Dion Fortune: Spiritual Teacher and Visionary Fiction Writer, Part 2 – by Theresa Crater

(You can read Part 1 of Theresa Crater’s series on Visionary Fiction author Dion Fortune here.)

“He thought less of death than most people think of emigration; in fact, he seemed to regard it in exactly that light.”

 

TavernerIn The Secrets of Dr. Taverner, Dion Fortune’s short story collection featuring the magical adept and psychiatrist by the same name, we met many interesting characters in the throes of mental crisis that have a spiritual cause, or the families of seekers who want to throw their relative who is not behaving according to social norms into an asylum so they can take control of their money. It makes for delightful reading. I can attest to that. I was going to thumb through the book to refresh my memory because I am quite busy these days with my own writing and teaching, but from the first story, I couldn’t stop reading.

Fortune explains in her preface that the character of Dr. Taverner is based on the real-life Dr. Moriarty, with whom she studied analysis and most likely magic. She says, “To ‘Dr. Taverner’ I owe the greatest debt of my life; without ‘Dr. Taverner’ there would have been no ‘Dion Fortune,’ and to him I offer the tribute of these pages.”

The nursing home depicted, where all manner of magical events occur, was a real place. I’m sure out there in the magical world there are people who could tell us stories about this man and the place. Sometimes one has to suffer a certain amount of smugness to extract such stories (not always), but it’s always well worth it. Fortune also claims … Continue reading

The Delicate Balance in Visionary Fiction – by Rea Nolan Martin

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Editor’s note: One of our Visionary Fiction Alliance founding members, Margaret Duarte, wrote a review of Rea Martin Nolan’s latest book, Mystic Tea. You can read the review here. We were so pleased with how Rea represented Visionary Fiction that we asked her to share her perspective on what is important in writing Visionary Fiction, and how she goes about writing it. Here is Rea’s insightful response.

Visionary fiction is a delicate matter requiring a mastery of creative and technical balance. Unlike Fantasy, which generally takes place entirely in realms of the authors invention, Visionary Fiction is best told in the firmament of human physical and emotional experience. For me, at least, the goal is not to write exclusively for mystics, but for readers in the process of awakening. This requires an accessible entry point with opening scenes steeped in familiar culture, grounded in temporal human experience.

Since Visionary Fiction bears witness and insight into expanded awareness, the question then is how to balance the story structure. I have been writing what is now known as Visionary Fiction for twenty years. In my short stories, first two novels, and the third novel, The Anesthesia Gamewhich will debut this year, I maintain a similar ratio of concrete to mystical of about 2:1. Of course (being visionary) I didn’t craft this ratio consciously. However, looking back, I see what I’ve done time and again. This ratio has been so successful for me because it grounds the reader firmly in the third dimension before introducing any significant mystical or esoteric scenes. By the time the story launches into the mystical, the reader … Continue reading

Dion Fortune: Spiritual Teacher and Visionary Fiction Writer, Part 1 – by Theresa Crater

Many people are familiar with Dion Fortune as a spiritual teacher in the Western Metaphysical Tradition, the founder of Fraternity of the Inner Light (later re-named the Society of the Inner Light). She was born Violet Mary Firth in Wales in December of 1890.

Dion Fortune showed psychic abilities as a child, and later reported a life in Atlantis as a priestess. She became interested in the occult when studying with a Freudian lay analyst. She pursued both esoteric and psychiatric study in her life, joining the Golden Dawn when she moved to London, then beginning her own group at the foot of Glastonbury Tor in 1924. Before leaving the Golden Dawn, Fortune studied psychiatry with Dr. Moriarty (it looks like Arthur Conan Doyle may have known him, too). She wrote many nonfiction titles on magic and occultism; many have become standard references in the serious study of esotericism. She wrote under the pseudonym Dion Fortune, most likely taken from her family moto Deo Non Fortuna, ‘God not luck’. She is buried in Glastonbury, England.

sea priestessTwo of Fortune’s novels focus on tantric ritual or sacred sexuality, The Sea Priestess (1935) and Moon Magic (1956). Some claim that Fortune included spiritual principles in her novels that were too secret to be published in her nonfiction, and perhaps it was this sexual content that the time period could not handle being discussed more openly.

However, the head of her branch of the Golden Dawn, Moina Mathers, objected strenuously to Fortune’s writing at first, fearing she was sharing secrets not meant for the general public. In her fiction, it seems Fortune wanted to … Continue reading

Fiction’s Battle for Acceptance in Islam, as Metaphor for Visionary Fiction: Part Two

Part Two

You can view Part One of this intriguing exploration by guest author Stephen Weinstock here.

In Part One, I outlined the parallels between Arabic fiction’s uphill battle for acceptance in the first centuries of Islam. I believe the criticism and slow acceptance of Visionary Fiction goes back to the same kind of interdiction against fiction that occurred at the start of Islam. To state a truth that is spiritual, religious, or transcendent in non-fiction is relatively acceptable, but when you attempt to express that truth using fictional characters, imaginative worlds, and intricate story lines, you risk cheapening or corrupting the statement. I worry about this impurity in my series 1001: The Reincarnation Chronicles, because I use humor, the banality of suburban life, and the characters’ foibles to make past life experiences more palatable. But does lightening the message water it down?

Inversely, infusing an accepted genre like science fiction, fantasy, or romance with a strong spiritual statement has been frowned upon for corrupting the intrinsic experience of those forms. Yet this was key to greater acceptance of both Arabic and Visionary fiction. The fantastical or ribald elements of the stories in Kalila wa Dimna or the maqamat derived from the popular culture of street storytellers. The Thousand and One Nights also had its origins in popular bedtime or ‘Night tales’ from ancient India and Persia, and it came out of the oral transmission of the marketplace as much as the literary manuscripts of the court. On top of this popular culture foundation, the court added an Islamic layer, where Scheherazade tells her stories to redeem the King’s monstrous behavior, to use stories as ethical and religious examples. Still, to this day, some Arabic scholars repudiate the Nights as literature because of its popular … Continue reading

Fantasy, Spiritual, or Visionary Fiction

Editor’s Note: We are happy to offer popular and respected Visionary Fiction author Peggy Payne’s latest thoughts on Visionary Fiction and the novels she writes.

Peggy Payne speaking

Last night, as guest speaker at a book club in Holly Springs, North Carolina, I talked my way to a new understanding of what kind of novel I’m in the midst of writing.

My two-thirds-written story is one that many readers would consider a fantasy, because a couple of the characters are spirits from what is known as the astral plane.

However, I’ve never thought of myself as a fantasy writer. I like to write and read realistic plausible fiction about the supernatural: spiritual/religious experience as the leading example. My three published novels, all on spiritual matters, likely fall into this category that I am learning to call Visionary Fiction.

My first, Revelation, is about a liberal intellectual minister who began hearing God talking out loud in English, though he had never believed in that sort of thing. This story is not fantasy. It’s spiritual experience. It could happen. It does happen.

Sister India is about an American innkeeper in a Hindu holy city, with scenes that, as in my other novels, focus on the intersection of sex and spirituality. There are moments that are other-worldly, extra-sensory, but not impossible.

Most recently Cobalt Blue is about a woman who has a spontaneous and disruptive spiritual experience, the rising of life force energy in her that some religions call kundalini. The story also involves a respectful treatment of voodoo. This book travels in the realm of belief — beliefs … Continue reading

The Importance of Vision in Fiction

Visionary fiction is a category of fiction that brings a strong vision of the world, points a way forward through tough times. When fiction is billed as visionary it seems to elicit excitement or groans. Bestsellers or flops. And this is usually because it is so easy for visionary fiction to stray into preachiness and soapboxing. But most fiction that catches on to become a hit actually is visionary in some way, such as the way dystopic YA lit helps people explore a destroyed world, fulfilling an important function in our troubled society. I would go so far as to say that all good fiction is visionary.

Vision of a Fictional World

Visionary FictionMy fiction is shelved as speculative supernatural or high-concept fantasy, and has been compared to fantasy sci-fi authors Ursula K. Le Guin and Ray Bradbury. But it has a distinctly spiritual flavor because of its cosmological speculative elements about how the world might be knit together—portals between worlds, visions of what kinds of fantastic beings might be out there, that kind of thing. Even though I never aim to tell people what to think with my fiction, I did realize after a lot of reading and writing that I don’t like stories that don’t have some kind of depth to them, emotionally, spiritually, even intellectually. I now believe that the vision of a fictional world, or of its author, is one of the most important components in a great novel, though it often works best when it is behind the scenes, woven into the story where you can’t see the threads.

How can writers impart vision to their fiction? I think you do it by following your heart. Whatever is deep inside you, whatever is really important to … Continue reading

Visionary Fiction: An Act of Love

Guest Post by Alissa Lukara

The Transformational Writers website, like the Visional Fiction Alliance, arose out of my calling to provide a place of support and exploration for writers who aim to explore the evolution of consciousness, alternative realities and write stories that make a positive difference.

I wanted to create a haven for visionary writers who were taking the deep dive into the waters of transformation by offering them one on one mentoring, a blog on transformational writing, online and local classes, and individual and group retreats.

Why? On a selfish level, I want to read more books like that.

I  also believe that we as a reading public need stories that show us how people transform –  stories that can literally shift a reader’s consciousness as they accompany the main character on a heart and soul-opening journey to embrace authentic power and dive into new and alternative realities and expanded states of awareness.  Visionary Fiction and Memoir lets readers know that we can traverse a passage through the fire of change into a new way of being and a deepened understanding of the love and spirit at our core.

One key to the transformational experience inherent in Visionary Fiction is that while the stories seem to be about extraordinary events, what happens in these books is possible, even probable. While the fantasy genre might take us to imaginary worlds, the consciousness presented in Visionary Fiction resonates for many of us as if it could occur today.

The books may not convey traditional three-dimensional “possible.” However, in the multi-dimensional world I believe we are all being called to acknowledge and embody, the spiritual and alternative realities Visionary Fiction writers convey in their stories are as real as any 3D reality.  If we’re honest, for many visionary authors, it’s … Continue reading

Revealing the Magical

MagicalToday’s post, Revealing the Magical, concludes last week’s post, The Visionary Perspective, in which I attempt to distinguish between the genres of visionary fiction and magical realism—how they differ and where they may overlap.

Magical Realism

The genre of magical realism blends the supernatural or what is typically unseen by human consciousness with the natural and familiar world by using the existence of fantasy elements in the real world. This is not done by inventing new worlds as fantasy books do, but in revealing the magical in this world.

The magical is a common and ordinary occurrence in my book, The Lioness of Brumley Hall, and harnessing these magical elements is one of its key themes. Political critique is often a main focus or subtext used to challenge the reality of established viewpoints. Cultural clashes are part of this critique. The Lioness does this by briefly highlighting the political/cultural clashes between China and Tibet and accessing the Celtic mythology of the Faerie.

Magical realism may meld the unseen and visible realities together but this does not necessarily lead to a more evolved transformative consciousness or understanding of our true reality of an integrated Universal holism.

Magical realists take for granted that we live within both worlds as an integrated reality but the focus for magical realists is to challenge existing consensual physical reality, not transcend it per se.

One of the main lesson my grandmother character teaches her grandchildren is that magic does not necessarily make one more conscious and aware which connects magical realism with the necessity of an evolving consciousness to reach a more in tune … Continue reading

The Visionary Perspective

The Visionary Perspective

I suspect many of you, like me, struggle to define visionary fiction, not to mention how it differs from magical realism.

In today’s post, The Visionary Perspective, and next week’s post, Revealing the Magical, I will make an attempt to distinguish between the two genres—how they differ and where they may overlap.

An Accurate Place to Land

For me, an integration of visionary metaphysical and magical realism seems to be the most accurate place to land—a combination of the embrace of esoteric wisdom emphasizing the human transformative capacity and the hidden mystery of the magical elements breaking through into ordinary “real” life.

This type of fiction, according to Italian writer, Massimo Bontempelli, attempts to change the collective consciousness by “opening new mythical and magical perspectives on reality”.

The Unseen Within the Visible

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Visionary Fiction Through The Lens of Perception

If you’ve followed recent posts at VFA, you’re aware of the ongoing discussion about what distinguishes visionary fiction from other genres listed under the umbrella of speculative fiction, including sci-fi and metaphysical.

Although our internal deliberations and debates have led to some interesting revelations and “ah ha” moments, I figured it was time to invite in an outside source to shine fresh light on the enduring conundrum.

Enter publisher, writer, editor, and lecturer Hal Zina Bennett.

The Puzzle of Visionary Fiction

Visionary Fiction and The Lens of PerceptionI contacted Hal Zina Bennett because he contemplated the rise of visionary fiction as a new book category as far back as 2002, and I haven’t yet found anyone who’s come close to addressing the genre with such expertise (though he doesn’t lay claim to that distinction).

As he says in a previous post at VFA, The Puzzle of Visionary Fiction: “I think I have some understanding of spiritual non-fiction, and have written one moderately successful ‘visionary fiction’ novel, but sometimes I’m not sure I really ‘get’ visionary fiction at all.”

That post was written over a year ago, and, since the “puzzle of visionary fiction” is still missing some key pieces, I called upon—or should I say pestered?—Mr. Bennett again, hoping that during the interim he had located a few of those elusive shape-shifting dodgers.

The Lens of Perception

Visionary Fiction and The Lens of PerceptionWhat follows is Mr. Bennett’s response to my “visionary” query:

The too obvious answer to your last post/email may be that visionary fiction like beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

Folk stories, specifically stories I’m familiar with from the Zuni and Hopi story tellers, easily mix spiritual visions, fantasy, magic, and everyday reality. Is that visionary fiction?  

Well, here’s the long explanation: A young Hopi woman, in her 20s or early 30s, I guessed, came up to … Continue reading