Looking through the notes I compiled when I was writing Dion Fortune and the Inner Light back in 1999 I realise that the chalet at Chalice Orchard I recently referred to as the Shrine was in fact called the Sanctuary. But no doubt, as the saying goes, a rose by any other name will smell as sweet! And such a place played an important part in her work.
Dion Fortune and Thomas Loveday acquired Chalice Orchard in 1924. Up to then they had no headquarters of their own at Glastonbury, and most of the work performed so far had been either at Alice Buckton’s guest house at Chalice Well or in an old farm house in Chalkwell Street. (It was here that Dion Fortune experienced her celebrated vision of a salamander after a fiery accident with an oil lamp!)
The Fraternity of the Inner Light was formally founded in 1927, along with the Inner Light Magazine, although the first mention of Chalice Orchard by Dion Fortune is in the May 1927 issue of The Transactions of the Christian Mystic Lodge of the Theosophical Society (of which she happened to be president for a brief period) . She wrote:
“We are betraying no secret of the Mysteries if we remind our readers that ‘the holiest earth in England’ is Glastonbury. The veil is very thin there, and no sensitive soul that makes the Glastonbury pilgrimage returns as it went. It is for this reason that a pilgrimage centre has been founded there, and those who seek the hidden side of things may go thither and meet others like-minded to themselves.
“When the power-tides are flowing it is very necessary that all should be ‘of one mind in one place’ if the power is to be brought through in its strength. The critic and scoffer close the doors of the soul and the angel of the threshold turns back as he is about to enter the guest chamber. Only where knowledge and dedication have control of the conditions can the mental atmosphere be made that is necessary for the manifesting of the power-tides upon the physical plane.
“In the Chalice Orchard Club we have made a centre where these conditions can be maintained, and we cordially invite all those who seek the door into the Unseen to come to us there and share with us the wonderful atmosphere of the Isle of Avalon untainted by scepticism and heedlessness. In the old apple orchard high upon the shoulder of the Tor stands a little wooden building dedicated to the service of the Masters and the opening of the soul. All who seek that opening are welcome.
“Here will be found a realisation that the two aspects of force, spiritual and elemental, are necessary to the completion of life. Some parts of Glastonbury, such as the Abbey, are purely spiritual; other aspects, such as the Tor, are purely pagan. Under the apple trees in Chalice Orchard, we seek the realisation and harmonisation of both; the spiritual aspects bringing inspiration and devotion; the pagan aspects bringing joy, power and beauty.
“I may not tell the seasons of pagan power, but the Christian Path has no secrets, and we invite all who seek the Graal to come to join us at Chalice Orchard for the great Christian festivals, and especially for the one that now draws near, the glorious feast of Pentecost. High up above the green water-meadows on the shoulder of the Tor, looking out across the Severn estuary to the hills of Wales, a low wooden house hides among the apple trees. Its doors stand open to all who seek the Way across the Threshold by the Western Gate.”
The chalet called ‘the Sanctuary’ was erected in 1932, following an appeal for funds.
“We want to establish at Chalice Orchard a sanctuary for meditation and practical occult work, and we ask all those who are interested in our Centre there if they will contribute to the fund we have opened for that purpose.
“Glastonbury is essentially a place of pilgrimage. No one who visits it can fail to realise its strong spiritual atmosphere. We feel that it would be of very great value to have there a quiet place set apart for prayer and meditation, where those who desire to do so may enter into the silence.
“We are therefore asking all those who realise the significance of Glastonbury and who have felt the inspiration of its influence, and especially those who know and love the little hostel in its sheltered garden, to contribute to this fund in order that we may make a sanctuary and keep a perpetual light upon its altar.”
The importance that Dion Fortune laid upon a Sanctuary is revealed in comments from one of her inner contacts about the one they established at their London headquarters.
“You must maintain very carefully the sanctity and isolation of this home. It is for that reason that you are isolating your Sanctuary, and great power will concentrate there. Keep the lights dim there, and allow nothing to disturb it.
“It is well for you to accustom yourselves to this means of communication. It is perfectly normal. I am just as much alive as you are. You must learn to accustom yourselves to the idea that man is consciousness, not a vehicle, and then there will be nothing strange to you in the idea of contacting consciousness. It is one of the chief bases of occult work that the imagination takes the initial step. Faith is the basis of all things. If you have faith, determination, and courage, you can achieve anything. It depends on no one but you.
“There is more power in meditating in silence, but you should invoke aloud. By invoking aloud you give rise to certain vibrations, which have an important effect because they have their correlation with the subtler planes. You invoke aloud in order to bring through from the subtler planes to the physical, but when you meditate you aim to go to the subtler planes.
“It is so much easier to go on to the subtler planes than you realise. First you imagine yourself to be there, and then you will yourself to be there. People usually reverse the process. It is necessary to make the form before you pour in the force. You do it now to a greater extent than you realise – you are functioning on two planes, you have more vision than you bring through to conscious consciousness.” (cf. Dion Fortune & the Inner Light pp. 96-97 – Thoth Publications, 2000).
As regards further details of such form building see also my own Magical Images and the Magical Imagination (now also available as an e-book) or indeed Dion Fortune’s Magical Battle of Britain, the editing of which in 1993 brought through some very live contacts to me, that resulted in The Abbey Papers, a very comprehensive demonstration of form building for a variety of purposes as seen from the other side. (All Skylight Press).