Tuesday, 05 May 2020
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Much is said and written about DNF's Christian hermeticism and her deep Christian beliefs but far less seems to be discussed about her views on paganism which have, in fact, had a profound impact on the modern pagan traditions that have been reimagined recent history.

There is no doubt that DNF believed that the pronouncement of Christ that ‘In my Father’s house there are many mansions' was a tenet that held great significance. Her strong belief that, as she declares in ‘The Sea Priestess’, ‘All the gods are one god and all the goddesses are one goddess and there is one initiator’ held true for the whole of her occult career. Her vast experience in both psychology and magic led her to hold a view, in harmony with my own, that the creator is like a diamond and each god or goddess is a different facet of that precious gem.

She held the strong belief that the old pagan mysteries, which came from a time when mankind was in much closer contact with the inner world - before the stresses and strains of the physical world overwhelmed the delicate balance of inner and outer - were well trodden ‘tracks in space’ which, if worked either in ritual form or by meditative methods, could be opened up once more and utilised in the the current phase of the Great Work. This can be clearly seen in her novels such as ‘The Sea Priestess’ and ‘The Goat Foot God’ which, as well as being a practical lesson in Qabbalistic methodology serve to promote the use of ancient pagan symbolism as a route to the inner planes. Further strong examples of her nod to the Old Gods, particularly the nature deities, can be found in her workings of the Rites of Isis and of Pan and also in the short story that forms a part of ‘The Secrets of Dr Taverner’ that is called ‘The Daughter of Pan’.

Since her work has had such a profound effect on modern paganism, it would be nice to see it more widely discussed.
2 years ago
Thank you Margaret for posting the fascinating excerpt from The Occult Review giving DF's views on the magical significance of Pan.

It confirms my impression that DF considered Pan to be a very significant figure - but I am a little taken aback to find that this is in connection solely with men’s psychological and spiritual development rather than - as I had assumed - Pan as a central pagan god in Green Ray magic.

She observes that the post-1st World War era was characterised by the breaking down of inhibitions, and that the magical performance of her Rite of Pan was therefore intended to enhance this process because it represented the “sublimation of the sex force from a lower to a higher arc.” She suggests that If the magic worked, this change of alignment would initiate creative activity and a increased vitality of the human spirit.

It has often been suggested that DF’s magical work with Isis played a significant role in the post-War liberation of women, but has her role in the changes of consciousness experienced by men in recent years ever been considered? Do we now think of Pan, and DF's Rite of Pan in this context? I’m not sure that we do, although perhaps I’m not qualified to make this judgement.
2 years ago
Dion Fortune has described the initiatory vision or lucid dream she received at the outset of her magical career, in which she travelled in vision to the Himalayas where she was contacted by a Master of Compassoin and a Master of Wisdom. The full account is given in: Gareth Knight, Dion Fortune and the Inner Light ( (Loughborough, Thoth Publications, 2000) page 39

But Charles Fielding (Charles Fielding and Carr Collins, The Story of Dion Fortune (Loughborough: Thoth, 1985), pp. 28-30. states that Dion Fortune had already experienced a similar vision in the previous month when a third figure, a representative of the Green Ray, was also present. It has been suggested that she suppressed this contact because she was concerned that the glamour and ease she felt at working with elementals could lead to a neglect of the development of the other two Rays – the Devotional and the Hermetic - in her future Fraternity.

So far as I know, neither author gives the source of their information but assuming what Fielding says is correct, it would explain why it is difficult to find much reference to the subject of the Green Ray or of paganism in DF's own writing. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why there is less discussion of her Green Ray work, although it seems that she has given us plenty of hints to take up and develop.
2 years ago
Wendy suggests that a reason that Dion Fortune may have written relatively little about pagan work was because of the risk of diversion from other paths arising from the glamour and ease of working with elementals. This does sound plausible. I wonder too if the suggestion that aspects such work are relatively simple might have been a deterrent. In Aspects of Occultism Fortune says ‘In pagan faiths the same principles prevail. The simple soul likes gods and plenty of them, full-flavoured and highly coloured; but the thoughtful man develops the idea of the God behind the gods...’. I do not intend here to suggest that Fortune had snobbish views but times were different then and perhaps it would not have been perceived by some to be a good idea to be associated with simple souls.
In the same publication Fortune says ‘The different gods and archangels of the different systems, Egyptian, Greek, Chaldean, Norse, which are native to our culture, are the racial thought-forms built up to act as vehicles of these primary cosmic forces. Being the primitive faith of our racial culture, their symbols lie deep hidden in the subconscious mind of each of us, utterly ineradicable, and capable of evocation to conscious activity by the use of the appropriate means. All the pagan pantheons contain the same factors because they all have to minister to the needs of a human nature that does not vary very much as to its ingredients from race to race but merely in the proportion in which these are on the average compounded.......Consequently, when we want to perform a rite of any given type we find it convenient to choose a method which is most closely fitted to the needs of the moment and our own temperamental bias’. The needs of the moment would not appear to be a factor in directing her attention away from pagan work because she says ‘The pagans were right when they deified and sanctified all aspects of nature and of human nature.......We need to bring back reverence for natural things, and respect for the body and its functions, and adore God made manifest in nature...if we are to have any real health of mind, body or estate and return as prodigals to the bosom of our Great Mother, where alone is to be found healing for the diseases that arise from too much civilization and too little sun and air’. Based on the above excerpts, perhaps it might have been the temperament of Fortune and her associates that steered the work generally away from the pagan even though she recognised its importance ‘We walk in this wonderful world of ours as if we were not of it, but a creation apart; but we are of the world, and have within our bodies every part of it, and therefore must be affected by all that concerns it. The magnetic quality of its stone and mass of metals, the generating life of animal and vegetable nature, all play their part, but could we bring our intellect to help us, I feel sure that we could attain a result beyond our expectations’.
It is also possible that her concerns about the different reactions some people might have to such work deterred her from publishing more extensively in that area, warning in relation to sacred places that ‘We may enter these unknown regions lightheartedly, but to get away from them and rid oneself of unpleasant attachments is not easy, and help is not always at hand when required’.
Despite these excerpts, which appear to show that Fortune distinguished between pagan and other esoteric work, she does seem to view all the different aspects of the work as one continuum: ‘The red end of the spectrum is concerned with the development of the individual, and the violet end with Group Minds. The Green Ray is the connecting link – the nadir, and has affinities with both past, present and future. It is the Ray of Beauty. The Blue is the Hermetic Ray with its roots in Egypt and Chaldea; it is the Ray of the Magician. The Indigo is the Gnostic Ray of the abstract mind and of philosophy and science, and the Purple is the ray of devotion – of healing – of the Lord Jesus.
We must think of man as being influenced by three Rays at least, for man is a triangle of emotion, mind, and spirit, and we must try to trace the relationship of one Ray with another, for instance the Green Celtic Ray is connected with the Purple Ray through such Celtic saints as St Columba and St Bride, and with the Hermetic Ray through the Magician Merlin and the Holy Grail legends. The Indigo Ray will link with the Purple Ray through the speculations of symbolism, and much that is now dark will be brought to light by science and religion working together.
The Magician is the Priest of the Elements. He works with the powers of the Elements and Nature Forces and he is considerably affected by the changing tides. But the Lord of the Violet Ray, under whom all the masters of the Western tradition serve in this present phase of evolution, is also Lord of the Elements, with power to command the waves and storms, as recorded in the New Testament, and as Priest of the Most High God he is much less influenced by the tides. Where the Magician would contact the Elemental Forces through their Great Regents, the ordinary Christian would do so through the Group Mind of his religion and the Lord Jesus
Whilst Fortune does here appear to recognise the interlinking of the various approaches, perhaps the final sentence suggests that her Christianity may have led her to find approaches other than the pagan more appropriate for her at that particular time.
2 years ago
In a similar vein to the previous comment, I found the following sections from the chapter on Netzach in DF's Mystical Qabalah apposite. It seems to support the position that DF had a clear understanding of the value of paganism and how it works in magical practice, and also that - my personal opinion here - for whatever reasons, it was not a path she was especially drawn to.

9. When his mentality was still primitive man worshipped these images, by means of which he represented to himself the great natural forces so all-important to his material well-being, thus establishing a link with them, by means of which a channel was developed whereby the forces they represented were poured into his soul, thus stimulating the corresponding factor in his own nature and thereby developing it. The operations of this worship, especially when it became highly organised and intellectualised, as in Greece and Egypt, built up exceedingly definite and potent images, and it is these that are generally understood as the gods. Generations of worship and adoration build a very strong image in the astral light, and when sacrifice is added to worship, the image is brought a step farther down the planes into manifestation and acquires a form in the dense ethers of Yesod, and is a very potent magical object, capable of independent action when ensouled by the concrete ideas generated in Hod.
10. We see, then, that every celestial being conceived by the mind of man has as its basis a natural force, but that upon the basis of this natural force is built up a symbolic image representative thereof, which is ensouled and rendered active by the force it represents. The image, then, is but a mode of representation indulged in by the human mind for its own convenience, but the force that the image represents, and which ensouls it, is a very real thing indeed, and under certain circumstances can be exceedingly powerful. In other words, although the form under which the god is represented is pure imagination, the force associated with it is both real and active.
2 years ago
There is an interesting comment in The Cosmic Doctrine regarding the Green Ray. It concludes section 19 of Part II.

"It is sometimes liable to cause confusion if a 'Ray' is associated with a special colour. The 'Ray' of the Cosmic Christ is that of the Oversoul of the Lords of Mind. It works through the precessional Signs of the Zodiac and contains within itself a whole spectrum or a set of strata of colours of which strata the so- called 'Purple Ray' is a stratum. The Green Ray or green stratum of the same great Ray worked through the force described in the legends of Osiris, Orpheus and Dionysos. It is the true Ray of Mind and leads to the innermost sanctuaries of the 'Mysteries.'

The idea that the Green Ray is the 'true Ray of Mind' is surely not what we would naturally assume. Intuitively, this statement appeals to me very much but I have to say that I have never fully worked out how the Green Ray is the true Ray of Mind nor even how it leads to the innermost sanctuaries of the Mysteries. Yet somehow I believe that it really does.
1 year ago
I have recently been reading about the Chinese god Pan Gu, who is generally recognised as the original creator-god in Chinese mythology. His name is only coincidentally similar to the Western god Pan and is translated as ‘coiled ancient one,’ although illustrations of Pan Gu also reveal a remarkable similarity to the Greek god, depicting him as a hairy man dressed in leaves and having two horns on his head.
It is said that the physical world was created from parts of Pan Gu’s body at the time of his death. As he expired, his four limbs became the four cardinal directions, his spine became a splendid mountain range, the blood in his veins became flowing rivers, his flesh became rich arable land and his teeth and bones became metal and precious stones. There is something very attractive about this image of the body of the god transforming into the living body of the earth! I find that it offers a satisfying addition to the character and function of the Greek god ‘Pan’ as it is described in Greek mythology which tends to focus more on his unconstrained animal nature than his ability to epitomise ‘All.’
1 year ago
Thank you Wendy for those very interesting observations about links between Chinese and Western mythology. Perhaps those links themselves are representations of all being part of one.
The three hares (or rabbits?) image appears to have been popping up with regularity of late. I understand that the earliest images of the three hares that have been found were in China, yet it crops up in the west, albeit apparently from a later date. The image appears to relate to science too, being a fine representation of covalent bonds (sharing of electrons in organic compounds). Interestingly, that scientific image relates to sharing to produce stability, and so can be considered to be related to all being part of one.
The cross fertilisation of images between magic and science is not limited to that. The claim by Kekule that he realised the structure of benzene after a dream involving the ouroboros may be apochryphal, but at the very least it shows he was familiar with the image of the ouroboros.
It seems that there could be a worldwide awareness of images relating to sharing, continuity and oneness, that awareness not only spread geographically but also crossing between the 'magical' and 'scientific' communities.
I would be most interested to know if you have come across any information related to the three hares image in connection with Chinese mythology.
1 year ago
The ‘three hares’ image (in which each hare appears to have two ears but they have only three ears between them) is fascinating, not least because like the ‘bi-stable’ image of the ‘chalice/two faces image, you can see either one hare with two ears, or three hares with one ear, but not both alternatives at once. There are a good number of examples in churches on Dartmoor near to where I live and the image really captures your attention in a ‘there’s more here than meets the eye’ sort of way.

You're right, the earliest example of the three hares discovered so far comes from China, in the ‘Thousand Buddha Caves’ at Dunhuang at the eastern end of the Silk Road. There are examples all along the Silk Road and into northern Europe but I think it would be unwise to make any claim as to where exactly the image originated, or if indeed it did emerge from a single location. The symbolism of the image seems to triumph over any attempt at precise definition. It must surely have represented something very different to 7th century Chinese Buddhists compared to the beliefs of those who carved and painted the same symbol in European Synagogues, or to the mediaeval church builders and woodcarvers on Dartmoor. The hares seem to transcend boundaries of nation and religion, and your suggestion that it is an expression of the concept of sharing, continuity and oneness makes a whole lot of sense, especially right now! I must say that the hares look quite carefree in an acceptance of their lot.

I’m not sure what the hare symbolises in Chinese mythology apart from a connection with the Moon. I shall do some research...... but in the meantime, I can add that in the Egyptian hieroglyphs the symbol of a single hare means ‘Existence.’
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