...a wonder cabinet, you see, before Linaius, before modern scientific classification these great patrons of the arts and natural sciences, they would just collect weird stuff. And that was all you could say about it. I mean, it was rhinoceros horns, fossil amenities, broken pieces of statues from antiquity, giant insects from Southern India, seashells, all this stuff would just be thrown together in these wundercabina, these wonder cabinets. Rudolph was a great patron of the arts. Well, Kelly sent the word that he and Dee had perfected the alchemical process and Rudolph immediately paid their way to Prague and patronized them very lavishly over a number of months but then they didn't seem to be coming through and he rented, he ordered a castle put to their disposal, in Bohemia and they still weren't able to come through. The Voynitch manuscript figures in here too because Kelly's entre to Dee was that he had a manuscript in an unknown language and I believe that this probably was the Voynitch manuscript. The Voynitch manuscript turns up in the estate of Rudolph and the very month that he paid 14,000 gold ducats for it to persons unknown, Dee, who was always writing back to the Elizabethan court hounding them to send money, entered into his account book that they received 14,000 ducats from an unknown source.
Dee was able to talk himself out of this alchemical imprisonment but not before he had written a book called the Hieroglyphic Monad. You have to understand the importance of this. As late as the 1920s in England in the better schools of England, like Eton, when you studied geometry, you studied Euclid's works and Euclid's geometry was always preceded by Dee's preface to Euclid. Until the 1920s every English school child studied this. He was a master mathematician as well as these other things. This was how he was able to produce these navigation instruments. So Dee, while imprisoned in Bohemia, wrote a book called the Hieroglyphic Monad in which he proposed to prove, through a series of occult theorems, that a certain diagram, unfortunately I didn't bring the hieroglyphic monad, but it's basically the symbol of, you know the symbol for mercury which looks like the symbol for female but you put horns on it and then there were some adumbrations to that. By a series of theorems he worked up this hieroglyphic monad and he initiated a couple of young men named Johan Anreae and Michael Maier into the mysteries of the hieroglyphic monad. Then he was able to get out of Bohemia and he went back to England.
Kelly, who had made much more extravagant claims, Rudolph kept at work on the alchemical opus and Kelly became more and more desperate to escape and one night in 1587 he crept out on the parapet of this Bohemian castle and a roof tile slipped beneath his feet and he fell to his death and became, as far as I can tell, alchemy's only true martyr. Dee returned to England, he was now very old, he died at Mortlake in 1606. Elizabeth died in 1604, Shakespeare was happening, Sir Philip Sidney was happening through this period. John Dee reputedly had over 6,000 books in his library. He had more books than any man in England. He had books, we have a partial catalog of his library, he had books that do not exist now. He had Roger Bacon manuscripts because when Henry the eighth kicked the Catholic Church out of England, the Northumberian monasteries were looted by the Earl of Northumberland and basically Dee was allowed to pick over the loot from these monasteries and there were Roger Bacon manuscripts which perished when Dee's library was burned by an angry mob while he was on the continent because he was suspected of being a wizard. He was the model for Faust in the later resingence of Faust and whenever you see an old man with a white beard and a pointed cap, this image is a referent to Dee.
Well, Elizabeth died in 1604, I believe, and James the first became king of England. James was a peculiar character. The wags of the time liked to say "Elizabeth was king and now James is queen!" Not only that, he hated occultism, he had no patience with the whole magical court that Elizabeth had assembled around herself. Meanwhile, in 1606, a very mysterious document began to circulate in Europe and in England called the Fama, this is the first word in a string of Latin words, Fama, and two years later the confessio. What these were were announcements that an alchemical brotherhood was seeking recruits. These are the primary documents of Rosicrucianism.
Rosicrucianism was based on a fiction and a fictional person, Christian Rosencrentz, who was imagined to have lived almost 200 years earlier, in the 1540s, and to have been a great alchemist. It was claimed that his tomb had been recently opened and that there were books inside it which set the stage for the alchemical revolution of the world. Notice how this occult world always tries to reach back in time to give itself validity. Christian Rosencrentz was claimed to be the author of a series of books, the chief of which is called The Chemical Wedding. What this was all about, I believe, and the Rosacrucian enlightenment makes it fairly clear, was that Dee, during the period that he had been in Bohemia, had set out to lay the groundwork for an alchemical revolution in Central Europe and he had made Johan Andreae and Michael Maier his agents in this plot. And it was a plot, a plot to meddle in European history and to turn the Protestant reformation toward an alchemical completion. They felt that Luther and Has(sp?) and these people had only gone so far and that the culmination of throwing off the yoke of the church would be the establishment of an alchemical kingdom in central Europe.
The target, then, of the attention of Michael Maier and Johan Andreae and a number of these alchemists became the young Frederick, he's called Frederick the Elector Palatine. He was a prince of the Northern League in Germany, he ruled in Heidleberg, and Heidleberg, as you know, is a thousand-year-old university city and I believe I mentioned that the alchemical press of Theodore Debry(sp?) was operating out of Heidleberg. Heidleberg became a magnet for all the occult thinking going on in Europe and all the Puffers and alchemists, the gold-makers, the philosophers, the charlatans, they all converged on Heidleberg and Andreae and Maier were advisors of the young Frederick and they steered him, by a series of political manipulations too complex to tell, toward a marriage with the daughter of James the first of England, who was named Elizabeth, interestingly enough. So, Frederick the Elector made Elizabeth, the daughter of James of England, his wife. Frederick here made a serious miscalculation because he thought that if James would give the hand of his daughter in marriage that this was his way of blessing this alchemical conspiracy. Actually, what was on James' mind is that he was about to give his son, in marriage, to a Spanish princess of the Hapsburg line, a Catholic. In other words he was playing both sides against each other. He was not giving the green light to an alchemical revolution at all. But, it was assumed so.
Then, in 1617, 1618, Rudolph, remember Rudolph, the emperor, he finally dies at a very ripe old age. And at that time, the Protestant league, which was made up of these princes of these small principalities scattered across Germany and Poland, they actually elected the emperor, it was not by right of primogenitor, but by election by what was called the Northern League, this league of princes. Frederick and his alchemical cohorts had done their alchemical groundwork very skillfully and they were able to engineer the election of Frederick to emperor of the empire and he became Frederick the Elector Palatine of Bohemia and this set the stage for an episode called the episode of the Winter King and Queen.
One of the great, after Nicholas and Pernelle Flamel, this is one of the great romantic stories of alchemy. They moved their court from Heidleberg to Prague and all the alchemists went with and they assumed that English armies would support them if there was any squak from the Hapsburgs and in the Winter of 1618 they ruled there and began to lay the groundwork for the transformation of Northern Europe into an alchemical kingdom. The problem was, as I said, the faithlessness and duplicity of James the first of England. He did not support them, in spite of the fact that the fate of his daughter hung in the balance and by May of 1619 the local Bishop of the Catholic church was fully aroused and word had been sent to Madrid and the Hapsburgs raised an army and laid siege to Prague. In the late Summer, the Mid Summer of 1619, the Winter King and Queen were driven from Prague, the city fell to Catholic forces, the alchemical presses were smashed and Michael Maier, who was like the prime minister of this scene, was murdered in an alley in Prague and the entire alchemical dream went down the drain. Frederick was killed in the siege of the city and Elizabeth escaped to the Hague where she lived in exile for many years.
Till recently, I thought that that was the end of the story but there is a coda that is very amusing, if nothing else. In that Hapsburgian army, there was a young soldier of fortune, only 19 years old, still wet behind the ears, knowing nothing, happily soldiering and wenching his way around Europe while he decided what to do with himself and his name was Rene Descartes, a Frenchman. Descartes, in his later years, reminisced about his period as a soldier in this army and I like to think that it was Descartes who actually murdered Maier. One of my ambitions is to write a play or a novel in which these two confront each other in a back alley of burning Prague and carry on a debate about the future of Europe before Michael Maier falls to the sword of Descartes. That may be apocryphal, but what is not apocryphal is that this Hapsburgian army, having laid siege and destroyed the alchemical kingdom, began to retreat across Europe that Fall and by Mid-September was camped near the town of Uolm in Southern Germany. By a strange coincidence, Uolm is the birthplace of Einstein some hundreds of years later. But on the night of September 16th, Descartes had a dream and in this dream an angel appeared to him, this is documented by his own hand, and the angel said to Descartes, "The conquest of nature is to be achieved through measure and number." And that revelation lay the basis for modern science. Rene Descartes is the founder of the distinction between the res verins and the res extensia, the founder of modern science, the founder of the scientific method that created the philosophical engines that created the modern world. How many scientists, working at their workbenches, understand that an angel chartered modern science. It's the alchemical angel which will not die. It returns again and again to guide the destinies of nations and peoples toward an unimaginable conclusion.
That's not the last time that this angelic intervention in the history of science has occurred. Some of you may know the story in the 19th century of Cuclai(sp?), the German chemist who was struggling with the molecular structure of Benzene, couldn't get it straight, and then he had a dream in which he saw the ouroboric snake take its tail in its mouth and he awoke from that dream with the carbon ring burning in his mind. Well, the carbon ring, the six sided heptadle(?) state of the form of the carbon ring is the basis of all organic chemistry. And I mentioned earlier Farraday and Helmholtz and the rise of the electro magnetic field. The point I'm trying to make is that, however rational we may assume ourselves to be, however rational we may assume modern science to be, it is all really founded on angelic revelation, demonic intercession, and an extremely mysterious relationship between the human mind and the world of what science calls inert matter which, from this point of view, is revealed to be not inert at all but alive and pregnant with purpose for mankind.
The alchemical kingdom of Frederick the Elector, and then there were a series of adumbrations, of this kind of thinking, many of you may know about freemasonry and the many freemason revolts in Bohemia and Bavaria throughout the 16th and 17th century. Adam Weishauft and the illuminati is another effort to do this and even the royal society founded by Newton and Hook and those people was still an effort to redeem science for the spirit. So, the alchemical spirit lives on, it never really died, it's just that it has taken peculiar forms in our own day. I mentioned, I believe, last night that when you enter into nuclear chemistry the most literal dreams of the profane side of alchemy, the transformation of lead into gold, Has actually been achieved. It has no economic significance because the instrumentality to do it costs tens of millions of dollars but nevertheless, yes, in our time, lead had been changed into gold. So, that's basically what I wanted to say about this. I hope that there are questions and stuff that we can say about it.
To take you back to the Voynitch manuscript for a minute. There was something about it being a liturgical manual of some sort, is that your opinion?
Yes. This is kind of a footnote on all of this. Remember I said that Kelly's entre to Dee was that he had a mysterious book and you can tell from what I've said already, Dee was as big a sucker for books as I am. So this book, Kelly's story was that he had gone to sleep in the ruins of a Northumbrian monastery and slept in an open seplicar, a crypt of some sort, and when he awoke he found beneath him two things, a vial of red powder which he said was the transmissing powder, a necessary part of the alchemical process, and a book in an unknown language which he called the Gospel of Saint Dunstable, possibly because this monastery had been dedicated to Saint Dunstable. Now, Arthur Dee was John Dee's son and he said that, he became an alchemist in his own right, and he said when he was growing up he remembers that his father spent many hours puzzling over a book, as he put it, "all covered with hieroglyphics." But Dee, who elaborated the angelologic language called Enochean, never actually wrote or discussed the book that he had received from Kelly. It is definitely not written in Enochean. Enochean, when grammatically analyzed by computers, has a curious relationship to 16th century English. But when Dee and Kelly traveled to Europe they were talking up Roger Bacon, who was a 14th century English monk who had dabbled in alchemy, and they claimed to have Bacon manuscripts and Rudolph became very interested in this and wanted to obtain some of these Baconian manuscripts. I suspect that what happened is that Dee, by this point, had given up on deciphering the Gospel of Saint Dunstable and decided that he would palm it off on the emperor as a Bacon manuscript because he didn't want to give up a real Bacon manuscript because they were too valuable to him. So for 14,000 gold ducats this thing changed hands and Kelly and Dee and Ann were able to pay their bills and Rudolph had immense resources because of his position as emperor and he brought his cryptographers and decipherers on to work on this Gospel of Saint Dunstable and got nowhere.
Then, when Rudolph died, a mysterious book was numbered among the artifacts of his estate and I think we can assume that it's this book and one of the interesting things about this book is it has pages and pages of plant drawings. Over a 150 watercolors of plants, each carefully labeled, captioned in this unknown language. If you know anything about decipherment, this is what a decipherer dreams of because if you have a picture of the thing and a caption it doesn't take too much smarts to figure out what's going on. Nevertheless, this was completely unhelpful. A third of the manuscript has pseudo astrological material, in other words what looked like drawings of stars and stellar shells but when carefully analyzed dissolve into meaninglessness, cannot be associated with anything, and then a third of the manuscript shows little naked ladies in what can only be described as elaborate plumbing systems and it was thought at one time that these must be drawings of the humors of the body in the liver, that these little naked women represented spirits moving inside the human body and then somebody else's guess was it must show an obscure form of German hydro therapy because, you know, the Germans, if you've ever been to Baden Baden or Marianbad or these places where people take the waters, well those places are old, old. And all this stuff is captioned and there are even tables of contents which again you would think would yield to decipherment and so when Rudolph died, because of the botanical material in this book, it passed to the court botanist, a man named Marici and he got nowhere with it.
Then in the early 16th century a great alchemist and polymath, some of whose art we'll see this evening, was Heinrich Kundrath(sp?), and Heinrich Kundrath was fascinated by artificial languages and he heard about the Voynitch manuscript and we have a whole batch of letters from Kundrath to the keepers of the estate of the emperor trying to obtain this manuscript, which he finally did obtain and then at that point he makes no further mention of it in his diaries the conclusion being that he, too, could get nowhere with this thing, it just defied decipherment. Well, in 1619, at the outbreak of the 30 year's war, and this is what I forgot to mention in my earlier discussion, this episode of the Winter King and Queen is one way of debating the 30 year's war. It's usually considered to be the moment when a certain personage was hurled from a third story window in Prague and then fighting broke out in the streets but really the episode of the Winter King and Queen brought the thing to a head. Well, in 1619, to avoid being caught up in the 30 year's war, Kundrath decided to take holy orders and become a Jesuit and so he gave his library, which was compendious, to the monastery he joined which was a monastery in Southern Italy and there this thing sat until 1906 when a New York rare book dealer named Alfred Voynitch bought the entire contents of this monastic library and when he got it all back to New York and cataloged it, it was all very predictable 16th century theological and alchemical speculation except here was this book in an unknown language and Voynitch kept it throughout his life and then when he died he gave it to Yale and it is to this day at the Benikee rare book room at Yale.
In the 1960s the CIA became interested in it because the CIA is in the business of code making and breaking, a huge amount of energy goes into this. If you know anything about the enigma project in WWII you know that vast energies go into the making of unbreakable codes and so they very systematically sought out all examples of encrypted material throughout history and just lickety-split deciphered it, one after another. All occult and magical codes known to exist in Europe can be traced back to one person, virtually to one person, to Trithemius, Bishop of Spawnheim who was the great teacher of Henry Cornelius Agrippa.
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