ABOUT THE KHUNRATH TRANSFORMATION CIPHER
THE KHUNRATH TRANSFORMATION CIPHER is the name for the encoded version of an alchemical text written in 1599 by Heinrich Khunrath. Khunrath was an important alchemist who lived from 1560 - 1605. He wrote many important books. One of his most famous was the Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae, which was condemned by the Sorbonne in February 1625. In spite of this, it has been reprinted many times, even in the 20th century.
Khunrath wrote that he invented the code to prevent any but the most skilled alchemists from having access to the secrets it contained. Although no one knows for sure, some of the people who claim to have decoded portions of the cipher say that the text is a manual to enable the transference of the soul from one body to another.
For a more complete biography of Khunrath, click HERE.
Several people claim to have decoded existing portions of the cipher, but even these supposedly decoded segments may not be actual decoded segments.
The reason these decodings are suspicious is because they never identified which portions of the manuscript they decoded. (If they had, we would have a key.)
A book called "RULES FOR EXPLAINING AND DECYPHERING ALL MANNER OF SECRET WRITING, Plain and Demonstrative, with exact methods for understanding intimations by signs, gestures, or speech" written by John Falconer in 1692 contains a brief section on the Transformation Cipher in which Falconer claims that Francis Bacon successfully decoded a portion of the text. Bacon believed the information revealed to be so dangerous that he destroyed the solution.
In "A Few Words on Secret Writing," an article Poe published in Graham's Magazine, he claimed to have solved nearly all of the ciphers he received as challenges while editor at Alexander's Weekly Messenger. I say nearly all because he famously printed two ciphers from an individual named W.B. Tyler as a challenge to the readership. He also received a third cipher from Tyler, however, which appears to be a portion of the Transformation Cipher.
For more about Poe's involvement with the Tyler ciphers, click HERE.
There can be little doubt that the text contains Khunrath's famous motto: "Was helffn Fackeln, Liecht oder Brilln, Wann die Leute nicht sehen wölln?" (Translated into English, this says, "What good are torches, light, or spectacles, to those who will not see?") I have tried using the phrase as a decoding key, but without success.
Another famous alleged decoding included the statement "Ich bin geworden, was Sie suchen." Translated into English, this says "I have become what you are looking for." I also tried using this as a key.
A book called Elementary Cryptanalysis: A Study of Ciphers and Their Solution published in in 1941 by author Helen Gaines contains a lengthy decoding on which David Lynch based much of the mythology in Twin Peaks. The poem Bob speaks through Laura Palmer ("Thru the darkness of Future Past / the magician longs to see / one chants out between two worlds / Fire walk with me") is supposedly a quote from the Cipher.
WHAT THE CODE LOOKS LIKE
At the right is a picture of a section I've retyped. This is from a book called Secret and Urgent: The Story Of Codes And Ciphers by Fletcher Pratt. It was published in 1942 and was the first place I found out about the code.
The logo at the top of this page is my recreation of a symbol I first saw in the Falconer book. Although Bacon did not reveal his decoding method, he identified this symbol as "hidden" among the published works of Khunrath.
In my own research, I discovered this book by Khunrath which has a picture of the owl on its cover. If you look closely, you can see this symbol between Khunrath's motto and the owl's feet.
(By the way, Khunrath's Owl is where the infamous Bohemian Grove got their logo. One wonders if any of their group has successfully decoded the cipher.)
I'm not sure, but I think this symbol somehow connects to the solution.
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