reading dr.dee’s diary…

I have been reading a reprint of the diary of dr.dee, and have noticed some interesting things(at least to me). He borrowed money a lot, and seemed involved in quite a few law suits for slander. I have always found the arbitrary divisions of high/low, learned/folkloric, scholarly/cunning-folk magic wholly arbitrary and privileging ‘literate’ culture over ‘oral’ culture. On that topic dr.dee relates some interesting dreams, that, if compared with information recording ‘shamanic’ self-initiation in Emma Wilby’s ‘Cunning-Folk and Familiar Spirits’, would place dr.dee(with his obvious literate, polymath, ‘high’ magic,alchemical, natural science cv still in place) in the cunning-man/’shamanic’ survival group as well. He has a number of painful ailments of uncertain origin which he must heal himself, and records a number of dreams of being dismembered, disemboweled, losing his teeth, skin covered in mysterious writing and symbols. He is also surrounded by synchronistic/’poltergeist'(used here in a purely descriptive way) activity. Knocks, strange cries, and disembodied voices. As well as mysterious pyrokinetic activity, although the ‘fire’ does not damage or kill anyone. Manifestation of curious objects in the heavens(‘blasting stars’ and strangely shaped ‘whyte clowdes crossing galaxiam’ amongst the ‘fayr starshyne’). ¬†Mysterious ‘spirituall creatures’ appearing to people known to him. These are all reminiscent of accounts of ‘shamanic’ self-initiation as related in the book cited above. There is also much interesting alchemical experimentation, and behaviour outside the conventional mores of the day. Unconventional dress and behaviour are often found amongst ‘shamans’. In particular the famous ‘wife-swapping’ that occurred between dr. and mrs. jane dee and edward and ‘mystris’ kelley. DRC

Color me surprised. Sometime between Nov.3rd 1598 and Jan.23rd 1590, Edward Kelley was knighted. The knighthood(later briefly a baron) was from Rudolph II, Holy Roman Emperor, for making gold for him. When the gold supply dried up he was disenfranchised and thrown into prison. His end is not known, some say he died in prison, some say he died while trying to escape, some say he fought the Turks as a Mercenary, some say he died in another prison in Western Bohemia.My apologies for confusing the Holy Roman Emperor and the Elector of the Palatinate.


About drcarlsonalbion

Musician in band earth. Folklore/History/Occult enthusiast, especially about British Isles.
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