Book: John Dee And The Magic Tables In The Book Of Soyga by Jim ReedsThe Book of Soyga (also titled Aldaraia) is an anonymous late-mediaeval or early modern Latin magical work. One copy of The Book of Soyga is known to have been possessed by the Elizabethan scholar John Dee. After Dee's death, the book was thought to be lost until 1994 when two manuscripts were located in the British Library (Sloane MS. 8) and the Bodleian Library (Bodley MS. 908), under the title Aldaraia sive Soyga vocor, by Dee scholar Deborah Harkness. The Sloane 8 version is also described as Tractatus Astrologico Magicus, though both versions differ only slightly.
In 1556, Dee proposed the founding of a national English library to Queen Mary, but his plan was not implemented. In consequence, Dee amassed the largest library in England at the time using his personal funds, consisting of at least 3,000 printed volumes and a large number of manuscripts. Horrendously, the library was pilfered during Dee's six year trip to the European Continent between 1583 and 1589, and Dee was forced to sell many more volumes upon his return due to penury. After his death in 1608 or 1609, the still-considerable remnants of the vaunted library were ransacked until nothing remained.
During Dee's long trip to the Continent, he sought to supernaturally contact angels through the services of a scryer, Edward Kelley. On the subject of the Book of Soyga, Dee claimed to have questioned the angel Uriel about the significance of the book and asked for guidance. The reply that Dee received was that the book had been revealed to Adam in Paradise by angels, and could be interpreted by the archangel Michael.
After Harkness rediscovered the two copies of the book, Jim Reeds uncovered the mathematical formula used to construct the tables (starting with the seed word given for each table), and identified errors of various types made by the manuscripts' scribes. He showed that a subset of the errors were common to the two copies, suggesting that they were derived from a common ancestor which contained that subset of errors (and thus was presumably itself a copy of another work).
Although Reeds deciphered the construction algorithm and the code words used in crafting the tables, the actual contents and significance of the tables remain mysterious. He writes, "The treatise in the Book of Soyga which discusses the tables, Liber Radiorum, has a series of paragraphs mentioning the code words for twenty-three of the tables, together with number sequences which stand in unknown relation to the words."
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