Infinite Fire Webinar III – Monas HieroglyphicaFebruary 5, 2013
Welcome to dr. Peter J. Forshaw’s third webinar in the Infinite Fire series. Today he introduces the early modern mathematician, natural philosopher and magus, John Dee (1527-1608/9), another significant figure in the history of science, esotericism and Hermetic Philosophy. Dee is a fascinating example of a thinker deeply engaged with both orthodox and unorthodox fields of knowledge, judged by the standards of his own period or today. This webinar provides some information about his scholarly interests, his travels in continental Europe, where he came into contact with influential thinkers, like the cartographer Gerard Mercator (1512-1594), fellow occult philosophers like Heinrich Khunrath (1560-1605), and powerful aristocrats like Emperor Rudolph II (1552-1612).
The main focus of the webinar is on Dee’s publications, most notably the Propaedeumata Aphoristica – Aphoristic Introduction concerning certain outstanding virtues of Nature (1558) and Monas Hieroglyphica (1564). The first of these concerns itself with a mixture of astronomy and astrology, cosmology, natural philosophy and scientific method. The second book, which Dee describes as being ‘mathematically, magically, cabalistically and anagogically explained’ concerns itself – in an extremely opaque way – with the theory and practice of alchemy. Both works feature Dee’s symbol of the Hieroglyphic Monad on their title pages and dr. Forshaw discusses its signficance for Dee and later occult thinkers.
Stay tuned for the next Infinite Fire webinar by dr. W.J. Hanegraaff on the revival of Ancient Wisdom in the Renaissance with a focus on Plethon and Marsilio Ficino.
Bibliography of Infinite Fire Webinar III – John Dee and his Hieroglyphic Monad
Some of John Dee’s own works
• Casaubon, Meric (ed.), A True and Faithful Relation of What passed for many Yeers Between Dr. John Dee and Some Spirits. London, 1659.
• Debus, Allen G. (ed.), The Mathematical Praeface to the Elements of Geometrie of Euclid of Megara (1570). New York: Science History Publications, 1975.
• Josten, C.H., ‘A Translation of John Dee’s “Monas Hieroglyphica” (Antwerp, 1564), With an Introduction and Annotations’, Ambix, Vol. 12 (1964): 84-221.
• Peterson, Joseph H. (ed.), John Dee’s Five Books of Mystery: Original Sourcebook of Enochian Magic. York Beach, ME: Red Wheel/Weiser, 2003.
• Shumaker, Wayne (ed.), John Dee on Astronomy: Propaedeumata Aphoristica (1558 & 1568). Berkeley: University of California
Some Scholarly Studies about John Dee
• Clucas, Stephen (ed.) John Dee: Interdisciplinary Studies in Renaissance Thought. Dordrecht: Springer, 2006.
• Clucas, Stephen (ed.) John Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica, Ambix Special Issue. Vol. 52, Part 3 (2005), includes articles by Nicholas Clulee, Hilde Norrgren, Peter Forshaw and Penny Bayer.
• Clulee, Nicholas H. John Dee’s Natural Philosophy: Between Science and Religion. London: Routledge, 1988.
• French, Peter J. John Dee: The World of an Elizabethan Magus. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972.
• Håkansson, Håkan. Seeing the Word: John Dee and Renaissance Occultism. Lund: Lunds Universiteit, 2001.
• Parry, Glyn. The Arch-Conjuror of England: John Dee and Magic at the Courts of Renaissance Europe New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012.
• Sherman, William H. John Dee: The Politics of Reading and Writing in the English Renaissance. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1995.