March 10, 1582 EV, Gnostic saints Dr. John Dee and rogue Edward Kelley conducted their first scrying session at Dee’s home at Mortlake, in Surrey.
Encyclopedia.com’s skeptical account of the events immediately preceding and then following for a number of years is:
“…while on his knees and fervently praying, Dee became aware of a sudden glory that filled the west window of his laboratory and in the midst of which shone the bright angel Uriel. It was impossible for Dee to speak. Uriel smiled benignly upon him, gave him a convex piece of crystal, and told him that when he wished to communicate with the beings of another world he had but to examine it intently, and they would immediately appear and reveal the mysteries of the future. Then the angel vanished.
“Dee used the crystal but discovered that it was necessary to concentrate all his faculties upon it before the spirits would obey him. Also, he could never remember what the spirits said in their frequent conversations with him. He resolved to find a fellow worker, or a neophyte, who would converse with the spirits while he recorded the interesting dialogue. He found the assistant he sought in Edward Kelley, who unfortunately possessed the boldness and cunning for making a dupe of the amiable and credulous enthusiast.
“Kelley was a native of Lancashire, born, according to Dee, in 1555. Nothing is known of his early years, but after having been convicted at Lancaster of coining, he was punished by having his ears cropped. He concealed the loss of his ears by a black skullcap. He later moved to Worcester and established himself as a druggist. Carnal, ambitious, and self-indulgent, he longed for wealth; and despairing of getting it through honest work, he began to seek the philosophers’ stone and to employ what secrets he picked up in taking advantage of the ignorant and extravagant.
“Before his acquaintance with Dee, he obtained some repute as a necromancer and alchemist who could make the dead utter the secrets of the future. One night he took a wealthy man and some of his servants into the park of Walton le Dale, near Preston in Lancashire, and alarmed him with the most frightening incantations. He then exhumed a recently interred corpse from the neighboring churchyard and pretended to make it utter wisdom.
“Dee is believed to have employed a scryer, or seer, named Barnabas Saul before he met Kelley. He recorded in his Diary on October 9, 1581, that Saul was strangely troubled by a “spiritual creature” about midnight. On December 2 he willed his scryer to look into the “great crystalline globe” for the apparition of the holy angel Anael. Saul looked and apparently saw, but when he confessed the following March that he neither saw nor heard spiritual creatures any longer, Dee dismissed him. Then came Kelley (who was also called Talbot), and the conferences with the spirits rapidly increased in importance as well as curiosity.
“In his work with Kelley, Dee saw nothing. The visions seemed to exist solely in Kelley’s fertile imagination. The entities who reportedly communicated through Kelley bore names such as Madini, Gabriel, Uriel, Nalvage, Il, Morvorgran, and Jubanladace. Some of them were said to be angels.
“A record of the séances held in 1582-87 was published in Meric Casaubon’s A True and Faithful Relation of What Passed between Dr. Dee and Some Spirits; Tending, Had it Succeeded, to a General Alteration of Most States and Kingdoms in the World (1659). The spirits offered occult instructions—how to make the elixir of life, how to search for the philosophers’ stone, how to involve the spirits. They also gave information on the hierarchy of spiritual beings and disclosed the secrets of the primeval tongue that the angels and Adam spoke, which was corrupted into Hebrew after the Fall. This original speech bore an organic relation to the outer world. Each name expressed the properties of the thing spoken of, and the utterance of that name had a compelling power over that creature. Dee was supposed to write a book in this tongue under spirit influence. He was later relieved of the task, however. The prophecies that were given through the crystal mostly failed. The physical phenomena were few—occasional movements of objects, direct writing, and direct voice.
“In light of Kelley’s low moral character the séance records must be considered dubious documents, but the extraordinary detail and scope of these claimed visions (including the complex angelic language) seems to go beyond mere fraudulent invention.”