The first thing is the secret of the elixir of salt, which he had disclosed to Roger Cooke, being:
“. . . of acetals one uppon a undred.”
Though in an anecdote related in a manuscript from Elias Ashmole’s library, no. 1788 in folio 147, states:
“He revealed to one Roger Cooke the great secret of the elixirs, as he called it, of the salt of metalls, the projection wherof was one upon an hundred.”
However, it confuses me as to why simply the word “projection” is used rather than the more specific “acetic acid” or “vinegar”. So I began researching this particular manuscript to see if I could understand what this somewhat vague term meant in a better context, but I was unable to locate the actual document. It is to my belief that “acetals” is referring to the Latin “acetum” meaning “to sour” as well as “vinegar”. Naturally, salt and vinegar make a pretty tasty combination, so it only seems fitting that was the part of the secret.
It is also rather interesting to see how Dee writes, because he actually reminds me quite a bit of Carl Jung in how he pays attention to the details and signs of God in Nature. Even too, he, like Jung (and like myself), has very vivid, detailed dreams.
In one passage, Dee explains a dream he had on September 10th, 1579:
“. . . my dream of being naked, and my skin all overwrought with work like some kind of tuft mockado, with crosses blue and red; and on my left arm, about the arm, in a wreath, this word I read (and pardon my poor Latin) – sine me nihil potestis facere.”
The Latin translates to:
“Apart from me, you can do nothing.”
He later had the same dream, but of Mr. Secretary Walsingham, Mr. Candish, and himself.
Earlier in his showing of his drawings of aromatical oils to Mr. John Lewis and his son, Dee’s cat caught a young sparrow and tore off its left wing.
With these events, I believe what Dee was getting at was how important his psychic awareness was to his work, rather than solely logic and reasoning being the original source of his work; that that intuitive nature is what distinguished him from the rest in both efficiency, success, and profound wisdom. It also seems that Dee himself receives messages in the form of synchronous events and dreams from God that confirm everlasting life for him, as someone to be remembered throughout time. A prophet, or maybe more – certainly a chosen one. But this isn’t to say that he spoke in a very egotistical manner either, because he indeed seemed fairly humbled, but I think that to really understand what he says you must get into his mind and see how he thinks. It is clear he holds himself as the center of all functioning reality and that the blessings and tragedies he encountered were manifestations of his choices, being very self-aware.
Dee, born on July 13th, 1527, has a son, a first-born named Arthurus (or Arthur) Dee, who is born on the same day – July 13th, but in 1579. Later that day when he was born, Dee’s father-in-law, Mr. Fromonds, has a heart attack (or was, as he said, “speechless”) that night and died the next day. Grandfather Time has expired, and the newborn king rules. Out with the metaphysical elder expansion of Dee, in with this younger expansion. Likewise, Mr. Thomas Jones send him a letter afterward explaining that his wife had a dream that the child should be named “Zacharias” and that he would do well with such a name. “Zacharias” means “the Lord remembers”.
Dee also expresses conflicts with several persons, one of the more significant being Roger Cooke when he pretty much describes him as a cynical, “melancholik”, backstabbing lowlife who when given a job constantly makes excuses to get out of it. He stated very clearly in Greek script (for by writing in Greek script he was able to preserve his original words without them being altered) interjected randomly in his entry on July 12th, 1581 that Cooke was pretty pissed off, shouting in his face, and wanted to kill him, and that his friend, Mayor Henrik, concurred with Dee and understood the situation. Needless to say, Dee perceived Cooke as overcome with jealousy and as a real threat to himself, his fortune, and his and Mr. Henrik’s philosophical research. He had even tried to reconcile with Cooke, but to no avail.
He also notes the fading away of the comet of 1580, for the sighting of a comet is always an indicator of a cataclysm according to both him and Sir Isaac Newton.
A little later, he describes what would be a UFO in the sky at about 8:30 pm on August 26th, 1581, about 60° above the Eastern horizon, as the form of a white cloud crossing the Milky Way, which laid in the middle of the sky directly above him, passing from Southeast to Southwest as rather disc-like in shape. Its West end forked a bit for a while. Moving from his left view to his right view, it lasted about an hour, and he notes the sky was completely clear and full of starshine. Likewise, he later records seeing a light project forth at 2° 22’ in Taurus, before sunrise, just above the horizon on October 13th, 1587.
Every now and then too at night, throughout his diary he briefly mentions spirit activity encountered by either himself or one of his friends. On March 1st, 1582, he tells of an apparition that Mr. Barnabas Saul had witnessed who describes it as a solider with bloody wounds (and possibly burns) walking South. However, upon speaking with Mr. Clerkson and Mr. Talbot, Dee learns of Barnabas’ “nowghty dealing” towards him, specifically badmouthing him and Clerkson. Talbot reveals this to them as conveyed to him by a “spirituall creature”.
Dee also reveals another comet seen this time in the year 1582. In this same year too, Robert Gardner of Shrewsbury who replaced Roger Cooke as Dee’s assistant spoke with him before the sun rose on May 23rd of a “certeyn great philosophicall secret, as he had termed it, of a spirituall creature”. This secret Dee says concerns the pressing matter of the stone.
Further, he goes on about the day of Christ’s birth being not on the popular 25th of December, but rather on the 15th of December.
In Greek script again, he describes that Queen Elizabeth went to him and “obscurely asked him of Monsieur’s state”. Dee replied that “it would be a matter of biothanatos [a victim of premature, violent death, namely suicide].” Monsieur Francis, Duke of Anjou died at age 29.
On August 13th, 1588, Mr. Thomas Southwell tells him and his company of his teacher, Mr. Swyft, who gave him a lump of the philosopher’s stone as large as his fist, which was given to him by a Mr. Stale. 11 days later, Dee describes (and, again, I apologize for my butchered Latin) “vidi divinam aquam demonstratione magnifici domini et amici mei incomparablis Doctore Edward Kelei ante meridiem tertia hora”, that is Dee divined in his water mirror a demonstration of the great lord and invaluable and unique friend of his, Dr. Edward Kelley, before 3:30. It seems during this time, Dee had quite a bit of drama and changes occurring, rendering him perhaps feeling small and vulnerable to those forces out of his immediate control. He gave his mirror to Kelley who then passed it onto Lord Rosenberg who then passed it onto Emperor Rudolf II – that is the Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia, and Archduke of Austria.
Digging a little deeper, I’ve found a painting of Rudolf II portrayed as Vertumnus, the Roman god of change, the seasons, and plant growth, by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, by which the Emperor was very pleased to received.
The following year, Dee was aware of very serious talk about him concerning his service to Kelley. Rosenberg ordered Kelley to release Dee of his service to him, though Kelley’s thoughts on this have been removed from the text. It seems it may’ve even been a matter of Dee’s life. Nonetheless, Dee gave Kelley the powder, books, glass, and the request for Rosenberg. Three days prior, Dee describes the beginning of a humming in his ears. From my experience, such distinctly strong humming in the ears is a clear and sure sign of strong convictions and thoughts by others against you (that is a great deal of concentration), be it good or ill.
He further expresses his worry in a premonition he had of Kelley “forcibly bereaving” him of his books before dawn.
While it seems Dee viewed himself as a the very seed of the world (and as far as I can tell very much like that of Jung in terms of psychology), that everything is a product of himself metaphysically, being the prophet (and even, when you go down this rabbit hole, ultimately a god), he understands his eventual destruction. This theme I’m trying to convey here is that of the Sun god: where the newborn Sun triumphs over the father – an effective numinosum (that is, a personal narrative with clear good and evil archetypes and polarities. In this case, not only does his father-in-law die of a heart attack a day after his first son, Arthur, is born, but also Kelley is young enough to be Dee’s son. I believe Dee may’ve been seeing Kelley as a son to carry on his magic, knowledge, and wisdom, in the same way that Freud saw Jung as.
On June 5th, 1590 Dee receives terrible ill news of Kelley against him, though Dee manages to successfully retrieve his alchemical research by the Queen’s favor.
The next month, Dee reports of a rather vicious and violent demonic possession of his nurse, Anne Frank, saying that he had tried exorcising the spirit from her, and had even saved her from drowning herself in his well. Later, Mrs. Barwik found Anne pretending to be knelt in prayer, but when she looked closer she saw that she had cut her own throat and was choking on the blood.
Apart from the frequent notes about the day’s weather and the emotional dramas of his daily life strung with the more infrequent details of his dreams and UFO sightings, his diary is filled with political and financial endeavors and meetings with celebrities, most of which are crises. And though he has worked as an advisor to the Queen and had her great favor, he still was not as wealthy as what one might expect.
At times he discusses his children’s schooling, sicknesses, injuries, and play, and it seems his wife, Jane, was under quite a bit of stress and nagged quite a bit. Upon other reading of John Dee, others have mentioned a pact made between Dee and Kelley that they made a deal to exchange wives with each other. The only thing I have found to indicate this is in the following entries:
“July 11th (1587), colloquium inter Illustrissimum Dominum Dominum E.K., et me, a meridie inter nos tres”
“July 13th Francys Pacci recessit.”
“July 19th a certayn kinde of recommendation between our wives.”
Six months later he speaks of this pact whereby a confrontation between Pacci and Kelley occurred, where Pacci expressed his great disdain and condemnation for them in a letter. Though to be honest, the way it is written it is difficult to correctly understand the circumstance. Where his private diary speaks only briefly on the matter, his other writings evidently portray more of the story. However, I’m only really discussing his private journal here featured on www.gutenberg.org.
I have noticed also how frequently Dee writes his entries on the 13th of July, being his birthday.
And by the looks of it, Dee’s own natal Moon and Pluto conjunction in his astrological chart is actually expressed quite well as the rather emotional drama that always seems to surround him. But the rest of his diary is actually fairly boring, being details of who paid whom, his finances, etc. Every now and then he’ll mention a tragedy of a person dying violently, whether by suicide, being hanged, drawn, and quartered, or some eye-gouging accident. He also carefully recorded the time of day or night for every single event he wrote about.
The remaining items that are at least interesting in his diary are the following:
On November 25th, 1595, Kelley was slain.
On August 6th, 1597, he has a dream about many strange, newly-printed books, one of which he recalls its name as “Notus in Judæa Deus”, which translates as “In Judea, God is known”. This phrase is found in Psalm 75:2.
On July 7th, 1598, Dee wakes up with an “information download” to write a book of “the different specific bodies and spirits”.
A month later on August 6th, he has a dream about working on the philosopher’s stone with others.
On September 29th, he burnt all of Bartilmew Hickman’s untrue reports of spiritual experiences.
And lastly, his diary ends in the Spring of 1601 with Roger Cooke returning to the service of Dee, he believing Cooke to be an honest man now, only to discover his son, Arthur, found a paper written by Cooke describing his plot to discredit Dee. Immediately he released him from his service, and Cooke returned to London.
So all in all, I find reading Dr. John Dee’s private diary to be certainly interesting, but difficult to pay attention to when he goes on and on about his disputes and meetings with many people and his financial management, because I really am only interested in reading his actual research and occultic involvement and philosophy. Perhaps later I shall look into the main body of his works.