Queen Elizabeth I - Witch Queen of England
The greatest challenge to the argument that Queen Elizabeth I could have been a witch is that in 1563, she introduced the Witchcraft Act however, this fact is actually evidence in support of this argument.
The story begins long before she became queen, when her elder sister Mary was queen. The two were never close with Mary, both the daughter of Henry VIII but Mary’s mother was Catherine of Aragon while Elizabeth’s mother was Anne Boleyn. Mary was also 17 years older than Elizabeth.
Queen Mary was a Catholic and did all in her power to give primacy to the Catholic Church. She also acted to suppress Protestantism through violent persecution, hence the well-earned acronym of Bloody Mary. The problem for Mary was that her sister Elizabeth held strong anti-Catholic, but being a princess could hardly be made subject to the Inquisition without raising a public outcry. This resulted in the Princess Elizabeth being held for a long period under house arrest and on March 8th 1554, Mary had Elizabeth imprisoned in the Tower of London. This imprisonment lasted for eight weeks with Elizabeth only being released when she agreed to put on an outward show of conforming to the Catholic religion.
Elizabeth though, had John Dee as her personal advisor. Born on July 13th 1527 at Mortlake, then a country village but now a suburb of London, John Dee was an enigmatic figure. An astrological chart marking the hour of his birth reveals that the Sun was in Cancer with the zodiacal Sagittarius was on the horizon. This combination favours scholarship and the study of secret sciences. Despite that many people challenge the veracity of astrology, this is a prophecy proven by his life to be highly accurate.
John Dee is accounted a great mathematician, scholar, philosopher and alchemist. To many serious occultists, his development of what is termed the, ‘Western Esoteric Tradition’ leads him to be viewed as the Father of modern witchcraft. This Western Tradition is the synthesis of astrology and ritual magic combined with alchemy to create a system of practical occultism. John Dee’s work provides the foundation for that of many later occultists and Dee certainly practiced himself. He is accounted as being adept at necromancy, probably the most difficult of occult practices. There is even a plaque on the house in which he lived, in Mortlake High Street, stating that, ‘John Dee the renowned necromancer lived here.’
To reveal the closeness of this relationship, there are numerous accounts of Elizabeth going to visit John Dee at his home. On 10th October 1580 she called to offer condolences on the death of his mother. Kings and queens don’t normally call at the home of ordinary people. Other various incongruities during Elizabeth’s life add to the evidence that she was his student in the occult as well as simply seeking his advice of other matters.
She is called the, Virgin Queen, recorded as always saying she had a higher calling than becoming a wife to some man, put down by historians as being to the country, but those adept in the occult will see a parallel. She also consulted Dee to seek the most astrologically propitious time for her coronation. Subsequent history confirms the accuracy of this reading, but that she had this chart prepared reveals an interest and knowledge of the subject. Remember also that the practice of astrology is part of witchcraft.
All this indicates that a re-evaluation of the purpose behind the introduction of the Witchcraft Act is required.
As the historical record reveals, prior to this time and throughout Europe, anyone accused of witchcraft was brought before an ecclesiastical court in which church ministers acted as judge, jury and executioner. Evidence was not required, simply an accusation after which a confession was sought using torture and methods such as swimming in which the accused was bound in a sack and thrown into a river. If they floated they were guilty, dragged out and burned. If they drowned they were innocent, but still dead. There was little chance of escape for anyone accused of witchcraft or heresy other than confessing quickly, even if a false confession, thus bringing and end to the torture. Bloody Mary is accounted as having at least 300 people burned at the stake.
Queen Elizabeth I’s Witchcraft Act made the practice of witchcraft illegal bringing it under the jurisdiction of the court involving all the requirements of due legal process. This meant that anyone accused of witchcraft had to be brought before a civil court where evidence had to be produced. Nor was it simply a trial requiring evidence that the accused was a witch, evidence was required that the accused caused harm through the practice of witchcraft.
The act did prescribe a maximum sentence of death by hanging for: ‘employing or exercising witchcraft with the intent to kill or destroy,’ but it also prescribed lesser punishment for lesser offences. For hurting persons or causing goods to waste or be destroyed, the punishment was imprisonment for a year. For lesser offences the sentence could be as lenient as an order to spend time in the stocks, six hours once every quarter year, is an example.
Taking into account the principle of witchcraft, ‘do what you will but harm no other,’ along with the principle of retribution illustrated by, the scales, it can be seen that the Witchcraft Act actually protected those who practiced witchcraft from the religious persecution of the Church. Nor could the Church complain about the introduction of a law making witchcraft illegal, which they surely would against any other measure to protect those practicing this craft. Despite any alterations to this act and its misuse by later kings, during Elizabeth I’s time, witches were not tortured and burned nor made subject to religious persecution.
As well as protecting others, Elizabeth I seems to have been extraordinarily protected herself.
In 1570, Pope Pius V excommunicated her from the church. Jesuits were trained in Europe and sent to England to inspire plots and assassination attempts. In 1571, a conspiracy known as the Ridolfi plot was uncovered. In 1580, Pope Gregory XIII declared that, no action taken by any person would be considered too extreme to rid the world of such a heretic. In 1586, Sir Francis Walsingham uncovered the Babington conspiracy to murder the queen. She also acted against the Church in England by replacing the Archbishop of Canterbury, Edmund Grindal with Archbishop Whitcliff, because Grindall refused to implement her order to suppress the extremism of the religious reformists.
Any knowledgeable occultist will know how methods of spiritual protection can be invoked. Historians view Elizabeth as showing little concern for her own safety, though the truth maybe that she had sufficient occult methods of protection put in place. These would allow her to show such little obvious concern. Other methods such as, scrying could be used to help uncover such plots as soon as the start. Countless plots and countless plotters who would no doubt work to keep their activities secret, yet not one succeeded!
As further evidence, in 1588 the seemingly invincible Armada set sail on its invasion course for England. Sir Francis Drake attacked sinking at least three galleons and preventing the Armada from reaching England’s shores so nothing that follows takes anything from the action of Drake and his fleet. The problem was that this huge Spanish fleet remained largely intact. The prevailing wind required that the Spanish plot a circuitous route north around Scotland then down England’s Atlantic coast on its journey back to Spain, but there would be nothing to prevent the Armada from refitting and re-launching the invasion the following year.
History records that this Spanish fleet was destroyed by an unseasonable fierce and long lasting Atlantic storm. This storm left wrecked ships trailing from Scotland to the tip of Cornwall and completely removed any possibility of further invasion. While this can be dismissed as a natural occurrence and coincidence, John Dee is also known to have practiced, weather magic. Raising a storm and keeping it going would have been no problem.
Of course there can be no definitive evidence that Queen Elizabeth I was a practicing witch, though her reign did provide England with the foundation to turn it into a great empire, all against seemingly insurmountable odds. John Dee is known to have provided navigational information that helps the great explorers of the day, Drake, Hawkins, Raleigh etc. Queen Elizabeth I was a great queen and nothing can detract from what she achieved, but she was also a student of John Dee. Add to this all the other mysteries surrounding her life, there is ample circumstantial evidence to argue that Elizabeth I was indeed the true Witch Queen of England.
Abby Kadabra on June 09, 2018:
Damn I'm old. Well the Queen Mother was a witch.
Peter Rogers (author) from Plymouth on October 16, 2015:
There are numerous historical accounts relating to John Dee, as there are about Queen Mary accusing Elizabeth of putting a curse on her. All the relevant facts are there. The interpretation in this article is mine, but it is not a totally original theme, just one that most historians have suppressed, like they suppress most things they feel uncomfortable about people knowing.
Jane on October 14, 2015:
Hi Peter I would like to know your sources of this amazing theory. Is this your own theory or someone else?
Dan Barfield from Gloucestershire, England, UK on March 14, 2013:
Very cool idea! I have read some of JohnDee's work and knew he was connected to Elizabeth - the suggestion that she was a student of his is new to me however.
OldWitchcraft from The Atmosphere on July 21, 2012:
Good article. The leadership in W. Europe and to an extent here in the U.S., has always practiced witchcraft - often the darkest of black magic practices - while suppressing it, ridiculing and outlawing it publicly.
Nothing has changed. They're still doing it, but the average person is oblivious or really doesn't believe in it.
I am not familiar with this: principle of witchcraft, ‘do what you will but harm no other,’ in traditional witchcraft. This is something in the past century and it's Wiccan. Traditional witches are a law unto themselves.
hecate-horus from Rowland Woods on July 21, 2012:
I've never heard this theory before! This is really awesome...and to think, the Witchcraft Act was made to stop the senseless killing of people accused. I'm really impressed by this hub and I'm looking at Queen Elizabeth in a whole new light. Voted up and shared!!
Lady Summerset from Willingboro, New Jersey on July 20, 2012:
Very interesting article. I was always fascinated by Queen Elizabeth I and the very incident of the proposed invasion of England by sea and the storm that prevented it.