Weiser Antiquarian: Dion Fortune

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Some extraordinary material – not to mention some valuable biographical information – in the latest catalogue from Weiser Antiquarian: this time, based around works by and about the incomparable Dion Fortune…

Weiser Antiquarian books is pleased to announce the release of the fifty-first of our on-line catalogs. This catalog comprises a selection of used and rare books and journals relating to Dion Fortune and her magical order the Inner Light.

Dion Fortune & the Inner Light.

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To view the catalog simply click on the link above. If the link does not work direct from your email, please cut and paste it into your web browser. If your web-browser shows an earlier catalog of ours at the above link (ie it is not ‘refreshing’ properly) a duplicate copy of our new catalog is on-line at: www.weiserantiquarian.com/catalogfiftyone

Weiser Antiquarian books is pleased to announce the release of the fifty-first of our on-line catalogs. This catalog comprises a selection of used and rare books and journals relating to Dion Fortune and her magical order the Inner Light.

Most people reading this are probably already familiar with the details of Dion Fortune’s life and works, but for those who aren’t, she was born Violet Mary Firth, to a Yorkshire family then living in Wales, in December 1890. From a young age Fortune was said to have manifested strong psychic talents, but her youthful interest lay mainly in the then-nascent field of psychology, and it was not until her mid-twenties that she became seriously involved in the study of the occult. She quickly immersed herself in esoteric studies, joining the Theosophical Society and an offshoot of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, before founding her own esoteric group. This she named the Community (later renamed Fraternity and then Society) of the Inner Light. The group thrived in the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s, although its activities were reduced – and refocused – during the Second World War. Unlike many such groups it survived the dark days that followed its founder’s untimely death in January 1946, and continues to this day as a working initiatory organization.

Dion Fortune was a prolific writer and produced a considerable body of literature during her relatively short life. Books such as her practical and straightforward guide to the Kabalah: The Mystical Qabalah, her “received” book The Cosmic Doctrine, and Psychic Self-Defense, remain bestsellers, and she is also remembered for her occult fiction: Moon Magic, The Sea Priestess, The Winged Bull, etc., all of which remain popular.

This catalog contains representative examples of most of Dion Fortune’s major works, from modern paper reprints through to scarce early editions. Amongst the latter are a First Edition of Dion Fortune’s first published novel, The Demon Lover (1927), the first (Privately Published) edition of the novel that she considered to be her best: The Sea Priestess (1938), and a First Edition, in the scarce dustjacket, of her novel of black magic and obsession, The Winged Bull (1935). Several of the other early editions of works of her works that are listed have an interesting association, in that they once belonged to Edward Noel Fitzgerald (1908-1958), a IX degree member of the O.T.O., and friend and follower of Aleister Crowley’s, who also had a short involvment with the Fraternity of the Inner Light in the mid-1940s.

Also unusual – although nowhere near as aesthetically pleasing as those early works – is a typescript “edition” of The Esoteric Orders and Their Work, Privately Published by The Society of the Inner Light for use within the order during the immediate postwar period when ongoing rationing prevented the “proper” republication of many books and out-of-print copies were hard to find. Two somewhat later typescript-like productions are actually the First US printings of Through the Gates of Death (1966), and The Training and Work of an Initiate (1967) both of which were published by Dorothy B. Hughes (1904 – 1993) the American crime-writer and critic who presumably had a passion for Fortune’s work. At the time of their release the reawakening of interest in the occult and mysticism that accompanied the growth of the sixties counter culture was only just starting to blossom, which probably explains why the books had to be quasi-privately published in this rather basic format.

From October 1927 until August 1940, when wartime paper shortages brought about the suspension of publication, Dion Fortune’s group produced a monthly house journal, The Inner Light. Fortune was not only the journal’s Editor but it’s chief contributor: it is no exaggeration to say that many of her important occult writings first appeared in the journal’s pages, usually in serial form, and often with significant textual differences from the later collected versions. It also included numerous essays, articles, book reviews etc., many of which appear to have never been reprinted. As The Inner Light was generally only made available to members or associate members of The Fraternity, it had a relatively small print run, and issues are seldom seen. The second section of the catalog comprises an unusually good collection of issues of this scarce journal.

Aside from her own books and The Inner Light, Dion Fortune also contributed essays, letters and reviews to a number of other journals, such as The Occult Review. The third section of the catalog comprises a small selection of these, dating from 1926 to 1932. The fourth section lists a group of audio cassettes with readings of a number of her Dr. Taverner stories by actor John Carradine, whilst the final section list a short number of biographical and other studies of Fortune.

As usual we have a variety of other catalogs in preparation. Future catalogs will be devoted to Eastern Religions, John Dee, Witchcraft, Astrology, Kabbalah, Grimoires, Theosophy, and other of our specialties, with a few surprises along the way. Of course we will also continue to regularly issue our Aleister Crowley catalogs and have several more on mythology still to come.

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