Review: Dr. Rudd’s Nine Hierarchies of Angels

We’ve been over the Doctor Rudd ground in this blog so many times it feels as if we practically should be sending the guy Christmas cards.  (You can see some of the discussion here and here, as well as followups here and here, along with material in Egil Asprem’s Arguing with Angels on the same topic.)  Briefly put, the theory is that Thomas Rudd, an engineer who published John Dee’s Mathematical Preface to Euclid, was a ceremonial magician whose manuscripts were later copied by Peter Smart and attributed to “Dr. Rudd”.  The objection has been raised that there’s little evidence that Thomas and Doctor Rudd are the same, and that Peter Smart used that name in his manuscripts to disguise the fact he was copying material from printed sources.

A new perspective can be found in Teitan Press’ latest printing of a manuscript from the nineteenth-century accountant and crystal magic practitioner Frederick Hockley, Dr. Rudd’s Nine Hierarchies of Angels.  The text itself is of interest to the history of nineteenth century occultism, as it most likely constitutes another work transcribed at the shop of John Denley.  The book consists of three major texts:  an edition of the Nine Hierarchies of Angels attributed to Rudd, the Enochian Keys in English, and a procedure ultimately derived from Sloane 307 to call Enochian spirits to find treasure and perform other tasks, including the table of the elements, available in both transcription and facsimile.  Each of these is available though previously-published sources that publish earlier material that is more extensive in content, such as Adam MacLean’s A Treatise on Angel Magic and some of the Golden Hoard works.

What really made the book for me, however, was Alan Thorogood’s comprehensive introduction.  Alan makes three major points here.  First, the Enochian works of John Dee, whether in manuscript form or taken from Casaubon’s True and Faithfull Relation, were more influential than had previously been thought, with traces found even in the published versions of the Lemegeton and the 1665 edition of Discoverie of Witchcraft. Second, he makes the argument that the Janua magica reserata, a set of magical operations dedicated to summoning representatives of the angelic hierarchy, were derived from Enochian material.

Third, he gives further evidence why Peter Smart is not to be trusted in attributing particular works to Rudd – while, at the same time, he puts forth an argument for a new candidate.  Sloane Manuscripts 3624 to 3628 describe a series of late seventeenth-century operations performed by a trio of men – including one “J. Rudd” – to call up spirits using both the hierarchy of angels and Dee’s operations.  If this is the case, it might give us a better candidate that Smart appropriated to justify his own dishonesty.

If you’re picking this up for the text, it’s best to do so as a Hockley collector, someone interested in what was available in the field of ceremonial magic for the nineteenth century, or a completist in the field of grimoire literature.  The introduction, however, should be required reading for anyone studying the history of the grimoire tradition for any reason.

Published in: on November 28, 2013 at 1:24 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. This may yet prove interesting. I have been following the Rudd controversy for a few years now. I do not believe in the engineer Rudd hypothesis at all, but I have some doubts about Smart’s intentions. Here is how I look at it. Either he was copying the mss for himself, or was scribing them for a client. I believe the sources are pretty transparent and Smart would have run the risk of his fraud being discovered by his client (unless the client was extremely uninformed). If he was transcribing mss for himself then he was incredibly credulous and deceived himself (self deception having infinite capacity). The Harley 6483: Lemegeton ends with the title of another work, John Dee’s Rosicrucian Secrets, followed by a footnote indicating that he received it from John Gadbury in 1686, which coincides with the year written in the Sloane 2731: Lemegeton. Now Gadbury had a mixed reputation with his contemporaries, but he was friends with William Lilly and Elias Ashmole, both of whom had a substantial collection of occult material. Gadbury’s relationship with Lilly and Ashmole had considerable ups and downs and I do not believe his friendship with either lasted long. I do not want to besmirch Gadbury’s reputation with wild accusations, but lets suppose for a moment then that all the Rudd material came from Gadbury, that could underscore Smart’s naivete regarding the Harley-Rudd mss suggesting him more a hapless dupe rather than fraudster. Another thank to consider is where did Smart or Rudd obtain a copy of the Lemegeton. Certainly not from Sloane, he did not get his mss until 1739 from the Jekyll auction. If we go with the 1686 date then the lemegetonic (and some Dee material) mss may have been in Ashmole’s collection (Ashmole obtained some Dee mss (Mysteriorum Liber and Heptarchia Mystica) in 1672), if Gadbury was still on good terms with Ashmole, maybe he had access to his collection. Ashmole was avid about astrology, and Gadbury was a professional. Maybe we ought to be looking at John Gadbury as the broker for the Rudd mss, just a thought. I am looking forward to reading Thorogood’s intro to the Rudd material.

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