Hello everyone! I’m Angela and welcome back to my channel. Today we will talk about Enochian Magic and John Dee.
So who was John Dee and what is Enochian Magic?
Let’s find it out.
John Dee was a British philosopher and magus [and] lived between 1527 and 1608. In his time he was regarded as an academic genius and he was well-versed in multiple disciplines. Since he cast horoscopes, which were prohibited at the time, he was jailed after having allegedly predicted the rise to the throne of Queen Elizabeth the First. He became her advisor.
Like other men from the Renaissance, John Dee considered magic a form of science. From a philosophical point of view, we may say, that John Dee sort of followed a Neoplatonism kind of philosophy – inspired by that of Marsilio Ficino. His two main obsessions were to obtain ultimate knowledge and bring the apocalypse about. John Dee believed that there are hidden forces which governed the world but he was never really able to get in contact with them. That is until he met Edward Kelly, a man with mediumship powers who will help John Dee to commune with angels. When this experiment started John Dee recorded everything in his diaries because he was sort of approaching it as a scientific experiment or rather multiple scientific experiments.
So a long partnership between John Dee and Edward Kelly started and they were basically working together; Edward Kelly as a medium and John Dee as the scholar, basically the person who would record everything and have the theoretical knowledge to understand what was happening. So, for a long time, Kelly and Dee were basically following every advice that these Angels, that they were in contact with, were suggesting them to do. So, for example, it seems that the Angels told them to go to Poland to escape English spies. The two go to Poland and the Angels promise that they will reveal new secrets to them and so what was allegedly revealed to them, by these Angels, was the content of the Book of Enoch which contained the language used by Enoch to speak to God before Adam.
The Enochian language is quite a peculiar one. So it’s not like the normal spoken language you would think of. It is in fact a language which needs to be spoken by the stomach, resembles no known language and has its own grammar and alphabet. Once the angelic language is dictated, the Angels tell Dee that him is to go to Rudolf the Second, the Holy Roman Emperor and tell him that he is in contact with the Angels. This attempt must have met some sort of success because Dee and Kelly attempted and tried to make the Philosopher’s Stone thanks to a laboratory provided by Rudolf II. Pope Sixtus the Fifth wanted to arrest the English magicians and asked they be sent to Rome but the two escaped and were expelled from the Holy Roman Empire.
Eventually, an Angel told Dee and Kelly that they had to share everything in order to get new revelations and by everything I mean everything. Basically, according to these Diaries, the Angels were asking them to swap wives. This act was considered extremely sinful at the time and after doing that, apparently to get new revelations from the Angels, actually, things went not that well. From that point onwards the conversations with the Angels stopped and the two parted ways.
Let’s now see how Dee is a perfect Renaissance thinker. He can be seen as a Renaissance philosopher because he attempts to make contact with the divine messengers in his quest to understand nature and we know how understanding the hidden laws of nature was extremely important and extremely core to the Renaissance philosophy. He believes that God revealed his mysteries through three main books; the human soul, the revealed Scripture and the book of nature. Dee also believe that mathematics was a foundational discipline underlying the several branches of natural philosophy. In Dee, we also find a platonising metaphysics of numbers, where platonising comes from Plato. In this sense, numbers are seen as intermediaries between Earth and Heaven. Numbers have hence an allegorical interpretation, we may say. He saw numbers as having three states: there are in fact the numbers, numbering, which would be God, the numbers numbered which would be every creature – subject to deterioration and the intermediaries between the two which would be the minds of the Angels and man.
So now that we have seen the core principles in this philosophy, let’s talk about the system of magic that he created which is called Enochian magic. There are practitioners who believe that Enochian magic is the most similar magic to Harry Potter in that you pronounce an incantation and something happens – or so practitioners say. Enochian magic can be defined as a system of ceremonial magic where there is some kind of evocation and commanding of the spirits using the classic ceremonial ritual of casting a circle and drawing a triangle. He thinks that they also used a crystal or rounded mirror to communicate with the spirits through scrying. Scrying is a divination practice whereby you will use a reflecting surface in order for the spirits or specific images to appear on the reflecting surface when the person attempting this communication will be in an altered state of consciousness and in a ritualistic setting.
There are four main themes which emerged from the conversations between Dee, Kelly and the Angels. The first would be visions regarding the cosmic order and how Angels sustain it. The second theme was basically descriptions of rituals and magical invocations. The third would be apocalyptic and prophetic prognostications – predictions foretelling the rise and fall of Empires. Which, apparently, had some sort of relation with how spiritually pious they were. And the fourth theme emerging from these conversations was the lingua Adamica – so basically the Enochian language. Sigils and specific Pentacles were also used by Dee and Kelly in their magical rituals and sigils are, in fact, very important in Enochian magic as well and they will be, much later on in the past century, be sort of reinterpreted and used again in a more eclectic and personalized way by magical systems such as Chaos Magick.
This is it for today’s video on our overview of Enochian Magic. I will leave all the references in the info box, as always, and I’d highly recommend you to check out a series of lectures on John Dee and Enochian magic published on a YouTube channel called “Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh”. I will leave the link to one of those lectures down below so you can dive deeper into the subject matter.
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Bye for now!
Asprem, E. 2012. Arguing with Angels: Enochian Magic and Modern Occulture. New York: State University of New York Press.
Szonyi, G. E. 2004. John Dee’s Occultism: Magical Exaltation Through Powerful Signs. New York: State University of New York Press.
Lecture by Katie Birkwood https://youtu.be/N4VLAqO5Qnc