When Dion Fortune reaches the last division of her book Psychic Self-Defense, she admits that all she can offer the layman are simple means of coping with the attack, “a manual of first aid rather than a treatise on treatment.” Far better is to come under the care of someone with “specially trained faculties and specially developed powers” (183), an exorcist, in other words. Three tasks are essential: repairing the aura, clearing the atmosphere, and breaking contacts.
We don’t know whether Bowie took any of this to heart, but Fortune stresses that even the most mundane activity can be made restorative if approached mindfully. Simple bathing is an example; better still is bathing with salt and water, for which Fortune provides a blessing.
Fortune describes two categories of “practical psychic work” (193). One is meditating on what is good; the other, which she favors, is “invocative” – prayer.
She describes the means of making a banishing circle: face east, make the Qabalistic cross (very similar to the Sign of the Cross), imagine holding a sword (the Sword of Power) aloft, and then draw the circle with the tip of the Sword of Power while imagining that from the tip flames ignite– visualized within the confines of imagination, fortunately (197).
Bowie is said to have drawn pentagrams for protection during his LA days and nights.
Fortune describes the correct way to make a pentagram with one’s arms to protect the body.
Other choreographies are effective for sealing one’s aura. In the presence of people who sap your energy? Make a “closed circuit” of your body by interlacing fingers, placing them against your solar plexus, elbows pressed to body, and feet touching (201).
The choreography for the line “from Kether to Malkuth” in “Station to Station” is well known. It would be interesting to look at Bowie’s other choreographies to see if any could have been inspired by Fortune.
“‘Word On A Wing’ I can’t talk about. There were days of such psychological terror when making the Roeg film that I nearly started to approach my reborn, born again thing.
It was the first time I’d really seriously thought about Christ and God in any depth and ‘Word On A Wing’ was a protection.” Bowie, NME
Finally, Fortune is an advocate of Guardian or “Bright Angels:
“in times of spiritual crisis, when the very soul is being swept away, then it is that the cry of the soul is heard, and Something manifests out of the mists of the Unseen, manifests itself in a form that is comprehensible to the one who calls.” (213)
The cry of a soul being swept away is what Bowie expressed in “Word on a Wing.”
It would take Bowie a year or so to even begin to attain psychic peace.
Along the way, he — or at least, the Thin White Duke — partook of what Fortune calls the “worst faults of occultism”: “credulity, a slipshod scholarship that verges on illiteracy, and a widespread sappiness of intellect” (224) .