on March 26, 2003
I enjoyed reading this book, although the information was a bit dated and a few of the techniques are difficult to implement. Ms. Fortune also happens to be trained in the Western Christian tradition, which is at varience with contemporary pagan beliefs. This is a classic work, and the anecdotes are great, but if you want more up-to-date methods, I'd recommend either "Psychic Self-Defense" by Robert Bruce, or "Arcane Lore" by Scribe 27.
on September 15, 2002
Well, what can I say? Dion Fortune's book are mostly dry anyways. After reading 4 chapters, I started to have a headache. The materials are a bit heavy. I can't say much though, but after scanning several chapters, I didn't find anything of much practical use. If you want to know about Psychic Self Defense - read Practical Psychic Self Defense by Robert Bruce. He summarized everything you need to know.
Oh, and his book is not dry at all.
on January 30, 2006
An interesting characteristic of "Psychic Self Defense" is the way it works on several levels at once. First, it's full of very amusing stories about psychic attacks, weird poltergeist phenomena, and black magic activities. Second, for people interested in practicing magic it can be read as a very practical guide for how to defend against various types of psychic attacks. And third, if you read between the lines, it presents excellent and valuable insight into occult philosophy of the mind and different planes of reality, dealing with things such as elemental powers, thought forms (entities that are created by our imagination and take on a life of their own- a very common theme in Chaos Magic), the astral plane, how talismans work, and more. Also, because the book is a bit old now (1930) it read well as a kind of historical document, giving insight into the mindset of a post-Romantic era occult mentality and worldview- somehow it gave me the feel of a cultural anthropology text, in a good way.
While I was reading this book, my girlfriend would occasionally pick it up and was totally fascinated by the stories of psychic attacks- so the book seems to work well simply as pure entertainment. The book would make an excellent inspiration for writers, because it presents a unique worldview and good to draw upon. What I found to be the best element of this book was that, if you read between the lines and put together a general sense of what the authour is saying, you can pick up a lot of information about occult matters that are not directly related to psychic attack, and get an interesting overview of magical philosophy.
The basic theme of Fortune's approach to psychic self defense is that psychic attacks are perpetrated through the powers of the mind (usually involving intense concentration and intent), and often take place through/upon the astral plane. Often, psychic problems occur through the working of our subconscious mind (psychic... psyche), and her brief treatment of "suggestion" (i.e. implanting thought viruses into our subconscious mind, so they effect our behaviour, attitudes, beliefs) gives particularly interesting insights into magic and psychology, and how they interrelate.
I would read particular sections of this book again, and reflect on them for a while because they provide great material for meditation. Overall, it was an easy and entertaining read, though some people may find her writing style a little too old school. I would give it 3.5 stars because it deserves a bit more, but it wasn't good enough for a 4. I would recommend Dion Fortune's "The Mystical Qabalah", it is an absolutely phenomenal book which anyone seriously interested in the kabbalah or magic or mythology can read over and over again.
If I am ever attacked by a black magician, an entity, or a vampire I will be very happy I read this book.
on September 14, 2002
A Study in Occult Pathology and Criminality
by Dion Fortune
I don't remember why I originally purchased this book, several years ago, but I recently re-read it. It was just as good the second time around. It's an absolutely fascinating book - it's very readable and entertaining.
I am of the opinion, though, that the things Dion calls attacks are psychological disorders, such as depression, co-dependency or the famous low self-esteem. For example, she describes PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) quite accurately. This is pretty amazing for a book written in 1930; long before that particular syndrome was defined. However, she does include a chapter on telling the difference between mental illness and psychic attack. . (Actually, I think my cat is bulimic due to low self-esteem but maybe it's a psychic attack... ).
Dion Fortune, a noted occultist at the first part of the 20th century, wrote this book in order to instruct those who felt they may be under attack but she wrote it in such a fashion as to not reveal any information that would allow someone to perpetrate an attack. Because of this style of writing, she gives tantalizing glimpses into how life as an "adept" occultist would have been at the first part of the twentieth century. I had the uneasy feeling, while reading this book, that there was a whole mysterious culture/society right under the thin layer of ordinary life.
If you have any interest at all in secret societies, or even if you just want to be entertained I would definitely recommend this book. It can be read on both levels perhaps even practiced.
on June 29, 2002
Ok, first of all if you are a wiccan/witch/neo-pagan, take it easy. Dion Fortune obviously had a different definition for you than you had for yourselves. She saw the term "witch" not as a neo-pagan religion, but as a synonym for practitioners of black magic. As for the people offended by use of racist and class terms, remembber this was written around seventy years ago in a class conscious society. Lastly, as for the people who found her writing to be difficult to read or understand, it is archaic, and filled with references that are no longer common. I also admit that she puts a definite Judeo-Christian spin on things. If you can't deal with any of these facts, then don't read this book. Instead read "Practical Guide to Psychic Self-Defense" by Denning and Phillips and "Monsters" by John Michael Greer, both titles by Lewelleyn. They have the same information, but in greater detail, and they lack the Judo-Christian slant.
If you want to read an excellent first hand account of psychic attack, and the development and mistakes of an occultist, then read Dion Fortune. She is great, the writing is wonderful and witty. She gives tons of information, and she was one of the first people to write on the topic. I recommend this book for those reasons. Plus the stories of her experiences in the beginning of the book are fascinating to say the least.
on April 21, 2001
When reading Dion Fortune, I'm always reminded of afternoons spent with a certain stuffy aunt. She's friendly and interesting to listen to, even if she does have a tendency to meander like a senile sylph. In order to glean any insight, however, one must repress the gut reaction one has to the extreme examples of class bigotry and elitism that overwhelm her otherwise wonderful company.
Psychic Self Defense is a prime example of both Fortune's strengths and weaknesses. The book contains a great deal of good information and advice as to what one should do if they suspect an occult assault of some kind. Thankfully, it also includes a warning to avoid jumping to conclusions. Really, most of the information on how to deal with the attack is spot-on and very useful.
It's the part where she illustrates where these attack are likely to come from that makes one cringe inwardly. Fortune's repeated insistance that the "witch-cult" is behind a large number of these assaults is annoying at first and completely laughable by the end. The fact that she cites Montegue Summers as a reliable source should tell you something. Her argument is based on the assumption that any occultist not approved by the Masonic Brotherhood of Holy Innefable Ango-Saxon Tea-Totalers (or the Knights Who Say NEEE! as it were) is automatically a member of the "Left Hand Path", and thus to be suspected and avoided. That and "there can not have been so much smoke (during the witch hunts) if there hadn't been a fire". This is the sort of statement for which the word "sophistry" was invented. What is completly bewildering is that Fortune never accuses the Mideval Church of any sort of psychic wrongdoing. Creating an entity (Satan) and impregnating it with your repressed sexual desires, mobid fears, and prejudices in order to enslave an entire civilization seems like a psychic attack to me, but I could have misinterpreted.
There are mainy statements in this book, about Africans, Indians, and even (for crying out loud) Buddhists, that are just plain racist. The story of her encounter with the "Occult Police" implies that British Imperialism in India was justified.
It is a shame that good information has to be buried under such a heap of total garbage. Luckily, Fortune is in spite of it all, a superb writer. She is quite witty when she wants to be, and a very good storyteller. This redeems the work in many places, and keeps you reading where you might not if her prose were inferior.
I would reccomend this book just for the information on the signs of an unscrupulous organization, which are farily prosaic and common sense. Much can be learned, if you just tune out the static and listen for what rings true.
on June 18, 2002
Dion Fortune knew well that we are constantly influencing one another through our thoughts and feelings; and that we are under an enormous psychic burden from moment to moment. But now, many years after this book was written, the burden we suffer is thousands of times heavier. Advertising, social pressures, and the relentless effort of others to influence our Will keeps us acting, feeling and thinking things that in truth, in our deepest selves, we do not want. This book can help us learn how to defend ourselves by controlling our own minds so that others cannot. What we need is to learn to be present, to dominate the surging chaos of the mind, and to live from our own sincere sense of what is right and wrong, without caring about the opinions of others. This is the path that all true masters taught: Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, etc. For more information, read "The Great Rebellion" and "Revolutionary Psychology" by Samael Aun Weor.
on September 2, 2001
Poor Violet Firth, aka Dion Fortune. As her true personal story unfolds, you learn with her about the disasters of psychic attack, what makes a person vulnerable and what you can do to protect yourself. The information in this book is perhaps dated but this book was a seminal and important work in the early stages of the metaphysical revival in England and America. Fortune, the author of many classics in the metaphysical field, was among the first to speak out on this topic and it is worthwhile to read the book for this reason alone, if you are seriously interested in the development of thought in the metaphysical field. Fortune was briefly a member of The Order of the Golden Dawn until her feud with another important member broke her association. She is a "personality", a "player", a forerunner, a woman of power, a name you should recognize and an author you should have in your personal library.
on December 14, 2003
This is a great book for keeping the boogeyman away.
I bought my copy back in the early 80s. I enjoyed it immensely, and it inspired me to read even more Dion Fortune. It should be noted, that W E Butler, whom Israel Regardie recommends, advises reading Dion Fortune.
Aesthetic fetishist that I am, I enjoyed my copy, which obviously reprinted the typeface of an earlier edition. I do lament that so many of the reprints abandon the "old fashioned" typeface of these books from the 30s and 40s, and usually replace them with something newer. Ah, well... but that shouldn't keep us from reading Dion Fortune.
If this book lacks the insight of certain other books, it's still a great read. Read it along with her "Practical Occultism," now out in a new edition, with input from Gareth Knight.
I recommend not only this Fortune book, but all of her others (novels included) as well.
on August 18, 2009
This books was very helpful to me, as a sensitive person, in understanding some of the things that have happened to me, as well as giving me useful knowledge on how to deal with somewhat scary events and come out centered and feeling great!