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Internet Book of Shadows, (Various Authors), [1999], at

Chas. S. Clifton is the copyright holder of this article. His website is at
This article originally appeared in GNOSIS #9, Fall 1988. GNOSIS can be found at
- sacred texts editor.

                                      A GODDESS ARRIVES
                                 THE NOVELS OF DION FORTUNE 
                                   AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF 
                                    GARDNERIAN WITCHCRAFT
                                     by CHAS S. CLIFTON
           No one occultist of the 20th century worked more vehemently in ad-
           vocating a "Western" - and within that, "Northern" - path of esoteric
           spirituality than did the English ceremonial magician, Dion Fortune.
           She founded an esoteric school that still persists, but beyond that
           direct transmission, her ideas seeded themselves into modern Neopagan
           religion to the point that they seem completely indigenous, their
           origins invisible.
           Certain of Fortune's key ideas, however, were not so much transmitted
           through her mystical writings and articles in The Occult Review of the
           1920s, as they were passed on through a unique series of novels, one
           of which stands fifty years later as "the finest novel on real magic
           ever written," in the words of Alan Richardson, her most adept biog-
           rapher1. Primary among these key ideas was her raising up of a lunar,
           feminine divine power - not that she was the first modern magician to
           do it, but by taking the two paths of ritual and literature she gave
           the power two ways to go.
           The second idea was that of egalitarian magical working, something she
           came to late in her life (she lived from 1890-1946). This was a fairly
           radical idea in that all her associations with the Theosophical
           Society, the Order of the Golden Dawn, and her own Fraternity (later
           Society) of the Inner Light included the idea of hierarchies and
           grades, going back in her own self-proclaimed reincarnational history
           to lifetimes among the sacred priestly caste of legendary Atlantis.
           Both of these ideas are found in the Anglo-American branches of modern
           Witchcraft, which first made its presence known in Great Britain in
           the early 1950s, having, I suspect, been developed and codified into
           its modern form during the later 1930s and 1940s. While a demonstrable
           personal connection between the modern witches and Dion Fortune cannot
           be proven - unless one had her entire mailing list circa 1939 in hand
           - I think a literary connection can be shown. 
           Her ideas about an earth-based Western tradition of esoteric, magical
           religion, which exalted the feminine principle, fit so neatly with the
           cosmology of those modern witches who came out of a similar esoteric
           British milieu, that the connection is unmistakable. The reason it has
           not been acknowledged until recently is that to do so would conflict
           with the frequent assertion that Witchcraft was the "Old Religion"
           brought forward unchanged in its essentials from centuries ago.
           Unfortunately for that assertion, the historical records, such as they
           are, showed little evidence for secret goddess religion persisting
           until recent centuries in Northern Europe. The voluminous "witch
           trial" documents of England, Scotland, and France, which the archaeol-
           ogist and folklorist Margaret Murray used to buttress her argument for
           the survival of a pre-Christian religion, do not mention goddess
           If one looks for other evidence of a goddess arriving in the mid-20th
           century, the other suspect typically is Robert Graves, whose widely
           influential book, The White Goddess, was written in 1944. Parallel and
           contemporary with Graves is Gertrude Rachel Levy's The Gate of Horn,
           which treats much of the same material Graves does, principally from
           the viewpoint of art history.2
                  The thesis of The White Goddess, which has been enormously influential
           among modern Pagan groups, is "that the language of poetic myth
           anciently current in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe was a
           magical language bound up with popular religious ceremonies in honour
           of the Moon-Goddess, or Muse,some of them dating from the Old Stone
           Age (Palaeolithic), and that this remains the language of true poe-
           try." Graves believed that this language "was still the
           Witchcovens of medieval Western Europe."3
                  I do not contend that Graves and Levy supplied the dual male and
           female divinities of most modern Witchcraft covens. Their books were
           both first published in 1948, after Fortune's works had been in print
           for a decade or more. Before examining the influence of Fortune's
           works, however, I will summarise the "coming out" of the British
           THE RE-EMERGENCE OF BRITISH WITCHCRAFT                                 
           In 1951 the British Parliament repealed the Witchcraft Act of 1735 -
           largely at the urging of Spiritualist churches, who objected to its
           prohibition of mediumship. This statutory change unexpectedly led to
           the emergence into public view of a religious tradition thought to be
           extinct: Witchcraft.4  These British witches defied definitions of the
           term common both in the vernacular and in anthropology textbooks. They
           were of both sexes, all ages, and were not isolated practitioners of
           maleficent magic; rather they claimed to be inheritors of the islands'
           pre-Christian religions. Their religion was duotheistic: they wor-
           shipped a male god, often called Cernnunos, Kernaya, or Herne; and a
           goddess, sometimes called Aradia or Tana. Of the two, sometimes seen
           as manifestations of a nonpersonal Godhead, the goddess had the
           greater importance, and her earthly representatives, the coven's
           priestess, had greater ritual authority.
           Greatly condensed, this is a description of what came to be known as
           "Gardnerian Witchcraft," after Gerald Gardner (1884-1964), who retired
           from the British colonial customs service in Malaya in 1936, returned
           to England and - as he described - was initiated into what he himself
           thought was a dying religion in 1938.5  This was no overnight conver-
           sion: Gardner was fascinated for many years with magical religion and
           "practical mysticism". A recognised avocational archaeologist and
           anthropologist in Malaya, during a visit to England in the 1920s, he
           set out to investigate the claims of British Spiritualists, trance
           mediums and the like. 
           As he wrote: "I have been interested in magic and kindred subjects all
           my life and have made a collection of magical instruments and charms.
           These studies led me to spiritualist and other societies..."6
                  Gardner wrote three books on Witchcraft, one novel, and two nonfiction
           works. The novel was High Magic's Aid (1949), a stirring tale of late-
           medieval English coveners dodging secular and clerical foes with
           something of the feel of Walter Scott's Ivanhoe  or Robert Louis
           Stevenson's The Black Arrow to it. Interestingly enough, the "witch-
           craft" portrayed in High Magic's Aid differs from what was later
           called "Gardnerian Witchcraft." In it the goddess is de-emphasised;
           the rituals are more in line with the post-Renaissance traditions of
           ceremonial magic.
           Gardner's next two books, The Meaning of Witchcraft (1959) and Witch-
           craft Today (1954), are more definitive of the tradition. All three of
           the forenamed remain in print; an earlier novel, with the suggestive
           title A Goddess Arrives, is long out of print, and I have not been
           able to locate a copy. Gardner and his followers also produced a
           "book" that was, until the early 1970s, passed on as handcopied
           manuscripts: "The Book of Shadows." It is a collection of "laws" and
           suggestions for running a clandestine coven, performing rituals,
           resolving disputes between witches inside the group, and so forth.
           Although it appears to be written in perhaps the English of the 17th
           century, I have concluded that it was produced during and immediately
           after World War II. Its atmosphere of secrecy and underground organ-
           ising is not a product of the witch-trial era, but of the early years
           of World War II when an invasion of southern England by the German
           Army appeared quite likely, and patriotic Britons were planning how
           they would organise a Resistance movement like those in France,
           Norway, and elsewhere in Nazi-occupied Europe.
           The woman often assumed to have birthed the idea of a Pagan under-
           ground in Christian Western Europe was not Dion Fortune, but the
           Egyptologist Margaret Murray of University College, London. Professor
           Murray, better known as the time for her work with Sir Flinders Petrie
           in Egypt, began researching Pagan carryovers while convalescing from
           an illness in 1915. World War I had interrupted her work in Egypt, and
           she wrote in her autobiography, My First Hundred Years:7
                  "I chose Glastonbury [to convalesce in]. One cannot stay in Glaston-
           bury without becoming interested in Joseph of Arimathea and the Holy
           Grail. As soon as I got back to London I did a careful piece of
           research, which resulted in a paper on Egyptian elements in the Grail
           Someone, I forget who, had once told me that the Witches obviously had
           a special form of religion, 'for they danced around a black goat.' As
           ancient religion is my pet subject this seemed to be in my line and
           during all the rest of the war I worked on Witches... I had started
           with the usual idea that the Witches were all old women suffering from
           illusions about the Devil and that their persecutors were wickedly
           prejudiced and perjured. I worked only from contemporary records, and
           when I suddenly realised that the so-called Devil was simply a dis-
           guised man I was startled, almost alarmed, by the way the recorded
           facts fell into place, and showed that the Witches were members of an
           old and primitive form of religion, and that the records had been made
           by members of a new and persecuting form."
           Murray's researches into medieval and Renaissance witch-trial docu-
           ments from Britain, Ireland, and the Continent (including those
           relating to Joan of Arc and Gilles de Rais) led to her writing three
           books, The Witch-Cult in Western Europe (1921), The God of the Witches
           (1931), and The Divine King in England (1954). In them she described
           her evidence for the survival of a pre-Christian religion centred on
           the Horned God of fertility (later labelled "The Devil" by Christian
           authorities) up until at least the 16th century in Britain.
           As the late historian of religion Mircea Eliade wrote, "Murray's
           theory was criticised by archaeologists, historians and folklorists
           alike."8  Pointing out some parallels between medieval witchcraft and
           Indo-Tibetan magical religion, Eliade gives qualified approval to part
           of Murray's conclusions.
           "As a matter of fact, almost everything in her construction was wrong
           except for one important assumption: that there existed a pre-Chris-
           tian fertility cult and that specific survivals of this pagan cult
           were stigmatised during the Middle Ages as witchcraft....recent
           research seems to confirm at least some aspects of her thesis. The
           Italian historian Carlo Ginsburg has proved that a popular fertility
           cult, active in the province of Friule in the 16th and 17th centuries,
           was progressively modified under pressure of the Inquisition and ended
           by resembling the traditional notion of witchcraft. Moreover, recent
           investigations of Romanian popular culture have brought to light a
           number of pagan survivals which clearly indicate the existence of a
           fertility cult and of what may be called a "white magic," comparable
           to some aspects of Western medieval witchcraft."
           One may thus argue that the existence of Murray's three works "paved
           the way for Gardner's reformation", as J. Gordon Melton of the In-
           stitute for the Study of American Religion put it.9  Gardner's "reform-
           ation" of whatever British witchcraft existed prior to his initiation
           into it had both theological and ritual aspects. The works he and his
           associates produced give a style of worship, a new set of ritual texts
           - and increasing emphasis on the goddess-aspect as the tradition grew
           - all of them pre-figured not in Murray's works but in Dion Fortune's.
                                    A PRACTICAL OCCULTIST
           In my experience, there is hardly a British, Irish or American witch
           of the revived, post-Gardnerian traditions who has not read something
           by Dion Fortune, and the same probably holds true in Canada, Aust-
           ralia, or New Zealand. Until 1985, however, biographies of her were
           nonexistent, even while the American Books in Print reference volumes
           listed twenty of her books in that year's volume - not bad for someone
           considered at best an obscure genre writer by the literary establish-
           ment of fifty years ago and of today.
           Neither her book on psychology, The Machinery of the Mind, written in
           the 1920s nor her works on occult philosophy, nor her five "occult"
           novels and volume of short stories received much critical notice when
           they came out. Such notice as was received was almost worse than none.
           A 1934 (London) Times Literary Supplement review of her book Avalon of
           the Heart begins, "The author tells us that she is the last of the
           Avalonians - of those who were drawn to Glastonbury as 'a centre of
           ever-renewed spiritual and artistic inspiration,' whatever that may
           And clearly the reviewer was not interested in finding out! Alan Ri-
           chardson's 1985 work, Dancers to the Gods, while primarily about two
           members of Fortune's magical order, contained the first well-res-
           earched material on her life.10  He followed it with a full biography,
           Priestess, two years later, an affectionate and sensitive portrait of
           this woman whose spiritual trajectory has yet to reach the horizon.11
                  Charles Fielding's and Carr Collins's The Story of Dion Fortune
           contains more details of her and her associates' magical work, but is
           written in a wooden "true believer" style and marred by numerous edi-
           torial blunders.12
                  To summarise greatly, she was born Violet Mary Firth in 1890 in Wales,
           where her English father, together with his wife's relatives, operated
           a seaside hotel and health spa catering to a well-to-do clientele.
           When her grandfather's death led to a dissolving of the partnership,
           her father moved the family to London where he could live comfortably
           off his inheritance. Her spiritual quest as a young woman led her to
           Christian Science (which her mother adopted when it came to England),
           Freudian psychology, the "Eastern wisdom" of the Theosophical Society,
           the Qabalistic magic of the Order of the Golden Dawn, 
            8and study with an Anglo-Irish occultist, T.W.C. Moriarty, the model
           for "Dr Taverner" in her book of short stories, The Secrets of Dr
           Taverner. She would have liked to have studied Freemasonry, but could
           not, being a woman.
           She studied psychology while in her twenties, before the outbreak of
           World War I, and practiced as a psychoanalyst for a time, the field
           not yet being closely controlled by the medical establishment. Fortune
           was probably the first writer on ceremonial magic and hermetic ideas
           to draw upon and acknowledge the work of Freud and later Jung. In her
           novel The Goat-Foot God, published in 1936 and dealing with the
           effects of both psychological repression and past lives, its central
           character, Hugh Paston, asks a friend, 
           "Are the Old Gods synonymous with the Devil?"
           "Christians think they are.
           "What do you think they are?"
           "I think they're the same thing as the Freudian subconscious."13
                  After Moriarty's death she headed the Christian Mystic Lodge of the
           Theosophical Society. In 1927 she married Thomas Penry Evans, a Welsh
           doctor practising in London, nicknamed "Merlin" or "Merl" for his own
           magical interests. They were priest and priestess, but never father
           and mother. The marriage, magically productive but contentious in the
           mundane world, lasted until 1939 when Evans left her for another
           woman. Fortune continued to head their group, which became the Society
           of the Inner Light and maintained, for a time, both a large communal
           house in London and another establishment in Glastonbury. The Society
           continues to this day, but Dion Fortune herself died of leukemia in
           Her penname derived from the motto she took as her magical name in the
           Golden Dawn, "Deo Non Fortuna", or roughly, "by God, not by Chance."
           Her involvement with the Golden Dawn lasted roughly from 1919 to about
           1922, and while these were the sunset years of the Order, which had
           been founded in 1888, they set for her a significant pattern of what
           an esoteric order should be.
           That Fortune also eventually was influenced by Jung is apparent in her
           work, although she was an occultist first and a Jungian second. Since
           her time there has been a great deal of discussion of the "gods and
           goddesses" by such neo-Jungians as James Hillman and Charlotte Downin-
           g. Surely Fortune's blending of 
           psychoanalytical ideas, Hermeticism, Qabalah, and Christian mysticism
           in the two orders she headed prefigures Hillman's question, "Can the
           atomism of our psychic paganism, that is, the individual symbol-
           formation now breaking out as the Christian cult fades, be contained
           by a psychology of self-integration that echoes its expiring Christian
                  I doubt that Dion Fortune would have answered as dogmatically as H-
           illman did, "The danger is that a true revival of paganism as religion
           is then possible, with all its accoutrements of popular soothsaying,
           quack priesthoods, astrological divination, extravagant practices, and
           the erosion of psychic differentiation through delusional enthus-
           Where she did agree with Jung is that Western methods are best for
           Western people. Jung wrote: "Instead of learning the spiritual tec-
           hniques of the East by heart and imitating them... it would be far
           more to the point to find out whether there exists in the unconscious
           an introverted tendency similar to that which has been developed in
           spiritual principles in the East. We should then be in a position to
           build on our own ground with our own methods."15
                  Compare Fortune's chapter "Eastern Methods and Western Bodies" in Sane
           in which she stated:16
                  "The pagan faiths of the West developed the nature contacts. Modern
           Western occultism, rising from this basis, seems to be taking for its
           field the little-known powers of the mind. The Eastern tradition has a
           very highly developed metaphysics.... Nevertheless, when it comes to
           the practical application of those principles and especially the proc-
           esses of occult training and initiation, it is best for a man to foll-
           ow the line of his own racial evolution.... The reason for the in-
           advisability of an alien initiation does not lie in racial antagonism,
           nor in any failure to appreciate the beauty and profundity of the
           Eastern systems, but for the same reason that Eastern methods of
           agriculture are inapplicable to the West - because conditions are
           It is clear from Fortune's novels that a "true", that is psychologic-
           ally informed, Paganism, was indeed what she sought in the late 1920s
           and 1930s. Time after time she created plots that mixed the t-
           herapeutic and the magical, drawing characters who combined psycho-
           logical acumen with non-ordinary wisdom. She defined her ideal mixture
           thus in Sane Occultism: A knowledge of [occult] philosophy can give a
           clue to the researches of the scientist and balance the ecstasies of
           the mystic; it may very well be that in the possibilities of ritual
           magic we shall find an invaluable therapeutic agent for use in certain
           forms of mental disease; psychoanalysis has demonstrated that these
           have no physiological cause, but it can seldom effect a cure."17
                  I see her as someone who shared a significant degree of philosophical
           accord with what would become "Neo-Pagan Witchcraft", but who in
           practice followed a different path. I have said her contribution to
           "the Craft" has not been sufficiently acknowledged; there is one
           exception. The works of two English Witches, Janet and Stewart Farrar,
           produced during the late 1970s and early 1980s, frequently refer their
           readers to Dion Fortune. In a recent instance, having laid out a
           ritual based on one in Fortune's novel The Sea Priestess and having
           received permission from the current leadership of the Society of the
           Inner Light to do so, they write:18
                  "In their letter of permission, the Society asked us to say 'that Dion
           Fortune was not a Witch and did not have any connection with a coven,
           and that this Society is not in any way associated with the Craft of
           Witches.' We accede to their request; and when this book is published,
           we shall send them a copy with our compliments, in the hope that it
           may give them second thoughts about whether Wiccan philosophy is as
           alien to that of Dion Fortune (whom witches hold in great respect) as
           they seem to imagine."
           Despite the Society of the Inner Light's disavowal, a good circumsta-
           ntial case can be made that Fortune's works, particularly her novels,
           could have influenced Gerald Gardner and his initiates. This insight
           was brought home to me while reading The Goat-Foot God, published two
           years before Gardner's initiation into the Craft. Its plot is typical
           of Fortune: a person down on his or her luck and near psychological
           collapse is rescued by a powerful magician or priestess and re-inte-
           grated socially and psychically.
           Hugh Paston, quoted above, is a wealthy Londoner on the verge of a
           nervous breakdown following the death of his wife and his friend -
           revealed to be her lover - in a car wreck. Aimlessly walking the
           streets, Paston finds a used-book shop run by a scholarly occultist
           who becomes the catalyst of his psychological integration. This incl-
           udes finishing some actions begun by a heretical medieval prior in an
           English monastery who may have been an earlier incarnation of Paston's
           or who otherwise overshadows him. What caught my attention was a
           remark given to the character of Jelkes, the bookseller, who in
           guiding Paston's reading on magic tells him, "Writers will put things
           into a novel that they daren't put in sober prose, where you have to
           dot the Is and cross the Ts.19
                  Fortune's literary output was divided between novels and "sober prose-
           ". Other "sober titles" included Practical Occultism in Daily Life,
           The Cosmic Doctrine, Esoteric Philosophy of Love and Marriage and what
           is often considered to be her masterpiece, The Mystical Qabalah.
           Robert Galbreath, writing a bibliographic survey of modern occultism,
           defined her message as "spiritual occultism."20
                  "Spiritual occultists state that it is possible to acquire personal,
           empirical knowledge of that which can only be taken on faith in
           religion or demonstrated through deductive reasoning in philosophy.
           Further, this knowledge, arrived at in full consciousness through the
           use of spiritual disciplines, is said to reveal man's place in the
           spiritual plan of the universe and to reconcile the debilitating
           conflict between science and religion. The goal of occultism, the-
           refore, is the complete spiritualisation of man and the cosmos, and
           the attainment of a condition of unity."
           The novels, however, convey a parallel but somewhat different message.
           They do it using a different vocabulary, a more consciously Pagan
           vocabulary. While published statements of the Society of Inner Light
           proclaimed it "established on the enlightened and informed Christian
           ethic and morality," its founder's novels say repeatedly that
           Christianity has had its day and a new Renaissance is dawning. After
           his experience of inner integration Hugh Paston muses:21
                  "It is a curious fact that when men began to re-assemble the fragments
           of Greek culture - the peerless statues of the gods and the ageless
           wisdom of the sages - a Renaissance came to the civilisation that had
           sat in intellectual darkness since the days when the gods had with-
           drawn before the assaults of the Galileans. What is going to happen 
           in our day, now that Freud has come along crying, "Great Pan is
           risen!" - ? Hugh wondered whether his own problems were not part of a
           universal problem, and his own awakening part of a much wider awakeni-
           ng? He wondered how far the realisation of an idea by one man, even if
           he spoke no word, might not inject that idea into the group-mind of
           the race and set it working like a ferment?
           Likewise, in The Winged Bull, set not long after World War I, Colonel
           Brangwyn the magician tells his new student, one of his former junior
                  "It [Christianity] had its place, Murchison, it had its place. It
           sweetened life when paganism had become corrupt. We lack something if
           we haven't got it. But we also lack something if we get too much of
           it. It isn't true to life if we take it neat."
           Later, during a ritual Brangwyn quotes Swinburne's poem "The Last
           Oracle" in praise of Paganism past - it was this aspect of Swinburne
           that G.K. Chesterton mockingly called "neo-Pagan" - making Murchison
           remember "that great pagan, Julian the Apostate, striving to make head
           against the set of the tide," and Murchison thinks to himself:23
                  "And the trouble with Christianity was that it was so darned lop-si-
           ded. Good, and jolly good, as far as it went, but you couldn't stretch
           it clean round the circle of experience because it just wouldn't go.
           What it was originally, nobody knew, save that it must have been
           something mighty potent. All we knew of it was what was left after th-
           ose two crusty old bachelors, Paul and Augustine, had finished with
           And then came the heresy hunters and gave it a final curry-combing,
           taking infinite pains to get rid of everything that it had inherited
           from older faiths. And they had been like the modern miller, who
           refines all the vitamins out of the bread and gives half the popul-
           ation rickets. That was what was the matter with civilisation, it had
           spiritual rickets because its spiritual food was too refined. Man
           can't get on without a dash of paganism, and for the most part, he
           doesn't try to."
           The notion of injecting a key idea into the collective unconscious of
           Western humanity appears over and over in Fortune's novels. It is not
           surprising that the writer who had two favourite maxims - "A religion
           without a goddess is halfway to atheism" and "All the gods are one god
           and all the goddesses are one goddess and there is one initiator" -
           should repeatedly call for attention to be paid to the Great Goddess.
           In another of his soliloquies, Hugh Paston thinks, "Surely our of all
           her richness and abundance the Great Mother of us all could meet his
           need? Why do we forget the Mother in the worship of the Father? What
           particular virtue is there in virgin begetting?"
                                    DRAWING DOWN THE MOON
           When the British witches went public in the early 1950s, the idea that
           Christianity had had its day and furthermore was not always the right
           path for Westerners was often heard. The major difference between
           their religion and that portrayed in the witch-trial documents Mar-
           garet Murray studied, however, was the reintroduction of worship of
           the Great Goddess. She was seen both as Queen of Heaven and Earth/Sea
           Mother, depending on the context. The best evidence for Fortune's inf-
           luence here lies in the construction of the key "Gardnerian" ritual
           called "Drawing Down the Moon."25
                  In that ritual, developed and/or modified by Gardner and his contempo-
           raries, the Goddess is invoked by the priest in the body of the
           priestess. It is expected that a type of divine inspiration will res-
           ult. Drawing down the Moon is a key part of every Gardnerian ritual c-
           ircle - and its elements and purpose are easily discernible in Fort-
           une's novel The Sea Priestess, which she was forced by publishers'
           lack of interest to self-publish in 1938.26  Richardson, her biographe-
           r, calls it and its sequel, Moon Magic, "the only novels on magic ever
           written," considering the competition.
           Although Gardner only hints at the workings of the ritual in his boo-
           ks, his successors, the Farrars, explain it more fully in Eight Sabb-
           ats for Witches.27  It comes after the drawing of the ritual circle - a
           conscious creating and marking of sacred space, defined by the cardi-
           nal directions and purified with the four magical elements, fire and
           air (incense), water and earth (salt). While the priestess stands
           before the altar (in a traditional Gardnerian circle she holds a wand
           and a lightweight scourge in her crossed arms, like a figure of
           Osiris), the priest kneels and blesses with a kiss her feet, knees,
           womb, breast and lips. Then a shift occurs, both in language and
           action. He ceases to address her as a woman and begins to address her
           as the Mother Goddess, beginning with the words,"I invoke thee and
           call upon thee, Mighty Mother of us all..."28
                  When the invocation is completed, the priestess is considered to be
           speaking as the Goddess, not as herself. She may go on to deliver a
           passage (authored by Doreen Valiente, whose role I deal with below)
           that is based partly on material collected during the 1890s in Italy
           by the American folklorist Charles Leland.29
                  I am the gracious Goddess, who gives the gift of joy unto the heart of
           man. Upon earth, I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal; and bey-
           ond death, I give peace, and freedom, and reunion with those who have
           gone before. Nor do I demand sacrifice; for behold, I am the Mother of
           all living, and my love is poured out upon the earth."
           She may, of course, speak spontaneously; Janet Farrar comments that
           "'she never knows how it will come out.' Sometimes the wording itself
           is completely altered, with a spontaneous flow she listens to with a
           detached part of her mind."30
                  Dion Fortune believed that a re-introduction of both ritual and ps-
           ychological approaches to the Great Goddess would even the psychic
           balance between men and women, a theme carried on today by a number of
           feminist psychologists and writers, although with scant acknowled-
           gment. She wished every marriage to take on an aspect of the hieros
           gamos (divine marriage), and it is there that a parallel with Witch-
           craft ritual lies, since many rituals turn on sexual polarity, both
           symbolically and literally. Fortune foreshadowed this in The Sea
           Priestess when she wrote:31
                  "In this sacrament the woman must take her ancient place as priestess
           of the rite, calling down lightning from heaven; the initiator, not
           the initiated.... She had to become the priestess of the Goddess, and
           I [the male narrator], the kneeling worshipper, had to receive the
           sacrament at her hands....When the body of a woman is made an altar
           for the worship of the Goddess who is all beauty and magnetic life...
           then the Goddess enters the temple."
           This is not just Fortune's description of the magical side of marri-
           age, but a virtual schematic of the Drawing Down the Moon ceremony and
           its concluding Great Rite, as Gardner called ritual intercourse at its
           conclusion (something more frequently performed symbolically). As the
           Farrars state, "The Great Rite specifically declares that the body of
           the woman taking part is an altar, with her womb and generative organs
           as its sacred focus, and reveres it as such."32
                  I would suggest that when the Farrars openly built a new ritual upon
           the Sea Priestess, the "seashore ritual" mentioned earlier, which for-
           ms Chapter X of The Witches' Way, they were openly admitting a debt to
           Fortune which modern Witchcraft has always carried on its books.
           To recapitulate, the circumstantial case for Fortune's influence on
           the beginnings of modern Witchcraft fits the chronology. Gerald Gardn-
           er's initiation took place in 1939 in Hampshire. In the late 1940s he
           "received permission" to publish some things about Witchcraft in his
           novel High Magic's Aid, which appeared in 1949 and had little of the
           Goddess element in it. The Sea Priestess was written in the 1930s, but
           only available in a private edition at first, while its sequel, Moon
           Magic, was available in 1956.
           The Great Goddess becomes more central in Gardner's works from the
           1950s and is absolutely central to the Craft as it developed in that
           decade. She did not, however, appear in Margaret Murray's works on the
           alleged underground Paganism of the Middle Ages, which Murray wrote in
           the 1920s. There may, however, be echoes of a Goddess religion in It-
           aly, based on Leland's research there in the mid-1800s. Leland pr-
           ovided another literary source for the Drawing Down the Moon ceremony.
           The person who re-wrote that ceremony and gave Gardnerian- tradition
           ritual much of its form is now known to be Doreen Valiente, who wrote
           four books on the Craft as well. Her contributions to the texts are
           discussed at length in The Witches' Way. Although not the only one of
           Gardner's original coveners still living (i.e., after he moved away
           from the coven that initiated him, most of whose members were elderly
           in the 1930s), she has been the only one publicly involved in a
           critical re-evaluation of the tradition's beginnings.
           Although Gardner and Fortune were contemporaries, she does not know if
           they ever met, she told me in a 1985 letter. She did, however, say
           that she is "very fond of Dion Fortune's books, especially her novels
           The Sea Priestess, The Goat-Foot God, and Moon Magic. It is notable
           that her [Fortune's] outlook became more pagan as she grew older."
           Whether this is a tacit admission that she drew upon Fortune's works,
           I cannot say. Witches are known for oblique statements, and Valiente
           walked a fine line between secrecy and disclosure.
           Given England's size, its relatively interwoven cliques of occultists,
           and the small number of novelists dealing with Pagan themes, it is
           unlikely that Valiente and Gardner were not aware of Fortune's novels
           at the time they were giving their religion its present form. As we h-
           ave seen, Gardner was himself engaged in a conscious search for ma-
           gical learning in the 1920s and 1930s, and it was in the 1930s that F-
           ortune's novels began appearing, while the chapters of SaneOccultism
           were published serially in The Occult Review , and influential British
           journal it is unlikely he would have overlooked.
           Valiente, meanwhile, was initiated by Gardner as a priestess in 1953
           and left his coven to form her own in 1957, the year after Moon Magic
           came out. With such a coincidence of subject matter, place and dates,
           it is difficult not to see Dion Fortune as a previously unadmitted but
           significant influence on the development of Gardnerian Witchcraft.
           Today the Goddess revival seems to have its "applied" and "theor-
           etical" wings, with the Neo-Pagans in the first category and various
           Jungians, writers on feminist spirituality and historians of religion
           in the second. With her combined psychological and magical training,
           Dion Fortune could be considered a foremother to each.
           1.   Alan Richardson, Priestess: The Life and Magic of Dion Fortune.
                (Wellingborough, Northants: The Aquarian Press, 1987), p.37.
           2.   G. Rachel Levy, The Gate of Horn: A Study of Religions Concep-
                tions of the Stone Age and Their Influence upon European Thought.
                (London: Faber and Faber, 1948).
           3.   Robert Graves, The White Goddess: A historical grammar of poetic
                myth. (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1966), p.12.
           4.   Raymond Buckland, Witchcraft from the Inside. (St Paul, MN:
                Llewellyn Publications, 1971), p.55. The law was a successor to
                the Witchcraft Act of King James I, passed in 1604 and repealed
                in 1736.
           5.   J.L. Bracelin, Gerald Gardner: Witch. (London: Octagon Press
           6.   Gerald B. Gardner, Witchcraft Today. (London: Rider & Co., 1954),
           7.   Margaret Murray, My First Hundred Years. (London: William Kimber,
                1963), p.104. The title was no exaggeration; she was born in 18-
           8.   Mircea Eliade, Occultism, Witchcraft and Cultural Fashions: Essa-
                ys in Comparative Religions. (Chicago: University of Chicago Pre-
                ss, 1976), p.56
           9.   J. Gordon Melton, Magic, Witchcraft and Paganism in America: A
                Bibliography. (New York: Garland Publishing Co., 1982), p.105
           10.  Alan Richardson, Dancers to the Gods. (Wellingborough, Northants:
                The Aquarian Press, 1985).
           11.  ------, Priestess: The Life and Magic of Dion Fortune. (-
                Wellingborough, Northants: The Aquarian Press, 1987).
           12.  Charles Fielding and Carr Collins, The Story of Dion Fortune. (-
                Dallas, Texas: Star and Cross Publication, 1985).
           13.  Dion Fortune, The Goat-Foot God. (London: The Aquarian Press,
                1971), p.89
           14.  James Hillman, "Psychology: Monotheistic or Polytheistic."
                Appendix to David L. Miller, The New Polytheism. (Dallas, Texas:
                Spring Publications Inc., 1981), p.125
           15.  C.G. Jung, "Yoga and the West". In The Collected Works of C.G.
                Jung. (London: Pantheon, 1958), Vol XI, p.534.
           16.  Dion Fortune, Sane Occultism. (Wellingborough, Northants: The
                Aquarian Press, 1967), pp.161-2.
           17.  Ibid. pp. 25-6.
           18.  Janet and Stewart Farrar, The Witches' Way. (London: Robert Hale,
                1984), pp. 95-6.
           19.  Goat-Foot God, p. 89.
           20.  Robert Galbreath, "The History of Modern Occultism: A Biblio-
                graphic Survey." Journal of Popular Culture, V:3 (Winter 1971),
                p. 728/100
           21.  Goat-Foot God, pp. 352-3
           22.  Dion Fortune, The Winged Bull: A Romance of Modern Magic. (Lo-
                ndon: Williams and Norgate Ltd., 1935), p. 169. It is no coin-
                cidence that the leading female character was named Ursula Bra-
                ngwyn,a name used by D.H. Lawrence for a character in Women in
                Love; Fortune was trying to re-state "the sex problem" on a "h-
                igher plane" than Lawrence had.
           23.  Ibid. pp. 154-6.
           24.  Goat-Foot God, p. 349.
           25.  A term that deliberately or otherwise echoes Plato's description
                in the Georgias of "the Thessalian witches who drawn down the
                moon from heaven."
           26.  Dion Fortune, The Sea Priestess. (London: Wynham Publications Lt-
                d., 1976).
           27.  Janet and Stewart Farrar, Eight Sabbats for Witches: and Rites
                for Birth, Marriage and Death. (London: Robert Hale, 1981), p.
           28.  The exact terminology may vary from coven to coven; the Farrar's
                give Gardner's favourite.
           29.  Charles Godfrey Leland, Aradia: or the Gospel of the Witches. (L-
                ondon: David Nutt, 1899). Leland may indeed have found some
                fragments of a goddess religion. Gardner and Valiente expurgated
                parts of it, such as the invocation of the Goddess as a poisoner
                of great lords in their castles, and other homely arts.
           30.  The Witches' Way, p.68.
           31.  The Sea Priestess, pp. 160-1.
           32.  Eight Sabbats for Witches, p.49.

Next: Temples, Covens, & Groves - Oh My! (Khaled Q.)