Wouter Hanegraaff has typed up a nice little review of my book, Arguing with Angels, over at his Creative Reading blog. He has many kind words, but I am first of all pleased that there are some very good observations about what I attempted to achieve in it: first to expel some common myths in the historiography of Dee reception, and secondly to highlight the “authenticity problem” struggled with in modern and contemporary ritual magic in general, and Enochian magic in particular. Wouter’s observations even point out wider connections that I did not explore explicitly in the book – namely that the authenticity dilemma finds similar responses in Western religious history more broadly, as prototypically expressed in the camps variously emphasising scripture, tradition, or personal experience during and following the Christian Reformation. (Incidentally, I recently explored these themes in an article on (neo)shamanism that is still to appear in a Norwegian journal – that one, in turn, influenced by Wouter’s own work. The non-vicious, beneficent spirals of academia.)
Finally, the review also points out that the book sort of ends a bit abruptly with the bewildering appendix of one of Runar Karlsen’s “received”, neo-Enochian texts. These would indeed have warranted further commentary, and it would also, as Hanegraaff mentions, been very interesting to have a linguist look at it. Do we find the natural language-biases noted by van Dijk and other linguists (notably Donald Laycock) for the “original” angelic/Adamic/Enochian language(s)? What about the commonalities with glossolalia and random letter permutation, which Laycock found to characterise word construction in parts of the original material? Indeed that would have been an interesting project, and I did in fact discuss the possibility with a couple of friends with linguistic backgrounds. Alas, it will have to wait for a later project. Perhaps it could be expanded, to look also at the copious amounts of material produced through “automatic writing”, or by dictation through spiritualist séances, mesmeric trances, and latter-day channelling literature?
If these comments made no sense, go over here and read the review. And if you haven’t preordered the paperback of the book yet, this is where you do it.
This blog post by Egil Asprem was first published on Heterodoxology. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.