Edward Kelly

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This article needs rather more information within the context of Thelema or the life and works of Aleister Crowley. You can help by expanding it.

Edward Kelly(1555 - 1597) was a spirit medium who worked with John Dee in his magical investigations. Besides the ability to summon spirits or angels on a crystal ball, which John Dee so valued, Kelly also claimed to possess the secret of transmuting base metals into gold.

When Kelly dropped into Dee's life, in 1582, he carried with him a cryptic book and samples of some red and white powders. These items had allegedly been robbed from the tomb of a medieval bishop. With the powders (whose secret was presumably hidden in the book) he could prepare a red "tincture" which was supposed to turn metals into gold. He reportedly demonstrated its power a few times over the years, including in Bohemia (present Czech Republic) where he and Dee resided for many years.

Kelly's association with Dee came to an abrupt end in 1589, when Kelly claimed to have received orders from the "angels", messages suggesting that they should share everything - including Dee's wife. However, she would not submit to this arrangement, and Dee (who, after much soul searching, had felt it necessary to comply) concluded that he had been deceived by evil spirits, ceased his angelical investigations, and eventually resolved to go back to England.

By the time of Dee's departure, Kelly had already managed to convince Emperor Rudolf II of Bohemia to finance his experiments, with the aim of uncovering the secret of the powder's manufacture (whose supply had been nearly exhausted over the years). But eventually Rudolf tired of waiting for results and had Kelly locked up in the tower of his castle. While trying to escape through the window, with an insufficiently long rope, the hapless alchemist broke a leg, was taken back to his prison, and died from the injury shortly thereafter.

Kelly's "angels" sometimes communicated in a special "angelic" or Enochian language. Dee and Kelly claimed the language was given to them by angels.

Kelly's flamboyant biography, and his relative notoriety among English-speaking historians (chiefly because of his association with Dee) may have made him the source for the folkloric image of the alchemist-charlatan.


Document Source

  • This page was originally sourced from Thelemapedia. Retrieved May 2009.