Fortune, Dion

Dion FortuneDion Fortune (1891 -1946) The magical name of Violet Mary Firth, British occultist and author whose books continue to have an impact on modern witchcraft and Paganism. Considered one of the leading occultists of her time, Dion Fortune was an adept in ceremonial Magic and was perhaps one of the first occult writers to approach magic and hermetic concepts from the psychology of Jung and Freud (see Hermetica). Some contemporary Witches and Pagans consider her fiction more important than her nonfiction, for her novels contain Pagan themes and are a rich source for rituals.

Fortune was born into a family of Christian Scientists and displayed mediumistic abilities in her teen years. In her early twenties, she worked as a law analyst at the Medico-Psychological Clinic in London. Her interest in exploring the human psyche resulted from an unpleasant episode in 1911, when, at age 29, she went to work in a school for a principal who took a great personal dislike to her. When Fortune went to see the woman to announce she was leaving her job, she was subjected to invective that she had no self-confidence and was incompetent.

Fortune said later that the principal also conveyed this by psychic attack, using yogic techniques and hypnotism that left Fortune a “mental and physical wreck” for three years. As a result, she studied psychology, delving into the works of both Freud and Jung. She preferred the ideas of Jung but eventually concluded that neither Freud nor Jung adequately addressed the subtleties and complexities of the mind. The answers, Fortune felt, lay in occultism.

In 1919 Fortune joined the Alpha and Omega Lodge of the Stella Matutina, an outer order of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and studied under J. W. Brodie-Innes. She experienced clashes with the wife of S. L. MacGregor-Mathers, one of the founders of the Golden Dawn, which she again felt were forms of psychic attack.

She left Stella Matutina in 1924 and founded her own order, the Community (later Fraternity) of the Inner Light. The order initially was part of the Golden Dawn but later separated from it. Fortune worked as a psychiatrist, which brought her into contact with other cases of psychic attack.

She was a prolific writer, pouring her occult knowledge into both novels and nonfiction. Her pen name was derived from the magical motto she adopted upon joining the Stella Matutina, “Deo Non Fortuna,” (“by God, not chance”), which became shortened to Dion Fortune. Her books are considered classics and continue to enjoy wide readership.

For a time she lived in Glastonbury and became deeply interested in the Arthurian legends and magical-mystical lore centred there. She wrote about Glastonbury in Avalon of the Heart. Fortune used her experiences with psychic attack to conclude that hostile psychic energy can emanate both deliberately and unwittingly from certain people and that one can mentally fend off such energy.

Her book Psychic Self-Defense (1930) remains the best guide to detection and defence against psychic attack. One of her most famous books is The Mystical Qabbalah (1936), in which she discusses the Western esoteric tradition and how the Qabbalah (see Kabbalah) is used by modern students of the Mysteries. The true nature of the gods, she said, is that of magical images shaped out of the astral plane by mankind’s thought, and is influenced by the mind.

Her other major non-fiction works include Sane Occultism (1929); The Training and Work of an Initiate (1930); Through the Gates of Death (1932); Applied Magic; Aspects of Occultism; and Spiritualism in the Light of Occult Science. Machinery of the Mind (1922) was published under her given name. But it is her novels that have captured the most interest among modern Witches and Pagans.

In particular, The Goat-Foot God (1936) concerns the powers of Pan, a Horned God, and offers a wealth of details on leys; The Sea-Priestess (1938) concerns the power of Isis, the moon goddess, and has been used by modern witches as an inspiration for creating rituals and invocations. Her other novels are The Secrets of Dr. Taverner (1926), about an adept who runs an occult nursing home; The Demon Lover (1927); and The Winged Bull (1936). Fortune was married to Dr. Thomas Penry Evans.

She died in January 1946. The Fraternity of the Inner Light remains based in London and now is known as the Society of the Inner Light. It offers techniques in the Western esoteric tradition. The Society stresses that Fortune was not a Witch and was not involved with any coven, and that the Society is not connected with Witchcraft in any way.


  • Knight, Gareth. Dion Fortune and the Three Fold Way. London: S.I.L. (Trading) Ltd., 2002.
  • Richardson, Alan. Priestess: The Life and Magic of Dion Fortune. Wellingborough, Eng.: The Aquarian Press, 1987.


The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – Copyright © 1989, 1999, 2008 by Visionary Living, Inc.

Fortune, Dion (1891–1946) English magician, occultist, and expert on Psychic Attack. Dion Fortune—her magical and pen name were created taken from her Magical Motto—was born Violet Mary Firth. She exhibited mediumistic abilities by her teens.

Fortune became an expert on psychic attack through her own experience, which she described in her book Psychic Self-Defence (1930).

As a young working woman in her twenties, she was subjected to mind manipulation by her female boss who, Fortune said, attempted to break her will . Fortune departed her job mentally shattered and physically exhausted. It took her three years to recover.

As a result, Fortune became interested in occultism, in an attempt to understand what had happened to her and to defend herself against any future such attacks. Her research led her to conclude that damage had been sustained by her etheric double, a nonphysical replica of the body which is attached to it and helps channel the universal life force to it.

Fortune believed that the damage to her etheric double, caused by her boss, created a leak in her life force. Fortune’s interest in psychic attack remained a focal point throughout her entire life and especially through her magical career. She worked as a psychiatrist, and attributed many of the symptoms in cases she saw to psychic attacks. In 1919, she took initiation into the Alpha et Omega Lodge of the Stella Matutina, an outer order of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn which by then had splintered into various groups.

The Alpha et Omega Lodge was created by Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, one of the original founders of the Golden Dawn, and his wife, Moina Mathers. Fortune took as her magical motto Deo Non Fortuna (“By God, not chance”). She was talented as a magician. She participated in psychic warfare and believed that Moina attacked her psychically. Fortune had numerous dramatic magical experiences, including materializing a thought -form werewolf .

The materialization happened spontaneously one night, and Fortune later concluded that it was the by-product of her hateful thoughts about revenge against a person. The werewolf seemed to emerge from the solar plexus area of her auric field. At first Fortune thought she could control the thought-form with her own will , but her magical teacher advised her to reabsorb the thought-form before it went out of control.

In 1924, Fortune departed Stella Matutina and founded her own order, the Community (later Society) of the Inner Light. Initially, the order was part of the Golden Dawn, but later it separated. Fortune authored a number of fiction and nonfiction books about the occult. Psychic Self-Defence is considered the definitive work on psychic attack and psychic vampirism. Fortune was married to Dr. Thomas Penry Evans. She died in January 1946. The Society of the Inner Light is based in London and continues to offer teachings in the Western occultism.


  • Fortune, Dion. Psychic Self-Defence. 1939. Reprint, York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1957.
  • Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2004.
  • Knight, Gareth. Dion Fortune and the Three-Fold Way. London: S.I.L. (Trading) Ltd., 2002.
  • Richardson, Alan. Priestess: The Life and Magic of Dion Fortune. Wellingborough, England: The Aquarian Press, 1987.


The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley Copyright © 2006 by Visionary Living, Inc.

Dion Fortune


  • 1922 The Machinery of the Mind
  • 1924 The Esoteric Philosophy of Love and Marriage
  • 1925 The Psychology of the Servant Problem
  • 1928 The Problem of Purity
  • 1928 The Esoteric Orders and Their Work
  • 1929 Sane Occultism
  • 1930 Mystical Meditations on the Collects
  • 1930 Psychic Self-Defense
  • 1930 The Training and Work of an Initiate
  • 1931 Spiritualism in the Light of Occult Science
  • 1932 Through the Gates of Death
  • 1934 Avalon of the Heart
  • 1935 The Mystical Qabalah
  • 1935 Practical Occultism in Daily Life
  • 1949 The Cosmic Doctrine
  • 1962 Aspects of Occultism
  • 1962 Applied Magic
  • 1969 The Magical Battle of Britain: The War Letters of Dion Fortune (edited by Gareth Knight)
  • 1999 Principles of Hermetic Philosophy (edited by Gareth Knight)
  • 1997 An Introduction to Ritual Magic (with Gareth Knight)


  • 1922 The Secrets of Dr. Taverner
  • 1927 The Demon Lover
  • 1935 The Winged Bull
  • 1935 The Scarred Wrists
  • 1935 Hunters of Humans
  • 1936 Beloved of Ishmael
  • 1936 The Goat-Foot God
  • 1938 The Sea Priestess
  • 1957 Moon Magic