Sunday, July 12, 2020

Heptarchia Mystica Presentation Transcript

The following is my prepared transcript for the Heptarchia Mystica talk that I delivered yesterday for OTO Austria. For this one I actually put together a rudimentary PowerPoint presentation, and the slide images are embedded in the text. It was a fun presentation to do and my thanks go out to the folks at OTO Austria for inviting me to speak and making this happen.

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Welcome to my presentation on Dr. John Dee’s Heptarchia Mystica. I am Scott Stenwick, author of Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy from Pendraig Publishing.

Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy is a practical guide to working with the mystical heptarchy, an often-overlooked portion of John Dee and Edward Kelley’s system of Enochian magick. I have been an OTO initiate since 1995 and have served as a chartered initiator, ordained priest and deacon, local body officer, and currently as Master of Leaping Laughter Lodge in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I have been involved in OTO for almost 25 years, but I had already worked with the Enochian system for years before I joined.

The way that I approach Enochian magick developed over several decades. I started with the Schueler books in the early 1990s and quickly moved on from there to a more “Dee Purist” approach based on Geoffrey James’ Enochian Evocation. At the same time, though, I did not entirely abandon modern ceremonial methods like pentagram and hexagram rituals. What you will find in my books are ritual templates that allow you to work according to the original grimoire structure based solely on prayers and conjurations, but also show where those modern ceremonial forms can optionally be added to the process. This gives the practitioner greater flexibility to approach the work as they see fit.

All versions of the Enochian system of magick are based on John Dee’s magical diaries from sixteenth century England detailing his operations with scryer Edward Kelley. The diaries span seven years and describe a previously unknown form of angel magick. The full story of Dee and Kelley working together gets repeated in most presentations on Enochian and is not particularly relevant to the Heptarchial material which was received during their early work with the angels. Basically, Dee was unable to simultaneously scry and record the results of his magical operations and worked with several other scryers until he found Kelley, who was by far the best. Dee would conjure the angels, and Kelley would relay their communications via scrying using a crystal that Dee called the “shewstone.”

Modern Enochian systems such as those derived from the Golden Dawn, Aurum Solis, or Liber Chanokh attributions typically emphasize the Watchtowers, four tablets of letters that are thought to represent the cardinal directions and elements, and the Aires or Aethyrs, regions of space that expand outward from the Earth and are thought to in some manner span the same “psychic space” as the Qabalistic Tree of Life. Less well known and explored are the angels of the Heptarchia Mystica, Dee’s first attempt at assembling an angelic grimoire.

The material found in the Heptarchia was originally received in 1582 and includes descriptions of the implements that commonly represent Enochian magick today such as the Holy Table and Sigil of God. The source diaries can be found in John Dee’s Five Books of Mystery edited by Joseph Peterson, and unlike the rest of the Enochian system Dee also assembled the Heptarchial material into a grimoire form in 1588, which is the Heptarchia Mystica itself. Joseph Peterson has this text available on his website, Twilit Grotto Esoteric Archives, in two versions. The first is titled Compendium Heptarchia Mysticae and is a sort of rough draft, a compilation of diary entries found in the Five Books. The second is De Heptarchia Mystica, which is the final text of Dee’s Heptarchial grimoire.

Unlike the descriptions of the Watchtowers and Aires, the Heptarchia has much in common with other Renaissance grimoires. At its most basic, Renaissance grimoire magick consists of two basic steps. The first is identification of the individual consciousness with that of the divine, in the Renaissance tradition usually rendered as the Christian God. Once this identification is accomplished, the magician is granted the authority to command spirits by means of divine authority, names of power, and sigils specific to each entity conjured. Dee accomplished this by means of devotional Christian prayers. More modern practices can include the Bornless Ritual, the Middle Pillar Ritual, the Elevenfold Seal, and so forth. In those rituals, the ultimate manifestation of the divine is not seen as a personified deity, but rather the dynamic ground of being itself – or Ain Soph in Thelemic Qabalistic terminology.

As a Thelemite, I feel that it is important to point out that while the original Enochian system was very Christian, it also is highly relevant to the Thelemic system. Thelema incorporates many concepts from Aleister Crowley’s The Vision and the Voice, his own record of working directly with the Enochian angels. Crowley also believed himself to be the reincarnation of Edward Kelley, and both Dee and Kelley are named as saints in the Gnostic Mass. The Vision and the Voice details working with the Thirty Aires or Aethyrs and is not directly relevant to the Heptarchial system, but it represents an important connection between Dee and Kelley’s Enochian work and Thelema.

One of the most common symbol sets found in Renaissance grimoires is that of the seven ancient planets, which also provide the basic schema for the Heptarchial angels. As such, the system is structured with a King and Prince for each day of the week, plus a King and Prince who rule over the system as a whole, for a total of sixteen distinct angels who may be conjured by name for specific purposes. The Heptarchial wheel shows 49 distinct names, but only the first two from each set – the King and Prince - are explicitly conjured. The “Heptagon Stellar” shows the seven Princes and their seals. The other names represent Ministers that work for the King and Prince, but do not need to be conjured by name and/or seal. It should be noted that this is a much more compact set of spirits than what you will find when working with the Great Table or Thirty Aires, so it makes a good entry point into the Enochian system that can get you up and running relatively quickly without having to wade through a lot of complex analysis.

The temple furniture Dee was instructed to build for his operations is quite elaborate compared to other grimoires of the period. The Holy Table has a three-foot-square top with four three-foot legs, forming the outline of a cube. It was to be constructed of “sweet wood,” which some authors have suggested might allude to cedar. Another possibility is wood from a tree that bears fruit, so cherry would also be a good choice that you probably can find at a local lumberyard.

The top should be painted in yellow with a design that incorporates a border of angelic letters enclosing a large hexagram with a 3 x 4 grid of additional angelic letters in the center. In the middle of the table rests the Sigullum Dei Aemeth, or True Sigil of God. This is a nine-inch diameter disk about an inch thick made from beeswax, into the top of which is engraved a complex image incorporating names of power including those of the planetary angels, lineal figures of the pentagram and heptagram, and a system of letters and numbers around the edge that encodes additional names. The bottom side bears a simple cross-based design and the word of power AGLA.

In addition to the large nine-inch Sigillum, four half-size replicas are placed under each of the table’s four legs to support it. In practice, this means that the table legs should bring it to about an inch short of three feet so that the four small sigils will raise it to the correct height. On top of the table, the large Sigillum is surrounded by seven square talismans, one for each planet, called the Ensigns of Creation. Dee was instructed to make these from purified tin and engrave the letters into them. In a later scrying session he was told that he could also paint them onto the table using blue lines and red letters. Either way is appropriate, though it strikes me as more true to the Renaissance grimoire style to use metal talismans.

Also note that there some differences in interpretation in terms of constructing the table. The two images here use a slightly different color scheme for the table itself than I do, and if you search online you will find a lot of different variation. Mine is mahogany-stained wood with a purplish hue and the entire design is painted in bright yellow, which gives a nice flashing-color effect with the stain. My conclusion from seeing all of these different color schemes is that the table probably works fine whether or not you interpret the text exactly as Dee intended.

The floor of the temple should be covered with a six-foot-square carpet of red silk. Over the table, Sigillum, and Ensigns should be placed a six by six foot cloth of “changeable red and green silk.” There is a silk double-weave you can buy at local fabric stores called Tabasco that has what I consider the perfect look – iridescent red shot through with green. Finally, the scrying stone or shewstone is placed on top of the cloth and in the center of the large Sigillum. This is essentially a small crystal sphere placed in a frame that holds it in place. Some authors have reported that Dee and Kelley used an obsidian mirror in addition to the shewstone, since one such mirror is part of the Dee collection at the British Museum, but there’s no evidence from the diaries that they ever did so.

The Heptarchial magician then wears a plain white linen robe, a lamen, and a golden ring. Linen was the easiest natural plant fiber to procure in Dee’s time, and in my experience, cotton works fine as well. You just want to stay away from artificial fibers such as polyester. The lamen consists of a grid of angelic letters arranged in a particular pattern, and was originally to be made from parchment, which in Dee’s time referred to treated animal skin rather than paper. The lamen is worn over the chest. The ring should be made from pure gold and bears a design incorporating a circle, a horizontal line, a large V, and a large L into a sort of sigil in the center and the four letters of the name PELE at the corners. This is the name of a particular angel that means “he who worketh wonders.”

It is important to note that the angels who contacted Dee considered the ring to be the most important implement of all. He was told that without it, he would accomplish nothing. Given the current astronomical price of gold that’s a little disheartening, but fortunately other metals will work almost as well. I’ve had good results with both silver and brass, though as I mention in my book silver rings seem to have a habit of breaking after some number of uses. I have not had the same problem with brass, but unfortunately brass Enochian rings are hard to find online, whereas a lot of jewelers have silver. But even if you have to do something as silly as make a ring out of gold cardboard and draw on the design, you should always have something like it on your finger when performing Heptarchial operations.

Assembling a full temple setup like this is a major undertaking, and the good news is that you can in fact cut corners and get decent magical results. I built a couple of quick pieces and started right in on the magick when I first got interested in Enochian and I am glad I did. The photo here is of my traveling Holy Table setup that I used for my NOTOCON presentation on Heptarchial evocation. The table is an image that I found online and had printed and laminated at Fedex/Kinkos. It rolls up into a tube just like a poster. The Sigillum is an 8-inch wooden disk that I bought at Michaels craft store. I printed out the design for the Sigillum and glued it to the top, and then drew the cross with AGLA on the bottom in Sharpie marker. I set it up on a small hotel table, threw a tabasco-silk cloth over it, and set a small stone on top of that. It worked fine, even with the improvised tools and the proportions not quite right.

My point here is that It is easy to let building the perfect temple become an end in and of itself. Don’t do that. It can just as easily another excuse to keep you from doing the work. On a related note, Enochian has over the years developed a reputation for being scary or dangerous. It is no more so than any other effective magical system. When you command the spirits, they will act accordingly so you need to be careful how you word your charges to prevent things like “careful what you wish for” type situations. But if anything, I have found that the Enochian entities are if anything better at reading the “spirit” rather than the letter of your requests and they seem to honestly want to help. In all the years I have been working with the system I never have had to compel them to obey or anything like what some other grimoire practitioners report. And honestly, that saves you a lot of trouble.

To highlight this point a little further, I have twice issued a challenge on my blog for anyone to come up with a story of an Enochian magician who “melted down” or was messed up by the angels in some fashion. Only a handful of people could think of anything, and the couple stories I did get were where people with previous mental illness played around with Enochian and wound up getting worse. More than that, none of them used rings or lamens or temple equipment, as many Golden Dawn-style practitioners do not believe they are needed. Crowley did perform the operations that led to the writing of The Vision and the Voice without them as well, but he was a very experienced magician at the time. Some authors have argued that Crowley did in fact suffer as a result of his Enochian operations, but looking over the history it seems more likely to me that he had less success afterwards because by that time he had mostly used up his personal fortune self-publishing his work.

So no, I do not believe that Enochian is especially dangerous. It’s magick, it works, and it’s powerful, so you need to be careful how you use it. But that’s true of any technology. Cars are really dangerous; they kill something like ten thousand people a year and we still drive. Statistically speaking driving to the store is more risky than performing an Enochian operation, so don’t let yourself be scared by poorly sourced stories on the Internet arguing that Enochian is hazardous in some murky and poorly defined fashion. “Fear is failure and the forerunner of failure,” right?

One of the most discussed aspects of the Enochian system is the angelic language and alphabet, derived from a set of conjurations for the Great Table and Aires called the Angelic Keys or Calls. For the purposes of Heptarchial work, though, you do not need to know a lot about it aside from how to pronounce the names of the Kings and Princes. Otherwise, the conjurations and prayers used are all in English. There are a number of pronunciation systems out there, and one of the unfortunate things about Crowley’s Liber Chanokh is that he writes out the unwieldy Golden Dawn pronunciations of the Angelic Keys without indicating what the original letters are in the Dee text. As most Enochian magicians these days are abandoning that system as anachronistic and artificial, it makes the text less useful in practice than it might otherwise be.

The actual pronunciations can be derived from Dee’s own phonetic notes in the Angelic Keys, and in fact are relatively simple. For the most part, the names are pronounced as written. The system that I use is based on eliminating many multiple consonant sounds, so that for example, C is pronounced as K unless noted otherwise and G is never pronounced as J unless noted otherwise. Likewise, I try to keep the vowels as simple as I can. A is “ah,” E is “eh,” I is “ee,” O is “oh,” and U is “uh.” These rules should be sufficient for pronouncing the Heptarchial names, as none of them contain the particularly difficult sets of consonants that sometimes appear in the Angelic Keys.

With respect to soft C (S sound) and soft G (J sound), Dee uses a specific superscript in his pronunciation notes. Soft C is marked with a superscript S and soft G is marked with a superscript DG. These superscripts are not generally used, implying that the hard sound is the default and the soft sound is a special case. This can be contrasted with authors who use the soft sounds almost exclusively, which based on the notes themselves are usually incorrect pronunciations.

The Kings and Princes are attributed to the days of the week and seven ancient planets. They can only be conjured on the proper day, and the rituals work best if they are done in the proper hour. Planetary hours in Renaissance magick are of variable length depending on sunrise and sunset. To find the hours of the day, you divide the time from sunrise to sunset into twelve equal parts, and to find the hours of the night, you divide the time from sunset to the following sunrise into twelve equal parts. Sunrise is when each new day begins, not midnight as in the modern calendar.

The days of the week are attributed to the planets. Sunday is attributed to the Sun, Monday to the Moon, Tuesday to Mars, Wednesday to Mercury, Thursday to Jupiter, Friday to Venus, and Saturday to Saturn. The planets are also assigned to the day and night hours for each day following a pattern called the Chaldean Order. Once you have the hours calculated for the day, assign the first hour to the planet that rules the day, so that the first day hour of Sunday is ruled by the Sun, the first day hour of Monday is ruled by the Moon, and so forth. Then you follow Chaldean Order, which is also the order of the planets on the Tree of Life from top (Saturn) to bottom (Moon). The full Chaldean Order is Saturn --> Jupiter --> Mars --> Sun --> Venus --> Mercury --> Moon. It corresponds to the order of relative astrological motion from slowest to fastest, as visible from Earth.

There is an excellent Windows utility called ChronosXP that will calculate these hours for you automatically on your desktop. It is interesting to have it running and watch what happens – you start noticing a lot of coincidences in which things of each planet’s nature tend to happen during the proper hour. The application is open source, and I believe it is available for other desktop platforms as well.

The function of these days and hours in grimoire magick is like how modern magicians use pentagram and hexagram rituals – they tune the magical space to the energies of a particular planet. Rather than tuning by ceremonial means, grimoire magicians rely on the natural progression of planetary energies throughout the day. Dee gives additional planetary aspects to the Kings and Princes that match the day for the Kings, but not for the Princes. These additional aspects represent the proper planetary hour in which the King or Prince should be conjured. Carmara and Hagonel are the overall rulers of the system, so they can be conjured at any time. Mondays are best for them according to Dee, but other days will work. Monday is considered the start of the Heptarchial week rather than Sunday.

The Kings and Princes, like all collections of grimoire spirits, all have particular powers. It should go without saying that it is important to make sure you choose the right one for what you want, as their powers are limited outside their relative spheres of influence. This is like hiring a consultant in a corporate setting – if you need a developer, don’t hire a manager. And, of course, vice versa. But if you don’t know you should feel free to experiment. If you charge a spirit to do something beyond its powers it won’t get angry, the spell just won’t do anything. Or sometimes the spirit will give you the name of another spirit that you should be conjuring instead.

Here are the powers of the Heptarchial Kings according to Dee. Note that there is some overlap between the Kings. Baligon is a form of Carmara, as is Blumaza. They are summoned slightly differently depending upon the manifestation with which you want to work. Also, there is little explanation given for how precisely some of these powers work. In general, the Kings behave like Agrippa’s planetary Intelligences in that their powers tend to relate to knowing things or watching over things.

Carmara (Any), Blumaza (Day and Hour of the Moon): Dispensing and governing the Heptarchial doctrine.

Babalel (Day and Hour of Mars): Who art King of Waters: Mighty and Wonderful in Waters.

Bnaspol: (Day and Hour of Mercury): To whom the Earth with her bowels, and secrets what so ever are delivered.

Bynepor (Day and Hour of Jupiter): Whose exalted, especial and glorified Power, resteth only and dependeth the general condition of all things.

Baligon (Day and Hour of Venus): Who canst distribute and bestow at pleasure, all and whatsoever can be wrought in aerial actions.

Bnapsen (Day and Hour of Saturn): Casting out the power of all wicked spirits, knowing the doings and practices of evil men.

Bobogel (Day and Hour of the Sun): Distributing, giving, and bestowing wisdom and science.

Here are the powers of the Heptarchial Princes according to Dee. The only overlap between the Princes is that Hagonel and Bagenol are aspects of the same entity. In general, the Princes behave like Agrippa’s planetary Spirits in that their powers tend to relate to doing things and making things happen. They also lack the “bad” or “evil” connotation that Agrippa and later Barrett ascribe to the Spirits. Their powers can be destructive, but they are generally well-disposed towards working with magicians.

Bralges: (Day of the Moon, Hour of Saturn): Who saidst: The Creatures living in thy Dominion are subject to thy own power.

Befafes: (Day of Mars, Hour of the Sun): Who art Prince of the Seas. Thy Power is upon the Waters.

Blisdon: (Day of Mercury, Hour of Jupiter): Who art Life and Breath in Living Creatures.

Butmono (Day of Jupiter, Hour of Mars): Unto whom, the Keys of the Mysteries of the Earth are delivered.

Hagonel (Any), Bagenol (Day of Venus, Hour of the Moon): To whose Power the Operation of the Earth is subject.

Brorges (Day of Saturn, Hour of Mercury): Who governs the “gates of death.”

Bornogo (Day of the Sun, Hour of Venus): Altering of the Corruption of Nature into perfection, Knowledge of Metals.

Each combination of King and Prince requires a talisman bearing a ring of names around the edge, with those of the King and Prince along with their seals in the center. This example is for Carmara and Hagonel, the overall rulers of the system. Each talisman is for both the King and corresponding Prince, so a full set of Heptarchial talismans consists of only eight – this one plus one for each day of the week. These can be found in my book, rendered in Angelic letters, or at Joseph Peterson’s

The talismans on Peterson’s site do require a little assembly, but the process is fairly straightforward. The ring of names is the border of a circle, the King’s seal is placed in the upper half, and Prince’s seal is placed in the lower half. The names of the King and Prince are placed within the circle along with the seals. The way I generally do it is to write the name of the King followed by that of the Prince across the circle’s midline between the two seals, but other arrangements are also workable so long as the names and seals are represented.

One of the oddities about Heptarchial magick is how these talismans are used. Rather than being held in the hand or placed under the shewstone, they are placed on the floor. The magician then stands on them, preferably with bare feet, while reciting the conjuration. This is unusual in grimoire magick and I don’t think I’ve seen it anywhere else. In order to facilitate this you should place the talisman for the King and Prince on the floor in front of you when you start your ritual so that you can step onto it at the proper moment.

So once you have all of this, or a workable facsimile, you are ready to go. The ritual templates can be found in my book, and it is all pretty straightforward. You open the temple with a prayer called the Prayer of Enoch, which may be preceded by modern ceremonial forms like the Lesser Rituals of the Pentagram and Hexagram or Star Ruby and Star Sapphire. You identify with the divine with a prayer called the Oration to God. Then the rest of the operation consists of the Conjuration, Charge, and License to Depart just like in other forms of Solomon grimoire magick. The Conjuration may be preceded by the Greater Ritual of the Hexagram for the corresponding planet, but as at the beginning of the rite those forms are optional. The original system worked with just the prayers, like other grimoires of the period. The template in my book allows you to work with or without the modern forms as you see fit.

Several accounts of John Dee’s life make the claim that he never used Enochian magick for anything practical, and I’m going to relay this last story because I think it provides evidence that he indeed may have made use of it, at least once. When you read through the conjurations of the Kings and Princes it is obvious that the conjuration for Befafes, the Prince for Tuesday, is much longer than that for the other Kings and Princes, and is the only case in which Dee’s conjuration seems to refer to events that affected him personally.

Dee split with Kelly in 1587 and the grimoire form of the Heptarchia Mystica was compiled in 1588. Befafes’ powers are related to things like reducing the numbers of enemy ships, and Dee includes the statement that “you were with me in extremis” as part of his particular conjuration. So it would seem that Befafes was an entity that Dee conjured and worked with personally. As I speculate in the conclusion of Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy, the other event that happened in 1588 was the attack of the Spanish Armada, which was roundly defeated in part by a series of freak weather events.

The English ships were better able to handle the unusually erratic winds that accompanied the initial assault and inflicted heavier than expected damage on the Spanish fleet. Then, the Spanish ships were driven north and encountered unusually severe storms – including a rare North Atlantic hurricane – as they attempted to sail around Scotland and Ireland and return to Spain. The storms further depleted their numbers, and Spain was unable to launch any subsequent attacks.

Did John Dee summon Befafes to destroy the Spanish threat? Did he believe that the Prince had succeeded when the Armada was scattered, and subsequently amend his conjuration to that effect? If so, this may be the first documented case in history in which a magical operation played an important role in geopolitical events. Had Spain conquered England in 1588 the world of today would look much different. And if Dee conjured Befafes to stop it, the Prince was certainly with him “in extremis.” Dee was a member of Elizabeth’s court, and had the Spanish succeeded he likely would have been executed along with the rest of them.

Thank you all very much for attending, and I hope that you found this brief exploration of the Heptarchia Mystica engaging and informative. For more information, check out my book Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy. Happy conjuring, everyone!

Love is the law, love under will.

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Randave Carterson said...

Thanks, Scott! Unfortunately I was unable to attend your talk. Your book is very clear, your talk lays things out even more clearly, which is wonderful. So are the photos of your gear.

Scott Stenwick said...

Thank you! Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

Roger Bacon said...

Your "travel size" holy table poster is ideal! I haven't found a picture of the holy table with a high enough resolution for that.

Ryan said...

Great! I missed the talk but good to see this here! Is your 3rd Enochian book on mastering the aires/aethyrs out soon?