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Dion Fortune's Rites of Isis and of Pan Hardcover – 30 Sep 2013


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  • Hardcover: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Skylight Press (30 Sept. 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1908011874
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908011879
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,182,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tony Willis on 4 Dec. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent book. There is something here for fans of Dion Fortune's occult fiction; something for anyone keen to write their own rituals; and something for ceremonial magicians involved in group work.
On the first count, Gareth Knight and Dion Fortune discuss the content of the novels, excepting `The Demon Lover', explaining why they are structured as they are, what Dion Fortune's aim was in writing them, and positioning them within a wider context - for D.F. intended there to be ten novels in all. On the second count, clear indications are set forth concerning the basic factors upon which any ritual needs to be founded. On the third, the last three appendicies contain many clues, and are at times more explicit, on the subject of polarity.
The full rites of Pan and of Isis are printed here, rites that were performed publicly in their day. Parts are to be found in the novels but so far as I know the whole texts have never been published before. Also included is Dion Fortune's insightful article `Ceremonial Magic Unveiled'. It is a slim book, running to less than 140 pages, but packed with useful information, tacit instruction and experience-based opinion.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By P E Wildoak on 30 Nov. 2013
Format: Hardcover
I first read Dion Fortune during a strange weekend as a teenager after getting my hands on a Witch's old book collection (as described in this post). One of the first things I noticed was that her novels Sea Priestess and Moon Magic described certain invocations and prose pieces as coming from `The Rite of Isis'. Similarly, a note in her The Goat Foot God made reference to `The Rite of Pan'.

I soon discovered that even though they were penned in the 1930s these Rites were not available to the general hoi polloi. Not even a polite, but overly-effusive (in the way young occult students are), letter to the Society of the Inner Light in London bought me any joy. So when I heard about the imminent publication of this work, via the good agency of Skylight Press and editorial stewardship of Gareth Knight, I described it as `the occult publishing event of the century'. Perhaps still a little too effusive? :)

However, despite a fair chunk of the Rites being able to extracted and worked out from Dion's novels, the book really is unique. It portrays the principles of real magic and real occultism more deeply, more accurately and with more direct effect on the reader within its brief 140 pages than in tomes ten times the size. Much of this is to do with the editorial inputs and commentaries by Gareth Knight together with his choice of a selection of Dion's articles to round the book out. Altogether the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts - not that any of its parts are without weight and worth alone!

The book is well put together, beautifully designed and covers a surprisingly broad range of topics. There are the Rites themselves, the full rubric and setting of which have never before been published. These alone would make the book.
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By Alexander on 29 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An interesting book as are all written by Dion Fortune. Worth reading it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Simply Divine 30 Nov. 2013
By P E Wildoak - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I first read Dion Fortune during a strange weekend as a teenager after getting my hands on a Witch’s old book collection (as described in this post). One of the first things I noticed was that her novels Sea Priestess and Moon Magic described certain invocations and prose pieces as coming from ‘The Rite of Isis’. Similarly, a note in her The Goat Foot God made reference to ‘The Rite of Pan’.

I soon discovered that even though they were penned in the 1930s these Rites were not available to the general hoi polloi. Not even a polite, but overly-effusive (in the way young occult students are), letter to the Society of the Inner Light in London bought me any joy. So when I heard about the imminent publication of this work, via the good agency of Skylight Press and editorial stewardship of Gareth Knight, I described it as ‘the occult publishing event of the century’. Perhaps still a little too effusive? :)

However, despite a fair chunk of the Rites being able to extracted and worked out from Dion’s novels, the book really is unique. It portrays the principles of real magic and real occultism more deeply, more accurately and with more direct effect on the reader within its brief 140 pages than in tomes ten times the size. Much of this is to do with the editorial inputs and commentaries by Gareth Knight together with his choice of a selection of Dion’s articles to round the book out. Altogether the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts – not that any of its parts are without weight and worth alone!

The book is well put together, beautifully designed and covers a surprisingly broad range of topics. There are the Rites themselves, the full rubric and setting of which have never before been published. These alone would make the book. However, there are also appendices on Dion’s novels, the Circuit of Force and other germane matters. Much of the contribution of Gareth Knights comes in his analysis of Dion’s novels, which are well written and very illuminating.

Dion herself was crystal clear about the motives behind writing the novels which contain the Rites and their relationship to the Work:

“…because I have a purpose in my life, which is the work of initiation organised as The Fraternity of the Inner Light, my novels have a purpose, which is the purpose of initiation.”

For this reason Gareth Knight spends some time revealing the mysteries of Dion’s novels, as she herself does also in an appendix, ‘The Novels of Dion Fortune’, which was originally published in the Inner Light Magazine, 1936. Despite the sense of reality of Dion’s characters and the genuine nature of her stories and the way they obviously had (have) a life independent of their creator, Dion as novelist was clearly following a plan. In each novel she took

“…a basic idea, attributed it to its appropriate Sephirah in the proper Qabalistic manner, and then proceeded to work it out on the basis, not of Qabalistic symbolism as I should have done if I were writing an occult treatise on the subject, but of the dream-symbolism of psychoanalysis. Consequently, anyone who knows psychoanalysis can take these novels to pieces as if they were dreams, and anyone who knows the Qabalah can ‘place them on the Tree’.”

And really even today, no one has done this any better than Dion, who brought to her literary art all her skills of magic: “In writing my novels I used exactly the same method that is used in the composition of a ritual.”

The full Rites themselves are included in chapters three and four. A small section of previously unpublished material will show the breadth and depth of forces worked within these Rites:

“By the power of Old Night, whence all sprang, we invoke Thee.
By the first mystic swirl in the stillness that told of Thy power, we invoke Thee.
By the net which Thou wovest to draw Ptah from his heaven, we invoke Thee.
By the kisses that smote him with death that the world might be born, we invoke Thee.
By thy merciful veil, by thy scourgings and pangs,
By thy sweet secret places, by midnight and moon,
By earth and by water – Isis, Light of the Heavens and Desire of the World –

I invoke, I invoke, I invoke!”

Fully reading the Rites with sympathy and imagination it becomes clear why these were a semi-public affair, the audience becoming part of the drama of the cosmic initiatory forces being worked and invoked. This is an effect Dion strived for in her novels, and is why key passages of the Rites found themselves in the novels, destined for the public circulating libraries and people “who would not sit down to read a prose work on occultism”. There is a spiritual and magical link forged between the Rite, the ‘audience’ who first witnessed the rite and the novel wherein segments of it are included. All towards the enactment of initiation by and into the cosmic force the Rite works and worships.

Reading this book I realised this is one reason Dion’s novels are so potent; they are empowered on the inner levels not only by the magic of Dion, not only by her inner contacts and the cosmic forces they bring through, but also by the physical enactment of the rites by flesh and blood Londoners in the 1930s. If you are familiar with her novels and read these Rites slowly and imaginatively, you will see what I mean. In fact, I would be so bold as to say the full publication of these Rites will empower the novels and the work of Dion even further. Today as I type this review, I heard news that a Golden Dawn based group in South Australia will be working the Rites early next year. Dion lives!

Overall, as a publication, this book cannot be recommended enough. As a concrete work of magic, furthering the work of the greatest Priestess of the 20th century and the Gods she served, it is simply divine. Thank you to Dion, Gareth Knight and all at Skylight Press.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Good, not great 28 Jan. 2014
By LVX - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book presents Dion Fortune's "Rites of Isis and Pan," fragments of which also appear in several of Fortune's novels. It also includes several essays by Fortune and others explaining how and why she used snippets of these rituals in her fiction writing. These essays make it clear that Fortune thought that her novels were "pulling back the veils" just a bit, exposing the workings of 'the Inner Temple' to her readers in furtherance of 'the Great Work.' These essays were incredibly interesting, revealing a greater Qabalistic scheme in the series of novels which Fortune planned to write, and were worth reading for this insight alone.

Unfortunately, the Rites themselves have suffered over time; written in the slavishly rigid meter and clunky syllable-for-syllable rhyme scheme that was so popular in a lot of mediocre poetry from the Edwardian era, several long passages from these ceremonies can't help but seem stiff and hopelessly dated to the modern reader. That's a real shame, because these Rites are genuinely beautiful when they begin to reach their climax, and because the general outline and staging of these Rites hold the promise of great majesty and beauty. It seems that the stiff and dated language used in places throughout these ceremonies could be cleaned up, just a bit, with an extremely light touch, allowing these Rites to be performed with much greater effect.

Also, students of the Golden Dawn tradition should be aware that these Rites contain evocation only; as written, the presence of Isis and Pan is to be felt as an astral presence during their performance. However, it would be a simple matter to slightly modify these Rites to allow for Pan and Isis' forms to be assumed by an adept in a temple setting.

As I mentioned before, these Rites hold the promise of great majesty and beauty. It's easy to see how one could consciously make contact with the divine by performing or viewing them. However, in my opinion, these Rites would also require a bit of tinkering before they could performed to the maximum ritual effect.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
May her work endure... 26 Dec. 2013
By Rafael Espadine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Besides the fact that it actually brings the texts of the rituals in full, which good enough, the text is excellent and highly informative, the book is beautifully designed and some of the appendices are real jewels to be treasured by those who love the work of D.F.; May her work endure: this book is a clear contribution to that goal. Thank you Mr. Knight.
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