Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Enochian as a Single Coherent Magical System

One of the ongoing arguments among Enochian magicians is whether or not John Dee and Edward Kelly's experiments produced a single coherent system of magick. Notably, many modern magicians separate the "Watchtower" material from the material in the Heptarchia Mystica, as there is some justification for doing so. The Heptarchial material was received substantially earlier, and the conjurations are structured differently. There are also other portions of the original diaries that don't seem to fit with anything else, like the Liber Logaeth communications and the round tablet of Nalvage.

Despite all of this, my own magical research suggests that the Enochian system is indeed a single coherent system, at least in terms of the Heptarchia Mystica and the Watchtowers.

Most of the evidence I have collected is related to two specific ritual practices that have produced good results for me over the course of many years. The first of this is the use of Enochian Temple Equipment (no, that's not my temple, but the setup shown is very nice)with all of the entities of the Enochian system. Benjamin Rowe has argued that the temple equipment is only used with the Heptarchial angels, and it is true that the instructions for the various pieces of furniture accompany the descriptions of those particular entities. However, reading through the diaries there is no instruction anywhere telling Dee to stop using the table with the later angels, and it makes little sense that they would have built the table and then stopped using it. It might be argued that the equipment was never built, but there is substantial evidence that the table was indeed constructed.

In the diaries, Dee keeps asking if he can put a drawer under the table (and the spirits keep telling him no), so that implies that he and Kelly did in fact build it and used it for their scrying sessions. There is a Holy Table in the British Museum as well that is reputed to have belonged to Dee, though I have not personally seen it and it is possible that it could have been built later. Importantly, it would be worth checking to see if the letters on the table match the actual instructions or if they match the diagram published in True and Faithful Relation, which for some reason is incorrect. Whether it is a mistake or something done on purpose to prevent anyone from using the magick is hard to say, given that Meric Causaubon who published the book was opposed to Dee and his work. If the letters match the instructions, the table might have been Dee's or it might have been built by someone like Elias Ashmole. If it matches Causaubon's diagram, it must date to at least the middle of the seventeenth century when his book was published.

There are also technical reasons to use the Holy Table. All of the evocatory systems of the Medieval and Renaissance periods use containment structures of some sort into which spirits are summoned. This is the function of the table. The design communicated to Dee has a lot in common with that of the Almadel - take a look at the diagrams there and compare them to Dee's Holy Table - you have the same square shape, a big hexagram in the center, and a border all along the edge. The main difference is that Dee's table includes the various words of power in the angelic script. The containment structure gives you somewhere to put the magical energy that you summon and then send it to a target using a similarity or contagion link, and is very useful in this regard since the full energy of the conjuration can be sent out cleanly. Invoking and then projecting the energy is messier, in that usually some of the energy will "stick" to you and you may wind up experiencing some of its effects.

The Holy Table, Sigillum Dei Aemeth, and Ensigns of Creation work really well for this, and even if they were not "intended" for use with the Watchtower angels I would still want to use them. I think it is more likely, though, that Dee and Kelly did keep using the table and as a result it is harmonious with the later angels and the Watchtower portions of the system. The argument has been made that you don't need them to get results, and that part is true - they are not strictly necessary. The Golden Dawn system does not make much use of the equipment and many magicians have found that system to be very effective. However, one of the things that I have found is that as I assemble and use more Enochian furniture and implements my Enochian rituals get better. I would suggest that if your Enochian rituals seem really powerful without the temple setup, you might want to try building a couple of pieces and see what happens - you might be surprised at how powerful your magick turns out to be.

Another issue related to this concerns the use of the Angelic Keys, also referred to as the Calls. Various systems have been proposed for their use, most of which have problems of one sort or another. One of the most basic conclusions that I have come to over the years is that the First Call ("I reign over you...") is for Dee and the Second Call ("Can the wings of the winds...") is for Kelly. That is, the First Call is for the Magus and the second is for the Scryer. Read them over from that perspective and I think you will see what I'm talking about. The First Call outlines the perspective of the Medieval Magus, ruling over the spirits in the name of God. The Second Call is more invitational, offering praises to the spirits, and ends with the odd phrase "make me a strong Seething, for I am of him that liveth forever." "Seething" is not a word that is used in modern English, but in the sixteenth century it was still in use. It essentially means a trance or an alteration of consciousness, and has the same root as the Norse seidr. This fits perfectly with the model Dee and Kelly used - Dee, the Magus, pronounced the conjurations and summoned the angels, and Kelly then entered an altered state of consciousness where he could see and communicate with them.

Over the last several months our ritual group has had excellent results using the Calls in this way with the Heptarchial Kings. The basic framework for our workings can be found in my Heptarchial Ritual Template, and most of the members of our group have found that when using the First and Second Call as shown has allowed for decent scrying sessions, even among those of us who in the past were not very good scryers. It certainly seems like there is some sort of effect that improves our ability to communicate with the angels, at least with the Heptarchials. In earlier workings years ago I found that sometimes the Heptarchials did not manifest well, but that was before I worked out using the Calls in this way. In addition, other magicians I have spoken with have commented that in their experience it is hard working with the Heptarchials because they are difficult to approach - but as far as I know none of those magicians used the Calls when working with them.

So does it really all fit together? I have yet to come up with any reasonable applications for the Logaeth material, but that doesn't mean I never will. In fact, we may direct some future operations toward figuring out Logaeth, and given our success with the Heptarchials I am confident that something of value will result.

UPDATE: The "Holy Table at the British Museum" likely referred to a Holy Table that was once held at the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford rather than the British Museum proper. A reader passed on a rumor that this table was lost in a fire, but I haven't been able to find any confirmation on that one way or the other so far.

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Paolo said...

Thank You for this interesting piece. Do you have any more information on the holy Table which is supposedly in the BM. I have been several times and not seen it. It is also not mentioned in the following link which sums up what is visible very nicely.


I have heard that there was supposedly a Holy Table in the Ashmoean museum in Oxford. However I believe that was lost many years ago in a fire. That may have been Dee's although given the circuitous route by which Dee's manuscripts survived I wouldnt be surprised of it was actually Ashmoles.

Best Wishes


Josephine said...

Hi Scott,
Interesting piece. Just fyi, seething is still in use in the North of England, particularly Yorkshire (W/N) which had a heavy Viking presence. It is used in the context of a woman's contained anger, (I was seething with rage or I am seething)..
In a context of visions/utterances, seething into the fire in rage, at say an errant husband, is said in some local Yorkshire tales to enable the wife to see who the 'other woman was'..
Hope that helps

Scott Stenwick said...

Unfortunately my information on the Holy Table in the British Museum does not come from a primary source, and I haven't seen it personally.

My guess is that the source may have been referring to the one at the Ashmolean Museum and called it the "British Museum" in error - because you're right, it's not on that list. Either that, or the British Museum had one once and no longer does.

I'll update the article to reflect that.