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In this very readable work, Dion Fortune deals with the tradition of initiation in the Western Esoteric Tradition and explains the principles of these esoteric systems. An interesting foreword by Gareth Knight discusses Fortune’s place in metaphysical thought, declaring her a great synthesist ever holding a balance between the strands of hermetic occultism, devotional mysticism and nature mysticism. Knight even refers to Tolkien’s account of creation in The Silmarillion as reflecting Fortune’s approach to certain metaphysical questions! The book provides information on how the initiate prepares the mind, spirit and body for the journey on the esoteric path and what the path of initiation looks like. The book is divided into three parts: Ethical, Theoretical and Practical. It details the way of initiation, preparations and daily life upon the path and provides a ground plan of illumination. There is also valuable information on the training of the mind and the body. I found the discussion of the relationship between natural and esoteric science very insightful and her division of what she terms “illuminism” into two branches – mysticism and occultism, very informative. According to the author, mysticism aims at the speediest possible attainment of the divine union of the soul with its source and in order to achieve this it eliminates all that causes separation. Occultism on the other hand, aims to organise and master phenomena and bring them into harmony with the eternal law of the real. Ultimately, the difference is only a matter of temperament. Fortune then proceeds to classify religions and movements like Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Theosophy, Spiritualism, Christian Science and New Thought into these two branches. The chapter on the Western Esoteric Systems deals with the Qabalistic, Greek and Egyptian traditions, claiming that they all contributed to modern Western esotericism that in addition, also draws on Eastern thought. The book contains a Tabular Classification of Illuminism demonstrating the mystical/occult division in detail as well as an index and a short biography and portrait of Fortune. This is a well written book explaining most of the important points of the occult path and the practice of sane occultism. Highly recommended.
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on 16 April 2003
This text is aimed at those students interested in High Ceremonial Magick; it has nothing to do with new-age stuff.
Dion Fortune (aka as Violet Mary Firth) and G. Knight are the most talented representative of the Western Tradition Magick.
Serious students should not miss the chance to get this book.
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on 9 May 2012
Bought this to add to my collection of Dion fortunes books.an interesting read if somewhat obscure in places.
Dion Fortune is one of the best occult writers
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on 18 March 2014
It's Dion Fortune. She knows what she's talking about, most of this is from her own experiences. Very informative, excellent.
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on 7 May 2014
A truely enlightening work in to a reality we seem to have forgotten. another rememberable experience I will appreciate for a long time to come.
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on 29 June 2001
Good book for those seriously interested in initiating others into a ritual working group. Mentions building the magickal personality and has interesting ideas on working as an intitiate. Not for those who want to know about Wicca or less ritual magick.
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on 7 December 2013
Recently found this in a used book store, really shows what treasures can be found if you look.
I sort of agree with both of the earlier reviewers. It's not a book to learn wicca or witchcraft from , its not one of the first books you need,so if moving along that path Read Scott Cunningham, Kate West, Doreen Valiante or Dorothy Morrison's books if looking for that-pretty much everything they've written is useful to aspiring witches.
But having said that, Dion Fortune's book's are works that anyone interested in magic/occult should read at some point on their path as they are regarded as classics in this field.
While not everything is useable, there are some pearls of wisdom scattered throughout this work, I especially like when she said (Quote) :
'It is not everybody who is ready for initiation. It is said that it takes three lives of steadfast effort to find the path; but even if we see no likelihood of the goal being achieved in this life, lets remember that everything must have a beginning, and we cannot have a third life of achievement without a first and second life of preparation. Evenif we have no hope of making this life one of achievement we can still resolve to make it one of preparation. As time is measured differently on the inner planes, it maybe that we still achieve more than we ever thought possible'

I have to admit that I feel I'm on my first life of preparation!
Occasionally the book seemed alittle old-fashioned but it has every right to, since originally published in 1930.
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on 27 June 2008
I disagree with the previous comment about this book not being applicable to wicca. Wiccan thought and practise is based in the Western Mystical Tradition, although this has been obscured by all the fluffy bunny rubbish and wiccanised paganism that passes these days.

Learn the fundamentals of your faith and get to grips with the basis of the Western Mystery Traditions, you'll be a whole lot better off. However if you want to remain with pretty candle burning and nature worship and the goddess then leave well alone.
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on 12 March 2015
Dion Fortune never fails to get to the heart of the spiritual matter. A fantastic analysis of occult study that leaves modern new-age gurus clutching at straws compared with her knowledge and understanding of the subject.
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on 3 February 2016
excellent, thanks
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