This, umm, not sure what to call it. 'Essay' by John Dee is really interesting. I came across it a while ago because it came up when I was researching 'Mona.' I tried reading through some of this and it seems to be related to The Mona Lisa. Maybe not directly but by the titles and their meaning. "Mona-d" is similar to the vitruvian man , which represents the human body, but "Monad" represents all beings.
You could think of the Mona Lisa being a Monad for everybody combined into one and the Vitruvian man as every BODY combined into one. I would bet that the meaning of Monad is one of the reasons for the title "Mona." (there are many) Leonardo knew about and mentioned the Pythagoreans who originated the idea of the "Monad" so it's possible Mona is in that realm of thinking. From what I have discovered in his art, specifically with the Mona Lisa and especially her title(s) I think it's very likely that Mona was an allusion to Monad(ism). In that the Mona Lisa is not a portrait of a specific person but of many if not all humanity.
The language of the following is very strange, even for being 500 years ago. I couldn't find a direct connecting between John Dee and Leonardo but there seems to be something reminiscent about this that I've read in Da Vinci's notebooks. Symbology, mathematics, and artistic allegory.
('THE HIEROGLYPHIC MONAD')
by Dr. JOHN DEEAntwerp, 1564.
Translated by J.W. Hamilton-Jones, 1947.
[Dee's preface dedicated to Maximilian omitted by J.W. Hamilton-Jones.]
To the most excellent Majesty of the famous King Maximilian
It is by the straight line and the circle that the first and most simple example and representation of all things may be demonstrated, whether such things be either non-existent or merely hidden under Nature's veils.
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 centre 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 centre.
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 centre.
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.
Further, they have defined the place where the Ternary conducts its force into the Septenary.
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.
This I have said in respect of the Earth.
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.
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.
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 recognised 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 utilise this progression, viz. one -- ten -- one hundred, and this is the decadal proportion of the Cross as it appears to us.
We read that during the early centuries, this art was much celebrated amongst the most serious and ancient Philosophers, as being certain and useful. Anaxagoras performed the magistery and extracted therefrom an excellent medicine, as you may read in his book.
He who devotes himself sincerely to these mysteries will see clearly that nothing is able to exist without the virtue of our hieroglyphic Monad.
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 sombre 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 honour 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 centred within the heart, it is now necessary to translate my words for those whose heart is centred 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 inequally crossed through the point of necessity which you see in A.
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 summarise, 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, summarising 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.
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 letter 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 l, the glass vessel, during the exercise of its particular function, all air must be excluded or it will be extremely prejudicial. The corollary of w is the agreeable man, ready, active, and well disposed at all times.
Who, then, is not now able to procure the sweet and salutary fruits of this Science, which, I say, spring from the mystery of these two letters?
Some of those who would draw us away from our Garden of the Hesperides, and would make us view this a little closer as in a mirror, say that it is established that it is not formed from anything but out Monad.
But the straight line which appears in Alpha is homologous with that which, in the separation of the final analysis of our Cross, is already designated by the letter M. One may discover by these means from where the others are produced. See the scheme outlined in the table:
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 centre, 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 centre 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 centre 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 centre 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 centre visible, the exception being the solar centre, 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 centre, 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 centre points; we can use the sixth part of AB or a little less, from which point, as the centre, 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 centre 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 practising 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.
|24 possible permutations.|
|Of the Pythagorean quaternary||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.
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 tranquillity 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.