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Trithemius, steganography and occultism

I’ve come across the most genius level of trolling written 5 centuries ago! 😂

A bit of context:

Johannes Trithemius was a polymath and Benedictine abbot during the early German Renaissance.

Founder of modern cryptography, is is famous for Poligraphiae and the 500+ pages of Steganography (published after his death). For info, his students included Cornelius Agrippa and Paracelsus.

His book appears to be about using spirits to communicate over long distances, but since the publication of the decryption key to the first two volumes in 1606, they have been known to be actually concerned with cryptography and steganography.

His work uses the principle of chiaroscuro; some of the info is in clear text so people think there's nothing more to it. He's playing on double meanings and successfully trolled occultists who took him literally since the late 15th century 😆

I'm yet to find a cryptographist who has properly cracked his "spirits communication".

Until recently, the third volume the "magical" formulae have now been shown to be cover texts for yet more cryptographic content.

Occultists wannabe from the late 1500s to present day have been taking his texts literally, not seeing him trolling them.

From John Dee to the infamous Alastair Crowley, their invoking the spirits to get magical powers has caused much damage - something Trithemius guarded against with a cautious “Whoever believes these things…“