# The Monas Hieroglyphica and Dee’s Use of “Kabbalah”

This is a relatively short post; I think that I have figured out what John Dee was trying to do with his Monas Hieroglyphica, specifically theorem XXIII. First, I think Dee was trying to say that the symbol itself is elegant on account of the pure dimensionality (the arms are twice as long as the neck, the head’s radius is the length of the arm, the “torso” is thrice the length of the neck, etc.).

Second, one thing that confused me is why he substituted 2 for the number four in 1-2-3-4 (I’ve re-created is part from Theorem XXIII because I can’t do a simple copy/paste, which I would do for something public domain like this; I took the opportunity to clarify what Dee was doing):

to get 1-2-3-2:

Why did the 4 change to a 2, thus changing all of the sums that follow? Note this digression on numbers is related to the actual symbol of the Monas Hieroglyphica by starting at top going with each element in rotation: neck (length 1), arm (length 2), torso (length 3), and opposing arm (length 2 again).

Still, Dee also calls what he is doing calling “Kabbalistic” & either Temurah or Tsiruf, as scholars such as Sledge has already noted. I think Dee is making not an empty appeal here. Rather, my specific observation is that Dee makes a substitution, which is not actually one of the three simple forms of Temurah substitution listed on Wikipedia (Atbash, Avgad, and Albam). Instead, Dee is likely implying a different substitution, a simple one of numbers for letters, namely, those of the Tetragrammaton, YHVH, which is adduced in addition to his geometric justification of his symbol:

Thus, the Yod (typically equal 10 in Gematria) is 1, the first Heh (typically 5) is 2, Vav (typically 6) is 3, and the second Heh must have the same value as the first and is thus 2 again. I’m not sure whether this theory has been posited before, so I will simply say that this is an observation, not necessarily that it’s an original one. Regardless, I agree with Sledge that Dee is using his limited familiarity with the Kabbalah (again, the numbers do not add up correctly according to typical Gematria!) to justify his symbol, but he does so in a clever way.