Ancient Cryptography and the Pattern of Human Religious Archetypes and Pagan Psychology
“It is the opinion of the learned that whenever the ancient sages, whom in the Greek language we call Philosophers, discovered any secret of art or nature, they concealed it through various modes and figures lest the knowledge of it should fall into the hands of the wicked.”
The above quote is from the opening paragraph of Steganographia by Johannes Trithemius. This book is considered one of the great occult works on pagan spiritualism and demonology ever written. Published in 1606, and based on the ancient writings of King Solomon, it would go on to inspire other occult interpretations and translations of those same ancient texts. But Steganographia, and all the occult works which came after may be about much more than mere evil spirits and demons.
“Trithemius' most famous work, Steganographia (written c. 1499; published Frankfurt, 1606), was placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum in 1609 and removed in 1900. This book is in three volumes, and appears to be about magic—specifically, about using spirits to communicate over long distances. However, since the publication of a decryption key to the first two volumes in 1606, they have been known to be actually concerned with cryptography and steganography. Until recently, the third volume was widely still believed to be solely about magic, but the "magical" formulae have now been shown to be covertexts for yet more cryptographic content.”
The relationship between occultism, steganography, and cryptography is a massive subject which could fill volumes. The relevance which is the focus of this piece is built around the concept that “spirits” could be used to communicate over long distances. These communications were secured with a “key” to ensure the “transactions” were processed by the intended receiver.