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.
Two 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 give us the feel of a ritual rather than an intellectual understanding of one. The novels involve a ritual which is slowly built up to, allowing energy and magnetism to gather around the event. There is usually a neophyte who is being taught along with the reader.
Moon Magic is one of Dion’s novels about sacred sexual ritual. The main character of Moon Magic is again Vivien or Lilith Le Fay as she calls herself in this text. Fortune claims this character “would not lie quiet in her grave,” so she was forced by psychic pressure, so to speak, to write another novel.
In this novel, Lilith/Vivien builds another temple, this one in an abandoned church next to the river Thames where the river is influenced by the ebb and flood of the sea. She meets another man, Malcolm in this case, who is emotionally repressed and trapped in a dead marriage with an invalid. He has become a workaholic as a result. Vivien, who in this novel claims to have discovered the elixir of life and to be 120 years old, begins to work on Malcolm in a similar way that she worked on Wilfred, allowing energy and magnetism to build for their subsequent ritual.
In both these novels, the couple performs the “Great Marriage,” an act of sexual magic that reinvigorates both the feminine and masculine principles in themselves and their society. In both, it is the priestess who is the competent magician and the man who is trapped inside conventional society and world views. She leads him forward and in so doing saves him and invigorates the world.
Fortune says in the preface, “One might even say that the writing of it was a magical act.” She warns it might not be very entertaining. She also claims in the preface, which she titles “Preliminary Considerations,” that the book “contains . . . an amount of very odd lore, much of which I did not know anything about until I read it in these pages.” This statement is quite suggestive that her writing method involved a great deal of unconscious and superconscious activity. To read more about Dion Fortune, go to this page of the Servants of the Light website, which I have largely used as the source for this article. There is a lot out there about her out on the web, but the SOL continues the school she began. The next parts of this post will consider her other works of Visionary Fiction.