Biography of Dion Fortune

Violet Mary Firth (1890-1946), better known as Dion Fortune, was a British occultist and author. She was born at Bryn-y-Bia in Llandudno, Wales, and grew up in a household where Christian Science was rigorously practiced. She reported visions of Atlantis at age four and the developing of psychic abilities during her twentieth year at which time she suffered a nervous breakdown; after her recovery she found herself drawn to the occult. She joined the Theosophical Society and attended courses in psychology and psychoanalysis at the University of London, and became a lay psychotherapist at the Medico-Psychological Clinic in Brunswick Square.

Her first magical mentor was the Irish occultist and Freemason Theodore Moriarty. In 1919 Dion Fortune joined Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega, and was initiated into its outer order, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, by J. W. Brodie-Innes. He instructed her in various magic practices. Firth's pseudonym, "Dion Fortune," was derived from her period as a member of the Alpha et Omega. She took the motto Deo Non Fortuna (By God, not luck), and this was condensed to "Dion Fortune" when she began to write.

Finally, there is case of Dion Fortune. Having joined the Alpha et Omega in 1919 Dion Fortune, Soror Deo Non Fortuna quickly caught the eye of Moina Mathers as too independent for her grade level. The troubles began when Dion Fortune published a work entitled "The Philosophy of Love and Marriage" (published in 1925), over which Moina objected to Dion Fortune’s open disclosure of secret Alpha et Omega teachings on sexual polarity in the higher grades of the order.

There were several other statements in publications that raised the ire of Moina Mathers, which ultimately led to Dion Fortune leaving the Alpha et Omega. These included a statements made by Fortune in series of articles by Fortune in The Occult Review:

"The management of the sex forces is an exceedingly important thing in occultism, and the attitude towards sex in the east and in the west is poles asunder." (What is Occultism? Weiser)

"Those who have entered into the deeper aspects of occultism know that Kundalini, the Serpent Force which lies curled up at the base of the spine, is really the sex force which has its centre in the sacral plexus from which issue the nerves which govern the reproductive organs. In the normal way, this force is fully absorbed in its physiological functions, but there are two ways of rendering it available for other purposes, for its psychic aspect it is a very important potency on the Inner Planes; it can be sublimated above its natural plane of expression, as done by the ascetic; or it can be degraded." (What is Ocultism? Weiser)

And finally:

"Anybody who regards sex as evil, or is in any way afraid of it or self-conscious about it, had better leave occultism alone; for it is only through a perfectly naturalistic attitude towards giving of life that life force can be handled. Let it never be forgotten that there is no such things as sex force per se, but that it is simply the life force on a particular level, and that through this level the force must pass every time it rises and descends on the planes." (The Circuit of Force, Thoth Publishing).

Moina Mathers was infuriated further by articles that were eventually published in Fortune's books The Cosmic Doctrine and Sane Occultism, the latter re-published as What Is Occultism? In this work, Fortune questioned why the occult sciences attracted charlatans rather than the world's leading intellectual thinkers. She also disparaged the sentimentality and unscientific nature of most published works on the occult and declared that most occult practitioners were inept. She also offered recommendations on how to identify past lives, as well as discussions on numerology and astrology, yoga, and vegetarianism. She also staunchly opposed drug use, homosexuality, promiscuity in general, and premarital and extramarital sex.

Mathers suspended Fortune temporarily from the Alpha et Omega and eventually terminated Fortune's membership permanently. Fortune responded by joining the schismatic Stella Matutina. She believed that Mathers engaged in psychic attacks on her during this period, employing magic to block Fortune's astral projections and inundating her home with black cats and simulacrums, which are apparitions conjured by an individual possessing magical powers. Fortune detailed these claims, as well as her previous nervous breakdown, in an article for the Occult Review entitled "Ceremonial Magic Unveiled," and in her 1929 book Psychic Self-Defense: A Study in Occult Pathology and Criminality, in which she also offered remedies for supernatural aggressions.

From 1919 she began writing a number of novels and short stories that explored various aspects of magic and mysticism, including The Demon Lover, The Winged Bull, The Goat-Foot God, and The Secrets of Dr. Taverner. This latter is a collection of short stories based on her experiences with Theodore Moriarty. Two of her novels, The Sea Priestess and Moon Magic, became influential within the religion of Witchcraft, especially upon Doreen Valiente.

Of her non-fiction works on magical subjects, the best remembered of her books are; The Cosmic Doctrine, meant to be a summation of her basic teachings on mysticism, The Mystical Qabalah, an introduction to Hermetic Qabalah, and Psychic Self Defence, a manual on how to protect one's self from psychic attacks.

Dion Fortune participated in the "Magical Battle of Britain", which was an attempt by British occultists to magically aid the war effort and which aimed to forestall the impending German invasion during the darkest days of World War II. Her efforts in regard to this are recorded in a series of letters she wrote at the time[27]. The effort involved in this endeavour is said to have contributed to her death shortly after the war ended. Her Society of the Inner Light continues to function, and has also given rise to other orders, including The London Group, until recently headed by Charles Fielding, and Servants of the Light, headed by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki.