Dion Fortune's works
We've listed the written works of Dion Fortune in the order that they were written, often as articles in her magazine or for private circulation, although some had to wait some years before appearing as published books.
The Psychology of the Servant Problem [as V.M.Firth]
The Soya Bean [as V.M.Firth]
The Problem of Purity [as V.M.Firth]
These first three titles, published under Dion Fortune's baptismal name, are long out of print and likely to remain so, being mainly of historical interest nowadays and sought after only by collectors. They were, however, early indicators of Dion Fortune's interests and character. The Psychology of the Servant Problem is a trenchant demand for the downtrodden servants in a class conscious society to be treated like human beings. The Soya Bean reflects her interest in an alternative supply of protein other than meat products, in which her parents and her husband later took a commercial interest. The Problem of Purity reflects some of her counselling advice in the early days of psychology in a sexually guilt ridden society. Their origin lies respectively in her experience in the 1st World War as a member of the Women's Land Army and regarded as one of the servant class by her land owning employers; the second her working in a government laboratory researching means of counteracting food shortages at a time of war-time naval blockade; the third her earlier student work with the Medico-Psychological Clinic prior to 1916.
The Machinery of the Mind [as V.M.Firth]
Strictly speaking this little book could be bracketed with the above three titles, but it has been reissued under the Dion Fortune name. It originated as a series of lectures on elementary psychology she was encouraged to give while still a student/practitioner at the Medico-Psychological Clinic, and which were sufficiently well regarded at the time to be published in book form with a foreword by a distinguished academic psychologist A.G.Tansley FRS. An elementary exposition and not particularly esoteric.
The Secrets of Dr Taverner [fiction]
The first time the name Dion Fortune burst into print, with a series of short stories written for the Royal Magazine in 1922. The eponymous hero is based upon her first occult teacher Dr Theodore Moriarty with whom she studied off and on between 1916 and his death in 1923. The stories are for the most part imaginative constructions based on received esoteric principles as understood at the time, but the opening one, Blood Lust, is closely based on her first mind blowing encounter with Moriarty and observation of his methods.
The Esoteric Philosophy of Love and Marriage
One of the remarkable things about Dion Fortune was the way that, once convinced of the reality of the Unseen, she set about teaching herself to become a trance medium so that she could access it directly. This little book, which some may find slightly risible in the context of contemporary mores, is one of the first results. It is in some ways a transitional book, combining elementary esoteric theory relating to the seven planes with her earlier concerns about social and sexual problems as a psychotherapist.
The Cosmic Doctrine
In this work, dating in origin from 1923/4, we move to a different order of inner plane communication altogether, as a system of highly complex and abstruse metaphysical philosophy, which became the staple source of study for her senior students over the years. In view of its difficulty it is perhaps not surprising that it did not see publication until 1949 but it has since then been continuously in print, gradually expanded with new insights. A major text if a difficult one for serious students only.
Sane Occultism/What is Occultism?
Originated in a series of articles in various journals of the 1920s that reflected her trenchant no-nonsense approach to many pseudo-occult pretensions. It succeeded in upsetting a number of major figures of the day, albeit unintentionally, the more so when it appeared as a book. Recently reissued in the USA with a title more suited to modern sensibilities but no less hard hitting. The 19 articles include Is Occultism Worth While?; Credulity in Occult Research; Meditation and Psychism; the Use and Abuse of Astrology; Numerology and Prophecy; Group Karma in Occult Societies; Authority and Obedience in Occultism; Secrecy in Occult Fraternities; Psychic Pathologies; Mental Trespassing; Occultism and Vegetarianism; and Eastern Methods in Western Bodies.
Psychic Self Defence
Perhaps Dion Fortune's best selling book on the fringes of popular occultism. A loosely based autobiography of her esoteric experiences up to 1930 with a certain bias to the sensational and pathological side. Plenty of revelations of her take on the practices of the Left-hand Path, risks of ceremonial magic, the pathology of non-human contacts, the nature of hauntings and the reality behind ancient legends of the vampire, as well as elusive psychic elements in mental illness, including methods, motives and physical aspects of psychic attack and defence. It should be said perhaps that occultism is seldom quite the area for psychic skulduggery as may seem implied by the at times hair-raising text.
The Demon Lover [fiction]
Dion Fortune's first esoteric novel, a rip roaring occult blood and thunder, in which an innocent heroine, a natural psychic, is entrapped by a morally delinquent adept to spy upon his masters on the astral plane. This leads to all kinds of bizarre happenings of etheric vampirism that are counteracted by even more drastic means. Her intention, she later said, was to write a thriller pure and simple, but in the course of writing it ended up as a kind of saga of the purification of the soul through initiation. Along with the Taverner stories, it stands apart from her later novels insofar that she is here looking at occultism in the light of psychology – whereas in the later novels she has moved on to interpret psychology in the light of occultism. This was her own assertion, and there is indeed quite a profound difference between her earlier and later fictional work.
The Esoteric Orders and their Work
This might be regarded as a mission statement when Dion Fortune was about to launch her own Esoteric Fraternity upon the world. It contains an outline of the origin of the Mystery tradition and the its paths and traditions in the West, together with the evolution and function of the Masters behind such orders, schools, fraternities and groups. It covers the use and power of ritual, the meaning and function of oaths and obligations, and the ways to seeking a Master and choosing an appropriate occult school for those who aspire to the path of initiation. Foreword by Gareth Knight to the latest edition.
The Training and Work of an Initiate
A companion volume to The Esoteric Orders and their Work, defining how members of an esoteric order should be prepared. How initiates prepare body, mind and spirit for the challenging journey that is the esoteric path, what the path of initiation looks like and what it is like to be called to this work. It shows how from ancient Qabalistic, Greek and Egyptian roots the torch of the Western Esoteric Tradition has been handed on in unbroken line from adept to neophyte. Foreword by Gareth Knight to the latest edition.
Mystical Meditations on the Collects
Despite nowadays being regarded in some circles principally as a pagan icon, Dion Fortune always insisted upon following a threefold way of nature contacts, hermetic philosophy and devotional mysticism. Sometimes one strand came to the fore, at other times others, which occasioned the remark by one independent reviewer that she represented a case of "Anglicanism gone polytheistic." Be this as it may, as President of the Christian Mystic Lodge of the Theosophical in her early days she maintained a staunch western position against what she saw as an orientalisation of the mystical tradition. Hence this little book of meditations upon the Collects, or main Bible readings in the annual liturgy of the Anglican Episcopal church, in light of her own particular take on orthodox theology.
Spiritualism in the Light of Occult Science/Spiritualism and Occultism [ed. Gareth Knight]
As part of being an occultist of the first rank Dion Fortune developed herself into an accomplished medium, although not quite of the type associated with the Spiritualist movement. She felt it necessary in this early work to try to define the difference, which at the time caused a certain amount of fluttering in the esoteric dovecots. The full text is now incorporated in a book called Spiritualism and Occultism which includes a number of other writings by her on the subject, selected by Gareth Knight, which throw particularly valuable light on the techniques of mediumship revealed by her own experience.
Avalon of the Heart/Glastonbury, Avalon of the Heart
Glastonbury, reputedly the holiest earth in England, meant much to Dion Fortune. She founded the main work of her life from here, built a sanctuary and living space upon the side of the Tor, and it is in the municipal cemetery her physical remains are laid to rest. In effect a love letter to the town, as much as tourist guide or esoteric text, this little book evokes the many aspects of Avalon – of Arthur, of Merlin, of the Abbey, of the Celtic Saints, of Chalice Well, the Tor, Wearyall Hill, Pons Perilous, Beckary, of Joseph of Arimathea, of the Holy Grail and the Holy Thorn and so on. The title for the latest American edition is prefixed with the name of the town so that no-one need be in any doubt as to where Avalon is in Dion Fortune's psychogeography.
Through the Gates of Death
A little book aimed not so much at the esoteric student as at the general public, particularly the recently bereaved, as a means of how best to cope with their situation, and the containment of grief without falling into some of the pitfalls that can beset those desperately seeking for evidence of survival of the recently departed. In part it can also serve as a private service book for the handling of bereavement and as such was probably used in the Guild of the Master Jesus (later Church of the Graal) that was the particular interest of her colleague C.T.Loveday.
The Mystical Qabalah
many ways Dion Fortune's magnum opus. One of the most lucid expositions of the Tree of Life of the Qabalah, the traditional mystical system of the Hebrews, which forms the backbone of much of the Western Esoteric Tradition. From its pages two generations of students have now been trained, and continue to be trained, since it first appeared in 1935, years ahead of its time. A vital reference book for anyone interested in the esoteric philosophy of the west, and the acknowledged corner stone of any decent occult library.
Practical Occultism in Daily Life/Practical Occultism [ed. Gareth Knight]
A little book produced for the general reader on some of the basic tenets of occultism and how they may be applied in daily life, from control of the environment, through remembering past incarnations and working out karma to divination, the use and abuse of mind power, etheric magnetism and the problem of the sexually unpolarised. Now incorporated, under the title Practical Occultism, with lots of examples of her own work, selected by Gareth Knight, her review of the literature of illuminism and an appendix on the faery operetta The Immortal Hour.
A selection of articles, first made available in volume form in 1962, from Dion Fortune's house journal, the Inner Light magazine, that ran from 1927 to 1940. This selection contains The Occult Way; Some Practical Applications of Occultism, The Group Mind; the Psychology of Ritual; the Circuit of Force; Three Kinds of Reality; Non-humans; Black Magic; a Magical Body; the Occult Field Today; and an Esoteric Glossary. Foreword to the latest edition by Gareth Knight.
Aspects of Occultism
A companion volume to Applied Magic with much the same provenance. Contains God and the Gods; Sacred Centres; Christianity and Reincarnation; the Astral Plane; the Worship of Isis; Some Helps to Meditation; Teachings Concerning the Aura; Pitfalls of Spiritual Healing; Power Tides and Cycles; the Death of Vivien Le Fay Morgan (mediated by Margaret Lumley Brown) and in the latest edition a postscript on The Myth of the Table Round and a foreword by Gareth Knight.
Introduction to Ritual Magic [ed. Gareth Knight]
Another collection of Dion Fortune articles from the 1930s, all on the subject of ritual, with companion articles by Gareth Knight. First published in 1998. Topics include Types of Mind Working; Mind Training; the Use of Ritual; Psychic Perception; Ritual Initiation; the Reality of the Subtle Planes; Focusing the Magic Mirror; Channelling the Forces; the Form of the Ceremony; the Purpose of Magic; Talismanic Magic; and Astral Forms.
The Goat-foot God [fiction]
The first of the major occult novels by Dion Fortune, presenting complex magical and psychical theory in remarkably powerful pieces of writing. Desperate and wretched after the death of his wife at the hands of her lover, Hugh Paston becomes engrossed in the occult and goes on a quest for Pan, aided by an old bookseller called Jelkes. In order to fulfil his desire he buys an old monastery to convert into a temple for Pan. The monastery is haunted however by the spirit of a fifteenth century prior who was walled up for his pagan beliefs and who is also searching for the goat-foot god and seems to possess Paston who begins to wonder if the spirit is not actually the restimulation of a previous incarnation memory of his own. The key to the increasingly complex mystery is held by Mona Freeman whose awakening magical abilities bring success in a moving ritual climax in an old pagan shrine. In esoteric terms it is Dion Fortune's fictional representation of inner powers relating to the Qabalistic sphere of Malkuth – the Sephirah pertaining to Earth.
The Winged Bull [fiction]
Dion Fortune's second essay into a major experiment in esoteric fiction in what she hoped might develop into a series of ten books, each pertaining to a Sephirah on the Tree of Life. This one relates to the Sun Sphere of Tiphereth and its intimate relationship with Malkuth, the Earth Sphere. In practical terms it begins when Brangwyn, a wise old magician, overhears an invocation to Pan outside the British Museum. Out of curiosity he answers the invoker and is surprised to find Murchison, an old wartime acquaintance down on his luck. With ritual match making in mind he offers him employment. His sister Ursula has been caught up with a young occultist who has left her magically bonded to him and desperately unhappy and he has a mind to train Murchison to take part in a rite to free Ursula from this evil influence. After a roller coaster ride of misunderstandings and magical adventures, in the course of which the powers of magnetic interchange and induced autosuggestion are demonstrated, he infiltrates an obscene and dangerous ritual in which she is to be the willing victim, and saves her from her captors and herself. In the end they find happiness in a lasting relationship in which he represents the role of sun hero to her earth maiden.
The Sea Priestess [fiction]
Thought by some to be the most evocative of Dion Fortune's novels we are introduced to her most powerful and archetypal female character, the adept Vivien Le Fay Morgan, the reincarnation of an Atlantean sea priestess, who meets the ineffectual Wilfred Maxwell, hen-pecked by his mother and sister, who is in the throes of a midlife crisis. After literally enchanting him, she engages him in the construction of a magical temple upon a spit of land that juts out into the Atlantic where they undertake a series of magical workings under the direction of an inner plane presence known as the Priest of the Moon. Morgan eventually departs to take up work elsewhere (later revealed in Moon Magic) leaving a renewed and rejuvenated Maxwell, who casts off the domestic family shackles, marries Molly, a young girl from his office, and they embark on life together as two initiates in the world, devotees of the goddess. In her Qabalistic scheme of things, this novel represents esoteric dynamics associated with the Sephirah Yesod, associated with the etheric vehicle, the subconscious mind, and the Moon. A foreword to the current edition by Gareth Knight draws attention to the actual location of the temple of the sea priestess and Dion Fortune's semi-public performances of the Rite of Isis.
Moon Magic [fiction]
A sequel to The Sea Priestess sees Vivien Le Fay Morgan in the guise of Lilith Le Fay, setting up a temple dedicated to the worship of Isis in London. Here, through telepathic means, she attracts the service of a dour, repressed, yet psychically gifted Dr. Rupert Malcolm as a participant in her magical workings, the details of which are particularly closely described. During the course of their magical work she breaks down Malcolm's querulous personality and helps him rediscover his emotional nature, and at the apogee of their magical practice he assumes the role of god to Lilith's goddess as they combine their power in a supreme act of magic to benefit the whole human race. Its Qabalistic equivalent might be regarded as a higher analogue of the Moon associated with the Sephirah Daath – which certainly seems to be the state of consciousness of the two at the climax of the book and of their ritual. A foreword by Gareth Knight refers to the physical location that inspired the novel, in a converted church, (now a fashionable restaurant), that provided the setting for Dion Fortune's performances of the Rite of Isis in Belgravia.
The Circuit of Force [ed. Gareth Knight]
The principle of polarity, or the Circuit of Force, was, in Dion Fortune's opinion, one of the lost secrets of western occultism and she wrote a revealing series of articles in the last issues of her magazine that caused a certain nervousness in some of her more staid contemporaries. They cover her research into tantrik yoga, the psychic centres, raising kundalini, auto-suggestion and the astral light, séance room phenomena, and the sexual dynamics of magnetic interchange. A series of commentaries to each section by Gareth Knight outlines how the Mysteries developed from ancient Dionysian and Orphic rites, details ways for westerners to approach eastern yoga, techniques of animal magnetism, and powers of the etheric vehicle, concluding with an analysis of practical occultism as revealed in Dion Fortune's novels.
Dion Fortune's Magical Battle of Britain [ed. Gareth Knight]
When the 2nd World War broke out in 1939 it called a halt to many of the activities of Dion Fortune's Fraternity, with restrictions on public meetings and difficulties of travel, to say nothing of the London blitz in which her headquarters was bombed. Undeterred, she kept in touch with all her students and associates with a series of weekly letters that formed the nucleus of a widespread meditation group from October 1939 to October 1942. In the course of these she gave out a deal of practical information that otherwise might have been withheld. They provide a fascinating record of her life in these difficult times, including how best to meditate when under physical aerial attack! First published in 1993, following the tragic events of 9/11 in New York an American edition was felt to be relevant in 2003.
The Arthurian Formula [ed. Gareth Knight]
The original text of a body of teaching concerning the Arthurian legend mediumistically received by Dion Fortune in 1941/2, which, supplemented by Margaret Lumley Brown, formed the basis of the advanced work of the Society of the Inner Light until 1960, and upon which Gareth Knight's Secret Tradition in Arthurian Legend was based. Now presented in full, with an introductory commentary by Gareth Knight on the Glastonbury Tradition, the Atlantis Tradition, the Faery Tradition, the Merlin Tradition, the Troubadour Tradition, the Queen Venus Tradition, the Modern Mystery Tradition, all of which are assumed knowledge in the main text. Plus an overview of useful academic and esoteric texts and a set of Appendices giving Dion Fortune's early Glastonbury Script, and clairvoyant visions of Atlantis. Additional material on Queen Guenevere and the Faery and Grail traditions by Wendy Berg.
Principles of Esoteric Healing [ed. Gareth Knight]
Shortly after her marriage to Dr Thomas Penry Evans Dion Fortune began to receive a series of inner communications from a contact they came to know as the Master of Medicine. Their initial idea to found an esoteric clinic never came to fruition but a mass of material was gathered in the course of their little publicised healing work, which combined esoteric knowledge with professional medical expertise. Recovered from scattered files and papers dating from between 1927 and 1942, this much-belated publication provides an approach to esoteric healing which takes into account the whole human being, physical, etheric, astral, mental and spiritual, with principles of diagnosis based upon the Tree of Life. Apart from its application to the healing arts, much of the material is of wider application, demonstrating techniques for the development of psychic and intuitive faculties in reading the aura.
Principles of Hermetic Philosophy & the Esoteric Philosophy of Astrology [ed. Gareth Knight]
These two titles are the last known works written by Dion Fortune distributed in her Monthly Letters to members and associates of her Fraternity between November 1942 and March 1944. Her intentions are summed up in her own words as "an attempt to gather together the fragments of a forgotten wisdom and explain and expand them in the light of personal observation." She was uniquely equipped so to do and in these later works to a private audience feels less constrained by traditions of occult secrecy and tends to take a more practical approach than her earlier published works. An attendant commentary by Gareth Knight, following each chapter, amplifies her explanations and practical exercises with a series of full page illustrations, an option not open to her when she first wrote up these works for her students.
Most of Dion Fortune's books currently in print are published by Red Wheel/Weiser
Those edited by Gareth Knight are published by Thoth Publications
Books about Dion Fortune
Dion Fortune and the Inner Light by Gareth Knight [Thoth]
Priestess – the Life and Magic of Dion Fortune by Alan Richardson [Thoth]
The Story of Dion Fortune by Charles Fielding & Carr P Collins [Thoth]
Quest for Dion Fortune by Janine Chapman [Red Wheel Weiser]