Saturday, January 10, 2009


By Benjamin Wooley

An account of the life and times of Elizabethan England’s foremost philosophical occultist. John Dee was a scholar so cutting edge that he went a bit over the edge. A brilliant man who boldly followed his curiosity wherever it led, Dee explored mapmaking, calendar reform, and astronomy. He also investigated alchemy and astrology, two subjects that Dee’s contemporaries believed to be as scientific, if not more so, than odd notions like Copernicus’s belief that the Earth orbited the Sun. It was spiritual communications and glass gazing that proved to be Dee’s downfall.

Dee came under the influence of one Edward Kelley. This young man was a skryer, one who gazed into a crystal ball and revealed hidden secrets, in this case messages from angels and spirits on how to translate the language of Adam and to find hidden treasure. Wooley meticulously documents just how much of a fraud Kelley was, for Kelley was definitely a fraud who took Dee for just about everything he had including his good name. The tale is s sordid one involving greedy kings, religious zealots, spies and con-men of every sort. The Queen’s Conjurer is a fascinating look at the occult underworld in Elizabethan times.

-Dave Hardy


Tim Mayer said...

Another one on my "Must Read" list.
Just as soon as I finish the one about the Oneidia community.

Dave Hardy said...

My mother grew up near Oneida. As a youngster we ate off Oneida tableware she had purchased sometime back in the '40s.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

I read this book and really enjoyed it. A good companion volume is The Magic Circle of Rudolf II by Peter Marshall.

Dave Hardy said...

I will add that to my list of ones to read. I lived in Prague many years a go and got to love the alchemical traditions of the Old City. I spent a lot of time up at Goldmakers Lane in the Castle and in the park near the Faust House. There's even a Magister Kelley pub in Mala Strana.