##### Cracking Codes and Cryptograms For Dummies
Cryptography offers you the chance to solve all kinds of puzzles. Use basic solving techniques to crack substitution ciphers, including the Freemason’s cipher. Encode your own messages, decode incoming communications, and have fun trying to figure out conspiracies, codes, and cryptograms!

## Cryptography 101: Basic solving techniques for substitution ciphers

It doesn’t matter whether a cryptogram presents you with letters, numbers, arcane symbols, lines and dots, or weird alien squiggles — if you’re asked to replace each letter in the alphabet with another symbol, you’re dealing with a simple substitution cipher.

All substitution ciphers can be cracked by using the following tips:

• Scan through the cipher, looking for single-letter words. They’re almost definitely A or I.

• Count how many times each symbol appears in the puzzle. The most frequent symbol is probably E. It could also be T, A, or O, especially if the cryptogram is fairly short.

• Pencil in your guesses over the ciphertext. Do typical word fragments start to reveal themselves? Be prepared to erase and change your guesses.

• Look for apostrophes. They’re generally followed by S, T, D, M, LL, or RE.

• Look for repeating letter patterns. They may be common letter groups, such as TH, SH, RE, CH, TR, ING, ION, and ENT.

• Try to decipher two-, three-, and four-letter words.

• Two-letter words almost always have one vowel and one consonant. The five most common two-letter words, in order of frequency, are OF, TO, IN, IS, and IT.

• The most common three-letter words, in order of frequency, are THE, AND, FOR, WAS, and HIS.

• The most common four-letter word is THAT. An encrypted word with the pattern 1 – – 1 is likely to be THAT. However, the pattern 1 – – 1 also represents 30 other words, so keep this in mind.

• Scan for double letters. They’re most likely to be LL, followed in frequency by EE, SS, OO, and TT (and on to less commonly seen doubles).

## Understanding the Freemason’s cipher

Freemasons have used ciphers since at least the 18th century. The Freemason’s cipher is sometimes called the pigpen cipher, because the alphabet is written into a grid of lines, which may look like pigpens, and a cross shape from two diagonal lines. A letter is enciphered by drawing the shape of the cell that encompasses it. Freemasons learned one of the many versions of this cipher as part of the Royal Arch initiation.

Here are the main reasons Freemasons use ciphers:

• To keep their ritual ceremonies secure so they aren’t easily discovered by the uninitiated

• To keep messages about Masonic business (like “lodge officers meet one half-hour before the meeting of the full lodge”) just among Masons

• To have fun, plain and simple

The Grand Lodge style of Freemasonry began in 1717 in London and spread to France in fewer than ten years. In France, Freemasons experimented with the development of so-called high degrees, ritual initiation ceremonies that somehow went beyond the first three degrees of Freemasonry.

These high degree ceremonies were plays that enhanced a Mason’s experience and interaction with the legends, for example, of the temple built by King Solomon. Some believe that the French invented a degree called the Royal Arch, as a kind of completion (keystone) of the third or Master Mason degree.

However the Royal Arch was developed (early Masonic records are notoriously incomplete), history suggests that the Royal Arch degree was being conferred in London in the 1740s. When it comes down to it, the Freemason’s cipher (in any version) is a straight substitution cipher, so you can solve it by substituting a letter for each symbol.

## Easy cryptograms with letter substitutions

These five cryptograms are all letter substitution ciphers, at an Easy level. Each letter of the alphabet is substituted by another letter, and no letter is encrypted as itself.

To start out on these puzzles, look for the most frequent letter in each cryptogram — you’ll find it’s almost always E. Single-letter words will be A or I. The words THE, AND, and THAT are the most commonly seen short words in English. Double letters and apostrophes are also helpful when cracking ciphers.

Easy Letter Cipher 1. Crack this cipher to reveal an interesting observation by J. Edgar Hoover, the first Director of the FBI.

XURXE-XSIINBZ, N EOCS PKRBQ, NF XES ASG XK USFDKBFNMIS JNXNYSBFEND. XES XEKRFOBQF KP JUNHNBOIF N EOCS FSSB NB PKUXG GSOUF KP IOT SBPKUJSHSBX EOCS EOQ KBS XENBZ NB JKHHKB: SCSUG FNBZIS KBS TOF O INOU.

Easy Letter Cipher 2.This cryptogram contains an old definition of Freemasonry:

HX YPW FNNR WPHE, TAM CNUU ALNM P VNRXGMZ, XYPX TMNNBPWARMZ HW P WZWXNB AT BAMPUHXZ, LNHUNE HR PUUNJAMZ PRE HUUGWXMPXNE FZ WZBFAUW.

Easy Letter Cipher 3. Look for repeating letter patterns to crack this cipher.

EOI ETQDGPI ZHEO ORKHLV RL QBIL CHLN, QM JQDTYI, HY EORE BIQBPI ZHPP HLYHYE QL JQCHLV RPQLV RLN ETFHLV EQ BDE EOHLVY HL HE. EITTF BTREJOIEE

Easy Letter Cipher 4. Discover what one American president thought about secret societies.

SDD AGRNGI, ZSIF-MZWCX, QZDKIKRSD QSNIKGA SNG XSCYGNZWA IZ SCL CSIKZC, CZ HSIIGN FZE QWNG ZN FZE QSINKZIKR IFG HZIKOGA SCX QNKCRKQDGA EFKRF JKNAI MNKCY IFGH IZYGIFGN. QNGAKXGCI WDLAAGA A YNSCI

Easy Letter Cipher 5. This was said by Dr. George Oliver (1782-1867), prominent English Freemason.

AV AL T QWVS AJRWGKOJV XJ OHOZS GTLXJ VX LWIIXZV T KZXVPOZ’L RPTZTRVOZ AJ PAL TKLOJRO OYWTNNS TL VPXWDP PO EOZO IZOLOJV; JXV VX ZOHANO PAG KOPAJQ PAL KTRU JXZ LWMMOZ AV VX KO QXJO KS XVPOZL, EAVPXWV WLAJD OHOZS JOROLLTZS TVVOGIV VX IZOHOJV AV.