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Sunday, 15 April 2012

John Dee and the seven-branched candlestick of the Golden Dawn

When Samuel Mathers included Enochian within the Golden Dawn system, he used a manuscript called Sloane 307 which he found in the British Museum. The document post-date's Dee by some decades and is a practical way into the later Dee work. There was a belief that Sloane 307 represented a magical tradition using Enochian dating back to a closed circle around Dee. As I pointed out in King over the Water Samuel showed it to one of his early mentors Kenneth MacKenzie, who is the most likely candidate to have written the Cypher manuscripts. 
The definitive edition of True
and Faithful is Stephen Skinner's
Beautiful new leather bound
Unfortunately for Mathers, Sloane 307 was unlikely to have anything to do with Dee. It lacked some important material from the first five of Dee's diaries and was probably based on a person who had gone through the published version of “A True and Faithful Relation of What Passed Between John Dee and some Spirits” by Meric Casaubon and cobbled together a working magic system. Casaubon had managed to find all Dee's Diaries other than the first five books and edited these to fit his theories about how occultism could make a sane and clever man go mad.
The early Dee diaries give information on the assembly of the table, the seal of truth, the ring of Pele and the Heptarchia system of Angels. All important if you are going to recreate Dee's system of Magic but less widely used by Golden Dawn magicians.
In the 1920's one of the leading lights of the Golden Dawn in New Zealand, Ewan Campbell visited the UK and conducted some research at the British Library on the Dee manuscripts.
Whare Ra member Percy Wilkinson told me that Campbell realised there was a lot missing from the conventional GD Enochian system and came back with lots of copies of the diagrams. According to Pat Zalewski, Campbell was tipped off by Langford Gaston who was the head of the Mathers's AO, so it might mean that he was conducting a similar review of the Enochian system within the GD. This did not seem to have been implemented before the AO shut down in the 1940s, despite the fact that there were some minor changes to the Order in the 1920's.
Pat Zalewski
Mathers was aware that the material existed. He had written a paper called “The Seven Days of Creation Applied to the Seven Branched Candlestick” which has been lost. In his book Golden Dawn Enochian Magic, Zalewski has done a fine job in recreating what that document would have looked like. However it is a work for adepts in the Golden Dawn system and provides a lot of detail which in the Outer Order is not needed. However there is something in the Angels of the Bonorum which would be very useful to those beginning the path of magic and connected to the 1=_ grade. It could give the Zelator a basic form of 'low' magic which they can use to fulfil their needs in the Outer Order while a the same time performing the Higher Magic of the grade work.
The Angels of the Heptarchia and these appear work at Yetziratic levels. They are essentially the Briatic Archangels as they manifest in Yesod.
The names for these Angels were split between seven tablets. Each tablet represented something 'earthy' which is also connected with the Nephesh of humanity:

  1. Wit and Wisdom with the magical image of a book. This is intellectual knowledge.
  2. The drive to rule and administer people with the magical image of a crown.
  3. The desire for material comfort. Business and trade, represented by the magical image of robes.
  4. The element of Water, with the magical symbol of a four footed animal.
  5. The element of Earth, the magical symbol of herbs
  6. The element of Air, the magical symbol of a fan
  7. The element of Fire, magical symbol of flame in the hands

The angels were formed by combining one letter from each tablet. They have aspects of each of them and therefore can control over every aspect of the Nephesh of a person, and that of the whole of the world.
There are 49 Angels; seven kings (Kether of Yesod), seven princes (Tiphareth of Yesod) and 35 governors (Yesod of Yesod).
The seven Kings are:

Baligon: (Haniel)
Bobogel: (Raphiel)
Babalel: (Kamael)
Bynepor: (Zadkiel)
Bnaspol: (Michael)
Bbapsen: (Tzaphqiel)
Blumaza: (Gabriel)

King Bobogel by Paola Farrell 

Their names are: Bornogo (Venus), Befafes (Sun), Butmonom (Mars), Blisdon (Jupiter), Brorges (Mercury),Bragles (Saturn) and Bagenol (Moon).

The Governors have a similar function in this system to the spirits and they work at the closest level to material substance.

Governers of Venus








In addition to this Dee mentions the names of 42 ministers for each planet. These are more spirits and their names can be found in the Heptarchia Mystica of John Dee edited by Robert Turner. The Angels of the Bonorum are Planetary and are connected to days of the week and equally the days of creation. These are arranged in terms of Planets and thus everything can be placed on the diagram of the seven-branched candlestick diagram which is presented to the candidate in the 1=10 ritual.
When a candidate is exposed to the seven branched candlestick diagram their sphere of sensation takes in an impulse from the Briatic level, this then flows downwards to the Yetsiratic level where the Bonorum angels work to bring through the divine image to the physical levels. They do this through manipulating those energy centres in the sphere of sensation that are under their planetary control. The the East these are called Chakras but the corresponding system in the West are the spheres on the Tree of Life.
If we look a the ritual we find that the description of the seven branched candlestick mirrors what we have looked at in regards to the Angels of the Bonorum.
We are told in the ritual that the seven branched candlestick relates to the Mystery of Elohim, the seven Creative Ideas and that the seven Circles, which surround the Heptagram, represent the 7 Planets and the 7 Qabalistic Places of Assiah. And the 7 Lamps before the Throne on another Plane. Within each circle is a triangle to represent the Three-fold Creative Idea, operating in all things. On the right hand side of each, is the Hebrew name of the Angel who governs the Planet; on the left side is the Hebrew name of the sphere of the Planet itself, while the Hebrew letter, beneath the base, is one of the duplicated letters of the Hebrew Alphabet, which refers to the 7 Planets. The 7 Double Letters of the Hebrew Alphabet,
But the ritual also gives us other clues to the meanings of these angels. It points out that each Angelic King controls seven directions Zenith, Nadir, East, West, North, South.
So then what can we do with this knowledge. After all it is all very well saying that you can make a direct link between John Dee's and the Angels of the Bonorum and the Seven Branched Candlestick but what good is it to us to use these angels?
Dee was given the use of the Heptachic angels very early on in his magical career, long before he started messing around with any Enochian tablets. It seems to me that this low level yetsiratic form of magic is designed to work with the lower aspects of the self and in particular how we interact with our material world.
Practically then it is a system of Earth magic which works on the person's sphere of sensation and onto the physical levels.
It is interesting that this is the one system of magic that Dee gives an example of a talisman and it is also significant that it is a healing talisman. It could equally have been magic for money or job, or anything to do with the second, third, and fourth houses of the astrological chart - in short anything to do with the Earth element and the 1=10 grade.
In the 1=10 grade the candidate is supposed to start working on the physical levels as a precurser to their magical work. Normally the effects of the grade are to stuff up their finances and force them to look at life in a less escapist way. Illnesses are also fairly common in this grade. But these are all negative experiences, things which should not happen if the magician was working to bring about change in the correct manner.
The Heptarchic Angels give the student a way of working with these energies and participating in the transformation.

This article was originally published in the Hermetic Journal, which I recommend as a good source of serious Golden Dawn material.  


  1. knowledge manifests out of hought and thought uses knowledge as its point of reference when making sense of lifes theater and dreams. Forever giving names to things and placing them in one box or another using one label or another. It seems such is the complex web as used in the GD and especially Second Orders. All pursuing; promoting and nurturing a high level of mental illness blinding natural life. When in this web i dont see any chance of breaking free without rejecting all of it first. Perhaps this is what crossing the abyss really means and one becomes as the Phoenix. It is good to realise the All is not (ever) what it seems and may even not be the One. We will always need healers and of many different kinds and types because of the diversity of beings. However i do wonder if by our zeal in raising complexity we only go to encourage and nurture blindless when we aim for clarity. Thesis upon thesis of what the meaning of life really is and the massive amount of acurate information one must know and understand and practice before claiming to be a true Adeptor one that is properly trained and awake. Each generation claims and aims to prove its superiority over another by presenting more layers of clarity. What does one bring to the table if devoid of all of that knowledge, could there be room for anything new or alive ? or is it all parot fashion and dead words? V

    1. To Anonymous (why anonymous?),
      you ask:
      "I do wonder if by our zeal in raising complexity we only go to encourage and nurture blindless when we aim for clarity.Thesis upon thesis of what the meaning of life really is and the massive amount of acurate information one must know and understand and practice before claiming to be a true Adeptor one that is properly trained and awake."

      --in my opinion, we really don't need more and more knowledge, we just need to simplify what we have and put it in proper order. I think if we do that we'll find our hands are full.

      You ask:
      "is it all parot fashion and dead words?"

      --it would be if you don't bring something of yourself to the table, regardless of your current state of "knowledge". Interestingly, one of the definitions of Knowledge is the Abyss (via Daath). For me, it is more important to feel an emotional connection with what you are doing; and if you can't find it, you have to look for it. This is the difference between Gnosis and knowledge - one is an immediate experience of something, the other is "knowing of" something; one is real, the other is merely conceptual.

  2. Great post, Nick - thank you.

    Some real solid information here, and more importantly, hints and clues... :)

    I am wondering about your views on the candlestick diagram's influence on the sphere of sensation. You write, "When a candidate is exposed to the seven branched candlestick diagram their sphere of sensation takes in an impulse from the Briatic level..."

    This is how I have been taught and how it is related in our Order's inner document on this grade. It is also clear however, that is is only possible when the diagram is correctly formed and correctly consecrated.

    Would you agree?

    Personally, I think to maximize this process the candlestick needs to receive a particular formula of consecration that ensures its link to the seven fold mystery at the Briatic Level. I have known some Order not conseecrate the diagram at all, and even one which used a photocopy from Pat's book!

    Thanks :)

  3. There is no doubt about it in my mind that Zelator is one grade where people should be less concerned about being "mystical" and "spiritual" and get a lot more hard-core materialistic -- that is, work at straightening out their finances, career or starting a business, learn about investing, etc. and also to get their health and fitness levels up to scratch. For me, Magic, GD and Hermetic teaching is about becoming a better all-round human being, not just someone who is better at waving a wand floating across the astral plane. In our Order, we encourage people in Zelator to read a book called "The Richest Man in Babylon" (which is a classic on financial planning, very practical but written in an oldy-world setting and language that is appealing to occultists) and also to study a book on Health and Nutrition (such as "Superbody" by Dr Vernon Coleman) and to try their best to implement some of the principles into their life, before moving to Theoricus. Considering how much these "materialistic" aspects of the work are neglected by magicians, I sometimes wonder if Zelator is not the most important Grade of all for many GD magicians. With its high drop-out rate, it's definitely seems to be a Grade that makes or breaks. I know in my case, I had one of the worst flus of my life when I did 1=10 and definite financial problems, but I studied the root of the problems, persevered with the solutions and it all got better from that point on.