The Hieroglyphic Monad of John Dee
By The Patrician Lady
A talk given to The Silent Eye’s ‘Jewel in the Claw’ workshop on 21st April 2018
In my talk today I’m going to tell you a little about Dr. John Dee, one of the characters you have met in the drama, and something of his famous symbol the Hieroglyphic Monad or Monas Hieroglyphica. Most people, myself included, know or knew very little about this symbol so I decided to research it. As with all research I started by reading as much about it as I could find. This led me to articles and papers and it grew and grew and grew and I realised that this symbol incorporated the whole of creation and its processes; hence its name – the symbol of One-ness, Monas Hieroglyphica. Today I’m going to try and tell you something of what it means. This is no mean feat to try and tell you about the whole of creation and its processes in 45 minutes. Anyway, I will tell you a little about the history of John Dee, describe the components within the symbol and try and convey some aspects of the deep knowledge held within the symbol.
It is a symbol of creation similar to the Qabalistic Tree of Life but not emanationist, that is flowing from nothing into something, as is the Tree of Life, but creation as it is in the whole – a monad, a unit. This is it:
Those of you familiar with Qabalah will know that the Tree of Life is viewed basically in a series of spheres whereas this symbol is viewed in layers of awareness and meaning from very simple to highly complex. These layers are very well explained by modern authors who have put articles and papers on the internet, unlike Dee who could only publish information as a booklet and send it to influential people. He understood the processes of the universe on a numerical and geometrical basis. Another person who thought very similarly to Dee was Buckminster Fuller and I’ll tell you a little about him later.
The Hieroglyphic Monad, or the Monas Hieroglyphica, dates from the 16th century. It’s a glyph, a composite symbol, already in existence in 16th century in spiritual circles but augmented by Dr. John Dee, and explained in a short book of the same name the Monas Hieroglyphica. The booklet consists of 24 theorems or statements. This sounds fairly straight-forward until you try reading the book. It starts off quite simply but half way through it gets complicated and by the time you reach the end you’ll wonder what it was all about. But let’s take a look at the symbol and the theorems and see what we can make of them. Trust me, it can be well worth the effort if you’re interested in numbers and metaphysics.
William Gray in his book ‘The Ladder of Lights’ described some qualities of the well-known glyph the Tree of Life and what he says to describe the Tree can very well be said about the Monad symbol: ‘(It) may be likened to a well-designed crossword puzzle with its clues. The entire meaning and value of the puzzle lies with the mental exercise involved in its construction and solution. In solving it, a mind must be used to some considerable extent, which naturally improves and develops the mind of the thinker. By presenting (it) as a puzzle of mental and spiritual magnitude, an opportunity is afforded for genuine progress of mind and spirit to whomsoever has the wits and endurance to attempt its solution. (What is written about it) must be considered as the clues to the enigma and not its answers except on some broad issues. The real solution must be worked out individually, for it lies in the souls of those who seek it and nowhere else.” Fortunately others have gone a long way before us to unravel the secrets of the Monad.
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