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Witches' Prayer

Witches were for centuries so unpopular that they had to hide their existence and activities. Doing so even led to some linguistic legerdemain that still impresses. Here is a version of a prayer (in Latin with English translation, you'll see why in a minute) they created:

Delicias fuge ne frangaris crimine, verum
Coelica tu quaeras, ne male dipereas;
Respicias tua, non cujusvis quaerito gesta
Carpere, sed laudes, nec preme veridicos;
Judicio fore te praesentem conspice toto
Tempore: nec Christum, te rogo, despicias;
Salvificum pete, nec secteris daemona, Christum
Dilige, nequamquam tu mala concupito.

The English version of the Latin above is:

Shun pleasures of the flesh, lest you be broken by crime;
seek things of the heaven, lest your end be an evil one;
consider your own deeds, and do not seek to slander someone else's,
but praise them, and do not suppress those who speak the truth;
always realize that you must stand before a judgment;
I beg you, do not despise Christ, seek him who gives salvation,
and do not follow the devil;
love Christ, and do not lust at all after evil.

The genius of this is that it is anagrammatic. Read in reverse (last word first, in other words), you get:

Concupitio mala, tu nequamquam dilige Christum;
Daemona secteris, nec pete salvifcum;
Despicias, rogo te, Christum: nec tempore toto
Conspice praesentem te fore judicio;
Veridicos preme, nec laudes, sed carpere gesta
Quaerito cujusvis, non tua respicias.
Dispereas male, ne quaeras tu coelica, verum
Crimine frangaris, ne fuge delicias.

And the English version of this becomes:

Lust after evil, and do not at all love Christ;
you follow the devil, do not seek Him who give salvation;
despise Christ, I beg you, and realize
that never will you stand before a judgment;
suppress those who speak the truth,
and do not praise the deeds of anyone, but seek to slander them;
do not consider your own; let your end be an evil one,
do not seek the things of heaven;
let yourself be broken by crime,
do not shun pleasures of the flesh.

Which is rather consistent with what witches were known, or at least suspected of, back when people worried about such things. The ingenuity of the anonymous author of this is not to be underestimated. And it's a nice reminder of how one can bury information inside a seemingly harmless text, even if this one is simplistic.

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