The Sea Priestess is the title of a highly acclaimed novel, self published in by Dion Fortune. The protagonist of the story is a mild. The Sea Priestess is the highly acclaimed novel in which Dion Fortune introduces her most powerful fictional character, Vivien Le Fay Morgan- a practicing. The Sea Priestess by Dion Fortune – book cover, description, publication history.
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I truly believe that Dion Fortune was a reincarnation of Morgan Le FayI am sure they were from the same soul group and even Dion’s style for red dresses long cloaks all reflecting her past soul connection to Glastonbury and this area of the Earth. I wonder if Dion realized that she was in affect channeling her her soul origins, and her origins as a high priestess of Isis. Even the land she lived on in Glastonbury is the same land that Morgan Le fay lived on, as she was able to awaken the land and work with and its magical properties.
Its a shame that as I walk past that land now it priestdss sad, like it holds many secrets, also that it has many priestezs to tell. It was an interesting experience making a visit to the site upon which the story is set. So much of the novel is imbued with very powerful and evocative imagery, and walking along the cliffs conjured up a lot of this. I see the moon and Isis in a very different way since reading this wonderful book, and many of its images and lines often come back to me in the still of a moonlit night.
We used the text from your book and I have to say that it was an extremely powerful experience for all of us. I think we might give the Rite of Pan a go next spring.
Best wishes, Paul Blakey. And having taken the trouble to go that far — it is well worth girding up the pristess to walk the whole length of it to the rocks at the end where the Sea Priestess set up her temple, which is a thinly disguised copy of an old fort that stands at the end of it. At least I presume it still does and has not been made over into a fun fair or burger joint by now. Although as it comes under the protection of the National Trust so the worst excesses of popular tourism may be avoided.
I append a description of the place, along with much else, in an Introduction I wrote for priestezs American edition of The Sea Priestess thirteen years ago. In any case, even if you have a copy of that particular edition, what follows is rather more extensive than was eventually published, as the copy editors, bless their hearts, felt I had banged on a bit too much on details of Brean Down, and cut out a few bits.
But I felt a bit of actual history would be appropriate as a background to the astral visions of Ms. Le Fay Morgan and the efforts of the long suffering Wilfred. Whether you should try this stuff at home is of course up to you! At the time Dion Fortune was writing The Sea Priestesssome time in priestese, she had a number of things in common with the main protagonist of her book, Vivien Le Fay Morgan.
The most immediately striking was her mode of dress. She was also very fond of furs and chunky jewellery, including rings with enormous stones. It might seem at times even to run to ruthlessness but it was balanced by a soul of great compassion and common sense.
And what is more, a highly competent magician.
The story concerns a high initiate who is about to undertake a major work of sea and moon magic, for which purpose she needs to find a suitable location upon which to build a purpose-made temple complete with living accommodation. At the same time she needs to find a man suitable to train as her assistant in the magical work. With priesteds economy of means she kills eion birds with one stone by selecting a local estate agent who has the necessarily professional contacts to find a location, together with sufficient artistic skills to help her refurbish and decorate it appropriately.
He also has the temperament and personal circumstances that can make of him a capable, if unlikely, magical apprentice.
The place that the Sea Priestess chose for her Temple can be visited and seen to this day. It lies on that relatively short stretch of English coastline that faces due west, directly upon the broad Atlantic Ocean, without Ireland being in the way.
Here a spur of land juts into the sea, a limestone outcrop one and a half miles long and only a quarter of a mile wide. It is an extension of the Mendip Hills of that rise above the Somersetshire levels, and is part of a series of outcrops that include Glastonbury Tor, Brent Knoll, and the small islands in the Bristol Channel that stretch towards Wales, Steep Holm and Flat Holm, inhabited only by birds.
But the headland itself, Brean Down, at the end of which she built her temple, still stands wild and stark much as described in the novel. Once the property of Glastonbury Abbey in medieval times, it was sold in the seventeenth century to a family of landed gentry, the Wyndhams, who sought to exploit its potential as a harbour to exploit their sideline as smugglers of brandy, cloth and wine.
It is now in the care of the National Trust as a site of special scientific interest in terms of its archaeology and natural history, and it is also a designated bird sanctuary.
This fort, with its moat, underground rooms, and a rough pathway running out to a little cabin that once housed a searchlight, retains an evocative resonance of the temple envisaged by the Sea Priestess. We can easily imagine the searchlight cabin as a place of meditation for Vivien Le Fay Morgan, looking out over the dark line of rocks that extend like steeping stones into the sea, over which she trod at night to the alarm of her colleague William Maxwell as the Atlantic rollers broke around her.
Rollers which did indeed snatch and engulf the young half-wit boy who had been helping them – an incident which the Sea Priestess remarked with typical sangfroid, was probably part of the sacrifice expected by the gods at the building of any temple of significance. Nonetheless against this chilling assessment it is only fair to point out that she risked her life in a vain attempt to save him. Abandoned in it was reactivated during the Second World War when two naval guns were installed against the threat of German invasion.
However the Brean Down of the novel is very much as the young Dion Fortune would have remembered it, for she spent her teen age years in the vicinity and returned to establish her own base in nearby Glastonbury from The road up to the temple of the Sea Priestess can be trodden to this day, as the old single track military road that took supplies to and from the fort.
Dion Fortune’s, “The Sea Priestess” | Gypsyscarlett’s Weblog
The imagination of Dion Fortune reached back beyond historical time however, to a priestess from legendary Atlantis arriving in an ocean-going long boat to visit colonial outposts formed upon the western seaboards of Ireland, Britain, and mainland Europe.
Human habitation of the place in the very distant past is not quite so fanciful as might be thought, as proved by the recent discovery of well preserved roundhouse walls at least 15, years old on the southern side of the Down. In the novel Brean Down is known as Bell Head, and the nearby town of Dickmouth may be regarded as Weston-super-Mare, where the River Axe that has wound across the Somerset levels pfiestess into the sea.
This river in the novel is call the Dick, with a certain play on words in that one part of it, the Narrow Dick, recalls the great River Naradek, of Atlantean legend, that ran past the City of the Golden Gates.
Similarly the little town of Dickford upon the same river, may be identified with the village of Axbridge that nestles under the Mendip Hills not far from the Cheddar Gorge, famous for its caves and its cheese.
Bell Knowle of the novel is on the course of the original Narrow Dick, and a small watercourse still runs from East Brent into the Axe. In real life Brent Knoll still holds a certain magical ambience. Within living memory, school children climbed it every Good Friday to priestesz posies, my wife in her childhood being one of them; and in more recent times local opposition caused the building of the M4 motorway to be diverted so as not to desecrate it, and as one drives south it seems, by the bends in the road, to swing from side to side of the carriage way in a magical and disconcerting manner.
As Wilfred Maxwell and Vivien Le Fay Morgan begin to work magically together, so they recover ancient memories of a previous incarnation, and the local topography takes on the significance of Atlantean colonial times. Bell Knowle contains a cave-like temple, and vines are grown at the landward end of Bell Head, within the paws of the headland that reminds them of a couchant lion. Priestess they also see prlestess port, and indeed one did exist in Roman times, for in the course of ages this low lying land has been in turn salt marsh or even shallow sea diion make of the Down an island.
It was a time when she was also performing her Rite of Isis to invited audiences at the Belfry, that strange temple in London that se later described in her dlon novel Moon Magicand it is excerpts from this Rite that are extensively quoted in this novel too. Its purpose is to awaken her male partner to his full potential by acting as a priestess forfune a goddess to him. At the end of this experience he should have achieved greater psychic and spiritual wholeness, having met and realised the deeper and subtler powers of the feminine.
He has become an initiate of the goddess if we choose to put it in esoteric terms — whilst she, as the adept, in pursuit of her own magical destiny, passes on, uncommitted, to her next assignment from the inner beings for whom she works, represented in the novel by the shadowy figure known as the Priest of the Moon. This work, with its somewhat forbidding academic title, was first published in Its author was a remarkable woman who, at a time when it was extremely difficult for a woman to gain a university degree, had not only done this but had broken into the enclosed male preserves of classical studies, studying under Sir James Frazer, author of the famous work The Golden Bough.
In practical psychological terms what Vivien Le Fay Morgan does for Wilfred is to release him from the hen pecking dominance of his mother and sister, release and develop his repressed imaginative and artistic talents, incidentally cure him of asthmatic attacks at the same time, and lead him to meeting and marrying a local girl with whom he seems set fair to live happily ever afterwards.
That this is done by recourse to ritual magic may be thought a little unorthodox in more conservative circles, but Vivien Le Fay Morgan evidently paid scant regard to these, whilst at the same time leading a life of virginal rectitude as uncompromising as the incumbent of an enclosed religious order.
This is a side of the Sea Priestess which is apt to be forgotten by latter day aspirants to her as a role model. She intends to perform works of higher magic within it, and what he gets out of helping her with it is his incidental reward, or the just dues for the service he has put in. In all successful operations of magic the books have to balance at the end of the day.
Just what her magical aims and methods may be she tries to explain to Wilfred, in Chapter 17, and of course one aim of the novel itself was to give some instruction about practical magic to the reader, at a time when esoteric secrecy was taken very seriously and thought best not to be expounded as fact. Strange as it may seem, she had even felt uncomfortable about being accused of revealing too much in her innocuous textbook The Mystical Qabalah.
Fiction was her way of slightly raising the veil of secrecy. But when two or three of us get to work together, and you picture me as I picture myself, then priesetss begin to happen. Pirestess suggestion aids my autosuggestion, and then — then it passes outside ourselves, and things begin to build up in the astral ethers, and they are the channels of forces.
Something of what she means by this is immediately demonstrated when, stoking up the Fire of Azrael, she evokes within him a powerful vision of times from the remote past. There follows a passage of Dion Fortune writing at her evocative best, about the images he sees in the driving waves at the height of the storm on a fitful moonlit night between the dark of wind torn clouds. As for Vivien herself, she reveals that she works under instruction from a discarnate being who is referred to only as the Priest of the Moon.
It is under his instruction that she is undertaking this work, one of the goals of which is to contact herself to the ultimate spiritual source, known to Qabalists as the Great Unmanifest, the formless power behind the fount of creation itself. This in turn relates to the great zodiacal tides of the precession of the equinoxes, whereby in the coming Age of Aquarius the old gods will be coming back, after another manner. Her own part in this is to make the way clear for the realisation of the divine feminine as part of the cult of the Great Goddess — who as Fortunne Lady Isis sda all goddesses, of the corn, of the dead, of the sea, of the moon.
In this, is she is hinting at what alchemists of old referred to as the Elixir of Life or the Quintessence of the Elements or the Gluten of the White Eagle? From explanations and beginnings such as this she teaches Wilfred how to help her in working of her Zea of Isis, and it should by now be obvious that there is more to working a ritual than reciting lines from a script.
Magic is an art that requires the simultaneous linkage fortube the subconscious mind of the practitioner with an inner objective world that has been variously called the Anima Mundi, or latterly, if somewhat inadequately, the collective unconscious. In the course of realising this Wilfred comes to terms with the Priest of the Moon, the shadowy figure behind Vivien Le Fay Morgan in the ritual that they are working.
It is an inner contact, and one about which he wonders, quite reasonably, whether it is but a figment of his own subconscious mind, implanted there by suggestion. To some extent it prieztess be, but to leave it there is to be content with a mere half truth, for imagination and suggestion are but a priming of the pump.
Once primed, the pump surges with objective force from a source that is beyond personality or the individual subconscious. There were times, not infrequent, when I used to wonder what he was, and whether I was deluding myself, or whether I was loopy; but each time I met him afresh I knew what he was, beyond all doubting, and he left his mark on me.
In his words, Dion Fortune is also confiding to us her own experience of this area of esoteric work, and her sentiments could be confirmed by most competent practitioners of the magical fortne. Her immediate disappearance coincides with a rock fall in the cave temple in which she has been working, perhaps suggested to Dion Fortune by the explosion at the fort that caused its closure in However, the magical function goes on.
It has been successfully passed on to Wilfred and to his new wife Molly, together with the contact with the Priest of the Moon, who continues to work with them in what Wilfred can best describe as a waking dream.
In these concluding chapters of Wilfred and Molly the development and work of two initiates in the world is described, indicating that magic is not only the prerogative of those rare examples of advanced initiation like Vivien Le Fay Morgan whose life is dedicated to nothing but the pursuit of the magical arts. Posted by Gareth Knight at 9: Newer Post Older Post Home.