Three Magical Visionaries

Nevill Drury

in Stealing Fire from Heaven

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199750993
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894871 | DOI:
Three Magical Visionaries

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This chapter profiles three notable twentieth-century occultists—Dion Fortune, Austin Osman Spare, and Rosaleen Norton. All three can be regarded as key bridging figures linking earlier generations of magical practitioners with the contemporary neopagan movement. Dion Fortune (1890–1946) studied psychoanalysis at the University of London. Through her friend Maiya Curtis-Webb, Violet Firth was introduced to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1919. In the Temple of Alpha and Omega Firth took the magical name Deo Non Fortuna—“by God and not by luck”. She now became known in esoteric circles as Dion Fortune—a contraction of her magical name—and in 1922 formed her own meditative group. It was originally known as the Christian Mystic Lodge of the Theosophical Society and would later become the Fraternity of the Inner Light. Here she increasingly engaged herself in the mythological dimensions of magic—venturing into what she now came to regard as the collective pagan soul of humanity, and tapping into the very heart of the Ancient Mysteries. Austin Osman Spare (1886–1956) was an English trance artist and occultist whose magical concept of the relationship between Zos and Kia has since been influential in the formation of contemporary Chaos magick. Spare is a legendary figure in the twentieth-century Western esoteric tradition and is one of its truly original thinkers, his approach to trance states and his technique of atavistic resurgence representing a unique contribution to the study of magical consciousness. Rosaleen Norton (1917–1979) was an Australian witch and occult artist. Norton had fantasy visions as a child and was expelled from high school for allegedly corrupting the other children with her “pagan” influence. She began experimenting with trance techniques and came to believe that the ancient gods could be contacted on the inner planes. Norton's provocative visionary artworks plunged her into legal controversy, and she was widely criticised in the media for engaging in bizarre sexual practices with her lover, the poet Gavin Greenlees. Norton dedicated her magical practice to the Great God Pan and to a lesser extent Hecate, Lilith and Lucifer, but she also had many other occult and metaphysical interests that influenced her cosmology and worldview.

Keywords: Dion Fortune; Austin Osman Spare; Rosaleen Norton; neopagan movement; art

Chapter.  16840 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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