The Goat Foot God by Dion Fortune – A Visionary Fiction Alliance Book Review by Theresa Crater

Paston fastens on a book about the Eleusinian Mysteries and takes it into his head to evoke Pan. Jelkes is the shop keeper, of course, an adept, who guides him along. Understanding Paston cannot be stopped, Jelkes undertakes his instruction. Paston has become fascinated by some books that might be dangerous to him, as Alex Sumner puts it in his article about Fortune’s fiction, Là-Bas and À Rebours by J K Huysmans; The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola; On the Mysteries by Iamblichus; and something that Fortune coyly refers to as “four tattered, dog-eared, paper-backed volumes on magic spelled with a K”. That last can only be Crowley, who also bears some resemblance to the dark magician in The Winged Bull.

In Dion Fortune’s The Winged Bull, we have the practical earthy man, full of common sense, who mated with the ethereal, spiritual woman. In the Goat Foot God, the flighty, ethereal one is the man, who is in shock. His wife has been killed in a car accident, and in the car with her was her lover. Not only does Hugh Paston lose his wife, he loses his illusions all at once. Paston rambles through the streets of his neighborhood, “accidentally” wandering into an antiquarian bookstore. Because of his emotional state, he is near to the unseen forces and an open invitation for spiritual mischief.

Jelkes introduces Paston to Mona Wilton, an artist, so here we have a doubly flighty couple. Paston buys an old monastery he just “happens across” where he begins to find a place for his evocation of Pan. Of course, it can’t be that simple. He discovers hidden manuscripts, also about evoking Pan, and the story of a 15th-century prior who was walled up for—guess what? Doing rituals to evoke Pan. And guess who Paston turns out to be? These novels are all full of wonderful teachings about spirituality, proper use of psychic abilities, and effective ritual work. You’re going to enjoy them as much as I did. If read along with her instructional books on magic and the Qabalah, you will then have the keys to the Temple in your hand. At least, that’s what Dion Fortune said.

P.S., I’ve heard Fortune wrote other more conventional novels under a different pen name. I intend to go searching for that reference, but if you know what they are, please do tell.

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