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This short writing will outline my findings concerning the "Watchtower" tablets of John Dee's system of Angelical magick (1583). Their structure and symbolism suggest a strong influence of the Jewish Merkavah tradition- a mystical system that included philosophical teachings concerning the Throne (or Chariot) of God. Descriptions of the Divine Throne- or Merkavah- can be found in such Biblical writings as the Book of Ezekial (especially chapter one), and the Revelation of St. John (especially chapter four). The Merkavah tradition was of much interest to renaissance Christian mystics such as John Dee, and the two books previously mentioned would have been a direct influence upon him.
The Watchtower tablets themselves appear to be a symbolic depiction of the Four Great Kherubim of the Elements. Dee records the following in his diaries (see "A True and Faithful Relation...") when the Angels are first describing the Watchtowers-before he even received their structure or letters:
Ave: "The Four houses are the Four Angels of the Earth, which are the Four Overseers, and Watchtowers, that...God...hath placed against the...Great Enemy, the Devil."
I feel that this statement is foundational to an understanding of the Watchtowers and the Angelic entities associated with them.
First remember that the Grimoiric world-view did not separate the Earthly Elements from the Zodiac, as is often done today. Instead, it saw the Elements as governed (and originating from) the Zodiacal Triplicities. Fire was in the East according to Agrippa- both in the sky, and according to the Four Winds. The reason for my stating this will not be readily apparent, but will make sense as I explain. To begin with, in Ezekiel we are told:
And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creatures was as the likeness of an expanse of awesome ice, stretched forth over their heads above. And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.
The Chaioth haQodesh- the Kherubim- are said to support the Firmament (or sky) itself. They are the Pillars that hold the Created World above the waters of the Abyss. (These pillars are ancient symbols that have appeared in nearly all cultures.) This, too, is exactly what the Watchtowers are. I believe at this time that the four Sigils given with the Watchtowers are the signatures of the Chaioth haQodesh Themselves. And the Watchtower Tablets are drawings of the essences of the Beasts. Revelation says:
And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of stars within.
And we are also told:
And round about the Throne were four and twenty seats; and upon the seats I saw four and twenty Elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and They had on Their heads crowns of gold.
The 24 Elders are traditionally associated with the Zodiac- two Elders per Sign. Being that there are three Signs in each Triplicity, that makes six Elders for each Element. I.e.- for Fire, there are the two Elders of Aires, the two of Leo, and the two of Sagittarius. Thus, the "six wings full of stars" of each Kherub indicates the six Zodiacal Powers embodied by the Elders whom the Kherub governs. This is shown quite plainly by the Watchtowers; where six Elder Names are arrayed across each Tablet. If the Tablet is the Kherub, then the Elders are It's six wings.
Each Tablet is governed over-all by three Divine Names- each of which is likely associated with a Zodiacal Sign (this was not told to Dee, but has been suggested by several Enochian scholars since). All three together could be seen as Elemental (ie- the three Divine Names of the Eastern- Fiery- Tablet are used to call forth Fire), but I their main focus is in the fixed stars themselves. As always with the Watchtowers (and most classical grimoiric systems of magick), it is the direction that is important, and not the element(s) that might be associated with that direction.
There is, however, one Divine Name on the Tablet that could be more strictly Elemental. And here is an important point: what is the Essence of the Triplicity of the East? It's Essence- or Spirit- is Elemental Fire. Ezekiel says:
Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. [...] Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.
The Spirit of the Kherub- the Essence- was in the Wheel. And the Watchtowers each possess one Divine Name which rests in a round pattern in it's very heart- the Divine Name which is regarded as the Watchtower's "King". That is the Elemental Force of the Tablet- the Spirit of the Kherub, and it rests in a Wheel.
Of course, the "King" Name of the Tablet doesn't quite rest in the pattern of a circle, but in that of a spiral. Also, the Wheels ("Auphanim" in Hebrew) are actually an Angelic Order. As an amazing point of interest, the Auphanim were also known in some Medieval circles as "Galgalim", which translates as "Swirlings" or "Spirals"- thus illuminating the mystery of the spiral-pattern of the "King" Name. The Auphanim Themselves are traditionally the Angels of the Zodiac. Ezekiel:
As for their rims, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rims were full of stars round about them four.
This is obviously the four-fold Wheel of the Zodiac being described. In Ezekiel's Vision, the Wheel of Fire- holding the Essence of the Kherub- would govern the Fire Triplicity of the Zodiac. And, The "King" Divine Names of the Watchtowers are, indeed, to govern and call forth It's six Zodiacal Elders.
The Elders are Auphanic Rulers; note again how the Watchtowers are arranged: The "King" Name swirls in the very center, and the Names of the Elders seem to radiate outward from, and rotate around, that central Name. Again, Ezekiel:
The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the midst of a wheel.
This is likely a description of the night sky. The color of beryl might be the deep blue of space. The sky itself, if one traces the line of the horizon, appears as an immense wheel laying on its side (note that this is how the sky is drawn in horoscope charts). Yet, the belt of the zodiac arcs over the sky from one horizon to the other- as if it were a huge vertical wheel nested within the horizontal wheel of the sky. The wheel within a wheel.
Where it concerns Dee's Watchtowers, we see a Wheel (the "King" Name) in the midst of a Wheel (the Elders' Names). The "King" Name makes up the hub of the Wheel, and the Elders are It's six spokes. This also suggests that the Wheels of Ezekiel are one and the same with the Elders of Revelation- at least from the standpoint of Enochian Magick.
Thus I feel that the Watchtowers are the embodiment of the four Chaith haQodesh Themselves- and Their Wheels- as described to us by both Ezekiel and St. John- both Merkavah Mystics. I think everything I described above deals with the Zodiac mainly- and exists on the outer fringes of the Magickal Universe (i.e.- in Chockmah). This would include the entirety of the Great Cross of each Tablet, which are the Wings and Wheels of the Kherubs Themselves.
In light of the above, I further suggest the four "sub-quadrants" of each Watchtower are the parts of the Kherubs that actually touch the Earth in Malkuth. In fact, I feel very strongly that the four sub-quadrants are the four Faces of the Kherubs described by Ezekiel:
Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces and every onehad four wings [...] And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and the four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion to the right: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.
Even the four wings of Ezekiel's Vision (as opposed to the six wings of John's) are seen in the Watchtowers where the six Elder Names are grouped together upon the four arms of a cross.
For completeness: I further feel that the "Parts of the Earth" (which are mapped out upon the Watchtower Tablets) represent the Firmament upheld by the Kherubs in Ezekiel, and upon which the Throne rests. Also, the Heptarchia portion of Dee's system might embody the Powers of the Seven Spirits (actually Archangels) of God who are also mentioned in Revelation. All put together, I think we have the complete Merkavah Vision, and thus the very basis of the Enochian system.
Fellow Enochian scholar Tony Hutchins has suggested: "Indeed -even the order of the 4 beasts in Rev 4:7* goes lion, calf, man and eagle - just as you have fire, earth, air and water going around from east-south-west-north. Even Dee quotes Rev 4 in Theorem 24 of the Hieroglyphic Monad. It is quoted there as if it is the culmination of his book. I am sure Dee is nodding in affirmation at [this] work."
(*- "And the first Beast was like a lion, and the second Beast like a calf, and the third Beast had a face as a man, and the fourth Beast was like a flying eagle.")
As above, I again point out that the Elders upon the Watchtowers are Zodiacal in nature. This view comes mainly from my study of the Shem haMephoresh- the 72-fold Name of God- which is related to the Decans of the Zodiac. Tradition holds that the Elders of Revelation hold these Divine Names (each Elder with three of them inscribed on His crown). Thus is the Zodiacal association of the Elders apparent- with two Elders for each Sign. The next question, of course, is how to know which Signs the Elders are aligned with. First, I'll address the Watchtowers themselves.
Originally, I had attempted to place (for instance) all Air Signs in the Eastern Tablet, all Fire in the South, etc. However, there is no basis for this outside of Golden Dawn Tradition, so I had to do something more concrete. I attempted to see if the Parts of the Earth and their Zodiacal Kings would help (remember the Parts' Names are what the Watchtowers are composed of).....but after working them out I saw that the Signs were dispersed through the Watchtowers in no particular pattern. And, the reasoning for this is clear when one reads the Call of the Aethyrs- which deals with separating the Forces of the Earth into chaos.
And so, I continued with the most simple concept of all: I wrote the 12 Signs down in their circular order as seen in the sky: with Leo in the East, Taurus in the South, Aquarius in the West, and Scorpio in the North. Then, dividing this Circle into four parts, I ended up with four groups of three: a Cardinal, a Fixed, and a Mutable. However, I later discovered that this method of writing down the Zodiac was in error. The old Grimoires did not list the Zodiac in proper order in such cases- and the Shem haMephoresh provides the best example: the Zodiac is written down by way of the Tetragram- with the Triplicities grouped together by Element. First Fire, then Water, then Air, and then Earth.
As for Enochian material, see the figure given on James' page 103 (The Holy City which is mentioned in Revelation), where the 12 Zodiacal Kings are placed 3 to a direction, and each associated to a Hebrew Tribe. Then, see Agrippa (whom Dee was familiar with and influenced by) for the Zodiacal associations of those Tribes. You will see that even Dee placed the Fire Triplicity upon the Eastern wall of the Holy City, Water in the North, Air in the West, and Earth in the South. This is the zodiacal attribution of Elements to Directions- and is applied to the Watchtowers as well.
Another interesting point presented itself to me one day as I was working with the Watchtowers (specifically the Elders' attributions- which will be covered below). I have stressed above that the Signs of the Zodiac are not to be listed in their proper celestial order- but instead grouped by Triplicity in each Watchtower Tablet. However, if one looks deeply enough, one finds that the proper celestial order of the Signs is in fact preserved in the Tablets after all. Simply begin with Aries in the upper-left-hand Tablet. Then, move clockwise to find Taurus in the next Tablet; clockwise from that is found Gemini; clockwise from there will grant us Cancer; and finally we return to the Fire Tablet for Leo. This continues, of course, for the entire Zodiacal Belt- each Sign falling in order clockwise around the Great Table. I feel it significant that the Fire-Earth-Air-Water pattern of Elements as found in the Zodiacal Belt is preserved in the Watchtowers. No other arrangement of Watchtowers to directions, Elements to directions, or Signs to Watchtowers reveals this perfect pattern. Below is Dee's original arrangement of the Watchtowers, with the Zodiacal Signs illustrated:
East ("Oro" Tablet)
Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
("Mor" Tablet) South
Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo
Cancer, Scorpius, Pisces
North ("Oip" Tablet)
Libra, Aquarius, Gemini
("Mph" Tablet) West
An important observation: If you stand the Great Table on it's lower right point- you will note that (if you are facing east) each Tablet aligns to the compass points correctly, as well as to the "Grimoiric" association of Elements to directions (again- as shown by Dee's illustration of the Holy City labeled "Ordo Dispersi"). Further, this matches the diagram of an Enochian Magickal Circle given by Dee (see James p. 119)- where it is now obvious that the large square in the center marked "Terra" is actually the Great Table of the Earth (Terra) itself.
(Note: This represents a breaking-point in my Discourse. What has been discussed so far represents what I feel are concrete discoveries about the Enochian system. That is to say, I understand this symbolic structure as intentional within the Watchtowers. My work has only been to discover it.
What follows, on the other hand, represents my own ideas concerning the attribution of zodiacal forces within the Watchtowers. Since writing this, however, I have come to view the system in a less particular manner. While one could utilize the attributions I suggest below, there is nothing in the Dee-purist system that would make such a thing necessary.
The next problem is the assignment of the Elders to specific Signs. When considering the 24 Elders, one notes that their Names fall upon three lines in the Watchtowers called the Lines of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Considering that the Watchtowers are so obviously Astrological, one can not escape the idea that these three lines represent Cardinal, Mutable, and Fixed Signs:
The Father: The Cardinal Force of the Universe
The Son: Yeshuah is the Spiritual Redeemer. That is not so much the "union" of the Spiritual and Physical, as it is the TRANSITION between the two. He is Tiphareth, where Spirit becomes matter, and matter becomes Spirit. He is Initiation and change. This is what the Mutable Signs are all about.
The Holy Spirit: This is the force that binds the Universe together. In older times, it was known as the Shekinah- the Divine Presence of God. Not just the Unifying Force of the Universe.... but the very Universe itself! This, then, is best attributed to the Fixed Signs.
And thus we can make some assumption as to which two Elders are related to each Sign. For instance, the two Elders upon the Line of the Father in the Eastern Tablet will be the Elders of the Cardinal Sign Aries. Those on the Line of the Son would be the Elders of Mutable Sagittarius. Finally, those on the Line of the Holy Spirit could be the Elders of Fixed Leo.
However, we can not end on that point: it is also significant that each Watchtower contains three Divine-Names; which has been suggested should each Govern one of the Signs as well. How? Observe:
The 3-lettered Name: This is a Trinity. In Christian thought, the Trinity (or God), is the Prime Mover, the Source, the Cardinal Force. Thus, this is the God Name of the Cardinal Signs.
The 4-lettered Name: This is just as obvious. We have the number four, the Cross, the square, the four Elements, Earth, etc. Four is a very fixed and stable number, a balance of two Dualities in equal force. Thus, this is the Gad-Name of the Fixed Signs.
The 5 Lettered Name: This one is not so obvious at first. Five is simply the number 4 with an added unit in it's center. This added unit is a point of transition between the two Dualities. Thus, it is actually three Forces (two dualities, and the unit of transition) or another Trinity. It is a new beginning, which is a direct mutation of the original. All of this, it just so happens, relates perfectly to the Pentagrammaton. "Yeshuah" (YHShVH) is simply the Four Lettered Name of God, with the Transformative Fire of Shin added between its two Dualities. Thus, this is the God Name of the Mutable Signs.
And this ends the basic outline. Below is the data from these above calculations. Each quadrant of the heavens is shown with its associated "King" Divine Name. Then follow my tentative Zodiacal attributions for each Godname and pair of Elders. Lastly, I have included the Zodiacal King and his proper direction for each astrological sign. (These Kings and their signs and directions are not my own work, but are drawn directly from Dee's diaries.)
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