Now, modern proponents and practitioners of the magical system as set forth by Dr. John Dee often criticise the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn for its tampering with its original contents as revealed through the shew-stone scrying of Edward Kelly. Golden Dawn students like myself instead hold that the Order founders S.L. MacGregor Mathers and William Wynn Westcott extracted what they had from Dee’s notebooks and through a process of integration with Qabalah and Hermetica took it a step further. Depending on your outlook you either see it as a tampering degeneration or as a progressive development.
The Golden Dawn, contrary to any “by the book” adherents of Dee’s notes, see the system as revealed by Kelly as a part of a greater whole. Thus in the Golden Dawn the system of the Four Watchtowers, and that of the Enochian Keys or Calls, is integrated with the rest of the Golden Dawn philosophical system, thus relating it to the Holy Qabalah, Astrology, Geomancy and the Tarot.
Detractors of MacGregor Mathers often hold that he only had access to Méric Casaubon’s A True & Faithful Relation of What Passed for Many Yeers between Dr. John Dee and Some Spirits, originally published in 1659, and therefore based his conclusions without a full knowledge of Dee’s entire system. Ergo the entire Golden Dawn interpretation is in error and should be discarded with.
The fact is that A True & Faithful Relation is an erroneous transcript of the MS. Cotton Appendix XLVI and thus is a partial collection of Dee’s notebooks from his magical workings and therefore not complete. But what many often miss is that MacGregor Mathers, prior to him founding the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn jointly with Westcott, practically lived in the British Library Museum. He surely must have had access to many of its manuscripts in his research, such as the more accurate ones stemming from the hand of Elias Ashmole which found its way to the British Museaum as MSS. Sloane 2599, 3188, 3677, etc.
Therefore we must give MacGregor Mathers and Westcott the benefit of the doubt when we assess or judge their scholarly level of understanding of Dee’s original material. Furthermore, there are parts missing from Dee’s journals and Ashmole’s transcripts, and Dee often himself scratch his head and fail to comprehend what has been revealed to him. Thus it is practically impossible to be a faithful follower of Dee’s notes if one wants to implement them, and thus his material needs to be interpreted and parts being invented or re-created to fill in the missing gaps or guidelines.
In the final analysis it seems that we have the Golden Dawn to be grateful to for presenting us with a workable formula in the first place. Many who have ventured into the original notebooks of John Dee have started upon their paths from the published documents written by MacGregor Mathers and Westcott for the initiates of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
It is however clear that the work of integration of Dee’s magical system into the Golden Dawn was incomplete as it only limited itself to the Four Tablets (from the Great Table), the 18 Calls and 30 Aires or Aethers. In practice only the 18 Calls or Keys were used in the Golden Dawn, the 30 Aries being left hanging without use.
Aleister Crowley, who saw himself as a reincarnation of Edward Kelly, was the Golden Dawn initiate who probably took the first step to develop the Golden Dawn system further. He did this with his experimentation with the 30 Aires and later published his findings in The Vision and the Voice. However the incomplete system has been developed even further by modern Golden Dawn Adepts, such as David John Griffin who in his The Ritual Magic Manual has revealed his research and development of the Planetary and Zodiacal system using Dee’s original notes.
Thus today the Golden Dawn practitioner have access to a more or less complete system of integration between the Golden Dawn tradition and John Dee’s original system of Angelic Magic. However it is not the same as John Dee’s system. As with most of the Golden Dawn syncretic system, to fit many and originally disparate components into a new coherent whole you have to sacrifice parts to fit it into a workable format. This is also the case with John Dee’s research.
Thus I prefer to separate Golden Dawn’s envisioned system from Dee’s original system and designate them with different names; in the Golden Dawn format it should be referred to as “Enochian Magic”. John Dee’s original system, untainted by any post 16th Century developments, I personally refer to as “Angelic Magic”. The fact is that Dee himself referred to his system as “Angel Magic”.
Thus if you choose to use the Golden Dawn Enochian Magical system you will invoke the Enochian Angels through the lens of the Golden Dawn perspective, coloured by attributions not originally intended by John Dee. For example, the use of Egyptian God-Forms in combination with Angelic invocation. One other such development (or tampering) is the attribution of the four Tablets with the four Elements (Fire, Water, Air & Earth), although Dee does attribute them to the four quarters, but also the creation of a fifth Tablet called “The Tablet of Union” attributed to the Fifth Element of Spirit.
Furthermore, as Dee is relatively vague of the actual purpose of the Angelical Calls or Keys, in the Golden Dawn system the 18 Calls are fitly attributed to the Four Tablets (Elements) taken from the Great Table and the four Lesser Quadrants of each Tablet (sub-elements), a “invention” or “liberty” taken by MacGregor Mathers which is highly contested by practitioners of “Angelic Magic” of Dr. John Dee.
One other such invention (or liberty taken), which I would like to develop somewhat in this essay, is the peculiar use of the four Kings, in the Golden Dawn referred to as Elemental Kings. As with all other Holy and Angelic Names, the names of the Kings are extracted from each Tablet. In the case with the Kings they are taken from the 8 most central letters in a spiral clockwise fashion from the perimeter towards the centre. An example is taken from the Air Tablet whose 8 central letters creates BATAIVAH in a spiral movement as shown in the illustration below.
In a similar fashion to create the Elemental King from the Earth Tablet one gets ICZHIHAL or ICZHHCAL depending upon which version of the Tablets you are using, as Dee created several versions (which accounts for the traditional Golden Dawn fashion to present several letters in one and the same square). Similarly the name of RAAGIOSL is extracted from the Water Tablet to create the Water King, and EDLPRNAA to create the Elemental Fire King.
Now, contrary to the practice of the Golden Dawn initiate John Dee never used all eight letters of a Kingly Name but instead used seven. He did that to distinguish between and attributed a severe and merciful side to the Kings. The difference being made to the two last letters in each name (i.e. the two middle letters of the Tablet), where the severe name uses the last letter while the merciful uses the second last letter. Thus according to Dee the severe name of the airy King is BATAIVH, while the merciful name is BATAIVA.
As I see it, in the Golden Dawn the Kings uses both or dual last letters, i.e. all eight letters of the Name, as they are a fusion or unification of the merciful and severe sides of the Kings. This differs from the traditional standard in Dee’s Angelic Magic as the last two letters are exchanged to create this contrast between severity and mercy, with the exception of EDLPRNAA where he exchanges the second and third because following the previous rule wouldn’t make any difference as they both would end with an “A”. But in the Golden Dawn System of Enochian Magic the synthesis of the two aspects of the Fire King should be written as it is shown on the Tablet (i.e. ending with a double-A), as is the case with the other three Kings.
To summarize, the Golden Dawn uses all 8 letters of the King names while the Angelic Magic of John Dee only uses 7 of all 8, and thus differentiates between the polarity as contained in each name. The Golden Dawn System of Enochian Magic on the other hand emphasises the union of opposites, which is both alchemically and qabalistically more correct and should create more balance to the ritual. This also emphasises the Solar attribution of the Enochian Kings – Sol being the foremost Planet of synthesis and equilibrium.
So, in my opinion, I believe the Golden Dawn way to approach the Enochian Kings is the most wise and balanced one and thus more adequate in a Golden Dawn setting. So here we see an example of progressive development using the extant dynamics of the magical system inherited from John Dee, which fits to the overall Hermetic and Qabalistic system used in the Golden Dawn.
But surely Dee’s method gives more opportunities in the personal work of an Adept if one chooses to emphasise the 7-lettered version of each name, and one of the polar opposites of severity and mercy. It gives rise to quite interesting magical formulae which may be utilized by the Enochian Magician as well as the Angelic Magician.
Thus the Golden Dawn Adept may freely use whatever recommendations is put forth by John Dee in his original writings now and then, without upsetting the Golden Dawn intent and focus, if he keeps the system in check within the Golden Dawn context in his overall practice. Thus even a Golden Dawn Adept may create himself a “Holy Table” according to Dee’s specifications, and the Sigillum Dei Aemeth in wax and accompanying golden ring and lamen (see attached images), and even a shew stone if he prefers. I remember reading somewhere that this even was recommended by MacGregor Mathers and Westcott in the R.R. et A.C. in one of the senior sub-grades of the Adeptus Minor.
In this context I recommend Enochian Magic for Beginners: The Original System of Angel Magic by Donald Tyson, and the modern classic The Enochian Evocation of Dr. John Dee by Geoffrey James. The book by Tyson makes good comparisons between the Angelic Magic of John Dee and the Enochian Magic of the Golden Dawn, while the book by James presents the original writings of John Dee as he used them in a straightforward manner.