On the Shelf Review – Ordines Descendens

The proper person to review Ordines Descendens, a grimoire that recently came before me, would be a specialist in the field of Enochian magic, the highly complex system that Queen Elizabeth’s wizard John Dee created or divined through his crystal-gazing sessions with Edward Kelley.  Instead, you got me, so if what I write her is in any way inaccurate or unclear, please let me know.

For those who aren’t familiar with Enochian magic, I’ll try to give a brief summary.  Kelley and Dee engaged in a large number of sessions gazing into one or another crystal.  Out of it they gained a series of chants in the Enochian language, believed to be that of the angels, and a series of magical tables from which the names of various spirits of the heavenly hierarchy could be determined.   After Dee’s death, some of his papers were found in a secret compartment in his furniture, and a servant used many of them for various household purposes, such as starting fires.  Eventually the rest were rescued, forming the basis for a system of magic practiced by many magicians even today.

According to the introductory pieces to Ordines Descendens, the servant in question also used some of the manuscripts when hanging two portraits, which she later acquired.  Now realizing the value of these manuscripts, she passed them on, eventually reaching the hands of Jeremiah Hobbs, who made a copy for Sir Francis Dashwood of Hellfire Club fame.  In the end, a copy of it supposedly reached a friend of Peter W. Mills, who made a copy of it before it was destroyed.  None of this seems likely, to say the least.

The actual system should be fairly familiar to those who have seen Enochian.  Four squares of numerous letters corresponding to four forces appear in the book.  Following these letters in particular orders reveals the names of a vast hierarchy of demons.  The magician stands within a magical circle and uses the book’s thirteen Enochian keys to summon up the spirits which he or she desires.  Unlike most other grimoires, however, each ritual requires the calling of all the spirits in that particular hierarchy, starting with the imps and ending with Satan himself.  The particular spirit to be called in the operation is given emphasis within this series of incantations.

I don’t think that there’s much to be said about this, save that the system presented seems much more in line with the proclivities and perspectives of today’s age than that of Dee.  Still, it is an intriguing work.

Published in: on April 25, 2009 at 8:33 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Though I am not really well educated in the field of Enochian Magic, having read your brief yet concise description of the rituals introduced in the said “grimore”, I should say that I agree with your comment, “the system presented seems much more in line with the proclivities and perspectives of today’s age than that of Dee.”
    And my impression was that all the available manuscripts had been gathered, and that there is not really a “hole” big enough to hold thirteen keys, Satan, etc.

  2. It most certainly is not the work of Dee. The poor man was having the greatest alergy to what he called evil…

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