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.

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