Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition
No. 19, Vol. 2. Autumnal Equinox 2010

A Golden Storm:
Attempting to Recreate the Context of John Dee and Edward Kelley's Angelic Material

by Teresa Burns

Any history attempting to trace the Enochian workings of John Dee and Edward Kelley through their many revisions, misunderstandings, and re-re-visioning at the hands of individual writers and practitioners, or via Kabballistically-based initiatory societies like the Golden Dawn, is likely to be "bad history"… including this one.

Knowing that this history is flawed—and that empirically based scholarly research doesn't mesh well with a history of Secret Chiefs and manuscripts discovered in second hand shops or dug up in backyards—myth rushes in where scholarship fails. We get used to this, those of us who both value research and practical magic. One hears or even recites lines in initiations describing part of the Great Table as "one of the four Great Tablets of the Elements given to Enoch by the Great Angel Ave"[1] while knowing that those who actually received the material (from the Great Angel Ave, their own DNA, or—somewhere?) were John Dee and Edward Kelley. But the ritual is beautifully crafted and inspirational, so we don't change it.

The trouble is, the story of how Dee and Kelley, influenced by Agrippan magic, sacred geometry and Kaballah, received and perhaps used the "Angelicall" language and magickal system, and how that was transmitted via an underground stream intentionally camouflaged with pseudonyms and magical blinds, and propped up by myths, is at the heart of the western mystery tradition as it exists today. If we wish to clarify our view of the Enochian corpus then it is imperative that we trace the tradition to its empirical roots as much as possible, and develop an understanding of it in its own temporal context, whenever we can.

Most histories of the angelic workings barely address the fantastic context. And how can they, until much more is known? If we humorously expanded the title of Michael Wilding's 1999 Raising Spirits, Making Gold and Swapping Wives (one of the few attempts at a contextual history) even more, we might wind up with a history that includes not only talking to angels, and creating or receiving a language, but a bewildering array of other unusual activities. Here we would find Dee and Kelley transmuting metals, using sexual energy to power rituals, praying effusely, distilling spirits, spying, communing with Golem-makers, doing something "heptagonal" that involves coordinating messages throughout central Bohemia while the Spanish Armada sails around England (and eventually returns home in shambles), all the while involving a cast of many people who never appear named (correctly) on-stage, including Rabbi Judah Loew, Giordano Bruno, and perhaps, William Shakespeare.

The title expansion is a joke, of course,but the point a very real one: no one has yet addressed how Dee and Kelley's magical work connects to espionage, sexuality, physical alchemy, nor how it exactly it connects to the surrounding magic, politics, and literature it so clearly influences. What about its apocalyptic context? In the apocalyptic astronomy of the age, 1588 was supposed to be the end of the world: and it was indeed the beginning of the end of the Spanish empire, and the start of the British one. By now, we all know that the person who coined the term "British Empire" was none other than John Dee.

Who was Edward Kelley, and why do we still know so little about him? He appears on stage as a mysterious man knocking on Dee's door, rises from being an apparent con man to Knight of the Holy Roman Empire and reportedly achieves the grand transmutation. Most of what Anglophone writers have said about Kelley comes through the filter of Dee, who is not always the most reliable source (as we'll see when we revisit his diary.) Yet Kelley's scrying "was destined to produce what is perhaps the most unusual magical literature of the Renaissance,"[2] according to Geoffrey James, perhaps the first modern author to try to look at the primary manuscripts in context. As James points out, Kelley believed the angels desired to "reestablish the true art of Magic… [which] (they claimed) would bequeath superhuman powers upon its practitioners, change the political structure of Europe, and herald the coming of the Apocalypse."[3]

What of the mythology surrounding Dee and Kelley's angelic workings is true? What is legend mistaken for fact or vice-versa? In this attempt to give a state-of-the-art bad history of the Angelic manuscripts, we'll briefly look at:

The Enochian Manuscripts and Surviving Magickal Items
400 Years of Misunderstanding the Work of John Dee
The Underground Stream Surfaces
The Strangest Biography
400 Years of Character-Assassinating Edward Kelley
How to Start (Over?)…

The Enochian Manuscripts and Magickal Objects

Just how was it that John Dee received this material, anyway? Wasn't there an angel that appeared at his bedroom window, or something like that, and gave Dee a magic crystal ball? No, wait: that's a retelling of a scene in Gustav Meyrink's romantic historical novel, The Angel of the West Window. However, Dee did get a rare Aztec obsidian shewstone from somewhere, and you can still see it in the British Museum. And of course, many of the manuscripts where Dee recorded, or recopied, his and Edward Kelley's conversations with angels do still exist,[4] as does Dee's shewstone and his Sigillum Dei Ameth, made according to angelic instructions scryed from that stone by Edward Kelley and recorded by Dee in Mysteriorum Liber Secundus. The British Museum notes that the polished obsidian shewstone was "one of many Mexican cult objects and treasures brought to Europe after the conquest of Mexico by Cortés between 1527 and 1530."[5] How did it get to Dee? No one knows. But curiously, later on it fell into the possession of Sir Horace Walpole, a famous antiquarian who happened to be son of the first British Prime Minister.

Dee's artifacts.

John Dee's scrying artifacts in the British Museum, from the late 1990s when they were still in Room 47, the Elizabethan section. From left to right: the Sigillum Dei Ameths, a crystal ball (provenance unknown, an item less reliably Dee's than the seals or scrying stone); a gold disk engraved with a representation of the Vision of the Four Castles, seen during a session at Krakow in 1584; and Dee's obsidian shewstone or "magic mirror," through which Edward Kelley scryed the corpus of Enochian material. Photo courtesy Stella Maris Mackenzie.

The case for Dee's magic mirror.

The case for Dee's magic mirror. In the 18th century the mirror belonged to Horace Walpole, who wrote the following inscription on the back of the mirror case: "The Black Stone into which Dr Dee used to call his Spirits V. his book. This Stone was mentioned in the catalogue of the collection of the Earls of Petersborough from whom it came to Lady Elizabeth Germaine. H. W. "The remaining hard-to-read section informs the viewer Dr. Dee's associate Kelley, with this very mirror, "did all his feats upon the Devil's Looking Glass." Photo courtesy Stella Maris Mackenzie.

John Dee's scrying artifacts.

Dee's artifacts in their more recent British Museum "home," the old reading room.

Dee was somewhat obsessed with using angelic communication to re-establish the wisdom of Enoch,[6] and heavily annotated his copy of Giovanni Pantheus' Voarchadumia, a work which included an alphabet labeled "Enochian."[7] Yet neither he nor Kelley ever used the term "Enochian" to describe the language or magickal system derived from their angelic conversations. Dee most often called it "Angelical;" later commentators and practicioners switched to "Enochian" or "Ophanic" to distinguish it from other "received" angelic languages, though some have now reverted to "Angelical."[8] Take your pick. The spirit diaries where Dee recorded the information have somehow survived for more than 400 years since then, or, some of them have.

How these documents survived is itself the stuff of good legend: by now many sources recount the story of how Robert and Susannah Jones, in 1642, bought an old chest that had once belonged to Thomas Woodall.[9] They took the chest home, where it sat for twenty years until, for some reason, Robert Jones decided to investigate, stuck a knife into a small slit, and found he'd opened a secret drawer.

Inside, among other things, he found the much of the work of the so-called Enochian corpus: the 48 angelic keys, the angelic diaries, tables, word squares, weird letters. Apparently the maid—note here the time-honored device of blaming the help—had thought the papers were useless and lined a few pie pans with some of them, cooking away nearly half of the collection. Then for some reason the Joneses put the stack of mysterious papers back into the chest, forgot about them again, and then Mr. Jones conveniently died. Not long after, the Great Fire of London broke out … so, to quote one retelling, "Widow Jones gathered as many possessions as she could carry [but]… the chest was too heavy to move… However, as the flames started to lick Lombard Street, Mrs. Jones decided to remove the mysterious papers from the chest and take them with her."[10]

She remarried a man named Wales, who showed them to astrologer William Lilly, who suggested sending them to Elias Ashmole, which he did, and the rest, as they say, is history.

How do we know that any of this is true? Well, Ashmole recorded it, three different places, but also the pedigree fits. The chest the Joneses purchased came from Thomas Woodall, who inherited it from his father John Woodhall, the last known custodian of Dee's personal effects. And even Ashmole couldn't have known that John Woodhall may have inherited it from John Pontios, Dee's executor, rather than purchasing it.[11]

By the time these manuscripts surfaced, the latter 1600s, other Dee and Kelley manuscripts were known to Ashmole, with almost as colorful a history: these had been dug up in the 1610s or 1620s in what had been Dee's yard, by the antiquarian Sir Robert Cotton, the collector who saved for posterity, among other things, the only surviving manuscript of Beowulf. (Yes, that Robert Cotton went digging around in Dee's old yard.) The first published version of part of the Cotton manuscripts, Meric Casaubon's 1659 A True & Faithful Relation of What Passed for Many Yeers between Dr. John Dee and Some Spirits, framed the manuscripts as a warning to the reader of the perils of being deluded by a "Work of Darkness." [12]The Enochian material in Causabon breaks off abruptly with copies of two intelligence letters from an unidentified "Gulielmus," right after the famous wife-swapping episode in Trebon in 1587, and in the midst of the build-up to the Spanish Armada.[13] It resumes almost twenty years later in London. Did Dee or someone in his family get rid of a bunch of intervening papers? No one knows. There's just a gap, unexplained. In these manuscripts, one of the last people mentioned outside of Dee's own family is the same John Pontois who becomes his executor. Why were these manuscripts in the back yard and the others stuck in the secret drawer of a trunk? No one knows.

Together, these are the materials in which we find John Dee and Edward Kelley's "Enochian" workings, including the Great Table. They have never been published together in one volume, though many books refer to individual sections. Studies of how this work might relate to Dee's voluminous scholarly output of the forty years preceeding the workings have finally begun; studies relating it to the life and alchemical work of Edward Kelley barely exist.

400 Years of Misunderstanding the Work of John Dee

If any history of Dee and Kelley is likely to be filled, intentionally or not, with misinterpretations, at least things are getting a bit better than they were back in 1894, when Thomas Seccombe made Edward Kelley his cover picture for Lives of Twelve Bad Men: Original Studies of Eminent Scoundrals by Various Hands, and A.F. Pollard wrote thus:

Dee and Kelley were excellent types of the two classes into which mankind is divided by those who consider themselves exceptions to the rule. Dee was a fool and Kelley was a knave. When such conjunctions occur they are generally happy for the knave.[14]

Charlotte Fell-Smith's 1909 biography John Dee, the first sympathetic portrait of Dee in English in 300 years, opens by declaring "There is perhaps no learned author in history who has been so persistently misjudged, nay, even slandered, by his posterity, and not a voice in all the three centuries uplifted even to claim for him a fair hearing..." [15] She proceeds to do just that, often at the expense of Dee's other associates. As Susan Bassnet points out more than 80 years later, in Fell-Smith's hands Francesco Pucci becomes "an anglicized Italian pervert," and Joanna Kelley a "poor, neglected" charity case saved by the Dee family.[16] Kelley of course is thoroughly dislikeable, but that just defines a problem that continues in biography until this century, and will be returned to later in this essay.

The 1970s brought us the first critical biography of Dee, Peter French's John Dee: The World of an Elizabethan Magus, and the beginning of real scholarship attempting to understand the Angelic materials within the western Hermetic tradition. Most scholarship on Dee, however, sidestepped the Angelic material. The most famous of these, Dame Frances Yates' The Occult and the Elizabethan Age and The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, barely mention the angelic workings at all, while introducing the much-debated 1972 hypothesis, argued and revised by others many times since then, that the "more secret philosophy" behind the Rosicrucian manifestos "was the philosophy of John Dee, as summed up in his Monas Hieroglyphica"[17]or Hieroglyphic Monad.

Yet she never explicates or even seems interested in explicating the Monad as a glyph or entire work. This is not meant as a criticism of Dame Yates, who certainly did more than any single person to resurrect the work and influence of John Dee. It is simply an observation of fact: she sidesteps the content of the angelic workings, and can't explicate the glyph of Dee's—the Monad—which she finds most influential, while she can show the influence of Dee upon the two most complex writers of the period, Edmund Spenser and William Shakespeare.

The first scholarly translator of the Monas, C.H. Joston, declared that the secrets of the Monad, addressed as they were to initiates, are lost; Peter French essentially agrees.[18] Thus Dame Yates' excellent scholarship delineates the problem faced by scholars or magicians who look at Dee's work. How can you look at something in context when that context seems lost?

Yet recent writers, this author included, have begun to better understand the Monad, and that has tremendous implications for understanding Enochian material. Karen de Leon-Jones has analyzed the Kabbalistic significance of Dee's Monad glyph and suggested it might also be considered a type of instructive golem. She explains that "the adept or initiate who assembles, through Dee's theorems, the hieroglyph of the Monas may animate it in the fashion of the Kabbalists animating the golem: by inscribing the truth (emet [or amet or aemeth] in Hebrew) in the figure."[19] Leon-Jones thus links Monad to Dee's later angel magic and his Sigillum Dei Aemeth.

Vincent Bridges and I have suggested that an intuitive understanding of higher dimensions and how they can be used in magickal evocation is one of the ways we can understand that Tuba Veneris (Book of Venus), attributed to Dee, was in fact by him.[20]In an article in this issue, S. Robert Wilson shows how Dee's grasp of higher dimensions can be inferred from his unusual solution of the "Delian problem," the doubling of the cube problem from classical geometry, in Theorem XX of the Monad. Once one can posit Dee's partial understanding of higher dimensions, it becomes far easier to understand the different temporal and spatial superimpositions he makes in the Monad and Propaedeumata, and to speculate at how that may inform angelic evocations. The same glyph appears on the frontispiece of both.

Frontispieces: Honas Hieroglyphica and Propaedeumata Aphoristica

Both the Monas Hieroglyphica and the Propaedeumata Aphoristica have the same glyph on their frontispieces.

Certainly the most thorough effort at placing Dee's angelic conversations in both an intellectual history and summarizing and critiquing previous attempts to do so is Stephen Clucas' "John Dee's Angelic Conversations and the Ars Notoria."[21]The collection they appear in, John Dee: Interdisciplinary Studies in English Renaissance Thought, also edited by Clucas, was the first scholarly work to systematically look at the contexts for Dee and Kelley's angelic conversations and ask key contextual questions: how might a tradition of Solomonic Magic have influenced Dee?[22] A decades-long interest in the work of Paracelsus and Paracelsan medicine?[23] A cultural context where many believed the world was about to end?[24]

Yet even this very erudite collection of contextual studies does little to address Dee's role as a spy or alchemist, nor the contributions of Edward Kelley, who after all was the person who scryed most of the material and was reputedly the only alchemist of the modern era who succeeded in the Great Work. As with the above comments on Yates, this is not a criticism, but an observation that even the best researchers in the field struggle with the complexity of the material. Jan Backlund's final essay "In the Footsteps of Edward Kelley," which looks at manuscripts that have surfaced in the Royal Library in Copenhagen related to an alchemical circle around Dee and Kelley, illustrates the problem.[25]

Backlund describes and transcribes two folios of fragmented material, clearly related to Dee and Kelley and physical alchemy, folios which include names also used in Dee's diary like Digges (Thomas Digges?), Garland (Francis Garland? aka Gulielmus Shakespeare?), and Carpe (John Carpio/Johannis Carpionis de Kaprstein), and a poem of Kelley's that Ashmole republishes in Theatrum Chemicum Brittanicum with an added dedication to "G.S., Gent." Some of the names in the manuscripts are likely those of couriers, as evidenced by the writing out of their name in code,[26] and that their names appear in manuscripts that seem to have originated in Prague, passed through England, and wound up in Denmark. One even wonders if the "Poole" who appears in these manuscripts is the notorious Cheshire gentleman and brutal "intelligencer" John Poole, who allegedly had "great skill in mixture of metals," and may be peripherally related to the espionage circle around playwright Christopher Marlowe.[27] Such primary evidence again begs the questions: how does Dee and Kelley's work in physical alchemy and their status as "intelligencers" inform the angelic workings? Is there enough evidence left anywhere to ever know?

The Underground Stream Surfaces

Meanwhile, long before the recent Renaissance of scholarship on Dee and Kelley's angelic workings, many people were doing "Enochian" magic, and just not talking about it. Well, not talking about it… much.

This next section of necessity will be told backwards.

Not long after Fell-Smith's biography of Dee, Aleister Crowley's 1912 Liber Chanokh, or "A brief abstract of the symbolic representation of the universe derived by Dr. John Dee through the scrying of Sir Edward Kelley," became the first published commentary on Enochian as a system.[28] Crowley, as most know, self-identified as the reincarnation of Edward Kelley, and so implicitly claims a kind of authority of context in declaring how the system fit together. He is clearly aware of the magickal uses of higher dimensions in evocation: Crowley's oft-quoted and paraphrased definition of magickal evocation as calling forth from within[29] might be considered mathematically in terms of how one might "see" or "hear" something that comes from higher dimensions, as "evoked" into a space that seems three-dimensional but is really a projection of something higher.[30]

Liber Chanokh seems a hybrid of material from Dee and Kelley, and previous material and ritual structure from the original Order of the Golden Dawn. During the same time period, Crowley was engaged in a bitter legal battle with the Golden Dawn's Imperator, MacGregor Mathers, who by then had moved to Paris, kicked out the whole London Temple, sent Crowley to break into that group's headquarters and steal papers, then wound up in a legal battle with Crowley, who proceeded to publish secret order papers in his Equinox. If you're interested in ceremonial magic at all you've probably heard this story—it is recounted by many people in many places[31]—and I won't retell it here. You may even have read Crowley's pulpy 1917 novel Moonchild, which works lectures on four dimensional uses of sex magic for personal and political domination into a plot whose arch-villain is based on his one-time teacher-turned-nemesis Mathers. Interestingly, in the time since then, British Secret Service documents from the time period have been declassified and we also know that Crowley worked as a spy for the British government, and one of his early assignments was to infiltrate the original Golden Dawn.[32] Apparently he succeeded nicely.

Importantly, this also comes after Crowley and Victor Neuberg's more sensational Enochian adventures in the desert in 1909, later recounted in The Vision and the Voice. For reasons I'll not explore here, after the Vision and the Voice, Crowley chose to revert back to a Golden Dawn-style structure for Enochian, with materials from the original manuscripts now mixed in with still-unexplained godnames derived by Mathers from the perimeter of the Sigillum Dei Æmeth. It is easy to see the Golden Dawn material Crowley was building upon, and where he has corrected it with someone's primary research from the British library, but not at all clear where that original Golden Dawn material came from.

By now we have worked our way back to the original Golden Dawn's use of Enochian, which is woven through their outer grade rituals. Each grade ritual is associated with one quadrant of the Great Table of Earth, and the initiation opens and closes by opening and closing that elemental Watchtower. These rituals, so the story goes, came from a cipher manuscript which one of the Golden Dawn founders, W.W. Westcott, allegedly obtained from the another co-founder, Rev. A.F.A. Woodman, who had allegedly bought it from a second hand shop. Woodman died in 1886, three years before this story started to circulate.[33] This improbable tale carries more than a little echo of the story of the original survival of the Dee manuscripts in a chest located in a second-hand shop, except for one major detail: most agree that Westcott's story can't possibly be true.

Where, then, did this cipher manuscript come from? Who wove Enochian material into the skeletons of initiatory rituals later crafted into life by MacGregor Mathers? Mathers himself later declared the manuscript a forgery, as well as the supposed Temple warrant from one "Fraulein Sprengel" a fake… but Mathers had by then become so compromised by yet another footnotable scandal[34] that it is hard to take what he says on face value.

The most accepted solution to the cipher manuscript is that proposed by R.A. Gilbert, that the manuscript was written by Kenneth MacKenzie with the source of the Enochian material being Fred Hockley's library.[35] In many ways, though, this just backdates the problem and question: did a group of later initiates discover Dee and Kelley's work and try to put them into a ritual structure that surfaced with the Original Golden Dawn? If so, does that ritual structure make sense in terms of the system Dee and Kelley received? Or, is there a continuous line of initiates going back to Dee and Kelley?

As this article is written, that question and manuscript studies illustrating, and purporting to illustrate, each position is the subject of much debate.[36] Was there an "underground stream" that used Enochian in some form of ritual practice traceable back to Dee and Kelley, or did some later group or groups resurrect the material and try to make use of it without knowing the context?[37]

Rather than going through the minutia of many, many manuscript references, this writer would like to suggest another approach to how this problem might be solved. Hopefully, it will mesh with several of the studies of sixteenth through eighteenth century manuscripts currently underway.

There really is little need to understand later manuscripts until one understands the original material or decides it is worthy of attempting to understanding; that is, if the original material has no internal coherence as a system, why bother researching further? (This writer assumes it does have internal coherence; if at some point I convince myself otherwise, I'll certainly cease writing on the topic.) I also assume that the first modern magicians publically associated with the material—Westcott, Mathers, and Crowley—felt they were developing or perhaps "improving upon" a system that already had coherence, so there is a clear method to their additions and inclusion of particular material in rituals, though they do not announce their methods. Therefore, as I and others have worked through the manuscripts, we've "flashed forward" to later material to see if those who developed it into a modern ceremonial system perhaps realized some things later writers have not yet made explicit. I'll give three examples that deserve further study: first, the use of a pentagram in Golden Dawn magic; second, the Black Cross/Tablet of Union, and third, the Rending of the Veil.

Most of us know that the pentagram is one of humankind's oldest symbols, and its numeric properties have fascinated mathematicians and astronomers at least since classical times. However, its use as a standing component in ritual can be traced directly to the original Golden Dawn, as can the use of set protocols like the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, or the Supreme Ritual of the Pentagram. Within these rituals, specific elemental and directional attributes are made to the pentagram: the top point becomes Spirit, the above left point Air/East, the above right point Water/West, the lower right point Fire/South, and the lower left Earth/North:

Basic pentagram attributions

Where do these basic pentagram attributions used by the Golden Dawn come from?

In the more than 120 years since the first Golden Dawn group in London used this material, it has become a kind of false "common sense" that "of course these are the attributes of the points of the pentagram," and they're used by many ceremonial magicians, Wiccans, and neo-pagan groups who have little connection to Golden-Dawn style magic. But these attributions aren't "common sense" at all: they simply did not exist "above ground" 150 years ago.

The idea of casting four pentagrams to set up a sacred space may actually be a totally modern phenomenon. But elemental and directional pentagram attributions do seem to exist in the Enochian material, as resurrected by the Golden Dawn. The question is whether they are really in the original material, or if they are a later creation projected backwards, or a modern practice that makes explicit earlier less obvious material. Let's explore that question a little before moving on, because where these pentagram attributions come from is one of the most glossed-over but important mysteries in modern esoterica.

The Great Table of Earth, at least from the time of the Golden Dawn forward, is often broken into four Watchtowers or Tablets, then each assigned to and placed in a direction: Air/East, Fire/South, Water/West, and Earth/North. The Tablet of Union, in the center, is associated with spirit much like the point of the pentagram.

Then within each elemental tablet, that fractal pattern recurs: now in the Tablet of the East, for instance, the Seal of the Tablet becomes the spirit point, and the pattern of the four squares: Air of Air, Water of Air, Earth of Air, Fire of Air—repeats the same pattern of attributions in the pentagram.

So does this mean that the original source of these "elemental" pentagram directions and attributions is Dee and Kelley's Great Table of Earth? And since within each Watchtower there is a smaller implicit pentagram, and pentagrams create fractal patterns, this pattern should fractally expand outward also, meaning that since Great Table is just of Earth, a fractal pattern in the other direction means we should eventually be able to scry a Great Table of Air, a Great Table of Water, and a Great Table of Fire? And some Great Spirit Sigil that holds the whole thing together. Right?

Well, no one has, but since humans haven't had a great deal of success using the Great Table of Earth, maybe our collective Higher Intelligence is just holding the rest back for awhile. Not clear might be the best answer to that question. And that question begs another, which is whether Enochian / Angelic / Ophanic is a living evolving system because the Higher Intelligences Dee and Kelley contacted were, in a very real sense, the pattern of their own DNA and the multiverse, or a curious relic of a more superstitious era.

Directional and elemental attributions to the Great Table are on the surface not clear at all unless explained via other components and then the attribution is complex and transformational to say the least. It takes a great deal of time that few have spent to tease an elemental and directional system out of the original material, and it is nowhere explicit.[38] Dee himself often seems uncertain. For the time period where he is most likely to have used the system—1588—no manuscripts exist.

This begs the question of whether the Golden Dawn and subsequent Enochian users projected their attributions back onto the work of Dee and Kelley, or if by close study, some people like the authors of the cipher manuscript rediscovered correspondences which were already there, but which required a very deep understanding of the material to pull out. That's why it just as important to work through the system on its own terms as it is to trace possible influences of the cipher manuscript backwards, or the use of Dee and Kelley's original material forwards. By the time one gets as far forward as Mather's Concourse of Forces, it exceedingly difficult to decide whether or not Mathers rediscovered zodiacal and planetary correspondences/forces which were already there (or, if you prefer, whether or not Mathers was instructed by a Secret Chief who understood the system better than he did), or imposed correspondences that were at odds with or simply unrelated to the original material, or some combination of the three.

The Golden Dawn also integrates these correspondences into particular pentagram rituals, and thus either creates or rediscovers these attributions: Air/Aquarius, Fire/Leo, Water/Scorpio, and Earth/Taurus. [Since the invoking Earth pentagram basically traces the pattern of Venus in the sky as viewed from Earth, "rediscovered" seems much more likely, but a debate on that is beyond the scope of this "short" piece.] The reader may recognize these invoking forms:

Four elemental invoking pentagrams

Four elemental invoking pentagrams used by many modern magicians.

You may further know particular Hebrew and Enochian names associated with each form, to make modern rituals like the Supreme Ritual of the Pentagram. Why? Who came up with this synthesis? Yes, one may explain this usage from within the context of the Golden Dawn magickal system. But can one connect this to Dee and Kelley's original material, and/or look at it as an extension of that material that makes logical sense? Why the astrological attributions? Do these correspondences appear in the original manuscripts?[39]

What about an even more advanced precessional set of attributions, to the celestial sphere and the constellations Aquarius, Leo, Scorpio, and Taurus? If one looks at when those constellations line up in particular directions, one is directed forward to this time period, not to Dee and Kelley's, nor to Mathers or Crowley's.[40]

Could that puzzle be what Florence Farr and her "Sphere Group" were trying to figure out? Since it seems very unlikely that John Dee, with the knowledge of astronomy available to him, could have measured precessional cycles with any degree of accuracy, the mystery deepens. Similarly, the only way that much of the later material added by Mathers makes sense is if Dee and Kelley received a system which aligned onto the celestial sphere in our age rather than their own. Is that possible?[41]

We'll look at two other, quick examples. First, consider the so-called the Black Cross/Tablet of Union. The Tablet of Union never appears as a standing ritual component in any of Dee's original manuscripts. Yet it does appear in a set of manuscripts from the 1600s, preserved as Sloane 307.[42] That manuscript, likely derived from Causabon's True and Faithful Relation, may simply be relaying a transcription error of Causabon's. The Golden Dawn uses the Tablet of Union; by the time of Crowley's Liber Chanokh, someone has checked with the original manuscripts and learned these names were part of a "Black Cross." So: does this suggest that Sloane 307, and later revived Golden Dawn usage, is based on a transcription error, or that some person or group had good reason to turn the Black Cross from the Great Table of Earth into a Tablet of Union?

Finally, consider the opening of the Veil used in many Golden-Dawn and Thelemic- style rituals. This one:


A quick investigation will show that this is a semi-phonetic rendering of words which are part but not all of the first Enochian Call, with the words of the three Angelic Governors which make up the Black Cross/Tablet of Union added in. It never occurs in Dee and Kelley, but certainly there is more than a little logic behind putting these words together. Who came up with this? We don't know. What is the logic? That's a good question for any practitioner who uses it to answer. The reasons will be fairly obvious, but it may invite one to ask even more questions if one discovers the reasons on her own.

Incidentally, there is much other Golden Dawn, A.:A.:, and Thelemic material that can be traced directly to works of John Dee besides the Enochian manuscripts. The packed symbolism implicit in the LVX Sign of the Adept, and its expansion into the LVX/INRI analysis of the keyword, has as its only known source Theorem XVII of Dee's Hieroglyphic Monad.[43]

Similarly, in the Monad, we find the notion of a pentagram formed as the center point of the Cross of the Elements being displaced and becoming the crowning point of spirit in an implicit pentagram,[44] an idea echoed in the Golden Dawn's Portal ritual.

Finally, I have not even attempted to discuss encounters with "Angelic" beings which do not explicitly use words or structures directly traceable to Dee and Kelley. But it makes sense that whatever "higher intelligence" could be evoked by Dee and Kelley might be evoked by others. Vincent Bridges asserts it was Crowley's vibrating of Enochian in the King's Chamber of the Great Pyramid that set off the chain of events which produced the Book of the Law,[45] and indeed there is another whole set of "Egyptian connections" we could follow,[46] given world enough and time; but for now let's move on.

We'll return to magic in practice in the final section. For now, let's shift to an odd biography that portrays John Dee as a sort of original Agent 007. Could the surfacing underground stream, as understood by Crowley, have influenced what may be the oddest Dee biography of them all?

The Strangest Biography

In Charlotte Fell-Smith's portrait, John Dee is a kind scholar and family man. . . whereas in the next popular biography, Richard Deacon's 1968 John Dee: Scientist, Geographer, Astrologer, and Secret Agent to Elizabeth I, Dee becomes a master of espionage. In other words, Deacon addresses one of the very things that every other biography has ignored or skimmed. He just does so poorly. Richard Deacon, pen name of journalist Donald McCormick, apparently loved espionage, and wrote more than thirty books on the subject. Deacon's biography seems the source of the persistent printed and Internet legend that John Dee signed his name "007." Did Dee really sign his name this way? A painstaking search through many, many Dee signatures has convinced this writer that he did not. His real signature took many forms, but looks more like a whirlwind than a 007.

Yet even this writer has fallen for that non-fact.[47] Deacon footnotes works of natural philosopher Robert Hooke (1635-1703), including his Posthumous Works presented to Sir Isaac Newton (which does actually exist) and an alleged work called An Ingenious Cryptographical System, which, though quoted in several scholarly and non-scholarly works since, and listed in two of them[48] as being among the "Gwydir Papers, Manuscript Collection," seems not to exist at all.


John Dee's signature? Unfortunately not.

Yet for one who has studied much of the Dee material which has become available after 1968, Deacon's book reads like a blurred, excited rehashing of ideas slightly out of focus and in the service of someone else's ego: he footnotes here and there as if for kicks, referring to letters and legend one can find no record of, but weaving a story that is almost plausible.

For personal reasons I was entertained by Deacon's remarks on Tuba Veneris or the Horn of Venus, a work I've spent more than a little time trying to co-translate and check the origin of. Bridges and I argued that this work attributed to John Dee was, in fact, by John Dee and not an imposter… and involved continental Family of Love contacts like printer Christopher Plantin. Coming up with the support we had for this involved pouring through material in English, German, Dutch, and Latin, some of which would not have been available to Deacon. The German analysis by Jörg M. Meier suggested the earliest surviving manuscript originated on the European continent between the years 1583 – 1589; that is, roughly during the time of Dee and Kelley's angelic workings. Would it have changed our research had we known that Richard Deacon in 1968 declared that while many people (who?!) perhaps thought this work was by Dee, really the whole thing was an invocation by Kelley? Probably not. But I did begin wondering where on earth Deacon got his information from.

Deacon's digressions into the espionage activities of Aleister Crowley are even stranger. He devotes an entire chapter to Dee's influence on Crowley, complete with speculations about the influence of Dee and Kelley's Enochian work upon that of Crowley and Victor Neuberg, then manages to work in repeated assertions[49] that Crowley was a British spy. Of course Deacon could not, or should not, have been able to know this back in 1968. Documents had not yet been declassified that confirmed Crowley was a spy. Was Deacon, like a stopped clock, right twice a day, or did he have access to inside information, or was he just an entertaining guesser?

Perhaps Deacon's odd biography is our first surfacing of other aspects of the underground stream, containing information from sources twice removed and slightly twisted presented as facts. How might that be? Well, Deacon/McCormick had a famous older friend. As one obituary reports, during World War II, Deacon/McCormick "met Ian Fleming, James Bond's creator, in the bar of the Barbizon Plaza Hotel in New York and a lifelong friendship began over vodka martinis."[50] It turns out Deacon's older friend Fleming, as a younger man, had more than a passing business (read: espionage) acquaintance with…Aleister Crowley, and was perhaps Crowley's supervisor. Could some of Deacon's material have originated as half-off tales told by Crowley to tweak Fleming's serious attitude, stories retold by Fleming to Deacon then researched, sort of, by Deacon, after Fleming's death? It is an interesting way to conduct "alternative" research, if not the most accurate. If Crowley indeed did have past life memories of Kelley, it is not even hard to imagine the intellectual side of Fleming's "James Bond" creation being influenced by such stories of Dee, and the womanizing lothario partly a projection of Crowley's own self-image onto the stories he told. Of course this is total speculation, but what's another "bad history" without that?

While perhaps occasionally close concerning Dee's activities as a spy, Deacon is nearly useless when it comes to understanding the Enochian material: he thinks it was all coded cipher, and appears blissfully unaware that spirit communications and astral travel were part and parcel of Renaissance "intelligence." Perhaps he should have talked to Crowley directly.

400 Years of Character-Assassinating Edward Kelley

(Or, the problem of not consulting Czech and Polish sources about the adventures of two English families in Poland and Bohemia)

If modern historians have tried to resuscitate Dee as a kindly misunderstood fellow, they have been slower to do so with Edward Kelley. As Wilding says in 2007, the "errors, distortions, fabrications, and defamations in existing accounts of the life of Edward Kelley are too many for individual refutation. Even the most responsible commentators and historians have, upon dealing with Kelly, repeated these unsubstantiated and generally derogatory stories."[51]

Is this a problem in studying the contextual history of Enochian? Certainly. Almost all of the scryed material we have comes through Kelley's eyes, but we know little about him, and much of what people have claimed is demonstrably wrong. The overwhelming reason for this is the not surprising habit of Anglophone writers to rely on sources in English, rather than continental sources, even though Kelley spent the most public and documentable years of his life on the European continent. Why else do the Anglophone sources tend to be wrong or missing critical information?[52] Perhaps surprisingly, it is because until recently they've mainly relied on the writings of John Dee to learn anything about Edward Kelley.

In matters as simple as date of death, Dee is wrong. He records that Kelley was "slayne" in 1595, but court documents showed Kelley definitely alive in mid-1597 and perhaps as late as 1598.[53] Since Dee's "private" diary was probably not private at all, but something we have ample evidence others read, Dee's entering the date incorrectly may be a sign that he wants whoever reads it to think he thinks Kelley is dead. Even a surface study of Dee's diary shows he is notoriously unreliable and closemouthed in reporting any detail concerning Kelley or Kelley's family.

Within Czech sources, it is often much easier to find references to Edward Kelley than to John Dee.[54] As with English sources, the tale telling often seems the stuff of legend: according to Otakar Zachar, author of the 1911 O Alchymii a Ceských Alchymistech, (On Alchemy and Czech Alchemists), accounts of Kelley's work are frequently confused with those of other contemporary alchemists at the court of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. [55] Examples showing that a legendary Kelley and a legendary Rudolfine court fired the Bohemian popular imagination aren't hard to find: for instance, the 1952 movie Císaruv pekar - Pekaruv císar – (literal translation: Emperor's Baker—Baker's Emperor, usually translated as The Emperor's Golem ) still is usually shown on Czech television every holiday season. The plot of this Soviet-era comedy involves a baker who is a look-alike for Emperor Rudolf II and gives free bread to the people, but the background "swirl" which made the movie famous was the humorous portrayal of the court of Rudolf II, where Edward Kelley appears throughout as a suave but oily advisor. (Incidentally, modern depictions of a Golem—the ones that show Rabbi Loew's legendary creation as something that looks like a giant over-baked Pillsbury dough boy—all trace to this movie.)

The tapestry of Rudolfine history and the legends it spawned are beyond the scope of this article, but even a cursory examination will show the Emperor's lifelong fascination with mysticism, prophecy, and alchemy. As a Prince, he had his horoscope prepared by none other than Nostradamus. Around the same time, John Dee prefaced his Hieroglyphic Monad with an effusive letter to Rudolf's esoterica-loving father, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II; this dedication may well have been one of the reasons he and Kelley were initially welcomed to Rudolf's court. But by 1586 they were kicked out, and it is Kelley alone who seems welcome to come back the next year. After Dee returned home to England in 1589, Kelley is more than welcomed: he is knighted in 1591 and given huge amounts of property.

This writer is still trying to determine where all of these lands were, but they included at the least two castles, an astronomy tower in what is now Prague's Mala Strana, and silver mines in Kutna Hora, mines which once provided most of the metal for Charles IV's mint. Czech writer Ivan Sviták, who is almost as colorful and unreliable a biographer as Richard Deacon, says that it was Kelley's overseeing of the Rosenberg mining operation in Jílové which "made him famous, rich, and which earned him a Bohemian knighthood."[56] Sviták based his writing on Czech material, but mainly from secondary rather than primary sources, and apparently partially compiled them while in California. . . so when, for example, he claims that Kelley was imprisoned not for wrongdoing but to protect him from English spies who sought to return him to England, one suspects it is the spin of legend going in the other direction. Which of the claims are true? Writers are just beginning to try to try to find out.

Edward Kelley's tower.

Edward Kelley's astronomical observatory in Prague's Mala Strana, one of several properties he owned in the early 1590s.

Rudolf's court in Prague was the high-water mark for alchemical and Kabbalistic activity in central, and perhaps all of, Europe. After moving the capital of the Holy Roman Empire from Vienna to Prague in 1583, this Emperor proceeded to become one of the most lavish collectors of works of art in European history: and remember, this was at a time when the greatest "Art" of them all was alchemy. Along with his collections of paintings, sculptures, and mechanical devices came a collection of people: natural philosophers like Thaddeus Hajek (at whose home Dee and Kelley once stayed), astronomers like Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler, and of course alchemists like Kelley, Leonard Thurneysser, Michael Sendogovius, Oswald Croll, and others. (Croll was apparently allowed to visit Kelley when Kelley was later imprisoned at Most castle,[57] and still later Croll begins his 1609 alchemical work Basilica Chymica with a poem by Kelley's step-daughter, Elizabeth Jane Weston, or Westonia.) Rudolf's cousin Archduke Ferdinand of Tyrol was himself an accomplished Hermetic architect, and the Star Royal Summer Palace which he designed and built in Prague in 1555 stands such an exemplum of initiatory architecture .[58]

The best two English language accounts of Rudolfine Prague are Robert John Weston Evans' Rudolf II and his World: A Study in Intellectual History, 1576-1612 (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1973),[59] and Peter Marshall's more recent but less scholarly The Magic Circle of Rudolf II: Alchemy and Astrology in Renaissance Prague (New York : Walker & Co., 2006). Outside of this somewhat public intellectual circle existed another, more closed community, that of the Jewish Kabbalists and mystics of Prague, who had ties to Kabbalists throughout Europe, and even to the interpretations of Kabbalah based on Safed mystic Rabbi Isaac Solomon ben Luria.

Within central Europe, Rabbi Judah Loew had an influence far more profound than just being the source of legends of Golem-making; he was the spiritual center of a mystical but besieged community that had found refuge in the heart of the Holy Roman Empire. What sort of magical works might have been crafted there? Well, consider the drawing below, of the reverse side of an amulet given to Emperor Rudolf II, likely from some person or group within the Jewish community of Prague.[60] The front (not pictured) contains a menorah under the imperial crown, surrounded by 12 stones, the signs of the zodiac, the names of the sons of Jacob, and a Hebrew inscription. The reverse, shown below, is a "no less remarkable, even shocking" amalgamation of Hebrew and Latin letters" which, according to Ivo Purs, is an "extraordinary example of an amalgamation of Jewish and Christian sacred symbolism and magic," symbolism very close to one of three rings found in the Emperor's coffin.[61]

Amulet and Holy Table

Left, reverse of an amulet probably given to Rudolf II by the Prague Jewish community.[62] Artistic rendering by J.S. Kupperman. Right, the Holy Table, from Casaubon's True and Faithful Relation.

In fact, the layout of the reverse has a pattern very similar to Dee's Holy Table. Of course, tables with Hebrew letters around the perimeter and a hexagon in the center occur elsewhere, particularly in medieval magical texts. What's remarkable is that a Holy Roman Emperor wore such a magical and clearly Kaballah-based amulet gifted to him by the Prague Jewish community in the first place.

Had one of the scholars of Kaballah seen Dee and Kelley's Holy Table, how might they have interpreted it, based on their understanding of similar-looking magical amulets in Hebrew? The most likely connection to the Prague Jewish community, even according to Dee's diary, is Kelley. Not only does Dee refer to Kelley getting and relaying messages from the Jews, but Kelley is the one most often in Prague, a city which had a Jewish population of more than three thousand, while Dee seems mainly exiled to Trebon.

Of course there are many political reasons why Dee can't report direct contact with Rabbi Loew; but what about his omission of what would seem mundane personal material? Susan Bassnett, in her article "Absent Presences: Edward Kelley's Family in the Writings of John Dee," treats at length the notion of Kelley getting generally a "bad press" because most writing of him is based on what Dee says about him. She questions, among other things, why Kelley's step-children are not mentioned at all by Dee; she questions why English scholars have never noticed that his brother Thomas's marriage to Ludmilla z Pisnice (or von Pisnitz) meant that "[Edward] Kelley had family connections to the emergent figures of the new Bohemian middle class."[63]

Actually, Bassnett was a bit off: this really meant Edward Kelley had connections, many of them, to Bohemian nobility, and himself became a Bohemian noble. Thomas Kelley's marriage to the niece of Rudolf II's Vice-Chancellor Heinrich von Pisnitz, who was also Lord Counselor in Hertenberg and Schoenback and deputy to Lobkovic,[64] had huge implications: it made the Kelleys relations by marriage to one of the most powerful men in the kingdom besides Lord Villem Rosenberg (who was already Dee and Kelley's patron) and Rudolf II himself.

Most of what is most easily found in English about Kelley's connections in Prague come via Westonia's writings. An entire constellation of relationships emerges that are basically absent in John Dee's diary (as is not only Weston herself but her brother John Francis). Since 2000, that material has been available in English as the Collected Writings of Weston, translated by Donald Cheney and Brenda Hosington.[65]

Unconquered and most powerful Caesar, most merciful master.

Before I resume my sad song with complaining tune,
My poem says Hail to you, Caesar,….

For unless you hear me, Caesar, and unless you
Take pity on me, I have no hope

For if Kelley offended you formerly,
He suffered a great punishment for a modest offence.
He paid the penalty of death: will his death appease your wrath?

What we have borne is not to be recalled in Maro's verse:
We are left with sorrow and destitution.

From a poem by Westonia to Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, whom she hails as "Caesar."[66]

If one looks at the network of male patrons Westonia draws upon, it becomes clear that this is a circle of influence connected to Edward Kelley, and cultivated by her after his death, probably as a way to survive after all of Kelley's lands are seized, his title stripped, and his family left in poverty.[67]

Heinrich von Pisnitz was also the mayor of Most, the city in Bohemia where Kelley's family was living when Kelley died.[68] Since Westonia and her family were in all likelihood living with Thomas Kelley's in-laws or their relatives, and this extended family included the people responsible for governing Most, they were basically themselves dependent upon the ones responsible keeping Kelley in prison. That Kelley died soon after, reputedly by trying to escape, and reputedly cursed the entire city of Most, gives the entire story an even more macabre and legendary twist. In 1598, after Edward Kelley died, Thomas Kelley's family—his wife and two sons—return to England.[69] Curiously, though Dee has referred to Thomas Kelley and Francis Garland taking letters to and from Prague on a number of occasions after Dee returns to Mortlake, none of these occur after the false information about Edward Kelley being slain. Dee makes absolutely no mention of Thomas Kelley coming back to England or ever seeing him again after the time in which Thomas and his family should have returned, and this writer has thus far found no English archival material showing a family of that name.

Of course, Dee's omission could be because the references to Thomas fall in the parts of his personal or spirit diaries that are missing, but other possibilities seem more likely. In fact, I would expand Bassnett's question (why does Dee say so little about Kelley's family in his journals?) to several:

    1) Why does John Dee never mention Edward Kelley's step-children?

    2) Why does Dee never mention Joan Kelley's first husband, John Weston? Beyond the social mores, could this be because John Weston had a prior business connection to Dee?

    3) Why does John Dee not give the name of the noble family Thomas Kelley marries into?

    4) Dee tells of Thomas Kelley's children that die, but not of the two sons who live and, according to Westonia, return to England. Why?

    5) Dee writes about Thomas Kelley when they are in Bohemia, and when Thomas is running letters from England to Bohemia, but not after Thomas' return to England in 1598, the year of or after Edward Kelley's death. Why?

    6) Thomas Kelley appears in the spirit diaries even before Dee and Kelley leave England … what role did he play, and how much did he see? Stories later circulating in England reputedly come from a relative of Edward Kelly… was this relative Thomas, upon his return?

For several years after John Dee returns to England, Edward Kelly exchanged letters with Lord Treasurer William Cecil. Not long after, Cecil would send Sir Edward Dyer to bring Kelley back or to learn how to turn lead into gold himself: an assignment which seems rather odd now, but recent research has made clear that the man in charge of England's finances at the time clearly believed Kelley could turn lead into gold. As James Campbell, author of a recent thesis on the subject, contends, "Between 1587 and 1593, Cecil sent numerous letters, spies and envoys to Bohemia, entreating Kelley to return and perform his art for the benefit of the Queen. Cecil genuinely thought that Kelley could be the solution to England‘s financial woes."[70]

Kelley and his relatives seem far more connected to the world of physical alchemy than John Dee. Exploring these connections might shed some much-needed light on the connection between physical alchemy and Edward Kelley's scryed angelic material.

How to Start (Over)

Learning more about Edward Kelley's alchemical activities and their connection to the angelic workings seems to this writer the area where by far the most contextual information is lacking. Excellent contextual work on John Dee has been underway since his resuscitation by Frances Yates and Peter French in the 1970s; exacting manuscript studies of surviving Enochian work is also underway. Perhaps such work will also help connect the existing manuscripts of Dee and Kelley's angelic work more overtly to other sacred geometry works, including but not limited to those in the later Byrom Collection or contemporaneous work by Giordano Bruno (who also happens to pass through Prague in 1588). While on the surface these documents seem more connected to architecture, mathematics, and physical alchemy than to Enochian material, the circle of those who seem interested in such drawings overlap tremendously, and include John Dee, Edward Kelley, Ferdinand of Tyrol, Inigo Jones, and a generation later, physicist Robert Boyle.[71] In this idea alone we have a hint about how physical alchemy, sacred geometry, and the Enochian work might connect both to more "modern" alchemical ideas like zero point energy, and more ancient "shamanic" ideas like how to steer or create a weather pattern.

How might that relate to the actual practice of so-called "Enochian magic"? Just as different directional, elemental, and temporal correspondences can be teased out of the material even though they are not made explicit, so too can particular complex geometric shapes and alchemical attributions. Usually discovering such connections at least partially on one's own makes one aware of other connections between still other energetic structures. It is worth investigating why those who integrated Enochian into other initiatory systems might have done so, without either taking the system on blind faith or discarding it whole cloth in favor of some non-existent "pure" Enochian practice derived directly from Dee and Kelley. It is worth noting that many of these practitioners, from William Butler Yeats to MacGregor Mathers to Aleister Crowley, had a more than passing interest in both Art and European politics.

To return to the pentagram example from earlier in this essay, what is the connection between the seeming pentagram implied in a key theorem Dee's Hieroglyphic Monad, the concept of higher mathematical dimensions Dee apparently stumbled onto in Theorem XX of the Monad,[72] the pentagrams implied by the Sigil and four sub-angles in Dee and Kelley's great Table, and how might that connect to the notion of a pentagram as the two-dimensional projection of the self-dual four-dimensional object, the pentatope? The connection is there. The reader only need uncover it.

When the early Golden Dawn used the four Enochian Watchtowers in the Supreme Ritual of the Pentagram, is there any significance at all to how the structure one is casting might appear? Of course there is: again, one only has to look for it. Such shapes can be connected to the geometric explanation of Ophanic / Enochian Vincent Bridges has been giving since 1979,[73] though he often neglects to explain the connection to the original documents or how he has derived his conclusions.[74] They're similarly connected to the work with the Hieroglyphic Monad and Great Table that has appeared in this Journal previously.

How might the energetic flow generated between multi-dimensional shapes connect to legends of Kelley's gold-making, or does it? We will return one final time to the original context and the year just before John Dee and Edward Kelley forever parted company. If it is possible to establish connections like those mentioned above, we might well be able to understand the connection, if there is one, between the Enochian corpus and the content of Dee's mysterious 1588 "Heptagonal" working which took place as the Spanish Armada was sailing towards England. If John Dee and Edward Kelley ever did use the Enochian material, certainly this working, at the height of political tension during the year most thought to be the "end of the world," would have been the time.

As most readers know, particular angelic governors were thought to rule over particular parts of the world. Would Dee and Kelley have tried to use that information, though they were warned not to? In this writer's opinion, whether or not they succeeded, the very fact that an ongoing and unlikely storm in the North Sea repeatedly interfered with Spanish warships would have made Dee, Kelley, and their patrons in England and Bohemia, think they had succeeded.

Such a complex re-visioning of the context in which we might consider Dee and Kelley's angelic conversations is both exciting and daunting. It might also suggest why John Dee hid the manuscripts away, and indeed, to this writer at least, makes the story of their survival seem even more amazing.


1. If you're reading this article, you probably already know that this phrase appears in every Golden Dawn grade initiation. See, as one of many possible sources, Israel Regardie's The Original Account of the Teachings, Rites, and Ceremonies of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, 5th ed. (St. Paul, MN: : Llewellyn Publications, 1987),

2. Geoffrey James, ed. and trans., The Enochian Evocation of Dr. John Dee (Gillette, N.J. : Heptangle Books, 1984), p. xv.

3. Ibid., xiii.

4. Digital scans of most primary materials (Sloane mss 3188, 3189, and 3191; Cotton Appdx. XLVI pt. I and II) are available online available via the Magickal Review:

5. See

6. See James, "The Magick of Enoch," op. cit. pp. 1-15 for a thorough transcription of related angelic conversations.

7. A minor critical swirl exists concerning whether or not Dee and Kelley's "angelic" letters look like this "Enochian" scripts. The reader is invited to look at a copy of the Voarchadumia and decide for herself.

8. Most writers use "Enochian;" Vincent Bridges uses "Ophanic;" Aaron Leitch has returned to "Angelical." Meanwhile Biblical writers like R.H. Charles use "Enochian" to describe the apocryphal Biblical Book, and this is the only definition you'll find in that most authoritative of dictionaries, the OED, which says Enochian is "Of, belonging to, or characteristic of Enoch (see Gen. v. 24), or the apocryphal Book of Enoch."

9. For a well-documented popular account, see Benjamin Woolley, The Queen's Conjurer: the science and magic of Dr. John Dee, adviser to Queen Elizabeth I (New York : Henry Holt, 2001) pp. 291-294. For a scholarly account, see Bruce Janacek, "A Virtuoso's History: Antiquarianism and the Transmission of Knowledge in the Alchemical Studies of Elias Ashmole," Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 69, No. 3 (Jul., 2008), pp. 395-417. It appears in three different manuscripts: Sloane ms. 3677, Sloane ms. 3188, and in Ashmole ms. 1136

10. Woolley, op. cit., 292.

11. Thanks to Alan Thorogood for pointing out this information.

12. Casaubon, p.1 A digital scan of the entire work is available on-line at:

13. Could that "Gulielmus" have been Gulielmus Shaksper aka Francis Garland aka William Hall aka William Shakespeare? Since I've already labeled this essay "bad history" and since several of us have put quite a few years into researching exactly that theory, I'll just say yes… and challenge you to prove otherwise.

14. Thomas Seccombe, Lives of Twelve Bad Men: Original Studies of Eminent Scoundrels by Various Hands (New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1894), p. 36

15. Charlotte Fell-Smith, John Dee (London : Constable & Co., 1909), p. 1. Available:

16. Susan Bassnett, "Absent Presences: Edward Kelley's Family in the Writings of John Dee," in John Dee: Interdisciplinary Studies in English Renaissance thought, ed. by Stephen Clucas (Dordrecht, The Netherlands : Springer, 2006), p. 288.

17. Frances Yates, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (London, Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972), pp. 54-55.

18. C. H. Josten, trans. and intro., "A Translation of John Dee's Monas Hieroglyphica." Ambix 12, (1964) 84-221. Peter French, John Dee: The World of an Elizabethan Magus (London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972), pp. 76-80.

19. Karen de Leon-Jones, "John Dee and the Kaballah," in Interdisciplinary Studies in English Renaissance thought, ed. by Stephen Clucas(Dordrecht, The Netherlands : Springer, 2006) p. 150.

20. See Bridges and Burns,, part six.

21. Stephen Clucas' "John Dee's Angelic Conversations and the Ars Notoria,"in John Dee: interdisciplinary studies in English Renaissance Thought, ed. by Stephen Clucas (Dordrecht, The Netherlands : Springer, 2006), pp. 231-274.

22. Ibid.

23. György Szönyi, "Paracelsus, Scrying and the Lingua Adamica: Contexts for John Dee's Angel Magic, in Clucas," op. cit. Also,R. J. Roberts and Andrew G. Watson's John Dee's Library Catalogue (London : Bibliographical Society, 1990) lists Dee's extensive collection of works by Paracelsus and provides a concordance between Dee's works and Karl Sudoff's Bibliographia Paracelsia.

24. Deborah Harkness, "The Nexus of Angelology, Eschatology, and Natural Philosophy in John Dee's Angel Conversations and Library," in Clucas, op. cit.

25. Backlund, in Clucas, op. cit..

26. Ibid, p. 299.

27. Charless Nicoll, The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe (London: J. Cape, 1992) pp. 240-244.

28. Originally published as a two part article in Equinox I;7, and I;8 by By Fr.: A.'. A.'. [Sol in Gemini, An. 88], Liber LXXXIV vel Chanokh: A Brief Abstract of the Symbolic Representation of the Universe Derived by Doctor John Dee through the Skrying of Sir Edward Kelley. Available:

29. "To ‘invoke' is to ‘call in', just as to ‘evoke' is to ‘call forth.' This is the essential difference between the two branches of Magick. In invocation, the macrocosm floods the consciousness. In evocation, the magician, having become the macrocosm, creates a microcosm." See Aleister Crowley, Magick: Liber ABA, Book Four, Parts I-IV, (reprinted by York Beach, ME: Weiser 1997), p. 147.

30. The writer is well aware that when one shifts to n-spaces and modern descriptions of higher dimensional geometry from Euler on, it makes little sense to think of "the" first, second, third, or fourth dimensions in straightedge-and compass fashion. Modern mathematical descriptions of dimension include space and motion together. Time then, becomes not "the" fourth dimension, as in some popular writing, but "a" possible fourth dimension always present in 3D, and non-static "4-D" geometric constructions implicitly 5D. Try this thought experiment: imagine "seeing" or hearing" something in four dimensions. In our 3D mode of perceiving, that "something" would appear to come from inside us, rather than outside of us—it seems "evoked" from within. But the process of this occurring takes time, and the evocation somes from somewhere, so the moment time is conceived as an energy flow with a structure already created by other energy flows, evocation becomes five dimensional: a multiverse evoked into now from elsewhere and elsewhen.

31. See for instance, retellings of this incident in Ithell Colquhoun, Sword of Wisdom: MacGregor Mathers and the Golden Dawn (New York: Putnam, 1975); Mary K. Greer, Women of the Golden Dawn: Rebels and Priestesses (Rochester, Vt. : Park Street Press, 1995); Aleister Crowley, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley (reprinted London: Arkana, 1989).

32. See Richard B. Spence, Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult (Los Angeles, Calif. : Feral House, 2008); Vincent Bridges, "Lost Legends: The Great Beast and the Occult Origins of the Great War," available:

33. See R.A. Gilbert, "Provenance Unknown: A Tentative Solution to the Riddle of the Cipher Manuscript of the Golden Dawn," in The Complete Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscript, trans and edited by Darcy Kunz (Edmonds, WA: Holmes Publishing, 1996), pp 18-19.

34. This if course was the Madame Horos scandal, recounted by Crowley in Confessions, op. cit., and Colquhoun in Sword of Wisdom, op. cit.

35. Ibid.

36. If one focuses the debate on whether or not the tradition was kept alive within the British Isles, and to limit it to manuscripts that explicitly contain Dee's "Angelic" materials, one may be interested documents transcribed by Stephen Skinner and David Rankine in Practical angel magic of John Dee's Enochian tables: from four previously unpublished manuscripts on angel magic, being a complete transcription of Tabula bonorum angelorum invocationes in manuscripts BL Sloane 307 and 3821 and Bodleian Rawlinson D1067 and D1363 (London : Golden Hoard, 2004). However, Skinner and Rankine make many questionable claims about the lineage, as pointed out in by "Sir Anon" in "Practical Angel Magic: An Updated Review," available: If one wants to expand the debate beyond the British Isles and consider a history of continental practical alchemy as well, the subject becomes even more unwieldy. If one wants to consider related lost sacred geometry manuscripts like those in the Byrom collection [see Joy Hancox, The Byrom Collection (London, J. Cape, 1992)]. It becomes unweildier still.

37. In either case, the argument seems to trace its way through the works of Frederick Hockley, who seemed much more interested in physical alchemy than anything else, and thus further illustrates the need to understand more about the connection between physical alchemy and Enochian.

38. These attributions are part of what J. Alan Moore and I have been exploring in our series of articles on the Great Table; see our accompanying article and the one to follow next issue.

39. In fact they do, but it is instructive to try to figure out why on one's own.

40. For more on this see end of accompanying article.

41. Certainly that's what J. Alan Moore and I have been trying to figure out, in our series of articles on the Great Table last issue, this issue, and next issue. Since our explanation is rather long, I'll simply refer you to the other articles.

42. See note 35.

43. See Teresa Burns and J. Alan Moore, "The Hieroglyphic Monad of John Dee Theorems I-XVII: A Guide to the Outer Mysteries,"

44. Ibid.

45. See Terri Burns and Vincent Bridges, "Quando Bellissime Menti Comunicano con Intelligenze Superiori," in La Rivelazione Ofenica, trans.Khudai Daniela Enrico (Rimini: MyLife: 2009) pp. 40-42; forthcoming in English. A .pdf of this introduction in English is available in the files section of the John Dee e-group:

46. Ibid., pp. 35-45.

47. I made this in an earlier article for the Journal, in the subsection, "Agent 007 or the Invisible Man?" Besides falling for the 007 signature legend, I stand by my argument.

48. Since I have made mistakes in my own work, I will not embarrass the authors here. It is easy enough to find out which works these are by dropping the fake title into the Google Books search engine.

49. Ibid. pp. 221, 222.,

50. "Obituary: Donald McCormick: Spooks, Bars and Brothels," The Guardian, March 5, 1998. Thank you to Alan Thorogood for directing me to this information.

51. Michael Wilding, "A Biography of Edward Kelly, the English Alchemist and Associate of Dr. John Dee," in Mystical Metal of Gold: Essays on Alchemy and Renaissance Culture, ed. by Stanton J. Linden (New York: AMS Press, 2007), p. 35.

52. Even the best English source, Wilding (ibid.) makes errors—for instance, he gives the date of Kelley's imprisonment for dueling and killing Jiri (George) Hunkler as 1596 rather than 1591, citing Sviták, who uses secondary Czech material. Other Czech primary and secondary material consistently gives the date of Kelley's duel with Hunkler as 1591.

53. Ibid. p. 77.

54. In this case, I am literally speaking of references alone—that is, of Kelley's name appearing-- because I do not read Czech. In the cases of what appear to be important passages, I've been fortunate enough to rely on Czech friends for short translations, and my attempts to transcribe Bohemian archival material of the period, which is generally in Latin or German and less frequently Czech, has just started. Many thanks to Eva Leňová and Radka Slooten for their help in this regard.

55. Prague: Cyrillo-Methodejská knihtiskárna 1911. Thanks to Rafal Prinke, who first drew my attention to this point by a post on the old Voynich Manuscript list (VMs-l), now archived at

56. Ivan Sviták, "John Dee and Edward Kelley," in Kosmas [Journal of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences], 5, 1986. Sviták also is the author of the only book-length biography of Edward Kelley, Sir Edward Kelley: Ceský Rytír, 1555-1598 ([Prague] : Samisdat ISIS,1994).

57. Peter Marshall, The Magic Circle of Rudolf II: Alchemy and Astrology in Renaissance Prague (New York : Walker & Co., 2006), p. 131.

58. M. Stejskal, An Esoteric Guide to The Royal Route; (Praga Hermetica: Eminent 2003); available: For more general information, see

59. One can't help but notice the entertaining "coincidence" of Evan's middle names being the same as the name of Kelley's step-son, John Weston!

60. That this amulet has survived at all is yet another amazing story. The Thirty Years War resulted in the destruction of much of Rudolf's personal effects, and much of what was left wound up in Sweden or Denmark. Somehow, this amulet appeared in Vienna. For more in the Jewish community in Prague and the influence of Rabbi Loew, Path of Life : Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel ca. 1525-1609, [an exhibition organized by the Prague Castle Administration and the Jewish Museum in Prague for the 400th anniversary of the death of Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, Imperial Stables at Prague Castle] (Prague : Academia ; Jewish Museum in Prague, 2009) ed. by Alexander Putik and Peter Demetz. The description and photo of thia amulet appears in Ivo Purs' essay "The Intellectual World of Rudolf II and the Kabbalah."

61. Ibid. p. 210

62. Ibid. pp. 209-210.

63. Bassnett, in in Interdisciplinary Studies in English Renaissance thought, ed. by Stephen Clucas, op. cit., p. 287,

64. These titles and relationships are rather easy to establish from multiple sources; in addition Westonia addresses him as such in her poetry. See Elizabeth Jane Weston, Collected Writings, ed. and trans. by Donald Cheney and Brenda Hosington, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000), various poems and letters including those on pp. 14-15, pp. 185-187.

65. Of course these poems were available in Latin for more than 400 years, but her connection to Kelley was forgotten until Czech scholars Karel Hrdina and Buhumil Ryba published biographical studies in 1928 and 1929. Bassnett's work in 1989 and 1990 set the groundwork for the above translation. See "Introduction," ibid., x, xxviii, notes 1-4.

66. Ibid. p. 7

67. Louise Schleiner, Tudor and Stuart Women Writers (Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 1994), p. 97.

68. Kelley's family moved to Most when he was imprisoned in the castle there in May 1591. See among other sources, Schleiner, Ibid. p. 97.

69. Weston, op. cit. p. 213.

70. See p. 96, based on evidence analyzed pp. 96-107, in Campbell's 2009 thesis, The Alchemical Patronage of Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley, available on-line at:

71. One may view an on-line version of Robert Boyle's 1670 Curious Mathematical Forms on-line via (curiously enough) the United States Navy Oceanography Portal, One may note that several of the images are very similar to the one in Hancox's Byrom Collection, op. cit.

72. S. Robert Wilson, "The Delian Problem and Transcendence in Theorem XX of John Dee's Hieroglyphic Monad," this issue.

73. Much of that material from the 1990s is still available on-line, or in the FWMS files section at An early FWMS drawing conceived by Bridges and executed by Darlene was used by Alan Moore and I to suggest ways one might explore the Theorems of the Monad: More of their updated work is available in La Rivelazione Ofenica, trans.Khudai Daniela Enrico (Rimini: MyLife: 2009); forthcoming in English; earlier versions of some essays available in the Journal archives, or at, and

74. Of course, the writer has been told first-hand that this is because I should be able to figure it out on my own, and I don't doubt that when one can, this is a good idea. When one can't, help is often needed. Fortunately there are many more of us working with the material these days than any time in the past.