On This Day … 06 December

People (Births)

  • 1890 – Dion Fortune, Welsh occultist, psychologist, and author (d. 1946).

People (Deaths)

  • 1961 – Frantz Fanon, Martinique-French psychiatrist and author (b. 1925).

Dion Fortune

Dion Fortune (born Violet Mary Firth, 06 December 1890 to 06 January 1946) was a British occultist, ceremonial magician, novelist and author. She was a co-founder of the Fraternity of the Inner Light, an occult organisation that promoted philosophies which she claimed had been taught to her by spiritual entities known as the Ascended Masters. A prolific writer, she produced a large number of articles and books on her occult ideas and also authored seven novels, several of which expound occult themes.

Fortune was born in Llandudno, Caernarfonshire, North Wales, to a wealthy upper middle-class English family, although little is known of her early life. By her teenage years she was living in England’s West Country, where she wrote two books of poetry. After time spent at a horticultural college she began studying psychology and psychoanalysis at the University of London before working as a counsellor in a psychotherapy clinic. During the First World War she joined the Women’s Land Army and established a company selling soy milk products. She became interested in esotericism through the teachings of the Theosophical Society, before joining an occult lodge led by Theodore Moriarty and then the Alpha et Omega occult organisation.

She came to believe that she was being contacted by the Ascended Masters, including “the Master Jesus”, and underwent trance mediumship to channel the Masters’ messages. In 1922 Fortune and Charles Loveday claimed that during one of these ceremonies they were contacted by Masters who provided them with a text, The Cosmic Doctrine. Although she became the president of the Christian Mystic Lodge of the Theosophical Society, she believed the society to be uninterested in Christianity, and split from it to form the Community of the Inner Light, a group later renamed the Fraternity of the Inner Light. With Loveday she established bases in both Glastonbury and Bayswater, London, began issuing a magazine, gave public lectures, and promoted the growth of their society. During the Second World War she organised a project of meditations and visualisations designed to protect Britain. She began planning for what she believed was a coming post-war Age of Aquarius, although she died of leukaemia shortly after the war’s end.

Fortune is recognised as one of the most significant occultists and ceremonial magicians of the early 20th century. The Fraternity she founded survived her and in later decades spawned a variety of related groups based upon her teachings. Her novels in particular proved an influence on later occult and modern Pagan groups such as Wicca.

Frantz Fanon

Frantz Omar Fanon (20 July 1925 to 06 December 1961), also known as Ibrahim Frantz Fanon, was a French West Indian psychiatrist and political philosopher from the French colony of Martinique (today a French department). His works have become influential in the fields of post-colonial studies, critical theory and Marxism. As well as being an intellectual, Fanon was a political radical, Pan-Africanist, and Marxist humanist concerned with the psychopathology of colonisation and the human, social, and cultural consequences of decolonisation.

In the course of his work as a physician and psychiatrist, Fanon supported Algeria’s War of independence from France and was a member of the Algerian National Liberation Front.

For more than five decades, the life and works of Frantz Fanon have inspired national-liberation movements and other radical political organisations in Palestine, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and the United States. He formulated a model for community psychology, believing that many mental-health patients would do better if they were integrated into their family and community instead of being treated with institutionalised care. He also helped found the field of institutional psychotherapy while working at Saint-Alban under Francois Tosquelles and Jean Oury.

Fanon published numerous books, including The Wretched of the Earth (1961). This influential work focuses on what he believed is the necessary role of violence by activists in conducting decolonisation struggles.

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