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Theban
"The Witches' Alphabet"

Origin:
The earliest known source for the Theban alphabet is Cornelius Agrippa's "Three Books of Occult Philosophy" first published in Latin, at Antwerp in 1531. The exact origins of the Witches' alphabet are shrouded in the mists of time, but it is often called "the Theban alphabet" or "The Runes of Honorius" after its reputed inventor, Honorius of Thebes.

Notable features:
There is a one-to-one correspondence between letters of the Theban and Latin alphabets with the exception of the letters j and u. These letters are represented by the letters for i and v. The Theban alphabet is primarily used by Witches to protect the meaning of written spells, inscriptions and other texts. Users of this Magickal alphabet often include a stylized character at the end of a writing. This character is translated as a combination of the Greek characters for Alpha and Omega.

   

 

History:

Theban emerged during the medieval period when Cabbalistic studies were prominent in the practices of European Magi.

Agrippa provided the Theban Script in Book III (3), Chapter XXIX (29) and wrote: "Of this kind of character therefore are those which Peter Apponus notes, as delivered by Honorius of Thebes". This is almost certainly a reference to the author of the early 14th century "Liber Juratus, or the Sworne Booke of Honorius". However, it is believed that the Theban alphabet actually originated as a Latin cipher before the 11th-century.

Agrippa mentions that the alphabet was attributed to Honorious by the magician Peter of Abano (or more properly Petrus de Apono), an Italian writer whose dates are 1250-1316.The English writer on Magick, Francis Barrett, reproduced the Theban Alphabet in his book The Magus (II, Part I, Chapter XIV).

The origin of the letterforms is obscure at best, but all the evidence is consistent with an origin as an early alchemical cipher alphabet influenced by Avestan. The Theban alphabet has been primarily employed for talismanic inscriptions and Magickal work through the ages, and is still in use today.

 
 
The first published reference to Theban is in Francis Barrett's "The Magus," published at London in 1801. Its usage by traditional Wiccans is based on its usage by the founder of modern Wicca, Gerald Gardner. For the most part, this alphabet is used as a substitution cipher, occluding the original text with Theban symbols. This has many purposes: to "encrypt" a message, spell, or text so that it's meaning is not obvious, to impart a mystical quality, abstracting it from the native language of the common user, which may enable more effective Magickal workings.  
   
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