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Full name Violet Mary Firth, sometimes known as Violet Penry Evans. English esotericist, writer and psychologist; b. Llandudno, Wales, 1890-12-06, d. London, England 1946-01-08.

Violet Firth was the only child of a solicitor who practiced in North Wales but was originally from Yorkshire. She is often incorrectly presented as having been Welsh because of her birthplace but that is not the case. In fact, her early personal history is unclear and there's even one source claiming her to be an orphan (to which I don't think I can give much credence). Nationalities aside, her work touched on many facets of Britain's cultures and traditions.

She assumed the name of Dion Fortune from her family motto "Deo non Fortuna" (through God and not Chance). Under this name she became one of the most prominent figures in western occultism. A contemporary of Aleister Crowley and member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn herself in 1919-1922, her writings and work made her the most influential woman in the Western magickal tradition since Madame Blavatsky (who, mind you, was full of it) and a major contributor to contemporary esoteric thought. Her remarkable book The Mystical Qabalah also established her as a major Kabbalistic scholar. She was doubtlessly one of the greatest Adepts of this century and the clarity of her written work is rare in any field.

Not much is known about her childhood but it is said that she had visions of being a priestess in Atlantis at a very young age and exhibited traits of a medium in her teens. Whether her mediumistic (what an ugly word) abilities survived into adulthood is not absolutely certain. Her first contact with spirituality was through her mother, who was a Christian Scientist. By the age of 15 she was exploring occultism in a time and day when London was a good place to be for that purpose.

From 1919 to 1929 she was a member of or affiliated with Golden Dawn but her association with them ended with her disagreement with its principles and practices. Her relations with the Theosophical Society, which she had had contact with since 1906, were never that strong but deteriorated around the same time. Organisations that she led herself were the Christian Mystic Lodge of the Theosophical Society (1923) and the Community (later Fraternity) of the Inner Light (1924) which she founded. The latter still exists as the Society of the Inner Light.

Her writings touch upon many aspects of esoteric theory and practice. She presentes her views in an extremely lucid and detailed manner, and avoids the arcane and condescending style you might find in the writings of her contemporaries and of Victorian occultists. She was a rare writer as much as she was an extraordinary Adept. I seriously recommend reading her work if you take interest in western esotericism. She does not preach or evangelise but gives the reader a presentation that is convincing even when one disagrees with specifics. I'll still take the more fanciful suggestions that she established contact with characters such as Socrates and Merlin with some reservations, no matter how well she writes.

Dion Fortune, while bearing a heavy influence on modern Wicca and other witchcraft disciplines and pagan schools of thought, was not a witch herself. In fact, her teachings were based on Christian and Hermetic traditions, though every aspect of western esoteric tradition found its way into her work at one point or the other. Although familiar with the eastern, especially Hindu, world view too, she believed those traditions were more suitable for the western mind at a time when oriental influences were becoming more widespread in the occident. She was married to Dr. Thomas Penry Evans from 1927-1939 but had no children. On a professional level she was a psychoanalyst who applied principles of esoteric healing in her work and, while not Jungian (by her own declaration), was closer to Jung than to other schools of psychoanalysis.

Bibliography:

Non-fiction:

  • Applied Magic and Aspects of Occultism (1922)
  • The Esoteric Philosophy of Love and Marriage (1924)
  • The Cosmic Doctrine (1924)
  • Esoteric Orders and their Work (1928)
  • Sane Occultism (1929)
  • Psychic Self-Defence (1930)
  • The Training and Work of an Initiate (1930)
  • Mystical Meditations on the Collects (1930)
  • Spiritualism in the Light of Occult Science (1931)
  • Through the Gates of Death (1932)
  • The Mystical Qabalah (1935)
  • Practical Occultism in Daily Life (1935)
  • Glastonbury - Avalon of the Heart
  • The Magical Battle for Britain
  • The Soya Bean

Fiction:

She also wrote some non-fiction under her birth name of Violet Mary Firth in line with her occupation as a psychologist:

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