Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Lying About Enochian

I recently came across this article on one of the Facebook Enochian discussion groups, and found it to basically be the biggest bunch of nonsense I've read about Enochian magick in quite some time. While it's true that some of the claims in the article could be simple ignorance, some of it is so blatant that I think it does rise to the level of "lying." A simple Internet search, which the author apparently did not bother to do, would have dispelled much of it.

A warning: this turned out a lot longer than I originally intended, because there's a whole lot of crap to get through. But at the risk of venturing into TL;DR territory, let's start at the beginning.

Angels? Demons? There's no such thing as either! Welcome to the 21st Century. That doesn't stop a lot of people from trying to contact angels though.

So, no surprise, the author is a complete skeptic who doesn't believe in summoning spirits of whatever sort. I disagree, of course, but it is true that if you don't think there's any such thing as angels or demons there's not much point in studying or practicing Enochian magick.

JOHN DEE (1527-1608) invented Enochian "Magick" and tried unsuccessfully to get the spirits to bring him money.

This is the first bit of the bullshit I alluded to in my introduction. It is technically true - Dee did try on a couple of occasions to obtain money and find buried treasure. But it was a tiny percentage of the work that he did, and not his primary focus. For most of his life, Dee received a salary from Elizabeth's court and was not impoverished. His main interest in contacting angels was to gain an understanding of the nature of the spiritual universe, which is quite clear from his diaries.

Dee told Princess Elizabeth she would someday become the Queen, which was a prediction that was certainly possible, considering she was royalty, even though she was an unwilling guest of the Tower of London at the time. It’s unknown how many other nobles he might have also told a similar prediction about gaining the throne, figuring one of them would pay off.

Again, this story is accurate up to a point, but the snark at the end has no basis whatsoever in fact. Sure "nobody knows." But so what? The comment is a meaningless jab without any basis in fact one way or the other. "Nobody knows" whether Dee sacrificed live kittens to ancient Canaanite gods - but is such a thing even remotely likely?

A reasonable skeptic could argue that Dee employed basic game theory. If he predicted Elizabeth would be executed, as many expected, there was no way for him to benefit even if he were right. If he predicted she would become Queen and was proved right, despite the apparent long odds, he would gain the Queen's trust - and he did.

But that's a far different argument from the author essentially implying that Dee ran around making such predictions willy-nilly. The various nobles all knew each other and in many cases were related, so I find it hard to see how such a scam could have succeeded for very long.

After Elizabeth gained the throne, he became the Queen’s advisor, even though Elizabeth is said not to have approved of his occultic methods.

According to whom? There's no mention of the Queen approving or disapproving of Dee's work in any of the biographies I've read. She did keep him on as an adviser for the rest of her life, which at the very least implies otherwise.

The system described in Dees journals are remarkably complicated. People who use this system basically wind up turning their homes into "Enochian temples". Creating the furniture needed for the temple can be quite time consuming and expensive (and all for nothing).

Actually it's more like maybe one room. Even a full Enochian temple is no larger than that. And as I point out in my books, you don't need everything built to the exact specifications to get results. You can turn an old card table into a Holy Table, print off various talismans and such onto cardboard, and use a ring that's brass or silver instead of gold. And those of us without dedicated temple spaces put the tools away when we're done.

But again, I will grant that if you're a skeptic, it probably is a waste of effort to bother with even that.

The Golden Dawn attempted to revive Enochian magic, filling in the gaps when the lacked information. Dee made claims he made contact with “angels” that taught him the language spoken by Enoch to God, which he called “Enochian”. But the language Dee “discovered” is simply a corrupted form of Hebrew! The Enochian script is derived from Roman characters, oddly enough.

And neither of those assertions is true. There is absolutely no connection that has ever been identified between Angelic and Hebrew, and if there were, it actually would support claims by the angels that people who spoke Hebrew originally spoke the Angelic language.

The script is not derived from Roman characters at all. No serious scholar has ever made that assertion that I know of, and in fact I find it hard to believe that anyone who looks at the chart of the alphabet included in the article could possibly draw that conclusion.

Angelic actually has the most in common with English and German, which the author might have pointed out could support the notion that Dee invented it - those were both languages that he spoke fluently. Also, it would have been trivial for Dee to create a unique script. But apparently the author is either too dumb or ignorant to even know a good attack line when he sees one.

The refutation of that argument can be found in the diaries, in which we read accounts of Dee and Kelley receiving the Angelic Keys letter by letter, and then translations of them word by word. Kelley might have invented them, but doing so would have required a near-superhuman memory on his part to maintain the consistency of the language throughout all of the Keys.

Even though followers of Enochian magic claim it is to be used for the highest of spiritual purposes, Dee himself was said to use it mostly to try to find buried treasure. People who got involved in the occult often did it in an attempt to find buried treasure and Dee was certainly no different. One favorite spirit of Dee’s supposedly called itself “Amy”, and was said to resemble a child carrying a lantern. Dee hoped that this spirit would locate buried treasure for him, or obtain money for him somehow. It didn’t work, of course.

Nope, that's a lie. Most of Dee's work did not involve trying to find buried treasure, just a small portion of it as I mentioned above. I believe the spirit that the author is alluding to is actually Madimi, not "Amy" (!), who showed up in a number of Dee and Kelley's sessions. And, in fact, if I remember correctly I don't think she had anything to due with the "buried treasure" operation.

EDWARD KELLEY (1555-1597) a.k.a Edward Talbot, was an assistant to Dee during his Enochian experiments, which later occultists became so enamored over. Kelley was nothing but a con man, and had a shady past long before he met Dee. Kelly had both is ears cut off as punishment for counterfeiting, which is why he always wore a hat to conceal the fact. He conned several people into thinking he could change lead into gold...a common scam for alchemists of the time. He became Dee’s assistant and seemed to have played a con on Dee at least part of the time they were together.

It is true that this is the position taken by the earliest biographies of Dee, that he was duped by Kelley who fabricated all of the angelic communications. Later biographers take a more nuanced approach. There is little doubt that Kelley was at least in part a confidence artist, but the complexity and consistency of the material he relayed to Dee over a period of years would have made the fabrication of the material an incredibly difficult scam to pull off.

Kelley warned Dee the “angels” they were talking to were really demons, and that angels had told him their goal was to destroy humanity! Some of the things Kelly and Dee claimed the angels revealed to them seemed to echo Gnostic heresy of earlier times, so assuming Kelly’s alarm was for real, it was justified.

But again, since the author doesn't believe in angels or demons, so what?

The incident where Kelley warned Dee of this is interesting, though, because it undermines the claim that Kelley was running a con. During this incident, Kelley wanted to leave Dee's service, and Dee had to talk him into continuing. Maybe this was part of a confidence trick, but it was a risky one.

One of the things that the author does not seem to understand is that if their accounts are to be believed, Dee and Kelley contacted many different spirits, and those spirits sometimes made conflicting claims. Dee never sought to contact the spirits that prompted Kelley's alarm again, deciding that they were "deluding" or evil.

Of course, some of the "Gnostic heresies" Kelley received that day are in fact believed by many Thelemites including myself, but that's another article altogether.

To this day, people who practice Enochian magick believe that someday, someone will come up with the right combination and unleash the Enochian demons that will bring about the apocalypse. Common sense would derive from this that the Enochian angels are actually demons who seek to harm mankind!

Perhaps this quote could be rendered accurate by replacing "people who practice Enochian magick" with "Donald Tyson," who first proposed this bizarre theory in Tetragrammaton. But hardly any Enochian practitioners, myself included, believe anything of the sort. The Keys do include apocalyptic language, but remember that the word "apocalypse" just means "revelation," and it is in this sense that I and many other Enochian practitioners interpret those statements. Personal realization is a far cry from the end of the world.

Furthermore, if the author of the article doesn't believe in any of it, who cares? If the communications are complete bullshit, the result of a confidence game run by Kelley, why does it matter whether the cosmology sounds like Gnosticism or Paganism or for that matter the writings of Donald Duck? Bullshit is bullshit, after all.

Dee’s fortune did not last. He spent the final years of his life stripped of his honors and income and was forced to live incommunicado. He died in extreme poverty at the age of 81.

The reason that Dee died in poverty had little to do with his magical work, except perhaps that he was granted a long life. When Elizabeth died in 1603 he ceased to be a member of the royal court and was no longer granted a stipend by the monarchy. Dee essentially outlived all of his friends and patrons, finally passing away in 1608.

If the inventor of Enochian magic couldn't make it work for him, what chance does anyone else have?

The problem with that statement is that it's not clear how much practical work Dee did with the system of magick he pioneered. The only section of the system ever assembled into a usable grimoire by Dee is the Heptarchia Mystica, which deals only with the earliest of the communications. There is some evidence that Dee may have cast a spell against the Spanish Armada invoking the Heptarchial prince Befafes in 1588, but little else.

And all I can really add to that is that Enochian magick works for me all the time, and it works quite well. I don't really know how I stack up to Dee in that regard, as his practical experiments seem to have been quite sparse. I will say that unless you work with the system, you never will get to the point where you get decent results.

Still, if you're a complete skeptic it's all a waste of time, right?

Technorati Digg This Stumble Stumble

No comments: