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John Dee (1527-1609) was an English mathematician, astrologer and occult philosopher who served as an adviser to Queen Elizabeth I. He is often considered one of the most learned men of his time, with interests ranging from mathematics to alchemy to cryptography. Here are 10 things you need to know about this fascinating Renaissance figure.
John Dee was a fascinating and complex figure who left a lasting mark on the intellectual and cultural history of England and beyond.
John Dee Facts
- John Dee was a prominent English mathematician, astronomer and astrologer, but he is perhaps best known for his involvement in the occult and esoteric practices. He was a complex figure whose interest in the mystical and spiritual was intertwined with his scientific and intellectual pursuits.
- During his lifetime, Dee was a respected scholar and adviser to Queen Elizabeth I. He was a skilled mathematician and astronomer who was recognised for his contributions to the fields of navigation and cartography. However, he was also deeply interested in the mystical and esoteric and he believed that his studies in these areas could complement and enhance his scientific knowledge.
- Alchemy was one of Dee’s major interests and he spent a significant amount of time studying and practising the art. Alchemy was a field that was concerned with the transmutation of matter and Dee believed that it was possible to turn base metals into gold. While he never succeeded in this endeavour, his interest in alchemy contributed to his overall reputation as an occultist.
- In addition to alchemy, Dee was also an expert in divination. He believed that it was possible to communicate with spirits and angels through various methods, including scrying and crystal gazing. He used these practices to gain insights into the future and to seek guidance from higher powers. Dee’s interest in divination was fueled by his belief in the interconnectedness of all things and his desire to understand the hidden forces that governed the universe.
- Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica is perhaps his most famous work. This treatise is an exploration of alchemy and symbol interpretation and it is a key text in the history of occultism. The work was intended to be a synthesis of various esoteric traditions and it was designed to reveal the underlying unity of all things. Dee believed that his knowledge of mathematics and symbol interpretation gave him the tools to unlock the secrets of the universe.
- Dee was known to use a “magical mirror” for divination. This mirror was made of polished obsidian and was said to have been given to Dee by the angel Uriel. Dee would use the mirror to communicate with spirits and angels and he believed that it was a powerful tool for divination and insight.
- Dee was a collector of books and manuscripts on magic and the occult and his library contained one of the largest collections of esoteric works of the time. He believed that the study of these works was essential to his own understanding of the universe and he saw himself as a custodian of knowledge that had been passed down through the ages. Dee’s collection of books and manuscripts was extensive and included works on alchemy, magic, astrology, and more.
- Dee believed that mathematics was the key to understanding the universe. He saw mathematical patterns and principles at work in all areas of life and he believed that these patterns could be used to unlock the mysteries of the cosmos. Dee’s belief in the power of mathematics was a central part of his worldview and it influenced his work in both the scientific and occult realms.
- Despite his many accomplishments, Dee’s reputation suffered greatly during his lifetime. He was accused of being a spy for foreign powers and an agent of the devil. These accusations were fueled by lhis interest in the occult and his association with individuals who were seen as heretics. Dee’s reputation was tarnished by these allegations and he was never fully able to shake the stigma that was attached to him.
- Despite the controversy surrounding his life and work, Dee is still considered one of the most important figures in the history of the occult and esotericism. His legacy lives on in the many texts and manuscripts that he collected, as well as in the many works that he wrote himself. Dee’s influence can be seen in the work of later occultists and esotericists, who have drawn inspiration from his ideas and practices. He was an important figure in the development of the Hermetic and Rosicrucian traditions and his influence can be seen in the work of individuals like Aleister Crowley and the Golden Dawn.