Theban Alphabet

The Theban alphabet is a writing system popular in the Wicca movement and used by early modern occultists. It is referred to as the “witch’s alphabet” and is often called the “The Runes of Honorius” after its reputed inventor, Honorius of Thebes. Despite this name, it is not a Runic alphabet.

Its exact origins are relatively lost; however, it was first published in Johannes Trithemius’s Polygraphia (1518), where he attributed it to Honorius of Thebes.

Witches use the Theban alphabet to write spells, inscriptions, and other texts. It is one of the several substitution ciphers to hide magical writings.

The Theban alphabet is written from left to right in horizontal lines. The letters correspond one-to-one with the Latin alphabet except for j and u. J and u in the Theban alphabet are represented y the letters i and v.

What is Wicca?

Wicca is known as a modern pagan religion, which grew out of the rejection of current monotheistic (western) and focused (eastern) religions. Scholars of religion and religious studies categorize Wicca as both a novel religious movement and as a part of the stream of Western esotericism - which has an occult influence. Wicca was developed in England during the 20th century and was first introduced to the public by Gerald Gardner, a retired civil servant, in 1954. The Wicca movement draws upon diverse influences of ancient pagan and hermetic motifs for its ritual practices but also as a way of defining its theological structure.

Opposed to other religions, Wicca has no divine authority figure or figures that practitioners look toward. The traditional practices and core beliefs were outlined by Gardner and an associated High Priestess by the name of Doreen Valiente. The practices were written and then distributed through published literature and books and were also written in secret and oral traditions passed along through early initiates. There are variations in the core structure but the religion continues to grow and take form over time. Over time, there was a need for central figures and it eventually developed into a duo-theistic religion that has the Triple Goddess and Horned God as the primary pantheon.

What is the Theban Alphabet?

The Theban alphabet has had many uses and was developed as a writing system to cipher the Latin alphabet. It is popular amongst occultists and extremely well-known and widely used in the Wicca movement. The Theban alphabet is also known as the Runes of Honorius, or the Honorian alphabet - which was the legendary magus in early occultist movements, although the alphabet itself does not use runes. Some also call it the witches'' alphabet, because modern-day Wiccans and other believers in witchcraft use this to hide magical writing, which must be kept secret from non-believers.

The Theban alphabet is unique and not related to any other alphabet, which is, of course, by design. Primarily being used as a cipher system, it cannot bear resemblance to many mainstream or derived languages for fear of discovering "secrets". Theban letters only exist in a single case, but there are a few letters that draw similarities to the old Latin alphabet. This is why it is commonly theorized and considered that Theban was based on the obfuscation of the Latin alphabet.

History of the Theban Alphabet

The first instances of the language were published in 1518 in Trithemius's book called Polygraphia. This was attributed to the legendary magus Honorius of Thebes, which was a city-state in ancient Egypt. His student, Henrich Cornelius Agrippa, included the publication in his de Occulta Philosophia series, found in the third book of the 29th chapter. The alphabet itself is not known to have any writing or manuscripts by Honorius, with the exception of a manuscript found in the British Library. This matter was resolved when it was found that Agrippa was the source of the manuscript.

English Letter

Theban Alphabet