Whether writing as Violet Firth, Violet M Steele or Dion Fortune, the person behind these names was a prolific author, with some 20 plus works of non-fiction and a further 9 works of fiction. Just in case you can’t get above 20, don’t forget her two lesser known works of The Soya Bean: An Appeal to Humanitarians and The Psychology of the Servant Problem: A study in social relationships. Not a bad track record for someone who was busy lecturing and teaching, as well as setting up and running her own esoteric fraternity.
Most readers seem to appreciate her no-nonsense, down-to-earth and eminently readable style. It tends to lack the occasional pomposity and arrogance peppered throughout Crowley’s highly impressive output. True, some of her writing is now woefully dated in ways that much of Crowley’s isn’t. Similarly, some of the “facts” she presents have not withstood the test of time. However, if forced to choose between the two, she remains my “go to” writer – my desert island book collection.
Regretably, most biographers and commentators have glossed over her childhood writing. Some people think it isn’t that good or simply isn’t worth any analysis. Personally, I tend to see the foundations of her adult writings crystallising in these youthful productions. There are some great little gems to be found for example amongst Matins and Vespers, Violets and More Violets. To me there are many fine examples where the reader can see that even as a young teenager, she had already found her voice.
With the daffodils flowering in abundance out here in the West of England, and another Vernal Equinox fast approaching, one particular passage she wrote on the 27th of March 1905 strikes me as particularly apt.
Please humour me. Read the following passage and see if you agree that she had already found the foundation of the voice that we would come to recognise as Dion Fortune.
“Opens a door in Heaven
From skies of glass
A Jacob's Ladder falls
On greening grass,
And o'er the mountain wall
Young angels pass.
Oh, follow, leaping blood, the season's lure,
Oh heart, look up, serene, secure,
Warm as the crocus cup, like snowdrop pure."
Perhaps we appreciate Spring's loveliness so much because we have fasted while the countryside was covered with snow, and now we feast our eyes upon a transformation which appears the more lovely when contrasted with the previous season's quiescence; and by the time Summer appears, we have been surfeited by the sweets of her predecessor, and do not appreciate, as fully as we might otherwise have done, her richer beauties.
As soon as last year's leaves had fallen, small brown nobs were visible upon the twigs and branches of the trees; during the Winter these remained dormant, but as soon as the warmth of Spring quickened the chilled sap into renewed activity, they began to swell, and ere long burst the dull outer coat and exposed to view the delicate green leaves within.
A sudden transformation now takes place; the landscape no longer wears the sombre colours of Winter, it seems as if some magician's brush has passed over the land from south to north, painting all the country green. The trees have opened their leaf-buds, or shaken out their catkins, which cast on the wind clouds of yellow pollen that drift across the open meadow-land, fertilising all female flowers in their path.
Other trees do not trust their precious dust to the capricious breezes, but secrete the honey which tempts the small wild bees to brave the uncertain weathers of an English Spring, and at the same time perform an involuntary service for their hosts.
The insect life is also awake ; in sunny hedgerows beetles are beginning to appear, and the ants are working furiously to repair and extend their subterranean homes.
The appearance of the insects only heralds the approach of the insectivores, and from over the seas ever increasing streams of bird visitors are arriving.
Our own bats, too, who have slept away the Winter, now reappear, and the brisk snap of their little jaws as they catch a fly can be heard quite plainly on a still evening.
The flowers are by no means the least beautiful part of this altogether lovely season. Spring is heralded in by the snowdrop and wild violet; the climax of its reign is reached when the daffodil and cowslip are in flower, and it is ushered out by the pink petals of the dog-rose.
That the human life has a Springtime as well as Nature, has been declared many times, but the mental life has one also ; when the buds of child-thought begin to grow into the full leaf of the mature mind, we call it Expansion.
When the spiritual search for Truth results in the discovery of perfect peace and understanding, it is called Revelation.
Yet these three, the Natural, Mental, and Spiritual Springtides, are the same process working in different spheres of life, and might be classed together under the one name of The Awakening.