Monday, September 16, 2013

Enochian, the Sublime Language of Angels

by David Griffin
Adapted from
The Ritual Magic Manual
Appendix I, Copyright 1999

Golden Dawn Imperator
David Griffin
"Enochian Magic, especially the Angelic Calls, is one of the most controversial aspects of Golden Dawn Magic ...

Israel Regardie warned "It is a very powerful system, and if used carelessly or indiscriminately will bring about disaster and spiritual disintegration."(1)

Paul Foster Case considered the Enochian system hopelessly tainted, and removed Enochian Magic entirely from the Golden Dawn material Case integrated into his B.O.T.A.

Donald Tyson even went so far as to suggested that Enochian Magic was revealed to John Dee as a means of setting in motion the destructive forces of the apocalypse, as described in the book of Revelation in the New Testament of the Bible.(2)

While there does exist a certain parallel between the English translation of a few of the Enochian Calls and the apocalyptic imagery of the book of Revelation, such imagery, in my opinion, should be considered as symbolical of spiritual realities rather than descriptive of physical events. 

In any case, much of the fear surrounding Enochian Magic has been greatly exaggerated.

I have been personally working with the Enochian system, including the Enochian Calls, for many years with great success - and without fulfilling any of the predictions of gloom and doom. 

In Golden Dawn Ritual Magic, the Enochian Calls serve primarily as Energy amplifiers ...

... and when properly used, add great power to Rituals of Ceremonial Magic. Nonetheless, the decision whether or not to employ the Enochian Calls with the Golden Dawn Magic contained in the Ritual Magic Manual must be left to the discretion and responsibility of the individual Magician.

A primary difficulty in working effectively with the Enochian Magic of the Golden Dawn lies in finding a correct or satisfactory means of pronunciation. Names derived from the Enochian Tablets are particularly problematic, since consonants therein are frequently so clumped together that Names are nearly impossible to pronounce.

W. Wynn Wescott
New pronunciation rules were laid out by W. Wynn Wescott and S. L. MacGregor Mathers for the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn to solve this problem. Wescott, for example, suggested that each letter should be pronounced separately. Using this method the consonant clump "pfmng" would be pronounced "pee-ef-em-en-gee." 

Mathers proposed instead that the first vowel in the name of the phonetically equivalent Hebrew letter should be employed. For example, the Hebrew name for phonetical equivalent of the letter "l" is "Lamed." According to the Mathers rules, therefore, the vowel "a" be used to make words pronounceable whenever the letter "l" appears in consonant clumps.

MacGregor Mathers
These methods are rather useful when working with Angel Names drawn from the Golden Dawn's Enochian Tablets. Unfortunately, however, the Mathers and Wescott rules have applied far too dogmatically by Golden Dawn magicians, due to the influence of the writings of Israel Regardie and modern Golden Dawn authors who have blindly copied Regardie.

This holds especially true for the Enochian Calls, where dogmatic application of the Wescott/Mathers rules result in endless strings of extraneous syllables that completely butcher the sublime and sonorous beauty of the original  Angelical language.
"Certain Golden Dawn authors today still dogmatically mimic Israel Regardie's transliteration of the word "Ozongon" from an Enochian Call as "Oh-zoad-oh-noo-goh-noo" ...
This example typifies bizarre results of unreflective application of the Mathers/Wescott pronunciation rules. The sublime beauty of the Enochian language vanishes in an ocean of gibberish-like syllables. The Mathers/Wescott rules do nonetheless remain useful in pronouncing Enochian names with consonant clumps derived from Golden Dawn Enochian Tablets.

Despite popular misconception, the Enochian language is certainly not merely strings of arbitrarily constructed syllables to recite like barbarous names of evocation. On the contrary, Enochian is a language, and a sublime, beautiful, and powerful one at that! 

As a professional linguist (fluent in eight languages), this is obvious to me. I am baffled why others did not develop this before me. (I am however, not surprised that others have followed my lead with Enochian pronunciation, such as Aaron Leitch, chose not to acknowledge or credit my research).

Back in the early 1990's, when I was finishing Enochian research for the Ritual Magic Manual, I made some fascinating discoveries though a careful examination of microfilm copies I obtained of the original Dee manuscripts from the British Museum.

The scarce availablity of the original Dee documents has changed a lot since the '90s. The internet  and modern scanning technology has changed everything. Today, you can find many original Dee documents on the internet, for example here. I therefore suggest you verify my discoveries by examining the original documents for yourself!

I discovered, for example, numerous clues to correct Enochian pronunciation in certain of these original manuscripts(3), which were written in the handwriting of John Dee. The manuscripts clearly indicate that the dogmatic application of rules like Mathers/Wescott to the Enochian Calls was never intended by John Dee nor even by the Angels that dictated calls. The Angelical Calls, properly pronounced, are sonorous in the extreme, reflecting the vibrant beauty of the language of Angels!

The Enochian Calls contained in the Appendix of the Ritual Magic Manual, I retransliterated from Sloane Manuscript 3191. In preparing this new transliteration, I made every effort to to restore the pronunciation to that most likely originally intended by John Dee and the Angels. The student who prefers to use the Wescott-Mathers method will find the Calls elsewhere so transliterated by Israel Regardie(4) and repeated over and over in a host of modern rehash books.

The fresh transliteration of Sloane MS 3191 contained in The Ritual Magic Manual presented numerous difficulties and raised interesting questions. To begin with, the word spacing in the handwritten version of the Angelic Calls is so bad in certain places that is nearly impossible to distinguish where one Enochian word ends and the next one begins. Furthermore, the fashion that the English translations are arranged above the Enochian text in the original manuscript is of little use in overcoming this problem. Every effort has therefore been made to reproduce, as closely as possible, the original word spacing of the Enochian in the transliteration given below.

The most fascinating question regarding pronunciation raised by an examination of Dee's handwritten version of the Angelic Calls in Sloane MS 3191, involves Dee's copious use of diacritical marks. This mystery appears to have been completely overlooked or ignored by magical scholarship prior to the Ritual Magic Manual in 1999. The primary diacritical marks used by Dee are ´, ^, and ¨, and they are used over vowels in ninety-five per cent of all instances. Although other authors have repeated my discoveries without crediting my research, as is common in the Golden Dawn, I am nonetheless pleased that these ideas have now so thoroughly penetrated the mainstream of magical thought.

Diacritical Marks in Sloane Ms. 3191,
John Dee's original handwritten Angelical Calls

In my 1999 transliteration of John Dee's Enochian Calls for the Ritual Magic Manual, I included John Dee's diacritical markings as faithfully as possible. In each instance where an Enochian word is given, the exact spelling used by Dee in Sloane Ms. 3191, including his diacritical marks, has been reproduced side by side with its new transliteration shown in bold type. Unfortunately, certain substitutions for the diacritical marks used by Dee were obliged by available fonts and editorial considerations. The mark ^ as in "up" has been substituted for the mark actually used by Dee, which most closely resembles the upward pointing curve used in modern English to indicate a short vowel sound.

An examination of Sloane MS 3191 together with various Professors of modern and classical European languages, unfortunately was not able to conclusively ascertain the precise meaning of John Dee's diacritical markings. It was conclusively determined, however, that their usage does not match neither that of Latin, Greek, nor any Germanic, Latin, nor Slavic derivative language - neither as they are employed today nor as they were used during life of John Dee.

It is therefore likely that they represent a phonetical code devised by Dee for his personal use. Based on the opinions of numerous linguists, I consider these diacritical markings likely to be a guide to vowel pronunciation and syllable stress. This is the methodology I incorporated into the Ritual Magic Manual.

The transliteration symbols that I used throughout the Ritual Magic Manual, including my fresh transliteration of the Enochian Calls, is found at the beginning of Chapter 1, Basic Rituals, which you can download free here.

It takes no more than five minutes to master the pronunciation key. You will find the pronunciation key useful not only for the pronunciation originally intended by John Dee and the Enochian Angels for the 48 Calls, but also of the corrected Hebrew pronunciations, verified in pre-Golden Dawn sources, then coded with correct pronunciations with the assistance of a rabbi well versed in ancient and contemporary Hebrew, as well as Kabbalah. The same holds true for the Golden Dawn's Egyptian hierarchies, which were verified by a Professor of Egyptology.

You may download a free copy of my 1999 transliteration of John Dee's Enochian Calls here.

1. The Golden Dawn (The original Account of the Teachings, Rites, and Ceremonies of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn) [1937], revealed by Israel Regardie, 6th ed. (St. Paul: Llewellyn, 1989), p. 626.
2. Donald Tyson, "The Enochian Apocalypse," Gnosis, No. 40 (Summer 1996), pp. 56-62.
3. Sloane MS 3191 [1585?], Dr. John Dee (London: The British Library).
4. Israel Regardie, The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic (Santa Monica: Falcon Press, 1987), Vol. 10, pp. 56-74.

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  1. I have always been curious about what position angels occupy in the Cosmic hierarchy. What purpose do they ultimately serve in the scheme of things? You hear that the angels protect us, but you also hear that the angels are vindictive against humanity. It would seem that you have to compare and contrast a thousand different mythologies to get any sort of understanding.

    1. hmm if angels have to serve mankind while they are far more advanced, they have to protect us, but they also may not like it.

  2. Many thanks to David Griffin for sharing his research and for making the Enochian Angelic calls so accessible.

  3. Forgive my ignorance of the history of Golden Dawn traditions... but as I have begun reading these posts, I have had the impression that Imperator Griffin does not think very highly of Paul Foster Case. I can't tell if that is only because of Case's attitude toward the Enochian magic or the fact that Case left or was kicked out (I have read both stories) of the GD or for other reasons. I am too new at this to have any opinion on the matter, so I was wondering about that reaction. Anyone else I have read who mentions Case usually does so with a good deal of respect. Would you be willing to say more about your opinion of Case -- so a newcomer to these practices could understand the issues somewhat? Or perhaps you just have some suggestions for reading...Thanks...

    1. You have correctly surmised my antipathy to Paul Foster Case. It arises from all of the Alpha Omega material he incorporated into B.O.T.A. without permission.

    2. Paul Foster Case made corrections to the documents before even joining, and David Allen Hulse has made corrections also.

    3. I have looked at Cases writings for about 10 years, he did not take much over from the Golden Dawn.

  4. Oh I see...And so at least some of the respect Case gets, I take it, is actually owed to the Alpha Omega as well?

    I've not read much Case, but I also have the impression he might come under the mystical category more than the magickal also...

  5. Case took very little from the Golden Dawn. I have read his writings for 10 years.

    1. Have you seen the initiation rituals and all of the equipment around them?

  6. Dear David, with regard to your previous article, you often associate magic with a scientific method. A scientific method presupposes "verifiable" results. With this in mind, I remember that Israel Regardie shared some of the basic rituals with the wide public, and much of his work is centered around the Middle Pillar ritual. I have experimented myself with the Middle Pillar ritual a couple of times I could experience and even feel at times the flow and seeminly balancing of some kind of vital energy. With this in mind, is there any specific ritual, with "verifiable results", that you could share with the wide community? It could be related with Enochian Calls or other parts of the Golden Dawn curriculum, of picked up from your book (I have got a copy myself). Thanks.

  7. I just began reading the recent biography of Case that Paul Clark wrote (Paul Foster Case. His Life and Works, 2013). Clark claims -- if I understand him correctly -- that Mathers mistakenly assumed that Dee and Kelly were the correct sources for Enochian magic but that in fact the proper (and better) Enochian sources derive from texts centuries earlier and based on Qabbalah. That's a sketch of how I understand Clark and I can't tell if that is just his position or one he derived from Case, though I think it is the latter from what he says. Does that have any merit in your view?

  8. Perhaps I should have added to my last post the question: has anyone from AO read this biography of Case and reviewed it? There are some very harsh claims about AO. or at least about AO at the time of Case's split from it -- a fact not to be wondered at, I guess, given the tension between Case and Moina Mathers. I'm not in the know enough to judge it but I also don't know where to find other views of the situation to supplement what I read there. The divisiveness I see among those whom I would think to be allies, at least ultimately, is disheartening at times...both in history and today...