|The Enochian language comprises some nineteen "calls" written
down by Dr John Dee during spirit contact sessions in Cracov, Poland, in
John Dee was England's pre-eminent Magus during the first Elizabethan era, and enjoyed a deserved reputation as a Mathematician. His Preface to the first printed English language edition of Euclid's "Elements"1 provides ample evidence both of his erudition and scholarship and of the respect in which he was held in contemporary academic circles. Dee was also a cryptographer, and, together with Sir Thomas Walsingham, was instrumental in establishing the English state's first intelligence service, the forerunner of MI5 and MI6.
The esoteric aspects of mathematics and science, those touching upon magic and alchemy, carried some significant health risks during that time; not least that of being secured to a stake and charcoal-grilled by the agents of the Inquisition or of their Protestant equivalents. Unsurprisingly, Dee did not publish the diaries of his Enochian adventures in his lifetime, and I am unaware of any evidence that he actually made use of the material beyond satisfying his own intellectual curiosity.
Dee's diaries of his sojourn in Cracov wound up in the hands of the antiquarian Meric Casaubon. He saw fit to prepare them for publication, with the apparent motive of posthumously discrediting Dee, in his volume known as the "True and Faithful Relation". 2
With any detailed study of the Enochian texts in Casaubon's book, it fairly quickly becomes clear that there are chunks missing. The English translations for Calls 13, 14 and 15 are included with the others, but there are no corresponding Enochian renditions. More-or-less complete versions of the calls have come down to us though and are to be found in the Golden Dawn material published by Israel Regardie 3 and in Aleister Crowley's "Liber LXXXIX Vel Chanokh" which is included in "Gems from the Equinox".4
There is no reference to sources either in Crowley or in "The Book of the Concourse of Forces" by G.H Frater D.D.C.F in the Regardie volume, but it is possible that both versions owe their origin to the Royal Appendix of the Cotton Manuscript in the British Library collection.5
|Another reference work for Enochian material which I have found most useful in the past is Leo Vinci's dictionary "Gmicalozma".6 Indeed the motivation in embarking on the present exercise is partly a consequence of my copy of that particular work having apparently grown legs and walked a decade or so ago.||
A Real Language With Grammar?At least from a subjective viewpoint, there is a wonderful numinous quality to the Enochian Calls. There is some guidance for pronounciation in Dee's notes as reproduced in the "True and Faithful Relation", albeit with some inconsistency and room for interpretation, but practitioners will develop their own rhythm and style.
No offering of Enochian material however should proceed very far without the customary warnings. As Philip Larkin might have put it: "They fuck you up thofe Enochian Callf". Nontheless, the possibility of developing a magical vehicle which might provide both determinism and versatility is often sufficient to make the risks seem worth the outcome.
So what are we dealing with here? Is this really some vestigial fragment of a magical language imparted to the patriarch Enoch and rediscovered by a renaissance Magus? Or are we instead confronted with an intellectual sport, a Tudor age prototype of something like Tolkien's invented elvish tongue, part of a blueprint for some project which never made it to fruition?
The entities who delivered the Enochian calls through the mediumship of Sir Edward Kelley certainly began by making enough fuss about the supposed potency of what was being transmitted. The first four texts were claimed to be of such power that they could only be spelt out letter by letter in reverse. Meticulous attention was paid to making sure that spellings were correct, with simultaneous English translation being provided.
Commentators have pointed to Kelley's reputation as something of a charlatan, with Dee being presented as his innocent dupe, but the Cracov diaries as presented by Casaubon tend rather to show Kelley as a reluctant participant in the enterprise, and the weight of trivial detail providing context for the Enochian texts does impart a sense of authenticity. It has also been suggested that if Dee had set out to concoct a magical language he would have produced something with a more obvious structure and fewer seemingly un-noticed inconsistencies. Then again, he was devious old cryptographer and might be expected to have laid a few false trails to colour any assessment of the opus.
A bit of work with a few custom-written text processing scripts however has allowed a more forensic examination of the material than may heretofore have been possible, and while in no sense complete or conclusive, I feel the concordances here presented do provide the means of carrying out further analysis.
Language CharacteristicsAnyone glancing casually at the Enochian text will notice that some words occur frequently:
It is noticeable, moreover, that a single Enochian word can represent several English words. Often this happens because shorter words are compounded together; for example:
DSCHIS = "which are" (Call 8, Line 25, Call 13 Line 8)This language characteristic will be familiar to students of German.
In the Enochian concordance I have kept the original form of words pretty much as they are recorded in the accounts of the original skrying sessions, but the English concordance reveals many "embedded" occurrences of the conjunctions, determinatives, nouns and conjugation elements of the verb "to be" listed above.
The Enochian script has 21 letters, although the True and Faithful Relation uses 24 in the representations of the Enochian words. Instances of, for example, ILS, JLS and YLS or VOVIN and VOUIN having the same English translation suggest it is valid to represent I, J and Y as the same character, and to treat U and V as the same. These identifications are conventional in Latin. The English letters K and W do not feature at all in the Enochian text.
Although letter combinations like TH and CH occur, the original pronounciation guidance seems to suggest in many instances that these should be treated as separate sounds rather than combined as for example in the Greek letters q (theta) and c (chi). X is often vocalised as "ts" like the Hebrew "tzaddi" rather than the "ks" sound familiar to speakers of English and Greek. Z is consistently pronounced "zod".
The phonetic renditions accompanying the calls here have been computer generated. I began by consistently representing each letter of the enochian with a particular syllabic value, then modified the resultant strings to conform with the way specific letter juxtapositions are vocalised in ritual practice within my experience. This has been successful by and large, but there are instances where the rendition seems clumsy in pronounciation.
My feeling is rather that some individual latitude might be commended. Readers interested in my own conventions for Enochian vocalisation might refer to previously published compositions such that accompanying The Wishing Well which are available online. Examples are also to be found on the 'Liber Bootleg' tape and on extant recordings of recitations by Aleister Crowley.
There are instances of letters being transposed in different occurrences
of the same word. For example, the english "mighty" is variously rendered
MICAOLZ (Call 2, Line 69), MICALZO (Call
6, Line 5) and MICALOZ (Call18, Line 2),
although in the latter case it is part of the compound translation "mighty
light". These differences may be grammatical, representing respectively
accusative, vocative and adjectival contexts. Unfortunately there are not
enough corroborative examples to make a judgement with any certainty, but
the example of the english "in the name", an ablative context, variously
rendered as DOOAIP (Call 4, Line 40) and DOOIAP
(Call 2, Line 59) might suggest some other
factor at work.
From digests of posts to the enochian-l e-list recently published online 7 it is clear that significant progress is being made in unravelling the intricacies of the Enochian language. In offering these concordances I hope to make available a tool to facilitate further research.
These pages may be extended and/or enhanced from time to time.
CB - June 2000