Sunday, 13 May 2018

Dion Fortune, the Star in the East, and the Sermon on the Mount - Part 1

“I ask those who are in sympathy with what I am doing to remember that thought power is potent for protection and support, just as it is for attack, and to lend me their help on the Inner Planes. My task is not a light one. But as long as I am responsible for the conduct of this magazine I will follow the example of the Master Who, while He had compassion for those who fainted by the way, had a scourge for the backs of those who made His Father’s house a den of thieves.”

Dion Fortune ~ Transactions of the Christian Mystic Lodge, July 1927

Some nine decades ago, Dion Fortune and her Lodge were engaged in a form of both direct and indirect warfare with the Order of the Star in the East, a movement within the Theosophical Society, which promulgated the "Coming of the World Teacher". Some people thought that the World Teacher in waiting was none other than Jiddu Krishnamurti, pictured below. At the time, some felt that Western Civilisation, as they pictured it, was at risk of desecration and destruction if the Order continued with its plans.

Many people have said over the years just how difficult it is to really understand or empathize with some of the more pugnacious activities of Dion Fortune and the Christian Mystic Lodge during the 1920s. Broader religious beliefs, Neo-paganism, Druidry and New Age practices have been so ubiquitous for the last half to a whole century that it can be difficult to read about the Lodge's skirmishes without some querulous amusement.  Surely there were more important things to be getting on with?

Nowadays there is arguably a broader acceptance of wider spiritual beliefs and practices in families, work and wider society, making it difficult to see what all the fuss was about back then. Thankfully, that sense of West versus East (and never the twain shall meet) has lessened its strangle hold, giving way to an emerging trend for World Citizenship and the Global Village.

Sadly, many have opted to turn a blind eye to this period of Dion Fortune’s life, also ignoring the wider Christian aspects and influences on her life, world view and teachings.   

I can certainly relate to this turning a blind eye. Growing up in Ireland during the Troubles, I was exposed to some of the worst excesses of human stupidity, hatred, damage and misery imaginable packaged and peddled as Christianity. It was enough to put any sane person off it for life. Now, in 2018, things don’t seem much better with its often exclusively patriarchal view of the world, the proliferation of tsunami after tsunami of child abuse cases and other scandals in almost all its branches.

As someone with a pagan heart, I often have to work hard to find the beauty, wisdom and compassion within Christianity…to find the clear water beneath the human excretions. However, it seems clear that if we are to more fully understand Dion Fortune, her life and teachings, then we really need to open ourselves up to all of her activities and influences. On the Christian side of it I don’t believe we should throw the baby out with the bath water, otherwise we will miss a deeper understanding and experience. Neo-pantheist, pagan, agnostic or other, with perseverance, anyone can find a rich vein to be mined in the depths of Christianity. 

There are many places to seek these treasures, although one of the most illuminating teachings is arguably the Sermon on the Mount. That was one of Dion Fortune's favourites too. The Collects are another.

Reflecting on this, I thought I'd dedicate my next three blogs to this theme. 

My next post, later this week, will cover some initial thoughts on the matter, alongside a summary of notes taken from a talk that Dion Fortune gave on Sunday the 15th of May 1927. Until then...

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