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Enochian is a constructed language created by the magicians John Dee, an Elizabethan period courtier and diplomat with occult interests; and Edward Kelley, an ex-convict and purported spirit medium, over a period of years in the late 16th century starting in 1583. It purports to be the language of angels. Dee called it the "Angelic" or "Celestial language", and Dee believed it to be the original language spoken by Adam before the Fall of Man. Kelley revealed the characters and limited body of Enochian texts to Dee by scrying.
The first Enochian texts are collected in a book called Liber Logaeth, the "book of speech from God", and were left untranslated by Dee and Kelley. A more important text was produced the following year in Krakow; these are a set of 19 Enochian poems called "Angelic Keys" or "Angelic Calls", said to unlock the power of 49 panels presented in the Liber Logaeth. Emericus Casaubon published a partial transcript of Dee and Kelley's diaries containing their work with the Enochian spirits as A True & Faithful Relation of What Passed for Many Yeers between Dr. John Dee and Some Spirits in 1659.
The orthography is somewhat similar to Hebrew and other Semitic languages; various vowel sounds must be inserted by the speaker. For example, Dee's text of the original First Call transliterates to:
- Ol sonf vorsg, goho Iad balt, lansh calz vonpho...
but in speech this is realized as:
- Ol sonuf vaoresaji, gohu IAD Balata, elanusaha caelazod vonpho...
which is supposed to mean:
- I reign over you, says the God of Justice, in power exalted above the firmaments of wrath.
I hope you aren't a lip reader.
Various linguists such as Donald Laycock and Egil Asprem have examined the translated parts of the Enochian corpus. Laycock notes that the phonology of Enochian texts shows prosodic features that are rare in text, but frequently found in poetry and incantations, and are also found in the speech produced by glossolalia.
Asprem notes that the syntax of the Enochian texts is nearly identical to English. Only two verbs recur frequently in the texts; one is 'to be' and appears highly irregular. It has both hard and soft values for 'c' and 'g'; the sound /ʃ/ is written 'sh' as in English rather than having a separate alphabetic character. Asprem observes that the difficult pronunciations of the original Enochian texts resemble what would result if you picked, say, every tenth letter from an intelligible text in a known alphabet language; you would get a random collection of letters, with odd clusters of both vowels and consonants, distributed by chance.
Enochian continues to be in use by a small number of magicians working the traditions of Western esotericism. The Enochian Keys have also been borrowed by Anton LaVey's version of Satanism. A Satanic reworking of the text of the Keys figures in LaVey's Satanic Bible, which largely consists of LaVey striking out references to God and angels, and swapping in Satan and demons. Further analysis has shown that LaVey made the mistake of only swapping the references in the English translation, leaving the Enochian form untouched, and ultimately if performed by the reader the name of the Christian God, YHWH, is still vibrated.
- Egil Asprem, "Enochian" language: A proof of the existence of angels? (2006). skepsis.no.
- Donald Laycock, The Complete Enochian Dictionary. A Dictionary of the Angelic Language Revealed to Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley. Weiser (1994). ISBN 1578632544
- James R. Lewis, "Diabolical Authority: Anton LaVey, The Satanic Bible and the Satanist "Tradition". Marburg Journal of Religion, 7:1 (September 2002)
- Enochian materials at The Magickal Review
- The Enochian Keys
- YouTube video of Aleister Crowley reciting the first Enochian key.