When Beautiful Minds Talk To Higher Intelligences

A Brief Historical Overview of the Ophanic Language


© 2009 by Vincent Bridges and Terri Burns





Seldom do we find a precise date and location for the beginning of a magical tradition, but in the mid-1580’s, the original British agent 007, Dr. John Dee, and his enigmatic scryer Sir Edward Kelley received one of the most powerful yet mysterious systems of “angelic” magic ever known, what has become commonly known as the “Enochian” language and system of magic. Even critic and magician Donald Tyson, who thinks the “angels” conveyed their language with the sinister intent of bringing on the Christian Apocalypse, calls Dr. Dee’s angelic conversation diaries and transcription of the Enochian system “the most remarkable artifact in the history of spirit communication.”[1]

Conversing with angels to discover a secret control language of celestial mechanicsand, apparently, succeeding--is without linguistic precedent,[2] though we may think of a few tales that are similar if more modern. For instance, today universities hold week-long conferences on the recently discovered “lost” work of India's Srinivasa Ramanujan, a mathematical genius who filled notebooks with pages of mathematical formulas and relationships whispered in his ear by the Goddess Namagiri; high tech mathematicians aided with supercomputers still can’t solve many of the theorems he proved by scribbling numbers on a paper while his wife stuffed enough food in his mouth to keep him alive. Or we might think of the case of “Beautiful Mind” economist and Nobel-prize winner John Nash, who was famously asked, "How could you, a mathematician, believe that extraterrestrials were sending you messages?"  "Because the ideas I had about supernatural beings came to me the same way my mathematical ideas did," he answered. "So I took them seriously."[3]

Who is to say, when beautiful minds talk to higher intelligences, whether they are speaking to angels, extraterrestrials, a Goddess, or an intricate system somehow extruded from the light emitted by their own DNA? The test should be in the mathematical integrity of the system, rather than the mythology in which it is dressed. Dee’s angels speak to us through a heavily Christian Hermetic tradition of angel magic, which one can embrace if one chooses, or discard if one finds it outdated, quaint, or discomfiting. Nevertheless, the integrity of the system holds in a way unheard of among such phenomena. The angels came looking for Dr. Dee, much as Michael Rene, the space visitor, sought out Sam Jaffe, the brilliant physicist, in the original "The Day the Earth Stood Still." What they communicated was a geometrical, symmetry- based, DNA- coded language pattern capable of producing a rapid expansion of consciousness and an increase in symbol coherent cognition. This unique language form also appears to have Sanskrit and ancient Egyptian roots. Dr. Dee understood the information's importance, but the rest of the world, in the late 16th century, was very much not interested.


Dee and Kelley’s angelic work remained unpublished for almost fifty years after Dee’s death in 1608. It wasn’t until two scholars on roughly opposite sides in the English Civil War, Elias Ashmole and Meric Causubon, recovered and published some of the manuscripts and diaries in the 1650s that anyone outside of the immediate initiatory family circle even knew of the angelic conversations. Aleister Crowley’s 1912 Liber Chanokh, or “A brief abstract of the symbolic representation of the universe derived by Dr. John Dee through the scrying of Sir Edward Kelley,” was the first published commentary on Enochian as a system. Today, those who use or study the “Enochian” system include scholars of the western mystery tradition, Shakespeareans, angelology aficionados, and practicing ceremonial magicians, especially those involved in Renaissance magic or those initiated into systems such as the Golden Dawn, Argentum Astrum, or Ordo Templi Orientis, whose grade structures are based on systems that integrate Kabalah, sacred geometry, and Egyptian and European mythology with some components of the Enochian system.  


Recently, the authors have also suggested how John Dee and Edward Kelley may well have been the Hermetic teachers of William Shakespeare, with Shakespeare himself present at some of their most dramatic workings.[4] It comes as no surprise that the greatest writer in English history may have been present at the language’s inception.  Just as the Hebrew letters and language create a self-referencing focus for those who study Kabalah, so do the Angelic (or Enochian, or Ophanic) language and letters form the centerpiece of Enochian communication, which itself has very theatrical elements.[5] 


Yet despite wide present-day interest, explanations of Enochian and Enochian magic that both place it in its historical, political and esoteric context and look at the system in its entirety are few to none. A list and description of the few books available follows this article, as well as our educated opinion about the strengths and weaknesses of each.


As far as we know, the only time that the entirety of the Enochian system has ever been assembled, up, and running was in Sedona in 1996;  the Complete Enochian Handbook used as a guide for that working appear later in this collection.  It describes a complex multi-dimensional system that seems to function like a fourth dimensional computer able to interface with our three-dimension modes of processing light waves into images and pressure waves into sounds.


This working’s handbook describes the Holy Table, Lamens, Seal of Ameth, Ring, Elemental Tablets, Tablet of Union, and Tablet of Nalvage as the “communication hardware,” set up to run the programs given to Dee and Kelley. The group in Sedona set up the hardware and “ran” the basic operating system software, vibrating all 49 Enochian keys and ensuring that all interior and exterior aspects of the system matched perfectly so that 93 aethyrs resulted. The hardware and operating system platform interface via phase-locks and shared axes of symmetry between multidimensional geometric shapes and frequencies, and respond in truly interactive ways.


If you have not begun to work with Enochian material, the above may sound like so much incomprehensible jargon; if so, don’t worry about the terms for now. But if you have had some limited experience with the work of John Dee or used Enochian as part of some energetic practice, you probably notice components listed above that are not used by the initiatory systems that employ but rarely explain Enochian.


Part of the discussion following the above working is still posted on the goldenmean.info sacred geometry site, including the call for an Ophanic mystery school, that resulted, thirteen years later, in the Ophanic Revelation project now underway. While the Enochian Handbook was geared for an advanced audience of practicing magicians focused on single exhaustive all night working, it still behooves students of Enochian to see how this group approached the material, which is introduced thus:


The Ophanic Intelligences, the sentience of whirling Light, gave Dr. Dee a powerful tool for leveraging reality. Imagine a magick toolbox, small enough and portable enough to be scattered throughout the galaxy. The toolbox contains ‘tools’ designed to build a mechanism that functions as a combination radio set, life raft and emergency medical instrument. Included along with the tools is a DNA trigger coded[6] instruction sheet.


Learning the alphabetic waveforms of symmetry set coherent sacred languages,[7] such Hebrew, Greek, Sanskrit, etc., creates a stable psychic platform onto which the inter-locking non-local dimensional structures of the Ophanic Language can be downloaded. This ensures that the toolbox will be opened by someone with the spiritual perspective to use it. The information was originally given to Dee because he could understand and respect the material.


Viewing the Enochian (or Ophanic, or Angelic) material through the lens of modern breakthroughs in mathematics, physics, and cosmology, rather than via Renaissance Hermetics, one point becomes immediately clear: the simple fact that two men received material which their own time did not have the science or mathematics to explain, but which our time period does, suggests some kind of contact with a higher level of intelligence, from either within, without, or both.


It is crucially important to keep in mind that one of the major stumbling blocks to understanding the Enochian material has been the failure to recognize that John Dee already had in his repertoire certain concepts, like that of four dimensional geometry, precessional astronomy, and a concept for the nature of gravity, that we are accustomed to thinking were not described until many years later. Because of the time Dee lived in, and because his work has not been well understood until recently, it has remained “occulted,” or hidden from view, even from those who would most like to understand it.


First, some comments on names and labels: Why is a language Dee refers to as “Angelic” more often called “Enochian,” and is that the same thing as “Ophanic”?  And how can a language itself become a magical toolbox, let alone something that can directly affect the earth and its immediate environment in space?




Enochian, Angelic, or Ophanic?


The term “Enochian” was never used by either John Dee or Edward Kelley to describe the language or system derived from it, though Dee was intensely interested in finding a copy of the Biblical Book of Enoch, and many of the angelic conversations concern Dee’s inquiries about an “Adamic” language and desire to re-establish the wisdom of Enoch.[8] 

John Dee most often called it “Angelicall,” the language he believed God used to create the world. Commentators since have used the term “Enochian” to distinguish Dee’s “Angelical” from other “angelic” languages, noting the widespread Judeo-Christian tradition that there was a divine language, spoken by the angels, that matched the sacred numbering and ordering used in their creation story. It is a language of light, in whichever of many contexts one understands “light,” traceable to the “Fiat Lux” or “Let there be light” of Genesis.

Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, whose 1510 work De Occulta Philosophia had a major impact upon Renaissance Hermeticism, was one of many to write of a Divine language and speculate about what “angelic” speech might be:


[But] what their speech or tongue is, is much doubted by many. For many think that if they use any Idiome, it is Hebrew, because that was the first of all, and came from heaven, and was before the confusion of languages in Babylon, in which the Law was given by God the Father, and the Gospell was preached by Christ the Son, and so many Oracles were given to the Prophets by the Holy Ghost: and seeing all tongues have, and do undergo various mutations, and corruptions, this alone doth alwaies continue inviolated.[9]


Agrippa, like many others, assumes a connection between letters, numbers, and shapes, and assumes these can be used to calculate the names of “spirits:”


But because the letters of every tongue, as we shewed in the first book, have in their number, order, and figure a Celestiall and Divine originall, I shall easily grant this calculation concerning the names of spirits to be made not only by Hebrew letters, but also by Chaldean, and Arabick, Ζgyptian, Greek, Latine, and any other.[10]


Within Agrippa’s, and John Dee’s, heavily Abrahamic belief system, this original language was used by the first man, Adam, to talk with God and the angels. Later sacred languages, they thought, descended from this primary angelic speech. Some Renaissance Kabbalists, both Jewish and Christian, thought the primary language was Hebrew; modern students of the mystical Kabbalah, who believe that the “22 sounds and letters of the Hebrew alphabet are the foundation of all things,”[11] ordering the first creation of earth and stars in the heavens, and represented by different occult symbols and gematria, will recognize the outline of this belief system in modern esotericism. Gematria, the system of assigning numerical value to letters in sacred alphabets, especially Hebrew and ancient Greek, is derived from both the ancient Greek words for geometry, and grammar.

By the time Dee and Kelley began their angelic conversations, Dee was convinced that

Hebrew (or some proto-Hebrew that could be refined or even “corrected” by Kabalistic study) was constructed by Adam after the Fall based on a shadowy memory of an earlier language, which Dee termed “Angelicall,” or other synonyms such as “First Language of God-Christ” or “Celestiall Speech.” In Renaissance Hermetic Christian belief, in common with all Abrahamic faiths, the Biblical patriarch Enoch was the one known human who also spoke this language.

Enoch, “Idris” in Islamic tradition, and associated with Tehuti, Thoth, and Hermes in multiple magical traditions, was, within the belief systems drawn upon by Dee, the lone human prophet from whom the Angelic language was not hidden. Dee believed that he and Edward Kelley were the first to have this language revealed to them since Enoch. Within Muslim tradition and within the ancient and medieval alchemical tradition that passed into Christian Europe via Islam, Enoch/Idris is also credited with the invention of writing, grammar, geometry, arithmetic, and astronomy, all of which were, both to those traditions and within the work of John Dee, intrinsically related pursuits.


For instance, Dee’s most famous work, the Hieroglyphic Monad or Monas Hieroglyphica[12], and a related much longer work, the Propeudamata Aphoristica,[13] explicitly combine sacred languages and sacred geometry within an alchemical system purporting to show the structure of physical reality and how it is placed within the larger cosmos; both make use of four dimensional mathematics and show an understanding of gravitational forces 100 years before Newton.[14] 

Studying the Hieroglyphic Monad, which in many ways is a helpful precursor to studying Enochian magic, requires that a student be able to visualize complex geometric structures and transform them, while adding layers of Pythagorean, Kabalistic, and mythological correspondences that by Theorems XIII-XVI point the careful student to ideas that would have been outright heretical in Dee’s time, including advanced knowledge of the precession of the equinoxes that points 5,000 years backwards to the Age of Taurus, and very veiled references to ancient mystery schools and their very sexualized concept of gnosis.[15]  The structure underlying Dee’s Monad can be three dimensionally represented as “Squaring the Circle in the Creation of Sacred Space,” and mapped to both the Kabalistic Tree, the 5:6 ratio that relates phi to pi, and the spin direction that grounds energy into matter or animates matter with energy.[16]

By Theorem XVIII, Dee makes an ingenious green language play upon “light”—in Latin lux, then written LVXthat suggests the INRI/LVX transformation central to modern western esotericism.[17]  To Dee, understanding the concept of light stood at the border between the inner and outer mysteries. Curiously, and with prescient accuracy, it also stood between his concepts of three-dimensional and four-dimensional geometry:  by Theorem XX, he is outlining the use of a hypercube for those who have eyes to see. The fact that Dee also uses a hypercube in the Seal of Annael in his green-language laden Consecrated Little Book of Black Venus[18] is one of the ways we know Dee must be associated with this work; notably, it is also “Annael” who appears in John Dee’s very first existing angelic working, in 1581. Such a vision of an extended or unfolded hyper-cube in three dimensions, essentially a cube with another cube on each of its six faces, by Kelley on April 29th 1582 became the basis for the Angelic heptarchy controlling the nature of time.[19]

According to Dee and Kelley’s angels, Enoch recorded the Liber Loagaeth (Speech From God) for humanity.[20] Because Dee records that he and Kelley are the first humans to whom the angels have revealed their language since the time of Enoch, the language and the system it reflects are now most often called “Enochian” (though there have been other Enochian scripts besides Dee and Kelley’s, and these show not the slightest connection to the language here discussed.)  

Studying the elaborate symbolism within the different versions of the Book of Enoch and related Biblical apocrypha such as the Book of Jubilees is beyond the scope of this introduction, but those already knowledgeable in those texts should easily see why Enoch, and by extension all things “Enochian,” are also often associated with the measure of time and the prediction, timing, symbolism, and understanding of the Hermetic understanding of the “Apocalypse.” To Hermetic writers, “Apocalypse,” from Greek apocalepsis was on the one hand an “unveiling,” simply the becoming public of all that was hidden, and on another a pointer to a specific datable time period in the future when catastrophes might occur, or humanity might usher in a Golden Age.[21]

That brings us to the term “Ophanic.”  Perhaps this term is more metaphorically correct, or packed with more layers of meaning, than “Angelic” or “Enochian.” In any case, understanding it requires understanding what is known as “the Green Language,” used by esotericists from Rabelais to Nostradamus to Shakespeare to the 20th century alchemist Fulcanelli.[22]As Renaissance writers shifted to vernacular tongues like English, French, or Italian, such puns developed to keep alive the packed symbolism and correspondences possible in sacred languages like Hebrew, ancient Greek, or Latin. We might distinguish between a “sacred language” and a particular writer’s “green language” as follows: the writer employing an allusive set of green language references usually assumes that, while perfect correspondences may be inscribed within sacred alphabets, such perfection no longer exists in our commonly used vernacular languages. Because of this, alchemical writers resorted to a complex web of symbols; beneath the symbols, however, lays a deep skein of correspondences learned through the art or theater of memory.

The term “Ophanic” is a modern-day equivalent of such green language punning, containing within its references a vague outline of the language’s alchemical keys. Dee would have associated his “angelic” language with the Ophanim, or Auphanim, the choir of angels associated with the Sephiroth Chockmah, and by extension, pun intended, with Da’at.   In terms of the Kabalistic Four Worlds, the Ophanim are associated with Briah, the Creative World, and the highest level the human mind can comprehend.

In Hebrew, Ophanim/Auphanim means “wheels,” as in the wheels of the chariot in the vision of Ezekiel so often referred to in modern esoterica, and have great rims covered with “eyes,” (which can mean jewels or stars), and appear again in the Revelation of St. John.  Among other things, the Ophanim refer us to the zodiacal Great Year, the Apocalypse, and the creation of individuated knowledge from archetypal realms.

Choosing to Anglicize Hebrew as “Ophanim” rather than “Auphanim” also makes a Dee-like green language play on both “Ophir,” the legendary Biblical city renowned for its purity and abundance of gold; on “oph” the Hebrew collective noun for birds or in this case the language of the birds, and of course the ancient Greek word for serpent, contained in the 13th sign of the zodiac, Ophiuchus, the serpent-bearer, whose alignment with the winter solstice sunrise marks the end of the precessional round. Greek ophis can be a poet, serpent, or even metaphorically an arrow, and together these puns show us the outlines of different directions the study of Enochian might take us. If Shakespeare was indeed the student of Dee and Kelley, we might expect to find all of these meanings packed into the name of Hamlet’s once-beloved Ophelia, whose name also is ancient Greek for “indebtedness,” and ponder her appearance and death in a play named after the mythological character, Hamlet or Amleth, who turns the cosmic mill of time in Icelandic mythology.

John Dee did not use the term “Ophanic” to describe the language he was transcribing any more than he called it Enochian, but he was a master of such “green language,” and his more public works are full of such puns. The more dangerous the idea, the more it is likely to be hidden under multiple meanings.

The further one progresses in understanding the Enochian system, the more appropriate the term “Ophanic” seems. For our introductory purposes here, however, we’ll continue to use “Enochian,” since that is the word most commonly used by modern writers.


Dee, Kelley and The Angels


The origin of “Enochian” language, in modern times at least, again takes us back to 1581 and the “close encounter” that John Dee, perhaps the most learned man in Europe and the astrological advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, had with an angel. [23]

At least, that’s the legend:  Dee was praying in the second-story chapel of his Mortlake home when a sharp rapping and a sound like a screech owl drew him to the curtained windows. Throwing aside the drapes, John Dee came face to face with a shining being floating a full 12 feet off the ground. The being gestured for Dee to open the window, and when he did, the shining figure handed him a smoky quartz egg about the size of a small man’s fist. Dee took the quartz egg, and the figure vanished.

In the mid-nineteenth century, as part of the same occult revival that brought us Swedenborg, Madame Blavatsky, Theosophy, and the original Golden Dawn, this legend became the centerpiece of Gustav Meyrink’s romantic historical novel, The Angel of the West Window[24]. It is easy, from a modern perspective, to dismiss the “angel in the window” incident as a superstitious legend, but the crystal still exists, on display in the Manuscript Room of the British Museum.

Dr. Dee kept careful records and made notes almost obsessively. We have notes on the construction of his other scrying glasses, as these types of crystals were known, but nothing, except the above incident, about the smoky quartz egg. Even Dee's first biographer, Meric Casaubon, who was anything but sympathetic, simply reports the origin of the crystal without comment.

Not long after Dee recorded a “rapping” at his window[25] and received the crystal, he made the first existing notes of his conversations with angels, or at least, beings he took to be angels. That first working, through the scrying of a man with probably pseudonymous name “Barnabus Saul,” the Archangel Annael appeared. Within a few more months, alchemist and scryer Edward Kelley would arrive at his door, and the two would launch into seven years of magical workings that took them from England to Cracow to Prague and Bohemia. These include the mysterious “heptagonal” working, which took place in 1588 as the Spanish Armada was sailing towards England, and perhaps gave birth to yet another persistent legend, that Dee and Kelley’s magic helped create the storms that turned back the Spanish Armada.

When scholars such as Dame Frances Yates write of William Shakespeare’s Prospero being partially modeled on John Dee, its not hard to see The Tempest as influenced by this legend:  the Magus Prospero conjures a storm that wrecks the ship of his adversaries, and through the conjuring of spirits he has used to protect his island, all manner of ills are set aright. Indeed, as one studies the Angelic workings, it becomes difficult not to see the similarity between Ariel and Uriel, Prospero’s angelic familiar and Dee’s angelic informant, and even Calaban, Prospero’s other magical servant, has a name strongly suggestive of the Rulers of the Heptarchy. More recent scholarship, including that of the authors,[26] suggests that William Shakespeare (under the spy pseudonym “Francis Garland”) may have been present for Dee and Kelley’s Heptagonal working, as well as some of their other continental adventures.

What were the circumstances that led John Dee--geographer, mathematician, alchemist, and spy--to try to learn the workings of the universe from angels?

John Dee was born in 1527 and his formative years were colored by the religious turmoil brought on by the Reformation. Dee's family, through which he would later claim distant kinship with Queen Elizabeth, probably arrived in London in the wake of Henry Tudor's coronation as Henry VII. By the time he went up to Cambridge at fifteen, he was searching for a resolution to the problem of religious authority, seeking a type of spiritual science that could supply insight into the workings of nature by infusing the natural world with mystical meaning.

After studying at Cambridge and Louvain, Dee achieved the status of Renaissance celebrity in 1550 with a lecture on mathematics and the spiritual aspect of number at the University of Paris. During the reign of Edward VI, Dee became involved in the political maneuverings around the throne and by the summer of 1555 found himself in prison on an unspecified ecclesiastical charge. After Catholic Queen Mary, "Bloody Mary,” and her followers displaced the “nine-day Queen” Lady Jane Grey following the death of the boy King Edward, times were tough for known Protestants, especially mathematicians and magicians, especially those known to have cast horoscopes of the Queen. Dee spent several months in prison. Over six hundred others went to the stake for witchcraft and heresy, perhaps even Dee’s own father.

Dee survived the purge of 1555, as did his new patron, Queen Elizabeth I, who asked him to pick an auspicious date for her coronation. Curiously, she also gave his widowed mother an old house on the site of an ancient lake, a house whose title a few years later would pass on to Dee. He settled in at this family home, Mortlake, which would eventually house the largest library of its time in all of Europe. Only the great national collections of the next century surpassed it.[27]  The type of books he collectedeverything from Hebrew grammars to classical mythology to Galenic and Paracelsan medical texts to works by Agrippashow him as Elizabeth I’s chief “intelligencer” and “philosopher” in that specific Renaissance context where espionage meant everything from cryptography to astrology to, in Dee’s case, talking to angels.

At the end of 1562, Dee departed for an intelligence-gathering expedition to the continent. The easiest way to follow his trail is by noting the manuscripts he collects. The first of these was the Stenographia of Abbot Trithemius, a bizarre text written on multiple levels. . When Dee learned of the manuscript's existence in Antwerp, he apparently spent almost all of his money and exhausted the use of different middlemen to obtain a draft. What appear to be the incantations that fill the first two books of Stenographia are actually arduous encryption schemes, but in the latter portion, Trithemius lays out a complex, but coherent, method in which the magical images of cosmic forces are etched into wax to capture and manipulate their energies. Thus the cryptography and the magic cover for each other, and to this day scholars argue about which was a blind for which. In Books I and II, Trithemius directed his magic encryption codes toward the goal of long-distance communication via spirit messengers, a magical version of telepathic communication. All this, of course, had immediate practical value for espionage. Why pay couriers if the spirits can deliver communiquιs more reliably?

As Peter French noted in his biography of Dee, “Trithemius’ goal in this work is a form of telepathic communication that would be achieved by conveying the human spirit, with the imprint of the sender’s thought, though the air to a recipient whose portrait the sender contemplates. The magic is implicitly a means of knowing all that is going on in the world, and the angel-magic underlying the Stenographia would have been far more significant to Dee than the treatise’s outward concern with cryptography.”[28]

This was the beginning of Dee's quest for the direct experience of his "Radical Truths." From Antwerp he departed to visit many of the great Hermetic thinkers and libraries of his time.[29] In the winter of 1564, he wrote The Monas Hieroglyphica in one long twelve-day explosion of insight. In spite of its intentional obscurity, the Monas Hieroglyphica became the Renaissance equivalent of a best seller and attracted comment from the best minds of the next century and a half.[30]

At the center of the work is a talismanic diagram that resembles the astrological symbol for Mercury, but with some significant changes. From this symbol, Dee extrapolated a complex system of mystical geometry, which he thought embodied the underlying unity, or monas, of the universe. However, having no desire for a heresy charge, Dee left the application of this universal symbolism rather vague.

His readers, who knew the code and could understand the meaning and implied practical applications, made Dee's work into one of the cornerstones of Renaissance alchemy. They thought that Dee had discovered a universal symbol that, when engraved in the psyche, would allow man to experience the Gnostic revelation. This revelation, in which all knowledge – gnosis–was received, then allowed one to operate as a lens or focus for spiritual activity. We can think of this idea as the basic definition of a shaman or a magician.

After 1564, Dee published only mathematical and scientific works. His edition of Euclid, with the "Mathematical Preface," appeared in 1570, and in 1577 his "Perfect Arte of Navigation" was published. Virtually nothing else appeared in print in his lifetime. Apparently, during the 1570's, his interest in the "Radical Truths" came to outweigh everything else. Dee had achieved earthly fame and had made significant contributions to the development of several hard sciences in his own time. Increasingly, it must have seemed that only non-local, non-physical intelligences could answer Dee's ever more complex questions.

From 1563 on, Dee had the tools and the basic understanding to embark on an exploration of angelic communication, the idea that had led him to copy Trithemius with such excitement. His notes, however, record only a few attempts, done without much enthusiasm. That is, until the angel rapped on the window.

The logic of turning to supernatural forces for knowledge about the universe seems strange to our modern scientific sensibilities. This is a category of experience that "science" has labeled subjective and therefore suspect. To Dee's contemporaries it seemed less unusual. The possibility of acquiring knowledge by revelation or inspiration was a vital component of the Renaissance paradigm. In the "Mathematical Preface" to his edition of Euclid, Dee asserts that man "participates with Spirits, and Angels: and is made to the Image and Similitude of God." He also notes that there are powerful precedents for angelic communication: the traditions of Enoch and Esdras, Abraham and Elijah and Moses, and "sundry others thy good angels were sent (to) by thy disposition, to Instruct them."

Dr. John Dee’s first serious attempt at angelic communication, on December 22, 1581, involved a man by the curious name of Barnabus Saul, one of Dee's servants, who acted as a medium or seer. Apparently, he was a better footman than a medium, for after a few sessions we hear little more about him. By March 1582, however, Dee's seer had located him. His diary reads:

Mortlake: In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen. In the year 1582, on the 10th day of March, before noon, Saturday.


One Mr. Edward Talbot came to my house and he being willing and desirous to see or show some thing in spiritual practice. . .


So begin Dee's notes of his first scrying session with his new seer, Edward "Talbot" Kelley. At first, Dee was suspicious of the younger man, and rightly so. Kelley appeared unannounced, offering a fake name -- he might have been a spy seeking information on Dee's spirit conjurations -- and even when identified proved to have an unsavory reputation. Dee must have resolved his doubts, because on an early spring morning roughly a year after Dee's first angelic visitation, they sat down for a trial run with the scrying stone. It is hard not to be impressed by the vivid quality of the quickly written notes of the proceedings. Kelley fell to his knees before Dee's desk and began to pray over the stone; surprised, Dee took Kelley and the stone into his chapel, or oratory.

Within a quarter of an hour, Kelley began to see an angelic shape in the crystal. This being identified itself as the Archangel Uriel, accompanied by Raphael and Michael. Dee was hooked by this immediate success, and so began a long strange relationship between these two men and the angels. For the next seven years, they conducted almost daily sessions. Dee of course wrote everything down in his "Spiritual Diaries," and reading them becomes after a while an exercise in applied surrealism. As an example of a dialogue with the deep unconscious Other, they are unparalleled.[31]

At this first session, the Archangel Uriel revealed his sigil, a rather stylized energy signature, and gave preliminary instructions for a powerful talisman called the Sigil of Truth. Fashioned of wax, it was used in all future sessions as the base for the scrying crystal. This seal or sigil is at first glance similar to earlier ones by Agrippa and Reuchlin, but the version the spirits produced for Dee and Kelley is more detailed and aesthetically satisfying. Designed as an embedded heptagram/heptagon with a pentagram in the center, the Sigil of Truth theoretically acted as a template or pattern buffer for truthful communication.

The Sigil of Truth also functioned as a geometric foundation on which the rest of the angelic system grew. Around the outer edge of the Sigil is a series of letters and numbers. From these, the angels derived a series of great elemental names, which were said to describe the forces ruling each elemental tablet. The names of the angelic beings within the heptagon/heptagram were transmitted in the form of letters arranged in squares. These squares were then read in different directions to produce even more angelic names. Today this gives us the impression of a vast fractal universe in which the nature of the intelligence consulted depends on the symmetry angle of your approach.[32]

On March 26, Kelley was shown a great book with the leaves also filled with squares. For the next 13 months, Dee and Kelley struggled to copy the contents of this angelic volume, despite interruptions and interference from the spirits. The records of these sessions are full of odd material, elemental distractions and strangely accurate prophesies. Some times the spirits wouldn't appear at all. This behavior suggests that the spirits were of several types, with differing agendas, and that they had other things to do than wait for Dee and Kelley to show up for their lessons.

The vision of the book marked the first appearance of material concerned with the angelic language. Since the Mayan origin point for this evolutionary cycle, 3113 BC, there have been more than seven thousand natural languages recorded. Human ingenuity has created perhaps another thousand, mostly for religious and magical uses. But we have no record of any language stranger than the one that emerged from these scrying sessions. Dee and Kelley's Angelic or Enochian language is unique. Even now, it is impossible tell if it is a natural or invented language, or whether it is, indeed, the language of the shining angelic beings.

The alphabet appeared first; twenty-one special characters each with its own title. The titles are odd, with little relationship between title and the phonetic value of the character, and were dictated in three groups of seven totaling 64 characters in all, which suggests another magical square arrangement. As alluded to earlier, it also suggests the I Ching, the codons of DNA and the Tzolkin calendar of the ancient Mayans. As an added bit of strangeness, twenty-one is exactly the number of symbols needed to transcribe phonetic English without confusion.

These characters were then used to dictate the first texts in the angelic language. On Good Friday, March 29, 1583, the angels began with a slow deliberate method – the angel spelled each word, letter by letter, and then Dee wrote out the English and read it back – to fill in a large 49 x 49 square, where each square was a word and each line a text. After two lines of text, Dee expressed a desire for a simpler method. Annoyed at the request, the angel departed. By the following Tuesday, when the session reconvened, the angels were prepared with a completed square from which Kelley could read off the text. Kelley however had not memorized the letters given the previous week.

Annoyed again, the angel intervened:


A voyce -- Read. E.K. -- I cannot.


<Dee>: You should haue lerned the characters perfectly and theyr names, that you mowght now haue redily named them to me as you shold see them.


A voyce -- Say what thow thinkest. (Dee- he sayd so to E.K.)


E.K. My hed is on fire.


A voyce -- What thow thinkest, euery word that speak.


E.K. I can read all, now, most perfectly, and in the Third row this I see to be red.


Palce duxma ge na dem oh elog. . .


(Sloane MS 3188, April 2, 1583)


What happened here? The angel said "What thou thinkest, every word, that speak," and Kelley miraculously began to read. Kelley’s "[m]y head is on fire" comment suggests something very strange happened that afternoon. Did the angels, those non-earthly, non-local intelligences, force Kelley's consciousness into resonance with a language pattern coded into our very DNA?

The texts that Kelley generated from the tables shown to him by the angels resemble the vast literary mandalas of Tibet, and like them are full of phonetic patterning, repetition, rhyme and alliteration. This type of verbal patterning is not found in normal speech, but is characteristic of poetry and magical charms as well as "speaking in tongues," or glossolalia, that is language produced under trance conditions. There is no question that Kelley was in some kind of trance during these sessions: Dee notes many occasions indicative of a deep trance state on Kelley's part. However, this does not mean that the "language" produced in these sessions was meaningless gibberish. The phonetic patterning is also similar to verb tense and other grammatical drills. Perhaps Kelley, with the help of these “angels,” was constructing in a trance state, the linguistic links his unconscious needed in order to receive a more complete form of the angelic language, one that developed from these original text-filled squares.

The squares of the Liber Logaeth, or the "Book of the Speech from God" as Kelley and Dee called the great book of his vision, did indeed form the basis of a new series of 49 invocations dictated in the spring of 1584, while Dee and Kelley were in Cracow, Poland. Unfortunately, the details of how this version of the Enochian language developed from the squares is very unclear. All we can be sure of is that it was generated somehow out of the previous tables and squares, and this time a translation was provided right from the start.

With these translations, we begin to find a real language emerging. The grammar and syntax are similar to English, perhaps because of Kelley's unconscious linguistic processes, but vocabulary elements, roots and prefixes and case endings, are not directly derivable from English, Greek, Latin or Hebrew. Some words suggest Sanskrit and ancient Egyptian roots, languages completely unknown to either Dee or Kelley.

In fact, in the earliest sessions on the Sigil of Truth, we find that the name of the elemental king of fire, generated by following a symbolic pattern around the letters and numbers on the rim of the seal, is a perfectly good phonetic rendering of an ancient Egyptian phrase. Following the pattern, which was dictated several years after the Sigil itself, we produce the name Oheooaaatan, pronounced Uh-heh uh-ah-ah ah-ton.

In hieroglyphic Egyptian that becomes uha uhah aton, the very phrase in one of Ra-Harakte's titles, translated as "the penetrating and destructive power of the sun's disk," from which Amenhotep III took the word Aton and turned it into a new definition of divinity. Before we dismiss this as a coincidence, we should note that the elemental king of earth, derived by the same method, renders as Tha-ha-oo-teh, or simply Tehuti, or Thoth to the Greeks. This is simply astonishing. Phonetic Egyptian did not even exist as a concept during the Renaissance. Athanius Kircher declared in the 17th century that all hieroglyphs were symbolic rather than phonetic, and no one thought otherwise until Champollion in the early 19th century. Where did Dee and Kelley get these Egyptian words and phrases?

We are left with a deep mystery.

Hard as they worked to produce this mountain of magickal material, Dee and Kelley seem never to have done anything with it. Kelley must have used some formulas given to him by the spirits in his alchemical workings, but beyond that no further contact was undertaken until that of Elias Ashmole-- a founding member of the Royal Society, antiquarian book collector, alchemist, and Rosicrucian brother in all but name--in the next century.


Ashmole, Casaubon and Rudd: The Hermetic Revolution and Beyond


In 1614, six years after John Dee’s death, a publicly printed text appeared of an anonymous manuscript that had been circulating among Europe’s intelligentsia for several years. It was called “The Declaration of the Worthy Order of the Rosy Cross.” Known by its first two Latin words, Fama Fraternitatis, it revealed the purported existence of a brotherhood founded by one Christian Rosenkreuz, who allegedly lived in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.[33] The Fama tells of his search for occult knowledge, which led him to the Middle EastPalestine, Syria, Egypt, North Africa, and Spainbefore returning to Germany to found his secret brotherhood. One hundred and twenty years after Christian Rosenkreuz’s death at the advanced age of 106, one of the brethren discovered his tomb and his uncorrupted body. This was the signal for the Brotherhood to emerge and spread their message, hence the publication of the Fama.

Their message, of course, was nothing less than the dawn of a new Golden Age. The Fama informs us that the Brotherhood possessed the keys to a secret knowledge capable of transforming society and ushering in a new era, one in which “the world shall awake out of her heavy and drowsy sleep, and with an open heart, bare-headed and bare-footed, shall merrily and joyfully meet the new arising Sun.” This quote is taken from the next Rosicrucian production, the Confessio Fraternitatis, a restatement of the basic themes, but with a more direct emphasis on its revolutionary implications. It also goes to the core of the alchemical mystery.

The Rosicrucians were alchemists, but the Fama and the Confessio are both highly critical of the “puffer” type of alchemical worker who sits in his lab and actually attempts to get the mineral gold out of boiling lead. The Fama talks of “ungodly and accursed gold-making, whereby under the colour of it many runagates and roguish people do use great villainies, and cozen and abuse the credit which is given them.” The Fama implies that the Rosicrucians could make gold but found the higher spiritual alchemy to be more important. Higher spiritual alchemy related to the coming Golden Age and how to prepare for it. That, seemingly, was the intent behind the publication of the first two Rosicrucian documents – to prepare the world for the new era that was dawning.

The third volume, however, was very different. The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz appeared publicly in 1616, the year Shakespeare died, and is the only Rosicrucian document to be linked with an author.

Johann Valentin Andreae, a Protestant minister from Germany, claimed late in life that he wrote The Chymical Wedding in 1601, though the attribution is extremely somewhat suspect, as he would have been just fifteen at the time. The Wedding is full of complex occult imagery and surreal metaphors and describes Christian Rosenkreutz’s experiences as he observes a royal wedding. It is hardly the stuff of adolescent fantasies. John Dee’s Monad glyph appears prominently in the margins of the Chymical Wedding; and the Wedding’s story-within-a-story serves as a gloss for the message of the whole, much like the play-within-a-play in some works of Shakespeare.

Like many alchemical works, the Wedding is filled with ciphers and green language. No less a mind than Leibniz, who along with Newton invented calculus, solved one of the ciphers. In the Wedding, the king announces: “My name contains five and fifty, and yet hath only eight letters.” Leibniz correctly unraveled one layer of this mystery by using a simple Latin gematria, where A = 1, B = 2, and so on, to arrive at the answer of “ALCHIMIA.”

We must consider The Chymical Wedding as an initiatory text, much like Wolfram’s Parzival or Fulcanelli’s Le Mystθre des Cathιdrales, which cannot be understood without the aid of an esoteric gloss. However, no explication appeared and after this strange work, the original Rosicrucians fell silent. It is not known if they did indeed respond to any of the many thinkers, such as Leibniz, who sprang to their defense. We can assume that if they did, the secret was kept, because the movement continued.

Francis Yates labeled the entire era “The Rosicrucian Enlightenment,” but the authors prefer the term “Hermetic Revolution” for the era in European history from the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 until the beginning of the Thirty Years War at the Battle of White Mountain in Bohemia in 1620. In this light, the fundamentalist (in the modern sense of reactionary conservatism) movements of the Counter-Reformation and the Puritan regicide in England can be seen as reactions to the Hermetic Revolution. Similarly, it is possible to see such diverse concepts as the Elizabethan theater and Shakespeare’s plays as part of the same alchemical current as the Rosicrucian movement. At the center of this Hermetic Revolution stands the work of Dr. John Dee, particularly the Monas Hieroglyphica.

When Dr. Dee returned to England in 1589, Sir Edward Kelley remained in Bohemia to continue his alchemical research. This initial split, between alchemical application and angelic communication, would create almost insurmountable problems for those in the next generation who tried to understand the significance of Dee and Kelley’s work.

Elias Ashmole, following the alchemical trail, rediscovered the importance of Kelley’s alchemical works and their connections to Dee and perhaps in a disguised manner to William Shakespeare[34] and published his findings in Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum in 1652, while Meric Casaubon, in publishing A True and Faithful Relation of What Passed for Many Years between Dr. John Dee and Some Spirits in 1659 as something of a rebuttal to Ashmole’s comments, inadvertently exposed the true depth of Dee and Kelley’s work, even as he tried to demonize it. But the bifurcation is real, alchemical on one side and angelic/demonic on the other, and this double vision is the major point of both understanding and confusion in evaluating the Ophanic communication as a whole.

Without these two publications, it is likely that Dee and Kelley’s work would have faded into complete obscurity. That at least was Asmole’s motivation: “For I think it not fit to suffer such Eminent lights longer to lie in Obscurity, without bringing them forth to the view of the World.” For Casaubon, the intent is very different. He paints Ashmole’s “eminent lights” as deluded fools and worse, a charlatan or demon possessed in the case of Kelley. We can perhaps see this wide divergence of view as indicative of the political and cultural wars that accompanied the English Civil War and its Cromwellian aftermath, making the odd case that Dee’s significance to the Elizabethan era had become something of propaganda issue.

This strongly suggests that some kind of tradition surrounding Dee and Kelley’s angelic workings had survived the intervening decades. Elias Ashmole briefly corresponded with Arthur Dee, John Dee’s son and a participant as a child in the angelic workings in Trebona, and even published a book by him the year before the Theatrum Chemicum Britannium.[35] Ashmole appears to have had access to information that did not survive, independent sources if you will, and some of those included connections to Kelley’s surviving relatives as well as Dee’s. He had an alchemical “initiator,” William Backhouse, who he said revealed to him the secret of the philosopher’s stone, and also passed on to him many manuscripts. He also had access to the early angelic sessions after 1662 when they were discovered in a secret drawer of a cedar wood chest once owned by Dr. Dee. The finder, a Mr. Wales, traded them to Ashmole for a copy of his book on the Order of the Garter. This material led Ashmole to attempt his own angelic communication in the 1670s.

Beneath the shadowy surface of Rosicrucian, proto-masons and other occult societies, we can see the outlines of the early Enochian tradition developing. But the core of that tradition remained underground, partly obscured by a mysterious “Dr. Rudd.” Some 20th century Dee scholars, Frances Yates included, speculated that this “Dr. Rudd,” whose work is copied by a later copyist called “Peter Smart,” might have been Thomas Rudd, who published an edition of Dee’s Mathematical Preface to Euclid in 1651. Whoever Rudd was, he had to have a connection to some initiatory circle connected to the family of Dee or Kelley, though recent research has cast doubts on this being his real name.[36]  If the name itself is a pseudonym, consider the many green language puns pointed to by the name Rudd it suggests “red” or “ruddiness,” the act of spawning, even a “rudder,” but most tellingly a Rudde or Roode was an old word for a Cross, and might well suggest the “light of the cross” or LVX of Dee’s Hieroglyphic Monad.

 “Dr. Rudd” represents the survival of a magical connection from Dee’s era, through the Rosicrucians and into the era of Ashmole and physicist Robert Boyle. In 1660, Ashmole and Boyle were founding members of the Royal Society, which itself grew out of an “Invisible College” referred to by Boyle in 1646. Incidentally, one of the most unexpected accounts of Edward Kelley’s alchemical work, to modern minds anyway, is the story told by none other than Robert Boyle, who claimed in 1670 that he had heard the story of the grand transmutation from Kelley’s own kin, and spent a fair amount of time trying to produce something similar on his own. Even Isaac Newton was not immune to the lure of alchemy, and, as he was familiar with Ashmole’s work, certainly knew of Dee and Kelley.

By the early 18th century, some Enochian material was circulating in manuscript form among what would soon become Freemasonry. And thereby hangs a curious story, one that connects many obscure threads and leads back to Dee’s involvement in the Elizabethan theatre and forward to the Hermetic revival of the 19th century’s occult societies, including the Golden Dawn.


Smart, Byrom and Falkner: The Tradition Splinters


Freemasonry formally started in England in 1717 with the public announcement of the Four Lodges at the Apple Tree Tavern in London on June 24, Saint John’s Day. Something like these “lodges” had existed at least since the mid fourteenth century as craft guilds. These Freemasons were different, however. They weren’t actually working, operative masons but middle-class members of a secret society gone public. As early as the1640s, around the same time as Boyle’s reference to an “Invisible College,” Elias Ashmolejoined some kind of speculative Masonic group. Some of the early founders of official English Freemasonry, such as Dr. James Anderson and John Theophilus Desaguliers, had Rosicrucian connections and sympathies and exerted an enormous influence on the early lodges. In the next twenty years, similar lodges were organized publicly all over the British Isles.[37]

The movement spread to the Continent, even as far as Russia, but it took the oration of Chevalier Andrew Michael Ramsay, given at the Paris Grand Lodge on March 21, 1737, to put the new movement into perspective. According to Chevalier Ramsay, the Freemasons came not from the literal medieval guilds of cathedral builders but from the kings and nobles of the Crusades. They were not actual builders, but those who had taken vows to restore the Temple in Jerusalem. These “Templars” formed an intimate link with the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem.[38] The Chevalier Ramsay also announced that the Order was derived from the mysteries of Isis, Ceres, and Diana, an interesting claim in light of Fulcanelli’s comments in Le Mystere on Isis and the Black Madonnas of the Gothic cathedrals, and even more fascinating when we turn to the obvious goddess worship references in John Dee’s Enochian visions and even in Shakespeare’s plays.[39]       

At about the same time that the Chevalier Ramsay was trying to define Freemasonry, an English Brother, John Byrom, poet and inventor of a form of phonetic shorthand, and member in good standing of a lodge that met at The Swan Tavern in Long Acre, came into possession of an odd collection of esoteric manuscripts. Like the Chevalier, Byrom was a Jacobite sympathizer, a supporter of the Stuart restoration to the throne.[40] In the early eighteenth century in the north of England this was a dangerous position to hold. The nine “Manchester Martyrs,” which contained at least one of Byrom’s friends, were hanged, drawn and quartered for treason for their part in the 1745 uprising of the young pretender, “Bonnie” Prince Charles Stuart. Byrom survived, perhaps with his life purchased by friends’ silence.[41]         

The origin of Byrom’s collection is unclear. All that can be said is that sometime between 1732, the latest dated piece in the collection, and the disaster of 1745 the papers became part of Byrom’s library. They were listed in the catalogue of the family library in the mid-19th century as miscellaneous geometric and architectural drawings. At some time after that they disappeared from the library, turning up later in a cupboard only to be forgotten again until a Manchester music teacher, Joy Hancox, decided to write a biography of John Byrom in the late 20th century.[42] The family entrusted her with the remaining pieces of the collection, 516 separate pieces of paper and card stock covered, some on both sides, with enigmatic geometrical diagrams. Even though some of the diagrams had writing on them, there was not a single explanatory note.    

A few were dated, the latest being 1732, and a few others had what appeared to be brief, cryptic instructions or commentaries. Some sheets had initials on them of recognizable people and some even had a name or two mentioned. These included George Ripley, Robert Fludd, Jacob Boehme, Michael Mair and Heinrich Khunrath, a roll call of scholars, mystics, scientists and Rosicrucian philosophers. One curious mention was Matthew Gwinne, an Elizabethan professor of medicine and a contemporary of John Dee and Shakespeare. One or two sheets mentioned the Royal Society, of which Byrom was a member and a few contained biblical references, including the measurements of the Ark of the Covenant. One very small drawing depicted an English acrostic featuring the word “Cabalists.”

Given just these clues, the obvious Kabalistic nature of some of the drawings, and Byrom’s involvement with Freemasonry and Jacobinism, it is not too radical a supposition that Byrom should have been given the collection by the remnants of some secret society, perhaps for safe keeping. We have no evidence, beyond Hancox’s wishful thinking, that Byrom himself ever formed a working group around these papers, or that they were ever part of a collection within the Royal Society. But the collection itself does indeed appear to be the teaching and demonstration diagrams of a magical society, one that apparently existed from the 1590s to the early 1730s.

What do these drawings have to do with Enochian?  Their focus seems to be sacred geometry and Kabbalah in architecture. The seeming split between sacred geometry and angelic languages exists just as palpably as the one between Dee and Kelley’s physical alchemy and angelic communication. The deep geometric understanding is what supports the latter and allows it to operate.

Fortunately, this is not the only example of the survival of archives of such a secret group, and the others relate more directly to angelic magic. In the Harleian manuscript collection in the British Museum there is a collection of alchemical and magical texts copied between 1699 and 1714 by one Peter Smart, self-described Master of Arts of London.[43] Among these manuscripts are several relating directly to Dr, John Dee’s Enochian workings and angelic magic as well as a collection of alchemical and Rosicrucian material, also containing fragments of Dee’s work, entitled The Rosie Crucian Secrets. This work was examined by E. Langford Garstin, a member of an early twentieth century esoteric and magickal group,[44] who commented: “There is a mass of evidence in favour of the supposition that as early as Dee’s time there was in existence a secret fraternity... (and) that this society may even have been, and probably was, a branch of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood…”[45]

Could the Byrom collection also once have been part of Peter Smart’s copying project? Could it have been part of the originals from which Master Smart worked? Such complex geometric diagrams would have been almost impossible to copy in the early eighteenth century without considerable skill as a draftsman; the documents Smart is copying are ones that would need geometric “support” to ever make sense magically or mathematically.

The texts, those that wound up in the British Museum, could be copied, but the drawings were truly irreplaceable, the core of the secrets. Given the close proximity of the dates - Smart’s work on Dee and the Rosicrucians was done between 1712 and 1714 just twenty years before the collection most likely came into Byrom’s possession - it seems very probable that they are in fact connected. Byrom himself, in his journals, gives us a very significant clue on this point:


Thursday 1 May 1735 I went to Sam’s coffee house at one o’clock, called upon Mr. Charles Houghton by the way, found Dixon and Graham there, we to Mr. ____ in Bartholomew Close, where he showed me his engine for cutting and working Egyptian pebbles, and the collection of nine figures and papers of Rose about the cabalistic alchemy etc. very extraordinary, and many curiosities, which I think to call some day to look at, Jacob Behmen’s three principles; there we parted and I came to Abingdon’s.[46]                                 

In an earlier entry, back in January, Byrom identified Mr. ____, a rather mysterious member of the Royal Society. Falkner was proposed for membership by two of Byrom’s friends, Martin Folkes and Sir Hans Sloane, and Sloane at least had access to Byrom’s collection, as he inserted fifteen plates in his copy of a 1618 Rosicrucian manual that are reproductions of some of the diagrams in the collection. From this contemporary example, we can see that it was understood that the Rosicrucian material, particularly perhaps the alchemical material, was meant to accompany the geometric diagrams. When we understand that to Dee and Kelley the alchemical and angelic could not be separated, as some later writers have tried to separate it, then our circle becomes complete.

Also, from Byrom’s comments above, we can identify some of Mr. Falkner’s collection of esoteric papers. The “nine figures” can only be “Dr. Rudd’s Nine Hyerachies of Angels” from the collection of manuscripts copied by Peter Smart. This suggests that the “papers of Rose about the cabalistic alchemy” might in fact be “The Rosie Crucian Secrets,” the only manuscript copied by Smart that could considered “cabalistic alchemy.” Byrom’s separate mention of “Jacob Behmen’s (sic) three principles” suggests he was looking at a diagram, and, as we will see below, there is one important diagram in Byrom’s collection that does depict Boehme’s three principles.[47]

It is quite likely then that all six manuscripts in the Harley collection copied by Peter Smart were together and in the possession of Mr. Falkner that May evening in 1735, along with a seventh folio containing the diagrams that would become the Byrom collection. Byrom apparently saw three of the seven that evening, and soon thereafter he was entrusted with at least one of the volumes, the one containing the all-important geometric diagrams. The other manuscripts would, within half a century, end up in the manuscript collection of the newly formed British Museum, while Byrom’s collection vanished into his private library.            

Scholars, such as Frances Yates and Adam Mclean, have examined the Harley Collection manuscripts and concluded that they were important texts from the early history of Rosicrucianism. Indeed, one of the manuscripts in the complete collection is a copy of The Chymical Wedding with marginal notes by “Dr. Rudd” commenting on the use of Dee’s Monad. Yates suggests that “Dr. Rudd” was part of a group around Arthur Dee, John Dee’s son, whose esoteric pursuits were more alchemical.[48]  

This family connection is made even more probable by the specifically Enochian material contained in the manuscripts. Some of this material, in the Angelic Magic manuscript that also contains Rudd’s “Nine Hyerachies,” suggests that Rudd had access to information that was unavailable in the published sources of his time. Dee’s son would seem a likely source for this material. Adam Mclean, in his introduction to The Treatise on Angel Magic, comments: “The Rudd Treatise was never meant to be published. It was rather a private commonplace book or reference book for a group or order of occultists working closely with Dr. Rudd.” He goes on to say: “The existence of this manuscript indicates the continuity of an occult system of Angel Magic, stretching from the workings of John Dee and Edward Kelley in the late sixteenth century into the early eighteenth century.”[49]      

According to Joy Hancox’s work, some of the drawings in Byrom’s collection date to Dee’s era, so it appears that all of these threads lead back to Dr. Dee and the origins of the Rosicrucian movement. If the whole current contained in the manuscripts leads back through Dr. Rudd and the Rosicrucians to Dr. Dee, then we might have an answer to the question of why John Byrom was entrusted with what was arguably the most important of the manuscripts, the geometric diagrams. Byrom’s family was related by marriage to Arthur Dee’s family. Perhaps it was felt that the diagrams contained secrets that could only kept by a family member.     

Whatever secret fraternity, going back perhaps to Dee and the original Rosicrucians, was dissolving or in transition in the 1720s and 1730s, the nexus point seemed to be Mr. Falkner and his curious collection of alchemical, Rosicrucian and Kabalistic manuscripts. How he came by the manuscripts, whether he was a member of the same group, a collector, or even Peter Smart himself, is unknown. All we can say is that Mr. Falkner lurches in and out of obscurity just to pass on the collection of manuscripts, and he has a green-language name just as interesting as “Rudd.”           

Indeed, the mysterious Mr. Falkner had already come to the attention of the authors during an epic investigation into the French twentieth century alchemist mentioned above, Fulcanelli.[50] At one point, we found ourselves searching for anyone interested in “Kabalistic alchemy,” which we had discovered was the secret to Fulcanelli’s view of alchemy, and anyone with a similar name, Fulk, Falk, and so on, and whose death was suspicious or unrecorded. Out popped Mr. Falkner, recommended to the Royal Society as a mathematician and a student of “Kabalistic alchemy,” and who disappeared after 1748 leaving no will, court records or notice of death. Curiously enough, the first datable mention Fulcanelli makes to events he observed in Paris is the late 1740s.[51] Two obvious allusions of Fulk, Falk, Falkner, and Fulcanelli are to “Vulcan,” the Roman god of fires and volcanoes and a blacksmith, thus implicitly associated with alchemy, and to a “falcon,” perhaps the falcon-headed Egyptian God Horus  (in ancient Greek Horos) whose very name means “falcon.”         

It was quite odd, when we started this examination, to find the same untraceable “Mr. Falkner” involved with Rosicrucian alchemical papers and the origin of the Byrom collection. This was made stranger still by the odd connection of the name to the curious case of the Golden Dawn’s Cipher Manuscript, through William Wynn Westcott’s “Dr. Falk,”[52] and to the con that exposed the order, “M. Theos Horos.”  As we will see below in the section on the Golden Dawn, the origin of the Cipher Manuscript is an important link in reconnecting the various fragments of this splintered tradition.

Could some part of the Golden Dawn’s Cipher Manuscripts have contained the name Dr. Falk? Fred Hockley, one supposed source for the manuscript, copied Dr. Rudd’s work on the Nine Hierarchies, mentioned by Byrom as being part of Dr. Falkner’s collection. If so, it is possible that William Westcott, whose story we’ll relate in the next section, simply confused the two, the 18th century Kabalistic alchemist with the 19th century one of the same or similar name. Since it is likely that up to that point, the early 18th century, the collection, the alchemical and angelic works along with the geometric diagrams, were together, then perhaps the core of the Cipher manuscripts was also part of the same collection. The Rosie Crucian Secrets seems to be the missing explanatory text of Byrom’s collection, even though it would take an advanced initiate, possibly even someone familiar with the contents of the Cipher Manuscripts, to understand the interconnections, and no such initiated explanation of these connections survives.       

Fortunately, in the work of Fulcanelli, particularly Le Mystere, we have such an initiated explanation. While Fucanelli does not supply us with the same geometric diagrams, his guided tours, in Le Mystere, of certain Gothic cathedrals and two private houses in Bourges carefully builds up a kind of Kabalistic alchemy that refers, indirectly to the same information contained in the Cipher manuscripts and The Rosie Crucian Secrets. Fulcanelli claims that this understanding of alchemy is the ancient Hermetic tradition, translated into the images and structures of Gothic architecture and based, as we can see from the ground plan of Notre Dame de Paris, on the geometry of the Kabalistic Tree of Life. The addition of the Hendaye chapter in the second edition of Le Mystere ties the subject together with larger cosmological events to produce a view that can only be described as “astro-alchemical.” This point of view could also be considered apocalyptic, and that is indeed one key point on which both Fulcanelli and Dr. Dee agree: alchemy and the timing of the apocalypse are inter-connected, and the point of intersection is the ancient geometry of the Kabbalah.[53]

Fulcanelli does not directly address angelic magic any more than the Byrom manuscripts do, but he gives the most extant initiated explanation for the alchemical “support structure” needed to give power to the Ophanic language.

Fulcanelli’s Gothic Tree of Life floor plan provides the most direct link to the Byrom collection. There are several drawings in the collection based on the Tree of Life pattern that apparently depict the ground plan of King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, one the last great Gothic structures built in England. The most interesting of these drawings is double sided, with the front face showing a hexagram enclosing three circles from which a central triangle emerges. This depicts Boehme’s three principles, and was probably the drawing that Mr. Falkner explained to Byrom, back in May of 1735.  

Drawn on this diagram, and perhaps also showing through from the reverse, is a classical Tree of Life diagram. The reverse has the same Tree of Life pattern, with a more detailed depiction of its internal geometry, highlighting the solar, Tiferet-centered cube at the heart of the Tree. This drawing matches the work done independently by Nigel Pennick in his book Mysteries of King’s College on the ground plan of King’s College Chapel, and takes it a step further.[54] Combined with the geometry on the front side of the drawing, it demonstrates how this figure is also related to the larger Cube of Space in which, according to the Bahir, the Tree of Life is projected.           

These are very sophisticated Kabalistic ideas, and their clear and direct inclusion in the ground plan of King’s College Chapel provides powerful support for Fulcanelli’s argument. The drawing from the Byrom Collection allows us to see another level of interconnections. Certainly any group in the mid-eighteenth century interested in Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism would find the idea of Hermetic architecture extremely compelling. Fulcanelli, as the last representative of the tradition, supplied the template against which we can measure the history of alchemy, and, by comparison, we gain an even greater understanding of the esoteric material in the Byrom collection.

To Byrom, it must have seemed that Falkner’s collection of manuscripts was the esoteric mother lode. We can be sure he returned to view these curiosities once again, even if no mention survives in his journal. During his lifetime, Byrom carefully preserved the collection of geometric diagrams with which he had been entrusted, and he must have felt honored to be part of a tradition going back to Dr. John Dee. We can’t be sure how much Byrom knew concerning the use and meaning of the diagrams, or even if he understood their importance, but he did ensure their survival.


The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn: The Fragments Reunited


Daisy Adams was a simple shop girl, very middle class and just sixteen, when she met the Madame Swami and her husband in the summer of 1901. She went to one of their Order of Theocratic Unity lectures and immediately fell in love with M. Theos Horos, the exalted master of the Order, even though he already had a wife, the somewhat older Madame Horos. That of course did not stop the psychically endowed M. Horos from spotting the love-sick teenager and moving in to take advantage of her devotion. An assignation resulted, and a month or so later, a tearful Daisy confronted M. Horos with her doubts that a real Spiritual Master would act as such a cad. M. Horos responded, being in fact not a Spiritual Master, or even a gentleman, by raping her in front of a witness. Daisy reported the assault, and M. Horos, real name Frank Jackson of Newark New Jersey, was arrested.

The British tabloid press, even more virulent then than now, seized on the story with a vengeance. It had all the elements of a good Edwardian melodrama: innocence despoiled, sex, deception and plenty of Svengali-esque mesmerism and the “di-ah-bolical.” However, this was not Du Maurier’s fiction, or the work of some east European medium, but a case of a good middle class girl ruined by evil, sexually depraved occultists. The English public was scandalized, and followed the trial daily in the press.

And so, early in November 1901, the general public first learned of the existence of an occult society called The Golden Dawn. During the trial, The Solicitor General for the prosecution read aloud passages from something purporting to be “The Neophyte Ritual” and ridiculed it as blasphemy at the very least. The jury agreed with the prosecution, and the reading public cheered when, just before Christmas, Frank “M. Horos” Jackson received a sentence of 15 years penal servitude. His wife, Mde “Horos” Jackson, was sentenced to seven years for her role in the whole affair. Justice seemed to be served, except to those who belonged to the real Golden Dawn.


For over a decade, esoteric students in England had known, though letters in various occult journals, of the existence of a group of adepts, Hermetic and Rosicrucian, who called themselves in English the Order of the Golden Dawn, or Die Goldene Dammerung, in the strange German of the original group. Founded in 1888, the Golden Dawn was indeed the very model of a modern esoteric society, admitting female adepts on an equal footing with males for instance. The late Victorian era was the golden age of odd cults and fringe spirituality, from Spiritualism and Theosophy to revivals of Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry and Renaissance magic. The original Golden Dawn group floated up from this fermenting ideological mass, attracted at first by the almost lost and long discredited philosophy of Hermeticism, and then crystallizing, as in a supersaturated solution, around the seed germ of a mysterious cipher manuscript.

The Golden Dawn presented itself as an esoteric society, which Dion Fortune, herself a member of a Golden Dawn fragment, would describe much later as a society “wherein a secret wisdom unknown to the generality of mankind might be learnt, and to which admission was obtained by means of an initiation in which tests and ritual played their part.”[55]  They used a sophisticated Kabalistic initiatory system built on multiple mythic and geometric correspondences, and related each grade to an Enochian elemental tablet based on those of Dee and Kelley. The secret wisdom at the core of the Golden Dawn, however, was of uncertain origin, and the group’s warrant to use such material was even more suspect. In the end, this would prove to be the fatal flaw that led to the group’s demise.

The Golden Dawn’s membership included some famous, although decidedly odd, members of the Edwardian intelligentsia, from Florence Farr Emery, actress and friend of Bernard Shaw; novelists Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood; and the Irish poet William Butler Yeats; to William Wynn Westcott, coroner of the City of London; Annie Horniman, tea heiress and patron of Yeats’ Irish Theatre; Mina Bergson Mathers, sister of philosopher Henri Bergson and darling of the late pre-Raphaelite painters; and her husband, Samuel Liddell “MacGregor” Mathers, a quirky translator of ancient grimoires and student of the esoteric mysteries. At its height in the late 1890s, the order had over 300 names on its membership roles, and lodges in London, Paris, Edinburgh and New York. Imagine the shock and dismay these members felt as their inner rituals and secrets were displayed in court and ridiculed in the tabloids during the Horos trial. Some completely panicked and destroyed all evidence of their involvement, some simply resigned, while the more resolute began to look for a way to disassociate themselves from the fiasco.[56]

And, as if to add injury to the insult, in the January 1902 issue of the journal Light, Mathers, then Outer Head of the Order, explained how the felonious Horos couple came into possession of their knowledge of the Golden Dawn and a copy of the Neophyte Ritual. Simply put, he was duped and they stole the manuscripts. This had been known in various circles within the Golden Dawn for some time. Mathers had originally introduced Mde Horos as “Fraulein Sprengel,”[57] the adept who supposedly chartered the original Die Goldene Dammerung, at a February 1900 meeting of his Alpha et Omega lodge in Paris. This charade had apparently not lasted the evening, and in a fit of anger, Mathers alerted the entire group that Sprengel, in all her forms, was a fake created by Westcott. These revelations, followed by the Horos affair, completely undermined Mathers’ authority and the Golden Dawn began to splinter into factions and spin-offs. In June of 1902, what remained of the group officially changed its name, becoming the Hermetic Society of the Morgenrothe.[58]

How Mde Horos fooled Mathers goes to the heart of the mystery behind the founding of the Golden Dawn, the origin of those cipher manuscripts. Curiously enough, instead of being just a strange footnote to a Victorian true crime tale, the origins of the Golden Dawn’s cipher manuscripts point to evidence of an almost continuous line of initiates and scholars going directly back to the group around Dr. John Dee, including, perhaps, William Shakespeare.

Arthur Machen, in his 1923 autobiography Things Near and Far, gives a simple and succinct version of the Golden Dawn’s origin myth:


A gentleman interested in occult studies was looking round the shelves of a second-hand bookshop where the works that attracted him could sometimes be found. He was examining a particular volume I forget whether its title was given when he found between the leaves a few pages of dim manuscript, written in a character which was strange to him. The gentleman bought the book, and when he got home eagerly examined the manuscript. It was in cipher; he could make nothing of it. But on the manuscript or, perhaps on a separate slip laid next to it was the address of a person in Germany. The curious investigator of secret things and hidden counsels wrote to this address, obtained full particulars, the true manner of reading the cipher and, as I conjecture, a sort of commission and jurisdiction from the Unknown Heads in Germany to administer the mysteries in England… I like the story; but there is not an atom of truth in it… The Cipher Manuscript was written on paper that bore the watermark of 1809 in ink that had a faded appearance. But it contained information that could not possibly have been known to any living being until twenty years later. It was, no doubt, a forgery of the early ‘eighties. Its originators must have had some knowledge of Freemasonry; but so ingeniously was this occult fraud “put upon the market” that, to the best of my belief, the flotation remains a mystery to this day.[59]


The occult “gentleman” of Machen’s version was William Wynn Westcott, a well-known figure in esoteric circles, including the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA), Anna Kingsford’s Hermetic Society and the Esoteric Section of Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society, where he was considered an authority on Alchemy and Hermetic Philosophy. Born in 1848 and orphaned at an early age, Westcott’s childhood was somewhat Dickinsian. He was adopted by an uncle who was a doctor, studied at Kingston Grammar School and went on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in medicine from the University of London. He spent a few years in practice with his uncle, and in 1875 joined a Masonic lodge in Crewkerne. In 1880, he joined the SRIA, whose membership was limited to Master Masons, and where he eventually became Supreme Magus.

After his uncle-mentor’s death in 1879, Westcott took a year off to study and do research on the Kabbalah. After joining the SRIA, he moved to London and 1881 became Deputy Coroner for North-East London. Over the next few years Westcott joined the Theosophical Society and then in 1884 followed Anna Kingsford and moved to the Hermetic Society. He remained very active in the SRIA and the Freemasons, writing articles for both groups’ archives and journals, and eventually becoming Worshipful Master of the Quatuor Coronati, the premier Lodge of Masonic Research. He also played a role in the founding of the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society. And somewhere in this period, between joining the Masonic Research Lodge in 1886 and the founding of the Esoteric Section in 1888, Westcott made the discovery that would eventually provide him with a dubious kind of immortality.

Westcott always claimed that the Reverend A. F. A. Woodford, an elderly Masonic scholar, gave him the Cipher Manuscript just before he conveniently died. It is possible that Westcott received the mysterious manuscript as part of Masonic historian Kenneth Mackenzie’s papers for a Swedenborgian rite, as R. A. Gilbert contends[60]. Mackenzie had published a Rosicrucian grade structure very similar to that of the Golden Dawn in 1877, taken from an even earlier German text of 1781. The concept of initiation on the pattern of the sephira of the Tree of Life seems to have been part of the Rosicrucian tradition, and since two of the founders of the Golden Dawn were high-ranking members of the SRIA, such a pattern would have seemed the obvious choice.

But the Cipher Manuscripts were much more than a simple grade structure. They contained a practical system of initiation that drew upon the entire corpus of the western tradition, from Egyptian motifs, the Chaldean Oracles and the mysteries of Eleusis and Samothrace to the Kabbalah, the Tarot and the Enochian tablets of Dr. John Dee. That this grand synthesis worked at all is amazing; nothing like it existed, although echoes of the rites of almost every western secret society of the preceding three hundred years can be found within it. And some of its elements were truly revolutionary.

The original Cipher Manuscripts, as shown to the Inner Order in the 1890s, were 56 loose folio sheets, 7 Ό” by 6 Ό”, written by quill in brown ink on paper, some of which is watermarked 1809. Most of these that have survived seem to be by the same hand and quill, with minor exceptions. The Cipher itself is from the Abbot Johann Trithemius’s Polygraphiae et Universelle Escriture Cabalistique, published in Paris in 1561, which was a favorite of many 16th and 17th century Alchemists. Recall that Dr John Dee spent a month in the winter of 1561 copying Trithemius’ work on Angelic Magick and considered his copy of the Polygraphiae to be the equivalent of a state secret. Westcott also had access to Trithemius and would have had no difficulty transcribing the Cipher Manuscripts, in either direction.

Westcott’s toughest critics, including Mathers, agreed that Westcott found something, but what that something was has been lost to history. Eventually a committee of the Golden Dawn’s descendent, The Stella Matutina, found in 1914 that the whole of the Cipher Manuscripts were no older than the mid-1860s, based on their use of Egyptian ideas unknown before Champollion. This made the purported age, the first decades of the 19th century, of the Manuscripts extremely unlikely and therefore undermined the last vestige of the Order’s authority. The remnants of the original group folded soon after.

However, even if Westcott, or someone before him, put the Cipher Manuscripts together, the question remains: where did the information and the very practical integration of ideas and initiations contained in the manuscripts originate?  The Enochian elements obviously go back to Dr. Dee, so who combined them with Kabbalistic psychology, the Tarot Trumps as psychic initiatory doorways, the virtually unique use of the pentagram as a magical gesture and so on?

Let us suppose that Westcott found and transcribed some document that contained, roughly, the material in the Cipher Manuscripts. Imagine his surprise and excitement, and his desire to share his discovery. Something that momentous couldn’t be kept secret for long and sometime in 1887, Westcott showed his discovery to a rising young member of the Hermetic Society, S. L. Mathers, not yet “MacGregor,” who immediately grasped their importance. Together they approached Dr W. R. Woodman, the Supreme Magus of the SRIA, of which Mathers was also a member, and by the spring of 1888, the group was initiating members.

We will perhaps never know whether “Fraulein Sprengel’s” contact information was already part of the package when Westcott presented it to Mathers. If it was, it must have struck him as very odd. The material in the manuscripts suggests 18th century Rosicrucianism, while the paper points to the early 19th, yet if the information is that old, why should it have an address of accommodation at a hotel in Germany? Surely such an address would not be useful for over seventy years? Yet Fraulein Sprengel was apparently contacted through The Hotel Marquardt in Stuttgart. Even on the surface, this seems very odd.

Her answer, supposedly to Westcott’s original inquiry, was equally as odd:


26 Nov/87

Dear Brother Sapere Aude,

     I have long since left the place where you sent my letter but I did get your letter in the end after a long time. I was very pleased to hear the secret papers described by you have once more come to light. These papers were lost years ago by the esteemed Abbe Constant and then came into the possession of two Englishmen who applied for permission to use them.

     This was granted to the Society No. 2 of Hermanubis but we never heard whether anything useful was done there.

     After you have managed to make a thorough examination of the papers and have understood them, it is within my competence to promote you and I appoint you to the 7 = 4 of the Second Order of the G. D. in England, L’Aube Doree in France Die Goldene Dammerung in Germany.

     You will now start a new Society (No) 3 and choose two learned persons in order to make up the first three masters and when you have appointed three more as 5 = 6 Adepts you can be independent.

     Hermetic science is almost extinct in our own day and age, we ourselves are very few here but we are very zealous and earnest and possess considerable strength.

However, we are very cautious and do not entrust any letters to the post so can send you few communications and can be of little assistance,

     Please write to me again and kindly seal the letter you send addressed to me, enclosing it in an envelope which is addressed to the Lodge of Light, Love and Life, the address of which you know.

I remain in love,

Sap. Dom. Ast. 7 = 4

My secretary “In Utroque Fidelis” usually writes on my behalf.


The contradictions in this letter, along with the fact that no original existed, only a copy in Westcott’s handwriting, are so glaring and obvious that one wonders how anyone, even at the time, took it seriously. Miraculously, given the odd mailing address, Fraulein Sprengel receives a letter from some earnest sounding fellow in England, who relates a tale about how he came into possession of a mysterious coded manuscript with her name and address in it, and she immediately, no questions asked, grants him degrees and positions in a new Order?

This is so odd as to be shocking, and, to make it even stranger, she apparently changes her mind in mid sentence, going from “after you have managed to make a thorough examination,” to “I appoint you” without skipping a beat. Here, rather than initiation or even understanding, the key is the literal possession of the manuscripts. It all seems rather ineptly crafted to give the impression that everything required for initiation and attainment can be found in the manuscripts themselves, no transmitting body of Adepts required.

From the date of the letter, we can see that it arrived at a critical juncture in the formation of the group. Westcott approached Mathers perhaps as early as August of 1887, and by October, they had Woodman on board and Mathers was fleshing out the work already done by Westcott on turning the Cipher Manuscript’s text into workable group initiations. All that was needed was the authority to use the material, and that, very conveniently, arrived with Fraulein Sprengel’s November letter.      

Why did Westcott feel the need for such an elaborate charade? It may be as simple as unwillingness on Westcott’s part to admit ignorance. He had found something of great importance, but he knew nothing about it except whose papers it had turned up among, and he was reluctant to admit even that for reasons of his own. This posed an insurmountable obstacle because the very nature of an esoteric society implied an authoritative source, a body of adepts who had, and could transmit, the experience of gnosis. To Westcott, the Cipher Manuscripts couldn’t be simply an odd fragment of a plan for an Order that no one had worked; no, by its very nature it had to be a connection to the real masters, those who actually guarded the secret wisdom. The Golden Dawn, Die Goldene Dammerung, and perhaps Fraulein Sprengel herself, might have been Westcott’s creation, but the core of the initiatory tradition came from somewhere, someone had put the different threads contained in the manuscripts into a coherent whole.   

Modern researchers have focused on the two Englishmen mentioned by Westcott/ Sprengel in her letter. They have identified these as Kenneth Mackenzie and Fred Hockley.[61] Mackenzie, as we mentioned above, has many connections to the substance of the Cipher text, from the use of similar diagrams to the published grade structure itself. Fred Hockley was less an author than a collector of rare manuscripts, including copies of the Harley Collection’s manuscripts of Dr. Rudd and John Dee, and spent years engaged in experiments concerning physical alchemy. Both were influenced by and had met Eliphas Lιvi, the Abbe Constant mentioned by Fraulein Sprengel. Lιvi’s view of the Tarot’s relationship to the Hebrew alphabet, with some significant changes, is a keystone of the Cipher text, which maps the 22 cards of the Tarot’s major arcana to the alchemical[62] changes represented by the 22 paths on the Tree of Life There is even some evidence that, as the good Fraulein suggested, Mackenzie and Hockley attempted to start their own Order, the Society of Eight, around the ritual basics of the Cipher text, but that it never got off the ground.      

That Westcott mentions this so directly in his Fraulein Sprengel letter shows that he knew, roughly, where the Cipher manuscripts or something like them originated. Why he didn’t just say that directly is a mystery. However, no matter what his reasons for the cover-up, he must have wondered, how did Mackenzie and Hockley come by the information? Certainly, there must have been some Lodge, like the Love, Light and Life of Fraulein Sprengel, which transmitted the information, the initiatory current, to Mackenzie and Hockley. And so Westcott invented the connection in which he believed so strongly, to a living and practicing group of adepts, in order to bootstrap such a group into existence.  

So where did the information come from? Early on, before Westcott got too invested in the Fraulein story, he tossed out the suggestion that the group responsible for the original Hermanubis Temple was the group around Dr. Johann Falk, a prominent Jewish Freemason who lived in London circa 1810, the era suggested by the watermarks. As we’ve already seen, this name is very suggestive. Dr. Falk’s London group, from what little we know of it, mainly through Kenneth Mackenzie, appears to have been a mystical group working with a kind of Kabalistic alchemical symbolism. As we noted earlier, this also points to a curious connection with a previous Dr. Falk or Falkner, the origin point for Byrom’s collection.

Yet this early 19th century group, even if it existed, could only have contributed the Kabbalistic components. If Lιvi influenced Mackenzie and Hockley added the Tarot component, as seems likely, then where did the Enochian, and the odd fragments of ancient mystery schools, come from? No matter how we slice, or more accurately peel it, we are left with an irreducible core of initiatory symbolism that points to a Renaissance, and with the addition of the Enochian, a specifically Elizabethan, source.

Perhaps the manuscripts that Falkner showed Byrom on Beltane of 1735 contained an embryonic version of the Cipher Manuscript, one that formed the basis of an initiatory practice based on the Enochian Elemental Tablets with allusions to several ancient mysteries schools and glosses from the Christian Kabbalah. It is possible that this document was discovered by Hockley and passed to Westcott, who reworked it into the subsequent Fraulein Sprengel version. Or perhaps Mathers discovered it among the British Museum’s manuscript collection, stole it, and then helped Westcott fabricate an origin story to cover his tracks.

It is likely that we will never know for certain, but we can say that at the core of the Golden Dawn, and therefore at the origin point of modern magic, is a direct connection back to at least the school of Dee’s family and students, if not directly to Dee and Kelley. In the Golden Dawn’s version, the Enochian system is the backbone, the core reference point, around which the vast panoply of esoteric arts and practices coalesce into a unitary whole. It is the Enochian material that gives the Golden Dawn its weight and spiritual gravitas, and without it the initiatory system becomes just another form of Kabbalistic Freemasonry. Whether or not initiates of that system ever consciously realize it, what makes the initiations work is the correctly-integrated three-dimensional Kabbalah-based path workings phase-locked with an Enochian tablet, until one reaches the Adeptus Minor ritual and the genius of the system seems to vanish into the same thin air from which it came.

So how did Mde Horos fool Mathers into thinking she was indeed Fraulein Sprengel? The answer supplies another odd loop in the strange story of the Cipher Manuscripts, one that just might explain the oddly prescient Egyptian usages, as well as the origins of the secret chiefs.


The Egyptian Connection


Until the early 19th century, when the European tomb robbers and tourists arrived, Luxor, or al-Uqsar, Arabic for “the Palaces,” was a sleepy backwater town in the province of Qena. For the previous six hundred years, it’s one claim to fame had been the tomb and teaching school of the Shi’a shayik Abu al-Haggag, built amid the ruined foundations of the ancient Temple to Amun, Mut and Khonsu. With the European influx came awareness of the ancient monuments and temples, and, as they were looted, the new town of Luxor grew fat from serving the needs of archaeologists and the idle rich tourists. By the late 19th century, it was the chief town of the region, and as tourism increased - Thomas Cook & Son added it to their itinerary in 1896 - it became the fashionable spot to spend a Victorian winter.

In the mid 1800s, a series of meetings occurred in Luxor that would have far reaching consequences for the development of the western tradition. The contact began in 1838 when an adventurer, linguist, archaeologist, engineer and artist named Achille-Constant-Theodore Emile Prisse d’Avennes, a Frenchman descended from the English noble family Price of Avens, arrived in Luxor.  D’Avennes spoke perfect Arabic, having lived in Egypt for a decade before settling in Upper Egypt, and was a keen student of both the hieroglyphic language and Islamic mysticism. At Luxor, the quixotic Frenchman would find a connection between the two.

Champollian had just published his study of hieroglyphics a few years before, but, while d’Avennes had certainly studied Champollian’s work, his subsequent mastery of the ancient Egyptian language went far beyond it. Karl Rickard Lepsius, the Prussian archaeologist who competed with d’Avennes for temple loot, commented that d’Avennes had the greatest grasp of hieroglyphs of any man living. Coming from the “German Champollian,” whose later discovery of the Canopus Tablet confirmed Champollian’s readings, this was high praise indeed.[63]

So where did d’Avennes learn his hieroglyphs?  That answer will take us back hundreds of years to the origin of the local Sufi order before we return to the twentieth century and the Golden Dawn, because d’Avennes apparently gained his knowledge of hieroglyphs, and of a particular initiatory system, from the Sufis who occupied the ancient temple of Amun, Mut and Khonsu, which we will refer to it as Luxor Temple.

In d’Avennes day, the small village of al-Uqsar clustered around Luxor Temple, and the center of the village, and its claim to fame, was the mosque and tomb of Abu al-Haggag built within the temple’s forecourt; its 12th century minaret standing solidly on the base of an ancient pillar. The al-Haggagis are a seemingly out-of-place Shi’a group in a Sunni country, and by tradition they retained a direct understanding of the ancient Egyptian language, as well as continuing Luxor’s oldest festival, the Procession of the Boat.

Yusuf Abu al-Haggag, the founder of the zawiyah, or mystery school, at Luxor, was a descendent of the Caliph Ali born in Baghdad around 1150. Around the age of forty, al-Haggag moved with his grown sons to Mecca, partly out of disgust with the politics of his era, and partly in search of the secret wisdom. The Fatimid dynasty had been overthrown in 1171, and a new wave of Sunnism was sweeping Islam. In Syria, these pressures had already created a split within the Shi’a community with the rise of the Ismaili and Nizari factions. This would lead to the Assassins, and the brief Ismaili state in Syria, and eventually to the near extinction of the movement. The more traditionally minded Shi’a elders of the Hall of Wisdom at Al Azhar mosque decided on a different approach.

They looked for a young man of the family of the prophet with no strong family ties and a deep understanding of the Koran and its mysteries. Abu al-Haggag apparently fit the description perfectly. On the advice of the local Shi’a elders, he moved to Egypt, settling in Luxor in 1193. A few years later, he was summoned to Cairo by the Sultan al-Aziz. Al-Haggag managed to turn down the Sultan’s offer of an official post, and soon thereafter began a series of studies with the greatest Sufi masters of the age in Alexandria.

One of these was the head of the Madyani Sufi order, Abd al-Razzaq al-Jazuli. The Madyani were even then a curious type of Sufi order, one that traced it roots to a pre-Islamic mysticism, specifically that of Egypt. One of its founders was the mysterious al-Misir, the Egyptian, who claimed knowledge of hieroglyphics and demonstrated it in the 8th century. The Madyani also included the radical mystic al-Mansur. Al-Jazuli stood at the head of a long line of mystical masters, and when al-Haggag became his student, the two currents, Shi’a secret wisdom and ancient Egyptian sacred science, blended into one.

Al-Haggag returned to Luxor and founded his zawiyah, or mystery school, in the ruins of the ancient Temple. He died in 1243, at the age of 93, and was buried in his mosque. Long before his death, he was acclaimed as one of the greatest Shaiyks of Upper Egypt, and his mulid, or feast day, 14 Sha’ban, became an Islamic version of the ancient Opet Festival. A boat, symbolizing the vehicle that conveys the secret wisdom, is paraded through the streets, from the mosque at the Luxor Temple to the even more ancient ceremonial center at Karnak and back. By the early 19th century, when Egypt was “discovered” by Europe, the al-Haggagis were the custodians not only of the ancient traditions, but also of the temples themselves.

D’Avennes lived in Luxor and studied with the al-Haggagis for six years before he returned to France and published his influential Atlas of the History of Egyptian Art. During the 1850s and 1860s, D’Avennes continued to explore his interest in mysticism, becoming friends with the French Rosicrucians, including Eliphas Levi, and the Gothic revivalists Victor Hugo and Eugene Violette-le-Duc and fellow African explorer Antonie d’Abbadie, later president of the French Royal Academy of Science. By 1858, when he returned to Egypt, d’Avennes was at the forefront of what would become the “occult revival” of the 1880s and 1890s.

This time, d’Avennes was documenting Arabic culture, including the Al Azhar mosque in Cairo. This work, The Monuments of Cairo from the 8th to the 18th Centuries, supplied many of the missing links between the European Gothic style of the 12th century and the Cairo mosques, from vaulted arches to the use of stained glass. After a brief trip up river in 1860 to visit Abu Simbel and Luxor, where d’Avennes was initiated as a full member of the al-Haggagis under his local name of Idris Efiendi, d’Avennes returned to France.[64]

 “Idris,” remember, is the Islamic version of Enoch, and equivalent to Tehuti, Thoth, and Hermes is other mythological and magical systems. “Efiendi,” sometimes “Effendi” or “Efendi,” is an Arabic and Turkish title and term of respect sometimes even used for the Prophet Mohammed, and from the 15th century on usually means a well-mannered and well-educated aristocratic male friend,. In this case, we have someone taking a name that seems to mean “respected friend of Idris or Enoch.”  Sometimes “Idris Efiendi” went by the name “Idris Bey,” Bey being another title which also means a well-educated man with a position. “Bey” after one’s name shows respect (much like “Mr.” or “Sir” before one’s name in English), and can also be used to show courtesy by one’s peers.

In France, as Idris Efiendi, or Idris Bey,  d’Avennes began to spread the idea of a new kind of initiation based on the neophyte and nine-grade plan of the Ismaili Shi-a. This never openly appeared as a working “lodge,” but the outline for such an initiatory scheme apparently passed from d’Avennes to Eliphas Levi and on to Fred Hockley and eventually to Westcott and Mathers. The similarity between the initiatory outline of the Ismaili Shi-a and that of the Golden Dawn is rather uncanny.[65]

And thereby hangs a curious mystery. When S. L. “MacGregor” Mathers met Madame Blavatsky in 1887, he asked her about her sources, in fact the name of her Egyptian contact. She must have responded correctly, which must have impressed Mathers enough that he decided to take seriously W. W. Westcott’s scheme to start a magickal society. How could Blavatsky have known the answer? And why did that answer move Mathers to help start the Golden Dawn?

Tracing the history that led Helena Petrovna Blavatsky from Russia through India to Egypt, Europe, and beyond, and to authoring her famous tome Isis Unveiled and founding the movement of Theosophy, is a tale not for the weak of heart, and is far too complex and full of blinds to recount here. By the time Madame Blavatsky washed ashore in Egypt in the winter of 1871, she’d survived twenty-three years of adventures that included everything from escaping from a brutal husband to intrigues in Istanbul and Paris, circus riding and belly dancing, and perhaps even a trip to Lhadak or Nepal. In Cairo, Helena met a few ex-patriots and began the forerunner of the Theosophical Society, the Cairo Spiritism Society, which quickly became a haven for con men and fortune-tellers of all kinds.

In the fall of 1871, as her society was falling apart from the weight of its own criminal incompetence, Helena met a real initiate. She would later refer to him as Tuitit Bey. “Tuitit” was a mis-transliteration of the name of the Egyptian god Tehuti, who by now we also know in Greek as Thoth, and equated with Hermes, Enoch, and Idris. This individual, another “Idris Bey” or “Idris Efiendi,” provided her with her first experience of the “hidden masters,” a reasonable explanation of the “hidden imams” of the Ismaili Shi’a, and supplied her with the basic theme of Isis Unveiled, the secret of Egyptian sacred science and its expression in the cult of the Great Mother, Isis.

By the summer of 1872, she was back in Russia, on her way to Paris. There, in 1873, she met a follower and fellow initiate of the “masters” in Egypt. He told her to drop everything and head to America. She did, found her life-long esoteric colleague Colonel Henry Steel Olcott, wrote Isis Unveiled, founded the Theosophical Society and began the journey that led, after 16 years, to her encounter with a young MacGregor Mathers’ and his question. She replied, in all probability, “Idris Bey.”

This of course just happened to be a name associated with the Cipher Manuscript’s ritual structure from Hockley and Levi, kept secret and hidden by Westcott’s improbable forgeries. Madame Blavatsky knew, and Mathers was shocked and deeply impressed. Somehow, Mathers must have thought, there was a connection; the idea of a secret society of hidden masters was true.

And perhaps there was in fact such a society. D’Avennes, one Idris Bey, could have been both the contact to Hockley and Levi, as well as Madame Blavatsky’s Paris initiate, but the original “Idris” Bey in Cairo had to be a different individual. Curiously enough, it was Rene Guenon, much later on, who revealed the connection. Following this clue, we find that there really was a western Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, with connections to both the early Golden Dawn, Madame Blavasky’s Theosophy, and other movements ranging as far afield as African-American seer Pascal Beverly Randolph’s particular brand of reconstituted Rosicrucianism.[66]

The leader and key teacher of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor was one “Max Theon,” apparently born Maximillian Bimstein, a Russian Jew whose family migrated to Egypt in the 1840s. It was Bimstein, who also used the name Idris, who befriended Madame Blavatsky in 1871, and later as Theon started an esoteric current that would influence everyone from the Golden Dawn to Guenon and Julius Evola, and even perhaps the mysterious alchemist Fulcanelli.[67] And it was an “Idris” whom Aleister Crowley would consult in March of 1904.

It was also the almost certainly the name that Mde Horos used as a password, by correctly guessing the exchange between Blavatsky and Mathers. Given that Max Theon was deeply involved in English spiritualism through his wife, whose brother wrote on various esoteric subjects under the pseudonym Arthur Avalon, and his connections to both Blavatsky and one of the Golden Dawn’s founders, the Rev. Woodman, it is just possible that Mde Horos learned enough insider information to impress and dupe Mathers. A successful medium needed far reaching sources of information and gossip in order to function effectively, and Mde Horos could be both shrewd and resourceful when needed.

Westcott kept the charade going during the early years of the order’s existence. Fraulein Sprengel wrote again in January 1888, giving Westcott permission to sign her motto as required. Two weeks later another short note supposedly arrived giving Westcott exclusive access and began a pattern of promising extra material that never seemed to materialize. The next letter is dated in September, and offers the information needed to complete the Adept grades, 5 = 6 and above. Over a year later, in October 1889, she writes to congratulate the group on having the required number of adepts to achieve independent status. In December of that year, she writes again to give official 7 = 4 status to the three Chiefs, Westcott, Mathers and Woodman. The next letter, dated August 1890, came from an unidentified member of the Order, announcing that Fraulein Sprengel had died. Also, it seemed that Soror SDA, Sprengel’s Order motto initials, had no permission from the other Chiefs of the Order to charter the English group, and they were now on their own. It seemed, at the time, a very convenient solution; however it left the door open for a convincing con artist such as Madame Horos.

Anglo-Irish poet, playwrite and folklorist William Butler Yeats, who joined the Order a few months before Fraulein Sprengel’s announced death, supplied a suitable myth for the founding of the Order: “Then an old woman came, leaning on a stick, and, sitting close to them, took up the thought where they had dropped it. Having expounded the whole principle of spiritual alchemy, and bid them found the Order of the Alchemical Rose, she passed from among them, and when they would have followed was nowhere to be seen.”[68]

Like many others, W.B. Yeats came to the Order through the Hermetic Society and the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society. He was looking for magic, something as real and overpowering as the music he found in ancient poetry, but more direct and precise. In S. L. MacGregor Mathers he found his Magus. Mathers cut an eccentric figure, dressing in kilts and tartan shawls. Yeats first encountered him in the British Museum Reading room in 1889. Mathers had but two fields of research, Yeats commented later, those being “magic and the theory of war.” Even in that, Mathers was odd, being a vegetarian and an anti-vivesectionist. He’d arrived on the esoteric scene in 1885, after his mother’s death, published a small work on infantry tactics, and joined Anna Kingsford’s Hermetic Society where he found one of the major influences of his life. Kingsford’s Hermetic philosophy would supply the underpinning for Mathers’ magical worldview, and to great degree, that of the Golden Dawn. The equality of male and female adepts is directly attributable to Kingsford’s influence, for instance. Kingsford, another of the eccentric characters of 19th century occultism, considered herself the reincarnation of Mary Magdalene.

A year earlier, in 1888, just as the Golden Dawn was taking shape, the young art student Mina Bergson also encountered Mathers. She was studying Egyptian art, sketching the statues in the British Museum, when she encounter what appeared to a ghost from some older time, Mathers in kilt and shawl. Intrigued, they became friends, and soon Mina was one of the early members of the Golden Dawn, along with her art school friend, tea heiress Annie Horniman. In the Order, Mina would put her artistic skills to use making and designing the instruments and tools. Her greatest contribution may be her color scales based on the different paths and sephira of the Tree. With Mathers, Mina found her soul mate and life partner, and together they were truly impressive.

W. B. Yeats gives a vivid glimpse of this in an essay, “Magic,” published in 1901. The fall after his initiation into the Outer Order in the spring of 1890, Yeats and a friend visited the newly married Mina and MacGregor at Stent Lodge, Forrest Hills for an example of real magick. Mathers sat on a raised dias or platform and with what Yeats described as a “wooden mace” spelled out the letters of words from a large multi-colored and lettered tablet. “Almost at once,” Yeats reported, “my imagination began to move of itself and to bring before me vivid images that, though never too vivid to be imagination, as I had always understood it, had yet a motion of their own, a life I could not change or shape.” The tablet was undoubtedly one of the Elemental Tablets of the Enochian system, with Mathers invoking various components and intelligences.

This and other experiences with Mathers convinced Yeats that “images well up before the mind’s eye from a deeper source than conscious or unconscious memory.” He came to think of a magical order as an organic being that had a life of its own, and of the Order’s rituals as a kind of ideal, or sacred theater. Yeats absorbed these ideas from Mathers, who transformed the bare bones of the Cipher Manuscript into the moving ritual theatre of the Order’s grade rituals. In 1899, Mathers himself produced a very direct form of ritual theatre with his public production of the Rites of Isis at the Theatre Bodinere in Paris. However, it was the London group that began to push the connections and boundaries between magic and the theatre.

In July of 1890, Florence Farr Emery, an up and coming actress on the London stage, joined the Order. In the next few years, Florence’s contacts in the theatrical world, Annie Horniman’s money and Yeats’ talent combined, producing in 1894 the landmark season at the Avenue Theatre in London, with plays by both Yeats and G. B. Shaw. These three, Farr, Yeats and Horniman, continued to work together on various theatrical productions throughout the 1890s, and Yeats and Horniman continued their theatrical projects for another decade after the Golden Dawn’s official demise. It is not too much of a leap to speculate that exposure to the ritual context of the Order produced the theatrical aesthetic that informed Yeats in particular, but also Horniman and Farr as well.

All three of these adepts of the Order were shaken to the core by the revelation of Westcott’s duplicity. He had been forced out of the Order by the City of London in 1897, but was still involved in various ways. Mathers’ accusations made public what most had suspected for a while. The results, including the Horos trial, were devastating. The fatal flaw of the fabricated adept came back to haunt the group, eventually casting doubt on the entire Cipher Manuscript, and therefore on the current it encompassed.


Aleister Crowley: The Beast and Modern Enochian


In 1904, Edward Alexander “Aleister” Crowley and his new bride, the former Rose Edith Kelley arrived in Cairo on an extended honeymoon. The young Crowley, still shy of 30 and in the midst of a Saturn return, was already an accomplished Alpinist, a celebrated, in some circles at least, minor poet and a veteran of several occult societies. Little did he and Rose suspect, as they checked into the second floor corner room at Shepherd’s Hotel in the heart of downtown Cairo that they were about to make magical history and inaugurate a 93-year period that would serve as the prologue to the Apocalypse.[69]

To give the reader an idea of how fast the change occurred, in just over a decade, the world would be at war and Shepherd’s Hotel would become British Imperial headquarters, a vital link in the chain of command between London and Delhi. The suite of rooms occupied by the Crowleys became part of the offices of the Arab Bureau, a semi-secret group of spies and plotters that included T. E. Lawrence. Out of the Arab Bureau’s manipulation would come in time most of the complications found today in the Middle East, including the nation of Israel and the royal families of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the deposed royal family of Iraq. But of course, that’s just another coincidence…

For the first month or so, it must have been great fun for “Eddie,” as Rose insisted on calling Crowley, who posed as a Persian nobleman and went in search of Arabic instruction from the masters at Al Ahazr mosque. Rose wandered the markets in Khan il Khalili and visited the chic set who lived on houseboats and in new French-looking mansions over in Giza. They played golf at Helwan, and decorated their new flat in the fashionable European section of Cairo, a few blocks north and east of the Boulak Museum and a short walk from the terrace restaurant at Shepherd’s where Cairo society met for lunch.

Rose and “Eddie” were young Edwardians loose in Cairo for the season after a lengthy honeymoon that had already included a stay in Egypt the previous fall, as well as Paris, Naples, and Ceylon. They were young, English and rich, the world was their playground, and, as Crowley commented, their “marriage was an uninterrupted sexual debauch” until the strange events began in Cairo. But, by early March, Rose was three months pregnant and things had changed.

The previous November’s whirlwind tour of Egypt had been wonderful, full of excitement and flash. The best hotels and romantic excursions such as riding the Pullman to Aswan and on by camel to Abu Simbel, where, at the end of the known world, the great Pharaoh still looks down on the barbarians in awe inspiring solemnity. And then, as a special treat, “Eddie” arranged for them to spend the night of November 22nd/23rd in the Great Pyramid. It was terribly romantic, even if a little silly when “Eddie” began to chant and read poems, and Rose was sure to her dying day that this was the moment when she conceived. Two days later, they were on the train to Port Said, bound for India and on to China.

In Bombay, Rose broke it to “Eddie” that she was pregnant. He replied, “right-o then, let’s go kill something for a month or two and then if you’re right, it’ll be back to doctors and nurses.” And off they went to Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. By mid January, it was obvious she was right, and so they headed back to Cairo. The Crowleys rented a new flat, moved out of Shepherd’s on March 14th, and Rose settled in to nest.

But “Eddie,” who had continued his playboy lifestyle, suddenly decided it was time for a little magickal sex play, ala last November’s memorable evening in the pyramid. On the evening of March 16th, he tried the same invocation and found that Rose was suddenly very upset by the whole thing. She fell into a trance and kept repeating: “They are waiting for you…”

This was not the result Crowley was looking for; he wanted her to see the sylphs and was annoyed when she didn’t. The next day, he tried again with similar results. Crowley said later that his intent was to entertain her, that showing her the sylphs was like going to the cinema or the music hall. It didn’t work, and on the 17th Rose was even more distressed, insisting that “They” were waiting, and adding that “it was all about the Child, all about Osiris…”

So just what was it Crowley was evoking that produced this reaction? He evoked what he called sylphs or the elementals of Air, but these “elementals” were actually the “angelic” beings that inhabit the Air quadrants of the Enochian Tablets, which is actually something quite different. To evoke them, one must use various calls or keys in the Enochian language received by John Dee and Edward Kelley more than three hundred years before.. These calls have profoundly apocalyptic language and context and their use in such a way, and at such a time and in such a place, is in fact a request to “higher intelligence” to supply information on that apocalypse, specifically in unveiling the time and timing of the end of a Great Cycle. And this, seemingly, is just what the “angels” proceeded to do…

This is an important point to keep in mind, and it helps make sense of what happened later. On the night of November 22nd/23rd 1903, Crowley vibrated Enochian in the King’s Chamber, producing amazing results. The chamber was filled with an odd violet blue light that grew bright enough for Crowley to read the invocations without the aid of an electric torch. And Rose conceived a child… “It’s all about the Child…” Rose had responded to the invocations in March.

Perhaps it was for Rose, but Crowley wanted to know what was going on. He invoked Thoth, and received a more coherent response. Rose announced that it was Horus who was waiting, that Crowley had offended him and he should be invoked in a new way as the sun. While Crowley protested that he found this absurd, in truth Rose had struck a nerve. Crowley had offended Horus.

Not only had Crowley never invoked him, but also just four years before, Crowley had been involved in the messy break-up of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn discussed earlier. Crowley had at first sided with Mathers in the dispute, but they soon had a falling out and were on the verge of all out psychic warfare by 1904. Mathers identified himself with Horus, the Horus the Elder of Upper Egypt, the war god who slew the serpent of chaos. To be in conflict with Mathers would indeed be an offence to Horus.

To Crowley the psychic and psychological ramifications went even deeper,[70] as Mathers was something of a replacement father figure. Young Alex, as his family called him, had had a troubled relationship with his father and had never gotten over his father’s death just when he was hitting adolescence and needed a father figure most. Mathers, in his own quirky way, had filled a missing father role for young Crowley. Now, as happens to most fathers and sons, it was time for Crowley to rebel and find his own way. On the verge of becoming a father himself, and perhaps denying it subconsciously, this reference to the complex emotions around Horus was guaranteed to grab Crowley’s attention.

Crowley took Rose’s advice seriously and on March 20th attained spectacular results after a disappointing first try on the 19th. This ritual was outlined by Rose and filled in by Crowley following her suggestions. It was indeed a new way, as it was quite emotional in tone, much closer to the devotional style of bhakti yoga than the crisp and commanding postures of ceremonial magic. In it can be found, in embryo, most of the motifs and metaphors that would blossom forth in a few weeks as the Book of the Law.

Perhaps Rose, with her shrewd womanly intuition and keen emotional intelligence, simply devised a powerful and effective way to keep her dear “Eddie” at home and focused on her and at the same time exorcise some of his own internal fears and guilt about fatherhood. Or perhaps the invocations in the Great Pyramid had indeed made contact with some sort of “higher intelligence” who did indeed have a message for anyone who would, or could, listen.

The ritual brought amazing results. Here’s how Crowley summed it up in his small diary, The Book of Results: “20: Revealed that the Equinox of the Gods is come, Horus taking the throne of the east and all rituals, etc. being abrogated. 20: (contd.) Great Success in midnight invocation. I am to formulate a new link of an order with the Solar Force.” In another diary, he recorded: “Hoori (Horus) now Hpnt (Hierophant), “ another reference to the changing of the officers of the Golden Dawn on each equinox. Now, Horus is the Hierophant of the Age, not just the season.[71]

Crowley wrote these notes in the early morning hours of the vernal equinox, March 21st, 1904. Clearly Crowley’s reference to the Equinox of the Gods referred to both the events of that equinox, and the larger Great Year of precession. His successful invocation of Horus had inspired in him a new understanding of the coming precessional shift in the zodiacal age. Just as Pisces had been the age of Jesus/Osiris, the Dying God, the new age was to be one of the Crowned and Conquering Child, the New Horus.

One other curiosity must be noted.  On the morning of March 17th, 1904, Cairo experienced a beautiful annular eclipse of the sun. As the sun rose that morning the eclipse was already in progress. Venus, the morning star in Aquarius, faded briefly and then reappeared as the eclipse strengthened. The effect was that of a beautiful ring of fire, bulging slightly toward the silvery glow of a morning star that refused to fade. This strange portent in the dawn sky was discussed in the local papers, including the Cairo edition of the London Times, on March 18th and 19th. Crowley could not have missed the news articles even if he had missed the event itself.

And so, by the 21st of March, Crowley was hooked. He had smacked the Tar Baby and was on his way to the briar patch. For the next 43 years, the rest of his life, Crowley lived in the shadow of what happened in those next few weeks. He followed the will-o-wisps whispers of the illuminati elves down a long twisted path toward a kind of reverse sainthood, in which his most perverse jokes would become religious movements and his most profound philosophical musing would become fuel for the ranting of disaffected and overindulgent occultists the world over.

Crowley learned his Enochian from the Golden Dawn, which must have once included the Calls and the basics of Enochian magic as part of the Adeptus Minor curriculum. Westcott and Mathers’ greatest achievement, turning the very rudimentary text of the Cipher Manuscript into a grand synthetic initiatory system, very likely continued on in some form we have lost. Although the Golden Dawn’s origins are clouded by the Cipher Manuscript’s fraud, there can be no doubt that Westcott and Mathers built on the work begun by Rudd and Ashmole and took it much further. Ashmole recovered and reverse engineered the basics of the angelic connection from Dee’s diary notes on the early sessions; Rudd, or the magical circle he represents, saw the Enochian material as another and perhaps more powerful form of Renaissance magic, with Dee as the new Agrippa.

All of this materialin fact, all the materials we’ve discussed here save the Byrom manuscripts and the writing of Fulcanelliwas available to Mathers and Westcott in the British Museum. They picked carefully among the manuscripts and extracted a portion of the Angelic system that seemed most intelligible to them. This worked rather well, until the aspirant reached a certain point in their studies. And that point invariably seems to be where language and sacred geometry overlap, and one must consciously conceptualize how to evoke four dimensions into three.

The reason Mathers and Westcott never explained any of this to their students, much less left written records of it, is easy to determine. Higher dimensional geometry, even the idea of mathematical dimensions, was just than at the forefront of theoretical science, and Mathers and Westcott simply didn’t have the information. Their knowledge of classical sacred geometry, even the concepts in the Monas Hieroglyphica, was as profound as that of any occultist of the day, but ultimately they were hindered by their lack of understanding. They would have both needed to have understood concepts that Dee could only express via metaphor, and be able to consciously create such complex interdimensional spaces themselves, and be able to explain how to do so to their students. The language explaining how to do this simply didn’t exist, any more than anyone could speculate at how Enochian letters corresponded to DNA codons. So Westcott, Mathers, and the original Golden Dawn were able to go so far and no further.

An example of this can be found in three core components of the Golden Dawn system, the Supreme Ritual of the Pentagram, the Analysis of the Key Word and the Rending of the Veil. Each of these practices draws upon Enochian or in the case of the Key Word, on the Monas, and do so in a way that anticipates the next dimensional elaboration. What these elaborations were, and how they might connect to other components in Dee and Kelley’s work, were never developed. As a result, the Golden Dawn system seems to flounder in a morass of faux Rosicrucianism. Indeed some modern spin-offs, such as the Builders of the Adytum of Paul Foster Case, dispense with the Enochian component altogether.

Crowley, who breezed through the Order’s curriculum at the same age that Dee became a celebrity at the University of Paris, had the advantage of a Cambridge education and an interest in mathematics and languages. He apparently found most of the Order’s information rather unexceptional, as most of it was available in published sources, but was fascinated by the Enochian material. The London temple, led at that point by Florence Farr Emery, refused to initiate him into the Second or Inner Order, the R.R. et A.C., composed of those who had passed the Outer Order’s initiations and examinations.

Crowley appealed to Mathers in Paris, who initiated him into the Adeptus Minor Grade over the night January 16th/17th, 1900. When he returned to London and asked for the Order papers appropriate to his new Grade, the rift between Mathers and the London group split wide open. In the midst of this, Mde Horos made her odd appearance at a meeting in Paris, and by mid-February, Mathers was in full reactionary mode. He was convinced that Westcott had set him up somehowwho else knew the code word? so he spilled the truth about the Cipher Manuscript’s fraud to the faithful, with predictably disastrous results.

The London adepts called for an investigation; Mathers sneered back that he was above such things, and by the end of March he was removed as Chief and expelled from the Order. Crowley did receive his Adeptus Minor papers and initiation from Mathers, and as the Order fell apart, Crowley headed off to Mexico to do a little mountain climbing and Enochian magic. His limited success encouraged him, and he kept the Enochian material in mind as he worked on the basics of both ceremonial magic and Theravaden Buddhism. And so, by the time Crowley met and married Rose Kelley in 1903, he had acquired an impressive set of skills and awareness, including a degree of competency in Enochian.

It is likely that the techniques used by Crowley in the Great Pyramid in November of 1903 and in March of 1904 were similar if not exactly the same as those used by Mathers to induce those unbidden images described by Yeats. In this case, however, the unbidden images that came to Rose Crowley were those of the Book of the Law, a prophetic precursor to the Apocalypse announcing the arrival of a new precessional era called the Age of Horus. In many ways, the angelic communication of the Book of the Law resembles the best of Dee and Kelley’s sessions, and, given the apocalyptic tone of both works, should be considered as part of the same current of awareness. Much the same can be said of Yeats’ The Vision, which is another large prophetic pattern inspired at least in part by Yeats studies of the Enochian material.

Crowley also demonstrated his mastery of the basic Enochian language in the additional conjurations he added to his edition of Mathers’ Goetia, or Lesser Key of Solomon, a medieval grimoire in the style of Agrippa. He includes additional words and extended meanings, suggestions of a deep linguistic understanding of the material, while rewording portions of the Calls for specific purposes. By the time Crowley and Victor Neuburg explored the Aethyrs in 1909 in Algeria, published as “The Vision and the Voice” in a supplement to The Equinox #5, Crowley’s understanding of the Enochian material had reached new levels. In a direct sense, he had rediscovered the dimensional component missing from the Golden Dawn material.

He describes the key to this understanding in “A Brief Abstract Of The Symbolic Representation Of The Universe Derived By Doctor John Dee Through The Skrying Of Sir Edward Kelly, part one,” published in #7 of the Equinox. He describes how “[t]he Shew-stone, a crystal which Dee alleged to have been brought to him by angels, was then placed upon this table, and the principal result of the ceremonial skrying of Sir Edward Kelly is the obtaining of the following diagrams… He symbolized the Fourth-Dimensional Universe in two dimensions as a square surrounded by 30 concentric circles (the 30 AEthyrs or Aires) whose radii increased in a geometrical proportion. The sides of the square are the four Great Watchtowers, which are attributed to the elements…”

Unfortunately, the two articles in the 1912 Equinox represent the apogee of Crowley’s understanding of the Enochian material. In part two, from the fall edition of the Equinox, Crowley sketches out how the elemental calls should be used within the grade rituals of the outer order. Whether this was Crowley’s addition, or part of the procedure from the original temple work, is unclear. Most of these articles follow the Order teachings, but more simply and directly, and show a greater degree of comprehension of the original Enochian material. However, the inclusion of the elemental calls within the basic grade rituals suggests that the Golden Dawn was meant to be an Enochian initiatory group, and reinforces the connections to Dee and the group that continued his work. It also suggests that this may have been similar to the original Golden Dawn’s Adeptus Minor initiations, and begs the question of where exactly Mathers and Westcott got this information.

Crowley’s version of the connections between the first six calls or keys and a grade structure suggests that he, or whoever showed it to him, understood clearly the pentagonal stacking require to create a dodecahedron and higher 4D shapes from the geometric interaction between Hebrew and Enochian.[1] Did he, or did Mathers and Westcott, understand that?  Or was Crowley bright enough, and energized by Ophanic intelligence enough, that he could make sense of and rework something they had located but did not understand?

In a typical version of the abbreviated grade rituals, which are really discrete energetic shapes, 20 knocks are given at the end in a specific pattern, 1 333 1 333, to crystallize the energetic structure created by the practice. It does so because the dodecahedron formed by the 12 pentagrams of the complete pentagram ritual is also the basic structure of an icosahedron, transforming 12 pentagonal faces into 20 triangles in the same hemispheric pattern as the knocks. As this is the number of squares on the Tablet of Union’s 4 x 5 pattern grid, and all of these calls operate through the Spirit file of the Tablet of Union, the isoca-dodecahedronal shape is completely appropriate.

But there is one further step implied here. Five overlapping dodeca-iscosahedrons, aligned so that their interior cubes match, produce the complex and self-referencing 4D twenty-four cell shape, a sort of hyper-polytope that embeds all the other three and four dimensional regular solids within it. As this structure had yet to be described mathematically at the turn of the 20th century, we can only wonder at its inclusion here. This suggests that the Enochian material possesses a complex mathematical structure inherent to it, forming a significant mathematical core of higher intelligence. Because this step is inherent in the geometry itself, one wonders if it came from part of the lost spirit diaries of Dee, or if Crowley, like Dee, could visualize 4D geometric shapes with this uncanny an accuracy.

The material published in the Equinox caused one last dispute with Mathers, who sued because of the secret information it revealed. And there the Enochian corpus remained until Israel Regardie, formerly Crowley’s secretary and student and latterly a member of the Stella Matutina, a Golden Dawn splinter group, published the complete papers of the disbanded Order in his four-volume The Golden Dawn in 1936. These included all the Order rituals and all of its material on Enochian. Unfortunately, by the time Regardie joined the Order, the material had been worked over and the Enochian ignored to the point that much of its original coherence had been lost. The grade rituals used Enochian, but not the Calls suggested in Crowley’s article, and certainly not the complex use of the Supreme Pentagram Ritual and its dodecahedron structure. Even Crowley’s use of the calls in the A: A: and O.T.O. grade rituals did not use the complex structure outlined in the 1912 Equinox article. Perhaps even Crowley didn’t completely understand their significance.

But someone did. We’re really left with only two plausible explanations: that Crowley understood material then withdrew it, an action which scarcely matches his flamboyant persona, or that he almost but not quite was able to make sense of information that was much older, directly from Dee and Kelley, and is now lost, perhaps part of the papers Meena Mathers destroyed after her husband’s death.

Some of John Dee’s spirit diaries, including those from very critical times, are missing, so that’s a tantalizing possibility. For instance, Dee in his personal diary repeatedly refers to a “Heptagonal” working, but the spirit records of exactly what that working entailed are missing, as is some of the earlier Enochian corpus. If Dee and Kelley, together or separately, initiated students, as we think they did, then what was the process those students went through? 

It is possible that the ritual components added by Crowley to the first six calls were part of the same material that became the Cipher Manuscript, and that it was shown only to those in the Second Order who showed promise and had understood the pentagonal basis of the Portal Ritual. These components, along with the Enochian Calls, build upon the Portal structure and appear to be the key to the magical transition to Adeptus Minor; in fact, they appear to be initiations into the sub-grades of Adeptus Minor. Only someone who had grounded the Outer Order experience through such a Call stacking procedure, in effect building a 24 cell 4D structure in the astral light, could understand the higher orders of complexities in the complete Enochian system.

Somewhere along the way, amidst all the schisms and splintering, this aspect of the Second Order was forgotten or discarded. Crowley received his Second Order papers directly from Mathers, and so may have inadvertently preserved a key component of the original system.

Modern work on the Enochian corpus tends to fall in three categories, those using the redacted Golden dawn of Regardie and the Stella Matutina, those using Crowley’s versions and interpretations, and those who go back to the source, Dee and Kelley’s original material. Following this article, we’ve listed some of the major recent works on the topic. All of these are useful, in their own way, but the originalists, scholars and magicians alike, have had the most profound effect on Enochian studies. We now have a more complete picture of the history and background of Dee and Kelley’s work, as well as how it survived and transformed through contact with Rosicrucian and Freemasonic sources. We can also apply advanced mathematical concepts, as well as metaphors from computer science, to actually describe, for the first time, the details of the Angelic Science given to Dee and Kelley over four hundred years ago.

But perhaps that is what the Ophanic beings had in mind all along. In a key session on 23rd May, 1587, Dee and Kelley received the following message:


 Green Woman: Then shall your eyes be opened to see and understand all such things as have been written to you, and taught you from above. But beware ye take heed, that you dwell within yourselves, and keep the secrets of God, until the time come that you shall be bid SPEAK: for then shall the spirit of God be mighty upon you; so that it shall be said of you, "Lo were not these the sorcers, and as such accounted vagabonds?"


Perhaps only now have the Ophanim bid us to speak on this subject, and maybe only now can such speech be understood. Let us hope, for the sake of all mankind, that it is not too late.

End Notes

[1] Alignment of Calls and Grades


First Call Tablet of Union


Second call - The File of Spirit in the Tablet of Spirit (four letter name composed of first letters of elemental names)

              E --- the Root of the Powers of Air.


           H --- the Root of the Powers of Water.


           N --- the Root of the Powers of Earth.


           B --- the Root of the Powers of Fire.


Third Call - Exarp; the whole Tablet of Air - GRADE OF 2 Degree = 9 Square (Air)


Fourth Call - hcoma; the whole tablet of Water - GRADE OF 3 Degree = 8 Square (water)


Fifth Call - Nanta; the whole tablet of Earth - GRADE OF 1 Degree = 10 Square (earth)


Sixth Call - bitom; the whole tablet of Fire - GRADE OF 4 Degree = 7 Square (fire)


[1] Tyson, xi.

[2] For a detailed discussion of this, see Laycock, “Introduction.”

[3] Nasar p. 1.

[4] See Bridges and Burns, “Shakespeare and Dr. Dee; ” Burns,  “Francis Garland, William Shakespeare, and John Dee’s Green Language;” Burns, “William Shakespeare, Spy, and a Visit to Trebona.”

[5] Ibid. Also, see Harkness.

[6] Elsewhere, Bridges has shown how the 64 codons of DNA, which have elsewhere (Yan’s DNA and the I Ching: The Tao of Life) been related to the 63 I Ching hexagrams, also correspond to the 64 squares of the 8 x 8 grid that is the “alphabet packet” of letters/titles. For more on this, see his article “Angels in the DNA,” later in this collection; this is also available in the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition at http://www.jwmt.org/v2n15/dna.html .

[7]For more on this subject, see Bridges, “Symmetry & Sacred Waveform Alphabets.”

[8] See James, “The Magick of Enoch,” in The Enochian Magick of Dr. John Dee,  for a thorough transcription of these angelic conversations.

[9] Agrippa,  De Occulta Philosophia, Book I chapt. 23.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Regardie p. 150. These words are part of the Zelator initiation ritual.

[12] Understanding of the Monad or Monas has been hampered by continual poor translations.  A new one underway is available at: http://www.jwmt.org/v2n13/partial.html; the Latin original is available at: http://www.billheidrick.com/Orpd/Dee/JDMH.pdf.  The best in-print translation is by Josten; the esoteric commentary in Hamilton-Jones’ translation is more useful than his poor translation.

[13] An English translation is available in by Shumaker in  John Dee on Astronomy, however it ignored virtually all esoteric aspects of the work. This attitude has been recently criticized by Clucas in his introduction to John Dee: Interdisciplinary Studies in English Renaissance Thought.

[14] Some of the best scholars on Dee would disagree with this statement because, largely due to poor translations, they do not understand the work. More work on this soon in Turner and Burns’ forthcoming commentary and full translation of the Monad.

[15] See Burns and Moore.

[16] Also available: http://www.jwmt.org/v2n13/square.html

[17] Burns and Moore, op. cit.

[18] See discussion in Bridges and Burns, “Olympic Spirits, the Cult of the Dark Goddess, and the Seal of Ameth,” in The Consecrated Little Book of Black Venus.

[19] This extremely complex idea can be found in Dee’s Heptarchia Mystica, though understanding for most likely requires an esoteric gloss. If one exists in print, the authors are unaware of it.

[20] For a thorough discussion and relevant angelic conversations, see James.

[21] That Dee and his circle believed they could be living on the brink of a Golden Age has been discussed by many writers; for the first in modern times, see Yates, Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age and Rosicrucian Enlightenment.

[22] See Bridges’ “Reading the Green Language of Light” later in this collection; this essay is also available in The Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition, http://www.jwmt.org/v1n4/readlight.html.  Also see Weidner and Bridges.

[23] Much of the next several paragraphs is adapted from Bridges’ 1996 article, “Dr. Dee Meets the E.T.s.”

[24] Interestingly, several of Meyrink’s works, including The Golem, draw on the alchemical history of Prague, where Dee and Kelley brought their Enochian work to the attention of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II.

[25]What Dee actually records is this: “8 Mar. It was the 8 day being Wednesday hora noctis [at night] . . . the strange noise in my chamber of knocking, and the voice, ten times repeated, somewhat like the shrich of an owl, but more longly drawn, and more softly, as it were in my chamber.”  For obvious reasonsDee’s diary was hardly private and it wouldn’t do to record angels at the window, or even the receipt of valuable but secret objects from other humanshe leaves no other direct record, though the angels in later conversation imply they have given him the crystal. The source of the “angel in the window” legend, like many surrounding Dee and Kelley, are as lost as moist of the names of the underground tradition from which they spring.

[26] See note four, above.

[27] In the early 1580's Dee listed over 4000 thousand volumes, 3000 printed books and over 1000 in manuscript. The libraries of Oxford and Cambridge together numbered less than a quarter of that total. Mortlake acted as the Elizabethan equivalent of a university research center, and it was said that the library contained the whole of Renaissance thought. For more on Dee’s library collection, see Roberts.

[28] French p 37.

[29] Our main evidence for this comes from follow the track of his book and manuscript collecting. For a further discussion, see Bridges and Burns, “Olympic Spirits.”

[30] Some non-Hermetic modern scholars who would dispute this statement. As is often the problem when non-esotericists research esoteric texts, this is  usually because they’re looking for a modern direct text reference rather than the Monad glyph, or even more likely, a similar cluster of symbols used in a similar way.

[31] As of yet, there’s no complete in-print version, though the reader can get a good idea by combining James, Fenton, and Causabon.  The original manuscripts are available on-line at: http://www.themagickalreview.org/enochian/mss/sloane_3188/

[32] Three and even four dimensions are implied by the 2D pattern.  Symmetry angles are meant as alignment vectors: however you approach the pattern, across dimensions, it looks different, has different words, depending essentially on the symmetry of your approach vector, the symmetry angle or the angle at which "symmetry" is perceived.

[33] We’ll leave it to the reader to unlock the many, many green language puns in his name alone. This story reappears, in different form, almost 300 years later in the R.R. et. A.C.’s Adeptus Minor ritual. In that ritual, the “light” of the LVX/INRI analysis of the keyword, traceble directly to Dee, is part of what symbolically opens the Vault of Christian Rosenkreutz. See Burns and Moore.

[34] See Burns, “Trebona.”

[35] Ashmole originally published Arthur Dee’s Fasculus Chemicus using the editorial pseudonym “James Hasolle;” it has recently been reedited by Abraham, whose Alchemical Dictionary is indispensible for understanding both this and Ashmole’s Theatricum.  Yet the timing is curious of Ashmole’s publication is curious, ibid.

[36] For a fascinating discussion of this, see Harms on-line discussion, parts 1-7.

[37] Hancock and Bauval, pp. 344 351

[38] Ibid.

[39] Butler, among others.

[40] The Stuart Pretenders, both Young and Old, were to have a tremendous, although indirect, influence on the course of Freemasonry and occultism. Their involvement made the idea of “secret masters” popular. The concept entered Freemasonry with the Strict Observance of Baron von Hund und Alten-Grotkau, who once met a mysterious grand master and was told to wait for further instructions. He waited for the rest of his life, but, since the unknown grand master was actually Prince Charles Edward Stuart, the Pretender to the throne of England whose cause was crippled forever at the Battle of Culloden Moor, we can understand the lapse. This Strict Observance to an “unknown master,” however, would continue to influence Western occultism down to Theosophy and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the late 19th century.

[41] Hancox, pp. 8-9.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Mclean, “Introduction,” pp. 9-17.

[44] The Alpha et Omega Lodge in Paris, a continuation of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn founded by MacGregor and Mina Mathers in the mid 1890s. Garstin joined in 1920, after Mathers’ death, but remained on good terms with Soror Vestigia, Mina Mathers, until her death.

[45] Garstin, introduction to The Rosie Crucian Secrets,  p. 12.

[46] Hancox, op. cit. p. 38.

[47] Ibid. (Figures 5 and 6, facing page 265.)

[48] See Yates, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment and The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age.

[49] Mclean, op. cit. page 16.

[50] For one culmination of that investigation, see Weidner and Bridges.

[51] Bridges, “Fulcanelli and the Secrets of Rennes-le-Chateau,” part one, p. 57.

[52] Kuntz, p. 15.

[53] Weidner and Bridges, see chapters 11 and 12.

[54] See Pennick.

[55] Fortune, p. 2.

[56] See Gilbert, The Golden Dawn - Twilight of the Magicians.

[57] By now we’re used to expecting green language puns in pseudonyms, and “Fraulein Sprengel” is no exception.

[58] Gilbert, Golden Dawn, op. cit., and Kuntz, op. cit.

[59] Machen, pp. 152-153.

[60] Gilbert, in Kuntz, op. cit. p. 21.

[61] Ibid, pp. 21- 23

[62] By this time, most assume the “alchemical transformations” strived for are personal spiritual ones rather than those concerning either the alchemy of precessional ages or physical alchemy, though that makes the references to physical alchemy in the Golden Dawn knowledge lectures, and to precessional astronomy in its grade initiations (especially from Theosophus on) rather curious.

[63] Lepsius.

[64] Siliotti, pp. 266 -281.

[65] As far as we know, this has never been discussed in print, for several reasons that should be obvious.

[66] Burns, “Pascal Beverly Randolph’s Eulis!”

[67] Godwin, p. 9

[68] Yeats, p. 215.

[69] See Crowley, The Law Is For All, Confessions and the Equinox

[70] Much of this section appears in expanded version in Bridges series “Crowley’s Egg.”

[71] See The Law Is For All, Confessions and the Equinox