Shortly after Christian Qabalist Dion Fortune came to Glastonbury, around 1920, she received psychic communications from a group of excarnate monks of its famous abbey, who called themselves the “Company of Avalon“. They told her that London was the head center of England, & Glastonbury was its heart; that the Isle of Avalon was the site of a “College of the Inner Initiates” & a “great center of the druidic faith” in pre-Christian times. She learned that this area had always been a place of spiritual regeneration where successive generations of initiates maintained contact with inner plane powers over the centuries – the door between the worlds has always been more open there than at any other place in Britain:
“There has never ceased to be a Mystery Lodge at Glastonbury. The succession has never failed; there has never been darkness there. The Tor has never lacked its Hermit. There has always been an Upper Chamber within the bounds of the circle of the marshes, where one soul in solitude meditated upon the mysteries. Those who have functioned in this way have kept the channels open by their concentrated thought, leaving the thinnest veil, like a psychic parchment, to protect the power behind it from those that would use it selfishly.”
In her mystic visions, Dion Fortune could see the spiritual force that fuels this sacred landscape as a constant downpouring of the Holy Spirit, flowing unceasingly from a crystal chalice high above Glastonbury Tor. Inspired by these messages & by the numinous energy of the area, she acquired a plot of land that was once part of an old orchard at the foot of the Tor, where she set about forming a spiritual community. In 1924 a cluster of huts were hastily erected, & ‘Chalice Orchard‘, as she named it, came into being, serving both as a pilgrimage center or “hostel for Grail seekers,” & a sanctuary for meditation & ritual work. Here she gathered a small group, the Community of the Inner Light, which was to develop into one of the most influential magical orders of the 20th century, & is still in existence today under the name of the Society of the Inner Light. Dion Fortune called Glastonbury “Avalon of the Heart” & immortalized this term in a passage from her book of the same name:
“It is to this Avalon of the Heart the pilgrims still go – Some in bands, knowing what they seek -Some alone, with the staff of vision in their hands, awaiting what may come to meet them on this holy ground. None go away as they came.”
Dion Fortune took frequent walks up to the summit of the Tor, which she called, “the Hill of Vision.” One of her visions up there was of a glorious parade out of Avalon’s mythic past winding through the landscape below:
“Through the valleys of Avalon moves an invisible pageant in an endless procession. The darkness before the dawn is shot through by the magic of Merlin the Atlantean. The dark, wild men of the mare go past, fierce eyes gleaming under matted hair. After them come the white-robed Druids, with their golden sickles, bearing the holy mistletoe, and the sacred herbs destined for the sacrificial niche in the Holy Well. Then comes the bowed figure of old St. Joseph, frail and solitary, bearing the Cup. King Arthur rides forth, a strong man in his strength, about his neck the crystal cross which was given him by the Mother of God at Beckary, Excalibur by his side. Guinevere rides behind him in her beauty, her golden hair flowing over her shoulders…Behind them follows the Lady of the Lake, seen as if through deep water, waiting the time when Arthur shall return to her after the last battle, borne in the black barge, watched by the weeping queens, and Excalibur shall come back into her hands, lost to men forever.”
Dion Fortune’s experiences in Glastonbury led her to develop a magical system which included three paths, symbolized by three colored rays, each pertaining to a particular strand of the Western Mystery Teachings:
The Orange Ray is the path of Magical Knowledge, the Hermetic way. It has an intellectual emphasis & focuses on working with symbolism & patterns, thru visualized or ceremonial forms. It was inspired by Dion Fortune’s explorations of the Arthurian mythos, which has seeped into the ancient stones of Glastonbury.
The Green Ray is the path of Elemental Power, which has a feeling life emphasis, & is focused on Earth magic, including nature spirits, elementals & faeries. Inspiration for the Green Ray arose out of her experience of living at the foot of the Tor, with the chthonic power of the Underworld below & the forces of wind, Sun & storm above.
The Purple Ray is the path of the Devotion of Will, focused on direct communion with the Divine. The influence of Glastonbury Abbey & its pervading air of sanctity which still lingers throughout the area like the faint fragrance of incense provided the inspiration for this branch of the Mysteries.
Although she felt herself to be more suited temperamentally to the Hermetic Ray, Dion Fortune found herself called to take a leadership role in service of the Purple Ray. She fulfilled this through a branch of her order called the Guild of the Master Jesus, later known as the Church of the Graal. This branch embodied an esoteric Christianity influenced in part from her early involvement with Theosophical teachings, & Rudolf Steiner’s writings.
The illuminating power of the Christ is the redemptive force that harmonizes the pairs of opposites in the Cosmos; & in the individual unites the pairs of opposites, the higher & lower nature in the exaltation of consciousness.
The central symbol of the Guild was the Grail as the vessel of the Christ-force.
The risen Christ was held to be more important than the crucified Christ, & the role of the cross assumed its rightful place in the Christian Mysteries of Life-Death-Rebirth by symbolizing the suffering & sacrifice that preceded the Resurrection. Emphasis was on the eventual triumph of Spirit in the life of Jesus, & in the life of the initiates of these Mysteries, who followed in His footsteps.
Yet the inner mysteries of the Church of the Graal went further than the traditional imitatio Christi. “Behind the Master shines the Light of the Graal, and the Sophia brings us the Graal. Therefore take for your symbol – for your concentration – the Graal, which enshrines the Christian power – and then shall come the fuller illumination.”
Fortune emphasized that the cup was to be the sacred symbol of the Guild because it was the vessel that could receive the divine influence of the Holy Spirit:
“The Graal is the Cup into which the power of the Holy Sophia is drawn, and in the Graal symbolism you find the esoteric significance of Christianity.”
The Church of the Graal was based on Dion Fortune’s concept of the “ancient Keltic Church” which although no longer present in the physical world is “eternal in the heavens.” It was seen as having its origins in Glastonbury, “the holiest earthe in Englande” which enshrines the legend of the Grail brought there by Joseph of Arimathea. This was the Grail seen as the cup Christ drank from at the Last Supper, & in which Joseph had collected Christ’s blood at the deed on Golgotha. In Dion Fortune’s version of the legend she described Joseph as an old man coming to Glastonbury with his eleven companions & building a humble church of reeds from the marshes in which to house the Grail. The twelve men dwelt in simple circular huts which surrounded the central shrine. Here they kept guard over the Holy Cup; “inscribing paths into the earth with their feet as they circled in meditation, to resemble the starry belt of the heavens where the Sun moves in his circle”.
In Dion Fortune’s retelling of the Grail legend, when a time of evil befell the world, angels came to take the cup away into safety. They gave it into the keeping of the Fisher King where it was guarded by three maidens. When the Fisher King died of his incurable wound, darkness fell more deeply on earth, & the angels then removed the Grail to the “heavenly Jerusalem.”
True to the tenets of the original church of the early Celts, the Church of the Graal encouraged the autonomy of each individual, man or woman, who sought God. Services were centered around a form of the Eucharist called, “the Ritual of the Cup,” in which the Christ-force was invoked thru “the calling down of power into a receptacle, that receptacle being the soul of man.” The service depended not only on the minister or celebrant, but on the active participation & full engagement of each member of the congregation. Through their focused visualization & intense concentration on a single theme, which included a “mighty Chalice of gold” a higher group-mind, or egregore, was formed, in order to “build up thought-forms upon the astral which shall serve as channels for the spiritual force…that each individual member of the group is then filled with the force in such measure as he is capable of receiving.”
For those wishing to embark upon an initiatory path, Dion Fortune also provided a training system. Three courses marked the stages on what was called the “Way of the Graal.” Candidates were known as, Seekers, Servers, &, lastly, Watchers.
On the successful completion of the third course, the initiate became a “Watcher of the Graal,” a priest in his or her own right, & could work with these mysteries autonomously, for “The Church of the Graal . . . is built by thought, eternal in each man`s heart. Each man is his own priest, and lifts therein the Cup of the Graal, and calls down the Flame of Fire, which is the Holy Spirit.”
Among his or her daily devotions, the priest was instructed to build the inner Church of the Graal thru the intensive formulating of an imagination, to establish its reality on the astral plane.
Ok, yes, Dion Fortune was a fav. of mine as a young woman, I read every single one of her many books. But the reason I am giving this report is because I believe that as Anthroposophers we must become spiritual warriors, & endeavor to take up the practice of building up positive imaginations on the inner planes as a counterforce to the adversarial forces working in the world. Let her story continue & you will see a powerful example of what I am saying:
Immediately following Britain’s declaration of war in 1939 she began a series of regular letters to members of her community. With enemy planes rumbling overhead, she organized a series of visualizations to formulate “seed ideas in the group mind of humanity”, archetypal visions to invoke angelic protection & uphold British morale under fire. “The war has to be fought and won on the physical plane, but before physical manifestation can be given, we must create archetypal ideals. What is sown in our highest thought will grow and bear seed.”
Wartime conditions made it impossible for people to assemble in one place; so she sent out a weekly letter, containing a lesson; & besides a Grail imagination, there was a detailed description of the Rose-Cross Meditation to be built up on the inner planes.
An hour was set when, no matter where they were, everyone involved, focused on this symbol as a “key-call” to the powers of the Inner Planes, to enlist their aid in England’s greatest time of crisis.
These imaginations were at the center of what can be called powerful ‘Thought Experiments’.
The working began with the formulating of the Rose-Cross, carefully built up on the astral planes each week. It developed thru a series of changes, in a clear sequence – to make sure that the inner powers had been contacted & were responding. This is what Spiritual Science must do. The Rose-Cross was pictured as being situated in a cavern deep beneath Glastonbury Tor. The figures of the ‘Seven Masters’ & the Master Jesus then appeared around it. Later these were joined by the figure of the Virgin Mary, & the heavenly Isis, bearing the Grail.
More & more levels were revealed within the Tor. The cavern was at the lowest level in the roots of the Tor. Above it, reached by a spiral staircase, appeared a great library, the Hall of Learning. And above that was the Chapel of the Graal. The highest level was called the Watchtower, the inner equivalent of St Michael’s Tower. This was guarded by a mysterious shrouded figure, The Guardian of the Threshold, & was considered too perilous for the uninitiated to visit. During these workings, many of the meditators experienced a profound & brilliant spiritual illumination in the Grail Chapel, & they gaged their individual progress with the outer happenings involving the war.
From her book The Magical Battle of Britain Dion Fortune says: “Let us meditate upon angelic Presences, red-robed and armed, patrolling the length and breadth of our land. Visualise a map of Great Britain, and picture these great Presences moving as a vast and powerful form along the coasts, and backwards and forwards from north to south and east to west, keeping watch and ward so that nothing alien can move unobserved”.
As the war developed, not only national, but also international accord was promoted. With unswerving optimism she guided her fraternity through the dark days of the London Blitz, continuing her weekly letters even when the bombs came thru her own roof.
And according to reports, the night that ‘Operation Sea Lion’ – Nazi Germany’s code name for the planned invasion of the United Kingdom during the ‘Battle of Britain’, was due to launch, the community did a large group meditation completing the working of the Rose-Cross, setting up a shield around the British isles, that the bred repulsion of the British Navy in the psyche of the Nazi’s, which so overwhelmed them on the eve of the invasion that they changed their minds & stayed home. And so as history tells us ‘Operation Sealion’ sank.
Dear friends –Tomorrow on Election Night, folks will gather in person at the Rudolf Steiner Branch in Chicago & also on zoom, for a vigil, where thru Goethean conversation, art, song, eurythmy, & with the help of the so-called-dead, we will create a ‘Thought Experiment‘ a positive, protective, ‘Egregore‘; building a ‘Cone of Power’ with our collective cognitive imaginations, to counteract any adversarial forces, & join forces with the strength of the spiritual powers aligned with love & light. And even if you can’t join us on zoom during election night, join us in your heart-thinking as we build imaginations for a future that includes initiatives like the Three-Fold Social Order. We can also visualize the forces of love & light pervading the consciousness of all of humanity EVERY DAY. Let’s share the fruits of our labors, gleaned from our Spiritual Science, to dispel fear & illness, to create imaginations that will reshape our world in the image of Christ as the meaning of the earth.
All Souls Election Night Vigil
7 pm – 9 pm CT. Tuesday 3 November 2020
In-person in the Upper Room of the Rudolf Steiner Branch Chicago 4249 N. Lincoln Ave.
& also online Join Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/7052931041 Meeting ID: 705 293 1041
Through Social Sculpture, we will hold space with each other, connect with our Angel, the ‘so called dead’, the Being of America…etc…to bring healing on both sides of the Threshold, during Election Night 2020, & on into the future which we are committing to consciously co-create.
Welcome – Anne Nicholson
Verse – Deborah Rogers
The Art of Goethean Conversation – Hazel Archer-Ginsberg
Metamorphosis – Lucien Dante Lazar. Through a 5-point artistic metamorphosis that will weave throughout the evening we will rise in our thinking, & engage our will, to work with the beings of color, form & gesture from point to periphery.
Intermingling: Initiatives for NOW – The 3-Fold Social Order & ALIANT Alliance – Elderberries + ALL
Break-Out Session – groups of 3 for 15 minutes
Singing + Verse – Elizabeth Kelly
Join Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/7052931041 Meeting ID: 705 293 1041
Saturday 7 November 2020,
On-line https://zoom.us/j/7052931041 Meeting ID: 705 293 1041
3 pm – 5 pm CT
with Lelan Harris, Mary Ruud & Hazel Archer
The Connection Between Epidemics, the Souls of the Dead, & the Spiritual World – Leading thoughts by Hazel Archer-Ginsberg based on Spiritual Scientific research & indications from Rudolf Steiner
Inspirations by Lelan Harris – the executive director of Wise Cosmos Educational Initiative (WiseCosmos.org). Lelan is a healer, teacher, and leader with over 40 years of experience in vocational roles such as pastor, professor, and Waldorf school administrator. He offers developmental mentoring, spiritual training, and energy healing in order to raise up new generations of leaders in service at all levels to humanity, Earth, and cosmos.
Group Eurythmy with Mary Ruud
& Break out Sessions
Online hosted by Anne Nicholson on Zoom
https://zoom.us/j/7052931041 Meeting ID: 705 293 1041