On Not Knowing Where We’re Going…

the path, Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids.
by Penny Billington, reposted from Penny’s Blog

I live near a tourist town with a monthly free paper promoting dozens of occult/self-development courses. Depending on your point of view, it’s either a treasure-store of magical opportunities or an ad hoc market – an esoteric version of the ancient and much loved pre-ebay mag, ‘Exchange and Mart’, whose discerning reader kept firmly in mind the maxim ‘Caveat emptor’ – ‘let the buyer beware.’

This free magazine is stuffed with courses to help define:

  • ~Your life purpose

  • ~Your spiritual path

  • ~Your particular connection to a God/dess, totem or pantheon

  • ~Your unique path to fulfilling your true potential

    No matter where, how or with what motivation these courses are originated, I know they are responding to a need. Anecdotal evidence & correspondence show all too clearly people’s frustration; of feeling desperately ready for… something…. but not being quite sure of what. We know life is good, but feelings tell us that there’s a vital part missing that would tweak us into tune with the shaping-currents of the world. Being tuned in to the orchestral song of the cosmos, we would experience rest, contentment and a deep knowing. We would take our place as an integral, vital part of the harmonious flow of life. We should respect these feelings should be respected as the spur to change, for readers of this blog know that feelings and emotion are the vital working tools of the magician, whose job is transformation.


people g000955eef 640, Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids.

We can feel isolated and a bit inadequate as we sit with our frustrations, but we shouldn’t: no one is immune. Frustration is not a sign of spiritual inability; not knowing doesn’t result from our lack of knowledge, or commitment, or aptitude. These feelings are part of the human condition – an inevitable part of being on the exciting intriguing, maddeningly mysterious quest to discover – how best to be the best human we can be in this incarnation – a job description that covers a lifelong adventure. Fortunately, we don’t have to work it all out for ourselves…

On Dion Fortune and not knowing where we going…

Dion Fortune[1] is the magical mentor who still teaches me whenever I go to my bookshelves. Her example is impressive: she was totally relaxed and fluent when she lectured, without notes. She had drive, was concise and never wasted energy. Her magical school is still thriving after 100 years. Her magical work and attitude during WWII set a standard impressive by modern standards. All of which sounds as if she had a hotline to information that most of us dream of.

Yet she states clearly that, all through her life, she was never directing things; nor did she understand any ends that might result.

So, forget modern promises that we can discover our life’s purpose:

She said she was the snowplough, whose work is to clear the way. She was not the driver.


snow+plough, Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids.

That’s very self-effacing for a woman who had so much influence, and it’s a million miles from the modern idea that personal autonomy in every area is paramount for a fulfilled life. In spiritual matters, maybe we have to acknowledge that we’re not solely in charge.

Let’s time-travel back to understand the context of the times that formed her thoughts.

Magical practice in the early 20th Century

Personal self-development was also the ‘thing’ in the early C20th, as in Émile Coué’s [1] affirmation system, ‘conscious autosuggestion’; but it was not attached, as it tends to be today, with the cults of celebrity and the personality. And even further removed from those cults was the pursuit of Magic! Rules were strict, and entrance to a lodge expected selfless commitment to a higher ideal.

~The magicians’ path was primarily one of service

  • ~It required a formal dedication

  • ~That dedication was ultimately to the evolutionary current which was always moving for the good of all

  • ~It implied a focus always on the most noble, creative, spiritual achievements

    Like monks and nuns who pray for the world, magicians a hundred years ago knew that their path was not for most people: it’s still true, which is why we long for like-minded companions on the Inner Path: they are rare. Therefore the magician did what they did for the good of all – to add something to the creative mix that would, in Dion Fortune’s words, work like yeast in dough[1], permeating the apparent world, bringing in change and transformation. Gareth Knight credits her magical work with helping to usher in the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

    The needs of the personality or of feeling good are seen as irrelevant. The Age of Aquarius, foretold by those same magicians, is one of individuation, so it’s not surprising that we see our work of self-development as important. I don’t disagree, I just think that we’ve got the prioirites the wrong way round. I’ll risk two definitions: the first definition might sound a bit pious, the second, judgmental. But I trust readers to take these in the spirit in which they are meant, and to hold them lightly. Tomorrow, I might express them a whole lot better.

    The work of magic is for the betterment of all. From focussing of the good of the whole cosmos, we should become more empathic, caring, saner and more useful people.

The work of self development is to improve ourselves. This might lead to the same result, but many courses never get as far as turning the student’s eyes outwards to share their blessings. In self-absorption, we could end up scuttling down rabbit holes, diving after courses and spiritual experiences and finding our goals always receding.

The path of dedication

The path of dedication needs bucketloads of trust that when the dedication has been accepted by the higher powers, the way will be shown: because it will shown step by step – we don’t get the map of the whole journey.

DF’s teachings imply a lot of time spent in developing a communication with what we might call ‘the greater powers.’ Instead of looking for outside help, we might use this time in meditation, inner journeying and consciously going out into nature with an understanding of the spirit within all the sentient world. And just noticing what happens, and how it makes us feel.

I think Dion Fortune would have approved of Wayne Dyer’s [1]  repetitions – for fifteen minutes before every speaking engagement – of the mantra; ‘How may I serve?’

This heartens me whenever I feel frustrated. We cannot know; probably we are not meant to, but just focussing on being of joyful service and expecting and asking for blessings on our life can help us relax into what seems needed, one day at a time.

A practical path

Our opportunities come from the particularity of our personalities, abilities and circumstances. Developing a way of acceptance that invites us to reach our full potential within those constraints is our challenge and delight. This is not passive but a dynamic, unique process. And the only thing that can sabotage it is our mind, which will arrogantly try to take over. The logical mind is essential, but always overestimates its capacity: the deeper bodily and intuitive impulses have a far better understanding of a whole system of relationships of life.

If these ideas resonate, we don’t have to go any further.

For the simple version, try this:

~Feel the chalice of the heart filled with love before you get up every morning

  • ~Send that feeling out to your family, home, environment, the world

  • ~Imagine yourself stepping onto a light-and-shade filled path of spirit – make it as natural and beautiful as possible

  • ~As you walk, feel the wind of spirit blowing, filling and informing you

  • ~Ask to receive and recognise intuitions from the highest loving source in the universe

  • ~Say thank you, and come fully back to the present, to start another wonderful day

    For a more formal approach:

    ~Craft a dedication to something higher and better than self to follow – this could be named as a God/dess as our way of representing the Greater Powers, or a quality, such as Love or Justice

  • ~Always frame your dedication to connect you to beauty, truth and love

  • ~Spend regular time making contact with that power: being quiet and listening; feeling safe and open

  • ~Ask often for what you need

  • ~Notice and curb the mind’s incessant need to be clever and take over

  • Question any guidance: you have autonomy over your path and actions always. Are the ideas coming from the best and highest instincts?

  • ~Acknowledge and, where sensible, act on the importance of intuition

  • ~Do not allow the distracting busy-brain to enter the maze that searches for a reason

    Turning our attention to access our inner wisdom, instead of outwards to find ‘answers’ from others puts us on the path of the spirit, that trackway of magical advancement that we yearn for. It might give us balance and serenity even as we cope with our fair share of the problems that are the inheritance of everyone in incarnation.

    To follow this path, we simply place ourselves in the flow and become an authentic part of the cosmic current. It’s the aim of every competent magician or Druid.

    It acknowledges the superiority of the divine creative impulse and our duty to fulfil its will for us.

    It’s wonderful to feel that we don’t have to bear all the responsibility, and many of us, when circumstances become overwhelming, have learnt to formally give problems over the greater powers…. And then relax!

‘Why do you wish to join?’ was the question that had to be answered correctly before entrance to at least one magical society. The response still holds good if we want to pass the portal to the spiritual life:

I desire to know in order to serve.’

Of course, mortgages must be paid, careers must be built and holidays will almost certainly be taken, and all require plans and preparation. Consensus reality runs on linear time, and with shared understandings of responsibilities and duties. But alongside our every day concerns our witnessing selves can keep faith with a deeper understanding: that the flow of time is not linear: that it edges and swirls, rushes and slows and that ultimately it is the movement of eternity.

Within this more expansive concept of time, the creative life force that expresses itself through everyone of us is the driver. And through entering into quietness, into nature, into reflection on a regular basis we, like Dion Fortune, can allow our busyness and anxiety gradually to fade as we embrace our essential role as the spiritual snowplough, clearing the way for the good of all beings.


palace g1f9fa20f3 640, Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids.

[1] Wayne Walter Dyer was a hugely influential American self-help author and a motivational speaker.

[1] Miss Jean Brodie attempted the same by educational means: she called her girls ‘The leaven in the lump.’ https://www.amazon.co.uk/Prime-Brodie-Penguin-Modern-Classics/dp/0141181427

[1] Info on Dion fortune from Gareth Knight here: https://www.angelfire.com/az/garethknight/aboutdf.html


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