Enochian magic

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3D reconstruction of the "Holy Table" used by John Dee, including a crystal ball used for scrying, seven planetary talismans, and circular tablets inscribed with the Seal of God

Enochian magic is a system of ceremonial magic based on the 16th-century writings of John Dee and Edward Kelley, who wrote that their information, including the revealed Enochian language, was delivered to them directly by various angels. Dee's journals contain the record of these workings, the Enochian script, and the tables of correspondences used in Enochian magic. Dee and Kelley believed their visions gave them access to secrets contained within the Book of Enoch.[citation needed]

Enochian magic involves the evocation and commanding of various spirits.

History[edit]

Origins and manuscript sources[edit]

Additional contributions to the study of Enochian magic were made by Thomas Rudd (1583?–1656), Elias Ashmole (1617–1692), Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers (1854–1918), William Wynn Westcott (1848–1925), Aleister Crowley (1875–1947), and Israel Regardie (1907–1985).[1]

The Five Books of Mystery[edit]

This manuscript, Sloan 3188,[2] is an account of the 'actions' or workings undertaken in the Liber Logaeth, titled the Mysteriorum Libri Quinque (Five Books of Mystery (or Mystical Exercises)). The Mysteriorum Libri Quinque is the diary for 22 December 1581 – 23 May 1583. It includes the first five Books of the Mysteries (and Appendix), ending where Casaubon's A True and Faithful Relation begins. It describes the furniture of the temple; the Seal of God (Sigillum Dei Aemeth); the Tables of Light; the Great Circle and corresponding Collected Table of 49 Good Angels; the Mystic Heptarchy and the Tables of Creation; the Angelic Alphabet (Dee's copies) and the beginning of Loagaeth (i.e., the first few folios of Sloane 3189). There are two transcripts of this manuscript available today: from Joseph Peterson[3] and C. L. Whitby.[4]

Liber Logaeth – The Sixth and Sacred Book of the Mysteries[edit]

The Liber Logaeth (Book of the Speech of God, also known as The Book of Enoch aka Liber Mysteriorum, Sextus et Sanctus -The Sixth (and Sacred/Holy) Book of the Mysteries)(1583) is preserved in the British Museum mostly within what are known as the Sloane manuscripts, chiefly Sloane 3189 (but parts of Sloane 3188 and the Cotton Appendix I also contain the beginning and end of the book, with some copying of material in Sloane 3188 appearing in Sloane 3189). The correct spelling is Loagaeth, but it has been so frequently printed as Logaeth that this spelling is in common use.

Written up by Edward Kelley, it is composed of 73 folios (18 from Sloane 3188, 54 from Sloane 3189, and 1 (text only) from Cotton Appendix I). The book contains 96 complex magical grids of letters (94 of which are 49×49 grids of letters, one of which is a table composed of 49 rows of text, and one of which is a table of 40 rows of text and 9 rows of 49 letters). The final folio from Cotton Appendix I was 21 words consisting of 112 letters, which according to the text, was apparently able to be somehow reduced to 105 letters and arranged into five 3x7 tables, three on the front and two on the back (cf. Cotton Appendix I).

It is from Liber Logaeth that Dee and Kelley derived the 48 Calls or Keys (see below), and in which are concealed the keys to the Mystical Heptarchy, a related magical work by Dee. Dee himself left little information on his Sixth Holy Book apart from saying that it contained 'The Mysterie of our Creation, The Age of many years, and the conclusion of the World' and that the first page in the book signified Chaos. Note that the title, The Book of Enoch, attributed to the text of Liber Logaeth, is not to be confused with the aprocryphal Biblical The Book of Enoch. (There are three versions of the latter; a facsimile reprint of the Ethiopian version is in Laurence 1883. Nor should it be confused with Crowley's rescension Liber Chanokh (The Book of Enoch) although all these texts are related.)[5]

Other Enochian manuscripts[edit]

Another manuscript is Sloane 3191,[6] which comprises: 48 Angelic Keys; The Book of Earthly Science, Aid and Victory; On the Mystic Heptarchy; and Invocations of the Good Angels.

Two further manuscripts from Dee and Kelley's workings pertain to Enochian magic:

  1. MS. Cotton Appendix XLVI Part I[7] is the diary for 28 May 1583 – 15 August 1584 inclusive: The Sixth (and Sacred) Parallel Book of the Mysteries (not to be confused with "The Sixth and Sacred Book of the Mysteries", which is part of Liber Logaeth - see above) and "The Seventh Book of the Mysteries" (Kraków), beginning where A True and Faithful Relation begins. It includes the arrival of Prince Adalbert Laski, the journey to Kraków and the dictation of the 48 Calls or Keys (including descriptions of the 91 Parts of the Earth), as well as the Vision of the Four Watchtowers and also the Great Table.
  2. MS. Cotton Appendix XLVI Part II[7] is the diary for 15 August 1584 – 23 May 1587 (and 20 March – 7 September 1607) inclusive: The Book of Praha, The Royal Stephanic Mysteries, The Puccian Action, The Book of Resurrection, The Third Action of Trebon and the remaining Spirit Actions at Mortlake in 1607, ending where A True and Faithful Relation ends. (It may be seen that Casaubon's A True and Faithful Relation is equivalent to the MS Cotton Appendix in toto, i.e. Dee and Kelley's diaries from 28 May 1585-23 Sept 1607).

Meric Casaubon's 1659 edition of part of these diaries (Cotton Appendix MS. XLVI), entitled A True & Faithful Relation of What Passed for Many Yeers between John Dee and Some Spirits, contains notorious transcription errors which in some cases were transmitted through many subsequent republications of the Dee/Kelly material; Casaubon's edition was intended to discredit Dee and Kelly by accusing them of dealing with the Christian Devil. An expanded facsimile edition of Casaubon was published by Magickal Childe in 1992.[8]

Dee and Kelley's surviving manuscripts later came into the possession of Elias Ashmole, who preserved them and made copies of some, along with annotations.

The system[edit]

The two pillars of modern Enochian magic, as outlined in Liber Chanokh, are the elemental watchtowers (including the "Tablet of Union") and the calls of the 30 aethyrs.

Enochian temple furniture[edit]

Temple "furniture" required for the performance of Enochian magic includes:

  1. The Holy Table: a table with a top engraved with a Hexagram, a surrounding border of Enochian letters, and in the middle a Twelvefold table (cell) engraved with individual Enochian letters. According to Duquette and Hyatt, the Holy Table "does not directly concern Elemental or Aethyrical workings. Angels found on the Holy Table are not called forth in these operations."[9]
  2. The Seven Planetary Talismans: The names on these talismans (which are engraved on tin and placed on the surface of the Holy Table) are those of the Goetia. According to Duquette and Hyatt, "this indicates (or at least implies) Dee's familiarity with the Lemegeton and his attempt, at least early in his workings, to incorporate it in the Enochian system."[10] As with the Holy Table, Spirits found on these talismans are not called forth in these operations.
  3. The Sigillum dei Aemeth, Holy Sevenfold Table, or 'Seal of God's Truth': The symbol derives from Liber Juratus (aka The Sworn Book of Honorius or Grimoire of Honorius, of which Dee owned a copy). Five versions of this complex diagram are made from bee's wax, and engraved with the various lineal figures, letters and numbers. The four smaller ones are placed under the feet of the Holy Table. The fifth and larger one (about nine inches in diameter) is covered with a red cloth, placed on the Holy Table, and is used to support the "Shew-Stone" or "Speculum" (crystal or other device used for scrying). Scrying is an essential element of the magical system. Dee and Kelly's technique was to gaze into a concave obsidian mirror. Crowley habitually held a large topaz mounted upon a wooden cross to his forehead. Other methods include gazing into crystals, ink, fire or even a blank TV screen.[11] "Aemeth" or "Emeth" is Hebrew for "truth"; the same word was written on the forehead of a Golem in Jewish folklore by magicians who legendarily animated these beings. For detailed information on the history and use of the Sigillum dei Aemeth, consult Campbell 2009.
  4. A magician's ring engraved with the god-name Pele.
  5. The rod "el" painted in three sections, the ends being black and the middle red.

Interpretations[edit]

Rediscovery by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn[edit]

Little else became of Dee's work until late in the nineteenth century,[citation needed] when it was incorporated by a brotherhood of adepts in England.

The rediscovery of Dee and Kelley's material by Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the 1880s led to Mathers developing the material into a comprehensive system of ceremonial magic. Magicians invoked the Enochian deities whose names were written on the tablets. They also traveled in their bodies of light into these subtle regions and recorded their psychic experiences. The two major branches of the system were then grafted on to the Adeptus Minor curriculum of the Golden Dawn.[citation needed] According to Aleister Crowley, the magician starts with the 30th aethyr and works up to the first, exploring only so far as his level of initiation will permit.[11]

According to Chris Zalewski's 1994 book, the Golden Dawn also invented the game of Enochian chess, in which aspects of the Enochian Tablets were used for divination. They used four chessboards without symbols on them, just sets of colored squares, and each board is associated with one of the four elements of magic.[12]

Florence Farr founded the Sphere Group which also experimented with Enochian magic.[13]

Criticism[edit]

Paul Foster Case (1884–1954), an occultist who began his magical career with the Alpha et Omega, was critical of the Enochian system. According to Case, the system of Dee and Kelley was incomplete, lacked sufficient protection methods, and was in fact just the basis of an older, more complete Qabalistic system.[14] Case believed he had witnessed the physical breakdown of a number of practitioners of Enochian magic, due to the lack of protective methods.[15] In a letter to occultist Dion Fortune, Case wrote:

I have personal knowledge of more than twenty-five instances where the performance of [Enochian] magical operations based upon the Order's [i.e. Alpha et Omega's] formulae led to serious disintegrations of mind and body... Perhaps the most conspicuous example of the use of these formulas is A.C. [Aleister Crowley] himself, but there are plenty of others I have personally witnessed, whose personal shipwrecks have been just as complete even though their smaller tonnage, so to say, makes the loss seem less deplorable...[14]

When Case founded his own magical order, the Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.), he removed the Enochian system and substituted elemental tablets based on Qabalistic formulae communicated to him by Master R.[16]

Today[edit]

Compared to other theories of magic, Enochian magic is often considered strikingly complex and difficult to grasp in its entirety. One of the difficulties is that many of the source documents are missing, and those that exist are sometimes fragmentary, due to the history of dispersal of Dee's library and manuscripts. Parts of the surviving manuscripts written by Dee have been lost. Paul Foster Case postulated that Dee and Kelley's system was partial from the start, an incomplete system derived from an earlier and complete Qabalistic system.[17] This has allowed numerous interpretations to arise, some of which have solidified into schools of thought with individual bodies of interpretative literature.

Another difficulty is the use of the Enochian language for the invocations. Magicians see the correct pronunciation of the Enochian letters, words, and calls to be integral to magical success in utilizing the Enochian system - the letters must be memorized and their pronunciations learned. Fortunately, there have been several compilations of Enochian words made to form Enochian dictionaries, which can act as a handy reference. A scholarly study is Laycock 2001. Also useful is Vinci 1992. Authentic pronunciations, according to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn usage, are given by Israel Regardie in a set of Golden Dawn instructional CDs. Regardie's Enochian dictionary is also reprinted in Crowley, Duquette, and Hyatt, Enochian World of Aleister Crowley.[18]

Since Dee is known to have been a spy for Elizabeth I's court, there are interpretations of his Angelic manuscripts as cryptographic documents - most likely polyalphabetic ciphers - designed to disguise political messages (see Langford 1978).

In popular culture[edit]

Since horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, in his short work "The History of the Necronomicon" (written 1927, published after Lovecraft's death, in 1938), made John Dee the translator of one of the versions of his mythical book of forbidden lore, The Necronomicon (an example of Lovecraft's use of the technique of "pseudo-authenticity"), much has been written connecting Dee and Enochian magic with The Necronomicon. The fanciful connection between Dee and The Necronomicon was suggested by Lovecraft's friend Frank Belknap Long.[19]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Campbell, Colin D. (2009), The Magic Seal of John Dee: The Sigillum Dei Aemeth, Teitan Press, ISBN 978-0933429185.
  • Casaubon, Meric (1992), A True and Faithful Relation of What Passed for Many Years Between John Dee and Some Spirits, New York: Magickal Childe Publishing.
  • Clark, P. (2013), Paul Foster Case: His Life and Works, Covina, CA: Fraternity of the Hidden Light, ISBN 978-0971046948.
  • Crowley, Aleister; DuQuette, Lon Milo; Hyatt, Christopher S. (1991), Enochian World of Aleister Crowley: Enochian Sex Magick, Scottsdale, AZ: New Falcon Publications.
  • James, Geoffrey (2009), The Enochian Evocation of Dr. John Dee, Newburyport, MA: Weiser Books, ISBN 978-1578634538.
  • Kuntz, Darcy (1996), The Enochian Experiments of the Golden Dawn: The Enochian Alphabet Clairvoyantly Examined, Edmonds, WA: Holmes Publishing Group.
  • Langford, David (1978), "Deciphering John Dee's Manuscript", in Hay, George (ed.), The Necronomicon: The Book of Dead Names, Jersey: Neville Spearman, pp. 81–102.
  • Laurence, Richard (tr.) (1883), The Book of Enoch the Prophet, London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co.
  • Laycock, Donald C. (2001) [1978], The Complete Enochian Dictionary: A Dictionary of the Angelic Language as revealed to Dr John Dee and Edward Kelley, Weiser Books
  • Long, Frank Belknap (1996), "John Dee's Necronomicon: A Fragment", in Price, Robert M. (ed.), The Necronomicon: Selected Stories and Essays Concerning the Blasphemous Tome of the Mad Arab, Oakland, CA: Chaosium, Inc., ISBN 978-1568820705.
  • Peterson, Joseph (2008), John Dee's Five Books of Mystery: Original Sourcebook of Enochian Magic, Red Wheel, ISBN 978-1108051651.
  • Skinner, Stephen; Rankine, David (2010), Practical Angel Magic of Dr. John Dee's Enochian Tables: Tabularum Bonorum Angelorum Invocationes, Sourceworks of Ceremonial Magic, Llewellyn Publications, ISBN 978-0738723518.
  • Vinci, Leon (1992) [1976], Gmicalzoma: An Enochian Dictionary, London: Neptune Press.
  • Whitby, C. L. (1991), John Dee's Actions with Spirits: 22 December 1581 to 23 May 1583, New York: Garland.
  • Zalewski, C. L. (1994), Enochian Chess of the Golden Dawn: A Four Handed Chess Game, St Paul, MN: Llewellyn.

Manuscripts[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Asprem, Egil (2012), Arguing with Angels: Enochian Magic and Modern Occulture, tate University of New York Press, ISBN 978-1438441900.
  • Burns, Teresa; Moore, J. Alan (March 2010), "John Dee and Edward Kelley's Great Table (or, What's This Grid For, Anyway?)", Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition, 2 (18).
  • de Salvo, John (2010a), The Lost Art of Enochian Magic: Angels, Invocations, and the Secrets Revealed to Dr. John Dee, Destiny Books, ISBN 978-1594773440.
  • de Salvo, John (2010b), Decoding the Enochian Secrets: God's Most Holy Book to Mankind as Received by Dr. John Dee from Angelic Messengers, Destiny Books, ISBN 978-1594773648.
  • DuQuette, Lon Milo (2019), Enochian Vision Magick: An Introduction and Practical Guide to the Magick of Dr John Dee and Edward Kelly (2nd ed.), Weiser Books, ISBN 978-1578636846.
  • Harkness, Deborah (2006), John Dee's Conversations with Angels: Cabala, Alchemy, and the End of Nature, London: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521027489.
  • Regardie, Israel (1979). Foundations of Practical Magic: An Introduction to Qabalistic, Magical and Meditative Techniques. Aquarian Press. ISBN 978-0850301977.
  • Tyson, Donald (2002), Enochian Magic for Beginners: The Original System of Angel Magic, St Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, ISBN 978-1567187472.
  • W.I.T., Frater (2006), Enochian Initiation: A Thelemite's Magical Journey into the Ultimate Transcendence, Denver, CO: Outskirts Press, ISBN 978-1598003727.