Dion Fortune’s, “The Sea Priestess”


“I am the soundless, boundless, bitter sea;

All things in the end shall come to me.”


Violet Mary Firth Evans was born on December 6, 1890 in Llandadno, Wales.  At four years -old, she reported experiencing visions of the lost city of Atlantis. These visions, and the blossoming of psychic abilities, drew her to the occult studies when she was in her twenties. After becoming a member of both The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the Theosophical Society, she formed her own esoteric group: Society of the Inner Light.


 Born to a family of Christian Scientists whose motto was, “Deo, non Fortuna” (God not chance), Miss Evans chose the pseudonym, Dion Fortune, and set out to transcribe her spiritual beliefs down on paper. Since witchcraft was still illegal in Great Britain, Ms. Fortune hid her magical teachings in the guise of novels. Her most famous, The Sea Priestess, was self-published in 1938.


Covering the themes of Hermeticism, reincarnation, and Atlantis, – it concerns Wilfred Maxwell, a bachelor, who is bored of his life tending to the family business and to his interfering mother and sister. Upon becoming afflicted with asthma, Wilfred takes to long bouts in bed. “As I lay there, doped and exhausted and half hypnotized by the moon, I let my mind range beyond time to the beginning. I saw the vast sea of infinite space, indigo-dark in the Night of the Gods; and it seemed to me that in the darkness and silence must be the seed of all being.”  Wilfred spends his nights staring down at the moon and discerning,  “I found that the more I dwelt on her, the more I became conscious of her tides, and all my life began to move with them.”

Soon after, Wilfred meets the cold and mysterious Vivien Le Fay Morgan, who claims to be a Priestess of Isis.  “Little by little, she learnt and built, always handicapped by the fact that the moon-magic requires a partner, and partners were hard to find.“ With the warning that she can never give herself to one man, Vivien enlists Wilfred to help her develop her magical image as a sea-priestess.

Months are spent at an isolated seaside retreat, communing with the sea and the moon. Discovering the hidden works of nature. Isis Veiled and Isis Unveiled.

At one point, Vivien stands looking out over the moonlit sea. Raising her arms, she sings:

“Oh Isis, veiled on earth, but shining clear

In the high heaven now the full moon draws near,

Hear the invoking words, hear and appear-

Shaddai el Chai, and Ea, Binah, Ge.”


Just when Wilfred is coming out of his shell, Vivien disappears, leaving him shattered. Time passes and Wilfred begins a tentative romantic relationship with the reserved Molly. He teaches her the rituals, and she blooms, finding her personal power, not as a sea-priestess, but as one of the earth. “There was awakening in her something of the primordial woman, and it was beginning to answer to the need in me.”

 Molly discovers that “All Women are Isis”;Wilfred begins his own relationship with the Priest of the Moon.   As a couple, Wilfred and Molly play out the themes of Hermeticism, and help bring  forth each other’s magical abilities.

Through destruction and sacrifice they are reborn.

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14 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Visions of Atlantis at four? Wow, that’s quite the premise.

  2. Hey Jewel,

    Evidently, she believed them to be past life memories. Whether true or not, she lived a pretty fascinating life this time around. Hung around with some of the most famous occultists of the day. She was highly respected by them, but hasn’t remained as well-known, perhaps due to her more retiring personality.

  3. I’ve heard the name Dion Fortune, but I’m having a hard time remembering where. I’m sure I’ve come across it somewhere when I’ve been doing research. Fascinating stuff!

  4. Hey Jenna,

    Dion Fortune influenced Doreen Valiente (considered one of the Mothers of Wicca). So if you’ve read about or practiced Wicca you may have heard about Dion that way. (though Dion herself was not Wiccan)

  5. My goodness Astro Sis, we re more and more alike! Her books are practically required reading (and in some circles are in fact required) by many Wiccans and various pagan groups.

  6. There’s my Astro Sis!

    I’ll be shocked if a time comes when it turns out one of us absolutely loves something the other totally abhors. A good ol’ roasting will be in order. 😉 (of the wittily kind)

    Which of Fortune’s books have you read? I have S.P. and Moon Magic (which I have to reread before blogging about)

  7. Psychic Self-Defense years ago, and I picked up but have not yet read The Mystical Qabalah. I’m not really a big Qabalah student, but it helps to know something since I read Tarot. Oddly I haven’t actually read any of her fiction but your excerpts here make me more interested in doing so, and soon 😉

  8. The Qabalah is a bit too cerebral for me. I need my spirituality a little more earthy. And uh- less taxing on my brain. Fascinating stuff, though.

    I’d be interested in your thoughts regarding Fortune’s novels if you’re able to pick some up.

  9. That’s probably where I heard her name mentioned. I’ll have to see if I can find some of her works at the library.

    I’ve found the Qabalah useful for studying the Tarot, but I agree, it’s heavy stuff. But, yes, very fascinating.

  10. I’ve tried reading a little on Qabalah, but really I think the Tarot can stand on its own as a complete system without needing to graft Qabalah, or astrology or anything else onto it. If anything I find numerology more helpful. I’ve got Robert Wang’s book, The Qabalistic Tarot, and haven’t read that either!

    I feel a trip to the bookstore coming on this weekend 😉 I think I’ll pick up The Sea Priestess first.

  11. It’s good to know Dion Fortune is becoming more and more well known as we move into the 21st Century. While her non-fiction work is certainly significant, her fiction is both important and engaging. All of her books are worth reading and re-reading. The Sea Priestess & Moon Magic are my favorites with The Goat Foot God running a close third!

  12. Hi LJ Ross,

    Nice to meet you. 🙂

    The Goat Foot God sounds very interesting!

  13. It was my interest in the occult that has brought me in contact with Dion Fortune through one of her books on the Kabbala. She was really an evolved soul persona-lity.

  14. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for stopping over at my blog. 🙂

    Dion was quite a fascinating woman!

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