Dion Fortune’s Literary Initiations – Georgia van Raalte
Abstract: This talk will explore the fictional and magical work of Dion Fortune (1890-1946), one of the most prolific British occult authors of the interwar period. In her 1936 article ‘The Novels of Dion Fortune’ Fortune claimed that her occult novels—The Winged Bull (1935), The Goat-Foot God (1936), The Sea Priestess (1938) and Moon Magic (published posthumously in 1956)—had an initiatory quality and that reading them, and meditating on their contents, could produce a lasting change, both in personal consciousness, and in the ‘group soul’ of the British people.
Based on Dr van Raalte’s doctoral research, this talk will explore Fortune’s radical initiatory project in the context of interwar Britain. Highlighting Fortune’s innovative use of literary eroticism, this talk will reveal the ways that Fortune’s occult novels both describe changes in consciousness and have the potential to cause them in the reader, through their skillful weaving of polarity, desire and the imaginal world. This talk will further show the potent influence Fortune’s work has had upon modern occultism, interrogating the connections between fiction-based religion, fantasy, and the rise of witchcraft in the contemporary occultural moment.
Georgia van Raalte holds an MA in Religious Studies from the University of Amsterdam and a PhD in Literature from the University of Surrey. Her PhD research explored the initiatory potential of literature, with a particular focus on the occult novels of Dion Fortune. She has published articles on the divine feminine in 20th century British occultism and on the epistemological foundations of the Study of Esotericism.
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