The Enochian Calls

“I am therefore to instruct and inform you, according to your Doctrine delivered, which is contained in 49 Tables. In 49 voices, or callings: which are the Natural Keys to open those, not 49 but 48 (for one is not to be opened) Gates of Understanding, whereby you shall have knowledge to move every Gate…But you shall understand that these 19 Calls are the Calls, or entrances into the knowledge of the mystical Tables. Every Table containing one whole leaf, whereunto you need no other circumstances.”—Nalvage


Portrait of Dr. DeeUnlike virtually every other great occultist, John Dee was a humble, unassuming man. Perhaps this was because, as he often pointed out, he had no innate supernormal faculties. To achieve his magical pursuits, he employed others who did claim to have psychic abilities. The most well-known and successful of his collaborations was with Edward Kelley, an arrogant, pretentious and amoral scumbag who was, in almost every way, Dr. Dee’s polar opposite.* Nevertheless, together they either fabricated or were the recipients of a system of magic that is still in use by many occult orders more than 400 years later.

Born in England in 1527, Dee’s life was a fascinating tragedy. He was a quiet genius who found himself often being involuntarily thrust into the limelight and used as a pawn by the power elite. As a young man, he excelled in his studies of science, mathematics and philosophy. He was already famous in Europe by the time he was in his early twenties and lectures that he gave in Paris which were open to the general public were standing room only. He also lectured on Euclid’s geometry all across Europe and many credit him with being the driving force behind the resurgence of interest in mathematics during the Renaissance.

That a scientist would be interested in the occult, alchemy and astrology may seem strange by today’s standards, but at that time these were seen by many to be merely different fields of scientific study. While it was generally frowned upon in England throughout Dee’s lifetime, on the European continent, occultism was a trendy topic and noted occultists were treated as celebrities. It was a status symbol among the European aristocracy to have one of them as your guest, and lavish parties were held in their honor. Some of these men were able to live like royalty for years without ever putting in a single day’s work or having a penny in their own pockets. This usually didn’t end well for them, but that’s another story. Unlike some of these men, Dee’s interest in the occult was genuinely motivated by the desire for spiritual knowledge rather than for notoriety or a desire to live the good life.

Dee had returned home to England by the time Queen Mary (aka Bloody Mary) ascended the throne and, being a good Catholic, she had little use for magicians, although she did ask him to cast a horoscope for her for some reason. After Dee visited her little sister Elizabeth in jail (Mary had put her there for the crime of wanting to be queen herself), Mary had him locked up as well on charges of practicing sorcery. All of these charges were later dropped and he was released after only a few months. When Elizabeth did become queen several years later, she made use of Dee’s reputation as an accomplished magician to employ him as a reluctant spy in royal courts all across Europe. How effective a spy he really was is a matter of some debate. He was also involved in the planning of the strategy which allowed the British Navy to pull off its highly unlikely defeat of the vaunted Spanish Armada in 1588.

Regardless of how good he may have been at any of this, espionage and military strategy really weren’t his thing. Left on his own, all sources indicate that he would have preferred to have been given a modest royal stipend to quietly pursue his scientific and spiritual interests in peace. Political intrigue was not his forte.

So that’s a fairly brief biography of John Dee. There’s a lot more interesting stuff about his life, like the fact that Shakespeare based the character Prospero in The Tempest on him, but we don’t have all day, so I’ll cut to the chase.

Using a reflective scrying device that Dee called the shew stone (now on display in the British Museum), Edward Kelley claimed to receive visions from the angels revealing to him, among other things, the Enochian Calls. Most of this material was imparted to him via tables that the Dee's Shew Stoneangels instructed them to create. They were told that there were to be 95 tables in all, each with 49 rows and columns, giving each table 2,401 squares to be filled in. This had to be completed in 40 days, but being a couple of real go-getters, Dee and Kelley completed it in just 39. Various angels, frequently one named Nalvage, would show Kelley what letter or number to put in each square. These were initially given in Latin, but later they were provided a Latin-to-Enochian translation key, thus revealing to them the “angelic” language. The Calls were to be recited in Enochian in order for them to work. They were also given in reverse order to avoid actually summoning or contacting any of the corresponding entities in the process, which sounds like a reasonable safety precaution. These sorts of details are something that I look for in stories like this because most lies usually aren’t that well thought out. I could be wrong.

Dee translated the original Latin into English as well, so you can read all of the Calls for yourself if you’re interested. They don’t sound like any sort of invocation. They read more like passages from scripture. You could also use them to learn to read and speak at least a little Enochian if you have that much spare time on your hands. You wouldn’t be the first to do so.

There were 48 Calls total, divided into two groups (49 were said to exist, but one is too holy to be spoken by anyone but God Himself). The first 18 are concerned with summoning angels, both good and evil, although there is some difference of opinion about this. Like I said, they don’t read like invocations, so the only way to find out exactly what they do is to try them out for yourself – a pretty risky proposition even for an experienced magician. The last 30 were all the same with only one word in each being different. The word that changed was the name of the Aethyr, or angelic realm, which was to be contacted. Unlike the first 18 in which an angel (or something) was summoned, the last 30 allow the practitioner to travel mentally to the various worlds of the angels to receive the knowledge and instruction of the ones residing there.

One of the Enochian TablesNeither Dee nor Kelley ever publicized these things,** and the Calls were largely forgotten until the late 19th century when the Golden Dawn adopted them into their magical system. One of its founders, MacGregor Mathers, stumbled upon Dee and Kelley’s work and decided to incorporate it into the Golden Dawn system. Aleister Crowley supposedly performed all 48 of the calls and wrote of his experiences with them in his book The Vision and the Voice. His most interesting account was of his invocation of “that mighty devil” Choronzon, whose number is 333, so he should have only been half as powerful as “The Great Beast” Crowley. (That’s a joke. It doesn’t really work that way.) Whether this was more of a confrontation on a psychic/psychological level or an actual materialization of the demon is still debated. Crowley’s account makes it sound like the demon was really there, but his assistant in this undertaking, poet Victor Neuberg, has flatly denied the accuracy of much of what Crowley had to say on the matter.

However you interpret Crowley’s account of this meeting, it must have been quite a struggle. Robert Anton Wilson notes that Choronzon allegedly told Crowley that he was arrogant and talked too much, leading Wilson to surmise that Choronzon is a manifestation of what Jung called the “shadow side” – that dark part of our personalities that we normally deny because we don’t want to see the negative aspects of ourselves. Crowley and his followers consider Choronzon to be the Angel of the Abyss whose purpose is to destroy the ego, which is a good thing because if you can withstand that, then you can cross the Abyss. I suppose that there’s no reason that he couldn’t be considered to be both of these things. The Angel of the Abyss seems an appropriate metaphor for the shadow side.

The problem with Enochian magic – or one of the problems, for there are many – is that no one since Dee and Kelley has ever had the whole system. Many of Dee’s writings have been lost or destroyed and nobody knows what they might have contained. Much of the missing information was filled in by Mathers for the Golden Dawn based on a “best guess” estimation. Crowley, ever the showman, added his own personal flare to the Calls, some of which is considered inappropriate by others considering that the goal is to commune with angels. But the biggest problem, particularly for skeptics, is the angelic language itself.

The Enochian language was purported to be the language spoken by God to Adam and Eve and named for their fifth generation descendant Enoch because the information given to Dee and Kelley was allegedly the same knowledge that God had given to him. Enoch is a noteworthy figure in religious history for a couple of reasons. First of all, he was said to have written the Book of Enoch (not likely), which isn’t considered canonical in any religion except one Jewish and two small African Christian denominations. But it is an interesting piece of writing and one that I’m sure I’ll have more to say about at some point. Also, Enoch was the only Old Testament figure who never died. He was “taken by God” for reasons that are clear as mud to me. Please consult a biblical scholar if you’d like more information on this.

A big problem (at least for me) with accepting the angelic origin of this material is that it requires that we take literally the Garden of Eden story of creation, something that only the most devout and uneducated of religious types still do. An entire race of people spawned by only two parents would be a genetic disaster. Their descendants probably wouldn’t have made it more than a few generations before they were all nothing but a bunch of drooling, lumbering mutants with the IQ of a house plant.

However, unlike most made-up languages, Enochian has a definite grammar and syntax. It isn’t just a mish-mash of nonsense words with no structure like the garbage spouted out by people who claim, and often believe, they are speaking in tongues. The downside is that the structure of Enochian is practically identical to English, which is pretty darned unlikely if its origin is to be believed. There is also an almost complete lack of any sort of verb conjugation, which would be the most difficult part of creating a fake language and the easiest flaw for a linguistics expert to spot, and they have.

Also, if this was the language that God spoke to Adam, it would be much more likely to have elements in common with one of the ancient Semitic languages. In fact, this is confirmed by the angels themselves who claim that these ancient languages were all corrupted variations on the holy language of God. None of these languages are even remotely similar to English, which is a unique hybrid of the Germanic and Latin based languages brought to England by the Romans and Anglo-Saxons respectively. Enochian has even less in common with them.

Enochian language conversion chart

So the origin of the Enochian language remains a mystery. Almost no one seems to think that Dee was anything but sincere and that he would not have created it to perpetrate a hoax, though much of what the angels had to say was very similar to what was contained in occult writings that were known to be in Dee’s collection. Kelley was almost certainly not above pulling such a stunt, but few think that he was smart enough to create such a sophisticated con on his own. Is it possible that they were both being played by some outside intelligence that was just screwing with them under the guise of angels for reasons unknown? It wouldn’t be the first time.

I mentioned in an earlier article that an alleged alien speaking through a channel to a pair of U.S. Naval Intelligence officers gave its name as Affa, which in Enochian means “nothing.” It certainly sounds like someone was messing with them, and maybe the same is true of Dee and Kelley and possibly anyone else who gets into Enochian magic as well.

My own experiments with the Calls yielded a big steaming bowl of jack squat. That doesn’t mean that I absolutely think that this is all a load of crap. Others have reported getting really impressive results. Sometimes different people have reported very similar results being obtained when visiting the same Aethyrs. Maybe my inherent skepticism about such things prevented me from getting any results, even though I really wanted to. Maybe I’m not at the right place in my life to receive this information. Maybe the angels just don’t like me and I’m on the Enochian no-call list. Or maybe it is all a load of crap and some people are just suggestible and/or liars. Being a somewhat charitable and open-minded person, I hesitate to jump to that conclusion.

If, despite all of these inconsistencies, you remain undeterred in your desire to attempt the Enochian Calls for yourself, you can find them in English and Enochian, complete with a pronunciation guide here.  It is recommended that you precede the actual recitation of the Calls with the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram and maybe also the White Light Visualization. If you’d like to know more before you start screwing around with this stuff, I recommend John DeSalvo’s The Lost Art of Enochian Magic, but keep in mind that he’s a John Dee fan. He doesn’t seem at all troubled by some of the discrepancies between the purported source of the Calls and the contradictory evidence for their divine authenticity. In any case, good luck. I hope you don’t get eaten by demons. 


*The similarities between the relationship of these two men and the one shared by Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard are remarkable. For those who subscribe to the Western occult interpretation of karma, this might seem too similar to be merely coincidental.

**Which does lend considerable credibility to their sincerity, at least about their belief that this material was genuine. Why go to this much trouble to create a hoax and then not tell anyone about it, especially if Kelley was the con man that he’s been made out to be?

and all the devils are here

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