Merry we meet - Merry we meet - Merry we meet
Pagan Pioneers: Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others
Written and compiled by George Knowles
Behind the shadows of Gerald B. Gardner lurks Dion Fortune. Unappreciated during her own time she was perhaps his lesser-known equal, working quietly behind the scenes she developed her own tradition and was unconcerned with the need for publicity. Dion was a respected psychiatrist, occultist and author who approached magick and hermetic concepts from the perspectives of Jung and Freud. She was a prolific occult writer of novels and non-fiction books, an adept in ceremonial magick and a pioneer psychiatrist on religious thought in occultism.
Dion was the daughter of a solicitor and born “Violet Mary Firth” on the 6th January 1890 in Bryn-y-Bia, Llandudno, Wales. She showed mediumistic abilities at an early age and was reputed to have had visions and dreams of “Atlantis” as early as four years old. Later she claimed to have been a priestess there in a past life. She was a bright and intelligent child who wrote her first book at the age of 13, a book of poems entitled Violets in 1904.
Her family were fair to do Christian Scientists with a family motto that reads: “Deo, non Fortuna”, meaning “By God, not by chance”. In 1906 after the death of her grandfather, the family moved to London and lived on they’re inheritance. There she joined the local Theosophical Society and in 1908 had another poem published called Angels. In 1910 she started work at St Georges Secretarial Collage, while continuing her studies in psychology. She worked as an assistant to the collage principal, a strong minded and domineering woman with a violent temper.
Dion Fortune circa 1911
After a number of clashes with the woman, Dion decided to leave. Reporting her intentions to leave, the woman subjected her to a diatribe of incompetence and lack of self-confidence, that she later suffered a near mental breakdown. She later attributed this to the principal, believing she had used “psychic attacks” to try and control her, a technique allegedly learned on visits to India.
As a result of these attacks and during the following three years it took to recover, Dion delved deeper into Psychology, focusing her studies on the theories of Freud and Jung. In 1913 she took up a position as a lay-psychoanalyst at the Medico-Psychological Clinic in London. There she concluded that neither Freud nor Jung adequately addressed the subtleties and complexities of the mind. There was something they had missed, and she felt the answers might lie in occultism.
Through the war years 1914-1918 Dion joined the “Women’s Land Army”, during which time she maintained her links with the “Theosophical Society”. Towards the end of the war she met with and worked with the head of the society “Theodore Moriarty”, an occultist and freemason. Moriarty encouraged her interest in the occult, and in 1919 after the war, she was initiated into the “Alpha and Omega Lodge of Stella Matutina”, an outer order of the hermetic “Order of the Golden Dawn” situated in London.
She studied under “J.W.Brodie-Innes” but came under conflict with “Moina Mathers” the wife of S.L. MacGregor-Mathers, one of the original founders of the Golden Dawn. Feeling symptoms of “psychic attack” similar to her past experience, she later quit and formed her own order “the Fraternity of the Inner Light”. Initially the order was part of the Golden Dawn, but based on esoteric Christianity. It later separated and distanced itself, removing all connections with witchcraft.
After the death of her friend and mentor Theodore Moriarty in 1923, Dion took over the Theosophical Society and renamed it the “Christian Mystic Lodge”. In 1924 she bought a property in Glastonbury called the Chalice Orchard. This she would use as a retreat from the pressures of work and living in the city. While visiting at Glastonbury, Dion became deeply interested in Arthurian legends and the magical-mystical folklore centered on the area. She later formed a pilgrim centre there known as the “Chalice Orchard Club”, which she dedicated to the “Mysteries of Isis”.
In 1937 she met and married a medical doctor “Thomas Penry Evans”. Due to his own occult interests, different from Dion’s, he became known as Merlin or Merle by many of her followers. They worked together magically as Priest and Priestess of her order, the “Fraternity of the Inner Light”, but argued constantly over their differences. In 1939 Evans left her for another lover and they divorced. Dion continued to head the order renaming it the “Society of the Inner Light”.
Dion Fortune with her husband
Later that same year she leased a property in West London known as “The Belfry”, and turned it into a temple for her followers. Like Glastonbury it was dedicated to the “Mysteries of Isis”. During the rest of her lifetime and indeed since she passed away, her societies continue to grow and attract new followers. Just after the Second World War, Dion contracted Leukaemia and in 1946 on the 8th January, she departed this world for the next.
Dion Fortune's grave at Glastonbury
Dion Fortune (her pen name) was a prolific writer. She derived her pen name from her family motto, “Deo, non Fortuna”, meaning “By God, not by chance” which she shortened to Dion Fortune. She writes of her many personal experiences as a practicing occultist and psychiatrist, and pours out her knowledge of the occult in both fiction and non-fiction books, some of which have now reached classical status. Three of her non-fiction books were written using another pseudonym - V M Steele, which included: The Scarred Wrists (1935), Hunters Of Humans (1936) and Beloved Of Ishmael (1937).
Today the “Society of the Inner Light” is still practicing and still based in London, but they maintain that Dion was not a witch, and was not involved in any coven? They stress that the present day society is not connected with witchcraft in any way. A sad tribute to a writer whose books did so much to influence, and continues to influence the thoughts of many practitioners in the Wicca/Witchcraft movement.
Problem Of Purity (1928)
Of Ishmael (as V M
Magic (published posthumously in 1956)
Of Occultism (published posthumously in 1962)
Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraft - By Rosemary Ellen Guiley
Psychic Self-Defence - By Dion Fortune
First published on the 24th November 2004, 15:09:40 © George Knowles
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Rituals contributed by Crone:
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In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar. For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following: Birch / Rowan / Ash / Alder / Willow / Hawthorn / Oak / Holly / Hazel / Vine / Ivy / Reed / Elder
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Old Masters of Academia:
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A "Who's Who" of Witches, Pagans and other associated People
(Ancient, Past and Present)
(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)
Pioneers: Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others
Abramelin the Mage / Agrippa / Aidan A Kelly / Albertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” / Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Allan Bennett - the Ven. Ananda Metteyya / Allan Kardec (Spiritism) / Alphonsus de Spina / Amber K / Ann Moura / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Balthasar Bekker / Biddy Early / Barbara Vickers / Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Walton / Christopher Penczak / Christina Oakley Harrington / Cornelius Loos / Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Donald Michael Kraig / Doreen Valiente / Dorothy Morrison / Dr. John Dee & Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Edain McCoy / Edward Fitch / Eleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” / Eliphas Levi / Ernest Thompson Seton / Ernest Westlake / Fiona Horne / Frederick McLaren Adams - Feraferia / Friedrich von Spee / Francis Barrett / Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca / Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft / Gwydion Pendderwen / Hans Holzer / Helen Duncan / Herman Slater - Horrible Herman / Heinrich Kramer / Isaac Bonewits / Israel Regardie / Ivo Domínguez Jr. / Jack Whiteside Parsons - Rocket Science and Magick / James "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches / Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone / Jean Bodin / Jessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” / Johann Weyer / Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" / Johann Georg Fuchs von Dornheim - the “Hexenbrenner” (witch burner) / John Belham-Payne / John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" / John Gerard / John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred / John Michael Greer / John Score / Joseph “Bearwalker” Wilson / Joseph John Campbell / Karl von Eckartshausen / Lady Gwen Thompson - and "The Rede of the Wiccae" / Laurie Cabot - "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Lodovico Maria Sinistrari / Ludwig Lavater / Madeline Montalban and the Order of the Morning Star / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Michael Howard and the UK "Cauldron Magazine" / Margaret St. Clair - the “Sign of the Labrys” / Marie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Martin Antoine Del Rio / Matthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” / Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" / Michael A. Aquino - and The Temple of Set / Monique Wilson / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellars / Mrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning Glory / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Olivia Durdin-Robertson - co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Paracelsus / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Paul Foster Case and the “Builders of the Adytum” mystery school / Peter Binsfeld / Philip Heselton / Raven Grimassi / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Richard Baxter / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" / Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” / Rossell Hope Robbins / Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) / Rudolf Steiner / Sabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir Francis Dashwood / Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough" / S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” / Starhawk / Stewart Farrar / Sybil Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - (includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) / Thomas Ady / T. Thorn Coyle / Vera Chapman / Victor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / Walter Ernest Butler / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna Budapest /
Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete. If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below. Many thanks for reading :-)
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