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How to Sequence the Perimeter Letters on John Dee and Edward Kelleys Holy Table

For Vincent Bridges


By Terry Burns and J. Alan Moore

(Originally published in the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition Vol. 3 No. 27, September
20, 2014. Minor edits have been made to the original.)

Trying to make magical implements for an Enochian Temple by directly following the
instructions in John Dees angelic conversations is a losing battle unless one has years of time
and a fondness for deciphering poor handwriting and cryptic information. Because of this, most
people who try to make the Holy Table or Table of Practice as described in the appendix to
Dees Quinti Libri Mysteriorum do so by copying one of the many versions one can find in print
or on-line and trusting the explanation that particular writer gives about why his or her version is
correct.
Thats not surprising: Dees drawing of the Holy Table does not seem to match his explanation
of how to create it, and when those two explanations are reconciled it then doesnt seem to match
the only illustration we have of Dees actual table.
As the reader may know, the outer letters on the Holy Table are derived from the names of the
Heptarchic Kings and Princes. Theyre used in turn to create another 12 x 7 grid; that grid is
used to create the central 3 x 4 grid on the Holy Table, then a second permutation of that 12 x 7
grid is used to create a lamen. The transpositions one goes through to create each of these things
would be complicated even if Dees explanation (or the angelic explanation, or the explanation
scryed by Kelley and written by Dee, take your pick) were straightforward, but it isnt.
(If youd like to skip our discussion of how different writers on Enochian have lettered the table
and just go straight to how we think the table should be lettered, jump ahead to The Instructions
in the Spirit Diaries.)
Fortunately, the Holy Table was one of the few physical implements of Dee and Kelleys
partnership that survived for at least a couple generations after his death: long enough for Elias
Ashmole to see it in John Cottons library and make meticulous notes.1 In 1658-592, when
Meric Casaubon published A True & Faithful Relation of What Passed for Many Years Between
Dr: John Dee... and Some Spirits, he was able to include an illustration of the Holy Table based
on Dees physical original. This is TFRs illustration, as redone for Aleister Crowleys Equinox:

Figure 1: John Dees Holy Table, from the version in TFR as redone for the Equinox.
Notably, Meric Casaubon did not have all of Dees writing. TFR begins in Leiden on May 28,
1583, well past the date-- 26 April 1583, in Cracowwhen Dee writes down instructions on how
to make the table. But Casaubon (or his artist or engraver) had access to John Dees real Holy
Table, and went by that.
Aleister Crowleys Liber Chanokh reproduced the letters on the Holy Table using the same order
as Casaubon. So did works by Donald Tyson and most others who wrote on Enochian until the
turn of this century.
Since then, it has become received wisdom from the most well-known writers on Enochian
that Casaubons rendering of Dees actual Holy Table doesnt match Dees writing because it
suffers from a printers or engravers error. For instance, in Enochian Vision Magic, Lon Milo
Duquette says:
Casaubons impressively printed image of the Holy Table is perhaps the greatest
flaw in his liberally flawed and ill-titled A True & Faithful Relation. One look
at the description and drawing in Dees Quinti Libri Mysteriorum: An Appendix
reveals the eighty-four letters that form the border of the Holy Table and the
twelve printed letters that fill the 3 x 4 center square of Casaubons image are
printed in backwards order.3
Similarly, an excellent on-line annotation of Aleister Crowleys Liber Chanokh by T.S. says
that while Crowley used Casaubons ordering, Crowley was wrong, as were most of the printed

versions through the time that annotation was written: most [as of the late 1990s] printed
versions reverse the order left to right from the design in Dees diaries, following the printed
version of TFR.4
Is this true? Are most of the renderings of the Holy Table until the past ten or fifteen years
wrong?
You can likely guess our answer by looking at the cover art one of us created for the Journal of
the Western Mystery Tradition in 2011: sequenced like Casaubons with colors added based on
seventeenth century notes from Elias Ashmole. But dont trust us. Work through this on your
own, and see what you think.

Figure 2: Our Table of Practice, crafted by J. Alan Moore in 2011

When we started this process, the only writer on Enochian we knew who was still using
Casaubons ordering was Vincent Bridges. In chapter six of his book The Ophanic Revelation,
Vincent takes a readerperhaps too fast and perhaps with too little explanationthrough the
way he derived the master 7 x 12 grid from the letters at the periphery of the Holy Table, and the
3 x 4 inner grid and the lamen from the 7 x 12 grid and one of its permutations. (The explanation
he gives in that chapter was originally written as a handbook for a specific lengthy working in
Sedona back in 1996, so he focuses more on what the thinks each component does rather than
why hes come to such conclusions.)
Our own work on Dee and Kelley grew out of years of working with Vincent. Back in 2010,
when we still thought wed have all the time in the world to work through Dees manuscripts, the
main problem we had in making our Holy Table was that we could not easily connect Vincents
explanation of how he ordered the outer letters of the Holy Table with the explanation in Dees
writing, and Vincent acknowledged it had been yearsthe 1980s and early 1990ssince hed
gone through the original manuscripts. When he had gone over the original materials, it was
back in the day when such research required extended trips to the British Library, and Vincent
had spent quite a while there but that was many years ago, and by the time we knew each other
he was much more interested in working his own system than poring over texts that were rapidly
being transcribed into more readable formats by a new generation of writers. Vincent was sure
the way hed constructed the Holy Table was right. Had he made a mistake, we wondered? The
Holy Table, the way he configured it, worked, and our practice matched his experience. On a
personal level, we saw no need to fix anything.
But since weve heard again and again that were using a reversed Holy Table, we decided to
work through the system yet again. The exercise hasnt changed the design of our Table, but we
can better explain why we think ours is in fact not reversed at all.
In this article, weve worked through how to create the Holy Table by (1) noting the huge
problems with the printers error as a cause of reversed letters argument, (2) reminding our
readers of a few axioms concerning the intersection of spywork and spirit communication in
Dees work, (3) returning to Dees original manuscripts to work through the spirit
communications that explained how to set up the Holy Table, and (4) trying to see if one could
actually use a Holy Table if it were set up the way Dee seems to suggest.
The Problem with the Printers Error Argument
Few argue that TFR is anything but a sloppy and unsympathetic transcription of Dee and
Kelleys angelic conversations. Weve talked at length other places about how the transcription
errors that run throughout TFR have caused misunderstandings. In fact, as well get to in our
final section, there is indeed a transcription error in Casaubons illustration of John Dees Holy
Table. One of the letters, in our opinion, is wrong. But only one.
Thats a far different matter than the engravers error posited by many current writers. That
error, if it is that, seems to affect 84 of the 88 letters on the perimeter of the Table and reverses
the grid inside. That would show more than simple incompetence. It would be a stunning series

of repeated mistakes followed by another series of unrelated repeated mistakes, at least in terms
of how engravers in Casaubons day set up their plates.
Both of the writers quoted above say that Casaubons version reverses the order left to right from
the design in Dees diaries. When we look at Dees manuscripts in the next section, well be
able to see why they drew that conclusion. The letters do look reversed, at least on the top and
bottom of the Table. But they arent reversed in a way thats easily explained by viewing them
as a printer or engravers error.
Engraving an illustration like the one in TFR would have involved preparing a mirror or reversed
image on a copper plate. That meant that the engraver needed to not only mirror images, but
mirror the entire document, so that what is on the left side of the original is the right side of the
etching and again becomes the left side of the print.
For an engraver to make the kind of error that many writers now posit happened in TFR, the
engraver would have had to get complicated etchings correct yet out of order in a way that
presents each letter correctly. In other words, he would have had to make the mirrored shapes of
the letters correctly (including making the ones on the top of the table upside-down, the ones on
the left rotated 90 degrees clockwise, and the ones on the right rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise).
And that still doesnt account for the sides! As Whitby said in his lengthy 1982 thesis, if one
compares Dees manuscript drawing to the engraving of the table in TFR , the letters in the top
and bottom borders are written from right to left and the letters in the side borders are not only
written from right to left but have exchanged sides as well.5 Now our hypothetical mistaken
engraver has switched the sides of the table while still keeping individual letters on each side
oriented correctly in terms of the center of the Table, too. If you work your way through the
lettering using Dees instructions, youll find that the letters in the left and right columns (whose
places are exchanged, as Whitby says) are also reversed, in a way (theyre lettered in reverse
order if you are reading by oriented your view from the center of the table and starting with the
o in the upper right) but since that reverse order is in this case reflected in vertical columns
where the letters are still correctly oriented with the top of the letter pointed towards the center
of the table, even though the sequence of individual letters seem wrong--theres no way that a
simple printers error could account for it. The engraver would have had to have made a series
of errors with individual letters that still preserved the correct spatial orientation of the letters in
relation to the center of the Table while reversing the order of the top and bottom and switching
the left and right sides as well as the order of the letters in those sides.
Thats a pretty complicated series of errors for an engraver to make. The other engravings in
TFR, such as those of Dee and Kelley themselves, are competently done. While a printer or
engravers error is possible, it is so improbable that if that if there were no other likely
explanation for why Casaubons engraving of John Dees Holy Table differed from Dees
instructions on how to make such a Table, wed be more inclined to wonder if there had been
more information in the parts of the spirit conversations which are now missing than we would
be to write off the lettering of the Holy Table as shown in the illustration in TFR as totally wrong
due to printer or engravers error.

After all, several people had seen the physical item. No one raised any concern about
Casaubons illustration until late in the 20th century. No less a magician than Aleister Crowley
used the Holy Table with the Enochian letters ordered the same way as Casaubon.
But still, the letters in Casaubons drawing seem to not follow Dees pattern, even if it took
around 400 years for anyone to notice that.
Compare this to a similar situation with another of Dees physical magical items, the Seal of
Aemeth. Over 400 years after Dee recorded instructions about how to make the Seal, Clay
Holden noticed that Dees written instructions did not match Dees own drawing of the Seal. 6 In
this case, the physical item still exists, so there was no debating whether the discrepancy really
was there or not: it was. Holdens explanation of that particular blind is one of the most elegant
moments in magical scholarship.7 Could something similar be at play with the apparent
contradiction between Dees written instructions about the Holy Table, his lettering of it, and the
different sequence of letters which appear in Casaubons illustration of the actual item?
Some Background on the Intersection of Spywork and Spirit Communication
If one wants to take the pages and pages of John Dees spiritual communications as
straightforward (a dangerous assumption, in our opinion) then there is no good explanation for
why the table appears one way in some places and differently in others, nor why Casaubon
would make such a huge mistake (or not notice if an engraver made such a huge mistake.)
Throughout the hundreds of pages of his recorded spirit communications, Dee claims to be
talking to entities who are teaching him the language of the Angels, an Adamic language last
revealed to the prophet Enoch although these same entities repeatedly seem to lie, change their
minds, and throughout have a pretty poor track record of predicting anything that was not already
predictable. Yet Dee has access to the highest levels of Renaissance governmentaudiences
with Queen Elizabeth I, Polish King Stephen Bathory, Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf I.
Some of the shadier characters that appear in Dees diaries have curious connections: take
Vincent De Seve, the brother-in-law of Polish Count Albrecht Laskis infamous third wife
Sabine. This seems to be the same Vincent de Seve who published a bunch of lost predictions
of Nostradamus in the late 1500s. The most mysterious person of all in Dees circle of unusual
friends seems to be the most talented: Edward Kelley, about whom we know almost nothing
until he begins scrying amazing spirit visions for John Dee.
Sir Edward Dyer, who later became the Chancellor of the Order of the Garter, went to Prague to
study alchemy with Kelley in 1590, after Dee and Kelley had parted ways. By that time, Dees
scryer had risen from a nobody to Sir Edward Kelley, Golden Knight of the Holy Roman
Empire. Yet amazing as his work reportedly was, few would characterize Kelley as honest and
straightforward. Most would label him a talented and opportunistic spy.
If one wants to acknowledge, as most all historians now do8, that Dee and Kelley were
intelligencers, then one must also acknowledge that the pages of grids and numbers and

instructions on how to transpose letter and numbers from one table into another look like nothing
so much as cryptography grids. Its almost inconceivable that they werent partly used for that.
The Enochian letters themselves have rather fascinating alphanumeric properties that would be
ideal for ciphering. Rather than referring chapter and verse, so to speak, to Dees angelic
communications as if they were holy writ, it makes more sense to us to look at them as a
combination of intelligence work and spirit communication where it is difficult to know where
one part of the work ends and another begins. Are the blinds protection for Dee and Kelley, to
make heretical spirit communication look like spywork, or are the spirit communications
themselves spywork? Is Kelley (since he was the one doing the scrying) in part giving theatrical
performances to men like King Stephen Bathory and claiming it came from the angels?
We really have no way of knowing, so the safest approach it to assume that both could be true.
That makes the Enochian material, which appeared to arrive unexpectedly and whose grids
appear cryptographic but have in only one instance been shown to be so, even more enigmatic.
If axiom #1 is to not take Dees writing at face value, axiom #2 is to remember these dual
reasons why that is so: we never know when the magic is a cover for spywork and when the
magic is partially hidden because of spywork. As an intelligencer on the European continent,
some of what Dee writes may be for the eyes of others. (Consider: even before they leave
England, Kelley is scrying information for Polish Count Laski that purports to establish Laskis
claim to two different thrones, and Dee is writing this down, an act which could get both of them
quickly strung up if the wrong person reported them. That scrying session reads very differently
when one realizes Dee was likely reporting information to Sir Francis Walsingham and Kelley to
Sir William Cecil, and both Cecil and Walsingham had many reasons to want to know what
Laskis intentions were.)
Over and over again, especially when Kelley is not scrying Enochian material but scrying
supposedly angelic answers to geopolitical questions, Dee writes down answers that we know to
be wrong but answers which would have been politically useful tools if one wanted to
manipulate someone towards a particular end. If we move from what Kelley scries in English to
the tables he begins to generate in Enochian, we see materials being produced in tables and
transformed into other tables using patterns that look, again, like those in different cipher codes
or transformations like the Cardan grille which could be used in espionage.
As weve worked our way through John Dee and Edward Kelleys writing, weve seen again and
again that its a poor idea to assume that things are exactly as they seem. Dees writing is filled
with blinds, and whether one wants to call them magical blinds or espionage disinformation
or self-protection might well depend on the context. Those who write strictly on Enochian magic
forget that there might be things Dee could assume any magician might know that a person using
the same grid for spycraft might well not know. For instance: well see that Dees instructions
for lettering the Holy Table seem to have someone moving counter-clockwise. The Table is
supposed to be an altar of communion connecting heaven and earth. Usually, if one is raising
energy or connecting to skyward energies, one moves clockwise, not counter-clockwise.
Wouldnt that strike most magicians as odd?

While writing about the Holy Table, Dee will use the word transposition over and over, and
the angel Il will mention Dees conversation with Kelley about how to transpose letters. Is that a
hint? Or are Dee, Kelley, and the angel all just randomly speaking about this subject?
Finally, well run into a comment which Dee writes upside-down in Latin next to a hand pointing
to a particular letter. That seems to shout, read me! read me! Yet when one translates the
Latin, it seems to say nothing that wasnt already obvious. What gives?
We worked our way through a series of such magical blinds disguised as apparent mistakes
and letter cross-outs in one of our previous articles1 on Dee and Kelleys Great Table of Earth.
Rather than running through our own writing, though, lets turn to the simpler and more elegant
case of the blind on Dees Sigillum Dei Aemeth, the Seal of Aemeth.
Unlike other parts of Dees Enochian system, the tables and correspondences used in the
Sigillum Dei Aemeth were already well-known and part of a mnemonic system used by actors,
spies, cryptographers and magicians alike. But none of those correspondences explained the odd
letters and numbers around the perimeter, numbers which didnt match Dees own directions on
how to make the Seal. As Clay Holden pointed out, "at the bottom of the Sigillum Dei Aemeth,
both in Dee's original illustration at the end of Mysteriorum Liber Secundus and in virtually
every version published since, one finds the character y' with a 14' under it. The text however
clearly gives this number as 15.'9" Dees instructions and his illustration (and the actual Seals
he made, now property of the British Museum) did not match.
Holden speculated why that might be, and his answer, not surprisingly, required that one know a
little about a basic occult and ciphering subject: how to derive gematric values from the
numbers and letters and what meaning one might impute to those values. At the most basic
level, to solve a blind one must understand something about why the blind is there; that
understanding leads to other understandings about how to use the item. By the time one gets to
the Great Table of Earth, the last-received and most complex item in Dees spirit diaries, one has
to know how different components work with other components to solve the blind. (In that case,
one has to realize that Angelic Governors govern the entire Table of Earth, not individual
letters, or one cant work out of the blind.) Once one sees a basic necessary principle, the
blind seems to have been hidden in plain sight. Why would the Holy Table be any different?
In our opinion, its not.
Magic and spycraft worked hand-in-hand in the Renaissance. Someone who works through
Dees original material should expect, rather than be surprised, when a table or series of tables is
not quite what it appears.
The Instructions in the Spirit Diaries
Dees spirit diaries are hard to read throughout, and the main section concerning the Holy Table
is no different. In March of 1582, the angel Uriel tells Dee and Edward Talbot (who may or may
not have been Edward Kelley) that they needed to make a Table upon which to put the Sigillum
1

Available: http://www.jwmt.org/v2n19/john.html

Dei, theyre later told the plan is false. By April 28 of 1583, in the material frequently recorded
as the appendix to Quinti libri Mysteriorum (or as Sloane MS 3188 folio 94b), Edward Kelley
and John Dee are, for reasons unknown, talking about Dees rules for how to transpose letters.10
Were only a few days past the date when hes been told how to pronounce the names of the
different Angelic or Enochian letters, names which curiously have no phonetic relationship at all
to their Roman equivalent, so the character written with the Roman b is pronounced pa; c
or k is pronounced veh, and so on. These short entries, all from the same day, will be the
one and only place where we get a system showing how to sequence the letters on the perimeter
of the Holy Table: first using Roman equivalents, then spelled out the way the letter is
pronounced, but in no case using the Enochian letters themselves (although we know from both
Ashmoles description and Casaubons illustration of Dees Holy Table that the Table Dee
finally made did use the Enochian
letters.)
If you cant switch easily between
alphabets, you may find the table to
the left helpful!
<- Figure 3: Enochian Alphabet
Correspondences
Dee records that he and Kelley had
diuerse talks and discourses of
Transposition of letters: and I had
declared him my rule for to know
certainly how many ways, any number
of letter (propownded,) might be
transposed or altered in place or
order.
At first glance, it would seem Dee and
Kelley are talking about how to
transpose letters between the
Angelic/Enochian and Roman
alphabets, because neither are very
skillful yet at transposing a Roman
letter into an Enochian one. But Dee
is also telling Kelley that he has a rule
for shifting the place or order of
letters.
Dee writes next that,
Behold, suddenly appeared, the Spirituall Creatre, Il, and sayd,

Il: Here is a goodly disputation of transposition of letters. Chuse, whether you


will dispute with me, of Transposition, or I shall lerne you.
[Dee]: I had rather lerne than dispute. And first I think, that those letters in our
Adamicall Alphabet haue a due peculier unchangeable proportion of their
formes,--and likewise that their order is also Mysticall.
Il: These letters represent the Creation of man: and therefore they must be in
proportion.

Let me see the forme of your Table.


: --I shewed him the Characters and words which were to be paynted round
abowt in the border of the Table.
Il: How do you like those letters:
: I know not well what I may say. For, perhaps, that which I shuld like, were not
so to liked: and contrarywise I shold think well of, might be nothing worth.
Il: Thou sayest well.
Ils exhortations as written by Dee and scryed by Kelley continue on to the next page, where we
see Dees drawing of the Holy Table. Take a look at this page as a whole before we zoom in on
part of it:

Figure 4: The sketch of the Holy Table from John Dees Spirit Diary, 4-28-1593
Dees writing is sloppy, but the Holy Table has been drawn out neatly on a grid. Some notes are
crammed in at the top; a hand points to one letter; comments above the grid in the center have
been crossed out and three of the letters in that grid have also been crossed out and replaced by
others. It seems likely that Dee is continuing his spirit diary on to a page already written on, the

page he is showing Il when Il commands him to Let me see the forme of your Table in the
passage just quoted.
At the top of this page, Ils exhortations continue. She tells him how to make the inner square.
She says that every side must have 21 characters, and every corner should have a great B. But
apparently something else is going on and/or there are other instructions not written, because, if
you look closely, you can see the note Dee has written upside down in Latin in smaller letters,
next to the hand pointing at the o, or the Roman letter corresponding to Med. Lets zoom
in on it and take a look:

Figure 5a: Close-ups of Dees Note Pointing to o/Med

Figure 5b: The same part of the page, with the Latin right-side-up
The upside-down Latin starts next to the . Joseph Peterson transcribed and translated it as
follows:
vide post foliam, et etiam Tabula cordis carnis et cutis, nam in lineis
defendentibus, ibedem habes hane hanc tabula hic incipiendo sed in primo
mittendo l et accipiendo o.
That roughly means, See on the next sheet, and also in the table of the heart, flesh and skin, for
in the surrounding lines, you have this table here commencing the same, but omitting l at the
start and gaining o.11 Then the hand points to the o or med, in the Table beneath.
It sounds like there might be a pun here l punning on El, a name of God, and o meaning
not the letter, but zero. The meaning of such wordplayleave out God and you gain zero
doesnt seem help much, at least not yet.

What does Dee want us to see on the next sheet? Well, here it is:

Figure 6: The next page of Dees Spirit Diary, 4-28-1583


The most literal interpretation of Dees upside-down Latin, since o is the Enochian letter
med and Dee has just been told the tables on both pages start the same except that the previous
one has gained an o, or med, at the start, is that the Holy Table should start with o or med.
This group on the next page does. Also, you can see that its next to an l or ur in the
adjoining column
Above that group, the words say:
: After our prayers made, EK had sight (in the stone) of innumerable
letters and after a little while, they were browght into a lesser square and
fewer letters. First appeared in the border opposite to our standing place,
(which I haue used to call, the fronte Tabulae) these letters following,
beginning at the right hand, and proceeding towards the left.

Presumably, these are the letters that start at the right hand and proceed towards the left. Hes
labeled column 1 in fronte Tabulae or in front of the Table; 2 A sinistris or to the left; 3
Juxta pectus or next to the chest; and 4 a dextris or to the right. The line running from
the bottom of column one to the top of column 2 (and from the bottom of 2 to the top of 3, and
the bottom of 3 to the top of 4) suggests that this is how the letters are falling in line as they
sequence themselves around the table beginning at the right hand and proceeding left.
To make it easier to compare with the preceding page, we reproduced this table and added in the
Roman letter which transposes into the phonetically-spelled Enochian letter. Not surprisingly,
this list in column one starts with o, or med:
1

med

drux

drux

gon

fam

un

ur

med

med

tal

ur

un

drux

fam

don

graph e

fam

don

ur

fam

fam

ur

drux

mals

ur

graph e

un

tal

ged

don

med

ur

graph e

or

graph e

pa

drux

gisg

graph e

pa

med

gon

med

drux

graph e

med

med

un

graph e

un

graph e

un

tal*

ged

ceph

van

med

med

ged

un

or

graph e

ged

med

med

van

ur

un

gal

ur

mals

gon

ged

don

mals

drux

ged

don

fam

drux

drux

un

un

ur

*Dee has crossed it out and written perhaps med

Figure 7: Columns from the preceding figure

Compare this order of letters to that on the preceding page, and it appears the same. Written
upside-down across the top of the Table, we read:
osonsslgenoeeoofodggn
You can compare the others yourself. Youll see that these characters, if assembled around the
perimeter of the table from right to left starting with the o in the upper right, reverse the order
we see on Causabons illustration, which (if transposed back to Roman characters from
Enochian) would be:
nggdofooeeoneglssnoso
Work your way around the table, and youll see why many most contemporary writers on
Enochian, from Aaron Leitch to Lon Milo Duquette to the T.S. who annotated Liber Chanokh,
think that Casaubons engraving has the letters reversed due to a printer or engravers error.
If we take it a step further and derive a 7 x 12 grid from this (as Dee is told to do later) and take
the middle 3 x 4 grid there to fill the middle of the Holy Table, youll get this in the center:
Gisg (g)
Van (u,v)
Ur (l)
Graph (e)

Gon (y)
Ur (l)
Don (r)
Med (o)

Med (o)
Don (r)
Ur (l)
Med (o)

Thats different from Casaubon, and exactly reversed.


Of course, thats because if you reverse the top letters and go around clockwise instead of
counter-clockwise, you create a 7 x 12 grid that produces a 3 x 4 grid that is exactly reversed
that ordering happens to result in a 3 x 4 table that is reversed on one axis from the table you get
if the letters start with o and run counter-clockwise. In other words, the perimeter in
Casaubons drawing yields the center table in the same drawing; they just seem to not match the
instructions Kelley has scried instructions which now do seem to match Dees sketch on the
previous page.
Case closed? Have we inadvertently wound up proving how the etching of Dees actual Holy
Table was just so messed up by Casaubon or the printer or engraver or whomever that its little
more than a curious relic?
Look closer. Theres a little problem. If you try to imagine how you would actually use the
Holy Table in practice, you may see what that problem is before our explanation of it finishes.
According to his spirit diary, later that same evening of April 28, 1583, Dee wrote that he had
first doubted that the heads of the letters on the perimeter of the table should be oriented the way
they were:

I first dowted of the heds of the letters in the border, to be written,


which way they owght to be turned, to the center ward of the Table or from
the Center ward.
Il: The heds of the letters must be next or toward the center of the
square Table or Figure.
Why would Dee doubt that the tops of the letters should be pointing to the center of the Holy
Table? After all, thats how he drew them on his own sketch on the previous page. That sketch
seemed to match the vision of the order of the letter that Kelley scried later that same afternoon
and which Dee recorded in four columns we saw above.
Next, Il gives a long and fiery speech about how to set up the 7 x 12 grid and how its
mathematical properties open up all sorts of ternary and quaternary powers to man, and then
said: I have no more to say, but God transpose your myndes, according to his own will and
pleasure. You talked of Transposition. Dee writes himself a note that Il has alluded to the
conversation he and Kelley had earlier that day about transposition.
What needs to change places or transpose? It seems Dee has understood something but not
stated it. No more angelic instructions on the Holy Table perimeter appear; in the next
conversation suddenly new grid after transposed new grid come in through Kellys scrying. We
cant think of any other place in the spirit conversation except the early sessions deriving the
Seal of Aemeth where Dee is told how to create so many items in reasonably clear terms. The
only problem is that each of the tables which follow must be created from a Holy Table
perimeter lettered correctly, or every single one of them will be wrong.
Does Dee realize something, and underscore the word Transposition, so we dont miss it? It
does seem odd to emphasize this word when he isnt transposing Roman letters into Enochian
and hasnt switched the place or order of any letters.
There is one very large problem with the Holy Table as Dee has lettered it. Perhaps that was
why Dee was puzzling over the whether the tops of the letters should be oriented towards the
center of the Holy Table or away from it.
Whats wrong with Dees picture of the Holy Table?
Simply put: you cant read it, at least not very well. Not unless you change your frame of
reference and transpose some of the letters. If you do, you can follow the directions Dee gives,
but then the Holy Table you set up wont look like the one he drew on the preceding page. Can
you look at Dees drawing above and see why that is?
Dees question about how the heads of the letters are oriented is a key to realizing how the
perspective of the Operator (and how that Operator is oriented in relation to the Holy Table)
affects how and if that Operator needs to transpose any of the letters. You cant easily interact
with the Holy Table and follow his instructions if you letter the perimeter the way that Dee has

drawn it. If you have any inclination to (for instance) charge individual letters, you will have a
rather difficult time unless you read some of them upside-down and backwards.
Think of where you as the Operator would stand in relation to this Table and you should be able
to see what we mean. As a thought experiment, imagine youre standing right in the center of
the Holy Table, and the heads of the letters are oriented with their tops away from the center of
the Holy Table rather than towards it. You the Operator, from your perspective in the center of
the Table, could follow all of the directions and go around the table. Youd begin by facing the
front side, starting with the letter o/Med on the far right, and continuing right to left as you
read or vibrate or invoke or charge each letter. As you come to the end of that row, youd turn
90 degrees and continue with the next side, moving counter-clockwise around the square and
always reading the letters right to left. Every letter would be oriented so you could easily see it.
Every letter would occur in the order given in those four columns.
Perhaps it would feel odd (given that the Holy Table is supposed to be a table of communion
linking the Operator and Earth to more celestial energies) that youre moving counter-clockwise.
That seems akin to trying to raise energy by grounding it, which doesnt make a lot of sense. But
at least you could interact with the Table from that perspective and the way you would place or
encounter the letters would match the order in Dees spirit diaries. It doesnt make the best sense
in terms of magical energy, but you would be able to correctly follow the instructions on how the
perimeter letters should be ordered.
However, Il insisted that the tops of the letters are supposed to be oriented towards the Holy
Tables center, which makes the letters themselves readable from points outside of the Table
rather than the inside.
If the Operator tries to read them from the center of the Table, then every single letter is upsidedown. But of course you dont usually stand in the middle of the table; that was just a thought
experiment. Usually the Operator stands before the altar, and indeed Dee described the front
of the table as being across from his standing place. Lets try that. The Holy Table is an altar,
after all.
If you imagine that the Holy Table is situated in front of you and you stand across from the
upside down letters on the front, youll have the place where youre supposed to start (o/med
in the first column) across from you to the far right. But now youre again looking at a line of
letters that is upside down. Whether in Enochian or Roman characters, you cant easily read
them (or if you can, it begs the question of why youre being asked to read up-side down letters
when they could have easily been placed right-side-up.)
Alphabets arent meant to be read upside down. Perhaps the upside-down Latin was a hint after
all. (Remember, that upside-down Latin told us to start with o, and Dee drew a hand that
pointed to the o in the upper right.)
The only way one can easily read the perimeter of the Table or interact with the letters is if you
go around to the other side of the altar and face the front from there. Try doing that, and then

place the letters from column 1 into place, reading them right to left. Start with the o the hand
points to.
You cant. Youre already at the far left of that row. You either must place letters so that (from
your perspective facing them) youre reading them left to right (when the directions state rightto-left), or transform the order so theyll all fit on the line and you can read them from right to
left. Since the former means youd again be going around counter-clockwise, well pick the
latter as making more magical sense, and transpose the letters.
If you stand where you can read the top, or front, of the table with letters right-side up and you
start with the o as Dees diary instructed, you can read the letters from right to left if you
transpose the order, by shifting the o to what is now, from your perspective, the far right of the
side Dee labeled front. [Of course, from the perspective of someone looking at it from across
the table (to whom the letters are upside down), youve moved the o to the far left. But it isnt
that perspective that were interested in.]
Now, you can sequence the letters in the order Kelley scried and Dee wrote into columns, and
place them right to left. Youll read and place them in this order o then s then o then n s s l g e
n o e e o o f o d g g n, starting at the far right and moving left but to someone on the other side
of the Holy Table, reading them upside down, they appear to be in the opposite order, n g g d o f
o o e e o n e g l s s n o s o. (And if you try to read them left to right like we do English letters,
which you shouldnt be doing, thats how theyll look to you, too.)
From your perspective facing the letters, you finish the first column and then continue to the side
Dee has labeled A dentris and now place (or read or encounter or charge) the letters starting
from the top of column 2 the column labeled A sinistris. As before, place them from right to
left.
Notice that you are now moving clockwise around the perimeter of the Table, which seems much
more appropriate, but youve flipped the sides of the Table as it was viewed from the original
perspective. (Also, if your altar is oriented towards the East as most are, youve started by
moving from the west of the altar facing East to moving to the East of the altar facing west, and
are moving clockwise so that for the letters in column 2 youve wound up on the south of the
altar looking north.) As you continue clockwise around to the next side, and sequence the letters
from column 3 right to left, youve again reversed the letters from Dees sketch although youve
transposed the sequence perfectly. Continue clockwise to the next side, labeled A sinistris,
and place the letters left to right from column 4, which like column 2 seems to have swapped
sides. But right and left are only a matter of perspective. From your perspective, that of the
Operator who needs to read the letters, you are placing letters right to left.
Youll finish with the letter l, and now maybe the pun on El makes more sense, since youve
moved around the Holy Table clockwise and wound up back at the beginning. Youre placing
the letters counter-clockwise but because you are in effect orbiting the table, and making it the
center rather than yourself, youve circumambulated around it clock-wise and wound up back in
the East.

Thats the process by which we set up our Holy Table and then we derived the grids that follow
it exactly as Dee instructs in the diary pages which follow: but the letters come out differently, of
course. The 3 x 4 grid in the middle is reversed. When we charged the individual letters, we
went through the same process.
Our Holy Tables letters match the illustration given by Meric Casaubon, the one based on the
actual Holy Table of John Dee. Amazing? Not really.
We dont think there was any printer or engravers error that messed up the illustration of the
Holy Table in TFR.
Oh, but there is a transcription error! Take a look at look at the letters you would have around
the perimeter using the method above, then look again at Casaubon. One of his letters is wrong.
The rest are in the same order we have, and the center grid is the one youd derive if you placed
letters in the way weve described above. Were pretty sure that the transcription error wasnt
the engravers fault, or a magical blind: just Meric Casaubon miscopying one letter, and the
engraver reproducing his error, perfectly.

Christopher L. Whitby (1982). John Dee's actions with spirits: 22 December 1581 to 23 May 1583 (Doctoral
dissertation, University of Birmingham), pp. 149-150.
2
TFR is listed as being published in 1659, though other evidence suggests it may have come out the year before.
3
Lon Milo DuQuette, (2008). Enochian Vision Magick: An Introduction and Practical Guide to the Magick of Mr.
John Dee and Edward Kelley. Weiser Books. P. 50.
4
T.S., ed., in Aleister Crowley, Liber Chanokh or A Brief Abstract of the Symbolic Representation of the
Universe derived by Doctor John Dee through the scrying of Sir Edward Kelly transcribed and annotated from the
Equinox vol. I nos. 7-8. P. 37.Available: http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/crowley/liber/libers/liber084.pdf
5
Whitby, op. cit. p. 150.
6
cite Holdens blind
7
Clay Holden, "Forward," in Lon Milo Duquette's Enochian Vision Magick (San Francisco: Red Wheel/Weiser,
2008), xx.
8
Try this one for starters: Glynn Parry, (2012). The Arch Conjuror of England: John Dee. Yale University Press.
9
Holden, op. cit., xviii
10
Unless noted otherwise, our quotes in this section all come from Dees spiritual diary entry for Sunday, April 28,
1583. Weve compared digital copies of the original manuscripts to the transcriptions in Whitby, op. cit., and
Joseph Peterson, (2002), John Dee's Five Books of Mystery: Original Sourcebook of Enochian Magic. Weiser
Books.
11
Peterson, Ibid, p. 375.

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