1. Peter Nascien
  2. Dion Fortune Books
  3. Wednesday, 12 October 2016
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Greetings Companions

I've been re-reading The Goat Foot God, and as is often the way with Dion Fortune's novels have come across a couple of references I've never noticed before: the 'lines of force' and 'lines of power' that she describes as running across the land between ancient sacred sites. She must be referring to what we now call ley lines, and perhaps she was aware of Alfred Watkins' seminal work on this phenomenon as I believe he first wrote about them in the 1920s.
'Ley hunting' was very popular a while ago. I remember once joining a local group of ley hunters and we had huge fun, not least because a surprising number of lines seemed to pass through village pubs….
So far as I am aware less is made of them now, although perhaps I'm out of touch? I don't think it's a subject Dion Fortune mentions elsewhere but it occurs to me that they are a - literally - vital part of the etheric body of the Earth, and this was something she was much concerned with, particularly in her work with the Planetary Being and the Planetary Entity. I'd be interested to learn if anyone has taken up this aspect of her work.

All good wishes,
Peter Nascien
MaddyJ Accepted Answer
Greetings all

I am certainly aware of a network of leylines here in Derbyshire many of which spread out from the large recumbent stone circle Arbor Low near Monyash on the White Peak. Paul Screeton has claimed around 150 lines going out from there. The lines of power going out from Arbor Low connect with a lot of tumuli, old churches (undoubtedly built on ancient sacred sites) and other stone circles in Derbyshire but then continue well beyond the present County boundaries and across the land. We are rich in stone circles and burial mounds here, rather like Dartmoor. I also tracked a line down using maps, to Stonehenge and it did seem to go through a high number of places we might term power sites. But of course the longer the line the more likely it is to connect to such sites and more work needs to be done. However in meditation I have certainly found links. I think there is a rough rule of thumb for how many sites per mile exceeds the likely average and so may therefore not be just coincidence but a likely leyline. Must revisit my copy of Watkins.
Of course once plotted on a map it makes sense to go out and try and dowse or 'feel' the presence of the leyline and Arbor Low and some of the local stone circles do seem to be connected. I walked round with a dowser once and we found a very busy network. Meditating at the circle or site also can bring realisations.
My local area of Derbyshire also has leylines. The churches in the little group of villages in this area are nearly all built on hill sites with Domesday roots, ancient Yew trees and a real sense that the church was a later addition to what has been a sacred site for possibly thousands of years. My first experience after I moved to this village was to follow a footpath which led across a footbridge over a brook, where it swung uphill and diagonally across the next field and I felt myself practically pushed up the hill. It led directly to one such Church just over the hill in the neighbouring village, although it wasnt possible to walk the path all the way as it ran through a farm. However I checked it out on the map and realised that in the other direction the line of the footpath connected directly with another Church a couple of miles away also built on a hill. I am convinced there are at least five churches around here that are connected by ley lines that then continue to run through other sites.
It can be lots of fun as you have said Peter, following these lines. I shall have to check whether they run through pubs!
Best wishes
Maddy
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Psyche Accepted Answer
Moderator
Ley lines that run through Pubs! Now there's a hypothesis that needs checking out ;)

What did she say? An ounce of practice is worth a pound of Theory?
It is not for me to teach the Psychologists their business, however great the need.
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Wendy Accepted Answer
I've looked up the reference you mention in The Goat Foot God and I do agree it does look as if Dion Fortune is referring to ley lines. But I notice that she calls them "the lines of force of the ancient worship" which seems to suggest that she might have interpreted them in a different way to Watkins. I believe his assumption was that they were naturally formed, an inherent part of the landscape, but it looks as if DF thought of them as lines of power that had been created by human activity which had taken place at sites of ancient worship.

It's a very interesting passage. I notice she also mentions that the glade where the final act of magic between Hugh and Mona takes place is shaped like a Vesica Piscis. "The glade was the exact shape of the space made by two intersecting circles" so it looks as if she also knew about sacred geometry! That comes as a surprise to me as I didn't think it had was generally understood in her time as a part of the Earth Mysteries - I thought that came much later with Alexander Thom, John Michell et al.

And another interesting comment she makes is that from this glade you could follow the 'lines of power' '……to where the green roads of England converged on Avebury.' I'm not sure what she's referring to here. Any suggestions?
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MaddyJ Accepted Answer
Hi
I think what Dion Fortune may be referring to when she mentions the green roads of England converging on Avebury, is a book first published in 1914 called 'The Green Roads of England' by R. Hippisley Cox. His hypothethis is that the old trackways in the south of England connected many ancient sites and hill forts together, and that a great number converged upon Avebury. In his Preface he says 'In the south of England the common meeting place of these hill roads was Avebury, where the greatest prehistoric monuments in Europe are still to b e seen. It is not unreasonable to suppose that this central gathering ground was the seat of government, and that its authority extended as far as the roads that radiate from it, and th earthworks that protected them.'
He does rather sadly go on to say that 'At least, the sun worship of Neolithic man appears to have been a higher form of religion that demoniac Druidism' ...! Didn't think much of druids then. However it is a fascinating book which was republished a few years ago. I have the 1948 reprint of the original with lots of lovely plans. His opening chapter deals with Avebury and the ridge roads and pack trails that originally led to it.
He only covers Southern England. Some of it may be outdated now but it is still a wonderful and seminal book on the subject. However, like Watkins he is not concerned with any spiritual or supernatural dimension of these tracks; although according to Allan Watkins son of Alfred he did understand that there was a lot more to his leys than tracks made by humans and animals but in his position in society he would have been laughed down if he had made any such suggestion. But he paved the way for the later ley hunters to develop that theme.
As the 'Green Roads etc' book was certainly around when DF was writing I think it likely she will have come across it and been aware of their inner significance.
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Peter Nascien Accepted Answer
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It does sound as Dion Fortune had read Hippisley Cox's book and I'm keen to get hold of a copy.

Thinking this through, I realise that I have always thought of leys as having been created in the past, perhaps in the very distant past. I have assumed them to be part of our ancient heritage, something that we can discover, work with and preserve.

But I wonder if we should also think in terms of making positive additions to the network of lines of energy? Are leys still being created, either by deliberate intention or 'accidentally?' If we thought more along these lines (!) it would significantly change our relationship with this phenomenon - we would become participants rather than spectators.

Peter
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Peter Nascien Accepted Answer
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I have just bought a copy of the Society of the Inner Light's magazine and notice that there is an excellent article by Laurence Main in the latest edition called 'Dion Fortune and Ley Lines.' What a marvellous synchronicity! I'll say no more here, but it is well worth reading.

Peter
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Wendy Accepted Answer
Sacred Geometry of the Earth: Mark Vidler and Catherine Young


This is one of the most extraordinary books I’ve ever read and I'm so pleased to be able to mention it here. I do believe Dion Fortune would have found it equally fascinating! The authors’ thesis is that the shape of the landmasses on the Earth’s surface are not an arbitrary conglomeration of dust but conform to certain rules and predictable measurements, all of which suggests a sort of Divine Plan. They also claim that our ancestors who were responsible for building the great monuments such as Avebury, Stonehenge, Ankor Wat, the Pyramids etc etc, were aware of these measurements and located their monuments accordingly.

The most widely used of these measurements is based on the nautical mile. This is remarkable in itself because the nautical mile is a precise measurement of the dimensions of the earth: ‘the mean length of one arc minute on the meridian.’ Or in layman’s terms, because the Earth bulges slightly at the Equator, if you measure round the Earth at the equator you will get a different result to a measurement taken round the poles. The nautical mile is derived from the average between the two measurements divided by 360 (because we divide the Earth’s circumference into 360 ‘degrees‘) and then by 60 to get one ‘minute. One arc minute = 1,852 metres, which is a nautical mile.

The second significant number to keep in mind is phi, also known as the Golden Mean or Golden Ratio which articulates the relationship between one ‘part’ and another, and the relationship of both to the whole. AB is to BC as BC is to AC or, more esoterically, it describes the relationship between the microcosm and the macrocosm. Phi is expressed in measurement as 1.618.

If you multiply 1,852 by 1.618, you get 2,996.5 meters, which is 3,000 meters as near as dammit, and although this explanation might by now be sounding a little Byzantine, Vidler and Young have found this measurement occurs between significant natural significant landforms and Neolithic monuments with astonishing frequency. It’s actually quite easy to check this out with an atlas or Ordnance Survey map or with Google Earth. I have done, and it's true.

Also, they reckon that if you draw a line between two extreme coastal points on an island or land-mass, especially between cardinal points, the highest point on that land-mass will far more often than not be found somewhere along that line. Again, I've started to check this out and it does indeed seem to be true.

There is much more to this book which, as I say, is one of the most remarkable I’ve ever read. Perhaps wisely, the authors don’t discuss the magical implications of what they have discovered but confine themselves to verifiable fact. For those working in the magical arts however the book raises many questions as to how we might incorporate this knowledge into our magical work. If indeed the Earth was deliberately structured, fashioned and measured, how differently must we begin to think of it?

Wendy
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JMG Accepted Answer
Peter and all,

(Hoping that it won't be a faux pas to rouse a slumbering thread...)

The reference to leys as lines of power in The Goat Foot God shows that Fortune was paying close attention to what at the time was cutting edge thinking in the occult scene. Alfred Watkins' original take on the leys was that they were a system of navigation on land in an age before roads and maps -- "you go toward that notch in the hills until you see the standing stone off to your left, turn that way, and keep on going straight along the line from marker to marker, and in three days you'll be at Avebury" -- but as his Straight Line Postal Club pursued the subject further, the idea that there might have been some deeper mystery behind the leys became hard to shake. By 1936, when The Goat Foot God was published, that idea was in circulation. Even so, it wasn't widespread, and as far as I know it was even less widely known that the alignments had connections to sacred geometry -- I don't think that became widely known until John Michell splashed it all over the counterculture in 1969 with The View Over Atlantis. So it's really fascinating to see that material in the novel.

There's an immense literature on leys at this point, some of it really good, much of it fairly giddy. I don't know if anyone has looked into weaving the best of it together with Fortune's work, but it's certainly something that could be done, and I suspect would be well worth doing.

-- JMG
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Peter Nascien Accepted Answer
Moderator
Dear JMG

Greetings! Welcome to the Forum and it’s great that you have picked up this thread.

I think you make an important point when you say that DF was paying close attention to what was at the cutting edge of the occult scene. It’s fascinating to imagine how she would have used, say, the information in The View over Atlantis had it been written in her time. Her magical interpretation of what we now know of sacred geometry would have been quite mind-blowing!
But she may have been approaching this type of work in her equation of Brent Knoll (near to Glastonbury) and the river that runs past it, with the sacred mountain of Atlantis and the Naradek river, in The Sea Priestess. Something I have in mind - if I had ‘world enough and time’ - is to get a large scale map of the area and measure it carefully for alignments, leys, frequently used sacred measurements and angles and so on. Someone may well have done this already although I’ve not come across it.
And yet - I believe that she may, even now, be picking up on what we hold strongly and dearly in mind - and perhaps is sharing her ideas with us, whether we consciously realise it or not.

All good wishes,

Peter Nascien
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JMG Accepted Answer
Dear Peter,

Thank you for the welcome! I hope you have the chance sometime to do that with the Brent Knoll map.

You've raised an intriguing point. The recovery of occult traditions has proceeded quite a bit since Dion Fortune's time, and sacred geometry is a very good example of something that was poorly grasped in her time and much better understood now -- though we still have much more to learn! An attempt to find common ground between her work and sacred geometry seems worth doing, but it would inevitably involve a lot of speculation and experimentation. Do you think that would go over well among students of Fortune's work these days, or would it outrage too many traditionalists to, say, try to explore The Cosmic Doctrine using sacred geometry?

In the meantime, I'll enjoy the mental image of Dion Fortune and John Michell talking occult theory over cups of tea in the astral neighborhood of Glastonbury... :)

-- JMG
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Peter Nascien Accepted Answer
Moderator
Dear JMG

One of the remarkable aspects of how DF’s work has developed in the last 70 years or so is that it seems to appeal to such an unusually wide range of magical workers. It would be hard to point to any magical group in whatever tradition - pagan, formal high magic, Goddess Mysteries, Earth Mysteries - which has not found inspiration in one or other aspects of her work. What seems especially remarkable is that there is generally a happy consensus between each group with scarcely any quarreling or rival factions. There aren't many 'occult celebrities' you can say that about!
Thinking about the sacred geometry inherent, or implied, in The Cosmic Doctrine, I have the impression that much of it may already used in magical rites, although perhaps not consciously or deliberately so. For example I believe that some formal ritualists will open a magical working by walking three times clockwise, which could be taken as a reference to the three Rings of Space. And I suppose it might be said that any reference to the significance or symbolism of the numbers three, seven and twelve in a magical working also makes a reference to The Cosmic Doctrine.
But your question makes me wonder if the CD’s inherent geometry might be used and applied in a more specific, literal way. In true occult tradition you have seeded an idea.

Best wishes, Peter
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JMG Accepted Answer
Dear Peter,

In one of the Druid orders where I received some of my training, the basic ritual working -- more or less parallel to the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, though it differed in form -- involved, among other things, visualizing something very like the Three Rings of Space from the Cosmic Doctrine: first a rapidly spinning circle of light, then that circle rotating around a second axis to form a sphere, then the sphere rotating around a third axis. The designer of the ritual had passed by the time I joined the organization, so I never had the chance to ask her whether she'd drawn on the Cosmic Doctrine for inspiration, but it wouldn't surprise me at all. So there are certainly possibilities!

There's much to be learnt by studying the internal geometry of the Cosmic Doctrine. I've also wondered whether there might be a point to exploring certain parallels -- for example, there seems to be some similarity between the way Dion Fortune (or rather her communicator) described the first three Swarms and the symbolism that sacred geometers take from the three core root-ratios, the square roots of 2, 3, and 5. Much fodder for meditation...
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Nova Genista Accepted Answer
Moderator
Hello JMG
Great to meet you on this website.
I was very interested to read your comments about the spheres and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. It struck a chord with something I read recently but I could not quite place where I saw it. I thought it might have been in Regardie's description of the LRP in 'The Middle Pillar'. Wouldn't you know it, as I rummaged through the pages I could not find what I thought I had seen.
Dynamic circles developing into a sphere do seem to occur in many contexts: in evolution as depicted in the Cosmic Doctrine and in many teachings as preliminaries as preparation for and/or protection before workings, the sphere being developed by drawing/visualising circles round the individual or group. At first sight these two uses seem very different. But are they different? Is the development of the sphere from rings round the individual/group not just a specific evolution on a smaller scale - as above, so below? I suspect that the widespread and varied uses might make it hard to see for sure which version developed from what - but your point has indeed set me rummaging through the book shelves!
Indeed much fodder for meditation in all this, as you say. I was attracted by your idea of comparing the concept of the swarms with the square roots of 2, 3 and 5. Might I suggest too (even though it might sound silly at first) that the square root of 1 be included in comparison of the swarms and roots? - the unchanging unity - unchanging whether itself or its square root. Whilst I was thinking about that, it struck me that the Cosmic Doctrine is packed with geometry and geometric relationships, yet manages to avoid entirely the mathematics that might otherwise have acted as a deterrent to some. The numbers and relationships are there, but in symbolic form.
There is a great deal in all this to dig into yet further.
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JMG Accepted Answer
Nova Genista,

Thank you and likewise! I suppose it makes sense to use some representation of the three primal rings to define ritual space because each ritual can be seen as a reenactment of creation -- a magical equivalent, if you will, of Tolkien's concept of sub-creation.

It doesn't sound silly at all that the square root of 1 would be part of the sequence! In traditional sacred geometry all things start from unity, of course, so the unity would represent the Solar Logos, from which the three primary roots unfold in the form of the three primal Swarms. What I'm not at all sure of yet is how the other aspects of a universe would be represented in terms of sacred geometry.

-- JMG
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Psyche Accepted Answer
Moderator
Did somebody mention Tolkien?

The concept of sub-creation is so interesting. My interpretation is that he basically implies that there is a framework within which we are bound. But within that, we have freedom and the means to create new things. He even enacted this with his own works, which were left unfinished, many of them, so that others could take up the pen. I would be interested to hear what others think.

For me this really fits with the concept of the three rings, as I've described in my Sparks chapter on Hobbits and the Cos Doc (well somebody had to write it).
Psyche.
It is not for me to teach the Psychologists their business, however great the need.
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JMG Accepted Answer
Psyche,

Mentioning Tolkien is a bad habit of mine. ;)

I'm suddenly wondering how much common ground exists between the Cos. Doc. and the Ainulindale. The one thing that comes to mind is the way that the music of the Ainur happens twice, once as music and once as history -- I relate that, in a certain sense, to the way that in the Cos. Doc. everything that exists in a universe has a seed atom from the cosmos, and so recapitulates the processes by which the cosmos came into being. But that may be reaching...

JMG
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Psyche Accepted Answer
Moderator
In which case we shall be very bad for each other :o

Yes...and if you think of the circles of stability/upsetting it/taking on a shape, that absolutely mirrors the process of the Ainulindale. Through the Hobbits - stability- the Baggins aspect of Hobbits (the Shire at the beginning of the tale)- then the upset- the Took aspect of Hobbits- this leads to the quest and finally 'becoming' someone else.

If there is any inner reality to Tolkien's work it really ought to stand up to scrutiny if one looks through the lens of any meaningful framework, whether that be the Cos Doc or Qabalah. Or maybe others. I find that if you do that, then each illuminates the other. In theory anyway.
Psyche.
It is not for me to teach the Psychologists their business, however great the need.
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MargaretB Accepted Answer
Dear JMG and Nova

The parallels (if you will excuse the pun) that seem to arise between geometric considerations in the Cosmic Doctrine and other works cropped up yet again today. I was working my way through an article by Jan R Veenstra considering aspects of the Almandal (in Bremmer and Veenstra’s ‘The Metamorphosis of Magic’, Peeters, 2002). Veenstra refers to Guillaume d’Auvergne’s criticism of Solomonic texts that appeared to imbue geometric figures, such as pentagrams, and angles (not angels!) with powers. He apparently considered such views absurd on the basis that, if angles are divine, more angles result in growing divinity. Further, if angles are divine, everything on Earth is divine which in his view results in pantheism.

Gauillaume d’Auvergne was active at the beginning of the thirteenth century so (in my opinion) it seems likely that he saw it as part of his job to discount the exciting new ideas that were flooding in from the east at that time. Many learned churchmen, and especially those with associations with Paris, seemed intent on that, especially if there was any possible conflict with prevailing ecclesiastical ideas. However, I mention the above about geometric shapes and angles because it struck me that there is a parallel here with the Cos Doc’s representation of cosmic law, for example, crossing points in lines of force/angles in Rays producing vortices which influence further development. It seems to indicate that ideas of the power in geometry/geometric shapes has been a concept/method of transmitting information for quite a long time so could have permeated many later works, not least because it seems, at each stage, to have had at least some success as a method of communicating/developing information in meditation for example.

Very best wishes
Margaret B
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JMG Accepted Answer
Dear Margaret,

Thank you very much for the pointer to Veenstra's article! The timing of Guillaume d'Auvergne's grumbling -- yes, that would make perfect sense. The School of Chartres, which relaunched the study of sacred geometry in the western world, flourished in the twelfth century, and by the beginning of the thirteenth the tradition was starting to get serious traction in the broader community of educated people. Combine that, as you've pointed out, with the influx of material from the East -- another thing that started in the twelfth century and hit its stride in the thirteenth -- and the first stirrings of what became the Renaissance were under way. (I've often thought that the Renaissance would have happened a century earlier, and in southern France rather than Italy, if not for the crusade against the Cathars.)

More broadly, at least in my experience, you're quite correct that geometry is an extremely effective way of communicating insights to be unpacked in meditation. It's the same approach the Cosmic Doctrine uses -- "to train the mind rather than to inform it."

-- JMG
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