Saturday, 16 July 2011


Primus is the first of three notebooks written by John Dee and it tells of the beginnings of John Dee's six year adventure, following the angels. The Latin is difficult, it is probably better to look for several translations before attempting to work out what the account actually says. I have read through and got the gist of the thing, so to speak, but don't take my account as accurate.

Also I stopped making notes after Uriel made his appearance. Uriel showed John an image of a chair, he told John of a demon or two that was going to cause trouble to his family, the angel dealt with the malevolent entities, Uriel instructed John on how to create the Sigillium Dei and how to use it. But I restricted myself to the initial scrying session mainly because I was fascinated by what it told me about John Dee.

Here is my account of how John Dee began to talk with angels.

The notebook known as Primus begins thus:
"A faithful declaration to Almighty God for the perpetual memory of the events, written in the year 1582".

It starts with heartfelt prayer; a request by John Dee for wisdom, goodness and power to be bestowed upon him for the honour and glory of all people.

Dee explains that in all the books he has so far read and in all the conversations with all the wise people he could find, he had not yet discovered true wisdom. But he has read in god's books and records how Enoch spoke with god, and that Moses too was given that favour. An almost peeved sounding John Dee goes on to list Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joshua, Gedeon, Esdras, Daniel and Tobias as all given instructions by the angels, and that secrets were handed out by angels.

Next, Dee mentions the 'Shew-stone' which 'the high priests used. Again, rather peeved, John Dee says that god did not refuse to instruct his prophets when they were asked for instructions even by the common people, even for things of a decidedly worldly (aeconomicall -economical) nature. For instance when Samuel asked Saul where he could find his father's lost asses, Saul was able to help. This was a completely mundane use of magic.

Dee continues, in a somewhat perplexed manor to try to persuade god that he is in fact more worthy than many, to receive such revelations.

Next Dee mentions a man called Barnabas Saul (not by name at first) and how he trusts that Saul was sent by god to help him in his work. But he finds a great difference between the way Saul appeared to be in everyday life, compared with Saul as seer.

Dee reproved Saul for his bad behaviours and it sounds as if Saul was none too pleased at that.

Dee persuaded him to behave better by explaining that the angels will not talk through Saul unless he gave up his 'naughtyness', unless he improved he would be 'barred from the mysteries'.

Time to get to work:
1581 December 22.
Dee, after fervent prayer to god asks Saul to use the 'great crystalline globe'.

It sounds as if Dee asked Saul if he could see the angel Aneal there. Why Aneal I have to ask? Saul said that he could see one that answered to that name, but there was also another one there, very beautiful: dressed in yellow that glittered like gold; star beams radiating from its head and fair eyes. The angel wrote on the stone in Hebrew letters of transparent gold. Saul could not read them, so Dee wrote 'after his voice'.

In the crystal was seen a bright star that seemed to rise up and down beside the angel and there was a white dog with a long head; and many other visions appeared as the angel faded whilst the star and dog persisted.

Next there is another angel in the vision. Dee asks 'in the name of god, who are you?

The angle answers 'all power is upon me' meaning I suppose that 'all power is mine'.

Dee asks 'What?' and the angel replies 'bona et mala' which means 'good and bad' but then malevolent is more like it.

More letters appear in the stone.

The next question Dee asks surprised me- 'about the hidden treasure'? and the angel replies (literally): 'have no passion: for these are trifles' . There are by the angels left hand a great pile of dead men's skulls.

The angel asks Dee: 'when is your power'? and Dee replies 'Why ask me about my power'?

The angel continues...and it looks to me as if it says, 'Why? It signifies nothing to me'.

Dee places his crystal ball on top of a frame, and the dialogue is very hard to translate (my version is no doubt wrong! but it looks as if the dialogue is: Dee says to the angel, 'Is someone good assigned to this mirror'

The angel replies 'certainly' and Dee asks 'who'?

The angel writes a name in Hebrew

Dee replies (and I can't untangle this: 'good that not he angel, about from upon to write fit mind?' I assume that Dee is asking if the angel is good...? and the angel replies, 'Maxime' meaning 'to the highest degree'.

Dee goes on, 'what does this signify?'

The angel says, 'Another angel with a different charactor'

Dee asks again, 'why show me now?' and the angel says: 'For a great cause.'

The angel has told Dee that another angel is to come, a bigger and better angel. for this to happen, Dee must prepare with prayer and fasting. Dee is told that the next angel will appear after New years day, but not on the Saboath. The angel instructs Dee to get up as soon as he wakes and to fast and pray, both kneeling and sitting.

The stone is to be placed in sunlight.

Dee concludes his narrative by saying that the angel was ruler (prepositus) of the circle of Venus and chief Governor of this period (of time?)

The date this account was written was 1582, November 20th, a year after the event.

The next entry is made concerning one Mr Edward Talbot who turns up at Mortlake in 1882, a Saturday at 10 AM. John Dee tells Mr Talbot that he needs someone who can help him communicate with angels, and goes to fetch the stone in its frame (given to him by a friend). Dee said that he had been reliably informed that it could be used to contact some good angels to appear in the stone.

Dee asked Talbot to call the angels Anchor, Anachor and Anilos.

Mr Talbot got down on his knees at Dee's desk with the stone placed before him, and started to pray and entreat the angels to come. Dee went to his Oratory and prayed to god for the angels to be sent.

After fifteen minutes Talbot saw one angel and Dee welcomed the angel and asked its name. In his account, Dee says that the angel spoke clearly (to the hearing of Talbot) and said that its name was Uriel...

Uriel tells him that he will give him the instructions on how to read the Tablets of Sogya. Dee exclaims that he has been told that he will live for only two years longer, should he read the tablets, but Uriel tells him that instead he will live one 'hundered and odd' years.

Uriel tells Dee that he must ask for the angel Michael and create the Sigillum Dei which is already shown in a book in Dee's library...

What am I to conclude from this? It seems that there are a sufficiency of people willing to scy for John Dee and it seems that John Dee cannot see anything in the crystal or stone himself, nor actually hear what the angels say. Dee is concerned that evil rather than good angels may start speaking to him and I suppose talking about 'hidden treasure' was a test.

The Book of Enoch was rediscovered in Ethiopia around about 1773, so John Dee did not read that version but he must have read a version.

The next question is: does the bible mention Enoch?
According to Google- Genesis 5:24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God tooke him. But John Dee knew that god spoke to Enoch.

Hebrews 11:5 (1611 King James Bible)
By faith Enoch was translated, that he should not see death, and was not found, because God had translated him: For before his translation he had this testimonie, that he pleased God.

Jude 1:14 (1611 King James Bible)
And Enoch also, the seuenth from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord commeth with ten thousands of his Saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

So, if The Book of Enoch was not a part of the King James bible, was it a part of a previous version of the bible or is it a part of Jewish Torah? Otherwise how did John Dee know that Enoch had talked with god if all the bible says about Enoch is that he was raptured?

I can't be the only person asking this.

Solution (I think) Book of Jubilees.

OK, next question: Uriel said that John Dee had a book in his collection that showed the Sigillium Dei.

What was that book?

Trithemius's The Steganographia, probably!

Where did Trithemius get his lists and names, astral connections and starry charts from? Ramon Lull is one name, Solomon (Key of Solomon) the Lemegeton is most likely the book that inspired Trithemius...

Well this takes me back to the Babylonians; true it is a long way between 1800 BC and the sixteenth century. But I'm not so interested in filling out the missing links, others have already done this I'm sure.

I like to see the different spins added to the original themes. The fundamental notions link back to the first cities, and still so much a part of 'our' culture.