Witch’s Alphabet – The Language of Mysticism

Witch's alphabet
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Witch's Alphabet

The Witch’s alphabet dates back to the 14th Century and is also known as the Theban alphabet.  Additionally it has been called the Honorian alphabet, Theban Script or the Runes of Honorius.  It’s exact origin is unknown nor is it’s original creator.  As it is with all undocumented ancient history, there is controversy surrounding the Witch’s alphabet.  It’s mostly been attributed to Honorius of Thebes, a Middle Age figure shrouded in so much mystery that some consider his very existence to be a myth.  Many students of the occult believe the Theban alphabet dates back much further, to before the 11th Century.  That group claims it originated as an alchemical cipher with an Avestan influence.  Avestan is oldest preserved Indo-Aryan language and it’s closely related to Vedic Sanskrit.  But this counter-theory is also undocumented and thus unprovable.

However, there is evidence to be gleaned from the shape of the characters and corresponding curve patterns that define Theban.  They show an unmistakable resemblance to characters found in the Avestan alphabet.  This alone doesn’t prove a theory.  There are major differences such as fewer characters and the inclusion in Theban of a symbol to denote the end of a sentence.  Theban does not have an upper or a lower case, so that symbol was critical.  Another comparison has been made with Latin.  There is a one-to-one correspondence between letters of the Witch’s alphabet and Latin alphabets with the exception of the letters j and u.  Those two letters are represented by the letters for i and v.  The Theban alphabet has also been called a runic alphabet but it’s clearly not.  Runes are characterized by straight lines and sharp edges, while the Theban alphabet is mostly based on arcs and curls.

Secrets Should Stay Secret

In ancient times, the Theban alphabet was used by witches as a way to conceal magical writings and spells.  There is no documentation, so there is no firm date on when this practice first started.  There are accounts of many old grimoires written in the Witch’s alphabet.  Yet, because they are shrouded in secrecy none are available for the viewing public.  The secrets contained within their bound pages will remain a secret, likely forever.  Today the Theban alphabet is still sparingly used in rituals to inscribe talisman and in spell books.  The letters are often carved into candle wax, added to amulets, sometimes on pieces of sacred wood, or written on stones.

Avestan Characters

The Sworn Book of Honorius

It’s worth our time to review the The Sworn Book of Honorius (Liber Juratus Honorii Latin). It is the one of the oldest and most influential surviving Medieval grimoires in existence.  As mentioned, it’s attributed to Honorius of Thebes.   The book is surrounded in mystery and its exact date of publication is unclear.  The earliest documented record dates back to 1347 where it was referenced in a court case.  The oldest original manuscript is held in the British National Library and dates to the 14th Century.  What makes the book so alluring is the fact that its 93 chapters cover such a wide range of topics. These include highly controversial topics related to magic, demon summoning, and possible descriptions of what heaven looks like.  Modern occultists believe it is a compilation by a group of Medieval magicians who attempted to combine all their knowledge into a single tome.  It is classified as a Solomonic Grimoire due to the heavy reliance on seals and angelic powers such as the ones found in The Key of Solomon, another well-known work from the same time period.

Understanding Substitution Ciphers

In cryptography, substitution ciphers are quite common.  A made-up alphabet or code, is associated with units or letters of an existing alphabet.  Each letter has a corresponding letter or symbol in the new language which can be substituted when creating any written works.   Those who understand the secret language translate the writings by using the key, which shows what corresponds to what.  Pagans across the ancient world used cipher languages to preserve magickal writings, spells, and ritual instructions from prying eyes.  Throughout history, owning a Book of Shadows was dangerous.  The Christian Church worked tirelessly to eradicate all of the ancient religions and practices, so writing in code was necessary to avoid persecution and possibly torture and death.  Even if the book was seized by religious zealots, the owner could argue on what was written inside.

The Theban Alphabet in the Modern Era

Paganism and the practice of witchcraft in the modern world is still a controversial topic, however it is no longer shrouded in secrecy.  Modern-day witches are open and proud. Witchcraft has found its place in popular culture.  It’s no longer a necessity to encode writing related to the craft, so many practitioners don’t really seem to focus on it anymore.  Regardless, the script will forever be studied and serious historians will continue to look for additional clues in determining its true origin.

Additional Reading

Read all articles about Witchcraft on this site at this link

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