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John Dee (13 July 1527 – 1608 or 1609) was a British mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, geographer, and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I. He devoted much of his life to alchemy, divination, and Hermetic philosophy.
- Cut that in Three, which Nature hath made One,
Then strengthen hyt, even by it self alone,
Wherewith then Cutte the poudred Sonne in twayne,
By length of tyme, and heale the woonde againe.
The self same Sunne twys yet more, ye must wounde,
Still with new Knives, of the same kinde, and grounde;
Our Monas trewe thus use by natures Law,
Both binde and lewse, only with rype and rawe,
And ay thanke God who only is our Guyde,
All is ynugh, no more then at this Tyde.
- Testamentum Johannis Dee Philosophi Summi ad Johannem Gwynn (1568)
Monas Hieroglyphica (1564)
- It is by the straight line and the circle that the first and most simple example and representation of all things may be demonstrated, whether such things be either non-existent or merely hidden under Nature's veils.
- Theorem I
- Neither the circle without the line, nor the line without the point, can be artificially produced. It is, therefore, by virtue of the point and the Monad that all things commence to emerge in principle.
That which is affected at the periphery, however large it may be, cannot in any way lack the support of the central point.
- Theorem II
- Therefore, the central point which we see in the centre of the hieroglyphic Monad produces the Earth, round which the Sun, the Moon, and the other planets follow their respective paths. The Sun has the supreme dignity, and we represent him by a circle having a visible centre.
- Theorem III
- Although the semicircle of the Moon is placed above the circle of the Sun and would appear to be superior, nevertheless we know that the Sun is ruler and King. We see that the Moon in her shape and her proximity rivals the Sun with her grandeur, which is apparent to ordinary men, yet the face, or a semi-sphere of the Moon, always reflects the light of the Sun.
- Theorem IV
- We finish the brief hieroglyphic consideration of our Monad, which we would sum up in one only hieroglyphic context:
The Sun and the Moon of this Monad desire that the Elements in which the tenth proportion will flower, shall be separated, and this is done by the application of Fire.
- Theorem X
The Mathematicall Praeface to Elements of Geometrie of Euclid of Megara (1570)
- There is (gentle reader) nothing (the works of God only set apart) which so much beautifies and adorns the soul and mind of man as does knowledge of the good arts and sciences. Many arts there are which beautify the mind of man; but of all none do more garnish and beautify it than those arts which are called mathematical, unto the knowledge of which no man can attain, without perfect knowledge and instruction of the principles, grounds, and Elements of Geometry.
- O comfortable allurement, O ravishing persuasion to deal with a science whose subject is so ancient, so pure, so excellent, so surrounding all creatures, so used of the almighty and incomprehensible wisdom of the Creator, in distinct creation of all creatures: in all their distinct parts, properties, natures, and virtues, by order, and most absolute number, brought from nothing to the formality of their being and state.
- A mervaylous newtrality have these thinges Mathematicall, and also a straunge participatió betwene thynges supernaturall, immortall, intellectual, simple and indivisible: and thynges naturall, mortall, sensible, compounded and divisible.
Quotes about Dee
- Dee goes so far as to assert that, although he called the work hieroglyphic, it is endowed with a clarity and rigour almost mathematical; yet at the same time he leaves it to the reader even to guess that the subject of the elaborate display, which he is asked to view in such dim light, is the hermetic quest. The semblance of clarity is achieved by discussing the dark subject under the guise of a symbolic sign invented by Dee, which is his monad. This symbol indeed lends itself easily to digressive secondary interpretations of a numerological, cabbalistic, astrological, cosmological, or mathematical nature, all which, however, are without any doubt given so as to establish significant connexions with the all-embracing central theme, alchemy, which is barely mentioned.
- C. H. Josten, in Ambix : The journal of the Society for the Study of Alchemy and Early Chemistry Vol. XI, (1963) p. 84
- The J.W. Hamilton-Jones translation of Monas Hieroglyphica from Twilit Grotto: Archives of Western Esoterica
- The John Dee Publication Project. Primary source materials related to Dee and Kelley's spiritual conferences.
- A biography of John Dee from the University of St Andrews School of Mathematics and Statistics.