"Come now my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we'd be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest..." - Kenneth Patchen, "Even So."

THIS IS A BLOG ABOUT STORIES AND STORYTELLING; some are true, some are false, and some are a matter of perspective. Herein the brave traveller shall find dark musings on horror, explorations of the occult, and wild flights of fantasy.

Monday, October 10, 2016


I have often read in thy [God’s] books & records, how Enoch injoyed thy favour & conversation; with Moses thou was familiar; And also that to Abraham, Issack & Jocob, Joshua, Gideon, Esdras, Daniel, Tobias & sundry others thy good angels were sent by thy disposition, to Instruct them, informe them, helpe them, yea in worldly and domestick affaires, yea and sometymes to satisfie their desires, doubtes, and questions of thy Secrete...

Dr. John Dee (Sloane MS. 3188)

While the precise origins of Kabbalah and Tarot are obscured by history, we know exactly when, where, and how the system of Enochian Magic arrived in the world.  It is ironic, then, that it remains by far the most controversial system of the three.

The facts are as follows; between the years 1582 and 1589, two men conducted a long series of seances, crystal-gazing sessions in which one asked questions of discarnate spirit beings while the other gazed into a “shewstone” to answer for them.  Their goal was to rediscover the "true art" of Magic, withdrawn by Heaven due to man's ignorance and wickedness.  What they received was--according to the spirits--something that would bestow superhuman powers upon its practitioners, change the political face of the world, and herald the coming of the Apocalypse.   

One of the men involved was Dr. John Dee (1527-1608).  Dee was an Elizabethan polymath; astronomer, cartographer, cryptographer, Hermetic philosopher, alchemist, mathematician, diplomat, and loyal servant of Elizabeth I.  It is well known that Dee picked the date for her coronation (having cast a horoscope for her), and that he remained her tutor and advisor throughout his life.  Less certain--though the arguments for both are strong--are the assertions that Dee served as Elizabeth's spymaster, and that he was the primary inspiration behind the Rosicrucian Manifestos (1614-1615), documents that called for a scientific and spiritual revolution in Europe and the end of the Church (Dee's personal magical sigil, the Monas Hieroglyphica, appears on the cover of one of them).

The other member of this magical partnership was Edward Kelley (1555-1597).  A man of modest education, he was a self-proclaimed alchemist and spirit medium who may (or may not) have been convicted of forgery or counterfeiting as a young man, and had his ears cropped as punishment.  Aside from his visions, Kelley was given to all sorts of wild claims, such as possessing the Red Powder that transmuted base metals to gold.  Because of his ill reputation, Enochian detractors dismiss the entire system as an elaborate con game, with Kelley feeding Dee all sorts of nonsense over their seven years together while fleecing him.  The fact that there is little or no evidence of this, and a great deal of evidence to the contrary, does little to stop such opinions from circulating.

Owing to Dee's importance as a historical figure, and that he amassed one of the most impressive libraries in Elizabethan England, his books and papers survive largely intact in the British Museum (as part of the massive Sloane Collection).  These records include the complete  Enochian sessions, and they make for fascinating reading.  

A picture emerges from them of Dee as a sort of spiritual revolutionary.  Influenced, perhaps, by the likes of John Wycliffe, Dee rejected the necessity of the Church as a mediator between Man and God.  If the ancient prophets and kings could appeal directly to the Lord, why not modern Man?  He wrote;

God did not refuse to instruct the prophets and seers and to give answers to the common people...therefore I was sufficiently taught and confirmed that I would never attain wisdom by man's hand or by human power, but only from God, directly or indirectly...

Views like this put him at odds with the Catholic Bishop of London Edmund Bonner, and led to him being charged with treason against the Catholic queen, Mary, who had him dragged before the Star Chamber.  Dee managed to exonerate himself, but the arrest brought him to the attention of the Protestant Princess Elizabeth and her supporters.   They were natural allies.  He saw, in Elizabeth, a spiritual revolutionary like himself, fighting to throw of the yoke of the Catholic Church.  As a statesman and strategist, however, he knew the odds were not in their favor.  Both Catholic France and Spain--the greatest power in the world--were against them.  Catholic Europe was calling Elizabeth the Whore of Babylon, and England the seven headed dragon she rode on.  If Elizabeth was to hold her throne, if England was to survive as a nation, divine intervention was needed.  

Dee decided to revive what he considered the "lost teachings" of the prophets, practices forbidden by the Church as sorcery.  I considered the Shewstone which the high priests did use, he wrote, by God's own ordering, wherein they had lights and judgements in their great doubts...  Thus, adopting the methods the ancient priests used to call upon the Almighty, Dee set out to invoke God and His angels on behalf of his Queen.

It is important to note all of this is long before Kelley.  Dee, who found he was not much of a spirit medium himself, employed several others.  He wasn't satisfied with any of them.  Kelley was different; in their first session together, Kelley passed the tests Dee had laid out for him with "credible" visions.  Dee had found a satisfactory scryer at last.

While Dee was pleased with the arrangement, Kelley was another matter.  From the very start Dee accepted the spirits at their word that they were "good angels," Kelley by contrast feared them, often trying to convince Dee they were demonic beings and that the sessions needed to stop.  For their part, the spirits constantly mocked and berated Kelley, insulting his character and above all his intelligence.  In one instance, Kelley complained that the angels were speaking to him in gibberish...when in fact they were mocking him in Greek, a language he didn't understand but Dee did.

Nor were the tortures limited to insults. As the years wore on Kelley seemed pushed to the point of breakdown, plagued by nightmares and messages from the angels in his sleep.  He complained of the angels violating his body;

(He felt)...a great stir and moving in his brains, very sensible and distinct, as of a creature of human shape and lineaments going up and down, to and fro in his brains and in his skull...

At times he even snapped;

Suddenly E. K. fell into such a rage that...much ado I, Emericus, and his brother had to stop or hold him...the rage and fury was so great... (that we feared E.K.) ...destroying himself, or of me, or of his brother...

On several occasions, Kelley tried to leave, but Dee always pulled him back, reminding him of the wife and brother he was supporting on the £50 annual stipend Dee was paying him, and the importance of their work to the nation.  In the end, after finally parting ways, Kelley (who showed signs of genuine mental trauma), murdered a man in a rage and then threw himself to his death off a tower.

The idea of Edward Kelley as a seedy professional "psychic," an Elizabethan palm reader taking a gullible old man in for money, is absurd.  He was not getting rich of off the sessions; his annual salary was modest and there are no signs he asked for or was given additional sums.  Nor did he acquire power or prestige from the partnership.  Dee's reputation was hurt by his occult dabblings, and Kelley--who had no reputation to begin with--was dismissed as a charlatan.  Where the assertion really starts to fall apart though is in the quality of the information the seances produced.  Aside from the prediction of key events--the angels warned Kelley and Dee of the death of Mary Queen of Scots and the coming of the Spanish Armada--the system itself and the way it was received makes it almost  impossible to believe Kelley faked it.

Enochian and its Reception 

In the interest of full disclosure we will confine ourselves here to the system of magic Dee and Kelley received while working together in Kraków.  This magic--consisting of the Four Watchtowers, the Calls or Keys, and the Aires or Aethyrs--is technically the third magical system the duo received.  When occultists speak of the "Enochian System," this is the one they refer to.  But Dee and Kelley did in fact receive two prior systems; in 1582 they were given a system of planetary magic revolving around 49 "Good Angels" called the Heptarchia Mystica.  Beginning in March of 1583, a second "system" comprised of 49 tables, each composed of 49 by 49 rows of numbers and letters was transmitted, called Liber Loagaeth (see the picture).  Now, the Heptarchia is a very derivative system, with little to distinguish it from other Renaissance magic.  Loagaeth feels something more like a test than a magic system, to see if Dee and Kelley would really sit there and painstakingly copy each and every table down as instructed.  If there collaborations had resulted in only these two, it would be easy to denounce Kelley as a fraud.

But in Kraków, in 1854, something utterly remarkable began to happen.

Starting in April that year, after Dee's endless pestering and requests for clarification of the materials given, and the Angels long reticence to provide anything good, the spirits begin transmitting the Enochian Calls, or "Keys."  It is here that the entire character of the Dee and Kelley work changes.  Nothing remotely like them exists in the sessions before.  They are amazing pieces of poetic prose, Apocalyptic in imagery.  Unlike prior communications, the Angels give these in both the "Celestial" or "Heavenly" language they speak, and in English translation.

Linguistics will tell you this Angelic tongue is not a real language.  It has the surface characteristics of one, but no discernible grammar.  Further, there are words that sound uncomfortably like English and many others that defy pronunciation by the human mouth.  And yet it is not gibberish.  Words do have a clear meaning, and the Calls have a rhythm and cadence consistent from one to the next.  Hearing them read aloud sends shivers down to spine.  Whether we are dealing with an alien, inhuman language here--something not meant as human speech--or a very clever fakery is unclear.  What is clear is that for 1584, it would have to be a very clever fakery, well beyond Kelley's meager education.

And then there is the poetry of the English translations.  Compare this bit of Kelley's writing with one of the Enochian Calls;

The heavenly cope hath in him nature's flower,
Two hidden, but the rest to sight appear;
Wherein the sperms of all the body lower
Most secrett are, yett spring forth once a yeare


Can the wings of the windes vnderstand yor voyces of wunder, O you the second of the first, whome the burning flames haue framed within the depth of my Iaws; whome I haue prepared as Cupps for a Wedding, or as the flowres in their beawty for the Chamber of righteousnes. Stronger are your fete then the barren stone, and mightier are your voices then the manifold windes. For you are become a buylding such as is not, but in the mynde of the All powrefull. Arrise, sayth the First: Move therfore vnto his Servants: Shew your selues in powre: And make me a strong Seething: for I am of him that liueth for euer.

Kelley receives these 19 Keys first, in Angelic and in English.  It should be noted that the first 18 seem to have a single use; the 19th Key is actually thirty Keys in one for reasons we will shortly discuss.  This is noteworthy because in both previous Dee/Kelley systems, the number 49 is significant.  As these Keys total 48, Dee pondered if one was being held back.  The Angel Nalvage explained;

This self-same art is it, which is delivered unto you as an infallible doctrine, containing in it the waters which run through many Gates: even above the Gate of Innocency, wherein you are taught to find out the dignity and corruption of nature: also made partakers in the Secret Judgements of the Almighty to be made manifest, and to be put into execution.

I am therefore to instruct and inform you, according to your doctrine delivered, which is contained in 49 Tables. In 49 voices, or callings: which are the Natural Keys to open those, not 49 but 48 (for One is not to be opened) Gates of Understanding; whereby you shall have knowledge to move every Gate, and to call out as many as you please, or shall be thought necessary, which can very well, righteously, and wisely open unto you the secrets of their Cities, and make  you understand perfectly [that] contained in the Tables.

Eighteen Keys and then Thirty...with one held back.  So, 18 and 31.  Keep those numbers in mind.

After the Keys, a second piece of the puzzle is given.  In May, 1854, the names of 91 Angelic Governors are given, along with Sigils for each one.  These are transmitted simply; the Angels spell out the names and instruct Kelley how to draw each symbol (see picture).  These Governors inhabit 30 Aethyrs or Aires" accessed by the 19th Key.  The uses of the other 18 Keys remains unrevealed.  We learn, however, that these Governors rule over regions of the Earth as well as the Heavens.

At this stage we have only the Keys and the Governors and their Sigils.  But in June, Kelley is given the rest of the puzzle.  He has a dream of Four Watchtowers that rule the world, and soon the Angel Ave elaborates on the vision;

Four sumptuous and belligerant Castles, out which sounded trumpets thrice. The Sign of Majesty, the Cloth of passage, was cast forth.

In the East, the cloth red; after new smitten blood.

In the South, the cloth white, Lilly coloured.

In the West a cloth, the skins of many Dragons, green: garlick-bladed.

In the North, the cloth, Hair-coloured, Bilbery juyce. The trumpets sound once. The gates open. The four Castles are moved. There issueth 4 Trumpeters, whose Trumpets a Pyramis, six cones wreathed. There followeth out of every Castle 3,  holding up their Banners displayed, with ensigne, the names of God. There follow Seniors six, alike from the 4 Gates: After them cometh from every part a King: whose Princes are five, gardant, and holding up his train. Next issueth the Crosse of 4 Angles, of the Majesty of Creation in God attended upon every one with 4: a white Cloud, 4 Crosses, bearing the witnesses of the Covenant of God, with the *Prince gone out before: which were confirmed, every one, with ten Angels, visible in countenance: After every Crosse, attendeth 16 Angels, dispositors of the will of those, that govern the Castles. They proceed. And, in, and about the middle of the Gate: The rest pause. The 24 Seniors meet: They seem to consult. ...

It vanisheth.

The Angels begin dictating another great table, 25 x 27 letters across (see the diagram).  They have Dee write the letters in each from left to right, row by row.  Seemingly at random, some letters are capitalized, most are lower case, and eight--out of them all--are backwards.  No explanations are given.  Dee is told, however, that this Great Table is actually the Four Watchtowers of Kelley's vision, held together by a Black Cross.  Dee eventually assigns color to it, and rewrites the English letters with characters from the Angelic Script.  This is a mistake, because the Angelic script does not distinguish between Upper and Lower Case, which is essential for understanding the tablets.

Dee asks for clarification on the Great Table over and over again.  The Angels lie about why some letters are capitalized and others are not.  Of the eight reversed letters, they explain that seven of the eight letters scattered across the tablets spell out PARAOAN, that each letter is "a living fire" and the N a "vial of destruction."  They do not explain the eight reversed letter, the L.  Nor do they deign to inform Dee who or what PARAOAN is.

They do, however, slowly begin to reveal the structure of the Enochian universe,  and how the Watchtowers relate to the 30 Aethyrs.  Crowley latter sums up the arrangement as;

(They) ...symbolized the Fourth-Dimensional Universe in two dimensions as a square surrounded by 30 concentric circles (the 30 Æthyrs or Aires) whose radii increase in a geometrical proportion. The sides of the square are the four great watch-towers which are attributed to the elements...

The Angels related how to divide each Watchtower into smaller and smaller sections, and how the letters could be read to discover the names of all sorts of Angels and demons inhabiting those towers (which we will detail in a later chapters).  They explained the uses of the Keys to conjure different sorts of spirits, and they explained which of the 91 Governors inhabited each of the 30 Aethyrs encircling the world.  But they never revealed the lettering of the Table itself, or why some were capitalized.  And crucially, they never gave Dee permission to use the system.  In fact, the Angel Gabriel, speaking for God, warned against it;

I have chosen you, to enter into my barns: And have commanded you to open the Corn, that the scattered may appear, and that which remaineth in the sheaf may stand. And have entered into the first, and so into the seventh. And have delivered unto you the Testimony of my spirit to come.

For, my Barn hath been long without Threshers. And I have kept my flayles for a long time hid in unknown places: Which flayle is the Doctrine that I deliver unto you: Which is the Instrument of thrashing, wherewith you shall beat the shears, that the Corn which is scattered, and the rest may be all one. 

If I be Master of the Barn, owner of the Corn, and deliverer of my flayle: If all be mine (And unto you, there is nothing: for you are hirelings, whose reward is in heaven.) 

Then see, that you neither thresh, nor unbinde, until I bid you, let it be sufficient unto you: that you know my house, that you know the labour I will put you to: That I favour you so much as to entertain you the labourers within my Barn: For within it thresheth none without my consent...

It would be much latter, after the sessions had stopped and Dee and Kelley split, that Dee finally figured out the mystery of the letters.  It started when he realized the 91 Governor names, assigned to the 30 Aethyrs, and all seven-lettered, totaled 637 letters.  Each of the Four Watchtowers had 156 letters, for a total of 624.  But the letters that make up the Black Cross uniting the Towers were twenty, bringing the total to 644.

Then it hit him.  The mysterious name PARAOAN is also seven-lettered, like the Governors.  With it added in, the total was also 644.  

Armed with this, he was able to look back over the Table, and discovered the capital letters were the initial letters of each Governor's name.  More shockingly, if you overlaid the strange Sigils with each name, they fell together like puzzle pieces (see diagram).

It was a masterpiece of Hermetic logic, the supreme maxim of which is "as above so below."  The Material Plane of Earth (signified by the Watchtowers) was constructed from the names of the 91 Governors, just as these same Governors inhabited and defined the 30 Aethyrs of the Heavens.  But the construction showed a further secret; each Watchtower is composed of exactly 22 Governors, with 3 Governors ruling the Black Cross.  Above these is PARAOAN, apparently a 92nd Governor without a Sigil, or a place in the Aethyrs.  The Great Table is then constructed on key esoteric numbers; 1-10, 12, 13, and 22.


The idea that Kelley manufactured all this to dupe John Dee beggars belief.  Aside from the poetic and linguistic skills required, the way in which the system was given would have required a prodigious memory.  Upon constructing the tablets and lettering them, he would have needed to memorize all 91 Governor names--strings of letters like "DOANZIN," "VSNARDA," and "OOANAMB"--along with their Sigils, delivering them a month ahead of time before instructing Dee how to letter hundreds of squares completely out of order.  And for what?

The easier explanation, of course, is that Dee made the whole thing up.  There never were any skrying sessions...Dee sat down day after day, year after year, scribbling down seances that just never happened.  The entire massive journal collection was a hoax.  But this strains credulity as well.  In several instances, Dee records information--charts, tables--that later need to be corrected because Kelley misheard or misunderstood.  The diaries resemble nothing so much as lengthy Senate hearings, with repeated questions, endless clarifications and corrections, tedious lines of inquiry.  And most damning, the sections of the system are recorded completely out of order, as if Dee and Kelley were given random puzzle pieces.  Neither were ever fully able to put these pieces together and see the whole.  Thus Dee never finished the work, never put it together into a system. He labored seven years for nothing.

What would have been the point of such a hoax?  If neither Dee nor Kelley gained anything from the sessions, who did?

The answer is simple; the only "people" who got what they wanted were the angels.

To be continued...

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