Mishkan ha-Echad

Friday, 27 June 2008

Paul Foster Case & Enochian

There is a recent debate in Golden Dawn circles on Case, the BOTA, and Enochian, so I decided I'd post what I wrote on the matter for my old Order around a year ago (which can also be found at EvocationMagic.com):

Many of you know that Paul Foster Case had a certain dislike and suspicion of Enochian Magick, ultimately omitting every case of it from the G.'.D.'. rituals and ceremonies that were adopted into his own Order. He raises some valuable points, which I'd like to discuss with you here, but first I'll share a copy of two letters he sent to Israel Regardie regarding Enochian (and other aspects of the G.'.D.'. system).

Now, let's address the main issues that Paul Foster Case raised against Enochian in his letters:

1. That it emanated so largely from Kelly

This is an awful reason to doubt the authenticity and efficacy of a magickal system. Firstly, much of the dark things we know of Kelley are rumours. There is no real evidence or accounts that he was a coiner or a necromancer. Indeed, it seems that he prays fervently and with a passion that is only outdone by Dee (pious as he was), though some may argue that he tried to deceive Dee by pretending his devotion. I think most people who start out with this position have already condemned Kelley, and thereby the system that was granted through him. But let us remember, it was granted through him, not by him. Indeed, it seems on so many occasions that the angels did not like Kelley one bit (and the feelings were mutual). I think it's safe to say that they used him, knowing his psychic skills. Indeed, it can easily be argued that in order to be as open as he was, he would have to be open to negative forces also, and be extremely unstable and volatile. I think his personality easily attests to that.

2. That the tablets are part of a rigmarole by which Kelly persuaded Dee that they were to be the puppet-masters of a new European political order which should supercede the kingdoms then reigning

This was a common desire throughout Europe, and I don't think such an earthly desire as this should be reason for dismissing the Enochian system. Indeed, the diaries show countless cases where it seems that the offers of kingdom (for Dee) and coin (for Kelley) were attempts by the angels to keep the parties interested, while they then divulged the system. This is particularly evident with how Kelley is led around in his constant requests for the secret of alchemy.

I think it's also interesting to note how the English defeated the Spanish Armada at this period (and rumour has it that Dee sent storms against the Spanish ships, resulting in their downfall), ultimately toppling the Spanish empire. And what happened? England became the new great empire, partly due to Dee's navigational devices and other things he did to aid the cause of England. Thus, a new political order did come to power, influenced by Dee, and perhaps the angels lied about how much control Dee would have over it, or perhaps he failed to avail of the Enochian Governors, who could have possibly provided this kind of "puppet-mastery".

3. That the same angel that dictated the Tablets also required that Kelly and Dee should have all things in common, including their wives.

Well, firstly, who are we (mere humans) to apply our moral codes about marriage and monogamy to the angels? They do not think like us, and often they do not understand in the least how we work. Tyson suggested this request may have been an intimation of a kind of Gnostic union. Even if it was not, and it was Kelley's sinister desires rising to fore, and even if he pretended the angels said this, or perhaps it was subconsciously risen, why is that reason to dismiss the rest of the material? To say that this is throwing out the baby with the bathwater would be a huge understatement. Also, what if the angels made an agreement with Kelley to allow him to sleep with Dee's wife in order to ensure he continued with the work and delivery of the system (after all, he threatened frequently to leave it beforehand). Just because they don't care what they need to do to achieve their aim doesn't make the system a fake, nor their nature as angels as questionable (it is only our preconceptions that require angels to be "nice").

4. That the entire project came to the same ignominious end that is to be expected of human undertakings based upon the promises of spirits

I'm not sure what "ignominious end" Case is referring to here, but this seems like a general distrust of all spirits, manifesting to an extreme in the Enochian system. Let's remember that the Qabalistic angels had their origin somewhere, communicating with someone before they became the accepted part of the Qabalistic system. By all means, we should be wary of any promises given by spirits. We have discussed elsewhere the agenda of the Enochian angels, and it is wise to remember that all spirits have an agenda. If you ask a Goetic spirit to do something for you, they want something in return. Likewise for the Enochian angels. We must be extremely careful with this. Again, however, if Kelley threatened to cease the communications before their natural end, the angels may have been forced to grant him any desire, no matter what "ignominious end" that may have come to.

5. That there is no good reason to suppose that Kelly and Dee, or their enterprise, to say nothing of their magic, correspond to anything Rosicrucian.

I beg to differ, and I think [the Head of my old Order] has supplied plenty of information that suggests that Dee may have been the founder of Rosicrucianism. It cannot be proven, of course, but imagine if it was - that would have given Case a run for his money. Besides, so what if Enochian has nothing to do with Rosicrucianism - that doesn't automatically disqualify its use. Indeed, there is an obvious arrogance on behalf of Case about the authenticity of his own work here (as being genuinely Rosicrucian, and then that Rosicrucianism is the height of all arcane teachings). In many cases we could say that the Tarot doesn't really have much to do with Rosicrucianism (it doesn't feature in the Fama, etc., like the Qabalah does), and Case uses this abundantly.

6. That I have personal knowledge of more than twenty-five instances where the performance of magical operations based on Order formulae led to serious disintegration of mind or body.

Well, firstly, perhaps this is a problem with how the G.'.D.'. uses Enochian, not Enochian itself. However, we know that Enochian is dangerous, and it does result in sickness. [The Head of my old Order] and I, at the very least, have had serious bouts of illness as a direct result of the enormous pressure and intensity of the energy raised during Enochian workings. It's powerful - that's how it works. And if we're not careful, it can rip us apart. This is why we advise a structured system, that takes into consideration many precautions and safety procedures. I think it's important to also point out that you can get very ill with advanced Qabalistic workings too. The only real difference is that it happens more easily with Enochian (due to the ease of getting it to work in the first place, and its almost inevitably volatile nature). Indeed, I suggest that the system only be used when it really has to (often we can find a different way [a less volatile way] to do the same time). Using Enochian magick when the Qabalah would do, for example, is like sending 1,000 volts for a job that requires 100 (Case uses the metaphor of burning down a house to roast a pig in his second letter).

Most of Case's other criticism is of the Golden Dawn and its leaders, not Enochian itself. Of course, we know that they did not have access to the entire system, nor do, indeed, we. However, we are in a much better place than them, with better access to not only the sourceworks of Enochian, but those of the Qabalah and Ceremonial Magick in general. Given this, I think we are in better position to avoid the mistakes they made, but I still advise a huge amount of caution when it comes to using the Enochian system, and I cannot stress this point enough.
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