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Friday, 15 July 2011


Steganography is the art of concealing messages; often by presenting the message obscured by something extraneous to the *real* message.

The chosen method leads one to take the message on face value; the message may appear totally ordinary; benign, anodyneinnocuous, so boring and ordinary that no one bothers to look between the words to find the true meaning concealed within.

The mind loves this kind of thing, and the love of it fuels conspiracy theories and fears..On the other hand, conspiracy theories and fear lead to an increased use of  Steganography...

The internet is a prime source for examples of such fears and truths...
Among the more bizarre, one may read about orders to terrorists hidden in jpgs of cats. Sorry but I can't remember how that was supposed to work!

And the theory that Satan-worshiping rock stars, concealed message in their music that may only be consciously heard when a recording is played backwards.

This was not an easy thing to do in the days of record players and vinyl discs; therefore how could we find out if the warning was true or not...It was hardly efficient, either way.

Much easier to check for messages in an mp3?
Seems not.

Johannes Trithemius wrote three books in 1499  (published in 1508)

The first two were ostensibly spells, indicating that 'the occult' wasn't regarded by everyone as outright evil.
Instead of concealing instructions on how to access and use the aethyric realms, no doubt teeming with angels and demons, Johannes Trithemius put the angels and demons on the outside and concealed within a few innocuous messages such as:

*"The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" in Latin.
*"The bearer of this letter is a rogue and a thief. Guard yourself against him. He wants to do something to you."

The third book appeared to be a *real* book on how to practice magic. Outwardly it gave instruction on how to communicate with astral forces. As noted before, it seems remarkable now, that Johannes Trithemius was not burnt at the stake for witchcraft, yet the purging of society, and the destruction of people accused of threatening 'the state': witches and Catholics...seems to be primarily an effect of the Protestant Reformation.

This accounts to some extent for the inverted Christian symbolism supposedly used by witches. The Protestants were keen to remove all iconography, and symbols used in Catholic Christianity, witches apparently used the same symbol set, which kind of indicates to me that witches were, as far as the gullible were concerned, regarded as a type of Catholic.

There is no need to use Christian symbols in a non-Christian religion. In fact it makes no sense what so ever for a witch to use anything from the church, either Christian symbols of Christian forms of ritual.

Nevertheless lots people, now- 21st century- still regard Trithemius's book as about magic.

The origin of the word magic is in fact Magi, meaning 'Persians'.

Persians is one of those indistinct words that I find impossible to define, but the Mesopotamians (Iran and Iraq) had a long history of watching the stars, and in effect invented astrology. Following this logic it is correct to call a horoscope printed in a local newspaper, magic...

Johannes Trithemius'  third book reveals a complicated system of astrological magic that uses numerology, incantations and esoteric alphabets to interface with astral intelligence.

Trithemius describes how images of cosmic forces can be etched into wax to capture and communicate with these otherworldly beings; the aim being the acquisition of knowledge.

Looking at the dates, I see that I must have been wrong in thinking that John Dee was inspired by The Book of Enoch alone. The method of using images of cosmic forces etched into wax to communicate with angels probebly came from the Steganographia.

In 1581 John Dee had realised that the only way he could learn the other stuff, the hidden -or the occult if you prefer-, was to beg the angels for enlightenment.

Book three gave John Dee the method.

Was John Dee using his angelic quest as a cover story for creating a code to conceal important messages, or was he really looking for knowledge?

I find the question impossible to answer.

The third book was undecipherd until 1998 by Dr Reeds. Solved: The Ciphers in Book iii of Trithemius's Steganographia

If the Steganographia were written today Johannes Trithemius would have a six character long, online, screen name, and be king of hackers.

As a thirty seven year old he would write a book that convinced people for at least five hundred years to come, that he had found the way to communicate with the dead and the future unborn via an ultimate computer program; but in truth (when deciphered ) the book would provide nothing more than a handful of bad World of War craft haiku.

I may well be wrong, but at this moment in time I'm judging the Steganographia as a work of intellectual superiority, a grand joke that only 'insiders' would understand.

I simply can't tell what he was up to.

One name that comes back, as I try to see where The Book of Enoch fits in with anything (!), is Athanasius Kircher: the guy who was lowered into Vesuvius to see the inner workings of the earth and who wrote a strangely compelling, but erroneous book on Egyptian mythology The Oedipus Aegyptiacus.

Of the three: Trithemius, Dee and Kircher, I cannot say which one was more misleading, unable to distinguish within their own minds between what they wanted to see and what they art continued by Stukeley.

They remind me that there are two ways to apprehend reality: first, to stay aloof and to dissect appearances, or secondly to enter into the illusion and believe. The third way is a combination, to experience and to question at the same time.

I know that this going off the subject massively, but perhaps it is in this third place that I'd put Philip K Dick.

I'm not in the least bit interested in the 'original language' be it Hebrew (Stukeley's time) or Sanskrit (1900's to at least the 1970's). Call it Adamic (the language Adam spoke) communicated with god, or Enochian. But the Black Iron Prison concept, and VALIS as the organisational, force seems to bring the concepts struggled for by Dee and Trithemius back into the 20th century. The myth of information being all....and knowledge as power.

The Persephone myth is so much easier!