Dion Fortune and Distance Magick

By Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle 

Chalice Well Lion Fountain

Not that long ago, I was not an advocate of online magick. Classes? Sure. But the actual doing of magick? No.

I had a friend who early on was deeply immersed in online rituals with an internet coven, and perhaps my assessment had a lot to do with that particular person, but I didn’t see a lot of evolutionary result there. To be fair, I could say that about a lot of in-person groups and teachings, but I had a larger sample size for them. My online coven sample size was small, so I reached my opinions quickly, and they were not kind.

I teach online, and have done so for a number of years, so it’s not that I doubt the method of transmission for information. When I have taught online classes—and when I have taken them—the audio or video, whether live or recorded, facilitated my own personal experience, but not necessarily the group experience. I do believe in astral temples and dream workings where people can have distant group experiences, but that takes some training and some previous resonance (or so I believed). I didn’t see that in an online format, particularly for ritual. The in-person transmission is so important to me, mouth to ear as they say, that I have spent the better part of the last twenty years traveling and teaching all around the United States, with forays into Canada, Mexico, England, Wales, Sweden, Brazil, and Australia.

Fast forward to the year of Covid-19. Here we enter into a time of intense separation due to mostly self-imposed quarantine or local guidelines. We can’t get together for large events. We often can’t get together for small events. All events suddenly go online, including rituals. I was skeptical, but I did it. I know many felt the same way. And I found something wonderful has happened—amid this difficulty, we created an opportunity for greater community and different community to grow. Now our challenge will be continuing this when things return to whatever “normal” will be and we can gather more easily in person.

My inspiration around this time has been the magician I consider the High Priestess of the new aeon, Dion Fortune. While certainly a product of her time, she was also far ahead of her time in many things. I think to the Magickal Battle of Britain, and how she and her organization, the Fraternity of the Inner Light, circulated letters of guided imagery to link them all at the same time each week, specifically to do magick to prevent the invasion of the Nazis into the UK and ultimately the triumph of the Allies as a force for evolution and enlightenment. She used a mix of Pagan and Christian imagery around the Glastonbury Tor holy site. This was not mere fanciful imagination alone, but a simple and powerful magickal working. People didn’t see each other. They didn’t hear each other’s voices. There was no real time guidance…and yet it worked!

Today we have access to more tools. We could argue they make us lazy in our magickal workings, and there is some truth to that, but those who are not lazy—who also use the tools such as online meetings with shared graphics, music, and synchronized workings in real time—have an ability to connect both psychically and technologically in very real ways. Different? Yes. More exhausting? Sometimes. But nonetheless real. I found myself having to shed the former prejudices I had about online work as I witnessed shared astral temple space, especially one instance where a group of people united in one tradition, current, and egregore came together and produced some real magickal voltage.

As Witches, we use what we have available. We use what works. I’ve found something that does both and is serving for this time. I encourage us all to use the tools we have available and find ways to weave our community together and make the magick in new ways. You won’t regret it.