Dion Fortune's "Mystical Meditations on the Collects"
The following posts offer a weekly resumé of Dion Fortune's interpretation of the 'Collects.' The Collects are a series of Christian prayers and invocations, one for each week of the year, but DF's interpretation of them comes from a more inclusive spiritual understanding which she hoped would speak to those of many faiths. Her comments bring out the universal spiritual truths behind the prayers and reveal how they contain words of wisdom for all seekers.
Dion Fortune's full commentary on the Collects can be found in her book 'Mystical Meditations on the Collects.' but we hope that these excerpts will provide a useful summary of her thoughts on this subject. They make a fascinating addition to her better-known and more 'occult' work.
A Brief Introduction to "Mystical Meditations on the Collects"
The title of Dion Fortune's book: ‘Mystical Meditations on the Collects’ gives the impression that it is likely to be 'Churchianity' in tone and will therefore have little to do with magic. In fact the book is very much to do with magic as the art of "causing changes in consciousness according to will." It might more accurately be entitled 'Magical Meditations on the Collects.'
As DF explains in her preface, her purpose is to demonstrate how the underlying wisdom of 'The Collects’ is based on universal spiritual truths rather than the orthodox interpretation of Christianity. She writes: "The presentation adopted in these pages may not only cause scandal to the orthodox, but also to the heterodox…”
Briefly, a ‘Collect’ is a short invocation which gathers together the intentions of a group of people. Although the Collects are usually associated with the Church, their structure is very similar to the magical practice of invocation, which traditionally is made in five stages:
The first stage identifies the god or goddess whose help is requested
The second stage describes the particular quality or aspect of that god or goddess which is relevant to the present invocation
The third stage defines as precisely as possible the nature of the request
The fourth stage describes the hoped for outcome
The fifth stage asks for the compassion and blessing of the god or goddess thus invoked
We might for example invoke Athene, focus on her aspect of wisdom and ask for her help in understanding an aspect of esoteric teaching. Our goal is to reach a greater knowledge of ourselves and increased clarity as to the choices we should make in the challenges that face us. Holding this in mind, we invoke Athene and attune our minds to her wisdom.
N.B. The time and tradition in which these Collects were written means that they use only the term 'God' in reference to the Deity. Readers may wish to substitute alternatives such as Goddess, or Spirit.
01 Thought for the week beginning 3rd January 2021: The Epiphany
Keynote: Seeing with the eyes of the spirit
It is worth bringing to mind the meaning of the word 'Epiphany' which is: "a sudden perception of the essential nature or meaning of something; an illuminating discovery or realisation; an intuitive grasp of reality through something apparently simple."
As Dion Fortune reminds us in her commentary on this Collect, the Wise Men in whose name we celebrate 'The Epiphany' saw much that others did not see, such as the symbolism of the star in the East and the spiritual significance of the new-born babe in the stable.
This Collect asks for the ability to see beyond the outer form of things, to discern the energy that lies behind them and causes their outward appearance.
Developing the ability to see the world with the eyes of the spirit can take a lifetime of trying, but we can make a start simply by wanting to do it. And it makes the perfect New Year's Resolution.
02 Week beginning 10th January 2021
Keynotes: Wisdom, Courage
The Collect for this week asks for the ability to "perceive and know what things we ought to do..... "
Dion Fortune's interpretation of this Collect is that In situations of uncertainty, rather than make hasty or arbitrary decisions it is better to pause for a while in order to contact a higher Wisdom and to gain a better perspective of what is causing the present situation. With the benefit of a more insightful perception, we can then begin to make appropriate changes - not forgetting to ask for courage in making them and carrying them through.
03 Week beginning 17h January 2121
“Grant us thy peace all the days of our life……”
When we desire peace for ourselves, our first thoughts often tend towards the stress, anxiety and internal conflict that we would like to get rid of. When our thoughts turn to peace in the word, we also tend to think of this in terms of the removal of conflict.
Dion Fortune reminds us that the invocation in this Collect is made to the ultimate source of all Life, the One Deity of "all things in heaven and earth." She suggests that real peace is not achieved simply by removing stress or conflict but through our understanding of how all things in the universe are interconnected. She suggests that when we have a better knowledge of the cause of things, of why things are as they are, then we can reach a place of acceptance and understanding which ultimately will lead to a deeper and lasting peace.
04 Week beginning 24th January 2121
The words of this week's Collect are: "Almighty and Everlasting God, look mercifully upon our infirmities….."
'Infirmity' is uppermost in everybody's mind at the moment, with daily reminders of the devastating personal and global consequences of the pandemic. We can - should? - pray for Divine mercy, but it may also be helpful to try to look upon our own selves with mercy and compassion. If we can reach an acceptance of where we are now, at this very moment, then this may be a step towards future healing and wholeness.
05 Week beginning 31st January 2021
Keynote: Protection from evil
The Collect for this week asks for strength and protection "in the midst of so many and great dangers" because "by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright."
Many of us are more aware than at any other time of "so many and great dangers" in the current pandemic.
The vivid but perhaps surprising image in this Collect is of "standing upright." If we stand in this position, and take a deep breath, it enables a clear flow of energy to be channelled through our entire selves, integrating body, mind and spirit, and connecting heaven with earth.
It's a simple thing to do, but it can be remarkably effective.
06 Week beginning 7th February 2021
Keynote: True religion
The Collect for this week asks: “Oh Lord, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion…..”
In her commentary on this Collect, rather than becoming distracted by debate as to what constitutes ‘true’ religion,' Dion Fortune emphasises the importance of the word continually. The Collect asks for help in our continued perception and understanding of spiritual truth, not least by acknowledging that our perception and understanding need continual revision. As we progress along the Path, what we believed to be true yesterday, may not seem so today.
The secret to this, DF reminds us, is to become still...and to adopt a 'humbleness of mind.' Then we may realise that the 'truth' is found through our individual perception of the power of the spirit rather than in this, or that, religion.
07 Message for week beginning 14th February 2021
This Collect asks that we may purify ourselves even as Christ was pure.
"How is this to be achieved?" Dion Fortune asks, with good reason! How can we achieve 'purity' in body, mind and spirit? And yet somehow we know that this is what we must aim for.
Dion Fortune tells us that even the practice of constant vigilance will not suffice. What works better, she suggests, is to set aside a few minutes each day in order to enter the Silence. When we listen to the Silence we can reconnect with the spirit. And then, purity will begin to occur of its own accord and in its own perfect way.