John Dee’s Enochian Magick: Language Of The Angels or Encrypted Spy Talk?

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John Dee demonstrating an experiment before Queen Elizabeth I (Wellcome Images/ CC BY-SA 4.0)

John Dee’s Enochian Magick: Language Of The Angels or Encrypted Spy Talk?

Enochian Magick is a complex system of occult practices and rituals that have their roots in the 16th-century writings of the Elizabethan scholar John Dee (1527 – 1608) and his associate, Edward Kelley (1555-1597). Dee and Kelley claimed to have received messages from angels who imparted to them a language and a system of magic that they called ‘Enochian’. The Enochian language is said to have been spoken by angels and was believed to be a language of power that could be used to communicate with Otherworldly beings. According to Dee and Kelley, the Enochian language was composed of 21 letters and had complex grammar and syntax that was difficult to master.

According to Charlotte Fell Smith, this portrait was painted when Dee was 67. It belonged to his grandson Rowland Dee and later to Elias Ashmole, who left it to Oxford University. (Public Domain)

Dee and Kelly’s Partnership

John Dee was a prominent Elizabethan mathematician, astronomer and astrologer, known for his wide-ranging interests in science, mathematics, and the occult. He served as an advisor to Queen Elizabeth I and was a prominent member of the court. Dee's work in mathematics and navigation was instrumental in the development of English colonial expansion, and he was also known for his work on alchemy and the occult.

Dee practiced scrying, which is the practice of using a crystal ball or another reflective surface, like a mirror, to gain insight into the past, present, or future. Dee also worked with scryers, notably Edward Kelley and Francis Nicholls, who helped him to interpret the visions that he saw in his crystal ball.

Edward Kelly prophet or seer to Dr Dee. National Library of Wales (Public Domain)

Edward Kelley (1555-1597) was a controversial figure who claimed to have the ability to communicate with angels. He first met Dee in 1582, and the two men quickly formed a partnership, with Kelley acting as Dee's scryer. According to Kelley, he was able to see and communicate with angels, who provided him with a wealth of knowledge and insight. Together, Dee and Kelley travelled throughout Europe, performing scrying experiments and seeking the patronage of various rulers.

The ‘Cross-matching episode’ marked the end of Dee's relationship with his "scryer" Kelley, and is hard to justify on any biblical basis. During one seance in Bohemia in 1587, Kelley claimed the angel Madimi insisted the two men share everything they had including their wives. According to Dee's diary, when his wife Jane was told of this ‘Cross-matching arrangement’, she fell weeping and trembling for a quarter of an hour. However, both Jane and Kelley's wife, Joanna, reluctantly submitted. Nine months later Jane gave birth to Theodore Dee, who may have been sired by Kelley, and whose name, means ‘gift of god’, or should that be the "gift of Madimi"?

Kelley's credibility was called into question when he was caught faking a vision. He eventually fell out of favor with Dee and returned to England, where he was imprisoned for fraud. He died in prison in 1597.

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