Case Profile: John Dee
Illustrations opposite the book’s title page present engraved portraits of Dr. Dee and his ‘scryer’ (spirit medium) Edward Kelly alongside depictions of famous men whose exploits were deemed comparable at the time of publication: Muhammad, Apollonius of Tyana, Roger Bacon, and Paracelsus. The portraits appear under the heading “The Order of the Inspirati.”
Also mentioned on the book jacket: “Whether these manifestations were the work of beneficent powers or whether they were the snares of Devils, is a matter for conjecture.” Regarding this area of concern, Dee’s pious Christian mentality and praises of God offered by Dee throughout the book were ignored — overlooked perhaps with the intention of inspiring interest in the book among latter-day aspiring wizards. To address the question raised, the development of one’s morality involving intellectual and emotional capacities is integral to all of life’s interactions and chronicles such as this of Dee and Kelly (also spelled Kelley in some sources) present vivid examples of men interacting with beings manifesting from another realm of existence.
Casaubon’s edition brings together thirteen of John Dee’s books chronicling “actions with spirits.” During Dee’s life, the majority of his supernatural experiences were shared with scryers (or [de-]scri[b]ers/psychic seers), among whom Edward Kelly is most prominent. The interaction of angelic spirits with the duo has resulted in a memoir of two very different temperaments responding to supernatural revelation. The mouldering diary pages constituting Casaubon's edition was reported to have been retrieved from a field where buried by Dee.
The first of Dee’s journals presented in successive books spanning the period to May 23, 1583 weren’t included in Casaubon’s edition. How these books, now known as Mysteriorum Libri Quinque or ‘Book of Mysteries’ came to be is explained by Elias Ashmole in a preface to these works. One explanation is that Dee placed many of his cherished original manuscripts in a ‘private drawer’ of a cedarwood chest. Many years after his death, they were found by an English couple who didn’t know what they had found. Missing volumes are believed due to the couple’s maid having used them in her kitchen work. When the wife became a widow and remarried, her new husband exchanged the books with Elias Ashmole for an edition of the author’s The Institution, Lawes & Ceremonies of the most Noble Order of the Garter (1672).
The earlier spiritual journals not included in A True & Faithful Relation. . . have been published as John Dee’s Five Books of Mystery: Original Sourcebook of Enochian Magic: From The Collected Works Known as Mysteriorum Libri Quinque edited by Joseph J. Peterson. For this easy-to-read revised 2003 edition, Peterson explained that he added footnotes to clarify obscurities in the language, translated Latin passages and updated the text in some particulars. One footnote about Dee’s influence upon the English language states “he is credited with coining the word ‘unit,’ which he used to translate the Greek ‘monas.’ He also coined the word Britannia.’” Excerpts I’ve included from the fourth and fifth books of mystery are from Peterson’s edition except where otherwise noted. Latin translations quoted from the Peterson edition are indicated by italics followed by an asterisk.
The revolutionary nature of the mathematics involved (which foreshadowed the system of point-sphere numeration which is discussed in The Book of the Law) is today but little understood. The same may be said of the corresponding linguistic aspect of these conferences, with its unique and original “Angelic” or “Enochian” language; and although this language has been studied in greater depth, and has been found to possess its own grammar and syntax, further work on this inflected language (along the lines of Chomskayan structural analysis) is the subject of continuing interest.
Among contemporary books about Dee, John Dee: Essential Readings (1986) presents excerpts from his writings with commentary by the book’s editor Gerald Suster. Upon considering possible conclusions about Dee’s “angel magic” and the nature of Kelly’s participation, Suster finds it “very doubtful whether a mere trickster could have endured the boredom of taking down the Enochian alphabet . . .” Something considered by Suster is the possibility “that Kelley was able to activate the (still) little known powers of the unconscious.” If this ‘unconscious’ can be understood as a facet of an Organizing Superconsciousness with unlimited forms of activated Self-Expression utilizing selected consciousness units or individual ‘spirits,’ Dee and Kelly’s predicament becomes more comprehensible, as do other quandaries one may consider in respect to their lives. The record of John Dee’s life is much better documented than Kelly’s. In his anthology, Suster selects autobiographical writings and diary entries to provide an overview of Dee’s life. Suster also ponders what sense can be made of his experiences and accomplishments.
One of the many qualities which distinguished the Renaissance was the quest for harmony of thought, word, and deed. To take a mundane example, in Elizabethan England a man of substance aspired to explore unknown parts of the Earth, fight the Queen’s enemies, make love to ladies, appreciate a scientific instrument, and turn a neat sonnet. The same quest prevailed in the sphere of the intellect, and the intelligent gloried in the liberated powers of the independent human mind. This ideal had its enemies and as the sixteenth century came to a close, these grew in number, influence and power.
For individuals like Dee who embraced the call of serving God, angels and his fellow man, the accumulation of wealth was an implausible goal — and thus it would remain in our own time for such an individual. Although Dee’s memoirs reveal that throughout his life he experienced continual unfulfilled financial ambitions, there was always food on his table and devoted friends and family members providing support and care even when there was little income. There were occasions when family heirlooms had to be sold. A long sustained priority among Dee’s expenditures were those made for his research. Prior to commencing the spirit conferences, Dee’s research encompassed the work of the seekers of occult knowledge preceding him, including Roger Bacon, Johann Reuchlin, Johannes Trithemius, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, and Paracelsus. The library amassed by Dee is known to have been one of the most extensive personal collections ever achieved. It seems to me that equating material wealth with success when considering the life of a spiritual messenger is one of the fallacies of our outmoded materialistic age. The final chronicle presented in Casaubon’s compilation of Dee’s journals documenting his interactions with spirits is dated 1607, not long prior to his physical demise. In these final conferences, a new scryer named Bartholmew Hickman related to Dee comforting words of the angel Raphael in the same manner and with the same sensibilities as the earlier angelic messages.
Prior to this comparatively brief concluding portion of A True & Faithful Relation . . ., the actions chronicled throughout the book document the partnership of John Dee and Edward Kelly whose relationship is shown as often contentious. Often when the angelic beings spoke to Kelly about himself, Dee recorded that Kelly wouldn’t reveal these sentiments to Dee for the sake of his journal. Some of the books and charts created by Dee and Kelly in many ways remain a puzzle. The enigmatic writings were commented upon by the angel Gabriel chronicled on April 21, 1584 when asked to alleviate Kelly’s distrust. (Note: in the transcripts of the conferences, Dee’s comments were represented by a triangle and the angels’ words often appeared in italics.)
E.K. Why joyn you numbers with these letters, and added none with those of the former table?
Brother, what is the cause that all the World is made by numbers? The numbers we Speak of, are of reason and form, and not of merchants.
△. I beseech you as concerning the powder whereof he thinketh that he hath made due assay of it, as if it should have been the Philosophers Stone, and so affirmed to be, by the minister of this action? I beseech you to answer, the thing, as his reason may be satisfied.
△. They give no answer hereunto, but proceeded in the former matter of numbers.
Gab. ...... Every letter signifieth the member of the substance whereof it speaketh. Every word signifieth the quiddity of the substance. The Letters are separated, and in confusion: and therefore, are by numbers gathered together: which also gathered signife a number: for as every greater containeth his letter, so are the secret and unknown forms of things knit up in their parents: Where being known in number, they are easily distinguished, so that herein we teach places to be numbered: letters to be elected from the numbred, and proper words from the letters, signifying substantially the thing that is spoken of in the center of his Creator, whereby even as the minde of man moved at an ordered speech, and is easily persuaded in things that are true, so are the creatures of God stirred up in themselves, when they hear the words wherewithal they were nursed and brought forth: for nothing moveth, that is not perswaded: neither can any thing be perswaded that is unknown.
Throughout his journals, Dee attempted to record the words of spirits as closely as possibly yet his own religious sensibility must’ve influenced his recollection and selection of words at times. On this occasion in 1584 , the comments attributed to the angel Gabriel refer to God as “all power” and Kelly is noted to have asked, “As concerning the power, What is it?” Gabriel responded, “What it is, that it is, for the knowledge of it may lead you to error.” Dee wrote, “This answer offended greatly E.K. and thereupon he left off, and would receive no more at their hands.” The predicament would be one of several similar occasions showing Kelly’s periods of frustration and ambivalence toward the advice of the angelic spirits.
Crystal gazing was the essential mode of Dee and Kelly’s mystical experiences. As Dee noted in a short book De Heptarchia Mystica (1588): “very many cam(e) uppon the convex superfices of the Transparent globe . . .”
Where visions in a crystal ball are concerned, consider this predicament as the Elizabethan Age’s equivalent of the movies with ‘spiritual creatures’ (angels and other manifested human emissaries) and assorted objects, letters and numbers seen in reflective surfaces — usually with symbolic or metaphorical significance. God as the ultimate auteur, so to speak. The visions are described as featuring diverse attire, animals, furniture, transformations, swords, fire, trumpets, jewelry, beams of light, celestial sights, plants, smoke, gold, water, you name it. Dee even referred to his encounters with spirits as “actions” — reminding me of that famous Hollywood expression, “Lights! Camera! Action!”
The first three books of Mysteriorum Libri Quinque or ‘Book of Mysteries’ can be read on the Internet at www.john-dee.org and following quotes are derived from this source. I have added an additional ‘e’ when ‘thee’ is indicated while underlining is omitted as found for some passages from the original manuscripts as these excerpts needn’t be accentuated herein. Perhaps, the pivotal passage in all of Dee’s journals is found in his second book of mystery when the angel Michael is quoted:
Mic: Blessed art thow among the Saincts: And blessed are you both. I will pluck thee, from among the wycked [he spake △ to my skryer.] Thou Coomyttest Idolatry. But take hede of Temptation: The Lord hath blessed thee. This is a Mystery.
Over the years, I’ve occasionally had the opportunity to glance in crystal balls without ever having noticed any unusual images yet Dee’s transcripts are of such complexity that I’m convinced that the apparent natural laws of our world are in accord with human sensibilities and these laws seemingly may alter to reflect changes in societal consciousness. I can’t recall how Dee first came to my attention. Years ago, during a vacation to London I found a concise biographical sketch of Dee at a metaphysical bookstore. Three Famous Occultists is comprised of biographical profiles of Dr. Dee by G. M. Hort, Franz Anton Mesmer by R. B. Ince, and Thomas Lake Harris by W. P. Swanson. An impression left by this biography was that clairvoyant vision and crystallomancy, soul travel, divination, prophetic dreaming, guidance by guardian spirits, and astrology were among the scholarly pursuits of the period although sometimes clandestine.
As Casaubon’s book entailed what have become known as Dee’s ‘spiritual diaries,’ Dee also infrequently made notes in a private diary between 1554 and 1601. The entries seem intended to remind himself of the dates of certain incidents and occurrences. For example, the notation for January 19, 1594 stated only “the cobler with the mad woman.” Dee recorded transactions involving money or his books along with observations about such matters as weather, dreams, and health ailments including kidney stones. This personal diary would be published in the nineteenth century and supplements Dee’s other autobiographical sources available. One effect of reading the diary is that the reader is reminded that many of Dee’s daily circumstances were mundane. There are such practical domestic comments as on July 21, 1596: “Isabell Bardman from the chamber to the kitchin.”
The concept of science precluding consideration of a Creator Consciousness has always seemed to me as a hasty response to elude the uncertainty and complexity raised by the prospect of considering such a multifaceted subject; however, for me too, when I first became acquainted with the astonishing aspects of Dee’s life during my youth, I didn’t know what to think about the paranormal interaction described. At the time, I considered myself agnostic (it was not meant for anyone to know about God during an Earth Life!) and didn’t fully understand that my research into paranormal case studies was in fact an attempt to make sense of life. And so it seems this must’ve been Dee’s predicament.
While reading sixteenth century English can be difficult for a contemporary sensibility, perusing the variety of Dee’s autobiographical accounts generally leaves the impression that he was a compassionate man held in high esteem by those who knew him. I was pleased to find that many of Dee’s spiritual books are now available to be read without charge on the Internet, including Monas Hieroglyphica (‘The Hieroglyphic Monad’). This cryptic book is said to have been written in twelve days by Dr. Dee in 1564 at the age of thirty-seven prior to the beginning of his spirit conferences. The twenty-four theorems presented were translated from the Latin by J. W. Hamilton-Jones in 1947. I had to consult a dictionary to understand even the English used to communicate Dee’s purpose as stated in a corollary to Theorem XXII:
In these few words, I know that I give not only the principles but the demonstration to those who can see in them how to fortify the igneous vigour and the celestial origin, so that they may lend a willing ear to the great Democritus, certain that it is not mythical dogma but mystic and secret, according to which it is the medicine of the soul, the liberator from all suffering, and is prepared to for those who wish for it and as he has taught; it is to be sought for in the Voice of the Creator of the Universe, so that men, inspired by God, and engendered anew, learn through the perfect disquisition of the mystical languages.
It’s apparent that Dee has attempted to convey some comprehended synchronicity relevant to the perspective of a sixteenth century mathematician than yet a comment from Dee in the theorem that followed is more readily understandable: “ . . I say the Spirit writes these things rapidly through me; I hope, and I believe, I am merely the quill which traces these characters.” The comparison between this early work of Dee and the angelic language to be presented in many of his later books gives evidence of the angelic influence upon his subconscious.
As I acquainted myself with Dee’s transcripts of his consultations with spirits, I was again reminded how mysteries of human individuality, inspiration and achievement find ultimate solutions in the perception of God as Superconsciousness/Id and our brains as transmitters of thought. Our individual personality becomes the result of feelings and decisions arising from those thoughts that one chooses to act upon. Human civilization evolves from individuals honestly sharing innovative insights into some particular avenue of human experience and knowledge; in doing so, each is expressing Love in return to the Creator Consciousness. Dee himself declared his appreciation of God throughout his writings, although any autobiographical record should be acknowledged as representing a mere experiential fragment of any personal happening or thought succession that an author attempts to delineate on the printed page.
Charlotte Fell-Smith’s 1909 biography John Dee (1527 — 1608) offers some unconvincing allegations, such as the theory that Kelly’s often-expressed chagrin of dealing with the spirits was pretended. In my estimation, Fell-Smith also made the mistake of accepting the unproven hypothesis that Dee’s scryers Edward Talbot and Edward Kelly were different names of the same man. Fell-Smith wrote: “Kelly was born at Worcester, on August 1, 1555, as appears by the horoscope drawn for him by the astrologer. He began life as an apothecary’s apprentice, and showed some aptitude for his calling.” Beyond the mysteries associated with Kelly, Fell-Smith’s biography of Dee is an interesting compendium of details and observations about his life and times, incorporating many of Dee’s own biographical statements from his diary and from his autobiographical document The Compendious Rehearsal (1597).
Fell-Smith introduced her research by appraising, “. . . he was too far advanced in speculative thought for his own age to understand . . . suspected and looked askance at as clever beyond human interpretation.” Fell-Smith found a “heap of obloquy piled upon his name” with his occult proclivities resulting with all of his achievements in the realms of history and science being ignored. About A True & Famous Relation . . ., Fell-Smith commented, “Some of the figures and parables, as well as the language used, are full of a rare poetic imagery, singularly free from any course or sensual symbolism . . . the ‘spiritual creatures’ who, as Dee believed, influence the destinies of man, become living and real, as of course they were to the seer.”
I find it useful to present some of Fell-Smith’s data to provide a background on Dee and his era. Of Welsh descent, Dee was a boy when he learned Latin. He was eighteen when he graduated B.A. from St. John’s College in 1546 and was then selected one of the original Fellows of Trinity College, where he was appointed under-reader in Greek. Dee became a skillful astronomer and in 1547 made his first journey abroad to confer with learned men of the Dutch Universities. Dee returned to Cambridge in 1548 to take his degree of M.A. and in 1548 he entered as a student in France at the University of Louvain. Fell-Smith surmised, “It was at Louvain, no doubt, that his interest in the subject of alchemy became strengthened and fixed. Stories were rife of course of the famous alchemist, Henricus Cornelius Agrippa, who had died there, in the service of Margaret of Austria, only a dozen years or so before.” In 1550, Dee went to Paris and here gave free public lectures or readings of Euclid—“Mathematice, Physice et Pythagorice”—at the College of Rheims. Fell-Smith’s research divulged that Foxe called Dee a bachelor of divinity in 1555 and Dee added the letters S. D. T. to his name in some of his written works.
Dee returned to England in 1551. After writing and dedicating to King Edward VI two books in manuscript, Dee produced two works written at the request of Jane, Duchess of Northumberland. His proclivity for research would eventually result with a personal library consisting of more than 4,000 volumes. Public perception of him being involved in dark practices commenced after he cast horoscopes for Queen Mary and Princess Elizabeth; thereafter, he was imprisoned when an informant named George Ferrys alleged that not only had his children been harmed by Dee’s “magic” but Dee was also directing his enchantments against the Queen’s life. Dee was cleared of all suspicion of treason and passed an examination in matters of religion. When the throne passed to Elizabeth, Dee was commanded by Robert Dudley to name an astrologically favorable day for the coronation and she held him in esteem throughout her life. Fell-Smith wrote:
We must remember that in the early years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign it was thought necessary to pass an Act of Parliament decreeing that all who practiced sorcery causing death should suffer death; if only injury was caused, imprisonment and the pillory would be the punishment. Any conjuration of an evil spirit was to be punished by death as a felon, without benefit of clergy or sanctuary. Any discovery of hidden treasure by magical means was punishable by death for a second offence.
But if “magic” was tottering on its throne, the reign of alchemy was still uncontested. Belief in it was universal, its great votaries in the past were of all nations.
After a year searching for rare books in high-walled German towns, Dee in 1563 wrote from the sign of the Golden Angel, in Antwerp, to Cecil (future Lord Treasurer) to ask if he was expected to return to England or remain there to oversee printing of books and continue his research. He did remain in Antwerp and completed Monas Hieroglyphica to be confronted by the response that (Fell-Smith quoted Dee) “universitie graduates of high degree, and other gentlemen, dispraised it because they understood it not.” On his return to England in June, Dee revealed that he read the book with Queen Elizabeth at her request and found encouragement from her for his philosophical and mathematical studies. Fell-Smith profiled a different perspective among the populace: “. . . the popular eye was already beginning to see in Dee no highly equipped mathematician, geographer and astronomer, but a conjurer and magician of doubtful reputation, in fact, in the current jargon, one who ‘had dealings with the devil.’ What there had been at this time to excite these suspicions beyond the fact that Dee was always ready to expound a comet or an eclipse, to cast a horoscope, or explain that the Queen would not immediately expire because a wax doll with a stiletto in its heart was found under a tree, is hard to say.”
Fell-Smith mentions that the Queen “had sent him on some mission of her own, which probably we shall not be far wrong in thinking connected with Dee’s alchemistic experiments. Every Court in Europe at this time had astrologers and alchemists in its employ, and the Queen and Burleigh were as anxious as Dee that he should really attain the ever-elusive secret of transmutation.”
In 1569, Dee was past forty when he took up residence with his mother in her house at Mortlake on the river Thames. “Dee added to it by degrees, purchasing small tenements adjoining, so that at length it comprised laboratories for his experiments, libraries and rooms for a busy hive of workers and servants.” Dee doesn’t seem to have shown much skill at handling money. There doesn’t seem to be any period of his life when he felt that his income was sufficient. A 1574 letter to Lord Burleigh documents one of Dee’s many requests for financial assistance from her Majesty with a surprising offer as described by Fell-Smith.
Now, if her majesty will grant him, but Letters Patent under her hand and seal, the right for life to all treasure he can find, he promises to give Burleigh one half, and of course to render to the Queen and Commonwealth the proportion that is theirs. It is not the gold, as wealth, that appeals to this man of books and stars: —
“The value of a mine is matter for King’s Treasure, but a pott of two or three hundred pounds hid in the ground, wall, or tree, is but the price of a good book, or instrument for perspective astronomy, or some feat of importance.”
Little is known about Dee’s apparent first marriage in 1575 at the age of forty-eight but Compendium Memorial records that his wife died on the 16th of March 1575, when “the Queen’s Majestie, with her most honourable Privy Council, and other her Lords and Nobility, came purposely to have visited my library: but finding that my wife was within four houres before buried out of the house, her Majestie refused to come in; but willed to fetch my glass so famous, and to show unto her some of the properties of it, which I did; her Majestie being taken down from her horse by the Earle of Leicester, Master of the Horse, at the church wall of Mortlake, did see some of the properties of that glass, to her Majestie’s great contentment and delight.”
Fell-Smith explains that Dee’s diary was written in the pages and margins of three fat quarto almanacs, bound in sheepskin and clasped. He could handwrite what Fell-Smith describes as “a roman hand with neat printed letters” as well as “a scribbling hand” with the latter characterizing the diary entries. Fell-Smith stated that the diary was transcribed very inaccurately by Halliwell.
In 1578 Dee was fifty-one years old when he married twenty-three-year-old Jane Fromond, a lady-in-waiting at the Court to Lady Howard of Effingham, wife of the Lord Admiral. They would have eight children although his sons Michael and Theodore would succumb at the ages of nine and thirteen. Dee’s mother died in 1580 at the age of seventy-seven. In 1581, Dee’s diary entries cite events in his life that foreshadow his soon gaining a new understanding of earthly reality.
March 8th, it was the 8th day, being Wensday, hora noctis 10, 11, the strange noyse in my chamber of knocking; and the voyce, ten tymes repeted, somewhat like the shrich of an owle, but more longly drawn, and more softly, as it were in my chamber.
May 25th, I had sight in Xρυσταλλω offerd me, and I saw.
Aug. 3rd, all the night very strange knocking and rapping in my chamber. Aug. 4th, and this night likewise.
Aug. 26th, abowt 8½ (at night) a strange meteore in forme of a white cloude crossing galaxiam, whan it lay north and sowth over our zenith; this cloud was at length from the S.E. to the S.W. sharp at both ends, and in the west ende it was forked for a while; it was abowt sixty degrees high, it lasteth an howr, all the skye clere abowt, and fayr starshyne.
Appraising the events chronicled in Mysteriorum Libri Quinque, Dee’s first description of angelic contact on December 22, 1581 was with the angel Anael as scryer Barnabas Saul reported what he saw in Dee’s crystal globe. Dee promptly inquired about hidden treasure and Annael’s reply is translated from Latin by Peterson as: “Don’t bother for these are trifles.” When Dee inquires if any angel is assigned to the crystal globe, the response is translated as “Yes, certainly.*” When Dee asks in Latin if this is the good angel mentioned in scripture, he receives another affirmative response.
The next spirit action in Dee’s Mysteriorum, Liber Tertius was dated March 10, 1582 involving scryer Edward Talbot. (Margin notes by Dee are in brackets.)
△. One Mr. Edward Talbot cam [Note: he had two dayes before made the like demannde and request unto me: but he went away unsatisfied, for his comming was to entrap me, yf I had had any dealing with wicked spirits as he confessed often tymes after: and that he was set on, &c.] to my howse, and he being willing and desyrous to see or shew something in spirituall practise, wold have had me to have done some thing therein. And I truely excused myself therein: as not in the, vulgarly accownted Magik, neyther studied, or exercised: But confessed my self, long tyme to have byn desyrous to have help in my philosophicall studies through the Cumpany and information of the blessed Angels of God. And thereuppon, I browght furth to him, my stone in the frame, (which was given me of a frende) and I sayd unto him, that I was credibly informed that to it (after a sort) were answerable Aliqui Angeli boni: And allso that I was once willed by a Skryer, to call for the good Angel Anchor, to appere in that stone in my owne sight. And therefore I desyred him to call him: and (yf he wold) Anachor and Anilos likewise, accownted good angels, for I was not prepared thereunto, &c, He than settled him self to the Action, and on his knees att my desk (setting the stone before him) fell to prayer and entreaty &c. In the mean space, I, in my Oratory did pray, and make motion to God, and his good Creatures for the furdering of this Action. And within one quarter of an howre (or less) he had sight of one in the stone. but he still expected for two more: deeming this to be one of the three (namely Anchor Anachor Anilos). But I then cam to him, to the stone: And after some thanks to God, and Wellcome to the good creature, used; I required to know his name. And he spake plainly, (to the hearing of E.T.) That his name is URIEL.
When Dee inquired if there were any more beside Uriel, the angel’s response in Latin gave the names of Michaël and Raphael with further explanations translated in the Peterson edition as: “But, Michaël is the foremost in our works* . . . These things mostly involve Michael. Michaël is the angel who illuminates your path.*” A margin note that Dee made in May was added near a quotation in Latin attributed to Uriel instructing that a specially designed seal should be engraved in gold for bodily protection: “This was not True Uriel: as may appere.” Later that day, ‘Uriel’ told Dee and Talbot, “Yt is the wyll of God, that you shold, joinctly, have the knowledge of his Angells to gither.” Then instructions were given about the characteristics of the table that should be used and ‘Uriel’ informed Dee that a spirit named Lundrumguffa was using him and seeking destruction for him and his family but could be discharged with brimstone. Uriel told him further, “He will seke Saul’s death, who is accursed.” Dee recorded his reply to Uriel:
△. I know no means, or art to do this by. For I did burn in flame of Brymstone, Maherion his name and Character, when I fownd Saul privilie dealing with him (which manner of wicked dealing I had oft forbydden him) and yet he cam after, and wold Have carryed Saul away quick: as Robert Hilton, George, and other of my howse can testify.
UR. The cursed will come to the cursed.
The following day Talbot called for Uriel and the spirit who appeared was thrown down by another spirit who beat him with a whip and took away his purple robe spangled with gold and his head’s golden wreath. The first spirit was revealed as “all heary and owggly” before being drawn away by another Uriel and thrown into a great pit. This other Uriel explained, “Lo, thus are the wycked skourged.” Dee realized that the first spirit had been an imposter spirit or what Dee and his scryers would come to call an ‘illuder.’ The second Uriel explained, “This was thy persecutor Lundrumguffa. I browght him hither to let thee see, how God hath punished thy enemy.” This would be only the first among many occasions to follow that would lead Dee and his scryers to have second thoughts about their interpretations of what they were witnessing. However, some of the things said by the first Uriel were evidently true because the second Uriel was soon accompanied by the angel Michaël with a head radiating light, sword in hand, long hair and wings. Uriel and Michaël jointly said, “Glorifie God for euer” with following assertions by “whom we take to be Michaël” including “I will be thy Guyde . . . The World begynnes with thy doings . . . The Angels under my powre, shall be at thy commanndement.” There would be many anecdotes about ‘illuder’ spirits being revealed in Dee’s following transcripts.
Several days later, Uriel said, “The strength of God, is allwayes with thee. Dost thow know, what thow writest?” Dee replied: “In two senses, I may understand it: eyther that the good Angel [Peterson translation from Latin: “Rather Michael was indicated: For Gabriel is the Predominance of God: and therefore also the strength, but to another degree.*”] Gabriel is allwayes with me, thowgh invisibly: or els, that the strength, and mighty hand of God, allwayes is my defense.” In the conference, intrigue was created when Michael displays a ring “wherewith all Miracles, and divine works and wonders were wrowght by Salomon.” The golden ring shows letters of different sizes and positions – P, E, L, E clockwise from upper left; V and L in the upper and lower middle; and at center a large O overlapping a horizontal I. This situation was apparently created so that the angelic spirits could ascertain if the two men would consider using the spirit conferences as a means of finding ways of wielding power for personal benefit.
The first book of mystery offers a discordant glimpse into one heavenly realm when a description is given of an interlude with the spirit identifying himself as Salamian whom is first seen holding a scepter of gold. His body was described as “all red: and out of his hed, did shote out beames of light, like the sonne beames.” He declared “I am mighty” and that he ruled in the heavens, continuing: “Thow doost dowt at me. I am the servant of God . . . ” Salamian’s image in the crystal was accompanied by a vision of fire. He told Dee and Talbot that “Mamon, with his servants, are present about thee.” Salamian equated God with hatred by telling them, “Mamon is a king whome God hateth: whose sect, contyunally tempt, provoke and stir up wickedness . . .” Dee responded, “I fele neyther in body, nor sowle, any token of his presence or working.”
Thereuppon he caused the whole chamber (which we were in) to appere very playnely in the stone: and so there shewed a great cumpany of wycked spirits to be in the chamber: and among them, one, most horrible and grisely thretting, and approaching to our heds: and skorning and gnashing at us.
During the same spirit conference, a man appearing in the crystal calls himself by the name Fortitudo Dei. Dee responds:
△ Why, then, you are Gabriel: and I toke you hitherto to be Michaël. How shall I then amend my boke, in respect to your name, allwayes before, written Michaël?
For.Dei. What thou hast written, that hast thow written: and it is true.
This excerpt provides an introduction to the convoluted nature of the phenomena that can be consistently found throughout Dee’s spiritual diaries. In Mysteriorum Liber Secundus, the images of three figures of ‘6' set in triangle are reported and the angel Michael is quoted in Latin, “This mystery is to be revealed to you afterward.*” At the following conference, Dee described:
△ Then of the three 6 6 6 before Noted, with his finger he put oute the two lowermost: and sayd, “This is his number.”* And Michael did put his finger into the Trumpets ende, and pulled furth a rownd plate of Gold, whereon was the figure of the ‘I’ with many circles abowt ut, and sayd, Everything is 1*
During Dee’s association with Talbot, angel Michael’s comments included the following:
We lead tyme, Tyme leadeth not us:
Everything is given by God.*
Wickedness will rule for a time.*
All is one.*
Manifold is Our God.*
Seven comprehendeth the Secrets of Heven and erth:Seven knitteth mans sowle and body togither. (3, in sowle, and 4 in body)In 7, thou shalt finde the UnitieIn 7, show shalt find the TrinitieIn 7, thow shalt finde the Sonne, and the proportion of the Holy Ghoste.
. . . We are present* . . .
Joye and helth give unto the riche:Open strong locks:Be Mercifull to the wicked:Pluck up the poore:Read unto the Ignorant:
The first three books of mystery feature a large variety of allegorical vignettes and metaphysical expressions glimpsed in the crystal or heard, including inthe third book:
A voyce: He is one, he is three; he is in each corner.Everything will be understood. He was, is, and will be to you.The end and the beginning.*
E.T. The woman sayth, I was, I am that which I am (was?) not.*
A voyce: The light was not, but now it is.*
Charlotte Fell-Smith offered an overview of the angelic conferences in her biography.
The skryer seated himself in “the green chair” at the table, Dee at his desk to write down the conversations. These were noted by him then and there at the time, and he is careful to particularise any remark or addition told him by the skryer afterwards. Once a spirit tells him: “There is time enough, and we may take leisure.” Whereupon Dee conversed directly with the visitant; sometimes apparently only Talbot hears and repeats to him what is said. A golden curtain was usually first seen in the stone, and occasionally there was a long pause before it was withdrawn. Once Dee writes: “He taketh the darkness and wrappeth it up, and casteth it into the middle of the earthen globe.” The spirits generally appeared in the stone, but sometimes they stept down into a dazzling beam of light from it, and moved about the room. On some occasions a voice only is heard. At the close of the action, the “black cloth of silence is drawn,” and they leave off for the present.
There are very few comments or general impressions of the actions left by Dee, but on one occasion he does use expressions that show his analytical powers to have been actively at work to account for the phenomena. He brought his reason to bear upon the means of communication with the unseen world in a remarkable manner. In speaking to the angels one day he said: “I do think you have no organs or Instruments apt for voyce, but are meere spirituall and nothing corporall, but have the power and property from God to insinuate your message or meaning to ear or eye [so that] man’s imagination shall be that they hear and see you sensibly.”
This passage is from the fifth book of mystery. As chronicled in Mysteriorum, Liber Tertius, Michael informed Dee and Talbot, “This is one Action, in one person: I speak of you two.” Dee asked, “You meane us two to be ioyned so, and in mynde united, as yf we wer one man?” Michael replied, “Thou understandest.” Their conversation included Michael mentioning the ring that had been revealed in a previous vision shown in the crystal: “The Ring when it is made, I will lessen it according to my pleasure.” There were no comments from the angel concerning the ring’s metaphorical significance yet an obvious interpretation would soon become clear.
Beginning with the fourth book of mysteries, Edward Talbot’s name ceased to appear in Dee’s chronicles of his spirit consultations and Edward Kelly was Dee’s medium. There has been much speculation concerning these circumstances and succession of scryer ‘E.T.’ to scryer ‘E.K.’ yet Dee’s journals suggest that he employed two successive scryers named Edward. On April 29, 1582, Dee recorded among the angel Michael’s discourse: “To E.T. he spake, What I do wish thee to do, thou shalt here know, before thow go. We procede to One God, one knowledge, one Operation.” At the end of his transcript of this conference, Dee wrote about a portion of the discourse that isn’t explicitly recorded:
△. Now he spake to E.T., of the matter he sware him to, at the beginning of this last Instruction: and he told me afterward what Michael had willed and moved him unto. Whereat he seamed very sore dissquieted: and sayd this to me,
E.T. He sayd that I must betake my self to the world, and forsake the world. That is that I should marry. Which thing to do, I have no naturall Inclination: neyther with a safe Conscience may I do it, contrary to my vow and profession. Wherefore I think and hope, there is some other meaning in these theyr wordes.
Mi: Thow must of force kepe it. Thow knowest our mynde.
E.T. reluctantly participated in a final conference on May 4 with Uriel and Michael where metaphoric scenes were again shown in the crystal. The account of this event begins with Dee’s comment: “E.T. wold not willingly now deale with the former Creatures, utterly misliking and discrediting them, bycause they willed him to marry.”
As usual, the scenes in the crystal were left to Dee and Talbot’s interpretation. The visionary experience included images of Michael sweating blood, a winged Uriel, a glorious man whose gleaming face can’t be discerned, a creature like a sparrow becoming as big as a swan of many colors; and a voice saying, “Believe. The world is of necessity: His necessity is governed by supernatural wisdom. Necessarily you fall: and of necessity shall rise again. Follow me, love me: embrace me: behold, I, AM.”
The interpretation of what was signified by Talbot being “willed to marry” is unclear. The appraisal I’ll offer derives from a vision expressed in the third book of mystery when Michael is quoted, “Be inwardly merry” — Possibly the precise sentiment involving ‘marriage’ was incorrectly interpreted (and incorrectly spelled) as the accompanying image in the crystal was a hand putting a woman into a cloud; thus the intended significance seems to have been for the men to be inwardly married to God.
Following the May 4 conference, evidence for the succession of Dee’s scryers is presented by the following entries in Dee’s diary.
May 4th, Mr. Talbot went.
July 13th, Mr. Talbot cam abowt 3 of the clok afternone, with whom I had some wordes of unkendness: we parted frendely: he sayd that the Lord Morley had the Lord Mountegle his bokes. He promised me some of Doctor Myniver’s bokes.
June 19th, Barnabas Saul came to see me at Mortlak: I chyd hym for his manifold untrue reports.
Dee mistakenly wrote June instead of July with the Saul entry. Another Edward is also mentioned on May 28: Edward Bragden. Dee’s transcripts of the spirit conferences continue with the fourth book of mystery with a title page showing the date November 15, 1582 and in Latin “After Kelley’s reconciliation. O God, have mercy on us, forgive us as we forgive.*” Concerning Edward Kelly’s marriage, the following July Dee quoted him, “I cannot abide my wife, I love her not, nay I abhor her; and there in the house I am misliked, because I favour her no better.” From habit, the first time Dee wrote the initials of Kelly as scryer he put down “E. T” – and then recognized the mistake and drew a line through the T and added “K.” The letter ‘H’ indicating Hagonel designates the spirit that communicated to the duo at this interval. Dee and Kelly are informed that “Banish wrath” was and is the first and greatest Commandment. Hagonel heralded, “None shall enter into the knowledge of these mysteries with thee but this Worker.”
Other statements found in the fourth book of mystery include Hagonel declaring, “Both the wicked and the good praise you. God, God, our God ”*; Bobogel’s comment while pointing to Dee, “In the church of God, he will work in vain”*; Befafes saying, “We Angels have tymes, and our faultes are amended”; and Michael’s remarks “GOD Bless you” and “Mercifull is our God, and glorious is his name Which chuseth his creatures, according to his own Secret Judgment and good pleasure.”
Quartus Liber Mysteriorum provides information about some of the forty-nine angels of light that work under God upon Earth as mentioned in the third book of mystery when Michael revealed, “The Whole Government, doth consist in the hands of 49.” In the work that unfolded, the names of all forty-nine angelic kings, princes and ministers began with the letter B. I wondered as I read about Prince Butmono if Dee and Kelly realized that there was a humorous aspect to some of the statements that Kelly heard and repeated for Dee. Butmono said, “My Powre is in Erth; and I kepe the bodies of the Dead.” It seemed rather obvious to me that his name created a funny metaphor: “. . . All things, haue theyr workmanship with me. For I am the ende of working.” Butmono also announced, “Behold, the bowels of the earth are at my opening.” Dee discovered Butmono’s name when he began praising himself and Dee asked if that was his name. Dee wrote:
△. He answered, yea it is my name. It is the ende of all things. E.K. Now he sitteth down.
In this fourth book, one of the mysteries presented involves a spirit whom upon being asked his name answered: “I am the First* and the Fourth* Hagonel . . . (on another occasion) I am HAGONEL, and govern HAGONEL. There is Hagonel the first, Hagonel the second, and Hagonel the third, I am the first that gouern the three. Therfore I am the first and last of the fowre.” Quartus Liber Mysteriorum concludes with Hagonel directing Dee and Kelly to find a materialized scrying crystal object of a size less than that the palm of his hand as Kelly describes seeing an angel the height of a child holding the same object in one hand and a fiery sword in the other. In Dee’s appendix to the fifth book of mystery, Uriel said about the stone, “Wherein, thou shallt, at all times behold, (priuately to thy self,) the state of gods people throwgh the Whole earth.”
The main angelic orator in the fifth book of mystery described himself “I am the medicine”* and Dee used ‘Me’ to identify passages attributed to “Medicina or Medicus Dei,” which Peterson translated as “God’s medicine or doctor” and Dee noted in Latin as referencing “Raphael’s office.*” Some of Medicina’s declarations include, “But we are all one” and “We see all things: and Nothing is hid from us: respecting our Creation.” When Kelly showed himself to be in great perplexity after another vision of an ‘Illuder’ spirit (with Dee observing that the scryer “was ready to have gone his way”), Medicina explained: “These afflictions are necessary. For herin is a measure to distinguish from falshode, light from darknes, and honor from dishonor . . . yet shallt not thow neyther be ouerturned with the one wynde nor the other: thowgh the afflictions that shall follow thee, be great and hard.”
Liber Mysteriorum Quintus is a chronicle of how the book Liber Loagaeth—“the boke of the Secrets, and key of this world”—was replicated through Kelly. Dee’s descriptions of watching Kelly suggest that there were occasions when his consciousness was altered and he seemed to go into a trance. Dee recorded Kelly’s vision on April 2, 1583. A noise like thunder is first heard. After the chair and table appeared, fire was seen in the chair and smoke covered the table. The book was then seen lying upon the globe in the chair and the letters appeared wet still as if written in blood. There appeared fire to be thrown out of the stone upon Kelly. The chair remained in the chair but was so transparent that the book and letters could be seen. Kelly felt as if his head was on fire. Among the pronouncements heard (translated from Latin) was “So I am accustomed to cleansing the errors of the people.”* A voice instructed Kelly to say what he saw and he responded, “I see letters, as I saw before.” When told to “Read,” Kelly answered, “I cannot.” Dee told Kelly that he should’ve by now learned the characters and their names. There flashed fire upon Kelly again and a voice instructed him to say his thoughts. “My hed is all on fire . . . I can read all, now, most perfectly . . .” Kelly suddenly was able to read many passages in the unknown angelic language. Eventually Dee recorded that the fire came from Kelly’s eyes and went into the stone again. And then Kelly couldn’t perceive or read another word.
These circumstances were repeated. A conference was finished when all became dark upon the crystal and Kelly saw the image of a curtain drawn. Dee related that after the fire left Kelly’s eyes and returned to the stone, he couldn’t say anything further or remember anything of what he’d previously heard or understood.
Dee’s April 15, 1583 journal entry describes that when Kelly was writing the portion of Loagaeth dealing with spirits of the earth, he read a passage aloud to himself and suddenly at his side appeared three or four “spirituall creatures like laboring men” carrying spades. The spirits “asked E. K. what he wold have, & wherfor he called them.” Kelly answered that he hadn’t called them yet they disagreed. Although he couldn’t see these entities himself, Dee attempted to explain that Kelly had intended only to read and repeat what he’d written and that “every man who readeth a prayer to perceyve the sense thereof, prayeth not.” Dee asked the spirits to leave but Kelly cried out as they assaulted him. Dee reported that he could see on both sides of Kelly’s bare arm two small red circles. The spirits departed when Dee commanded them to leave in the name of Jesus.
The record that Dee attempted to preserve of the spirit interaction in its entirety can be construed as the revealing of a multiplicity of all-knowing intelligence. A quotation recorded of Uriel in the appendix of the fifth book is, “He that dwelleth in thee, is above worldes: and shall giue thee sufficient discretion worldly, in worldly occasions.” Where discretion toward the quandaries suggested by the adverse situations of spirits recognized as ‘illuders’ is concerned, these situations offered lessons in an experiential capacity. The unsettling situations described in the Mysteriorum Libri Quinque would continue throughout the partnership of Dee and Kelly.
A difficulty presented by the book A True & Faithful Relation . . . is that the extensive Latin passages haven’t been translated. Reading Casaubon’s book left me with alternating impressions of awe and foreboding throughout Dee’s accounts of the actions with spirits. I recalled my childhood seance that convinced me not to involve myself in occult practices beyond my understanding and also many years later after extensive research my trip to Oklahoma after deciding that the phenomenal abilities of the spirits presented benign and benevolent wonders. As presented in Casaubon’s edition, the intellectually and emotionally stimulating transcripts and journals written by Dee begin on May 28, 1583 when a spirit is encountered whom will regularly revisit Dee and Kelly. Dee wrote:
Suddenly, there seemed to come out of my Oratory a Spirituall creature, like a pretty girle of of 7 or 9 yeares of age, attired on her head with her hair rowled up before, and hanging down very long behind, with a gown of Sey, .....changeable green and red, and with a train that seemed to play up and down .......... like, and seemed to go in and out behind my books, lying on heaps, the biggest ......... and as she should ever go between them, the books seemed to give place sufficiently, dis.... one heap from the other, while she passed between them . . .
She told them her name was Madini but on a later visit the spelling was changed to Madimi. While her conversation seemed blithe during this first encounter, during the reunion on June 29 she promised to help Dee to write the holy Book assigned to him and informed him that she was learning Greek, Arabick and Syrian. After she spoke Syrian, Kelly declared, “Unlesse you speak some Language which I understand, I will expresse no more of this Ghybbrish.” Kelly’s unhappiness with his predicament motivated Dee to assure him of a yearly salary of fifty pounds. In return, Kelly promised constant friendship and never to forsake him. Several days later, Madimi revealed to Dee that he was hated in secret by government officials. During her insightful discourse that followed, she told Dee, “Though thy thoughts be good, they cannot comprehend the doings of the wicked . . . I speak this to prove, that the good Angel of man, which is the external Centre of the Soul, doth carry with him the internal Character of that thing whereof he seeketh to be a Dignifier, within the which doth lie secret, the Conjunction and Separation of the proportion of their times, betwixt the soul and body of man.” When Dee asked a question Madimi considered insignificant, the little girl spirit embodying a wisdom beyond her years answered:
Mad. . . . . Your words make me a Childe. Those that fish for Dolphins do not stand upon the ground. Those that sit in Counsel call not in the harvest people, nor account not their works. He that standeth above the Moon, for that I dispose his life from above the disposition of the Moon. To ask what Jacob his servants did, was a folly; because their master was blessed: A greater question to ask how blessed he was, then to ask how many sheep he had.
In a conversation on July 4, Madimi again offered proverbs and metaphors that included some somber reflections on Love: “God is the unity of all things, Love is the unity of every Congregation (I mean true and perfect love.) The World was made in the love of the father . . .” [etc.]
The following year on February 18, Madimi greeted Dee with “How do you sir?” and Dee replied, “Better it is known to you then to myself, how I do.” She proceeded to tell him about events in England: “The Queen said: She was sorry that she had lost her Philosopher. But the Lord Treasurer answered: He will come home shortly, a begging to you . . . Truely, none can turn the Queens heart from you.” Four days later, Kelly observed that she was bigger and Madimi told them, “I am a little grown.” In March, among Madimi’s comments was, “The Ark of the Lord was the Covenant of OBEDIENCE. Happy are those that enter.”
The initial conversation with Madini/Madimi was followed by the visit of another spirit heard and seen outside of the crystal. Dee wrote that E.K. “Saw no creature: But the voice came behind him over his head, till now: when he espied one standing on the Table besides the silke cloth on which the Stone stood, he seemed like a husbandman all in red apparel . . .” This ‘husbandman’ eventually gave his name as ‘Murifri’ upon proclaiming that “He that saith thus (I speak of my self, and as concerning my message,) is equal with the greatest Angels . . .” Murifri’s discourse began:
My message is from him, in whose name thou hast desired it, which hath said lift up thine eyes, and look unto (behold I say) the sum of my Commandments, 1. What I am, 2. Whose Ministers you are, and (as it is said before) 3. To what end and purpose it is.
Among Murifri’s statements is, “For we are seven: and in us is comprehended that rod wherewith Moses wrought.” Among the other spirits soon viewed in the crystal is an elderly maid also dressed in red whom, like Madini, interacts with other spirits while conversing with Dee and Kelly. Each encounter described by Kelly and chronicled by Dee presents parables as the maid is seen moving among different settings, including a bog and a castle. She gave her name as Galua’h adding that in Dee’s language she was called the Latin “Finis” (boundary/end/aim). She discussed Liber Loagaeth with them, mentioning ‘Logah’ signified “Speech from God.” Her comments include:
For as there is a particular Soul or fire inflaming unto every body (I mean reasonable) So there is an Universal fire and a general brightnesse giving general light unto them, which is but One, and shineth through the whole, yea is measured equally unto every thing from the beginning.
The Daughter of Despaire unto the wicked is fear.
. . . But whatsoever is of the flesh, is not of us.
The greater thy folly is, the greater thy wisdom will be hereafter.
Gabriel is the most frequently appearing angel throughout the compendium published by Casaubon while Michael and Uriel are also prominent. One dictum from Michael is, “The transparent fire of Meekness comfort and warm your souls, rectifie and make strong your bodies, to the eternal comfort of the World to come; in the pilgrimage which you shall endure, with a heavy crosse for the Testimonies of Truth.” Uriel delivered dire warnings including rivers of blood yet promised, “The Prophets of the Lord shall descend from Heaven, clothed with their old Garments very fresh, and not stained.” The spirits’ pronouncements concerning vengeance, damnation and the wrath of God are evidently placed in perspective when Kelly described a scene with Gabriel speaking in Latin while there appeared many startling predicaments, including:
E. K. Now cometh about his face little things of smoke, and he putteth them from his face. He would open his mouth, and they come upon his mouth. They rise out of a pit before him, inumerable. Gabriel seemeth to be as big as one of us.
E. K. They swarm continually.
E. K. Now cometh another streaming beam down to him.
E. K. Now cometh a fire down by the same beam that came into his head.
E. K. Looking up. . . . . . Now cometh a bigger fire down on him.
E. K. Now they run headlong down into a great pit in the earth, and one pincheth me by the head.
E. K. Now the aforesaid spirits invade Gabriel again.
Ga. ...... What I suffer, is not lawful for man to see; Therefore Cease for a while, and suffice nature: But return and hear of my commandment.
When next Gabriel appeared, a length oration that began:
Gab. ...... And hereby I teach you, that those afflictions which you suffer in soul either for your offences towards God, or for the imperfections of your mindes, being void of brotherly charity toward your neighbours; (And so from you generally hereafter, how great, or how many soever) ought not to be manifested or made open to the world: but perfectly shadowed in Charity, bearing your own infirmities, and so the infirmity of others with quiet and hidden minde. For the anguish of the soul is compared with prayer, dwelling in one house which ought to laugh with the World, and to weep towards heaven. For every sin is noted, and the least thing as well amongst the Celestial bodies, as the Terrestiall is perfectly considered of. For sin hath his end, and his is punishment. And so, contrarywise of Virtue, Wisdom (in the one and twentieth Ent . . . ie or L . . .,) His ground is upon mildnesse, which mildnesse purifieth the body and exalteth the soul, making it apt and ready to behold the heavens, receive glorious illuminations, and finally bringeth in the soul to participate, with us, not earthly, but everlasting wisdom.
A spirit given the name ‘Sinister’ is so scornful that he curses, “Fy upon God, that ever he created me.” Prior to Kelly sighting Sinister on his left shoulder and then left hand, a discourse is quoted that Kelly said was either two voices speaking or an echo, concluding:
Dark speeches to the flesh: but words mixed with humane understanding; wher ein briefly I will manifest the envy between the wicked (in respect to their enviousnesse) and those that are justified in Heaven; which fight in the government of man’s soul in the Creatures of God: Not in that they know they shall overcome: But in that they are envious and proud from the beginning.
Their contention is evidently amongst you, which are joined in the service of God: Not as deservers, but as Chosen; whose vessels and power, are best known to God.
One lesson of the spirit known as Nalvage reminded just how mysterious the visions in the crystal could be. “. . . the Angel of the Lord appeared unto Ptolomie, and opened unto him the parts of the Earth: but some he was commanded to secret: and those are Northward under your Pole. But unto you, the very names of the World in her Creation are delivered.” As Nalvage continued, Kelly related sights seen in the crystal of exotic lands as the names of the places—familiar and unfamiliar—were written by Nalvage. One scene was of Gosman, one of the places “under the Pole Artick” that featured “people going into Caves of the ground, and dwelling in Caves: they are long haired men, naked; Here appear great hills, and the veines of the Gold Mines appear: the men seem to have baskets of leather.” Dee asked about the name ‘Gosmam,’ “Is it so called, of the people of the Country?” Nalvage told him, “Even at this hour.” The startling sights that followed included strange animals and peoples, among them “people very beastly, with Mantles on their shoulders,” “men with tallons like Lions,” and “Under the South Pole. Here appear little men with long beards: their bodies as childrens bodies.” Kelly recognized one place—“like a Park, enclosed with fire”—as “the Paradise that Adam was banished out of.” Nalvage confirmed it as “the very same.” Dee commented, “Till 45 degrees, both Northerly and Southerly, all is known in the most part of the world: But of any such place there is no knowledge nor likelyhood by any History of there dayes, or of old time.” Nalvage answered: “Therefore this is cunning, and the wisdom of God. There dwelleth flesh in it that shall never die, which were taken up for a testimony of Truth.” At the end of the discourse, Kelly is quoted by Dee as having declared: “If you prove your self true, you shall win me to God.”
The following day, Kelly told Dee that “he would never more have to do with these Actions.” He showed Dee a book by Agrippa to infer that their spiritual instructors had given a description of the world taken out of other books. Dee remained grateful “for our more perfect information.” Four days later, there was another spirit conference where the spirit Mapsama called upon them to perform their commanded journey to the Emperor’s court. Kelly remained belligerent but at the next conference on June 4 Gabriel gave such an emotion appeal for him to consider his relationship to God that there was again a change in temperament. That Kelly had dealings with the spirit beyond those recorded by Dee is reflected with the journal entry on June 8 that reported: “He very plainly, and at large made manifest his conversion to God from the practices with wicked spirits: Yea, that he was ready to burn whatsoever he had of their trash and experiments.” Dee didn’t comment about Kelly’s difficulty in discerning what differentiated a good spirit from a bad spirit yet listed the vaguely worded items of doctrine perceived as horrible by Kelly. Before the month was over, Dee again wrote about Kelly raging against the angelic spirits and then confessing himself to be sorry about it.
Prague on April 30, 1586 is the setting for what may be the one single most remarkable event described by Dee throughout the course of he and Kelly’s actions with spirits. On April 10 although the account isn’t among the journal accounts collected in A True & Faithful Relation . . ., Dee had burned a large collection of his books and papers. As Dee chronicled on April 30, he found three of the books under an almond tree in the vineyard. Earlier in the day, a man who seemed “the Gardiner, in all manner of behavior and apparel” had worked at pruning trees and “at length over the Cherry-trees by the house on the Rock in the Garden he seemed to mount up in a great piller of fire.” A resulting search in the garden led to Dee’s discovery of the books. Dee wrote: “. . . I fell on my knees with great thanks yielding to the God Almighty, and so did E. K. whose mind and body were marvailously affected at the sight of the said Books, having no shew or signe that ever they had been in the fire, neither by colour or favour, or any thing wanting.” A half hour later they saw “the self-same Gardiner like person, but with his face somewhat turned away” and he asked Kelly to follow him. “This Gardiner went before E.K. And his feet seemed not to touch the ground by a foot height. And as he went before E.K. so the doores did seem to open before him . . .”
As related to Dee by Kelly, when this gardener reached into the furnace —
. . . there appeared a great light, as if there had been a window in the back of the Furnace, and also to E.K. the hole which was not greater than the thickness of a brick unstopped, did seeme now more than three or four brick thickness wide, and so over his shoulder backward he did reach to E.K. all the rest of the standing Books, excepting the Book out of which the last Action was cut, and Fr. Pucci his Recantation, also to E.K. appeared in the Furnace all the rest of the papers which were not as then delivered out.
That being done, he bade E.K. go, and said he should have the rest afterward. He went before in a little fiery cloud, and E.K. followed with the Books under his arm all along the Gallery, and came down the stairs by Fr. Pucci his Chamber door, and then his guide left E.K. and he brought me the Books unto my place under the Almond-tree.
In her biography of Dee, Charlotte Fell-Smith translated Latin Diary passages stating on December 19, 1586 “E. K. Made projection with his powder in the proportion of one minim (upon an ounce and a quarter of mercury) and produced nearly an ounce of best gold crucible; which gold we afterwards distributed from the crucible . . .” Fell-Smith translated from Dee’s diary that on January 18, 1587 “Kelley brought a handsome present from Rosenberg to Jane Dee, in the shape of a beautiful jewelled chain, the value of which was ‘esteemed at 300 duckettes,’ says Dee, ‘200 the juell stones and 100 the gold’”; while on March 7 “Dee notes that Kelley paid him about 500 ducats in two or more sums (about 233 pounds)."
The spiritual diaries describe other incidents to be considered, including on April 4, 1587, Dee and Kelly being told in one of the wrathful discourses by “him who standeth behinde the Curtain” that “Happy is he, whose minde thirsteth after the knowledge of such things as are spiritual, and celestial, of such things as are in the everlasting place and glory of him that is, and was, and shall be for ever . . .”; and eventually “. . . Gold and Silver, precious stones, and Stones, and soft Apparel, which were wont to be brought out of their houses to garnish mine withall, are become their gods . . .”; and then to Kelley “ . . . the power which is given thee of seeing, shall be diminished in thee, and shall dwell upon the first-begotten Son of him that sittith by thee . . . ” And finally —
And these fourteen dayes shall it be a time unto thee of chusing or refusing.
For I will not cast thee away, neither out of my house, unless it be long of thy own ignorance, and wilful despising of my great benefit.
If thou therefore be weary of it, the fourteenth day hence, bring hither, and lay before me the Powder which thou hast, for thou hast offended me, as a false steward, in taking out of that which is not thine own.
I will no longer dally with you, but will give onto you according unto your works.
△. O God be merciful unto us, and deal not with us according to the wickedness, frowardness, and blindness of our hearts. Amen.
Dee’s seven-year-old son Arthur was the son indicated to inherit the power of ‘seeing’ and four “exercises” with the boy scrying are included in the book with results that suggested it would be best to wait until his intellect was more developed before continuing. On April 18, a discourse by Madimi mentions Kelly’s powder: “And this Powder which thou hast brought here, is appointed for a time by God. And cannot be used until then, without offence . . . But if you deny the Wisdome of the Highest, and account us his Messengers, Creatures of Darkness. This day you are made free.” Dee contributes his response of being “glad that an offer was made of being every seventh day to be taught the secrets of the books already delivered unto us: Thinking that it was easie for us to perform that unity which was required to be amongst us four; understanding all after the Christian and Godly Sense. But E.K. who had yesterday seen and heard another meaning of this unity required, utterly abhorred to have any dealing with them farther, and did intend to accept at their hands the liberty of leaving off to deal with them any more: which his understanding, as it was strange and unpleasant unto me . . .” On the same date in the evening, Dee’s recitation of events included another development.
After dinner, as E.K. was alone, there appeared unto him little creatures of a cubit high: and they came to the Still where he had the spirit of Wine distilling over out of a Retorto: And one of them (whose name they expressed Ben) said that it was in vain so to hope for the best spirit of the Wine: And shewed him how to distill it, and separate it better. And moreover how to get oyl of the spirit of Wine, as it burned in the lamps: And began to ask E.K. What Country-man he was? And when he had answered an English-man, he asked then, how he came hither? he answered by Sea: Then said he, And who helped you to pass the marvellous great dangers of the Sea. And so took occasion to speak of the benefits which God had hitherto done for us, very many. And this Ben, said than among very many other things (as Mr. E.K. told me on Saturday night after Supper holding on his talk almost till two of the clock after midnight) That he it was that delivered him, or gave unto his hands the powder. And also he said either than or the next day at the furthest, that unleast he would he would be conformable to the will of God in this last Action declared, That he would take the vertue and force of the powder from it: That it should be unprofitable: And that he should become a beggar.
Ben also made a number of dire prophecies. Dee wrote: “The same Ben went once away mounting up in a flame of fire: and afterward upon occasion of asking him somewhat, he came down so again.” Dee related what happened next:
After all these, and many other things told me by the same Mr. E.K. we departed each to his bed, where I found my wife awake, attending to hear some new matter of me from Mr. Kelly his reports of the apparitions, continued with him above four hours, being else alone, I then told her, and said, Jane, I see that there is no other remedy, but as hath been said of our cross-matching, so it must needs be done.
Thereupon she fell a weeping and trembling for a quarter of an hour: And I pacified her as well as I could; and so, in the fear of God, and in believing of his Admonishment, did persuade her that she shewed her self prettily resolved to be content for God his sake and his Secret Purposes, to obey the Admonishment.
△. Note, Because I have found so much halting and untruth in E.K. his reports to me made, of the spiritual Creatures, where I have not been present at an Action: and because his memory may fail him, and because he was subject to ill tempters, I believe so much hereof as shall by better trial be found true, or conformable to truth.
△. Note . . . . . . E.K. had this day divers apparitions unto him in his own Chamber, and instructions in divers matters which he regarded not, but remained still in his purpose of utterly discrediting those Creatures, and not to have any more to do with them. But among divers apparitions he noted this of one that said unto him.
. . . . . . Joyn Enoch his Tables.
. . . . . . Give every place his running number.
E.K. What mean you by places?
. . . . . . The squares. Which done, refer every letter in the Table to his number, and so read what I will, for this is the last time I will admonish you.
E.K. A man standeth in the Air in a fiery Globe of my heighth, accompanied with some hundred of Puppets: on the one side of him standeth a woman, and about her are four Clouds all white.
The man upon a white Triangle shewed these Numbers with spaces, as you see following.
A lengthy chart of numbers was shown and Dee worked for hours trying “to know the sense of that Cypher.” After supper, Dee wrote:
. . . we knew very near what was to be done by the instruction of a spiritual Voice, now and then helping us toward the practice.
At length E.K. was willed to go down into his Chamber, and I did remain still at our Dineing Table till his return, which was within an hour or somewhat more.
The new note with statements from Raphael included a Latin portion. The main part of the message seemed to be:
. . . . . . I admonish you as the children of God, to consider your vocation, and the love of God towards you; and not to prefer your reason before the wisdome of the highest, whose mercy is so great towards you, That you are chosen from the number of men to walk with him, and to understand his mysteries, and with all to execute his justice and praise throughout the Nations and people of the earth.
The note included the declaration, “This is the last time of your trial.” Dee recorded his response to the note:
△. When E.K. had brought me these things, I greatly rejoyced in spirit, and was utterly resolved to obey this new Doctrine to us, peculiarly, of all people of the world enjoyned. And after some little discourse and conference hereof, we went to bed, this 20. day of April, at night.
There followed in Dee’s manuscript an April 21 draft of the covenant to be signed by the two couples. The wording revealed that Dee regarded this covenant as God’s last mystical Admonishment. The draft of the covenant was followed by an April 22 letter contributed by Kelly stating that he disliked the spirits’ insinuations and doctrine from the beginning. Kelly wrote: “. . . And because the summe of this Doctrine, given in his name, doth require obedience which I have (as is before written) offered, I think myself discharged: And therefore have no farther cause to hazzard my self any more in any action . . . I will from this day forward meddle no more herein.”
Kelly reconsidered because on April 24 there was another eventful spirit conference wherein the principal crystal stone was carried away by a spiritual Creature with “his nether parts in a cloud.” Then:
Here appeareth a fire in this other stone also, and a man in the fire, with flaxen hair hanging down upon him, and is naked unto his Paps; and seemeth to have spots of blood upon him.
The man’s name was unstated. Here is an excerpt:
Behold! None of the Orders, either of Heaven or Earth, are armed to open their mouthes in my Name, teaching or opening this Doctrine, unless it were of me, for I am the First and the Last. And I will be Shepherd over all, that the Kingdom of my Father may come, and that my Spirit may be upon all flesh, where there shall be no law, nor need of light: I my self am their lanthorn for ever.
And behold, I will be as a Rock between you and the teeth of Leviathan, which seeketh to set you asunder, and to bring you to confusion.
And I am, and am holy, and holiness it self: Out of me cometh no unclean thing.
For even as the time of Moses was wonderful to all the Gentiles, even so shall those days to come be unto the Nations and Kings of the earth. I am a law for ever. And behold, power is given unto me from above: And I have visited the earth, and have thrown my curse upon her: And lo, she shall become barren.
Following this discourse, Dee’s book presented the final version of the covenant signed on May 3 by Dee, Kelley and their wives. This was the final paragraph.
And finally, as thou hast warned us (O God) that this doctrine and doings should unto no mortal man else be disclosed, but among us onely the above-named our to be kept most secret: and hast said, that whosoever of us should by any means disclose the same, and he also or she to whom the same should be disclosed, should presently and immediately be strucken dead by thy Divine power: So we all and every of us four do request thee most earnestly, and Covenant with thee as our God, that so all this doctrine and doing may be kept most hid and secret; and also that the sudden and immediate bodily death may light and fall on the discloser, and on him or her to whom the same doctrine or doing any manner of way shall be disclosed or known. Amen, Amen, Amen.
Three days later on May 3 Dee and Kelley again consulted the spirits to learn if the covenant and choice of words was acceptable to his Divine Majesty. Kelley saw a fleeting vision of Madimi: “As a thing like a head with three eyes cometh upon her head, and one of the eyes seem to come one into another.” Then she was gone. Kelley told Dee that he thought “an infinite number of Spiritual Creatures stood afar off behinde her like as in an half Moon.” There would be another spirit conference on May 20 when “a man standing with a purple Robe like Christ” presented chastisements and violent metaphorical prophecies of Dee and Kelley being slain and revived by the being whom, after they have showed obedience, would again lead them into the way of knowledge and understanding. Later that day after a vision related by Kelley concerning the stone that was taken away, Dee found it in his bed where indicated.
On May 23, 1587, the final visions related by Kelley featured a poetic discourse from a woman attired in gold attire and with a crystal cross on her forehead. She referred to herself as “the Daughter of Fortitude.” Kelley attested seeing: “She turneth her self into a thousand shapes of all Creatures: and now she is come to her own form again.” The Daughter of Fortitude’s metaphorical discourses are among the most quoted by historians among those chronicled by Dee and her words perhaps comprise a fitting elegy for the bleak culture of the Elizabethan Age; however, some of the Daughter of Fortitude’s words would attest to the benevolence of the good will of God throughout human history: “Happy is he whom God hath made a vessel of salvation; for unto him belongeth joy, and a crown of reward . . . no man did, or can ever attain to wisdom (that perfect wisdom which I speak of) without he become a Center in his soul unto the mercies, and good will of God comprehending him, and dwelling in him, therefore lift up your eyes and see, Call your wits together, and mark my words, To teach you, or expound unto you the mysteries of the Books that you have already received, is not in my power, but in the good will of God, after whose Image I am . . .”
The ‘Daughter of Fortitude’ was quoted “My company is a harmony of many Cymbals” yet I wonder if the word she actually meant to convey was ‘symbols.’
Little is understood about Kelly’s experiences following those recorded by Dee. Dee’s personal diary offers some clues about his and Kelly’s work and research thereafter.
1588May 10th, E. K. did open the great secret to me, God be thanked!
Dec. 4th, I gave to Mr. Ed. Kelley my Glass, so highly and long estemed of our Quene, and the Emperor Randolph the second . . .
Dec. 18th, I did understand by Mr. Kelley that my glass which he had given to my Lord Rosenberg, the Lord Rosenberg had given it to the Emperor.
1589Feb. 4th, I delivered to Mr. Kelley the powder, the bokes, the glas and the bone, for the Lord Rosenberg; and he thereuppon gave me dischardg in writing of his own hand subscribed and sealed.
In December 1589 Dee returned to England. In April 1590 the diary notes began referring to Kelley as “Sir Edward Kelley” after he was made a knight at the Emperor’s court in Prague.
1590Dec. 16th, Mr. Candish receyved from the Quene’s Majestie warrant by word of mowth to assure me to do what I wold in philosophie and alchemie, and none shold chek, controll, or molest me . . .
1593Oct. 4th, Sir Edward Keley set at liberty by the Emperor.
Dec. 5th, the newes of Sir Edward Kelly his libertie.
1595Aug. 12th, I receyved Sir Edward Kellyes letters of the Emperor’s, inviting me to his servyce again.
Nov. 25th, the newes that Sir Edward Kelley was slayne.
Where Edward Kelly is concerned, other than Dee’s books and a small collection of writings claimed to be by Kelly himself, there are few accounts available. The often-cited secondhand reports equating Kelly with black magic and other crimes aren’t substantiated throughout Dee’s writings. It’s best to be cautious in presenting what is known about Kelly — especially when considering that it has proven typical that when people are associated with events presenting paranormal facets, there are often attempts to discredit them by unsubstantiated rumors and conclusions (such as the allegation of Edward Talbot and Edward Kelly having been the same man). Kelly’s The Stone of the Philosophers was published posthumously in Latin and translated into English by A. E. Waite in 1873. Kelly began this treatise by stating:
Though I have already twice suffered chains and imprisonment in Bohemia, an indignity which has been offered to me in no other part of the world, yet my mind, remaining unbound, has all this time exercised itself in the study of that philosophy which is despised only by the wicked and foolish, but is praised and admired by the wise. Nay, the saying that none but fools and lawyers hate and despise Alchemy has passed into a proverb. Furthermore, as during the preceding three years I have used great labour, expense, and care in order to discover for your Majesty that which might afford you much profit and pleasure, so during my imprisonment — a calamity which has befallen me through the action of your Majesty — I am utterly incapable of remaining idle. Hence I have written a treatise, by means of which your imperial mind may be guided into all the truth of he more ancient philosophy, whence, as from a lofty eminence, it may contemplate and distinguish the fertile tracts from the barren and stony wilderness. But if my teaching displease you, know hat you are still altogether wandering astray from the true scope and aim of this matter, and are utterly wasting your money, time, labour, and hope. A familiar acquaintance with the different branches of knowledge has taught me this one thing, that nothing is more ancient, excellent, or more desirable than truth, and who ever neglects it must pass his whole life in the shade. Nevertheless, it always was, and always will be, the way of mankind to release Barabbas and to crucify Christ. This I have — for my good, no doubt — experienced in my own case. I venture to hope, however, that my life and character will so become known to posterity that I may be counted among those who have suffered much for the sake of truth. The full certainty of the present treatise time is powerless to abrogate. If your Majesty will deign to peruse it at your leisure, you will easily perceive that my mind is profoundly versed in this study.
Kelly compiled a list of forty-eight statements about alchemy, such as:
(1) All genuine and judicious philosophers have traced back things to their first principles, that is to say, those comprehended in the threefold division of Nature. The generation of animals they have attributed to a mingling of the male and female in sexual union; that of vegetables to their own proper seed; while as the principle of minerals they have assigned earth and viscous water.
(33) Metals are nothing but mercury digested by different degrees of heat.
The statements are followed by many quotations about alchemy from dozens of famous ‘sages’ and finally three obscure “solutions” are presented:
The first is that of the crude body.
The second is that of the earth of the Sages.
The third is that which takes place during the augmentation of the substance. If you diligently consider all that I have said, this Magistery will become known to you. As for me, how much I have endured on account of this Art, history will reveal to future ages.
This conclusion suggests that the relatively simple statements are meant to be collectively interpreted. I wondered if allegory was intended in two poetical works by Kelly that Ashmole published in Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum Containing Severall Poeticall Pieces of our Famous English Philosophers, who have written the Hermetique Mysteries in their owne Ancient Language (1652). The book’s concluding annotations concerning Dee and Kelly indicated that there were conflicting reports about the circumstances of Kelly’s death but Ashmole reported one of these: “And though he began to grow into the Emperours favour, in hopes to be entertained into his Service (for so he certified Doctor Dee by Letters in August 1595). Neverthelesse he was clapt yp againe into Prison, and attempting to make his Escape out of a high Window, by the teering of his Sheetes, which were tyed together to let him down, he (being a weighty man) fell and broke his Legg, and thereof dyed . . .”
Kelly’s two poems of iambic pentameter in Ashmole’s book are “Sir Edward Kelle’s Worke” and a shorter poem described as “Sir Ed. Kelley Concerning the Philosophers Stone written to his especiall good Friend, G. S. Gent.” The experiences with the angelic spirits seem to have been contemplated over many years and in the longer poem is found:
But Mercury essentiall is trewly the trew Wife, that killes her selfe to bring her Child to life.
Therefore the true Wife which I doe meane,Of all these Contraries is the Meane betweene.
Kelly mentioned both simile and secret in his poem to allude to “Natures true worke consubstantiall.” The most elucidating of the stanzas of the shorter poem is:
Example learne of GOD that plaste the Skyes,Reflecting vertues from and t’every poynt,In which the mover wherein all things lyes,Doth hold the vertues all of every Joynt:And therefore Essence fift may well be said,Conteining all and yett himselfe a Maid.
I read these writings by Kelly online and found that this ‘fifth essence’ or ‘quintessence’ was also conveyed by Aristotle with the word ‘aether’ (or the more contemporary ‘ether’). An Internet edition of Alchemy Rediscovered and Restored (1941) by Archibald Cockren delineated these terms through quotes of Paracelsus, Benedictus Figulus and Sir Oliver Lodge, with the latter relating that Apollonius of Tyana learned about ‘the ether’ from the Brahmins. Also quoted from Lodge’s Ether and Reality was his comment, “What you choose to call this unifying ‘Something’ is of no consequence.”
The quotation of Figulus is from a 1608 book published in Strassburg. The book was translated by A. E. Waite in his London 1893 edition A Golden and Blessed Casket of Nature's Marvels . . .
For the elements and their compounds, in addition to crass matter, are composed of a subtle substance, or intrinsic radical humidity, diffused through the elemental parts, simple and wholly incorruptible, long preserving the things themselves in vigor, and called the Spirit of the World, the one certain life, filling and fathoming all things, so that from the three genera of creatures, Intellectual, Celestial, and Corruptible, there is formed the one Machine of the whole world.
This Spirit by its virtue fecundates all subjects natural and artificial, pouring into them those hidden properties which we have been wont to call the Fifth Essence . . . But this is the root of life, i.e., the Fifth Essence, created by the Almighty for the preservation of the four qualities of the human body, even as Heaven is for the preservation of the Universe. Therefore in this Fifth Essence and Spiritual Medicine, which is of Nature and the Heat of Heaven, and not of a mortal or corrupt quality, is indeed possible the Fount of Medicine, the preservation of life, the restoration of health, and in this may the cherished desire for the renewal of lost youth and serene health be found.
These reflections on the fifth essence or quintessence may be considered antiquated by some yet I noticed that these terms are now being equated with our universe’s ‘dark matter.’ Where Pop culture is concerned, there are always correlations to be found with subjects pondered in earlier ages. While I no longer attend movies, I’m aware that there have been movies that have popularized some of the concepts once given attention by Dr. John Dee and Sir Edward Kelly. “Matrix’ is a term that may be found in Dee’s books and ideas involving quintessence seem to have been rendered as entertainment in the 1997 movie “The Fifth Element.”
Many perspectives have been offered by writers of following epochs attempting to make sense of Dee’s spiritual diaries on the basis of these writers’ more contemporary life experiences. Due to the unexpected course of my own life, the behavior and opinions preserved by Dee about himself and Kelly—along with the few details known about their wives—are, for me, easily acceptable as possibly reflecting their sometimes difficult and uncertain attempts to honorably respond to the Will revealed to them as expressing the One and All Being usually conveyed by the name ‘God.’ This Source has been illuminated in Dee’s chronicles by a diverse multiplicity of humanity from a different realm of existence with their interaction showing none of the restrictions of our own physical reality.
(Note: this article is a draft from the period circa 2009.)