Monday, 30 October 2017

“Vocatus atques non vocatus, Deus aderit”

Toni Sussmann, the erudite Jungian practitioner and psychotherapist, remains relatively unknown outside Jungian circles. I think that’s rather a shame. 

Arriving in England with her husband in 1938, Toni was one of many refugees fleeing the rising tide of Nazism, who settled and managed to thrive in the bubbling cauldron of London. Importantly, to anyone with an interest in the esoteric history of England, Toni undoubtedly had a quiet and unassuming influence on the thinking and practice of some of the players at the time.

For those interested in the wider story of Dion Fortune, Toni Sussman was on record as a colleague of Dion’s student Helah Fox. Helah had been a member of the Inner Light’s community for a number of years, having lived at both Chalice Orchard and 3 Queensborough Terrace. Helah told the late Janine Chapman in 1973 that Dion Fortune had consulted Toni Sussmann in about 1943 or 1944 as “the best Jung practitioner who there was in London”. That would have been a fascinating consultation to have been a fly on the wall. Helah herself became a relatively a well-respected Jungian.

For those interested in the influences of another magical order, the Aurum Solis, Toni was also a teacher and colleague of the greatly loved London psychotherapist Buntie Wills. Now Buntie Wills also worked closely with Helah Fox in running a Monday night study group for “all things mind and spirit”. Functioning out of Studio H in 10A Cunningham Place, the Monday group’s activity included a fascinating smorgasbord of sessions on psychotherapy, dream work, qabalah and mythology.

One particularly interesting person studied under this group for six years– a young Vivian White (aka Godfrey). Vivian would later become known to the world as the last Presider of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD), up until her death in 1997. She also was one of the public faces of the Aurum Solis, one half of the prolific writers publishing under the nom de plumes of Melita Denning and Osbourne Phillips.  I doubt that three of their most important books - Entrance To The Magical Qabalah, The Sword and Serpent and The Triumph of Light – all hugely influential on modern magical thinking and practice, would have been written in quite the helpful form that they are, without the influences of Toni Sussman, Buntie Wills, and Helah Fox. I also suspect that Dion Fortune’s teachings played a significant part too through Helah’s influence.

Interestingly, Toni Sussmann was also a colleague of Dr E Graham Howe, a Druid and founding member of the Tavistock Clinic, where the young Dion Fortune worked in 1920. While Howe’s writing is sometime challenging, gems like The Mind of the Druid, have influenced many esoteric students. I remember being captivated by his writing in the late ‘80s when Caroline Wise gave me a copy of this to review for the Green Circular occult magazine. Some 28 years later I still dip into its depths for sustenance.

One thing that has always struck me about the little I know about Toni Sussmann is the story she tells of arriving at Carl Jung’s house at Kussnacht, at the start of her working relationship with him. She writes that she was profoundly affected by the words carved into the stone over Jung’s doorway and included in this blog’s title. A translation of these words could be, “Called and not called, God is present.” Many years later Toni wrote that this sentence entered the very centre of her being. She continued by saying, “I carried it – or it carried me – during all these years of my work.” The words are certainly well worth personal contemplation.

When Toni got involved in the Taena Community in Gloucestershire, close to Prinknash Abbey, she felt she could see the truth of the words at actively at work in the community. In a note to her own students, Toni recalled how at the time, the experience also brought to her mind the words of Brother Lawrence quoted below.

“The time of business does not differ with me from the time of prayer, 
and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, 
while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, 
I possess God as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.”

I regularly come back to Toni Sussmann and her reflections on Brother Lawrence’s words and hope you also find some insight and illumination from them.

Some Further reading:

Toni Sussmann - a Tribute, Helah Fox/Buntie Wills, Phonapress, UK (1974)
The Quest for Dion Fortune, Janine Chapman, Weiser, USA (1993) 
The Tree of Life: Talks, Buntie Wills,  Buntie Wills Foundation, UK (1990)
Buntie Wills Therapist: A Mosaic, Buntie Wills Foundation, UK (1990)

The Springtime of Dion Fortune

There she is staring out at you...or maybe that should be "in to you"! Whether writing as Violet Firth, Violet M Steele...