Halloween Case #26 – The Wife Swapping Elizabethan Magicians

30 October 2017 | Your Stories, Your True Encounters

This October we are going to bring you some of the most interesting #true paranormal cases we can find. You can discover more true, terrifying accounts of the paranormal right here.



Dr. John Dee looked every bit like a wizard. By the end of his life, he had a flowing white beard and wore a skullcap over his thinning hair, so that he probably would not have looked out of place at Hogwarts. Edward Kelly, his sidekick, was an altogether different sort of character. He was a necromancer, a confidence trickster, and a commoner who used his ability to talk his way into money and power. One died an old man, living out his final years in relative obscurity back in England, while the other died a violent death falling from a high window while making an escape attempt from Prague jail.

During his wanderings across Europe, Dee met many famed people, including Cornelius Agrippa, another very famous magician. Agrippa and Dee investigated natural magic and telepathy together. Queen Mary of England invited Dee, whose fame as an astrologer had spread widely, to cast a horoscope for her forthcoming marriage. Mary’s sister, Elizabeth, was imprisoned at that time, and Dee also drew her horoscope. The two became friends. Once again, Dee was in hot water, though, as he was accused of trying to murder Queen Mary using black magic. He was eventually acquitted, and when Elizabeth was crowned, she invited him back to her court.

In the years that followed, Dee, and his wife started to have strange dreams about contacting spirits. As a result of this and his general interest in the esoteric, he tried used a magic mirror and other scrying instruments to attempt contact with the spirits. However, Dee was forced to conclude that he wasn’t that good at scrying, and so he hired others to do it for him while he took notes of the communication. This was how he met Edward Kelley.

Edward Kelley was a rogue who had already had his ears clipped as punishment for some crime that he committed. He was a conman and trickster, but he too had an interest in magic and the occult as he is reputed to have engaged in necromancy and to have raised the freshly dead body of a young woman, re-animated it using black magic, and then questioned it about the whereabouts of a small fortune. Dee was probably aware of his new colleague’s reputation, and so he made Kelley promise not to work with evil spirits.

After meeting a Polish nobleman at Elizabeth’s court, the pair was invited to Poland where the nobleman funded their continued experimentation with spirit communication as well as the far more potentially profitable venture of alchemy. Rumors abounded of Dee and Kelley turning various base metals into gold using a mysterious red powder they had developed; but in fact, these may have just been rumors as, after two years, the Polish nobleman went broke supporting the pair.

From there, they went to Prague and the court of Rudolf, who at the time had gathered a host of famous alchemists and magicians. However, they were accused of sorcery again by the Pope and had to leave Prague, eventually settling in Trebon, in what is now the Czech Republic, yet again supported by a rich nobleman. It is here that a truly bizarre event took place. Kelley claimed that the spirit Madimi had instructed Dee and Kelley to share their wives with each other. Dee was married to a much younger and, almost certainly, attractive woman; and one has to believe that Kelley, the conman, saw his opportunity. Initially, Dee and his wife refused, and the pair went their separate ways. However, Dee must have agreed in the end, as a document was signed by all four swearing to carry out all the commands of the angels.

This event must have been deeply traumatic, and one wonders if Dee didn’t begin to suspect Kelley of manipulation as, not unsurprisingly, their relationship soured. Dee and his wife returned home to England where Elizabeth I gave him the wardenship of Christ’s College, Manchester, and he eventually died peacefully at age eighty-one. As for Kelley? He was killed making an escape bid from a Prague prison where it seems his luck had finally run out.

Have you tried these great #paranormal books from G. Michael Vasey? If you’re looking for true tales of the paranormal this #Halloween… just click here.

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