The following is the text of a presentation I gave over the weekend at Leaping Laughter Lodge based on material from my latest book, Mastering the Great Table, as a follow-up to my previous Introduction to the Heptarchia Mystica presentation. The procedure outlined here is Dee's grimoire evocation method, but the book includes an expanded template that shows how to incorporate modern ritual forms into the basic structure.
The Enochian magical system of Dr. John Dee and scryer Edward Kelley has inspired ritual magicians for centuries. Dee’s spirit diaries were first published in 1659 by Meric Causaubon, a clergyman who sought to discredit personal spiritual revelations by making the case that even John Dee, one of the most intelligent men of his age, was nonetheless taken in by evil spirits. Causaubon’s sixty-page preface to this effect was mostly ignored, but his edition of the diaries, A True and Faithful Relation of What Passed for Many Years Between Dr. John Dee and Some Spirits (normally abbreviated TFR by modern magicians) made Dee’s work available to an audience for the first time.
By 1700 the first attempt to integrate the Dee material into the canon of Western magick was published as the Treatise on Angel Magic, attributed to one "Dr. Rudd." In this volume we find some curious attributions that were passed on by early Enochian authors, such as attempts to mix Goetic and Enochian spirits. While there is some overlap between Enochian and Goetic practitioners, the two systems in fact have nothing to do with each other. That did not stop Rudd, though, from creating his own versions of implements such as the seven Ensigns of Creation that added Goetic spirit names to Dee’s designs. His Table of Art is also an odd synthesis of Dee’s Holy Table and other magical containment structures of the period.
The most famous system of Enochian magick was developed by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the late nineteenth century. The Golden Dawn system was influential enough that for much of the twentieth century it was what everyone thought of as Enochian magick. Aleister Crowley’s version was derived from the Golden Dawn version and similar enough that it was essentially a dialect of the system. But in the 1970’s and 1980’s Enochian magicians started going back to the original sources, most of which were maintained by the British Museum. Today these documents are available as online scans, making Dee’s original work more widely available than ever before.
What I am going to be discussing tonight is the original grimoire system of working with the Great Table as revealed to Dee and Kelley. The Great Table should not be confused with the Holy Table. The Holy Table is the term for Dee’s altar table that held the seven Ensigns of Creation, tin talismans representing the seven ancient planets, and the Sigillum Dei Aemeth, a wax disk engraved with names and lineal figures on which a scrying device called the shewstone was placed. The Great Table, on the other hand, consists of four quadrants also called the Watchtowers, grids of 12 x 13 squares formed from the letters of the Angelic language. The four quadrants are bound together by a “black cross” of additional letters, creating a single large 25 x 27 grid. This image can be found above and on the cover of Mastering the Great Table, and is rendered here in English rather than Angelic script.
Those of you who are familiar with the Golden Dawn version of the Great Table will notice some key differences. First of all, the original color scheme used by Dee was as shown as shown on the cover of my book – red, white, green, and black rather than the Golden Dawn elemental colors of yellow, red, blue, and black. More importantly, the concept of “elemental sub-angles” is not represented at all. In the Golden Dawn system, each quadrant is divided into four sub-quadrants, so that the Air angle would be divided up into Air of Air, Fire of Air, Water of Air, and Earth of Air. This is nowhere to be found in the Dee material. Rather, this particular innovation was made by the aforementioned Dr. Rudd, who tried to equate the sub-quadrants to the signs of Geomancy (which follow the element-of-element pattern) in the Treastise on Angel Magic. From the standpoint of the original Dee system, it is completely spurious. The original function of the sub-quadrants is to encode the names of angels and demons with various powers, but those powers do not fall along clear elemental lines.
Another difference is the position of the four quadrants. I use the Tabula Recensa arrangement from 1587 in my own work, which is the final version of the Great Table that appears in the diaries and the arrangement shown above. There is some controversy about it, however. In 1587 Dee and Kelley were trying to work out the various inconsistencies in their version of the Great Table, a painstaking and frustrating process. Kelley finally went off to scry on his own and finished the work, resulting in the 1587 version. Some magicians contend that this final version should not be used because it was completed by Kelley on his own rather than in Dee’s presence. While I can see the point of that argument, to some extent it hinges on the notion that the Enochian system was a sort of con job perpetrated upon Dee by Kelley. Were that the case, it would be one of the most magically effective cons in history.
The reason that the Enochian system remains popular today is simply that it is quite powerful compared to most other magical systems. I have a hard time seeing how Kelley could have made up all the material given the degree of consistency the diaries show unless he was cribbing from and memorizing pieces of some other grimoire source that has since been lost. No evidence of such a text has ever been found and I doubt that it ever existed. Furthermore, even if it did, my contention would still be that Recensa is the correct version of the Great Table to use – if we posit for the sake of argument that Kelley had a source from which he was memorizing, surely once on his own he would have simply referred back to the text and corrected his memorization errors.
Taken as a whole, the Great Table encodes the names of the following classes of spirits:
The Four Kings
• Rulership of the Four Elements and Qabalistic Worlds
The Twenty-Four Seniors
• Knowledge and Judgment in Human Affairs
The "Kerubic" Angels
• Mechanical Arts
• Natural Substances
• Secret Discovery
The "Lesser" Angels
• Gold and Precious Stones
• Living Creatures
• Gold and Precious Stones
• Living Creatures
Each quadrant of the Great Table is ruled over by a King and six Seniors. These may be thought of as analogous to the King and Prince of each day in the Heptarchial system, at least up to a point. In the Heptarchial system the King is generally conjured to obtain some sort of knowledge or realization, and the Prince is generally conjured to perform some practical action. When working with the Great Table this order seems to be inverted. The Seniors are conjured to obtain “knowledge and judgment in human affairs,” and while Dee’s diaries assign no particular powers to the Kings I have found them quite effective for practical elemental operations.The names of the Kings are extracted by tracing a spiral in the center of each quadrant. The seven-letter names of the Seniors are extracted from the cross that unites the four sub-quadrants together. The names are all read out from the center, overlapping at the two squares in the very center of the quadrant.
Each of the sixteen sub-quadrants is divided by two controlling names that appear in the shape of a cross. The four letters that appear above the horizontal arms of this cross represent a class of four angels that the Golden Dawn system refers to as the Kerubic Angels. The sixteen letters that appear below the horizontal arms form the names of a class of four angels that that Golden Dawn system refers to as the Lesser Angels. Combined with letters from the Black Cross they also form the names of a class of eight demons that Dee called the Cacodemons. In general, the powers of the Cacodemons correspond to those of the Lesser Angels but in negative or destructive terms. For example, the Cacodemons corresponding to the Lesser Angels of Medicine are conjured in order to cause diseases.
In addition to the elemental attributions of the four quadrants, the spirits of the sub-quadrants also do have sub-elemental attributions, but in the Dee system these are figured quite differently than in the Golden Dawn system. Reading the names below the horizontal arms of the cross from top to bottom for each sub-quadrant, the first row is attributed to Air, the second row to Water, the third row to Earth, and the fourth row to Fire. Therefore, the individual Lesser Angels and Cacodemons have elemental attributions above and beyond those of the quadrant in which their names appear.
Applying this schema to the figure above, the Lesser Angels of the sub-quadrant shown, the angels of medicine, would be attributed thus. The letters of the shaded cross are not included in these names.
Air – CZNS (third row from top)
Water – TOTT (fourth row from top)
Earth – SIAS (fifth row from top)
Fire – FMND (bottom row)
These attributions have many practical applications – for example, if you wanted to cast a healing spell for mental illness, you might want to summon only those Angels of Medicine corresponding to Air (mental activity), Water (emotional activity), or perhaps both depending upon the nature of the illness. It is not clear from the Dee diaries that the same sub-elemental relationship holds for the Kerubic Angels, but it is logical to think that it might. Those angels are also conjured in groups of four in a particular order, so if the arrangement holds the elemental attributions for the Kerubic angels of this sub-quadrant, the angels of mechanical arts, would be as shown here.
Air – RZLA
Water – ZLAR
Earth – LARZ
Fire – ARZL
The four Kerubic names are permutations of the four letters in the top row. As with the Lesser Angel names, the letter of the shaded cross is excluded.
Even though the Golden Dawn terms “Kerubic” and “Lesser” imply some sort of hierarchical arrangement, it is not clear that such a distinction exists within Dee’s Enochian spiritual hierarchy. Both groups have four-letter names, implying that they exhibit approximately the same degree of intelligence and coherence. The Cacodemons, on the other hand, have three-letter names, meaning that they are less complex beings with less innate intelligence. I have found this to be the case when working with them; while the more coherent angels are better at discerning the intent of a particular charge and more adept at navigating obstacles to the manifestation of a spell, the Cacodemons are fairly stupid. They can bring a great deal of power to bear, but they also are extremely literal-minded and have only a limited ability to navigate changing circumstances. For this reason, I generally recommend becoming familiar with the various classes of angels and how they work before moving on to conjuring the cacodemons.
Very few authors discuss the cacodemons. This is in part because Dee left no conjurations for them, in part because the Golden Dawn magicians and Aleister Crowley ignored them, and in part because they represent the most negative, destructive aspects of a system that already has a reputation for being both powerful and dangerous. My suspicion is that Mathers and Wescott of the Golden Dawn, just like John Dee himself, most likely avoided the cacodemons on the grounds of trying to distance themselves from anything resembling “black magick.” Crowley was more adventurous in his magical practice, but as he received his Golden Dawn training directly from Mathers he was likely taught little about them. They merit only a brief mention in Liber Chanokh and the full method for constructing their names is not even included in the text. On the other hand, I have personally found that working with them is no more dangerous than working with the other Enochian entities.
As an aside, over the years various superstitions have circulated in the magical community regarding working with the Great Table and Enochian magick in general. Supposedly working with Enochian magick is particularly dangerous to one’s psyche, such that a higher percentage of people working it encounter mental health issues than do individuals working with other systems. It should be kept in mind that nearly one person in four will encounter mental health issues and that about one person in twenty (~4.7%) will be diagnosed with either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, considered the two most serious mental illnesses, at some point in their lives. Even given these statistics, though, verifiable “Enochian meltdown” stories are quite rare. This suggests that these tales are little more than urban myths, and that most people will never encounter anything of the sort.
For the practice of Great Table evocations I use the same temple setup and tools as I do for Heptarchial magick. Some modern authors have argued that none of the tools are required for working with the Watchtower angels, but I have found that they behave just like the Heptarchial entities in that regard – you can evoke them with a minimal temple setup, but the more you have the better it works. A description of the temple setup for Heptarchial operations can be found in my Introduction to the Heptarchia Mystica presentation.
The main addition to the Enochian temple for Great Table workings is that twelve fabric banners should be hung around the perimeter of the working space, forming a magical circle. The cloth of the banners should be silk, colored according to the four directions as seen in what is generally called the “golden talisman” vision because a golden talisman depicting the various elements of the Castles or Watchtowers seen in the vision is part of the Dee collection at the British Museum.
East – Red (“Fresh Red Cullor”)
South – White (“Lilly White”)
West – Green (“Dark greene Cullor like garlicke blades”)
North – Black (“Blacke as of bilbery Juyce”)
Each of these banners bears one of the twelve names of God formed by reading across the central row of each Great Table quadrant, drawn in the Angelic script. These should be written from left to right, just as the names appear on the Table itself. Many years ago it was contended by some authors that Angelic should be written right to left as is Hebrew, but there is no support for this idea in the Dee diaries except for the vague statement that Angelic was spoken in the Garden of Eden and after the expulsion of Adam and Eve they then began to speak Hebrew. In fact, the structure of the Angelic language has more in common with English and German, European languages that Dee spoke, than it does with Hebrew or any other Semitic tongue.
The color for the wording on the banners is not specified, but I have found the Golden Dawn “flashing color” method to be particularly effective in their construction. This consists of cutting the letters of the name from cloth that is of the background’s complementary color and then sewing them onto the background. As red and green are complements, as are black and white, this method still only requires four colors of silk cloth, and if you are careful you can fashion the letters for the red banner our of leftover cloth from the green banner and so forth. With the sheen of the silk placing complementary colors next to each other produces a strong “flashing” effect, in which the letters of the banners seem to vibrate simply by virtue of their hue and placement.
Dee’s diagram of the banners shows them hung like flags, but I have found that they work better hung vertically from dowels that are suspended on poles as shown here or hung on walls if your working space is approximately square. This displays the cloths and lettering better and gives a real physical impression of being surrounded by a magical circle when you stand at the Holy Table in the center of your working space. The diagram here shows the banner for the name ORO suspended vertically.
When working with the Great Table the angels are generally summoned in four groups, one from each direction. Dee’s conjurations seem to include the assumption that rather than summoning individual angels, the magician instead should conjure all of the Angels of a particular class in order to accomplish a magical goal within their sphere of influence. So, for example, each quadrant of the Great Table has four Angels of medicine allocated to it, and in order to cast a healing spell you conjure all sixteen of them and then deliver your charge.
The most effective position from which to conjure one of these groups is to stand across the Holy Table from and facing the direction to which the group is attributed. So to conjure the Angels of medicine of the east you stand west of the Holy Table and face east, to conjure those of the south you stand north of the Holy Table and face south, and so forth. This sets up a line of magical attention that crosses the center of the Sigillum Dei Aemeth and then reaches out to the angels being summoned. By moving in a clockwise direction as you conjure each group, a sort of magical vortex is set up in the center of the Sigillum that serves as a manifestation point for the angels.
This method of working requires some preparation as far as Great Table talismans go. Dee was told that all of the angels of the Enochian system have corresponding talismans, and the instructions given regarding Heptarchial talismans were never rescinded or revised for the Great Table angels. As such, you should stand upon the appropriate talisman when reciting a particular conjuration, and since in a standard Great Table operation you need to summon angels from all four directions, you will need to have four talismans for each operation and they will need to be laid out on the floor of your temple such that you can step onto each of them in turn as you go around your Holy Table. This is another reason for an eleven-foot circle – if you plan on using opening and closing ritual forms, you will want room to move around your temple space performing them without stepping on any talismans until the proper time.
Set up the Enochian temple to the best of your ability. Wear the Enochian ring, robe, and lamen, and set up the banners around your working space. Stand to the west of the Holy Table facing east. The talismans for the angels you will be summoning should be placed on the floor at each of the four directions.
1. Opening the Temple
As with the angels of the Heptarchia Mystica, the grimoire ritual procedure begins with the Prayer of Enoch, communicated to Dee directly by the angels. to my way of thinking it has a similar purification function to “the confession” found in rituals such as Crowley’s Invocation of Horus.
Lord God the Fountain of true wisdom, thou that openest the secrets thy own self unto man, thou knowest mine imperfection and my inward darknesse: How can I (therefore) speak unto them that speak not after the voice of man; or worthily call on thy name, considering that my imagination is variable and fruitlesse, and unknown to myself? Shall the Sands seem to invite the Mountains: or can the small Rivers entertain the wonderful and unknown waves? Can the vessel of fear, fragility, or that is of a determined proportion, lift up himself, heave up his hands, or gather the Sun into his bosom?
Lord it cannot be: Lord my imperfection is great: Lord I am lesse than sand: Lord, thy good Angels and Creatures excell me far: our proportion is not alike; our sense agreeth not: Notwithstanding I am comforted; For that we have all one God, all one beginning from thee, that we respect thee a Creatour: Therefore will I call upon thy name, and in thee, I will become mighty. Thou shalt light me, and I will become a Seer; I will see thy Creatures, and will magnifie thee amongst them.
Those that come unto thee have the same gate, and through the same gate, descend, such as thou sendest. Behold, I offer my house, my labour, my heart and soul, If it will please thy Angels to dweIl with me, and I with them ; to rejoyce with me, that I may rejoyce with them ; to minister unto me, that I may magnifie thy name. Then, lo the Tables (which I have provided, and according to thy will, prepared) I offer unto thee, and unto thy holy Angels, desiring them, in and through thy holy names: That as thou art their light, and comfortest them, so they, in thee will be my light and comfort.
Lord they prescribe not laws unto thee, so it is not meet that I prescribe laws unto them: What it pleaseth thee to offer, they receive; So what it pleaseth them to offer unto me, will I also receive. Behold I say (O Lord) If I shall call upon them in thy name, Be it unto me in mercy, as unto the servant of the Highest. Let them also manifest unto me, How, by what words, and at what time, I shall call them. O Lord, Is there any that measure the heavens, that is mortal? How, therefore, can the heavens enter into man’s imagination? Thy creatures are the Glory of thy countenance: Hereby thou glorifiest all things, which Glory excelleth and (O Lord) is far above my understanding.
It is great wisdom, to speak and talke according to understanding with Kings: But to command Kings by a subjected commandment, is not wisdom, unlesse it come from thee. Behold Lord, How shall I therefore ascend into the heavens? The air wlll not carry me, but resisteth my folly, I fall down, for I am of the earth. Therefore, O thou very Light and true Comfort, that canst, and mayst, and dost command the heavens: Behold I offer these Tables unto thee, Command them as it pleaseth thee: and O you Ministers, and true lights of understanding, Governing this earthly frame, and the elements wherein we live, Do for me as for the servant of the Lord: and unto whom it hath pleased the Lord to talk of you.
Behold, Lord, thou hast appointed me 50 times; Thrice 50 times will I lift my hands unto thee. Be it unto me as it pleaseth thee, and thy holy Ministers. I require nothing but thee, and through thee, and for thy honour and glory: But I hope I shall be satisfied, and shall not die, (as thou hast promised) until thou gather the clouds together, and judge all things: when in a moment I shall be changed and dwell with thee for ever. Amen.
2. The Preliminary Invocation
For Great Table operations a new preliminary invocation replaces the Oration to God that is used in Heptarchial workings. Dee called this new invocation the “Fundamental Obeisance.” It calls upon the twelve names of God that rule over the four quadrants of the Great Table. According to the tabula recensa they are arranged thus:
East – ORO IBAH AOZPI
South – MPH ARSL GAIOL
West – OIP TEAA PDOCE
North – MOR DIAL HCTGA
These directions also reflect the position of the twelve banners, each of which bears one of these twelve names. This version is revised from Dee’s original and is more suitable for Thelemic practitioners. The original can also be found in my book.
O Almighty and Omnipotent MAD, Lord and Creator of the universe, I, [Your Magical Name], devoted worshipper of the Highest, most earnestly invoke and call upon your divine power, wisdom, and goodness. I humbly and faithfully seek your favor and assistance to me in all my deeds, words, and thoughts, and in the promotion, procuring, and mingling of your praise, honour, and glory. Through these, your twelve mystical Names: ORO, IBAH, AOZPI, MPH, ARSL, GAIOL, OIP, TEAA, PDOCE, MOR, DIAL, HCTGA, I conjure and pray most zealously to your divine and omnipotent majesty, that all your Angelic* spirits might be called from any and all parts of the universe through the special domination and controlling power of your holy Names. Let them come most quickly to me. Let them appear visibly, friendily, and peacefully to me. Let them remain visible according to my will. Let them vanish from me and from my sight when I so request. Let them give reverence and obedience before you and your twelve mystical Names. I command that they happily satisfy me in all things by accomplishing each and every one of my petitions, if not by one means, then by another, goodly, virtuously, and perfectly, with an excellent and thorough completeness, according to their virtues and powers, both general and unique, and by your united ministry and office, O God, Amen. So mote it be.
* Substitute Cacodemonic for Angelic when summoning cacodemons.
3. The Angelic Keys
The Angelic Keys appropriate to your operation follow. You always begin with the First Key for an evocation and the Second Key for an invocation. Alternately, if you and a partner are acting as Magus and Scryer, Magus intones the First Key and Scryer intones the Second. For the Kings and Seniors this is sufficient. Otherwise, the Magus intones four additional Keys depending upon the type of operation, each to the appropriate direction.
|Angels of the Mechanical Arts, Angels of Medicine, Cacodemons of Medicine.||3rd Key East, 4th Key South, 5th Key West, 6th Key North|
|Angels of Transportation, Angels of Gold and Precious Stones, Cacodemons of Gold and Precious Stones.||7th Key East, 8th Key South, 9th Key West, 10th Key North|
|Angels of Natural Substances, Angels of Transformation, Cacodemons of Transformation.||11th Key East, 12th Key South, 13th Key West, 14th Key North|
|Angels of Secret Discovery, Angels of Living Creatures, Cacodemons of Living Creatures||15th Key East, 16th Key South, 17th Key West, 18th Key North|
These attributions for the Keys are completely different than the Golden Dawn order, and are based on the structure of the Great Table as outlined in the Dee’s diaries and the process by which the Keys were received. I have experimented with this order for many years and have found that it works the best of every version that I’ve used. Further discussion of the rationale behind this arrangement and how I came to use it can be found in Mastering the Great Table.
4. The Conjurations
Beginning in the west facing east, step onto the talisman and recite the conjuration for the eastern angels of the class you are summoning. These can all be found in my book. Move to the north facing south, and repeat the conjuration for the southern angels. Move to the east facing west, and repeat the conjuration for the western angels. Move to the south facing north, and repeat the conjuration for the northern angels. Then return to the west facing east to deliver the charge.
5. The Charge
Deliver the Charge to the angels or cacodemons that you have personally composed, remembering that they can be quite literal. This is especially true of cacodemons, whether due to their hostility or simply their general stupidity. You should always write up your charge ahead of time rather than trying to make it up on the fly. Include a set of injunctions – what you want the spirit to do – and limitations – what you want the spirit not to do. So supposing you want five thousand dollars within one month, your charge should be something like this:
I hereby command that you bring me the sum of five thousand dollars within one month (injunction), without causing harm or damage to myself, my loved ones, or my property (limitation).
This rules out certain courses of action that the magick might take in order to avoid “monkey’s paw” type situations in which you get what you asked for, but in a way that has some terrible downside. When working with angels some of this risk is mitigated as they are not hostile as demons tend to be, but a little caution still goes a long way. You should always use a time limitation as well so that the spirits know not to pursue courses of action that will lead to the end you want, but over too long a span to be useful.
6. Closing the Temple
Perform the License to Depart. As with the Heptarchial Kings and Princes, Dee does not include a formal license to depart for the Great Table angels, so I use my own.
You Angels of Light*, I, [Your Magical Name], by the power of the True, Almighty, and Living God, I hereby bid you to depart and accomplish your appointed tasks, in the service of my True Will and to the Glory and Honour of our aforementioned True God to whom you owe loyalty and obedience. I, [Your Magical Name], hereby free the forces constrained, focused, and directed during this operation, that they may go forth and work their various powers upon the manifest universe, for thus is all True Magick and Perfect Power born. By the power of my True Will here embodied by the Magical Name [Your Magical Name], AMEN. So mote it be.
* Replace with “Cacodemons of Darkness” if you are dismissing cacodemons.
This completes the operation and closes the temple.
The angels and cacodemons of the Great Table augment the Kings and Princes of the Heptarchia Mystica with a whole set of additional powers to expand the scope of your magical operations. This basic outline of the practice should allow you to begin working with it right away, without much of the complexity introduced by the “Neo-Enochian” systems such as those of the Golden Dawn, Aurum Solis, and others who have been inspired by Dee’s diaries and the remarkable magical system contained within. This process is covered in much greater detail in my latest book Mastering the Great Table, which is available from Pendraig Publishing. The Great Table entities are powerful and effective for both practical operations and theurgic work, and as such can transform and improve all aspects of your life.