John Dee,

 Medium Dr John Dee

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 Dr John Dee Medium

1527 – 1608

Short Biography of the life of John Dee - Magician, Astrologer & Mathematician

The following biography information provides basic facts about the life John Dee:

 

Nationality - English

Lifespan - 1527 – 1608

Family - His father was Roland Dee a textile merchant and courtier. Mother was Jane Wild. John Dee was an only child

Education - Chelmsford Chantry School, St. John's College, Cambridge

Career - Mathematician, Astrologer, Magician

 

 

Biography of the life of John Dee - Magician, Astrologer & Mathematician

Dr. John Dee was one of the most fascinating characters of the Elizabethan period. The events of his life are filled with science, experiments, astrology and mathematics which he aligned with magic, the supernatural and alchemy! He was fascinated by the 'Dark Side'. His name, strangely enough, even reflects the life he would lead. The surname 'Dee' derives from the Welsh Celtic word 'du' which means black. John Dee was a brilliant scholar. Interested in Mathematics, physics and astrology which he studied at Cambridge and in Europe. The Elizabethan era was the age of the Renaissance and new thinking and ideas. It was also the age of Nostradamus, Marsilio Ficino and Trithemius and the Renaissance fusion of Christianity, Hermetic Philosophy and its attendant sciences of magic, astrology and alchemy. His interest in science and mathematics led John Dee to a particular interest in astrology and all of its associated supernatural subjects. John Dee was well travelled was obsessive in collecting books and manuscripts. He collected so many books that he created the greatest personal library in England, which he housed at his mother's residence at Mortlake. John Dee and his extensive library attracted visits from the foremost scholars in England. His knowledge extended to Navigation and during his early travels to Europe he was associated with the great cartographer Gerardus Mercator. His knowledge of navigation and maps was an invaluable source of information to the Elizabethan Explorers such as Raleigh and Drake. His interest moved on to all subjects relating to the occult and he started working with a highly skilled Medium called Edward Kelley. Kelley used Chrystal balls and his skill in scrying and as a Medium to contact angels and spirits. The Enochian script was said to have been revealed to John Dee by the angels who were conjured by Kelley. John Dee became obsessed with the occult and spent most of his later life in search of its secrets...

 

Facts, Timeline & History about the life of John Dee - Magician, Astrologer & Mathematician

The following are additional facts about the life and history of John Dee via a comprehensive timeline:

 

John Dee was born 13 July 1527

1503 -1566 Nostradamus was in the patronage of Catherine de Medici

1542 - 1546 John Dee studied Greek, Latin, philosophy, geometry, arithmetic and astronomy at Cambridge University

1546 - John Dee graduated with a B.A. in 1546

1547 - 1550 Studies and Lectures in Europe

1548 24 June arrived in Brussels where he studied with Gemma Frisius and Gerardus Mercator

1550 John Dee was in Antwerp

1551 John Dee brought instruments of navigation back from Europe

1552 John Dee returned to England under the patronage of the Earl of Pembroke and then the Duke of Northumberland

1552 John Dee under Royal patronage of King Edward VI

1553 John Dee became astrologer to the queen, Mary Tudor

1555 28 May - John Dee imprisoned for heresy and for being a magician accused of 'calculating' as a form of magic

1555 August 1 Edward Kelley was born

1555 August John Dee was released from prison

1555 - 1587 John Dee became a consultant to the Muscovy Company formed by the navigator and explorer Sebastian Cabot together with a number of London merchants which was granted a monopoly of Anglo-Russian trade and aimed to search for the Northeast Passage

1555 John Dee prepared nautical information, including navigation charts. He instructed the crews on geometry and cosmography before they left for voyages to North America in 1576.

15 January 1556 - Dee presents plans for a national library to Queen Mary - but the scheme did not receive official backing

1556 John Dee settles at his mother's house Mortlake in Richmond-upon-Thames where he establishes his own personal library

1559 January 15 - Elizabeth I became Queen of England and the coronation date was picked from a horoscope cast for her by John Dee

1562 John Dee in Antwerp - England passed the Witchcraft Statute

1564 John Dee leaves Antwerp

1568 Dee asserts that every object exerts force on every other

1568 he published Propaedeumata Aphoristica and presented the work about Mathematics, Astrology and magic and to Queen Elizabeth

1575 March 10 Queen Elizabeth I visited John Dee's library at Mortlake

1576 John Dee instructed the crews of the explorer Sebastian Cabot, on geometry and cosmography before they left for voyages to North America

1578 John Dee marries his third wife, Jane Fromond. They have eight children

1579 - John Dee's mother gives him the house at Mortlake

1581 - Dee and Edward Kelley start their "mystical experiments". Edward Kelley was a highly skilled medium who claimed to be able to contact angels and spirits which he did by gazing into a crystal ball

1581 John Dee begins experimenting with Angelic magic

1582 March 10 - John Dee and Edward Kelley start receiving the Heptarchia Mystica (John Dee became deeply involved in conversing with angels and spirits through Kelley and it dominated the latter part of his life)

1582 March 20 John Dee and Edward Kelley receive the Enochian alphabet

1583 March 29 John Dee and Edward Kelley start receiving Liber Logaeth

1583 May 8 John Dee and Edward Kelley are foretold by the Angel Uriel of the death of the Queen of Scots (this occurred in 1587) and the coming of the Spanish Armada (this occurred in 1588)

1583 - A mob destroyed a large part of John Dee's library at Mortlake

1584 - John Dee and Edward Kelley move to Cracow

1586 - John Dee and Edward Kelley move to Prague

1589 John Dee returns to England

1589 Edward Kelley stays in Prague and embarks on his public alchemical transmutations in Prague

1595 John Dee became warden of Manchester College

1595 Edward Kelley dies

1605 Jane (Fromond) Dee and several of their children die of plague in Manchester. Following this tragic event John Dee returned to live in London

1608 John Dee dies February 21 1608

Architect of the Elizabethan Theatre

James Burbage had many ideas about creating the first Elizabethan theatre. He started his career as a joiner and was therefore experienced in carpentry. But he did not have the knowledge required to create the similarity to the classical Greek and Roman theatres. But he knew a man who did! James Burbage consulted John Dee (1527-1608) on the design and construction of 'The Theatre'. John Dee had acquired many books and manuscripts over the years and his personal library, in his house at Mortlake, was the greatest  in England. John Dee was therefore extremely knowledgeable on a huge variety of different subjects and this knowledge included architecture. James Burbage relied on Dee's extensive architectural library to design the plans for the construction of The Theatre.

 

Books written by John Dee

 John Dee became obsessed with the occult during his later years and the following books, written by John Dee reflect this interest in the supernatural:

 

Propaedeumata Aphoristica about Mathematics, Astrology and magic

Compendium Heptarchiae Mysticae - An early version of John Dee's primary magical text

Five Books of Mystery (Mysteriorum Libri Quinque) - These secret books recorded his experiments with 'angel magic'  and contained the earliest versions of Angelic or "Enochian" script

Mysteriorum Liber Sextus et Sanctus (Liber Loagaeth) - This book is described as 'a Book of Secrets and Key of this World' and as The Book of Enoch. The contents were said to have been revealed to John Dee by the angels

De Heptarchia Mystica - A summary by John Dee of his techniques for communicating with angels and practical benefits there from. 

The Hieroglyphic Monad contains information about symbolic language

 

 

Written and compiled by George Knowles

Dr John Dee

"A sixteenth century portrait of John Dee, the artist is unknown.  Believed to have been painted when Dee was 67.  It once belonged to his grandson Rowland Dee then later to Elias Ashmole, who left it to Oxford University".

Dr. John Dee was a famous Alchemist, Mathematician, Astronomer and Astrologer; he was also an advisor to Queen Elizabeth I on matters pertaining to science and astrology, as such he was sometimes referred to as “the last royal magician”.  A serious academic some thought him to be the most learned man in the whole of Europe.  Fascinated by all things occult, he was an adept in Hermetic and Cabbalistic philosophy, and spent much of his later life in efforts to communicate with Angelic spirits.

John Dee’s father was a Welshman called Rowland Dee, a merchant and gentleman tailor at the court of Henry VIII, in which capacity he would have made clothing for the royal household, as well as buying and supplying fabrics for the King.  Dee's mother Jane Wild, married his father when she was just fifteen years of age, and John Dee was born three years later in Tower Ward, London on the 13th July 1527 (John was their first and only child).

Such was his father’s affluence; he was able to give his son a decent education.  Dee first attended Chantry School in Chelmsford, Essex from 1537 – 1542, when at the age of 15, he began his higher education at St. John’s College Cambridge studying Greek, Latin, Philosophy, Geometry, Mathematics and Astronomy.  In 1546, Dee graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree and was made a Fellow of St John's College.  In December that same year, he was made a Founding Fellow of the newly formed Trinity College with the post of ‘Under Reader of Greek’, receiving in 1548 his Master of the Arts degree.

While he was at Cambridge, a serious charge of sorcery was brought against him.  Dee had created a mechanical flying beetle for a stage production of Aristophanes’ "Pax"; which apparently was so realistic some thought it the work of the devil.  These were the early days of scientific exploration in many fields, when many new discoveries were viewed with scepticism and closely allied with witchcraft and sorcery.  Such accusations would plague Dee for much of his life.

After clearing his name and unhappy with the scientific attitude and accusations that had been levelled at him in England, in 1548 Dee travelled to Europe to continue his education.  Arriving at Louvain University in Belgium on 24th of June, he studied under Gemma Frisius and formed a close friendship with his student Gerardus Mercator (both were leading lights in the fields of Mathematics, Astronomy and Geography).  In 1550 he travelled up to Brussels were he met and exchange views with many of the leading scholars and mathematicians of the day.

That same year Dee moved on to the Sorbonne in Paris where he was invited to lecture on ‘Euclid’ (the Greek mathematician cica 300 BC. Euclid was most important for his use of the deductive principles of logic as the basis of Geometry.  His book ‘The Elements’ was used as a textbook on geometry for over 2000 years).  Dee was an impressive lecturer and his lectures were extremely popular, it was reported that people filled his lecture room whenever he was speaking.  Indeed he was so popular and successful, he was offered a post as Professor of Mathematics, and received offers of patronage from many European Monarchs and nobles.  Dee however refused them all, wishing to continue his career back in England.

While in Europe, Dee became heavily influenced by the occult writings of Henry Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535), a protégé of abbot Johann Trithemius, and during his travels began collecting what would become one of the largest private collections of rare books, manuscripts and curios in Europe at that time.  Many of his books were associated with Science, Hermetic knowledge, Occult philosophy and Alchemy.  On his return to England in 1551, Dee brought back not only his collection of rare books, but also an important collection of mathematical and astronomical instruments, including the maps, charts and globes he had worked on with Frisius and Mercator.

Back in England, Dee was invited to the court of King Edward VI (then only 13 years of age), there to act as an advisor and tutor on scientific matters.  In return he was given a post as Rector of Severn-upon-Severn in Worcestershire, and with it the assurance of a home and an income of one hundred crowns a year.  This would allow Dee to continued his scientific studies without financial worry, during which time he devoted himself more and more to astrology.  He also enjoyed the patronage of the Earl of Pembroke and entered into the service of the Duke of Northumberland as a private tutor to his children.

After the death of the young boy King in 1553, Dee’s hopes for a financially secure future died with him.  By this time though, he had gained a reputation as a leading astrologer, and when Queen Mary (Bloody Mary) ascended to the throne, he was asked to cast her horoscope and that of her prospective husband King Philip II of Spain.  However, Mary’s reign brought with it a turbulent time for England.  A staunch Roman Catholic, she quickly instigated a campaign of persecution against eminent Protestants.

One such person arrested was Roland Dee, John Dee's father, who was taken prisoner in August 1553.  He was later released, but only after he had been deprived of all his financial assets, he died later without recovering his wealth.  This was a terrible blow for John Dee, as he had expected to inherit a considerable fortune from his father, which would have enabled him to carry on his studies free from the need to earn an income.  In 1554, Dee was offered a post as Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, a position that may have resolved his financial problems, but once again he turned the position down.  Dee was still disillusioned with the English sceptical mistrust toward science, as once again controversy came knocking.

One of Dee’s cousins was a Maid of Honour to princess Elizabeth I, who because of her Protestant sympathies was forced to live in seclusion at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire.  Through his cousin, Dee dangerously formed a link with Elizabeth and cast her horoscope prophesising Mary’s death and her own accession to the throne.  Because of this involvement, Dee was arrested and accused of trying to murder the Queen by black magic.  Fortunately for Dee the only evidence his accusers could find was Mary’s horoscope, which he had shown to Elizabeth.  Although being acquitted of the charge, Dee was imprisoned at Hampton Court near Richmond, London.

Dee was freed by an act of the Privy Council in 1555, and a year later in January 1556 he presented Queen Mary with plans for a National library.  He had hoped for her patronage to fund a Royal library in which many of the worlds most important books of learning could be collected, preserved and accessed by scholars, academics and the general public.  Sadly his plans didn’t receive official backing, but undaunted and despite his financial difficulties, Dee set out to create his own.

In efforts to improve his finances, Dee returned to the Continent for a couple of years, and travelled throughout Europe.  He was by this time well known as an astronomer and started teaching astrology for a living; among his pupils were Monarchs, Prince’s and nobles.  Dee also studied the Talmud, Rosicrucian theories and practiced alchemy in the hope of finding the ‘Elixir of Life’ and the ‘Philosopher's Stone’.  After the death of Queen Mary in 1558, Dee returned to England and when Elizabeth I took the throne, he became her trusted advisor.  She was so impressed with him, he was asked to pick a propitious day for her Coronation, and even to give her lessons in astrology.

This was the beginning of the British age of expansionism in commerce and geographical exploration, literature and the arts also flourished.  From the late 1550s through the 1570s, Dee served as an advisor on some of England's earlist voyages of discovery, providing technical assistance in navigation and ideologically backing the creation of a British Empire.  Later in 1577, he published ‘General and Rare Memorials pertayning to the Perfect Arte of Navigation’, a work that sets out his vision of a maritime empire and asserting England’s territorial claims on the New World.  To this end he was acquainted with Sir Walter Raleigh and his half brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert (both early English explorers who sought to colonize the America’s and Newfoundland under the patronage of Elizabeth I). 

However, despite his efforts and favour with the new Queen Elizabeth, she never granted him the generous income he had received from the previous King Edward VI.  His income from astrology was meagre in England, so Dee once again returned to the Continent for richer pickings.  Some say he returned as a spy on behalf of the Queen, during a time when her relationship with Europe was strained.

While on his travels, Dee continued adding to his already considerable collection of rare books, and in Antwerp in 1563, he found a book of particular interest, a rare copy of ‘Stenographia’ by the German Benedictine abbot Johann Trithemius.  Written about 100 hundred years earlier, it was a treatise on Cryptography and Angelic magic, full of numbers, symbols and ciphers.  This inspired Dee to write his own book on the subject ‘Monas Hieroglyphia’ (The Hieroglyphic Monad, published in Antwerp in 1564), a cabalistic interpretation of a glyph of his own design, meant to express the mystical unity of all things.

Dee's glyph, which he explains in his ‘Monas Hieroglyphica’.

 

 

Back in England, Dee moved in with his mother at the family home in Mortlake, near Chiswick in London.  There he set about organising his collection of scholarly books into a working library, and for many years thereafter his home became one of the countries major centres of science and research.  During his travels throughout Europe, Dee had managed to salvage many ancient texts from Churches and Monasteries that had been ransacked during the Reformation.  His collection by this time included 4000 rare books and manuscripts, as well as a collection of maps, globes and astronomical instruments, many of which today can still be found in the British Museum.

In 1665 Dee married his first wife Katherine Constable, however there is very little known about her except that she died childless of unknown causes in 1575.  During which time in 1568 he wrote and had published ‘Propaedeumata Aphoristica’, a work that mixed Physics, Mathematics, Astrology and Magic.  He presented it to Queen Elizabeth, a frequent visitor to his home, and to whom he gave lessons in mathematics and astrology to enable her to understand it.  Then in 1570, Dee edited what would become his most famous addition to the annuls of English academia, an English translation of Euclid's ‘Elements’, to which he wrote a famous preface justifying the study of mathematics:

“O comfortable allurement, O ravishing persuasion to deal with a science whose subject is so ancient, so pure, so excellent, so surrounding all creatures, so used of the almighty and incomprehensible wisdom of the Creator, in distinct creation of all creatures: in all their distinct parts, properties, natures, and virtues, by order, and most absolute number, brought from nothing to the formality of their being and state”.

Commonly thought to have been translated by Sir Henry Billingsley, (who later became the sheriff and Lord Mayor of London), many now believe that Dee may have written part or all of it himself.

After the death of his first wife Katherine in 1575, there are some rumours that Dee married a second women who died just a year later in 1576, however no name has been given to her, nor is there any mention in his diaries about her, so this mystery marriage cannot be substantiated?  What can be corroborated is that in 1578 Dee married Jane Fromond, a lady in waiting at Elizabeth’s court.  Much younger than he, she eventually bore him eight children, their eldest son Arthur Dee, like his father became an alchemist and author of hermetic works.

In 1579, Dee's devoted mother bequeathed the family home in Mortlake to him and died the following year.  Dee was devastated and perhaps in attempts to make contact with her in the afterlife, began to experiment with various means spiritualism and divination.  He had in his possession a scrying mirror, made of black obsidian glass (believed to have been obtained by Hernán Cortés, the Spanish conquistador after he had conquered the Aztec empire and secured Mexico for Spain in 1521), but Dee lacked the mediumistic abilities necessary to make contact, he recorded in his diaries a note:  “I know I can not see, nor scry”.  As a consequence of these early attempts at spirit contact, Dee became fascinated by recurring dreams.  Jane his wife, also started to have strange dreams, which along with his own he carefully recorded in his diaries.

Dee’s fascination with divination and spirit contact would occupy much of the rest of his life.

Dee meets Edward Kelly

 

Edward Kelly

Due to his lack of success with the mirror, Dee next began to experiment with crystal gazing, another method of divination by scrying.  In his diary of the 25th May 1581, he notes that he first saw spirits while crystal gazing.  After using the crystal many times, Dee discovered that only by intense concentration could he use it, he also found it difficult to record his communications during sessions on his own, and would need the aid of an assistant.  To this end he started to seek help from spiritualists, mediums and psychics.  Dee’s first choice assistant was Barnabas Saul, but someone from the court of Queen Elizabeth suggested that he maybe in league with his enemies, and out to trap him into a charge of sorcery, so Dee quickly let him go.

Dee’s second choice was Edward Talbott.  Talbott was born in Lancashire in 1555, and is thought to be of Irish decent.  While not a lot is known about his early life, he may have studied at Oxford, though perhaps not at the university, for he was educated to a degree in Latin and Greek.  At sometime before his meeting with Dee, Talbott was convicted of counterfeiting and sentenced to be pilloried at Lancaster, as a consequence of which he lost his ears.  He then moved to Worcester were he became an apothecaries assistant, an alchemist who quickly gained a reputation as a seer and necromancer.

Talbott was a con man, only interested in how to get rich quick, but he needed the academic stature and knowledge of someone like John Dee to advance his own credibility.  On meeting with John Dee, and because of his past reputation, Talbott changed his name to Edward Kelly.  Although Dee was an intelligent and learned man, he was also trusting and naive.  Talbott, now Kelly, was very persuasive, he would look into a crystal and nearly every time convinced Dee that he could see spirits and visions.  Dee was completely taken in by Kelly, and became more and more involved in conversing with Angels.  Dee was so convinced of the truth of Kelly’s visions that he transcribed them verbatim, they can be found in a book called:  ‘A True and Faithful Relation of what passed between Dr. Dee and some Spirits’, a book based on a manuscript that was found after his death.

From their relationship and labours, Dee and Kelly evolved the creation of a new magical system, which today it is called ‘Enochian Magic’.  Kelly would sit down in front of the crystal or scrying mirror and describe what he saw and heard, Dee would sit nearby and record all the information, sometimes he would ask questions which Kelly would put to the spirits in the crystal or mirror.  The angels he saw would then relate and instruct them to make large magical charts, on which they should place certain strange letters into column’s and magical graphs.

One particular spirit seems to have dominated their scrying sessions, and appeared time after time.  She called herself ‘Madimi’.  Dee recorded in his diaries that Madimi was:  “A spiritual creature, a pretty girl of seven to nine years of age, half angel and half elfin".  Apparently the spirit of Madimi taught Dee and Kelly her own Angelic language, which they then called Enochian.  She also taught them certain calls and invocations in the same language, which should be used at the start of sessions to open the ways to higher levels of understanding.

However the relationship between Dee and Kelly was far from a tranquil one.  While Dee concentrated on transcribing their communications, Kelly, still only interested in getting rich quick, continued to experiment with alchemy, over which they frequently quarrelled.  With the Inquisition in full swing and rampaging through Europe, and religious unrest fanning coals of superstition in England, the last thing Dee wanted was to be allied was alchemy and it’s associations with witchcraft and magic.  But that didn’t stop Kelly, who during a pause after one such quarrel, claimed to have found a formula for changing lead into gold.

In February of 1583, Dee made a proposal to Queen Elizabeth to change and reform the English calendar, bringing it into line with the astronomical year.  His proposal gained support from several of Elizabeth's advisors, but the Archbishop of Canterbury opposed it, he considered it too close to what the Catholic Church had adopted the previous year.  Pope Gregory XIII adopted the Gregorian calendar based on the date of the Council of Nicaea in 325, while Dee’s proposed calendar was based on the astronomical year, rather than a political one.  The failure of his calendar reform meant that England retained a calendar at odds with the rest of Europe until 1752.

Later that year in 1583, Duke Albert Laski of Bavaria visited Elizabeth’s court and was warmly received.  The Queen asked John Dee if he could entertain the Duke and show him their experiments.  The Duke was so impressed that he invited Dee and Kelly, together with their families, to visit with him in Bavaria.  They agreed and for a time they stayed at his castle in Trebona, before continuing to travel around Poland and Bohemia.  By which time they had gained celebrity status, and as a consequence were received at the homes and dinners tables of the rich and famous.

In 1584, Dee met and had talks with the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolph II and in the following year was invited to the court of Stephen Báthory the King of Poland.  Meanwhile the flamboyant Kelly with his mediumistic abilities was attracting unfavourable criticism.  They were after all ‘heretics’ (Protestants) practising Magic in a predominantly Catholic Europe, and rumours of their conjuring spirits and demons soon began to spread.

At a meeting with the ‘papal nuncio’ (Vatican Ambassador) in 1586, Dee tried to deflect these spreading rumours, and at the same time made a plea for Christian unity and greater efforts to bring about an end to religious differences between Catholics and Protestants.  However his plea’s fell on deaf ears, Dee later learned that on the advice of the ‘nuncio’, the Pope requested they be sent to Rome and interrogated by the Inquisition.  Banned from Prague by Rudolph II, Dee and Kelly fled back to the castle at Trebona and the protection of Duke Laski of Bavaria.  The Duke later managed to get the ban from Prague lifted.

Their favour restored Dee and Kelly returned to Prague under the patronage of Vilem Rozmberk, a wealthy Bohemian Count, who encouraged their continued experiments.  However, under the patronage of Count Rozmberk, Kelly’s alchemical experiments took precedence, and was beginning to make him wealthy.  Kelly had also longed for and lusted after Dee’s beautiful younger wife.  Fed up with their constant spiritual conferences, which he deemed non-productive to his wealth, Kelly concocted a rouse to bring them to an end, thus allowing him to concentrate on alchemy and also gain him access to Dee’s wife.

In 1587, Kelly suddenly revealed to Dee that the angels had ordered them to share everything, including their wives.  Dee was naturally anguished by the order, as was his wife Jane who had always loathed Kelly.  Dee reluctantly acquesed and persuased Jane to agree, but whether or not Kelly suceeded in this wife swapping venture is not certain, that the incident did occur does seems probable, for Dee unsuccessfully tried to erase the incident from his diaries.  In any event, Kelly suceeded, for in 1588 Dee broke off their spiritual conferences and ended their relationship, returning to England a year later without him.

As for Kelly, he stayed behind in Europe and by 1590 was living a life of opulence.  Through the patronage Rozmberk he received several estates and large sums of money, at the same time convincing many other influential people he had found the elusive ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ and was able to produce gold.  Rudolf II even made Kelly a ‘Baron’, but eventually tired of waiting for results.  In May of 1591, he had Kelly arrested and imprisoned in the castle of Purglitz (today called Křivoklát) outside Prague.

When Kelly agreed to cooperate and produce gold; he was released and restored to his former status.  But again he failed to produce gold and for a second time was arrested and imprisoned.  Kelly died in 1597 at the age of forty-two.  The story has it that he died while trying to escape from prison, but having used an insufficiently long rope to lower himself from a tower, he fell and broke his legs and died from his injuries.

Dee on the other hand was welcomed back to England by Elizabeth I, and returned to his home in Mortlake in December 1589, only to discover that much of his library and scientific instruments had been stolen.  Over the next few years Dee suffers severe financial difficulties, and seeks the support of Queen Elizabeth I, who seeing his plight first gives him a position as Chancellor of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.  But not wishing to be associated with his reputation, and to distance herself from him, in 1603 she makes him warden of Christ's College in Manchester. 

 

Dee accepts the post, however his reputation preceeds him and he is unable to command the respect of his Fellows.  That same year Elizabeth I dies and advocates James VI (King of Scotland 1567-1603), as James I of England (1603-1625).  In 1604, Dee petitioned James I for protection against such accusations stating:  “that none of all the great number of the very strange and frivolous fables or histories reported and told of me are true”.  However James I was unsympathetic to anything related to magic and witchcraft, given that he had participated in the trials of the North Berwick Witches, and already published in 1597 his famed and influencial ‘Demonology’, a curse on the next two centuries.

 

 In 1605, Manchester was hit by the dreaded plague, in which Jane his devoted wife and several of his children died.  Dee by now a broken old man retired from public life and moved back to Mortlake.  During his last few years, he irked out a living giving lessons in astrology, drawing horoscopes and fortune telling, he was even forced to sell off some of his prized books in order to feed himself.  He died in extreme poverty at the age of 81 in 1608.

 

Dr. John Dee, despite his naivety was perhaps one of the keenest minds of his time.  Credit must be given for making the calculations that would enable England to use the Gregorian calendar.  He led the way for the preservation and the collection of historic documents and made great strides in the development astronomy, mathematics and navigation.  It could be said that Dr. Dee was the one of the first modern scientists, and yet one of the last serious alchemists.  His legacy has lived on and his Enochian magic has evolved, in the late 1800’s it was at the heart of the Order of the Golden Dawn’s teachings and appears in all their initiation ceremonies and rituals.  Thanks to Israel Regardie these are now in the public domain and the last chapter of ‘The Golden Dawn’ is dedicated to the Enochian system, and finishes with an impressive Angelic Dictionary.

 

 

 

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