~~ John Dee, 1527-1608 ~~
Born on July 13th, 1527, in London, England, John Dee turned out to be an alchemist, astrologer, necromancer, scholar and mathematician who`s activities greatly increased the awareness and interest in mathematics in Elizabethan England. After touring Europe, hoovering up knowledge as he went, he returned to England, where his reputation had mushroomed to such an extent that he was appointed court astrologer to the queen, Mary Tudor, but was shortly afterwards imprisoned for being a magician. While under house arrest, he met the future Queen Elizabeth, who took an instant shine to him. Elizabeth possessed a far more enlightened brain than her sister. Intellectually nimble and curious, Elizabeth as queen, gave Dee a pension, and more importantly, protected him from those who wished to see him incinerated for practicing witchcraft.
Among Dee`s interests was necromancy: he claimed that his footsteps were followed by the ghosts of some 300 souls who he raised from the dead, for use in divination. He travelled throughout Europe with his apprentice, and a trailing phantasmagorical desert caravan of the afterlife trailing in his wake. His library at the riverside village of Mortlake was considered the finest private collection in existence, containing thousands of bound books and hand written medieval manuscripts devoted to philosophy, science and esoterica. To put his library into perspective; the university of Cambridge at this time, owned around 450 books and manuscripts.
Such was Dee`s obsession with occult knowledge, he believed himself blessed with numerous angelic visitations, which promised him their continual companionship as long as he lived. One of his earthly companions was one Edward Kelley, a classic Renaissance scoundrel and scalliwag, who had already had his ears cropped for counterfeiting, and who kept scrupulous notes on Dee`s attempts at conjuring angelic spirits.
“Gazing into the glass (he, Kelley) reported to Dee that ` ….in the middle of the stone seemeth to stand a little round thing like a spark of fire, and it increaseth, and it seemeth to be as a glove of twenty inches diameter, or there about.`” In this sphere, Kelley claims to have seen an entire host of celestial beings jabbering away in the incomprehensible language of angels. Some have taken this as a curtain pulled across the real purpose of this heavenly tongue……….Espionage and State security. The angelic language was perhaps a code for agents carrying messages from Elizabeth`s court to and fro across Europe, in Dee`s alleged capacity as founder of the English secret service.
Here we have a man who in many ways was rather intelligent: he like to debate weighty matters and be seen to have at least half a brain cell to play with. He`s a gentleman with fixed ideas however; a God fearing person, brought up in a strict Protestant tradition in which there was no place for magicians, necromancers and astrologers. Dee was flung out on his ear. Before this, his fabled library of priceless, written treasure; the product of centuries of adoration of the written word, and of knowledge for the sheer love and sake of it, was destroyed by a mob, and Dee driven out of England. He returned, but was described by his biographer, John Aubry, as ” ……a beaten old man with `a long beard as white as milke, tall and slender, who wore a gowne with hanging sleves.” Reduced to telling fortunes and selling his few remaining books to earn enough money to eat, Dee slid slowly into the safety of shadows and obscurity.
John Dee was a man who strived for continuous harmony in accordance with the laws of Nature and Higher Wisdom that he never ceased to seek throughout his long life. But his earthly body was washed away in the great, severe Protestant flood of Noah unleashed by King James Ist of England, but his soul may yet be conversing in angelic tongues before the Glory of God.