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The pigpen cipher is a specific type of written code that uses a variety of symbols made from spatial constructs to represent letters of an alphabet, rather than replacing one alphabetic letter with another, versus traditional ciphers.
The pigpen cipher, which dates back to the 18th century, is also known as the Masonic cipher or Freemason cipher because of its use by secretive groups that purportedly shield their practices from public scrutiny. The term also is known as the Rosicrucian cipher, is attributed to a esoteric religious group or secret society of medieval Germany.
With a pigpen cipher, an encoder positions alphabetic letters in a specific configuration that relates to a set of physical symbols - in many cases, a tic-tac-toe board or set of adjacent squares. Other popular pigpen cipher structures include the letter X, where one alphabetic letter sits in each axis' right angle corner. These physical structures constitute pigpen cipher keys. The individual that holds these keys has the ability to understand which letters represent corresponding symbols, as these symbols are drawn representations of individual key structure pieces.