Enochian Magic in Theory, Dean F. Wilson. Kerubim Press, Dublin, 2012. 378 pages. $30.00
review by J.S. Kupperman
Dean F. Wilson’s Enochian Magic in Theory is the second of Kerubim Press’ freshman releases. A well known magician in the Golden Dawn tradition, Wilson goes beyond the familiar, Golden Dawn-derived, presentation of Enochiana to present an in-depth analysis of both its history and internal workings.
Enochian Magic is the first of two books on the subject, the second being “In Practice,” to be released either later this year or next. In some ways, that makes In Theory almost unique, as it focuses entirely on the internal structure and logic of Enochiana, its history, development and ideology, and not on how to practice. Also, as mentioned, it does not focus on the Order of the Golden Dawn’s system of Enochian magic. As the Golden Dawn’s magical system is perhaps the most well known, Wilson’s movement beyond the GD is important. Although it includes a discussion of Golden Dawn techniques and ideology, In Theory does so critically and within the greater context of the history of Enochiana.
It is this context building that makes Wilson’s work shine. Through a study of surviving primary sources, consisting largely of Merric Casaubon’s printing of John Dee’s diaries as well as Dee’s Five Books of Mysteries, Wilson examines the way in which the Enochian material was delivered to John Dee through his medium Edward Kelley. In order to do this, Wilson also presents a brief biography of these individuals, attempting to understand how their lives fit into the Enochian workings, as well as how the Enochian workings fit into their lives. While one may not always agree with the conclusions Wilson makes, his attempt to gain a better understanding of the material through such a manner is enlightening and important. Wilson rightfully understands that no system of human thought or practice exists in a vacuum. Even positing an angelic origin to the material, it was received by humans and interpreted by humans, which has invariably influenced its initial presentation, let alone later practice.
After exploring the personalities, both human and angelic, involved in the delivery of the Enochian material, Wilson explores the methodology of that delivery and Enochiana’s internal logic. To accomplish this, Wilson goes far beyond the Enochian tables and the Call of the Thirty Aethyrs, which are perhaps the most well known and popular elements of the system. Instead, Enochian Magic in Practice explores the entirety of the system, including Liber Laogaeth, the Sigillum Dei Aemeth, the workings of the Enochian language, the Table of Practice and more. Wilson notes that these elements are typically treated separately they are in fact all part of a single, comprehensive magical system.
To those only generally interested in how the various angelic and spiritual names found in the numerous tablets and tables delivered to Kelley and Dee, the bulk of Enochian Magic in Theory may be somewhat dull and repetitive. However, to anyone interested in how Enochian magic actually works, not simply in magical technique, that same bulk is of utmost importance. Wilson explains, with diagrams, where every name and sigil employed in Enochian magic comes from and how it can be derived. The importance of this underlies Wilson’s ideology for this book: without understanding the whys of the system, nothing knew can come from it. Enochian Magic in Theory delivers those whys, and even where one might disagree with its conclusions, ample information is given for the reader to draw their own.
The second half of Kerubim Press’ initial offerings, Dean F. Wilson’s Enochian Magic in Theory brings to light the internal structure of the Enochian system as delivered to Renaissance magicians Edward Kelley and John Dee. It examines how the material was received and how it has been interpreted over the centuries. The book is by no means perfect: there are a small number of editorial issues, type os, and redundancies, and there are several places where the graphics either leave something to be desired or contain minor errors. It is also somewhat disappointing to see a fairly limited bibliography, with numerous academic studies on the subject apparently having been overlooked. We can hope such issues will be addressed in Kerubim Press’ later releases. We can also hope that the overall quality of information, such as presented in Enochian Magic in Theory, will remain a key feature to future titles.