THE HIEROGLYPHIC MONAD
by Dr. JOHN DEE
The renowned British alchemist and mathematician Dr. John Dee wrote this treatise in thirteen days in 1564. The essay explains his discovery of the monad (unity) underlying the universe as expressed in a hieroglyph or symbol. Dee called this “Hieroglyphic Monad,” a “magical parable” based on the Doctrine of Correspondences, which lies at the heart of alchemy. Through careful meditation and study of the glyph, he promised, its secrets may be slowly revealed. This version was translated from the Latin by J.W. Hamilton-Jones in 1947.
To the most excellent Majesty of the famous King Maximilian.
Neither the circle without the line, nor the line without the point, can be artificially produced. It is, therefore, by virtue of the point and the Monad that all things commence to emerge in principle. That which is affected at the periphery, however large it may be, cannot in any way lack the support of the central point.
Therefore, the central point which we see in the center of the hieroglyphic Monad produces the Earth, round which the Sun, the Moon, and the other planets follow their respective paths. The Sun has the supreme dignity, and we represent him by a circle having a visible center.
We see here that the Sun and the Moon are supported upon the right-angled Cross. This Cross may signify very profoundly, and for sufficient reasons in our hieroglyph, either the Ternary or the Quaternary. The Ternary is made by the two straight lines having a copulative center. The Quaternary is produced by the four straight lines enclosing four right angles. Either of these elements, the lines or the right angles, repeated twice, therefore, afford us in the most secret manner the Octad, which I do not believe was known to our predecessors, the Magi, and which you should study with great attention. The threefold magic of the first Fathers and the wise men consisted in Body, Soul and Spirit. Therefore, we have here the first manifested Septenary, that is to say, two straight lines with a common point which make three, and the four lines which converge to form the central point in separating the first two.
The following figure of the zodiacal sign Aries , in use amongst the astronomers, is the same for all the world (a sort of erection both cutting and pointed), and it is understood that it indicates the origin of the fiery triplicity in that part of the sky. Therefore, we have added the astronomical sign Aries to signify that in the practice of this Monad the use of fire is required. We finish the brief hieroglyphic consideration of our Monad, which we would sum up in one only hieroglyphic context:
The Sun and the Moon of this Monad desire that the Elements in which the tenth proportion will flower, shall be separated, and this is done by the application of Fire.
The very ancient wise men and Magi have transmitted to us five hieroglyphical signs of the planets, all of which are composed out of the signs used for the Moon and the Sun, together with the sign of the Elements and the hieroglyphical sign of Aries, the Ram, which will become apparent to those who examine these figures:
Each one of these signs will not be difficult to explain according to the hieroglyphical manner in view of our fundamental principles, already posited. To begin with, we will speak in paraphrases of those which possess the characteristics of the Moon: following that, of those which possess a solar character. When our lunar nature, by the science of the Elements, had accomplished the first revolution round our Earth, then it was called, mystically, Saturn.
Afterwards, at the following revolution, it was named Jupiter, and holds a very secret figure. Then the Moon, developed by yet a third journey, was represented very obscurely again by this figure which it was their custom to call Mercury . You see how this is Lunar. That it must be conducted through a fourth revolution will not be contrary to our most secret design, whatever certain sages may say. In this manner the pure magical spirit, by its spiritual virtue, will perform the work of the albification at the place of the Moon; to us alone and as it were in the middle of a natural day he will speak hieroglyphically without words, introducing and imprinting these four geogonic figures in the pure Earth very simply prepared by us: this last figure being in the middle of all the others.
In the progression we will notice this other Mercury will appear who is truly the twin brother of the first: for by the complete Lunar and Solar magic of the Elements, the Hieroglyph of this Messenger speaks to us very distinctly, and we should examine it carefully and listen to what it says. And (by the Will of God) it is the Mercury of the Philosophers, the greatly celebrated microcosm and ADAM. Therefore, some of the most expert were inclined to place him in a position of, and give him a rank equal to, the Sun himself.
This most secret mystery is clearly and perfectly shown in our Monad by the hieroglyphic figure of Taurus, which is here represented, and by that of Mars, which we have indicated in Theorem XII and Theorem XIII by the Sun joined to a straight line towards the sign of Aries. In this theory another kabbalistic analysis of our Monad offers itself, because the true and ingenius explanation is this: the exaltations of the Moon and of the Sun ate made by means of the science of the Elements.
Note. — There are two things which should be particularly observed: first, that the hieroglyphic figure of Taurus is the same as the diphthong of the Greeks [i.e. -ou], which was always used in terminating the singular gender; secondly, that by a simple transposition of place we show the letter alpha twice, by a circle and a half-circle, being simply tangents which touch one another as shown.
If, through the common point where the opposite angles meet in our Rectilineal, Rectangular, and Equilateral Cross, we imagine a straight line dividing it into two parts, then on either side of the line thus traversed we find the parts are perfectly equal and similar. And these parts are similar in shape to that letter of the Romans which is regarded as the fifth of the vowels, and which was frequently used by the most ancient Latin philosophers to represent the number five.
This, I conceive, was not done by them without good reason, because it is in fact the exact half of our Decad. Of these parts of the figure thus duplicated by the hypothetical division of the Cross, we must conclude it to be reasonable that each part represents the quinary, although one is upright and the other reversed in imitation of the multiplication of the square root which comes in here in a marvelous way as the circular number, that is to say, the quinary, from which we find the number twenty-five is produced (because this letter is the twentieth of the alphabet and the fifth of the vowels).
We will now consider another aspect of this same Equilateral Cross — that which follows is based upon the position shown in our Monadic Cross. Let us suppose a similar division of the Cross into two parts be made as in the drawing. Now we see the germinating shape of another letter of the Latin alphabet — the one upright, the other reversed and opposite. This letter is used (after the ancient custom of the Latins) to represent the number fifty. From this, it seems to me, we establish our Decad of the Cross, for this is placed at the summit of all the mysteries, and it follows that this Cross is the hieroglyphic sign of perfection. Therefore, enclosed within the quinary force is the power of the Decad, out of which comes the number fifty as its own product.
Oh, my God, how profound are these mysteries! And the name E L is given to this letter! And for this very reason, we see that it responds to the decadal virtue of the Cross, because, starting from the first letter of the alphabet, L is the tenth letter, and counting backwards from the letter X, we find that it falls into the tenth place, and since we show that there are two parts of the Cross, and considering now their numerical virtue, it is quite clear how the number one hundred is produced. And if by the law of squares these two parts be multiplied together, they give a product of 2500. This square compared with the square of the first circular number, and applied to it, gives a difference of one hundred, which is the Cross itself explained by the square of its Decad, and is recognized as one hundred. Therefore, as this is contained within the figure of the Cross, it also represents unity. By the study of these theories of the Cross, the most dignified of all, we are thereby induced to utilize this progression, viz. one — ten — one hundred, and this is the decadal proportion of the Cross as it appears to us.
Here you will note that the miserable alchemists must learn to recognize their numerous errors and to understand what is the water of the white of egg, what is the oil of the yoke of egg, and what we mean by calcined egg-shells. These inexpert impostors must learn in their despair to understand what are meant by these and many other similar expressions. Here we have shown almost all the proportions which correspond to Nature herself. This is the same Eagle’s Egg which the scarab formerly broke because of the injury which the cruelty and violence of this bird caused to timid and primitive man, for this bird pursued some of them who were running to the cavern where the scarab dwelt, to implore his aid. The scarab wondered in what manner he alone could revenge such insolence, and, being of an ardent character, prepared to accomplish his purpose by constancy and determination, for he was short of neither power nor intelligence. The scarab pursued the eagle resolutely and made use of this very subtle trick: he let fall his ordure in the bosom of Jupiter where the egg was deposited, with the result that the God in getting rid of it threw the egg to the ground, where it was broken. The scarab by this method would have completely exterminated the whole family of eagles from the Earth had not Jupiter, in order to avoid such a calamity, resolved that, during that part of the year when the eagles watch over their eggs, no scarab should come flying near them. Therefore, I counsel those who are ill-treated by the cruelty of this bird, that they learn the very useful art from these solar insects (Heliocantharis) who live concealed and hidden for very long periods of time. By these indications and signs, for which they should be very thankful, they themselves will be able to take vengeance on their enemy. And I affirm (O King!) that it is not Aesop but Oedipus who prompts me, for he presented these things to worthy souls, and ventured for the first time to speak of these supreme mysteries of Nature. I know perfectly well that there have been certain men who, by the art of the scarab, have dissolved the eagle’s egg and its shell with pure albumen and have formed thereby a mixture of all; afterwards they have reduced this mixture to a yellow liquid, by a notable process, viz. by a ceaseless circulation just as the scarabs roll their balls of earth.
We therefore continue to expound the Quaternary of our Cross as we have indicated. Seek diligently to discover whether the point may be removed from the position in which we first find it. The mathematicians teach that it may be displaced quite simply. At the moment when it is separated the Quaternary remains, and it becomes much more clear and distinct to the eyes of all. This is not a part of its substantial proportions, but only the confused and superfluous point which is rejected and removed.
O Omnipotent Divine Majesty, how we Mortals are constrained to confess what great Wisdom and what ineffable mysteries reside in the Law which Thou hast made! Through all these points and these letters the most sublime secrets, and terrestrial arcane mysteries, as well as the multiple revelations of this unique point, now placed in the Light and examined by me, can be faithfully demonstrated and explained. This point is not superfluous within the Divine Trinity, yet when considered, on the other hand, within the Kingdom of the four Elements it is black, therefore corruptible and watery. O thrice and four times happy, the man who attains this (almost copulative) point in the Ternary, and rejects and removes that somber and superfluous part of the Quaternary, the source of vague shadows. Thus after some effort we obtain the white vestments brilliant as the snow.
Oh, Maximilian! May God, through this mystagogy, make you or some other scion of the House of Austria the most powerful of all when the time comes for me to remain tranquil in Christ, in order that the honor of His redoubtable name may be restored within the abominable and intolerable shadows hovering above the Earth. And now for fear that I myself should say too much I shall immediately return to the burden of my task, and because I have already terminated my discourse for those whose gaze is centered within the heart, it is now necessary to translate my words for those whose heart is centered within their eyes. Here, therefore, we can represent in some measure in the figure of the Cross that which we have already said. Two equal lines are equally and unequally crossed through the point of necessity which you see in A.
The four straight lines, as in B, produce a sort of vacuum where they are withdrawn from the central point, which was their common condition, in which state they were not prejudicial, the one to the other. This is the path by which our Monad, progressing through the Binary and the Ternary into the purified Quaternary, is reconstituted within itself, united in equal proportions, and which now shows that the whole is equal to its combined parts, for during the time that this takes place our Monad will not admit of other units or numbers, because it is self-sufficient, and exactly so, within itself; absolute in all numbers in the amplitude of which it is diffused, not only magically but also by a somewhat vulgar process employed by the artist, which produces great results in dignity and power within this selfsame Monad, which is resolved into its own first matter; whilst that which is foreign to its nature and to its natural hereditary proportions is segregated with the greatest care and diligence and rejected for ever amongst the imputities.
It is necessary to give careful consideration to the known forms D and C, which show that the essences are separated and distinct from the figure B: also we see that the Horns of the figure C are turned downwards towards the Earth. That part of D which illumines C is also towards the Earth, that is to say, downwards, in the center of which the solitary visible point alone is truly the Earth: finally these two figures D and C turned towards the lower end give a hieroglyphic indication of the Earth. Therefore, the Earth is made to represent, hieroglyphically, stability and fixation. I leave you to judge from this what is meant by C and D: from which you may take notice of a great secret. All the qualities which we have in the first place ascribed to the Sun and the Moon can here be given a perfect and very necessary interpretation, these two stars up to now having been placed in the superior position with the horns of the Moon raised on high; but we have already spoken of this.
We will now examine, according to the fundamentals of our hieroglyphic Art, the nature of this third figure B. First, we carry to the Crown the double crescent of the Moon which is our Aries, turned round in a mystical manner. Then follows the hieroglyphic sign of the Elements, which is attached to it. As to why we use the double Moon, it may be explained that it is according to the matter, which requires a double quantity of the Moon. We speak of those grades of which in their experiments the Philosophers could find no more than four, amongst all created substances, that is to say, to be, to live, to feel and to comprehend (esse, vivere, sentire et entelligere). In saying that the first two of these Elements are found here, we say that they are called argent vive (luna existens, viva), all life being subject to movement, there being six principles of movement. The Cross which is attached implies that in this artifice the Elements are requisite. We have told you many times that in our theory the hieroglyph of the Moon is like a semicircle, and on the contrary the complete circle signifies the Sun, whereas here we have two semicircles separated, but touching at a common point; if these are combined, as they can be by a certain art, the product can represent the circular plenitude of the Sun. From all those things which we have considered, the result is that we can summaries, and in hieroglyphic form, offer the following:
Argent vive, which must be developed by the magistery of the Elements, possesses the power of the solar force through the unification of its two semicircles combined by a secret art.
The circle, of which we have spoken and which we designate in the figure by the letter E, is thus accomplished and formed. You will recollect, we have said that the solar degree is not delivered to us ready to our hand by Nature, but that it is artificial and not produced by Nature, it being available to us in its first aspect in accordance with its proper nature (as in B) in two parts separated and dissolved, and not solidly united in the solar body. In fact, the semi-diameter of these half-circles is not equal to the semi-diameter of D and C, but much smaller. Everyone can see this from the manner in which we have drawn them in the diagram, from which it is clear that this same B has not as great an amplitude as D and C. The proportions in the figure confirm this, being by this means transformed into a circle from B into E. Therefore, there appears before our eyes the sign of Venus alone. We have already demonstrated by these hieroglyphical syllogisms that from B we cannot obtain the true D, and that the true C is not and cannot be completely within the nature of B; therefore, this of itself is not able to become the true “Argent Vive.” You may already doubt the subject of this life and of this movement, whether it is possible, in fact, to possess it naturally or not. However, as we have already explained to the wise, all those things which are said about B, in a similar manner will be at least analogical, and all that which we have briefly taught concerning C and D can be very well applied, by analogy, to this same B accompanied by its Elements. Indeed, that which we have attached to the nature of Aries, should exactly fit the case, because it carries this figure B, although reversed, at its summit, and that which is attached to the figure B, is the mystical figure of the Elements. Therefore, we see by this anatomy that from the body of our Monad alone, separated in this manner by our Art, this new Ternary is formed. This we cannot doubt, for the reason that the members which composed it reassemble and form amongst themselves of their own free will a monadic union and sympathy which is absolute. By this means we discover amongst these members a force which is both magnetic and active.
Finally I think it well to note here, by way of recreation, that this same B shows very clearly the same proportions in the malformed and rustic letter in that it carries visible points towards the top and at the front and that these letters are three in number, otherwise they number six, summarizing three times three: they are crude and malformed, unstable and inconstant, made in such a manner as to appear formed of a series of half-circles.
But the method of making these letters more stable and firm is in the hands of the literary experts. I have here placed before your eyes an infinitude of mysteries: I introduce a game but to interrupt a theory. Meanwhile I do not understand the efforts of certain people who rise up against me. Our Monad being reconstituted in its first mystical position and each one of its parts being ordered by Art, I advise and exhort them to search with zeal for that fire of Aries in the first triplicity, which is our equinoctial fire and which is the cause whereby our Sun may be elevated above his vulgar quality. Many other excellent things should also be studied in happy and wise meditations.
We now pass on to another subject; we wish to point the way, not only in a friendly but also in a faithful manner, to those other secrets upon which we must insist, before we lapse into silence and which, as we have said, comprise a most remarkable infinitude of other mysteries.
We inform you that in “oc” [the mark in the upper right hand corner resembling the symbol for Taurus lying on it’s side] is found a certain artificial vessel, formed of A and B with the line M. The exterior diameter is common to both A and B, and this is not different, as we see, from this the first letter of the Greek alphabet, except by a single transposition of the parts. We teach the true mystical sympathy first by the line, the circle, and the semicircle, and, as we have formerly said, this symmetry can only be formed of the circle and the semicircle, which are always joined for the same mystical purpose.
Lastly, that which is indicated by the Greek letter omega (W) is a small vessel containing the mysteries, which is never far from this last letter of the Greek alphabet now restored to its primitive mystagogy, and which is made by a single transposition of its component parts, consisting of two half-circles of equal size. Concerning the vulgar objects and necessities which are required in addition to the vessels, and the materials out of which they should be fashioned, it would be useless that we should treat of it here. Meanwhile a must be considered as if searching for the occasion to perform its function by a very secret and rapid spiral circulation and an incorruptible salt by which the first principle of all things is preserved, or better, that the substance which floats within the vitriol after its dissolution, shows the apprentice a primordial but very transitory specimen of our work, and if he is attentive, a very subtle and most effective way to prepare the work will be revealed to him.
Within the round glass vessel (Greek L) during the exercise of its particular function, all air must be excluded or it will be extremely prejudicial. The corollary of the small vessel (Greek letter W) is the agreeable man, ready, active, and well disposed at all times.
Everything which exists under the heaven of the Moon contains the principle of its own generation within itself and is formed from the coagulation of the four Elements, unless it be the primary substance itself, and this in several ways not known to the vulgar, there being nothing in the created world in which the Elements are in equal proportion or in equal force. But by means of our Art, they can be restored to equality in certain respects, as the wise well know; therefore, in our Cross, we make the parts equal and unequal. Another reason is that we can proclaim either similitude, or diversity, or unity, or plurality in affirming the secret properties of the equilateral Cross, as we have said before. If we were to expound all the reasons which we know, for the proportions established in this way, or if we were to demonstrate the causes by another method which we have not done, although we have done so sufficiently for the Sages, we should transcend the limits of obscurity which we have prescribed, not without reason, for our discourse.
Take any point, as A for example, draw a straight line through it in both directions, as CAK. Divide the line CK at A by a line at right angles, which we will call DAE. Now select a point anywhere on the line AK, let it be B, and one obtains the primary measurement of AB, which will be the common measure of our work. Take three times the length of AB and mark off the central line from A to C, which will be AC. Now take twice the distance between AB and mark it off on the line DAE at E and again at D, in such a way that the distance between D and E is four times the distance between A and B. Thus is formed our Cross of four Elements, that is to say, the Quaternary formed by the lines AB, AC, AD, AE. Now on the line BK take a distance equal to AD up the central line to I. With this point I as a center, and IB as the radius, describe a circle which cuts the line AK at R: from the point R towards K mark a distance equal to AB, let it be RK. From the point K draw a line at right angles to the central line on both sides, forming an angle on either side of AK, which will be PFK. From the point K measure in the direction of F a distance equal to AD, which will be KF: now with K as center and KF as radius describe a half-circle FLP, so that FKP is the diameter. Finally, at point C draw a line at right angles to AC sufficiently long in both directions to form OCQ. Now on the line CO we measure from C a distance equal to AB, which is CM, and with M as a center and MC as a radius we describe a semicircle CHO. And in the same manner on CQ, from the point C we measure a distance equal to AB which is CN, and from the center N, with CN as radius, we trace a semicircle CGQ, of which CNQ is the diameter. We now affirm, from this, that all the requisite measurements are found explained and described in our Monad.
It would be well to notice, you who know the distances of our mechanism, that the whole of the line CK is composed of nine parts, of which one is our fundamental, and which in another fashion is able to contribute towards the perfection of our work: then, again, all the diameters and semi-diameters must be designated here by suppositional lines hidden or obscured, as the geometricians say. It is not necessary to leave any center visible, the exception being the solar center, which is here marked by the letter I, to which it is unnecessary to add any letter. Meanwhile those who are adept at our mechanism can add something to the solar periphery, by way of ornament and not by virtue of any mystical necessity: for this reason it has not been formerly considered by us. This something is a boundary ring, necessarily a line parallel to the original periphery. The distance between these parallels may be fixed at a quarter or a fifth part of the distance AB. One may also give to the crescent of the Moon a form which this planet frequently assumes in the sky, after her conjunction with the Sun — that is to say, in the form of the Horns, which you will obtain if from the point K in the direction of R you measure the distance just mentioned, i.e. the fourth or fifth part of the line AB, and if from the point thereby obtained, as a center, you trace with the original lunar radius the second part of the lunar crescent, which joins the extremities at both ends of the first semicircle. You may perform a similar operation in respect of the positions M and N when erecting the perpendicular at each one of these center points; we can use the sixth part of AB or a little less, from which point, as the center, we describe two other semicircles, using the radius of the two first, MC and NC.
Lastly, the parallels may be traced at each side of the two lines of our Cross, each side at a distance from the center line of one-eighth to one-tenth part of the distance AB, in such a way that our Cross be in this manner formed into four superficial lines where the width is the fourth or the fifth part of this same line AB.
I have wished in some way to sketch these ornaments in the figure which each one may reproduce according to his own fancy. It is a condition, however, that you do not commit any fault, however small, against the mystical symmetry for fear of introducing by your negligence a new discipline into these hieroglyphic measurements; for it is very necessary that during the succeeding progression in time they must be neither disturbed nor destroyed. This is much more profound than we are able to indicate, even if we wished to do so, in this small book, for we teach Truth, the daughter of Time, God willing.
We will now expound methodically certain things which you may find on your way by practicing the proportions of our Monad. Then we will show by many examples the existence of four lines corresponding to the four lines of our Cross, and which in this consideration we are not able simply to announce, because of the proportions and the particular and mystical results which are produced in another fashion, from the Quaternary of these same lines. And thirdly, we will show that there exist within Nature certain useful functions determined by God by means of numbers, which we have happily obtained and which are explained either in this theorem, or in others, contained in this little book.
Finally, we will insert other things in an opportune place which, if they are conveniently understood, will produce fruits most abundantly. We now abruptly conclude:
Of the Pythagorean Quaternary
24 possible permutations.
The Pythagorean sum is 10.
A complete addition of the parts yields 30.
I tell thee, O King, this operation will be useful unto thee in many circumstances, whether in the study of Nature or in the affairs of the government of men; for it is that which I am accustomed to use with the greatest of pleasure in the Tziruph or Themura of the Hebrews.
|Of the artificial quaternary:
It was because of the true effect of this that four illustrious men, friends of Philosophy, were upon an occasion together in the great work. One day they were astonished by a great miracle in this thing, and forthwith dedicated themselves from that day forward to sing praises to God and to preach the thrice Mighty because He had given them so much wisdom and power and so great an Empire over all other creatures.
Amen, says the fourth letter, D. He to whom God has given the will and the ability to know in this way the Divine mystery through the eternal monuments of literature and to finish with great tranquility this work on the 25th January, having commenced it on the 13th of the same month in the year 1564 at Antwerp.
Here the vulgar eye will see nothing but Obscurity and will despair considerably.