where earth and water meet”? My feeling is that here we have an indication of the line of work that blossomed into her foray into occult fiction and the most evocative of all her novels, The Sea Priestess.
This  takes us beyond Glastonbury to the surrounding countryside of the Somerset levels, and a ridge of land that forms the southern arm of the bay that contains Weston-super-Mare.
It was at the end of this promontory, called Bell Head in the novel, that the Sea Priestess built her Temple.
It is an evocative countryside both in fact and fiction. Bell Head exists in real life as Brean Down, a limestone peninsular one and a half miles long and a quarter of a mile wide, that juts from the coast of Somerset off the small stretch of shoreline that faces due west onto the deep Atlantic, without Ireland or the coasts of Wales or Devon and Cornwall getting in the way. It forms part of a ridge that makes up the local group of hills, knolls and tors that once were islands in an archipelago of which the Mendip Hills, Glastonbury Tor,  and the islands of Steep Holme and Flat Holme in the Bristol channel form a part.
Brean Down was owned by Glastonbury Abbey in medieval times, but is now in the care of the National Trust not least as a nature reserve. It contains traces of civilisation and worship that go back through Romano-Celtic to Bronze Age and Neolithic times. The ruined fort at its end, dating from the 1860`s as a defence against the French, was abandoned in 1900 although pressed into service again during the second world war, the buildings of which still stand.
Dion Fortune spent much of her schooldays at Weston and took the land into her consciousness to form the esoteric topography of the novel. Of the surrounding country described in the book, Bell Knowle may well be the very prominent Brent Knoll just off the modern M5 motorway, whilst Dickmouth compares closely with the seaside resort of Weston-super-Mare. And Dickford equates with the village of Axbridge, which sits on the River Axe, a river which Dion Fortune chose to call the Dick, as a play on the name Naradek – which is traditionally the river which ran by the City of the Golden Gates in ancient Atlantis.
It is in the context of this physical and legendary topography that the sea priestess and her acolyte weave their psychic visions which in turn form the channel for their magical work.
One lesson the novel teaches is the importance of creative fantasy. Whether such fantasy is objectively correct in all its historical or legendary details is less important than the pooled intention of the pair of them to believe in it. If faith can move mountains it should also be efficacious in the context of the green hills of Somerset.
This is the rationale behind the importance of a group being of one mind and in one place. And a group can be as little as two. This is the basis of magical polarity work, which is not a form of exotic sexual foreplay that prurient outsiders or naïve and lonely esoteric wannabes often assume it to be. Or wish that it was.
The imaginative pictures that most people spin in various circumstances of daily life are generally kaleidoscopic and evanescent, and so remain for the most part subjective. However, if others can be induced to share a steadily held vision, then mutual suggestion is added to autosuggestion, and a kind of oscillatory circuit may be set up, a form of psychic feed-back.
Then subjective imagery can take a quantum leap into a state of inner objectivity. In conventional esoteric terms, a form will have been built upon the astral ethers that can become the channel for occult or spiritual forces. The level and type of force depending upon the moral, ethical, and spiritual status of the participants, both inner and outer.
In the case of the sea priestess, Vivien Le Fay Morgan, and her assistant and trainee, Wilfred Maxwell, their shared vision, buttressed by some weeks of hard and demanding dedication and work, mental, imaginative, and physical, in building a fitting temple in a remote location, results in their increasing awareness of an inner plane presence, who is simply called in the book the Priest of the Moon.
Of this being, one of the characters says: “The Priest of the Moon had personality in a very marked degree, and if he was a product of my subconscious, I am proud of it. There were times, not infrequent, when I used to wonder what he was, and whether I was deluding myself, or whether I was loopy; but each time I met him afresh I knew what he was, beyond all doubting, and he left his mark on me.”
All this is in much  the same fashion that Dion Fortune and Thomas Loveday and their small circle of friends at Glastonbury made contact with their own inner priesthood, or masters of wisdom, and embarked upon the work that still goes on today, a couple of generations after its inception.
The intention behind the magic of the sea priestess and her inner plane contact, the Priest of the Moon, was nothing less than to tap, as a source of power, the inner tides of moon and the sea. This is why they were out there establishing a gateway between the planes upon this deserted headland. Nor is it for nothing that she went by the name of Vivien Le Fay Morgan, with its legendary and magical overtones.
Within the artistic licence of a popular novel, this apparent exhibitionism is an outward demonstration of the archetypal role playing and image making of an adept, rather than the superficial trappings of an esoteric poseur.
Although alas, she has perhaps provided a somewhat distorted role model for a number of misguided aspirants who may think that all that is necessary is to camp up and down in a long cloak and floppy hat. Terry Pratchett has described the type well in his novel Lords and Ladies.
If you would like to view the physical launch pad of Dion Fortune`s fictional and magical imagination, then a trek along the back of Brean Down is well worth the effort. Whether along the rough track of its spine, which was transformed into a sacred way in the novel, or via the old single track military road that leads along the northern side out to the fort.
Beyond the fort, with its moat and underground rooms, a rough pathway runs out to a little cabin, covered with sea weed, that once housed a searchlight. It retains an evocative resonance of the temple envisaged by the Sea Priestess, as it overlooks the dark line of rocks that extends into the sea where Wilfred Maxwell, one moonlit night, saw to his wonder and alarm the sea priestess, treading their shining and slippery surfaces, as the Atlantic rollers broke at her feet. There she raised her arms to the sky in the form of the horns of a crescent moon, to chant her evocation to Isis:
O Isis, veiled on earth, but shining clear
In the high heaven now the full moon draws near,
Hear the invoking words, hear and appear
Shaddai el Chai, and Ea, Binah, Ge.
I will say, that even now, viewed in broad daylight, that location has an ambience sufficient to bring you out in goose bumps! It still holds a certain magical ambience.
At least it did, the last time that I was there. Hopefully it has not been improved into a cafeteria or other tourist amenities by now. There is, however more to magic than going in search of atmospheres for a  bit of otherworldly frisson. What was it that the Sea Priestess was about?
In the book, Wilfred Maxwell is matured and empowered by the experience to throw off his previous emotional shackles of being an ineffectual wimp, hen pecked by his mother and elder sister. He marries one of the office girls, despite her being of a lower social class than his immediate female relations would like, and embarks upon a happy married life, in which he and Molly form and continue a contact with the Priest of the Moon. Thus their home, besides being a perfectly natural expression of human domesticity becomes also a hallowed place where the goddess is recognised and revered. No bad achievement in the nineteen thirties – even if we are still in the realms of fiction.
          For her part, the dedicated sea priestess moves her sphere of operations to London, where she sets up a temple in a disused church overlooking the south bank of the Thames - another place where earth and water meet, and embarks upon another magical operation, described at length in the ensuing novel Moon Magic.
Here again her mode of working consists of polarity magic, this time with a very different neophyte of her choosing, who once again benefits personally from the experience by coming to terms with his repressed emotional nature. 
Once more there is a certain connection between fictional and factual life, in that at about this time Dion Fortune was herself operating from an old former Presbyterian church, known as the Belfry. Although it was not actually located on the water front, but anyway within a mile of it, to south and east, as the Thames curves around Westminster and Belgravia.
Here she celebrated semi-public performances of the Rite of Isis, parts of which are quoted in both Moon Magic and The Sea Priestess. And also, it would seem, to keep the balance right, the Rite of Pan that features in her earlier novel The Goat-foot God.  
Much of this work she had developed intuitionally but at about this time she began to formulate an intellectual background for it after meeting up with Bernard Bromage, a University of London academic who was running a course of extension lectures on occultism in literature. She became one of his best students and together they set up a series of public meetings with literary celebrities of the day discussing the merits of occultism in general. At the same time Bromage had been researching elements of eastern religion and mysticism, and through him she was able to borrow translations of texts on tantrik yoga which enabled her to formulate a series of articles entitled The Circuit of Force.  She just had time to publish these in her magazine before war broke out and brought an end to all that had gone before.
One of the first tasks I embarked upon when invited to go through Dion Fortune`s papers with a view to rescuing anything that was worth publishing, was indeed to issue The Circuit of Force, through Thoth Publications. Again, I have heard this work described, most bizarrely, and by those who ought to know better, as “a most dangerous book”. Danger, like evil, or beauty, or any other emotive power source, is often in the eye of the beholder. But as far as Dion Fortune was concerned, the principle of polarity, or the Circuit of Force, was “one of the lost secrets of western occultism.”
Therefore it much pleased me when two former students of mine, Wendy Berg and Mike Harris, recently published a book of their own, precisely with the title Polarity Magic.
 It moves things along considerably from Dion Fortune`s early The Esoteric Philosophy of Love and Marriage, in the 1920`s, which so upset Moina Macgregor Mathers for its explicitness, although which now, it must be said, seems rather quaint. But is an example of how the torch is passed along from one generation to another, and how the esoteric tradition is an evolving entity with insights that move in step with the realisations and attitudes of society at large.
          It is to a larger and wider context that I would however now seek to draw your attention. Beyond the personal, or microcosmic view of magical dynamics, to the general, or macrocosmic view of human life in the world. For we are all bound up in this together. No one is on a magic island divorced from general human problems or general human responsibility. So although there is an important element in the personal approach to Isis, it is also important to realise just what is implied in the wider vision of the goddess Isis.
As Dion Fortune saw her, she is a power that is veiled on Earth by the luminous garment of nature, but who can be imagined, unveiled, in the heavens, in the radiance of the moon`s reflected light. Thus is Isis appropriately evoked by the sea priestess at the time of the full moon. Yet she is not specifically identified with the moon, but with the entire divine feminine principle, which can be evoked under a variety of names, associated with the heavens, with the earth itself, or with the sea.
Isis Veiled is Our Lady of Nature. Isis Unveiled is the Heavenly Isis. Ea is the soul of space and parent of time. Ge, or Gaia,  is the magnetic earth that forms an aura about the physical planet. Binah is the Great Sea of the Qabalah from whence all spiritual life arose. And beyond that the Limitless Light of the Uncreate Realities from whence all creation springs.
 So it is more than personal polarity magic that is being evoked.
Let us go back to the early days of Dion Fortune`s work, at Glastonbury. Before she had even set up her chalets on the Tor, and was staying either at Alice Buckton`s guest house at Chalice Well or else renting an old farmhouse in Chilkwell Street. This was a series of metaphysical teachings that came to be known as The Cosmic Doctrine.
This was quite demanding stuff, not at all easy to understand. So much so that it was generally referred to as being “designed to train the mind rather than to inform it”. However, it contained a number of insights that proved to be of considerable importance once their significance was realised. And perhaps the one of most immediate importance is the concept of the Planetary Being – although it was called Planetary Spirit in the original script – a term later changed because the being involved is not so much spirit, in the sense of living up there on Cloud Nine, but very much closer to our business and bosoms, being the physical and etheric globe upon which we all currently live, and move and have our being.
It came to be realised that we owe a considerable debt to this Being, and indeed have a responsibility towards it – which if ignored might very well hold karmic consequences, to use an eastern metaphysical concept, that would be dire indeed.
This has but comparatively lately been taken at all seriously by the world at large. And that thanks largely to a scientist, an environmentalist by the name of James Lovelock, who thirty years ago, conceived the idea that the planet is special in a way no-one has hitherto realised. That it is indeed a great super-organism that regulates itself chemically and atmospherically to keep itself fit to bear life. That it is, to all intents and purposes, a living being itself.
He did not call it the Planetary Being, but being a scientist, preferred the term, “biocybernetic universal system tendency.” It was left to a literary neighbour, the novelist William Golding, to come up with a more preferable name – Gaia – after the Greek goddess of the Earth. She whom Dion Fortune`s sea priestess sung of as Ge.
Well I am sure we are all aware of the resultant controversy that blows about our heads in the increasing concern about global warming and all the rest of it – but this is simply the most materialist outlook and concern with it, looking entirely on the outside of things. What is the outlook and concern of the esoteric world? Which includes you and me. Surely we should be able to contribute something, not only in perception but in some form of action – with our knowledge and belief in the inside of things?
Not least of which is that we are not the only inhabitants of the globe, but that we share it. Not only with the animal kingdom, but with many and various elemental beings, from the lordly ones in the hollow hills to the lesser beings who are intimately concerned with the organic functioning of mineral, plant, animal and indeed human life.
The need for this is not new. And we owe it to a contemporary and fellow student of ours, R.J.Stewart, who used to live in these parts, and was particularly well known for his researches into the inner side of the ancient waters of Bath. Indeed some of us remember well a series of workshops and various workings in a temple above his flat, just across the road from the baths, that are now a neo-Regency tourist attraction, but once a temple of Sulis-Minerva and of more ancient mysteries beyond that, going back to the mysterious King Bladud.
The concept he proposes is known as the Triune or Three-fold Alliance – which is between the human, the animal and the faery kingdoms.
This is no mere contemporary fad dreamed up out of his own head. This crisis has been seen coming for some time now, and he quotes extensively from an 18th century document in his possession, which you can read for yourselves in two of his books The Living World of Faery, and Power Within the Land, which, along with both his earlier and more recent work, seek a working relationship between humans and the spiritual forces of the land or region in which they live. Within these spiritual forces are included the animal as well as the elemental.
This is why I have felt it important to draw your attention to the land round about us here, and particularly in relation to Dion Fortune who did a great deal of practical import here within your own backyard.
For all this challenges us in many different ways. It is not enough to confine our interest in these matters to a safe and purely intellectual level. It calls upon us not only to “believe in” faeries, but to understand who and what they are, where they come from, where they are going, and what our mutual relationship with them may be.
It makes similar demands on us to think about how we relate to the animal kingdom, for the patience and suffering of the animal kingdom needs to come through to our awareness loud and clear. It  requires us to open our minds to areas we are not accustomed to explore; to open doors of consciousness which have remained shut for a very long time.
The faery and elemental forces are the only true inner expression of the natural world, since much of scientific thinking remains detached, mechanical and Newtonian. The human majority are conditioned by the familiarity of everyday perception and see nothing to be wondered at in the constant sustaining of the entire universe second by second and day by day, from the stars down to the tiniest atomic infrastructure.
So we should rouse ourselves and reach out to our companions on this planetary globe. Make ourselves known to these beings who are part of the evolution of the inner Earth in high or low degree. Seek out what lies within these parallel worlds behind appearances. And in particular the hidden evolutionary expression of the faery world that is often concealed behind the curtains of myth and fantasy.
This challenging relationship to the world of faery is real enough to those who may have experienced it, but has been sadly misrepresented. Despite the witness of seers from Thomas the Rhymer, and Robert Kirk, to Evans-Wentz, W.B.Yeats and George Russell, it remains a fragmented and misunderstood corpus of legend and folklore. Even condemned as demonic by religious authority.
And in some respects this may be understandable. Even Terry Pratchett`s young witches discovered it was possible to get the wrong side of a stroppy elf queen. Although the hidden lesson here is that they made that kind of contact because it was a reflection of their own stroppy adolescent hubris. The inner worlds can be very reflective of our own attitudes. Which is why dedication and pure motive are all important.
There are many types of faeries. Just as there are many types of animal species, and ethnic variations of the human race. And there may well be some who have little love for human beings – and not without just cause.
However, the general concensus from a more cooperative part of the faery host is that time is running short for this kind of work; that they are affected by our neglect of them, and that we emasculate them with our notions of prettiness and “airy fairy”. That element of human whimsy and sentimentality that sees them all gossamer wings and frilly knickers.
However, there is a general resurgence of awareness of the existence of this kingdom, in various forms. We see it evident in the imaginative response to the works of Tolkien, a somewhat cantankerous Oxford don who decided to sit down and write his own mythology, just for his own satisfaction, and ended up, albeit posthumously, stirring the imagination of a new generation with his tales of elven kingdoms. Not that all Tolkien wrote should be taken as literal truth, but he dug deep in mining his fantasy, and has presented a painted curtain behind which breathes a true elven reality. As may be apparent by close reading of his essay On Faery Stories  or his short faery tale Smith of Wooton Major.
The theme of a threefold alliance of human, animal and faery seems also evident in the filming and popular reception of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by his friend C.S.Lewis. Whether or not you choose to accept any element of Christian allegory within his work, it nonetheless depicts a joint communication and cooperation between human, animal and faery against devolutionary forces.
There are also more specialist works available for those who seek to pursue these lines. One, recently published, that comes to mind is by John Matthews, entitled The Sidhe – Wisdom from the Celtic Otherworld. It is an account of a contact with what would appear to be a representative of  one of the Lordly Ones at an Irish archeological site, a Neolithic barrow, on a trip which turned out to be the most exciting journey of his life.
It may be that John has psychic gifts a little beyond the ordinary, but the gist of the message he received was that work of this nature does not require any especial psychic gifts, or the organisational requirements of formal ritual, but is simply a matter of attitude, or what William Blake might have  called “cleansing the doors of perception.”
I quote from a key passage of what he received, in relation to a view of the sidhe as to how the human race were falling short.
“You would be better to see yourselves as allies of creation rather than its rulers. By choosing to work in harmony with the natural world – as once all living things did – you could still redress the balance.
“If your life brushes against that of another creature you feel something. If you take the life of another creature you feel something. It is no great step to extend this to feeling something when you touch a rock or a tree, when you feel the energy of a river or the sea.
“Many feel these things, yet your race continually shut out these feelings. Just as you attach devices to your horses so that they can see only ahead, so you have done to yourselves, limiting your vision until  you can see nothing save that which is before you. Only when you learn to remove the guards will you experience true vision. You must seek to become reconnected to everything, end the separation you have created for yourselves.
“There are many things you can do to bring about a re-connection. Begin by noticing the world around you. By truly looking. By seeing past the surface of things to the level of Spirit.
“At the moment when you go out into nature you see only the surface of things. Trees, grass, water, plants. Yet the reality of these things is far greater. Once you knew this. You can discover it again if you truly wish. Next time  you are outside look around you. Try to see beyond the surface into the true nature of things you see. Though you may find it difficult to do so at first, in time you will begin to see more. If you continue far enough and deeply enough you will even begin to communicate with the spirit within the things you are observing. In truth you will cease to be observers at all and become part of the thing you are looking at.
“This is what the ancient bards of this land meant when they spoke of having `been` a thing. This was more than a poetic image, but a very real truth. To truly know a thing is to become one with it. Just as to become one with it is to truly know it.
“When you do this you will begin to understand the true nature of things, and of your own relationship to them. Perhaps then, when plants and rocks and animals are no longer soulless things, you will cease to treat them as such, cease to take them and use them as you have now for so many of your ages. If you are truly ready to enter a new era then you must discover how to make such changes to the way you view things. Only when you have done so will you be truly liberated from the narrow place in which you have put yourselves.
“At present you are just as much prisoners as if you were truly locked up within stone walls. The walls of your prison are not ones that you can see with your eyes, but they can still be recognised.”
It seems to me that this may well be true of the great majority of the human race, although I venture to think that it may be less true of those of us who are assembled here. The very fact that we are present here demonstrates that we realise that there is something more to life than the surface illusion – hard, brash and self-sufficient though that surface illusion might appear.
Thus it is with a certain degree of puzzlement, mixed with sympathy, that I read within the pages of Quest sometimes, the plight of those who feel they follow a path alone. Believe me, you are never less alone than when you think you are alone. You simply have to reach out. Have faith and be aware. And prepare to be surprised.
So I suggest you could do yourselves and others a favour by going forth to tread the land that Dion Fortune trod with your senses open to what you may discover. And I conclude with the comments that David Carstairs, one of her contacts, made to her in 1923.
“You should make a practice, when the occasion offers, of getting into touch with the elements and the Nature Spirits, you`ll find it a very enjoyable process. They quicken the vitality and the perceptions and the sense of enjoyment. They quicken the `animal` in you of course, but as long as it`s a healthy animal and properly broken in you`ll be none the worse for that.
“You do it by going to the appointed place at the appointed time and sympathising with them – that is to say, feeling with them. You want to practice in getting the feel of a place and analysing it.
“You`ll find it consists of several layers. There will be a layer of human associations on the surface, then below that you will get the animal or the natural life that lived there, and below that the trees and the sub-tones of the plants – herbaceous stuff that dies to the roots each year – and below that again you`ll get the elements themselves, and you want to train your ear so that you can hear the different themes and pick them out and listen to them.”
And so these words I leave you to ponder, in the hope that they inspire you, as they did Dion Fortune, with the urge for diligent travelling, imaginative courage, and fruitful listening. 
Recommended books
Gareth Knight: Dion Fortune & the Inner Light (Thoth Publications)
Dion Fortune & Gareth Knight: An Introduction to Ritual Magic (Thoth Publications)
Dion Fortune & Gareth Knight: The Circuit of Force (Thoth Publications)
Dion Fortune & Gareth Knight: Dion Fortune’s Magical Battle of Britain (Skylight Press)
Dion Fortune & Gareth Knight: Dion Fortune’s Rites of Isis and of Pan (Skylight Press)