There are few figures in history that are at once as mysterious, nefarious and intriguing as Dr John Dee, mathematician and astrologer to two Tudor Queens of England. Educated at the University of Cambridge, Dee travelled the continent before becoming astrologer to the queen, ‘Bloody’ Mary Tudor. Shortly thereafter, however, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for being a sorcerer. This lifelong reputation as a magician was procured partly by the stage effects that he introduced into a performance of the Peace of Aristophanes while he was at Cambridge and partly by his erudition and practice of both crystallomancy and astrology. Although he was a profoundly learned scholar and hermeticist, as a sorcerer he is mainly today thought to have been a sham. In his time, however, among the many who consulted him on matters metaphysical included Sir Philip Sidney and various princes of Poland and Bohemia. He enjoyed the favour of Elizabeth I, gave instructions and advice to pilots and navigators who were exploring the New World and gave lessons to the Virgin Queen in the mystical interpretation of his writings. Most interestingly, he devoted much time and effort in the last thirty years or so of his life to attempting to commune with angels in order to learn the universal language of creation and bring about the pre-apocalyptic unity of mankind. About ten years after his death, several manuscripts, mainly records of Dee’s angelic communications, were discovered in the house and gardens where he had lived. Could it be that Dr Dee was no mere sham after all?
Okay, apologies in advance, I promise that this is the one and only time that I will ever mention Dan Brown on this website (probably). You’ve all, unless you’ve been in outer space for the past ten years, heard of a little novel called The Da Vinci Code. Dan Brown’s cash cow has made him millions of dollars, hit the silver screen and annoyed almost as many people as it has entertained. If you found it hard to believe that the Renaissance artist and all-round genius Leonardo Da Vinci passed on the secret history of the offspring of Christ through cryptograms (or backwards crossword puzzle word searches or whatever), the suggestion that he actually embedded a secret soundtrack into The Last Supper may just be a step too far for some people. Let’s look at the evidence. Continue reading