Journal
of the Western Mystery Tradition No. 13, Vol. 2. Vernal Equinox 2007 |
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John Dee’s Composed by Dee in 12 days, the By the time 20 Has it been? As the community of scholars and esotericists studying the
We think that teaching can be recovered simply by looking at what contexts
Dee wrote in and where parts of those contexts survive. Let us make the
not-so-radical assumption that the work encodes many different levels
of information at once, and describes many processes at once, and one
of those is the process of initiation. Therefore the more one wants to
understand the other processes, the more the student must actively participate
in that initiatory process and discover the magical correspondences. Today,
we have enough other works available to “rediscover,” on our
own, what likely were two of the core oral teachings that accompanied
the In fact, we contend that the process of carrying through a study of this
work through to the point where a true understanding begins to enfold
is in itself an initiatory process. Just as Renaissance actors used an
elaborate three-dimensional mnemonic system to remember their lines, the
student of the Our goal in this commentary is to assist you on your own journey of discovery and apotheosis. This isn’t a cook-book guide. It’s a series of suggestions about how Monad might unpack through Theorem XVII, the Theorem which reprises the Sign of the Adept and so stands at the gate to most complex understanding of the Mysteries. One of the secrets of that art known as physical alchemy known to the true initiate is that the Great Work cannot be achieved by physical, external, or mental means alone, but requires that in parallel to the physical processes of the alchemist’s laboratory and mental gyrations of the student’s mind a holistic inner alchemical transformation takes place within the entirety of the alchemist himself or herself. It is through the catalyst of inner transformation that the external process can be fulfilled. Thus also it could be said that the truest understanding of that which this work holds in potential or the truest understanding which lies latent with this corpus cannot blossom without similar inner transformative process in the mind and psyche of the student. The process by which this structure is built through the theorems presented, when accompanied by the proper focus and laid upon a firm, well-prepared foundation, is in itself an alchemical process in which the passages are contemplated and an understanding begins to dawn in the mind of the initiate. Because of this, to read the While we may discuss mathematical concepts in this guide, we want to
do so within the western mystery tradition. If one knows nothing about
that tradition--and many who have written on Dee have at best only a very
superficial grasp of it--reading the
Hieroglyphic Monad, yet many
who are familiar with or participate in these ceremonies seem unaware
of this connection. Perhaps this is because one must understand the Monad
through Theorem XVII to really understand the keyword analysis, and the
few who study it in that much detail often lack the right contexts. For the Adepti, we’ll start this commentary at Theorem XVII, then circle back to the frontispiece and opening theorems. If one compares Theorem XVII and the Analysis of the Keyword, there at first seems little similarity:
If one looks closer, and knows from earlier in the LVX, of course, is how the Latin word Bridges and Weidner point out a more Rosicrucian version, “ On the most basic level, the letters LVX are all parts of the cross: Dee equates light, and the LVX keyword as sign of the Adept, with the
number 252, which by the end of Theorem XXIII of the If one has built upon these geometries enough to see a 5:6 proportion
developed throughout the preceding theorems, in particular in how the
Pythagorean decad and Cabbalistic ten Sephiroth transform into systems
based on twelve INRI turns into 252, and therefore the Cross, in yet another way, through a combination of Pythagorean mysticism and gematria. The gematria of I + N + R + I, yod nun resh yod, 10 + 50 + 200 + 10 yields 270, a rather significant precessional number. But if we remember that to the Pythagoreans, the Decad (10) was simply a higher form of the Monad, and we collapse this higher form into one unit, we have 1 + 50 + 200 + 1 = 252. What else of the number 252? What are the two other things we should
be able to “deduce” from his “previous statements”?
Perhaps, as Josten noted, that 2 Then, Dee says “I will not conceal from you here another memorable initiator to the mysteries,” yet he seems to conceal it after all, telling is only that “Our CROSS having suffered itself to be divided into two different letters, and as earlier we considered their [i.e. the letters’] numerical virtue in a certain way numerical virtue in a certain way, we will now compare in turn THEIR VERBAL POWER WITH THAT CROSS, because from this may be born LUX (LIGHT), a WORD we perceive with the highest admiration, finally and masterfully (through the harmony and agreement of the TERNARY in the unity of the word).” If the Adepti manipulate sections of the cross as we did with LVX, they may
find two Hebrew letters whose sound, when put in the context of a particular
stream of Greek alchemy, becomes I A O.
While many of us fall into the habit of thinking we know much more now
than those in days past, its crucial to understand that Dee’s hypothetical
15 As you study the This guide will attempt to take you through in an accelerated form a few layers of the learning cycle which culminates in the keyword LVX. To attempt to fully unpack the wisdom available is far beyond the purview of this article and indeed were one to be thorough, it would fill volumes. Therefore in this article we will attempt to investigate but a few layers out of the many, and to help the reader to begin his or her own journey of discovery and transformation. In particular, we want to suggest the “building blocks” in the first ten theorems, and point to places in those which follow where one might be able to discern the references to the ancient Eleusianian or Samothracian mysteries, and references to precessional astrology.
The odd statement on the garland suggests we must play with language
as much as geometries (especially since Dee, in his letter to King Maximillian,
asserts that Latin, Greek, and Hebrew alphabets each have significant
geometries.) The odd language use suggests several contexts. As the notes in the
accompanying translation point out, Dee writes “”
in Greek, which must be transliterated to Roman letters to read While we don’t plan to refer to each note of the accompanying translation
in this guide, we hope the brief analysis above does suggest to the reader
one of the most important ways in to understanding the In Dee’s letter to Maximilliam, he refers to the The numbers 1, 2, 3 4; then 1 and 4, on the frontispiece likely both suggest the Pythagorean tetractys, which will be referred to indirectly in many theorems.
The bottom line of a tetractys add up to 10, 1+2+3+4=10, just as there
are ten points; the top point, 10 or the Decad, is simply a higher order
Monad. The irregular spacing of these numbers on the frontispiece has
made some suspect a cryptogram, At the bottom of the frontispiece, we find a quote from Genesis, part of the ten-fold blessing of Isaac to his duplicitous son Jacob. Thus yet another context is suggested; knowing Dee’s other interests, we might be much more successful looking for Gnostic or caballistic explanations of passages in Genesis rather than mainstream Christian ones. Many have noticed that the
Emerald Tablet.I. II. Macrocosmically, the monad, the beginning point for manifestation, is light localized to a point. It takes on dimensionality by becoming a stream, or an infinite flow of points, thus giving us a line (first dimension). An infinite flow of lines give us a plane, or the second dimension. The circle, the most “perfect” figure in plane geometry, can’t be defined without either. So far, Dee’s explication could be straight out of Euclid, though one may cycle back for other interpretations later on. III. Because this theorem says that this middle point can also represent the
earth, Dee is making the point or As he is introducing the idea of the Sun, Moon, and other Planets completing their paths around the earth, Dee seems to be suggesting a geocentric view of the universe, and indeed, many very good writers have assumed, from this Theorem and XVIII, that this was his view. They neglect to note what should be obvious to Hermeticists: that if “I” am the spark of consciousness, that spark will be the center. Similarly, those of us who study astrology today do not think the Sun revolves around the Earth, but we know we have more accurate charts when we know the exact location on Earth to draw the chart from. “Earth,” or a point on Earth, is the frame of reference, the point from which other phenomena are observed and upon which other forces act. It is very important to keep this idea in mind when working through the later Theorems, especially if you try to project these concepts onto the Tree of Life, or that Tree onto a Sphere. You are not attempting a diagram of the solar system; you are attempting a diagram of how consciousness comes into manifestation. It his later theorems and in the Finally, note that here and in most places Dee capitalizes SUN and MOON,
which throughout also refer to the marriage of Sun and Moon in the IV Yet the face, or semi-sphere, always reflects the light of the Sun—it does not generate light. The next lines, that the Moon desires to be impregnated by the Sun, should
be cycled back to when one has a greater understanding of what “Sun”
and “Moon” may mean in the Of note, the Moon in Dee’s V Five also refers us to Venus and the Pentagram, which is formed in the sky if one watches solar conjunctions of Venus and the Sun from the Earth. Finally, by equating the creation of the first day and night with the “LVX” of the philosophers, Dee implies that alchemy involves the measurement of time and space, and so introduces the idea of precessional astronomy. Cabbalists and fundamentalists have argued about the meaning of the Hebrew word for “day,” the former arguing that that this word meant not our current conception of day, but a unit measurement of time: a day, week, era, age. Following this interpretation, we should look at numbers in terms of spatial and temporal unit measures. VI In certain ways the first ten Theorems can be referred to the Sephiroth
and their places on the Tree, Tiphareth represents the highest level of manifestation that we can perceive from our own consciousness. The light of Kether reaches us through Tiphareth, which is why it is often referred to the Sun. We can’t see the center of the galaxy, but we can see the Sun, even though all the power that the Sun wields comes from the center of the galaxy. We can understand what we can’t see, but first have to understand what we can see. So in one sense Theorem I starts with what we can see, but in another, Theorems I-V are all the abstractions you have to set things up until you get to what you can really see. So we know that the “Sun” and “Moon” in first 5 theorems will likely be concepts we’ll later return to, with new definitions. For instance, we know the “one thing” or monad of the In this context, the reference to “body, mind, and soul,”
directs us to the Dee’s comment about the octad won’t make sense until one has built a structure beyond Theorem XVII, but his suggestion, in the context of precessional astronomy, may be that the ancient Magi had never observed something in the sky, even though they may have calculated it.
VIII X, the 21 IX Nine also refers us to the ninth Sephirah, Yesod, associated with generation,
and the synthesis of the influences of all the other Sephiroth. It constitutes
the “foundation,” or formative blueprint, for the manifest
world in Malkuth. Note that Theorems 6, 9, and 10 refer directly to Sephiroth
as usually numbered, which the other theorems in 1-10 do not, perhaps
because the 6 If we start to conceptualize a three-dimensional Great Tree from the information presented thus far, we have two spheres, the Sun and the Moon, with the axis of the Middle Pillar running through their central points, conjuncting the cross. X Within this manifestation, fire is the penetrating, fructifying, purifying
force. Dee’s wordplay further equates fire with Hermes
XI Eleven also refers to the “non-Sephirah,” Da’at or Knowledge. Sometimes Da’at is numbered only when Kether is not, suggesting it is the faculty by which we experience gnosis of all we can’t see, and that mystical state by which an individual experiences the unity of all of the Sephiroth. From this point of Gnosis, one can now conceptualize a Great Tree whose “axis” runs from Kether to Malkuth, and whose proportions are precessional numbers. At Malkuth, it must intersect with the Cross of the Elements, which again divides time and space in terms of precessional numbers: four directions, four seasons; and so on. XII Dee provides glyphs of the planets and says they are all made from parts of the glyphs for Sun and Moon. Remembering our 10:12 proportion, and that Theorem X discussed mainly measures of 12, we might want to refer Theorem XII back to 10 and see what happens. If we have Great Tree of ten Sephiroth with the “Sun” and “Moon” as two spheres on the Middle Pillar, then all of the other planets, lying as they do “off” of the main axis, only exist as polarities or aspects of these energies. His order of planets in this section has puzzled many, and should be returned to after one understands Theorem XVIII. They seem to correspond to the Four Elements, but only if we associate the fourth revolution with water; and could connect to the Four Ages of Lead, Tin, Gold, and Silver, but only if we somehow make the Moon and Mercury refer to Tiphareth or the Sun. The word “revolution” suggests temporal measurements, and indeed if one returns to these glyphs after further study, one may find that each corresponds to a type of temporal age, and the fifth figure--the synthesis of the preceding four—shows them combined into one zodiacal age. If one considers the attributions of planets on the Middle Pillar, the progression from Saturn to the Moon is clearer. Saturn is usually referred to Binah, but can refer to all of the Three Supernals since it is the furthest “wandering star” we can see. Saturn/Binah’s reflection is to the Moon/Yesod, and what is “imprinted” in Yesod manifests in Malkuth, the physical world or Earth. Here we also have “Mercury”/Hermes, the “pure magical spirit,” performing the “whitening,” one of the steps of physical alchemy, upon a zodiacal age, suggesting that external alchemy involves the transformation of time as well as space. XIII Dee suggests that the Great Work is harder to do in this age than before, and seems to refer to the process of physical alchemy: the “soul” separated from the “body” on one level refers to the vapors given off as a substance is purified. But that interpretation alone won’t help us through the next paragraph. “SOUL” in this Theorem has two opposing meanings—the dross that needs to be burned off, and the gate to the inner mysteries. Dee associates Lucifer, the “Light-bringer,” with Hermes/Mercury,
the Microcosm, and the reborn Adam Kadmon. Seamlessly woven in as allusion
to the witches Sabbath, What are we to make of this? How can Venus and the Moon refer to each
other? Part of the solution lies outside of Theorems 1-17 of the We can more easily explain how Lucifer/Mercury/Hermes has, by means of
this “SOUL,” been tied to the “MOON.” Consider
that the “SOUL” (Latin If one is not familiar with Dee’s use of Olympic spirits, one might
consider a common modern projection of the Venus glyphs onto the Tree,
as a symbol encompassing all ten Sephiroth, representing the “Isis
of Nature,” Finally, if returns to the usual reference of INRI, considers the Biblical
crucifixion allegoricallym and remembers Jesus’s words-- “I
am thirsty” --one might meditate upon two additional ideas: vinegar
(as that given to Jesus on the Cross) as a solvent, Dee concludes: “You see how exactly and openly the ANATOMY of our HIEROGLYPHIC MONAD corresponds to the SACRED MYSTERIES signified in both of these theorems (12 and 13).” We suggest that the sacred mysteries are precessional astronomy (in 12) and tantric gnosis (in 13). XIV XV We suggest one look at this Theorem as another fusion of the mysteries presented in Theorems XII and XIII, which XV explicitly refers to. Dee refers to the “hieroglyph” of Taurus in almost the same language as the Monad, and by studying the allusions and wordplay, one suspects it has little to do with the sign or constellation Taurus, and much to do with the mystery cults, or “houses,” which flourished during the Age of Taurus, approximately 5,000 years ago. This was the last age of the Great Goddess cultures in Europe and Mesopotamia, and the rise of the Old Kingdom in Egypt. His wordplay reinforces the idea, including writing “Venus”
in the genetive form, Dee’s quote (in ancient Greek) from Ostanes confirms this reading.
Trying to trace who this ancient philosopher is and who quotes him should
take the student to the heart of the three oldest alchemical manuscripts
known in Dee’s time. In this story, it appears Isis learns the secret of alchemy through ecstatic
union with the divine, and, having become divine, passes that knowledge
on to her son Horus. In the fragment, she is called not Queen nor Goddess
but “Prophetess,” having become an oracle of the divine. To make sure the reader hasn’t missed his generative point, Dee
puns on it yet again in the note at the end. XVI First Dee asks us to picture a diagonal passing through a rectilinear cross; basically, a third line running through the point where these two intersect. His references to “V” and light also suggest the shape of a cone, if one imagine this in three dimensions. Then he tells us five (V) is a circular number, alluding to the circle as one of the four conic sections. If one makes the diagonal an axis for two cones sharing the same vertex, or point, and let that point be the intersection of the lines of the cross, we now have two cones and a plane. The plane can intersect the cones in one of seven ways, and makes one of seven figures: a circle, an ellipse, a parabola, a hyperbola, a point, a line, or a cross: If the plane is running through the vertex, as Dee describes, then we can have only a point, line, or cross. It is very important for the student to work through these images and
draw them for herself, if one really intends to study the Monad in the
context intended. If we use Euclidean geometry, the diagonal must be at
a right angle, but we know Dee also had copies of the work of Apollonius
of Perga, We also now have an image that Dee will use to express how a point of
light, as the vertex of a cone, exerts influence. In his The reference to “EL,” incidentally, is not only to the letter
L or the Hebrew godname, but to an “l” in conics as defined
in the As one studies these ideas more, their connection to the ancient mysteries
will start to take shape. For instance, one might study Appolinius of
Perga’s references to the treatment of conic sections on the ancient
Isle of Samos, study the geography of the Finally, one may also want to research any of the Renaissance contexts
that viewed 1000 (10 We have a few suggestions. We doubt one will be very successful in understanding what follows if one cannot geometrically visualize what has come before. If one can’t, it should be a clue to cycle back through the earlier theorems and slow down. Meditate upon them one by one. Remember that geometry, music, art, architecture, and mysticism were
not separate to the ancient Greeks, and Dee has absorbed their “monadic”
view into his magic and alchemy. Apollonius of Perga wrote that, usefulness
aside, the knowledge (gnosis) of different geometric propositions “are
worthy of acceptance for the demonstrations themselves: indeed we accept
many things in mathematics for this and no other reason.” From this perspective, when you start explaining the origin of geometric
shapes and forms, such as progressing from point to line to square to
cube, you are both describing mystical principles of formation that exist
in higher realms, but also, by describing them in a certain way, you are
evoking those powers or principles in your own consciousness. The odd
(to us) grammar used by Greek geometers makes this even clearer: propositions
are introduced in a form called the perfect imperative passive, so instead
of a sentence like “draw a line from the vertex at a right angle
to the plane,” a literal translation would likely be, “let
a line have been drawn from the vertex having a right angle where it has
intersected the plane.” The effect of this type of writing is the
implicit presence of what some translators have called “The Helping
Hand, the well-known factotum in Greek geometry, who sees that lines be
drawn, points be taken, perpendiculars dropped. No one who has read Euclid’s
The form already exists, and by drawing it you are evoking it from within your own consciousness with the aid of this nameless “Helping Hand.” That’s why such mathematical principles often appear in the same context as the Hermetic maxim “as above, so below, as within, so without.” We stress this because, if one wants to really understand the From a point, move on to a line. From a line, move on to a circle. With these building blocks, move to three dimensions. Dee will introduce subjects to contemplate in every Theorem: by the time we start to meditate upon three dimensions, for instance, he’ll have referred us to the Tetractys; by Theorem V, the Pentagram as created by LVX; by VI, the Hexagram and Tiphareth, from which we can imagine a simple version of the Great Tree. If we try to re-visualize this with the principles we ended Theorem XVII
with, what would we have so far? We ideate a very far away “point,”
the Soon, on that same axis, the Middle Pillar, we will have two Spheres, the “Sun” and the “Moon,” and at the base of the cone, Malkuth, we have the “cross” from which we determine direction, which itself forms another sphere. We have a hexagram attributed to the “Sun,” which sometimes equates to Mercury/Hermes. We have a pentagram created by displacing the central point in the Cross of the Elements/Four Directions. For most of us, the Hexagram, the macrocosm, is easier to visualize in three dimensions (as two interpenetrating tetrahedra) than the microcosm. Can you see what a three-dimensional pentagram will look like? With these ideas in mind, the student may want to cycle back through the entire first fifteen theorems and try to imagine, then draw, a 2-D representation of this three-dimensional tree. Dee has given you all of the proportions and magnitudes you need to do so. The point of discovery, where one has enough information to begin the architecture, is right at the end of this Theorem. As you cycle through yet again, you may notice that all of the narrative allusions in the first ten Theorems are to creation stories; after Theorem II, the allusions and wordplay grow much more complex and seem to need a historical stream to fix them to. Why the allusions to the ancient city of Tyre, or the writings of Democritus, or indirectly, a Hebraicized fragment of an Isean story? Why mix all of the contexts? Dee, we are certain, is drawing on the remnants he found in the Renaissance
of a Theban magickal tradition from the third or fourth century A.D.,
and synthesizing it into his other ideas. While the manuscripts he had
access to may not have dated before the tenth century, they draw on an
older tradition, one we now have much more of a record of since the discovery
and publication of Greek Magical papyri in different translations. One may want to look at later alchemical works like the Finally, we would like to share with you the “Helping Hand” offered us by good friends with whom we have spent some time discussing the Hieroglyphic Monad:
This was how Bridges explained the geometries of the Great Tree to interested
students back in 1991. As far as we know, he did not intend it as an explanation
of the If one locates where different Sephiroth are located and at the intersection
of which curved or planar geometric boundaries, or puzzles over the “location”
of different planets, you will indeed have a “Helping Hand”
to go back through the geometries of the
Can you explain them? We have found no satisfactory explanation in print,
though we hope this article is in part a demonstration of how an oral
teaching explaining the Hieroglyphic Monad either still exists or can
be resurrected. The answer to this Theorem’s Sphinx-like riddle
maybe found in part by looking at the other geometries in the Monas, in
part by connecting them to related ideas in the The spiral, with Saturn (Lead) in the center and the Sun (Gold) on the periphery visually directs us to the alchemists Great Work of turning lead into gold, and indeed, as one studies this Theorem, one runs into some of the most common motifs of physical alchemy. But trying to derive a laboratory process from this Theorem will take one nowhere. Neither will trying to explain the astronomy by only considering objects
within our own solar system. Dee’s language near the end of this
section— The INRI/LVX transformation should give us one clue to start: if the
Outer mysteries of the But the easiest way to start into this Theorem is to look through the Corpus Hermeticum and Greek magical papyri for stories where similar images occur. For instance, the first part of the Theorem, in its discussion of Thus we start to see the outlines of the three-fold alchemical transformation of Hermes as the subject of the Inner Mystery: a cosmological unfolding of time and space, individual transformation and gnosis, and the ability, through the realization of the first and experience of the second, to aid in the perfecting of the consciousness of humanity. |
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Apollonius of Perga, Fried, MN, 2002, Apollonius of Pergea, Densmore D, 1998, Berthelot, M, 1887, Betz, HD, 1986, Bridges, V, 2003 (trans and commentary), “The Emerald Tablet,”
in Wiedner, J & Bridges V, Bridges, V & Burns, T 2007, “Olympic Spirits, the Cult of the
Dark Goddess, and the Seal of Ameth.” Crane, G 1990s, Dee, J 1564, Dee, J 1564 (Latin), 1964 (English), CH Josten (trans and commentary),“A
translation of John Dee’s Dee, J 2000, Dee, J, Turner, N, & Burns, T 2007, “A Translation of Theorems
1-17 of John Dee’s Hieroglyphic Monad,” Dee, J, Shumaker, W & Heilbron, JL 1978, Dee, J 1558, Euclid, Billingsley, H, & Dee, J 1570, Euclid & Heath, TL 1956, Fried, M 2003,“The Use of Analogy in Book VII of Apollonius’
Conica” French, PJ 1972, Josten, CH (trans and into) 1964,“A Translation of John Dee’s
Klein, A 1982 (German) (preface, trans, and commentary), McLean, A 1984, (Commentary), Regardie, I, Monnastre, C & Weschcke, C 1989, Roberts, RJ, Watson, AG 1990, Rose, PL 1972, "Commandino, John Dee, and the De superficierum Divisionibus
of Machometus Bagdedinus", Shumaker, W (trans and commentary) 1978, Szonyi, GE 2001, "Ficino's Talismanic Magic and John Dee's Hieroglyphic
Monad", Taylor, FS 1930, "A Survey of Greek Alchemy", Tymme, T, Heninger 1963, Waite, AE 1973 (trans and commentary) Weidner, J & Bridges, V 2003, Yates, FA 1972, |
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[4] McLean 1984, p. 1. McLeans’s structural analysis of the [7] We do not mean to imply that this entire teaching was part of the
gloss Dee seems to have provided to Maximillian and Elizabeth. Given the
apocalyptic concerns of heads of state at that time, and the interest
of many of them in prophecy, one might suspect his teaching to both concerned
precessional astronomy and what it may have predicted for their respective
reigns. [8] Its worth noting that the cipher manuscript, written in the Trithemian
cipher that was in Dee’s age a state secret, invites one to study
how directly many of the ideas come from Dee’s magical circle as
filtered through Rosicrucianism. For instance, the different projections
of the Moon, Venus, and Mercury in the knowledge lectures connects almost
directly to the [9] For further explication, see Turner and Burns translation in this issue, notes 93-96. [10] See Turner and Burns, n. 102. [12] Weidner and Bridges, p. 319. [13] Regardie points this out in his introduction to the second edition
of [14] See Turner and Burns, notes 99 and 100. [16] Josten 1984, p. 175 n. 71. [17] Thank you to Vincent Bridges for pointing this out to us. [18] See Roberts & Watson 1990, pp. 3-19. [19] See discussion in Bridges and Burns. Certainly, he had copied parts of alchemical manuscripts in Paris and Venice, and likely works of Cabbala of which we have no record. [21] See Turner and Burns, translation and notes 7-10. [22] Some would dispute that Dee had access to Hebrew texts beyond grammars and Biblical passages, but we think the evidence suggests otherwise. Dee visited most of the libraries in Europe which had Cabbalistic texts and he could read Hebrew; its inconceivable that he would not have read and copied some of them. Certainly he had access to, read, and copied parts of all three of the oldest extant alchemical manuscripts, two of which were in Paris and one in Venice. [23] For instance, the Perseus Digital library at http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/
allows browsers to word-search through their entire Latin and Greek classical
library, and their Latin and Greek dictionaries will return usage information
along with entries. Sometimes this isn’t useful: for instance, learning
that Dee uses the word “crux” or cross often, and so does
the Vulgate Bible doesn’t particularly take us anywhere. But noting
that Dee is occasionally using words in contexts similar to those Vitruvius
in [25] Turner and Burns, note 12. [27] See http://www.jwmt.org/v2n12/appendix2.html. [28] For a succinct explanation, see Donald Tyson’s Tetractys page at http://www.donaldtyson.com/tetract.html. Tyson also looks at a tetractys of Tetragrammaton. [29] See Turner and Burns, notes 28-30. [32] A Latin version is available on-line at: http://www.billheidrick.com/Orpd/Dee/JDMH.pdf. Also, Ibid. notes 42-55. [33] See discussion in Bridges and Burns in this issue. [38] For instance, consider this dialog in the [39] Turner and Burns, notes 56-58. [40] Turner and Burns, notes 60-64. [41] It suggests the same shape, though it is not exactly a vesica. If it were, the circumference of each circle would intersect the central point of the other. [42] Taylor, in his survey of Greek alchemical texts, notes that the three earliest known manuscripts (as opposed to papyri) are Marcianus 299 in Venice (tenth or eleventh century;) Paris 2325 (thirteenth century) and Paris 2327 (fifteenth century.) Dee may have had access to all three; one wonders what papyri he, or the authors of these manuscripts, had access to. Taylor (1930, p. 113) says that the authors, as opposed to the copyists, of these alchemical texts wrote at dates no later “than the second half of the third century of the Christian era nor earlier than the first century” and include Democritus, Iamblichus, Ostanes, Cleopatra, Isis, Maria, and Hermes.” The names, obviously, are often pseudonyms. [43] See Turner and Burns, n. 68. Waite gives a longer translation in
his edition of the [44] Isis frequently is called the Patroness of magic, and this fragment echoes the more familiar story of her tricking Ra and learning the secrets of healing and eternal life. [45] Turner and Burns, notes 65-75. [47] Roberts & Watson note the history of the earliest version of
[48] Euclid’s actual treatise on conics has not survived, but part of the reason was that its ideas were completed and built upon by Apollonius of Perga, who is generally considered the greatest Greek thinker on the subject. For instance, Apollonius proved that all conics are sections of circular cones, and explored how to work with cones not produced by a right-angle, both of which seem key ideas in Dee’s use of conics in astronomy. [49] Our term “parabola” comes from the [51] Taisbak, qtd by Fried in the introduction to his translation of
Apollonius’s [52] For an excellent discussion of this tradition as a Greco-Egyptian-Hebraic synthesis, see Betz 1986, pp. xlii-xlvii. Of the mix of often incomprehensible languages in some of the papyri, he says, “Many of the texts depict the magician as a wondering craftsman who "seems keen to adopt and adapt every religious tradition that appeared useful to him" (p. xlvi). "This craftsman no longer understood the ancient languages, although he used remnants of them in transcriptions. He recited and used what must have at one time been metrically composed hymns, but he no longer recognized the meter". . . "For these magicians, there was no longer any cultural difference between the Egyptian and the Greek Gods, or between them and the Jewish God and the Jewish angels." (xlvi). Dee, as a scholar and linguist, clearly was trying to understand these ancient languages and re-synthesize the synthesis by understanding its geometries. [53] The more usual line of thinking has been to equate the order of planets with an order of the spheres, thus using this Theorem for further evidence that Dee had a geocentric conception of the solar system. [54] The references to Anaxagorus and Oedipus point us directly back
to this Theban current. Also, in the stories of Orpheus and the underworld,
we find our easiest connection to the “dark goddesses” of
the underworld so common in the Greek magickal papyri. See Betz 1986,
p. xlvi. |
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