Prague Minos Guide

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16. - 17. century

John Dee

Famous mathematician, astronomer, alchemist, and student of the occult
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Description

He was one of the most significant occultists of the 16th century, while at the same time straddling “serious” sciences such as mathematics, astronomy and geography. He belonged to the most educated people of his time and was for some time very influential in the princely court of England, as well as in Emperor Rudolph II’s court in Prague. He was also interested in Hermetic philosophy.
He is said to have enjoyed the trust of the English queen Elizabeth I, working for her as a spy under the codename “007,” which would later inspire the codename for possibly the most notorious agent in fictional literature, James Bond.
Dee came from a Welsh family living in London. He displayed great talent for various scientific fields in his childhood, which helped him succeed as a student. After school he spent some time traveling around Europe and he made friends among the scientific elite. Financially he wasn’t doing too well, but his situation quickly improved when in 1558 Elizabeth I ascended the throne. He was given a high position in her court and began to devote himself to experiments in the fields of mathematics and navigation, as well as occultism and Hermeticism. In the 1580’s his interest

focused on the understanding of the secrets of nature and he concentrated his work on the supernatural, he among others tried to contact angels through a crystal ball. In 1582 he met the young and talented Edward Kelley (named Talbot at the time). Together they initiated infamous spiritual conferences and set out on travels throughout Europe. Dee spent some time in the court of Emperor Rudolph II, but left after an argument with Kelley, which was most likely intentionally instigated by Kelley who told Dee that the Angels wished they would share their wives. Dee left Bohemia and returned to England where he lived the rest of his life as a college rector and administrator of his own personal library, supposedly the second largest in all of Europe.
Dee was a Christian who was deeply influenced by Hermeticism and the Renaissance. He was fascinated by the secrets of Creation and this laid the framework for his immense interest in the supernatural and communication with Angels. His ultimate goal was one of unification – he tried to find characteristics connecting Protestantism, which at the time was booming, with Catholicism, and thus to renew Christianity as it was in its beginnings.

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