exWitch Australia
Glossary of Wiccan, Neo-Pagan and Occult Terminology

DEE, JOHN (1527-1608)

English astrologer and court Magician to Elizabeth I.   His father held the position of rector of St. Mary's, Tenby, South Wales.   Though deeply interested in Alchemy and Necromancy, Dee (strictly speaking) was not personally involved in Witchcraft as such; rather he was regarded as a 'Cunning Man'.

Dee's practical experience of magic began when he met Edward Kelley, a younger man who possessed the medimnistic gifts which the Doctor, with all his learning, lacked.   The new partnership turned out to be a great success with the two of them sharing everything, including their wives.   In 1583 they set off together for Poland and Bohemia where they were entertained by kings and princes, all dabblers in occultism.

He is credited with the development of the school of high Enochian Magick which returned to prominence in Victorian times with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.   He is also alleged to have collaborated with his associate, Edward Kelly, in the development of the Enochian language.

His favoured tool of Divination or Scrying was a crystal ball and in 1659 details of his spirit-raising seances, which relied largely on the confidential but fraudulent co-operation of Edward Kelly, were published in manuscript form.   Publication was, ostensibly, to persuade the public of the dangers of such techniques.   Dee pursued the notion of the Philosopher's Stone, the imaginery substance which would transform base metals into gold, and was a great advocate of the Arthurian tradition.

He was a confidant of Queen Elizabeth I and is known to have adised her on matters of astrology.   At one time, however; he came,under suspicion, as did many Cunning Persons, of practising witchcraft.   During the reign of James I he lost his royal patronage and died obscurely in poverty at Mortlake in Surrey.

An account of Dee's magical work will be found in Charlotte Fell-Smith's biography, John Dee (London, 1909) and in Richard Deacon's more recent study, John Dee: Scientist, Geographer, Astrologer and Secret Agent to Elizabeth I (London, Frederick Muller, 1968).

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One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.

Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans.   Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.

Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church.   Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.

- Jean-Luc
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