Secret societies, cryptography, and Hellboy

This truly does sound like a plot from a Hellboy comic or movie – an 18th century text was discovered in a repository in what was once East Germany, a text encoded in a mysterious cipher.  Now, thanks to computer cryptography, a team of American and Swedish researchers have cracked the code.  And what they found was just as bizarre as any writer could come up with for this strange grimoire.

Kroenen for Dummies?

The book, known as the Copiale Cipher, details the rituals and initiation rites of a secret society dedicated to ocular pursuits; eye cultists, if you will.  The pages that have been decrypted so far reveal initiation rites that include touching ones left eye with ones right hand and vice versa, how to perform detailed eye exams on new recruits, etc.  The secret society seems to have been obsessed with ocular surgery as well.  This is, of course, of historic interest, but what’s really creepy is that no one had ever heard of this cult until now.  This is the only known work pertaining to them, and it seems completely genuine.  Until this cracking of the code, no one had a clue what the manuscript was about.  Now we have a new mystery – who were the people who wrote this book?

The same techniques as were used on this are being applied to the famous Voynich Manuscript, but it’s unlikely they will be as useful as much of the Manuscript’s cipher is in pictograms and not letters.

Here’s a link to the work, if you’d like to see how they made the translation.

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