Dion Fortune was born at Bryn-y-Bia in Llandudno, Wales on the 6th December 1890 under the name of Violet Mary Firth. She was a member of the Firth family of Sheffield, South Yorkshire. The Firths moved to London where Violet and her mother came under the spell of the newly founded Christian Science Church.
Violet reported visions of Atlantis at the tender age of four and started to develop psychic abilities during her twentieth year during which time she suffered a nervous breakdown. (See reference to this in her book ‘Psychic Self-Defense). After her recovery she found herself drawn to the occult and joined the Theosophical Society. A student of Psychology and Psychoanalysis at the University of London, Violet went on to became a lay psychotherapist at the Medico-Psychological Clinic in Brunswick Square.
WW2 broke out and Violet joined the Land Army and after this interlude returned to her studies. During this time she wrote the little known book 'The Soya Bean' , a book that reflected her interest in an alternative supply of protein other than meat products and in which her parents and her husband later took a commercial interest.
Her first mentor was the Irish occultist and Freemason Theodore Moriarty. In 1919 Violet joined a branch of the Alpha et Omega headed by Brodie Innes. One of these branches was headed by Maiya Tranchell-Hayes who taught Violet many phases of magical work and it was during this part of her life that Violet changed her name, inspired by her family motto “ "Deo, non Fortuna" (Latin for "God, Not Fate") of which Dion Fortune is an anglicised form.
After a dispute in 1922 with Moina Mathers, head of the Alpha et Omega, and with Mathers consent, Dion and her husband Penry Evans formed the Fraternity of the Inner Light as an offshoot of the Alpha et Omega.This group was later re-named The Society of the Inner Light and became the focus of her work for the rest of her life.
She wrote many books one of which - The Mystical Qabalah (published 1935) - is regarded by occultist as one of the best textbooks on magic ever written.
Links with Glastonbury
During the winter of 1923 - 1924 Dion spent time in Glastonbury which later became her place of retreat and she bought property in Glastonbury - The Chalice Orchard. Dion said she was in touch with the Celtic otherworlds that lay beneath the Tor and during this time she was in spiritual contact with the Greek philosopher Socrates, the nineteenth-century Chancellor of England Lord Erksine and later the great Arthurian magus himself Merlin. She wrote many of her experiences down in the book Glastonbury: Avalon of the Heart.
She participated in the Magical Battle of Britain which was an attempt by British occultists to magically aid the war effort and 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 that she wrote at that time.
The philosophical and practical line that Dion Fortune pursued right the way through her life was a three-fold balance of those elements of the Western Esoteric Tradition known as the Hermetic Path, the Green Ray Path of elemental and nature contacts and the Mystic Path.
She died of leukemia at the Middlesex Hospital, London on January 8th 1946 and is buried in the Glastonbury cemetery; her final resting place being a site of devotional pilgrimage for many students of Western Esoteric Traditions.
Morgana West / Pauline Ross
Thanks to Gothic Image for the photograph.