In 1550 Dee spent several months in Paris, lecturing there on the principles
of geometry. He was offered a permanent post at the Sorbonne; but he decline
and returned home to England in 1551, where having been recommended to
Edward VI, he was granted the rectory of Upton-upon-Severn, Worcestershire.
The astrologer was now in a delightful and enviable position, having
a comfortable home and assured income and being able to devote himself
exclusively to the studies he loved. The most romantic circumstances in
Dee's life, however, are those which deal with his experiments in crystallomancy.
Living in comparative solitude, practicing astrology for bread, but studying
alchemy for pleasure, brooding over Talmudic mysteries and Rosicrucian
theories, immersed in constant contemplation of wonders which he longed
to penetrate and dazzled by visions of the elixir of life and the Philosopher's
Stone, Dee soon attained to such a condition of mystic exaltation that
his visions became to him as realities, and he persuaded himself that
he was the favored of the invisible.
In his diary he records that he first saw spirits in his crystal globe
on the 25th of May, 1581. In another year he had attained to a higher
level, and one day, in November, 1582, while on his knees and fervently
praying, he became aware of a sudden glory which filled the west window
of his laboratory, and in whose midst shone the bright angel Uriel. It
was impossible for Dee to speak. His tongue was frozen in awe. But Uriel
smiled upon him, and 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 found from the experience that it was needful to concentrate all one's faculties upon the crystal before the spirits would obey him. He could never remember what the spirits said in their frequent conversations with him. He resolved, therefore, to discover some fellow worker, or neophyte, who should converse with the spirits while he himself, in another part of the room, sat and recorded the interesting dialogue. He found the assistant he sought in one Edward Kelly, who, unhappily for himself, possessed just the requisite skills.