John Dee (1527-1609?) was a noted mathematician, navigator, astronomer and scholar, whose research into British antiquities and Arthurian legend was used to legitimise Queen Elizabeth’s claims to territories in the New World.
He was also deeply immersed in the study of magic and hermetic philosophy, by which means he hoped to discover the divine forms (the ‘pure verities’) which underlie the visible world.
Knowledge of these forms, he believed, would equip mankind with a perfect understanding of nature, which in turn would enable humanity to revert to a prelapsarian state of unity and bliss. He believed that this might be achieved by communing with angels who speak the uncorrupted first language of the Creation, in which God made the world and Adam named it.
From 1532-9, with the help of the medium Edward Kelley, he entered into a series of ‘spiritual conferences’ with angels, in the course of which the celestial Enochian alphabet was dictated and then used to record their conversations.
Dee took meticulous notes which were recovered after his death and published in 1659, during a period of renewed interest in occultism. Dee himself died in poverty and neglect aged 82, having reputedly forecast the exact date of his death.
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