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Magical Alphabets

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In some traditions, it’s common to use a magical alphabet when writing spells, rituals or incantations in the Book of Shadows.

What Is a Magical Alphabet?

Many people like the idea of using a magical alphabet because it’s something that will keep information secret. Think of it as a code language - if the average person who might look at your Book of Shadows can’t read the language, there’s no way for them to know what you’re writing about. So, if you’ve got the time to learn Theban (or some other magical alphabet) and become fluent enough that you can read it without having to check your notes every time you want to cast a circle, then you may want to use it in your writings.

That said, many Pagans today no longer feel a need to hide who they are or what they believe. Many of us live openly, without fear of persecution. So, is it necessary to use a magical alphabet to hide your writings? Not at all - unless you feel it’s important, or you’re part of a magical tradition that requires it.

Theban Alphabet

Image © Patti Wigington 2013; Licensed to About.com

One of the most popular magical languages in use today is the Theban Alphabet. Its origins are unclear, but it was first published around the early sixteenth century. German occultist and cryptographer Johannes Trithemius wrote about it in his book Polygraphia, and attributed it to Honorius of Thebes. Later, Thrithemius’ student, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa included it in his Three Books on Occult Philosophy.

In general, although this alphabet is popular among Wiccan and NeoWiccan paths, it’s not typically used by non-Wiccan Pagans.

Norse Runes

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The runes are an ancient alphabet used in Germanic countries. Today, they are used in magic and divination by many Pagans and who follow a Norse path. There are a number of different types of runic alphabets in use, although the most commonly known are the Elder Futhark, which is believed to be the oldest of the runic alphabets.

The Celtic Ogham

Image © Patti Wigington 2009

The Celtic Ogham alphabet has long been shrouded in mystery, but many Wiccans and Pagans use these ancient symbols as tools of divination, although there's no real documentation of how the symbols were used originally. You can make your own Ogham divination set by drawing the symbols on cards or notching them into straight sticks, or you can use them as a magical alphabet to write down spells and rituals.

Celestial or Angelic Alphabet

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Derived from the Hebrew and Greek alphabets, the Celestial Alphabet is used by some ceremonial magicians for communication with higher beings, such as angels. It is believed that this alphabet was invented by Agrippa in the 1500s.

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