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John Dee's actions with spirits: 22 December 1581 to 23 May 1583

Whitby, Christopher Lionel (1982)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

This thesis presents an investigation of the nature of the earliest extant records of the supposed communication with angels and spirits of John Dee (1527-1608) with the assistance of his two mediums or 'scryers', Barnabas Saul and Edward Kelly. The form chosen is a transcription of the records in Dee's hand contained in Sloane MS 3188, together with an introduction and commentary to the text, which has been transcribed only once before, by Elias Ashmole in 1672. In the Introduction the physical state of the manuscript is described and a hypothesis advanced as to how it arrived in the Sloane collection. Biographical details of Dee and his scryers are provided and a further chapter presents some background to Renaissance occult philosophy and the practice of scrying. Arguments that the manuscript represents a conscious fraud or a cryptographical exercise are examined and disproved and the magical system and instruments evolved during the communications or 'Actions' are described. The last chapter of the Introduction examines Dee's motives for believing so strongly in the truth of the Actions and suggests that a principal motive was the conviction, not held by Dee alone, that a new age was about to dawn upon earth. The Commentary aims primarily at explaining the many obscurities of the text.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
School/Faculty:Faculties (to 1997) > Faculty of Arts
Department:Shakespeare Institute
Subjects:BF Psychology
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:3149
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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