Christine Hartley and the Western Mystery Tradition

Christine Hartley was born as Christine Campbell Thomson in London on May 31st 1897, at 11:30 am. Although there is not much known about her youth, her nativity shows clearly that she was fortunate to be born into an important family who provided her with all the support she needed.

 

Her Part of Fortune is conjunct her Virgo Ascendant, casting a square aspect to her 10th house Sun and Moon in Gemini, both conjunct her MC. It does therefore not come as a surprise that, after a short employment as a secretary in a literary agency, she founded her own agency. This is where she met John William Brodie-Innes, who, shortly after the end of the First World War, intended to publish a book with her. Brodie-Innes was a high-ranking member of the Order of the Golden Dawn and it is believed, that he was Dion Fortune’s teacher. He was as well a first-rate magician and immediately recognised Christine’s dormant magical abilities. There may have been some ancestral recognition also, as Brodie-Innes considered himself to be the reincarnation of John Dee, whilst Christine Hartley was in fact a descendant of Dee through common Welsh ancestors. Christine did not take Brodie-Innes up on his offer to teach her magic; it should still be quite a while indeed, before she would enter the world of occultism.

In 1927 Christine Hartley was approached by Dion Fortune; the latter intended to publish one of her books, “The Problem of Purity”. Like Brodie-Innes, Dion Fortune would as well have immediately recognised the innate magical potential in Christine, but it would take until 1932 for the two women to meet again. At this time Dion Fortune returned to Christine’s office and invited her to attend a lecture on Ceremonial Magic at the Society of the Inner Light.

This is, how the remarkable career of CCT, as Christine Hartley became to be known amongst her fellow members of the Society of the Inner Light, began. In 1937, when her training period was over, she was to meet the man who would become her priest or magical partner, Charles Seymour. In this year her primary directed Ascendant was sextile Sun, of which Lilly says:

Great Health of the Body, tranquillity of Mind,[…] new and eminent friends of great account[…] (CA p661)

 and sextile Moon, of which Lilly has to say:

[…] apt to undertake any matter [and] does follow his Profession with much alacrity[…] (CA p664).

Colonel Charles Seymour’s occult background was in Freemasonry, although it is likely that he knew Brodie-Innes. Alan Richardson says about Seymour in his recommended book Dancers to the Gods:

There is a curious reference in his diaries, which reads: ‘Working with Volens in the Museum Chambers’.[…] the whole statement calls to mind the old tradition that a Temple of the Golden Dawn once worked magic in the British Museum with the sanction and co-operation of E.A. Wallis Budge, the eminent Egyptologist.

For the next two years Christine and Seymour were working together, bringing a stream of Moon magic, which was rooted in the Celtic Otherworld, into the Western Mystery Tradition. In Christine’s nativity primary directed Sun and Moon are conjunct the fixed star Castor in 1938 and in 1939. According to Robson’s Fixed Stars and Constellations this is an indicator of ‘prominence in occult matters’ (Sun) and ‘occult interest and psychic ability’ (Moon).

Colonel Seymour left the Inner Light at the beginning of World War II. He died in 1943, but Christine Hartley continued her magical work. In 1945 she married Henry Alexander Hartley; they had been brought together by a book called The Science of Astrology, which he had written. The fact that it was a profected first house year shows the new beginning in her life. If one looks at the beautiful Venus in her nativity, one can get a good idea of the feminine aspect of her personality. Her Venus certainly is Lady of the Geniture, being domicile ruler, triplicity ruler and in trine aspect with Jupiter. Venus is placed in the 9th house and trines the Ascendant as well as the Part of Fortune, a clear indicator of her role as a successful priestess in the Western Mystery Tradition.

In 1968 Christine published her masterpiece, The Western Mystery Tradition, wherein she weaves Celtic mythology into the greater occult picture. She does this with great knowledge showing her personal involvement and the magical experience of a lifetime.

Christine Hartley died on September 29th 1985, at the age of 88.

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Dion Fortune’s Nativity

Violet Mary Firth, better known as Dion Fortune, was one of the most famous occultists of the 20th century. She was the founder of the Society of the Inner Light and claimed to have participated in the “Magical Battle of Britain” to prevent a possible German invasion in World War II. Her many occult novels and works on magical subjects are still in print and many occultists consider her Mystical Quabalah to be one of the best books on magic ever written.

Although we know that Dion Fortune was born at Bryn-Y-Bia in Llandudno, Wales, on December 6th 1890, no written record concerning her exact time of birth has ever come to light. Nevertheless there exists one important statement from her mother, Sarah Firth, claiming that she sat with the newborn child in her arms during the dark hours before dawn. Taking this fact into consideration, I was trying to rectify Dion Fortune’s nativity  in a traditional manner with the help of primary directions. Having done so, my proposal is that the birth took place at 1:58 AM.

Taking a look at the nativity, we see that her Sagittarius Sun in the 3rd house is in close opposition to Caput Draconis in the 9th house. This makes them immediately recognisable as being important indicators of her life. The Sagittarius Sun is characteristic for people looking for wisdom and knowledge and a deep interest in spiritual matters. The positioning of the Sun in the 3rd house indicates that the native may express his interest in writing or other forms of communication. Dion Fortune’s 3rd house Mercury adds, of course, to her success as a successful author of many books. The placement of her North Node makes it clear that her field of interest could only lie in the occult. Venus, ruler of the Ascendant, is in shocking condition, being combust, peregrine and retrograde and, together with her 12th house Moon, can tell us a lot about her difficult emotional life patterns and her notoriously secluded lifestyle.

If we now have a look at some of the most important dates in Dion Fortune’s life, it will become clear that my suggestion for her time of birth at 1:58 AM is likely to be correct.

At the age of 23, in March 1913, young Violet had a nervous breakdown. This event is clearly reflected in the primary direction of the Moon to the South Node occurring the same year. William Lilly says about contacts between Moon and Cauda Draconis in his Christian Astrology: “It usually brings a melancholy Disease or proceeding of phlegm along with it.”

On April 17th 1927 Dion Fortune married Penry Evans; in the same year her primary directions included Ascendant square Venus and MC trine Venus. William Lilly says about Ascendant square Venus: “the Native falls into distempered passions by his folly in Love”, and about MC trine Venus: “many times it produces marriage”. The same aspect can also be seen in Dion Fortune’s Solar Return chart for 1927.

Already in December 1938, she got divorced. The primary direction for that year, Moon square Mars, tells the tale of this event. Interestingly 1927 and 1938 were both profected 1st house years for Dion Fortune, indicating new beginnings on the spiral path of life.

On January 6th 1946 Dion Fortune died from leukemia. The primary directions for the year show Ascendant opposite Mars, in the secondary progression her Ascendant squares the natal Mars. This year was a profected 8th hose year with the profected South Node close to the 8th house cusp.

Update April 2011 –  see as well: Dion Fortune Revisited

Rensberger’s Profections

Nicolaus Rensberger dedicates the whole of Book four of his Astronomia Teutsch to directions and profections. Unlike William Lilly he does not seem to use monthly or diurnal profections, but concentrates on annual profections alone.

His definition of profections is as follows: “You should give each sign a year, according to the order of the twelve heavenly signs and twelve heavenly houses. This means that the planet which is rising in the sign it is in, will take twelve years to move through all the twelve heavenly signs and houses until he will return back to where he started from.”

Like William Lilly, Nicolaus Rensberger uses the five hylegical points, Ascendant, Midheaven, Sun, Moon and Part of Fortune as significators.

He gives a general overview, explaining the meaning of the five hylegical points.

Ascendant – It shows health and weakness of the body and fortune or misfortune of the native.

Moon – Like the ascendant it shows good or bad times.

Sun and Midheaven – As well as the Sun, the Midheaven shows in which year the native will gain power, great honours and dignity. It also shows skilfulness and master craftsmanship. 

Part of Fortune – It shows in which year the native will win or lose possessions or nourishment.

Next he describes in detail the significance of the profected Ascendant and Moon in any of the 12 houses. Compared to Lilly, CA p729f, it can be said that both astrologers seem to draw from the same or a very similar source, although Rensberger seems to have more details than Lilly.

In the following I give the last part of the description of the profected Ascendant or Moon in the 12th house: “If the profection of the Ascendant or the Moon will come to the 12th house, the natives will be attacked by hidden illnesses and some enemies will come forward. […] But you shall notice that, if the profection of the Ascendant or the Moon will come to the body of Saturn or Mars, or is in unlucky conjunction or opposition, these will introduce saturnine, melancholic illness. But after the nature of the signs, as if Saturn would be in Aries, Leo or Sagittarius, and said profection is coming there, they indicate a lot of bad luck and harm to the native. This is after the nature of the house they were fallen into; and a sharp illness which shows heat which changes into cold. And they generally give long illness in the air-signs, which are Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. They are long fevers, daily fevers and poisoning from pestilence, scabious and itching. In cold and dry signs cold, melancholic and dry illness, four day fevers, as in Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn. But in the watery signs, as Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces, it will give cold, moist and phlegmatic illnesses like festering sores, dropsy, jaundice, itching, skin sores, etc. These illnesses come from Mars but they are sharper and hotter than fever from pestilence or pestilence. And there are all sorts of evil sores and red dysentery and abdominal flow and three daily fevers. What other sorts of illnesses may be introduced by the other signs see the first chapter of the other book where I have written about the nature of the signs and planets, where you will find it clearly. And so the profections I have been talking about, if they come to the planets in this manner, through their nasty aspects arguments and quarrels, after the nature of the planets and houses to which and wherein they fall.

Example: If the profections would fall in the third house and Mars or Saturn would be in it, they would create quarrel and war with brothers and would show bad luck in short journeys. This is how you should judge all the other houses.”

This is followed by a chapter on the Lord of the profection of the Ascendant, which is, of course, the Lord of the year.

Here is the quote from Rensberger’s book: “Lord of the year is the planet who rules over the profection of the Ascendant, which is over the sign wherein the profection of the sign is in. For example if the profection of the Ascendant is in Aries, whose  sign belongs to Mars, so Mars would be Lord of the year because he is ruler over the profection of the Ascendant because of his house.”

Now follows a chapter on the Planets being Lord of the year.

The next chapters deal with the profection of the Part of Fortune and the second house and the Midheaven and the Sun. Again this is very close to Lilly, CA p732f and p731f.

Unlike Lilly, Rensberger goes further into detail, dedicating a whole chapter to the Lord of the profected Part of Fortune and the profected second house and to the Lord of the profected Midheaven each. Again all the planets are looked at in detail.

For the significators and promittors, Rensberger uses a similar definition to Lilly. He says: “The planet that is directed is called significator because it points towards the things to come, and the planet the significator is moved towards is called promittor, indicating a promise or what is going to happen.”

The conjunctions, oppositions and square aspects between the profected Ascendant, profected Moon, Lord of the year, Lord of the profected Part of Fortune, Lord of the profected Midheaven and the other planets are taken into consideration, but Rensberger does not allow aspects between the (profected) Part of Fortune and other planets and vice versa.