Mishkan ha-Echad

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Book Review: Enochian Magic in Theory


Into the Aethyrs of Enochian Magic

Review by Samuel Scarborough
(Published in Hermetic Virtues, Vol. 5, No. 3)


Enochian Magic – whether you are talking about Dee purist, Golden Dawn, or something different, there appears to be no more “sexy” magical system or magical mythos within the Western Mystery Tradition. There is something that just attracts most people in the esoteric community to Enochian magic in one way or another – whether those people are seasoned magicians with years of experience or fresh faced beginners.

The latest entry into the field of Enochian magic is Dean F. Wilson’s Enochian Magic in Theory. There are several books on or about Enochian magic at any one time in print and available. Some are sensational books filled with lots of inaccurate material written by people with little or no practical magical experience, especially with Enochian magic. Some of these books are just rehashes of earlier books without much effort on the part of the author to further illuminate their topic. Not so with Enochian Magic in Theory. Dean F. Wilson is a magician in the classic sense that has studied and practiced magic in several different magical orders. He has a specialty with Enochian in both its Golden Dawn and Dee purist forms. This gives Wilson something of a unique perspective to write about Enochian magic.

So what is covered in this new book on Enochian magic? A fair question considering that a great deal of the material has been published over the years. Dean F. Wilson covers the basics of the history of how the Enochian System came to be through the scrying sessions of Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley in the late 16th century. He also provides a straightforward overview of material that was received during these scrying sessions. This includes information on the “shewstone”, the ring, the Sigillum Dei Aemeth, the Table of Practice, the Lamen, the Bonorum, the Tablet of Nalvage, and the Watchtowers.

All of this has been covered before in other books, but what Wilson is able to do, is explain even some of the more complex elements of the Enochian material in such a way as to be straight forward and easy (or easier) to grasp.

Wilson also takes a look at the various styles of Enochian. He goes into some detail about the differences in what has been termed “Dee purist”, which is using Dee’s system as we have it from Dee’s diaries; and the version of the system as used by the Golden Dawn/Crowley. While the Golden Dawn version is heavily influenced by the Dee material, it has in many ways gone its own direction and has become something a bit different. Wilson also hits on the multitude of modern – that is to say, interpretations of both the Dee purist and the Golden Dawn models that were developed in the late 20th century into the early 21st century – methods of using the Enochian system of magic. All these differing approaches to using Enochian can get confusing, especially for the novice Enochian practitioner, and it helps to see and understand some of these various methodologies being set forth for comparison.

Also in the Enochian Magic in Theory, Wilson gives a very nice break down of the Enochian Calls – those invocations for working with the various Angels. It is from these Calls that most of the Enochian words are derived. Dean Wilson lays out the Calls in a very easy manner so that they are conveyed in both Enochian and English to the reader. He further expands upon these Calls in his two appendices. One on gematria, which is a theory that the letters of the Enochian language have a numerical value, and that those words which have the same numerical value have a direct correlation to each other. In the second appendix, Wilson provides an Enochian Dictionary based upon his work with the system.

Following this Enochian dictionary of Wilson’s is a bibliography and a very comprehensive index. Both of which are pleasures to see as many “modern” esoteric books seem to leave these portions from the book making it difficult for the reader to quickly locate material within the book itself and/or not being able to do further research on their own into the sources of information used by the author.

What really makes the book shine, as it were, is that Wilson is obviously very familiar with his subject matter from both a theoretical and practical point of view. It shows in his level for research – the book is heavily footnoted throughout – and in the way that he writes about the Enochian system, whether about the history of the system, its use in either the purist Dee format or the Golden Dawn format, and in the theory surrounding much of the Enochian material. Wilson’s explanation of the Sigillum Dei Aemeth and it constituent parts, is one of the best and most uncomplicated that I have ever seen published heretofore.

When Wilson discusses the Watchtowers and how they are used, he shows both the “traditional” Dee method and the Golden Dawn method; giving clear examples between the two methods that have come to dominate the “Enochian Tradition” in modern times. He is obviously familiar with both of these methods and does not brow-beat the reader with whether one version is better than another – simply shows the two and allows the reader or practitioner to implement or not whichever into their working paradigm.

Enochian Magic in Theory is a heavy book. That is it is both large, 378 pages of laviously illustrated material and that the subject matter is complex, often difficult to follow and understand. Wilson manages to write in a way that clearly gets his point across to the reader. He does not over intellectualize in his discussion of the material or with his own theories regarding the material and its uses. This is a godsend to the reader who can concentrate on gleaning the information for use in whatever magical paradigm they are familiar. The diagrams and illustrations given throughout the book clearly and concisely exemplify the points that Mister Wilson is making within the accompanying text.

The second appendix provides a theory for creating and using Enochian gematria. This is a rather intriguing concept. Wilson simply gives the basics of the theory in a way that makes it easy to access, but leaves it to further work, either by himself or others, to flesh this theory out more fully.

What can one say about Enochian magic? It is definitely considered “sexy” by those that see it as something of a crowning jewel in the Western Mystery Tradition. It has certainly built up a mythos and mystique over the last four centuries, and especially during the 20th century. Dean F. Wilson clearly shows this mystique in his work, but he does not obfuscate the material he is writing about in any overtly mystique. He does the refreshing – he actually lays the Enochian system out in a manner that is easy to comprehend, packed with information without overwhelming the reader.

Mister Wilson suggests that there will be a sequel to Enochian Magic in Theory which will delve into the more practical applications of using the Enochian system. If it is anything like what he has written in this first book, then we all are in store for a real gem of knowledge and experience.

There are many good books on Enochian magic and even more horrible books on Enochian. There are few that would be considered great books on Enochian. Dean F. Wilson’s Enochian Magic in Theory takes its place amongst those few great books. Here is a book that is usable, informative, and most importantly accessible on one of the more complex subjects in the Western Mystery Tradition – Enochian Magic. Enochian Magic in Theory should become one of the new standards for working with Enochian magic and it will be referenced and used by those both learning the system and those who are grizzled veterans of Enochian magic.


Enochian Magic in Theory by Dean F. Wilson
ISBN: 978-1-908705-03-7. 378 pages. €25 ($30 USD)
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