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Pagan Pioneers:  Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others


Dion Fortune



Written and compiled by George Knowles


Behind the shadows of Gerald B. Gardner lurks Dion Fortune.  Unappreciated during her own time she was perhaps his lesser-known equal, working quietly behind the scenes she developed her own tradition and was unconcerned with the need for publicity. Dion was a respected psychiatrist, occultist and author who approached magick and hermetic concepts from the perspectives of Jung and Freud. She was a prolific occult writer of novels and non-fiction books, an adept in ceremonial magick and a pioneer psychiatrist on religious thought in occultism.


Dion was the daughter of a solicitor and born “Violet Mary Firth” on the 6th January 1890 in Bryn-y-Bia, Llandudno, Wales. She showed mediumistic abilities at an early age and was reputed to have had visions and dreams of “Atlantis” as early as four years old. Later she claimed to have been a priestess there in a past life. She was a bright and intelligent child who wrote her first book at the age of 13, a book of poems entitled Violets in 1904.


Her family were fair to do Christian Scientists with a family motto that reads: “Deo, non Fortuna”, meaning “By God, not by chance”. In 1906 after the death of her grandfather, the family moved to London and lived on they’re inheritance. There she joined the local Theosophical Society and in 1908 had another poem published called Angels. In 1910 she started work at St Georges Secretarial Collage, while continuing her studies in psychology. She worked as an assistant to the collage principal, a strong minded and domineering woman with a violent temper.



Dion Fortune circa 1911


After a number of clashes with the woman, Dion decided to leave. Reporting her intentions to leave, the woman subjected her to a diatribe of incompetence and lack of self-confidence, that she later suffered a near mental breakdown. She later attributed this to the principal, believing she had used “psychic attacks” to try and control her, a technique allegedly learned on visits to India.


As a result of these attacks and during the following three years it took to recover, Dion delved deeper into Psychology, focusing her studies on the theories of Freud and Jung. In 1913 she took up a position as a lay-psychoanalyst at the Medico-Psychological Clinic in London. There she concluded that neither Freud nor Jung adequately addressed the subtleties and complexities of the mind. There was something they had missed, and she felt the answers might lie in occultism.


Through the war years 1914-1918 Dion joined the “Women’s Land Army”, during which time she maintained her links with the “Theosophical Society”. Towards the end of the war she met with and worked with the head of the society “Theodore Moriarty”, an occultist and freemason. Moriarty encouraged her interest in the occult, and in 1919 after the war, she was initiated into the “Alpha and Omega Lodge of Stella Matutina”, an outer order of the hermetic “Order of the Golden Dawn” situated in London.


She studied under “J.W.Brodie-Innes” but came under conflict with “Moina Mathers” the wife of S.L. MacGregor-Mathers, one of the original founders of the Golden Dawn. Feeling symptoms of “psychic attack” similar to her past experience, she later quit and formed her own order “the Fraternity of the Inner Light”. Initially the order was part of the Golden Dawn, but based on esoteric Christianity. It later separated and distanced itself, removing all connections with witchcraft.


After the death of her friend and mentor Theodore Moriarty in 1923, Dion took over the Theosophical Society and renamed it the “Christian Mystic Lodge”. In 1924 she bought a property in Glastonbury called the Chalice Orchard. This she would use as a retreat from the pressures of work and living in the city. While visiting at Glastonbury, Dion became deeply interested in Arthurian legends and the magical-mystical folklore centered on the area. She later formed a pilgrim centre there known as the “Chalice Orchard Club”, which she dedicated to the “Mysteries of Isis”.


In 1937 she met and married a medical doctor “Thomas Penry Evans”. Due to his own occult interests, different from Dion’s, he became known as Merlin or Merle by many of her followers. They worked together magically as Priest and Priestess of her order, the “Fraternity of the Inner Light”, but argued constantly over their differences. In 1939 Evans left her for another lover and they divorced. Dion continued to head the order renaming it the “Society of the Inner Light”.



Dion Fortune with her husband


Later that same year she leased a property in West London known as “The Belfry”, and turned it into a temple for her followers. Like Glastonbury it was dedicated to the “Mysteries of Isis”. During the rest of her lifetime and indeed since she passed away, her societies continue to grow and attract new followers. Just after the Second World War, Dion contracted Leukaemia and in 1946 on the 8th January, she departed this world for the next.




Dion Fortune's grave at Glastonbury


Dion Fortune (her pen name) was a prolific writer. She derived her pen name from her family motto, “Deo, non Fortuna”, meaning “By God, not by chance” which she shortened to Dion Fortune. She writes of her many personal experiences as a practicing occultist and psychiatrist, and pours out her knowledge of the occult in both fiction and non-fiction books, some of which have now reached classical status. Three of her non-fiction books were written using another pseudonym - V M Steele, which included:  The Scarred Wrists (1935), Hunters Of Humans (1936) and Beloved Of Ishmael (1937).


Today the “Society of the Inner Light” is still practicing and still based in London, but they maintain that Dion was not a witch, and was not involved in any coven? They stress that the present day society is not connected with witchcraft in any way. A sad tribute to a writer whose books did so much to influence, and continues to influence the thoughts of many practitioners in the Wicca/Witchcraft movement.


Select Bibliography:


Violets (1904)
More Violets (1906)
Machinery Of The Mind (1922)
The Esoteric Philosophy Of Love And Marriage (1924)
Psychology Of The Servant Problem (1925)
The Soya Bean (1925)
The Secrets Of Dr Taverner (1926)
The Demon Lover (1927)

The Problem Of Purity (1928)
Sane Occultism (1929)
The Cosmic Doctrine (1930)
The Esoteric Orders And Their Work (1930)
Mystical Meditations On The Collects (1930)
Psychic Self Defence (1930)
The Training And Work Of An Initiate (1930)
Spritualism In The Light Of Occult Science (1931)
Through The Gates Of Death (1932)
Avalon Of The Heart (1934)
Practical Occultism In Daily Life (1935)

The Scarred Wrists (as V M Steele in 1935)
The Winged Bull (1935)
Hunters Of Humans (as V M Steele in 1936)
The Goat Foot God (1936)
The Mystical Qabalah (1936)

Beloved Of Ishmael (as V M Steele in 1937)
The Sea Priestess (1938)

Moon Magic (published posthumously in 1956)

Aspects Of Occultism (published posthumously in 1962)
Applied Magic (published posthumously in 1962)








 Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraft  - By Rosemary Ellen Guiley

Psychic Self-Defence  - By Dion Fortune





First published on the 24th November 2004, 15:09:40 © George Knowles



This article is now showing with permission at:


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Best wishes and Blessed Be


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Traditional Writings:


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Correspondence Tables:


IncenseCandlesColours Magickal Days Stones and Gems Elements and Elementals




Traditions Part 1  -  Alexandrian Wicca /  Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) /  Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) /  Blue Star Wicca /  British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) /  Celtic Wicca /  Ceremonial Magic /  Chaos Magic /  Church and School of Wicca /  Circle Sanctuary /  Covenant of the Goddess (COG) /  Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) /  Cyber Wicca /  Dianic Wicca /  Eclectic Wicca /  Feri Wicca /


Traditions Part 2 Gardnerian Wicca /  Georgian Tradition /  Henge of Keltria /  Hereditary Witchcraft /  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) /  Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) /  Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition /  Nordic Paganism /  Pagan Federation /  Pectic-Wita /  Seax-Wica /  Shamanism /  Solitary /  Strega /  Sylvan Tradition /  Vodoun or Voodoo /  Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /


Other things of interest:


Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology) /  Esbats & Full Moons Links to Personal Friends & Resources Wicca/Witchcraft Resources What's a spell? Circle Casting and Sacred Space  Pentagram - Pentacle Marks of a Witch The Witches Power The Witches Hat An esoteric guide to visiting London SatanismPow-wowThe Unitarian Universalist Association /  Numerology:  Part 1  Part 2  /  Part 3A history of the Malleus Maleficarum:  includes:  Pope Innocent VIII  /  The papal Bull  /   The Malleus Maleficarum  /  An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum  /  The letter of approbation  /  Johann Nider’s Formicarius  /  Jacob Sprenger  /  Heinrich Kramer  /  Stefano Infessura  /  Montague Summers  /  The Waldenses  /  The Albigenses  /  The Hussites /  The Native American Sun DanceShielding (Occult and Psychic Protection)  The History of ThanksgivingAuras  - Part 1 and Part 2 Doreen Valiente Witch” (A Book Review) /   


Sabbats and Festivals:


The Sabbats in History and Mythology /  Samhain (October 31st)  /  Yule (December 21st)  /  Imbolc (February 2nd)  /  Ostara (March 21st)  /  Beltane (April 30th)  /  Litha (June 21st)  /  Lammas/Lughnasadh (August 1st)  /  Mabon (September 21st)


Rituals contributed by Crone:


Samhain / Yule Imbolc Ostara /  Beltane Litha Lammas Mabon




Tools of a Witch  /  The Besom (Broom) /  Poppets and DollsPendulums / Cauldron Magick Mirror Gazing




Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar and Totem Animals) /  AntelopeBatsCrow Fox Frog and Toads Goat / HoneybeeKangarooLion OwlPhoenix Rabbits and HaresRaven Robin RedbreastSheep Spider SquirrelSwansUnicornWild Boar Wolf /  Serpent /  Pig /  Stag /  Horse /  Mouse /  Cat /  Rats /  Unicorn




In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar.  For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following:  Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  Elder


Sacred Sites:


Mystical Sacred Sites  -  Stonehenge /  Glastonbury Tor /  Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni /  Avebury /  Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant /  Ireland - Newgrange /


Rocks and Stones:


Stones - History, Myths and Lore


Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:


Apophyllite  / Amber Amethyst Aquamarine Aragonite Aventurine Black Tourmaline Bloodstone Calcite Carnelian Celestite Citrine Chrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / Fluorite Garnet /  Hematite Herkimer Diamond Labradorite Lapis Lazuli Malachite Moonstone Obsidian Opal Pyrite Quartz (Rock Crystal) Rose Quartz Ruby Selenite Seraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodalite Sunstone ThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble


Wisdom and Inspiration:


Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakening The Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods I have a Dream by Martin Luther King /


Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:


Murdered by Witchcraft The Fairy Witch of Clonmel A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) /  Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife /  The Story of Jack-O-Lantern The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) /  The Two Brothers - Light and Dark


Old Masters of Academia:


Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagoras





A "Who's Who" of Witches, Pagans and other associated People

(Ancient, Past and Present)


Remembered at Samhain

(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)


Pagan Pioneers:  Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others


Abramelin the Mage /  Agrippa Aidan A KellyAlbertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” /  Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” /  Alison Harlow /   Allan Bennett - the Ven. Ananda MetteyyaAllan Kardec (Spiritism) /  Alphonsus de SpinaAmber KAnn Moura /  Anna FranklinAnodea JudithAnton Szandor LaVey /  Arnold CrowtherArthur Edward Waite /  Austin Osman SpareBalthasar Bekker /  Biddy EarlyBarbara Vickers /  Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel /  Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke Cecil Hugh WilliamsonCharles Godfrey Leland /   Charles WaltonChristopher PenczakChristina Oakley Harrington Cornelius Loos /  Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" /  Dion Fortune /  Dolores Aschroft-NowickiDonald Michael Kraig Doreen ValienteDorothy MorrisonDr. John Dee & Edward Kelly /  Dr. Leo Louis Martello /  Edain McCoy /  Edward FitchEleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” Eliphas Levi /  Ernest Thompson Seton /  Ernest Westlake /  Fiona Horne /   Frederick McLaren Adams - Feraferia Friedrich von Spee /  Francis Barrett /  Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca /  Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft /  Gwydion Pendderwen Hans HolzerHelen Duncan /   Herman Slater - Horrible Herman /  Heinrich KramerIsaac Bonewits Israel RegardieIvo Domínguez Jr. /  Jack Whiteside Parsons - Rocket Science and Magick /  James "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches /  Janet Farrar and Gavin BoneJean Bodin Jessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” / Johann Weyer  / Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" /   Johann Georg Fuchs von Dornheim  -  the “Hexenbrenner” (witch burner) /  John Belham-Payne John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" /  John Gerard /  John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred /  John Michael Greer /  John Score /  Joseph “Bearwalker” Wilson /  Joseph John Campbell /  Karl von Eckartshausen Lady Gwen Thompson - and "The Rede of the Wiccae" /   Laurie Cabot  - "the Official Witch of Salem" /  Lewis SpenceLodovico Maria Sinistrari Ludwig LavaterMadeline Montalban and the Order of the Morning Star /  Margaret Alice MurrayMargot AdlerMichael Howard and the UK "Cauldron Magazine" /  Margaret St. Clair - the “Sign of the Labrys” /  Marie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" /  Marion WeinsteinMartin Antoine Del Rio Matthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” /   Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" /  Michael A. Aquino - and The Temple of Set /  Monique WilsonMontague Summers /  Nicholas CulpeperNicholas RemyM. R. SellarsMrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" /  Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning GloryOld Dorothy Clutterbuck /  Old George PickingillOlivia Durdin-Robertson - co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis /  Paddy SladePamela Colman-SmithParacelsus /  Patricia CrowtherPatricia Monaghan /  Patricia “Trish” TelescoPaul Foster Case and the “Builders of the Adytum” mystery school /  Peter Binsfeld /  Philip HeseltonRaven GrimassiRaymond Buckland /  Reginald Scot /  Richard BaxterRobert CochraneRobert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" /  Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” /  Rossell Hope Robbins /   Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) /  Rudolf SteinerSabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" /  Scott CunninghamSelena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" /  Silver RavenwolfSir Francis Dashwood /  Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough"S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” /  Starhawk /  Stewart Farrar /  Sybil LeekTed Andrews The Mather Family - (includes:  Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) /   Thomas AdyT. Thorn CoyleVera ChapmanVictor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" /  Vivianne CrowleyWalter Brown GibsonWalter Ernest ButlerWilliam Butler YeatsZsuzsanna Budapest /  



Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete.  If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below.  Many thanks for reading  :-)



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