The Forty-Eight Gates to the Cities of Wisdom
On April 12, 1584, at Cracow, the angel Nalvage (through Kelley) said, concerning Enochian magic: “Raphael that brought up the prayers descended: and he was full with the power, & spirit of God: and it became a Doctrine, such was never from the beginning: Noit painted, or carved: filed, or imagined by man, or according to their imaginations, which are of flesh but simple, plain, full of strength, and the power of the holy Ghost: which Doctrine began, as man did, nakedly from the earth: but yet, the image of perfection. This selfsame Art is it, which is delivered unto you an infallible Doctrine, containing in it the waters, which runne through many Gates: even above the Gate of Innocency, wherein you are taught to finde out the Dignity and Corruption of nature: also made partakers of the secret Judgements of the Almighty to be made manifest, and to be put into execution… I am therefore to instruct and inform you, according to your Doctrine delivered, which is contained in 49 Tables. In 49 voyces, or callings: which are the Natural Keyes, to open those, not 49 but 48 (for One is not ton be opened) Gates of understanding, whereby you shall have knowledge to move every gate, and to call out as meant as you please, or shall be thought necessary, which can very well, righteously, and wisely, open unto you the secrets of their Cities, & make you understand perfectly the [mysteries] contained in the Tables. Through which knowledge you shall easily be able to judge, not as the world doth, but perfectly of the world, and all things contained within the Compasse of nature, and of all things which are subject to an end.”
On May 21 of the same year, after delivering to Dee the names of the parts of the earth that are ruled by the first fourteen Aethers, the angel Mapsama spoke more speci fivally about the Gates: “Mapsama: These Calls touch all the parts of the World. The world may be dealt withal, with her parts; Therefore you may do anything. These Calls are the keyes into the Gates and Cities of wisdom. Which [Gates] are not able to be opened, but with visible apparition. Dee: And how shall that be come unto? Maspama: Which is according to the former instructions: and to be had, by calling of every Table.”
When Nalvage says that the doctrine of Enoch is not “painted, or carved: filed, or imagined by man, according to their imaginations, which are of flesh: but simple, plain, full of strength,” he means that it is mathematical and geometrical in nature. The forty-nine tables are the large number-letter squares in Dee’s Book of Enoch, columns. From these were extracted, at the directions of the angels, the Enochian Keys.
The forty-eight gates of the cities, or astral residences, that may be open by a large letter square that is divided into four parts by a central cross called the Black Cross (it is colored black in Dee’s manuscript.) This large letter square is known as the Great Table. Each of the four quadrants on this Table is called Watchtower. Twelve of the celestial cities are accessed through each Watchtower. The gates of the Watchtowers must be opened to allow the passage of the Enochian angels from their own cities into the universe of human consciousness. Each city is represented, or keyed, by a set of letters in a geometric and numerical pattern.
The Great Table and the City of God
New Jerusalem is laid out in a square. Each wall has three gates, for a total of twelve, “and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.” The walls of the city have twelve foundations, or foundation stones, each a semiprecious stone upon which is written the name of one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. These stones are probably intended to be the same that were in the breastplate of the High Priest of Israel. (Exodus, 39) In the center of New Jerusalem, the Lamb of God (Christ) is seated upon a throne from which flows the river of the water of life. This is usually depicted as having four streams that flow outward in the four cardinal directions.
John Dee was aware of this similarity in structure between the Great Table and the New Jerusalem. He drew two squares diagrams showing the assignment of the twelve tribes to the four directions of space based on Numbers 2 and 7, and revelation 21, in his magical journal that deals with the assignment and evocation of spirits on the Great Table.
The diagram on the left places the tribes of Israel in the quarter of the world they are assigned chapter of the biblical book of Numbers, where the ordering of the tents of the tribes around the Tabernacle is described. This same ordering of the tribes to the directions occurs in the seventh chapter of Numbers, which sets forth the order in which the tribes made sacrifices at the altar. The order unfolds in a single cycle east, south, west and north, proceeding clockwise. As will be seen later on, this ordering of the directions is crucial to a true comprehension of the placement of Watchtowers on the Great Table. In the center of the diagram, Dee has written in Latin this is the biblical order and perfect condition of the tribes.
In the diagram on the right, the tribes are ordered to the directions as they were delivered to Dee by the Enochian angels. Next to the name of each tribe is the name of its guardian or tutelary angel. Notice particularly the numbers Dee has inserted into this diagram. The ordering of the tribes and the angels proceeds in three clockwise cycles of four around the square, each cycle beginning in the east. These cycles have great importance in connection with the ordering of the Enochian Keys on the Great Table. This numbering system was also used by the angels to link the tribes with the ninety-one Princes of the Thirty Aethers. In the center of this diagram, Dee has written in Latin that this is the order of the tribes of Israel after the Diaspora, or scattering, as it exists in the year 1585 (presumably the year he drew the diagram).
These diagrams may represent New Jerusalem or the great altar of sacrifice, or both. Notice that there are three levels in each diagram, or (regarding them as altars) three steps. It is not clear in the diagrams whether the tabs containing the directions should be considered as a separate level, or placed on the same level as the first step. The altar for burnt offerings was square and three cubits high, which may have signified three steps or levels.
The Architecture of the Great Table
The Great Table as a whole reflects this imitation of the pattern of New Jerusalem. Ignore for the ground plan for a walled city or fortress that contains within it lesser walled compounds. Each of the long columns and rows would then represent a street. At the ends of these streets are gates. The city has three primary avenues leading into it from each of its four sides, and four lesser avenues. When the four lesser avenues are considered, each side of the Great Table has seven gates, for a total of twenty-eight; a significant number, because it is the number of Mansions of the Moon. The Great Black Cross that runs through the center of the Table may be assumed to represent the four streams of the river of life that flows out from the throne of Christ, situated at the intersection at the intersection of the cross.
There are forty-two of these avenues on the Great Table, and since each avenue has two gates, eighty-four gates in all (twenty-one gates, the number of Enochian letters, for each Watchtower). The Great Table may be considered as a whole entity which is divided into four quarters by the Black Cross running through its center. Each quarter, or Watchtower, is in some respect a smaller version of the Great table. It also has a cross running through its center that divides it into four quarters. Each watchtower has one main gate in each side and two lesser gates, for a total of twelve exterior gates. By the same token, each quarter of a watchtower has a cross running through it that divides it into four parts. Quarters of the Watchtower have only one external gate in each wall, for a total of four.
The central row of each Watchtower, called the “line of God,” contains the divine names of power. Reading left to right, these names are composed of three, four and five letters each. For example, the line of God in the Watchtower that occupies the upper left corner of the Great Table contains the divine names ORO, IBAH and AOZPI. There is a direct correlation between these twelve divine names of God, IHVH, and the twelve tribes of Israel, as I will demonstrate later. It should be noted that each line of God contains a total of twelve letters, and all four contain forty-eight letters, the number of the gates to the angelic cities.
There may be an important distinction between the spirits represented by the letters in the avenues upon the Great Table, and the spirits represented by the letters contained within the sixty-four walled enclosures. Tyson is inclined to think of the spirits whose names lie on the avenues, or arms of the crosses, as male, although there is no explicit evidence in Dee’s diaries that this sexual division exists. The enclosed spaces call my mind the walled-off seraglios of Eastern monarchs where their brides and concubines were kept isolated.
This diagrammatic aspect of the Great Table and the Watchtowers is almost never mentioned in descriptions of Enochian magic. Dee makes no reference to it directly in his Enochian diaries and workbooks, but it may be infered from comments made by the angels. I do not wish to mislead you. This city architecture of the Great Table is my personal speculation, and is not an established aspect of modern Enochian magic.
The Watchers are the Keepers of Time
The four Watchtowers, which are themselves angels, stand guard at the four extremities of our universe. They are equivalent to the four great pillars of Egyptian mythology that hold up the sky and separate Earth from heaven. These Watchtowers were established at the same moment Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden, or so testify the Enochian Angel: “Adam received punishment for his offense, that he was turned out into the earth, and so did Adam, accursed, bring all misery and wretchedness into the world. But in the same instant when Adam was expelled, the Lord gave into the world her time, and placed over her Angelic Keepers, Watchmen, and Princes.”
There are several important points to be noticed in the quotation above. One of the most important is because of Adam’s sin of disobedience; God laid a curse upon the entire world. This curse is what we know as karma, or cause and effect. Karma exists in time. Time began the moment Adam was driven out of the Paradise. At the same moment it was necessary to establish angelic Keepers and Watchmen to ensure the continuance of the Earth in time. The Princes mentioned are presumably the aerial spirits known as the “princes of air,” who are said to be present throughout the entire world.
Access through the gates of the four Watchtowers is access outside the realm of time and karma It is access to the angels who dwell in Paradise, and indeed to all spiritual creatures who have been barred by God’s curse form walking the path of the Earth. The high angels in the palaces and cities behind the gates of the Watchtowers have the authority to rule over the lesser spirits who inhabit the aerial terrestrial realms of our universe. By some Kabbalistic accounts, these earth-bound spirits are the offspring from the union between the fallen angels described by Enoch and mortal womens.
The Ninety-One Region of the Thirty Aethers
Among these earth-bound spirits are those that rule over the various geographical regions of the world. Each of these geographical spirits (which is identified with the region it ruke because it is the tutelary spirit or genius of the region) has its own sigil on the Great Table.
According to Tyson, it was the prospect of obtaining commend of these tutelary spirits of the kingdom of the world that was the basis of John Dee’s attraction to Enochian magic. Dee received this system of magic in the years just prior ton the launch of the Spanish Armada against England. It was a time of exploration and colonization for his native country. This expansion of influence was threatened by the might of Spain. Dee earnestly sought control of the geographical spirit on the Great Table so that through them he could control the fate of the kings of Europe and remove the dark cloud of foreign domination from England’s horizons.
About these geographical genii the angel Nalvage states: ”There are 30 Call yet to come. Those 30 are the Calls of Ninety-one Princes and spiritual Governors, unto whom the Earth is delivered as a portion. These bring in and again dispose Kings and all the Governments upon the Earth, and vary the Natures of things with the variation of every moment; Unto whom, the providence of the eternal Judgment, is already opened. These are generally governed by the twelve Angels of the 12 Tribes: which are also governed by the 7 which stand before the presence of God [see Revelations 4:5].
It was no doubt in reference to the power of these spirits of nations that Casaubon makes mention in his subtitle to his book A True and Faithful Relation, which reads in part “Tending (had it succeeded) to a General Alteration of most States and Kingdomes in the World.”
The Power of the Watchtowers
In addition to controlling the tutelary spirits of the nations of the earth, the Watchtowers offer the promise of all human knowledge, including the perfect knowledge, including the perfect knowledge of medicine, the arts, and the sciences. They give command of the elemental spirits of the world, movement from place to place (presumably by supernatural means), the transformation of the forms of things, and enable the discovery of hidden things, including the location of the treasures and rich mines. No human secret is unknown to them.
The promise of limitless knowledge, even of an abstract kind, was alluring to Dee, who had dedicated his life to study. Later, in his private meeting with Rudolph II, Dee would confide this lifelong passion to the Emperor: “Hereupon I began to declare that All my life I had spent in learning: but for this forty years continually, in sundry manners, and in divers Countries, with great pain, care and cost, I had from degree to degree, sought to come by the best knowledge that man might attain unto in the world: And I found (at length) that neither any man living, nor any Book I could yet meet withal, was able to teach me those truths I desired, and longed for: And therefore I concluded with my self, to make intercession and prayer to the giver of wisdom and all good things, to send me such wisdom, as I might know the natures of his creatures; and also enjoy means to use them to his honour and glory.”
Even more attractive must have been the prospect of peering into the veiled intrigues of the courts of Europe, and gaining information concerning the political plots and maneuverings of great men. As a secret agent of the English crown, his mouth must have watered at the intelligence-gathering possibilities of the Watchtowers.
Perhaps sensing this lust for forbidden knowledge, both heavenly and earthly, the angel Ave cautions Dee and Kelley about the limitations of the Watchtowers. At the same time, he cannot resist boasting of their powers: “Ave: Notwithstanding, to know the world before the waters, To be privy to the doings of men, from the waters to Crist; from Christ unto the rewarding of the wicked: The wicked’s doings of the flesh, or the fond and devilish imaginations of man, or to see what the blessed Kingdom shall be, and how the earth shall be dignified, puged, and made clean, is a meat too sweet for your mouths. Dee: Curiosity is far from our intents. Ave: But there is neither Patriarch nor Prophet sanctified, Martyr or Confessor, King or Governour of the people upon earth, that his name, continuance, and end, is not (like the Moon at midnight in these Tables.”
This is quite a boast. It is easy to see why Ave said to Kelley concerning lesser systems of magic, “Nay, they all played at this.” Other forms of magic deal with the angels and spirits already present in our universe-the spiritual offspring that arose from sexual union between the fallen angels who taught sciences and art to humankind and mortal women. Enochian magic holds out the promise to reach beyond the sealed gates of the four Watchtowers and gain the authority and power of the higher angels who have never fallen from grace or walked the byways of the earth. Conversely, it also allows communion with the dark angels who have been cast down into the Abyss for their sin of rebellion. The gates of the Watchtowers are the gates to both heaven and hell.
The Correspondences between the Watchtowers to the Tree of Life
Both Crowley and the Golden Dawn sought to show correspondence between the Enochian system and the Hebrew system of the Qabalah and its Tree of Life. The Tree of Life consists of ten Sephiroth, globes of splendor, form Kether the most spiritual down to Malkuth, our Earth and the most material. These globes are situated as shown the illustration above. There are 22 paths connecting these globes. These paths are each represented by one of the trump cards of the Tarot. The illustration shows the matching Enochian letters.
It can be seen from this that an exact match is not possible. Three paths have two letters each, while three paths (Sun, Tower and Fortune) have one. Crowley states (in his book The Vision and the Voice) that the Aethyrs approach the Tree of Life, but are nowere identical. Nevertheless, a fairly good correspondence can be made using the Abyss as a common reference point for the two systems. The dark and hidden Sephiroth of Daath corresponds tolerably well with the tenth Aethyr.
Enochian Correspondences with the Qabalistic Tree of Life
The Correspondence Between the Calvary Cross and the Tree of Life
The Calvary Crosses of the Watchtowers bear a direct correspondence with the Sephiroth, as show on the illustration. Each Calvary Cross in the four Fire subquadrants, represent the Sephiroth in the Atziluth World. Each Cross in the four Water subquadrants, correspond to the Sephiroth in the Briah World. Each Cross in the Air subquadrants, the Yetzirah World, and the four Earth subquadrants, the Assiah World. These four worlds or cosmic planes each contains ten Sephiroth according to the Qabalistic tradition.
Correspondences with the Theosophic Model of the Universe
According to ancient occult philosophy, each person is always located in the center of the universe. The universe itself is said to be like a circle whose circumference is everywhere (i.e. infinite) and whose center is nowhere (i.e. infinitesimal). In magic, this idea means that it is convenient to imagine ourselves at the center of the universe just as it is convenient to imagine that the universe is endless. Whether these things be so or not, is of no consequence to the magician. He finds it convenient to imagine that he is the geometric point at the center of the universe. If the universe is considered to be infinite, then virtually any point one cares to select can be said to lay at the center.
The Tablet of Union is the central region of the universe, according to the Enochian magical system. The magician therefore visualizes himself at the center of the Tablet of Union. Around him, like walls rising up from the end of the wprld, are four Watchtowers. Around these Watchtowers are the thirty Aethyrs rising up into the spiritual realms of infinity.
The 30th through the 27th Aethyr are located in what is generally called the Astral Plane. The 26th through the 11th are on the Mental Plane. The 10th is on the dividing line between formless spirit and formed matter. This is usually called the Great Outer Abyss, or simply the Abyss. The higher Aethyrs, 9th through the 2nd, are spiritual. The highest Aethyr, the first is divine.
The illustration above is a diagram of this relationship. The magician visualizes himself standing between the “O” of HKOMA and the “N” of NANTA at the center of the universe. In this way, the quadrants, Aethyr, Angels, and so forth can become very real and meaningful. Mind traveling to certain squares, subquadrants or Aethyrs, is equivalent to traveling through one’s own universe. The schema must not be taken too literally by the beginner. It is only a diagram. Actually the Watchtowers and Aethyrs overlap to a large extent. In fact, the Governors of the Aethyr are anmed in the letters of the Watchtowers and through a study of these names, the actual relationship can become known.
Casaubon, True and Faithful Relation, p. 77.
Casaubon, True and Faithful Relation, p. 45.
These diagrams of the tribes in relation to the gates are reproduced in Geoffrey James’ The Enochian Magick of Dr. John Dee, Llewellyn Publications, 1994, p. 103. James has reproduced them, in a slightly modified form, from Dee’s Manuscript Liber Scientiae Auxilii et Victoriae Terrestris, which forms British Library document Sloane MS 3191.
James, The Enochian Evocation of John Dee, p. 11.
True and Faithfull relation, p. 139-140.
Casaubon, True and Faithful Relation, p. 231.
Casaubon, True and Faithful Relation, p. 181.