Enochian and Gnosticism

It’s hard to describe in fullness “Enochian theology,” but a cursory look at both the language of Enochian as well as my experience of scrying the Aethyrs has had me pondering this matter in the back of my mind for some time. What I’ve come to realize, after a good dose of listening to the Secret History of Western Esotericism Podcast, is that the Enochian magico-mystical system seems to continue the deep initiation into John Dee’s mind. Dee, a highly educated man, was familiar with Greek, fluent in Latin, and nothing if not well-read. His religious education needed to take the vows for a Catholic priest (while under arrest in would’ve also taken him into reading much of what was Catholic orthodoxy and–important for Dee if he wished to save his skin–what were the no-no’s of heterodoxy, heresy, apostacy. In other words, Dee probably came to know as much, if not more, about the Classics as any other man in England.

SHWEP has provided for me some obsessively interesting listening material. Earl Fontainelle’s laser focus on esotericism, combined with his profound background in the classics as well as his varied interest in the history of Western philosophy, has really opened up a world of understanding of the development of religious doctrine. Support the podcast, won’t you? Among the episodes I dove into was episode 79, Numenius’ Metaphysics, which laid out a concept of highest god, Nous; a son (emanation?) of that god, the Demiurge; and a grandson (second emanation?) of Nous, the Noetic Creator of our world. Note that these concepts roughly match the Kabbalistic Tree of Life model: an The Nous roughly corresponds to Ain/Ain Soph/Ain Soph Aur, the Demiurge roughly corresponds to the world of Atziluth, and the Noetic Creator roughly corresponds to the world of Briah. The idea of a demiurge is roughly linked to Gnosticism (in addition to previous philosophies), which, as SHWEP points out in an earlier episode with Michael Williams, is a somewhat problematic term in itself.

Numenius of Apamea parallels earlier philosophers like Eudorus of Alexandria, but what does this have to do with Enochian? One Enochian word that came to mind when considering this philosophy is “JAIDA” (which can also be transliterated to “IAIDA”; n.b. the letters “I” & “J” are collapsed in the Enochian alphabet), meaning “highest God” or, perhaps from its structure (“IA of IAD” or “IAD of IAD”): “God of Gods.” This is a bit strange from a monotheist point of view, and suggests that we should instead consider the Enochian system to be a monolatrous one, which is to say that the God of Enochian is the highest God, or the God worthy of worship, but that other gods may exist. This is surely one way to interpret other godlike beings who appear, such as Babalon or Kaos (the latter of whom I appear to not have encountered, but other Enochian practitioners have).

The other footing this puts Enochian on is the idea of a one-world religion, or rather a religion designed to be compatible with other religions. Jason Louv suggests in John Dee and the Empire of Angels that a one-world religion is indeed what the angels themselves were pushing. I have to admit, I have found that my exploration of Enochian hasn’t really pushed me away from any religion, but rather I’ve taken an approach which allows for the congruence of multiple religions at once. One difficulty with Enochian is the colonialist view of the world that Dee took, such that it’s tempting to view Enochian as a superstructure or superimposition upon other religions–perhaps as yet another imposition of religion, similar to the forced conversions to Christianity.

Looking into the structure of Enochian and its somewhat heretical views, it seems instead that it’s a system allowing for religious tolerance and pluralism, which is something we could use a little more of nowadays. During these holidays, I hope I have made a case to dig a little deeper and unfold what lies beneath the first impressions of this world, and bear witness to and become partakers in its wonders.