Emilie Autumn’s Enchant puzzle

One of my projects for 2015 is to once and finally either solve the  Enchant Puzzle or to show that there is no solution. The puzzle was given away with the first release of her album Enchant in 2003, subsequent issues have not included the puzzle. I have tried a few times since 2007 but never progressed more than a few steps.

This time I am going to put my thought processes out in the open, and this blog represents my ideas, successes and failures in pursuit of the Faerie Queene. I make no apology for leaping straight into the process without giving readers a more complete description of the puzzle, the prizes or of Emilie herself. For background information there are many other sources. For copyright reasons I don’t intend showing more than small sections of the puzzle board, or anything else associated with the puzzle here. Again google if you wish, it isn’t all that far away.

Along the way I may often allow myself to wander off up side alleys, tree-branching is still a thing you know, but always I shall return to the central point of finding out what, if anything, it all means. All comments and inputs from fellow travellers in the hunt will be more than welcome, if not actively sought. But remember, many of us have very strong opinions on other aspects of Emilie’s work, but this isn’t the place to air them. This blog will be very very strictly moderated. This is my puzzle blog and any discussion on other issues will be very quickly deleted – I will be ruthless.

You can leave comments, and please do,  or read what other people are saying by clicking on the comment link at the end of each post. To send me an email use the contact tab.

full circle

After listening to and reading the lyrics over and over again, I do nothing but keep returning to my initial premise that Across the Sky is the key to it all.

Almost all of the songs have a well structured narrative text, whilst parts of Across the Sky seem little more than a jumble of words. of course it is possible to interpret it as a story, but it takes a lot more work than it does for just about all of the other songs. It doesn’t fit with the other songs, and I just have to assume that it was written specifically with the puzzle in mind.

Across the Sky also has one of the greatest densities of occurrences of words from the board.

So i do think we have to read this as a key to the puzzle in some way – look at the first verse

See beyond the moment
Think beyond the day
Hear the word
My voice will not be cast away
Fatalisitic fortune
Ever near the end
Love goes on
But Time does not return again.

The first thing I notice are the first words of the first three lines – see, think, here – these are instruction words for solving the puzzle, aren’t they? This is what I have been doing all year.

The other thing is that every line has a word that could be connected with the puzzle board – edge word, picture or anagram word.

But is the verse itself a kind of word puzzle, or just a set of instructions.

We could possibly construct new words or phrases – see beyond the moment being interpreted as moment followed by see – or substitute moment with die/dice from the puzzle and get ” see dice”. Which is onviously meaningless, but you get the drift, rearranging and substituting to form something new.

or are they just instructions to look deeper into the puzzle – see beyond what is immediately visible kind of thing.

I’m sure this song is the key, it just needs a little unlocking

still listening

thank you for all the recent contributions.

Mark’s work with anagrams has thrown up some fascinating combinations – i’m sure there must be something in it all if only we knew how to use it.

i agree with is point about the contrast with Masquerade, in that masquerade was split into discrete parts – pages – each of which contributed more or less equally to the solution. In this case we have just a single puzzle board.

This is why i have previously worked on the principle that each song, or at least many of the songs, provide a part of the solution. But we keep coming back to the same old issue of how to extract words from the songs. Using the pictures is an obvious approach, and one I worked on quite a bit earlier in the year, with little success.

the two things that are keeping me going at present are:

the line in the sonnet saying “if in your ear a flame is lit”, and
the line in the press release which talks about audio clues.

There is something to hear that draws you to the solution – whether a single phrase in one song, or selected words from a number of songs – but how to identify them?

At present i am playing the album through my headphones whenever I get the opportunity, which admittedly is rare at present, there must be a clue that you can hear -but so far i’m still listening.

straws, clutching at

So I spent this morning’s train ride into work staring at the eleven words around the edge of the board.

Once again the immediate thing that strikes you is the spacing, EVER is so spread out on the top of the board, and up the left hand side FATE and VOICE are squashed in while NAME and WHISPER have much more room. If you were to write those eleven words evenly around the board you wouldn’t do it like that.

Thus we can only assume that the positioning of some characters on the border is important.

This i have discussed right at the start of the blog, during my so far failed attempts to derive musical notes by drawing across from the fire balls to the edge letters. I haven’t given up on that, although it hasn’t given me much success either.

So I spent this morning looking for other things you could do with these border words.

The closest I got was drawing from the large dots between words through the centre of the wheel to the opposite side. I began to get excited when, starting from the top, the first three letters it produced were T-H-E, it continued with A-O-V-O-N then the final line hit the double I sign in the bottom right hand corner. The double I is a Roman number 2, and also the astrological symbol for Gemini of course.

Still, without that spare letter O we could read this as “To The Avon” – obviously a reference to the river that flows through Stratford – Shakespeare’s birthplace. The spare O is just a lifebelt for anyone drowning in despair at the puzzle.

Hm, clucthing at straws indeed.

song for the day

I hadn’t ever really paid much attention to the lyrics of this song, but was stirred to dig deeper when it was mentioned  on the Wayward Victorian Confessions tumblr yesterday, specifically with reference to the line

“Go ahead and solve the puzzle if you need the glory…

Which I don’t think relates directly to the Enchant puzzle, though it is quite apt and on giving it more attention I found that there are quite a few other lines in that song which really do sound sound as though they could have been written much later than they actually were – a little prophetic perhaps.

Still, i’m not here for either the prizes or glory – well, not for the prizes at least,  a little glory never goes amiss

as always, I’ve just randomly grabbed this from youtube, I’ll happily remove it on request from the owner if necessary.

word games …continued

I was friendly with a group of archaeologists a while back, and after digging on a site for a long time without finding anything they used to try to impress on me that proving that something doesn’t exist is just as important as proving that something does exist – it just seems a lot more boring at the time.

I suppose there are similar ideas in many of the sciences, and in a way that is what we might be doing here.

The exercise posted yesterday, admirably followed up in the comments section below the post, demonstrated the huge number of words that can be generated from each box. Most of them appear completely useless in deriving anything that might be used in the puzzle – again a few words do appear that look like solution words, but again in any big jumble of words you are bound to find a few like that.

I keep on saying that a rule for selecting the letters is the key – again going back to Masquerade it was the figures on the page that pointed to the letters.

One simple comparison is the star box – the points of the star point to TEPLO. Now out of all the possible anagrams you can make from the letters surrounding that box, not one of them can be made from TEPLO.

So this morning on the train I looked at drawing lines from the spot in the centre of the wheel out to the fires of the insects tails, to see which letters each line crossed.

Working clockwise from the top left I got.

1 O-N-O

2. S-W-M

3. I-L-P

4. N-T-E

5. V-I

6. I-P-P

7. I-E-L

which I wasn’t able to find anything at all useful in, which i shall treat as another avenue explored and another door closed

new word games

So, for the first six months of this search I have generally been wedded to the simple concept that each of the boxes on the board contains a set of bold letters which form an anagram of a word that can be found in the song lyrics and each box contains a picture representing a word that can be also found in the song lyrics. Because those links exist I have assumed that they must be important to the solution, and it doesn’t seem to have got me very far.

I think it’s time to take a leap outside these assumptions and see what happens if we look at things differently.

The first thing I am revisiting is the letter grids. Previously I have sorted the letters in each grid into two sets – the bold and the unbold or fuzzy letters in each group. In most cases using the bold letters I have only been able to form a single word and in many cases there was no word to be made from the left over letters.

Once we relax this restriction of bold and unbold however the possibilities become much greater. By way of examples I have considered the three boxes down the right hand side of the puzzle just to see how many words I can make, much like those puzzles you get in the newspaper.

Half an hour yielded the following:

Rose box – bold letters word is spell/

I also found: sleep, tell, sell, steep, pestle, pest, pelt, settle

Castle box – bold letters word – mind

also: made, maid, send, sand, snide, mend, name, amend, dine, dime, dame, and, inside, mean, dean, simian, me, idea

Dice box – bold letters word = moment

also: time, tone, mime, to, it, one, me, meme, mote, note, emote, emit, teem, tome, mien

ok, so I admit most of the words are not particularly useful, but it does demonstrate the range of words that could possibly be brought into play – there are a few words that could feasibly relate to communicating the answer – i found tell, send, to, me etc. – obviously once again, with the large number of words generated it is inevitable that a few words that could be construed as part of a message would be just randomly generated. As always we would need a rule to select letters and words from the grids.

This again I will park here and probably revisit before long.

more on the letter grid

So, I’m fickle – I tell myself I’m going to concentrate on listening for hints in the music, but I soon find myself drawn back to the letter grid. It’s symptomatic I suppose of really not being sure where I should be heading at present.

There is some comfort in spending time looking at the letters though, they form a much more concrete problem, something you can focus on and believe time is well spent and that progress is being made, rather than the more nebulous practice of  listening out for clues in the music without really having any  idea of what you are listening for.

While any particular aspect of the music may or may not be important, we have to assume that there is some importance in all those letters, if we could just decide what it is.

incidentally there are 88 letters in the grids at the centre of the board, 11 pictures with 8 letters around each. Of these 15 (17%) are the letter E, 10 ( 11%) are I There are eight S, six N and O, five A, L and T and a jumble of other letters. F,G,J,U,X and Z don’t appear.

The absence of an F stops us making faerie obviously,  the missing U also prevents us making any other parts of Emilie’s name, she wasn’t a Liddell back in those days of course.

i have thought of three ways that we can tackle these letters:

1. That we form the anagrams from the darker letters , which each point to a section of a song. We then ignore the rest of the letters on the grid because their job is then done.  Obviously we are drawn to this because of the nature of the puzzle. The eight letters around each picture do provide enough bold letters to form an anagram of a word in a song. There can be no way that this is coincidence, it has to be deliberate. But – and this is the issue we have to answer here is – is this because it is a part of the solution or is it a red herring, an interesting diversion?

We have to remember in Masquerade that  there were letters picked out in red around the border which could be anagrammed into words, but these formed no part of the solution. There were other ways of selecting the letters needed for the answer.

Still if we take the words as pointers to locations within songs this enables us to look for links with “audible clues”. This is something i’ve explored at length, the main problem being that some words occur quite often whilst others only once – its difficult to determine a pattern or identify a next step based on this process.

2. There is a possibility that we need to form an anagram from all 88 letters I suppose. The key thing that argues against that is that we have a Q in the top box and nowhere in the puzzle do we have a U. That immediately prevents us from producing any sensible solution in English, unless of course we find that the prize is hidden in Qatar. Maybe FIFA have had a hand in it somewhere.

That isn’t quite the end of that – go back to the sonnet at the top of the puzzle – every U is a V in that text, we do have 3 letter Vs in the boxes, if we converted those into Us we could then use the Q.   I think though this is my least likely solution, so I shall park that here for now.

3. That a subset of the 88 letters are to be used, and that subset is not necessarily controlled by the distinction between bold and light letters. This is a definite possibility and again links in with Masquerade. In this case we need a methodology for selecting letters.

This is the route Mark has been working along in his recent comments, and I was  certainly interested in  the words that he has found in left hand and right hand columns. I have drawn up a grid with the letters in, so that I can look at it without the distractions of pictures and fonts and stared at it for an hour or so.

Within the letters of the left hand column we can find the word “solved” and intriguingly the S, O and L come from the top left hand corner letters in each box and the V E D from the left hand middle letters. That does leave us with a fairly useless I, B L in the bottom left hand corners.

This was my problem with the approach of picking out whole columns. Either we use all of the letters or we find a more detailed approach to selecting letters – Masquerade you remember used the characters eyes.

Similarly if we merge in the very left hand and far right hand columns we are able to construct “tell Emilie”, once we use those three Ls we are no longer able to construct “solved” as well, and there are once again many letters left over. it’s interesting, given the high frequency of occurrence of the letters E and I particularly, we can form the word Emilie many times, but it never appears complete in a single row or column.

I am coming to the conclusion that there is value in looking for anagrams in the 88 letters, ignoring the anagrams of song lyrics already found, but I do think there is a need to find rules for selecting letters rather than cherry picking – maybe this is where lines drawn from the fire flies comes in?

I certainly think there’s mileage in this approach – whether it provides the final solution, or just a stepping stone on the way.

catching up

IMGP0352It’s one of the great tragedies of life that everyone else’s priorities are so different to mine. I mean, what is more important – solving Emilie’s puzzle, or solving all these interminable problems that work and life throw at you?

Still, things seem to be getting back onto a slightly more even keel again, so I can find time to devote to this faerie queen and her poetry once more.

i have spent the last few days trying to work out where to go next with my efforts at finding a solution, and don’t seem to have a really clear plan in my head anymore – to many other things have pushed their way in there, I suppose.

It was, I admit, a little disappointing to find that If You Feel Better was the only song to fit the key signature on the stave. I have read that song now forwards, backwards and sideways and for all that I can tell, it is one of the least likely tracks on the album to hold any sort of clue. It just doesn’t seem to fit.

What I am wondering though is whether we can find a short phrase of music that does fit that key that pops up in the background of another song or songs – that is my primary hope for that little stave at present. When she talks about audio clues that could be something to explore. I need to listen carefully to any little background snippets in the songs that might work.

I need to thank one correspondent for contributing all of these complex anagrams. It does seem interesting that it is possible to piece together phrases like “Tell Emilie” etc from the letters around the boxes. I just wonder though whether it is just because, if you had a box with enough letters in it then you could make more or less any phrase you wanted – a bit like the monkeys and the typewriters producing Shakespeare plays.

I think you need a definite key that leads you to which letters you use and which you ignore – unless of course you can use the whole lot of them. It is definitely a promising lead and well worth exploring further.

 

That’s a picture I took of Emilie way back when – if only she could give us a clue of here to go next.

 

Anyway I’m pleased to be back on her trail.

apologies

sorry for not having responded to comments or provided updates recently.

I know people have been making some interesting suggestions which i need to consider, but I have been very busy in work over the past few weeks, and I have an exam next week. I hope to pick up on all the threads soon after

At present, when i get chance I am listening to the songs again – carefully – to see if there is anything i can pick up on regarding the “audio clues contained within the Enchant album”

e-card

Thanks to Jenny for sending me this link – I’d totally forgotten about this

random thought for the day

did you know that if you take the words Fate, Alone, Ever, Choice and Never from around the edge, put them together and then extract every fourth letter it spells out FAERIE

hmm.

Emilie on Remember

From an interview in 2003, Emilie speaks about Remember

Remember is one of my favorite songs on the album. What’s funny is, I didn’t write it for me, I wrote it for Annie Lennox, not that she would ever care to sing it or that I ever gave it to her, but I wrote the song years ago before I began singing, and I envisioned Annie singing the song as I wrote it, which is how the vocal lines were guided in the particular way they were. It seems odd to say now, but it’s true.

As to the record crackles at the beginning and the end, the idea is this: Someone puts on an old record and is instantly transported back in time to, say, the 30s. A ghostly woman in a long satin gown is walking the streets at midnight drawn towards the presence of the invisible time traveler. He is her lover from a past existence, and she taunts him with her remembrance. In the end, he is called away from the ghost back to our modern world to the sound of the record player.

source

time

Just for completeness, to follow the table I posted last week, I’m going to add the phrases that follow “time” in each of the songs, though I must say I’m going off the idea that this might lead somewhere at the moment. I’m sure we’ll come back to it at some stage.

Song What Comes Next
Across the sky But Time does not return again
Second Hand Faith Steal my wallet, charge me double
Castle Down There will come a Time,When I am stronger
Juliet I’ll never recreate the Time that flies, the consequence is hanging there
Rose Red It’s Time you go on Get your things, get up, get out
Heard It All Cause it isn’t the first time I’ve heard it all
Chambermaid I am out of place, And honey you are out of Time, I’d tell your fortune.
You’ve been gone such a long time, Won’t you turn around
Ever You were behind my soul each time I held it to the flame
Remember I remember you Like a memory of a Time gone by, Many things I’ve seen

endgame revisited

so, just coming back to the piece I wrote last week about the endgame. A couple of people have written since pointing out elements that I’m sure I have read before, but had clearly forgotten in that piece.

The first point considers whether everyone in the world starts off on a level footing, or whether US based people have an advantage through having to visit a physical location. I did consider the fact that Emilie may have been writing at the time for an almost completely American fanbase, but someone reminded me of the text below, which I believe comes from some pre-release publicity from the time:

What makes the Enchant Puzzle unique is that it is based upon audio clues contained within the Enchant album, as well as a puzzle board included in the album’s artwork.

The puzzle board was painted by Emilie Autumn herself and will not be shown until the release of the album, which has an anticipated release date of April, 2002 on Traitor Records.

The object of the puzzle is to find the location of the raiments of the Faerie Queen (a priceless collection of hand-wrought, crystal encrusted artwork: wings, scepter, ruff and fan), using only the album and the puzzle board as clues.

The prizes go to the first to solve the puzzle, which will continue until it is solved.

Lastly, anyone can play the game from any location, as no travelling or actual earth digging is required for the prize to be found.

So, obviously now the puzzle has to reveal some form of communication – on line. phone or post.

Another writer reminded me of  this extract from a conversation with Emilie that I posted earlier in the year

A: “Oh! The Enchant puzzle…with the redesign of the website, the page was temporarily taken down, but we’re putting it back up shortly…thing is though, you don’t enter the answers, that’s the trick…you must do it another way…”

One thing I hadn’t picked up on before is that she says “you don’t enter the answers” in the plural – rather than answer singular;  And just note, that although she says that you don’t enter the answers,  she doesn’t say that the Enchant website has no role at all  in the puzzle.

Ok, so maybe the plot thickens – but at least we know that there isn’t a physical location to reach so we aren’t looking for maps and descriptions of a place to find or a route to take, but we must be looking for answers and a way, other than merely entering them in at a website,  of communicating them.

picture puzzles

so, I’ve been thinking over the weekend that with all aspects of the puzzle we have to keep our minds open and not shut out alternative ideas.

For a couple of weeks now I’ve been running down that path directed by the idea that you that the words are pointers to locations within songs. We have stated often that all the words generated by the pictures and the anagrams can be found in the lyrics – and obviously that isn’t coincidence. But because it is the case doesn’t mean that it is necessary to jump from picture, or anagram, to song.

So what else could the pictures be/

First thought – why not a giant rebus puzzle? We already have the example with the four little pictures in the corner – the eye, the bee, the leaf and the two – which we have read as I believe too. So why not treat the eleven pictures as a rebus?

Going back to the phrase “hear the word” – is this a pointer to a rebus – when you speak the words out loud, or in a certain pattern can you hear a totally different message? Just as you do with the eye, bee, leaf, too.

Well try as I might I haven’t managed to hear anything from saying out the picture words – but there may be something there.

OR

how about if the pictures are pointers – once again like Masquerade? The unusual triangular formation of the 3 side of the dice just made me think is this drawn this way to form an arrowhead? To point to something, and can we find pointers within the other pictures? With a stretch of imagination often you can – the way the curtain is pulled aside forms a triangle, as does the sand sliding through the hour glass. Where do they all point to?

In a way I think it’s important to get inside Emilie’s head as she created the puzzle – what were her interests. I’m sure if she had a strong feeling for maths we may find a lot of geometrical puzzles – shapes, patterns and lines. But you get the idea she was more into poetry and history. Her interest in Shakespeare and things Elizabethan come out strongly both in the puzzle and her poems of the time – so maybe we are looking more towards word puzzles.

So need to attack this on three fronts this week – hearing the word, both in the songs and imaginatively from pictures, and also looking for pointers in the pictures.

I’m sure there are more ways in which the pictures can be interpreted too.

Just a little request

you know, I’m sure there are going to be some people who will use the ideas and information I post on here and take it away to try to solve the puzzle by themselves. Who, knows, a little titbit of something I write maybe the missing link that gives someone else the prize.

And really I don’t mind if this happens. I’m not here for the glory, just for the thrill of the chase. But what I do ask is, that if this does happen, and we here help, in however little a way, then whoever does find the solution comes here afterwards and tells us all how they got there and what the final answer is.

I think that’s only fair.

towards the endgame

A number of people recently have highlighted the lack of a well defined endgame. We have really no idea of what form the puzzle solution is expected to take. Is this a major flaw in the puzzle? In fact, does it lead to it becoming virtually insolvable?

The way most people have worked has been  to assume that the solution has to be a method for communicating with Emilie to demonstrate to her that the puzzle has been solved. In its simplest form people have suggested that this would be a phone number, an email address or a website address. I’m not wholly convinced at this stage that we are looking for something so simple.

Looking objectively these types of address can be so ephemeral these days, and we have to remember that many of the normal communication channels, facebook, twitter etc that we use today were not around when the puzzle was set – wouldn’t it be awful to find the prize was linked to some ancient archived myspace account.

The Masquerade puzzle actually referred to a real buried prize, and people knew that they were looking for geographic instructions showing where to dig for it. In some ways this must have made the puzzle more easy (though obviously it could never be described as easy) since a definite format of solution was always in view. We should note that this puzzle had a bias in favour of British searchers since the prize, and thus the locations described in the solution, were in the UK.

The suggestion that the Enchant solution can’t refer to a physical location to visit comes from the line in the sonnet which states that “never need you look to foreign shores” which gives support to the notion that anyone in the world has an equal chance of finding the solution and prize. Although of course when she wrote the puzzle in the early part of her career she had few international fans and would have been writing for a predominantly, if not wholly, American audience. Whether in this case she could have been considering a physical location within the US should be considered.

I do think at this stage we have to keep these options open.  Again she does hint at a two part solution, the first maybe an instruction followed by a more detailed address.

I suppose too that we have to consider the option that the prizes themselves are not physical objects, but more metaphorical fairy wings and sceptres. What if the solution to the puzzle produced a certificate congratulating the solver and conferring on them a suitable fairy title such as might go with these accouterments. In this case the prize is rather the glory of solving the puzzle rather than the actual wings themselves.

Earlier versions

A correspondent mentioned If You Feel Better yesterday,  a song to which I must admit I haven’t paid that much attention so far. But it did remind me that a version of If You Feel Better also appears in Emilie’s book of poetry Your Sugar Sits Untouched (YSSU)

Turning to that volume shows a very different version, which really may not be surprising since she has had to convert a piece in song format with verses and chorus into a poem structure. The first verse remains and parts of the third, but the remainder of it is totally different.

This did get me thinking about sequencing of writing though, since Your Sugar Sits Untouched is a revised version of the earlier publication Across the Sky and Other Poems.

As far as I can determine, the publication dates were:

  • 2001: Across the Sky and Other Poems
  • 2003: Enchant
  • 2005: Your Sugar Sits Untouched

I don’t have access to the Across the Sky book so I cannot look at the differences between the poems in that book and in YSSU. The introduction to YSSU, however, suggests that it is an expanded version of Across the Sky.

The only link to any Enchant song that I can find in YSSU is this version of If You Feel Better. Tellingly there is no poem called Across the Sky in YSSU – although the title of the earlier book implies that such a poem may have existed.

If there is a poem version of Across the Sky dating from a couple of years before Enchant then this could contradict  my supposition that Across the Sky was written specifically as a key to the puzzle. It would at this point be useful to know whether it existed much earlier and how much, if at all, it was changed for inclusion on Enchant.

hear the word

Hopefully this is a complete list of what you hear next after hearing each of the picture word clues – all except time which occurs so often that it becomes a list in its own right, and I’ll do that one later. A few interesting phrases, but is there anything we can make out of them?

Picture What Comes Next
Mask now, underneath is a deep dark secret
Time
Moon or moon and stars  Ever in my sight
… or night  Fear no more the sea
Rose that fell a flower, I should have known
Would you tear my castle down
Curtain Put her hand outside of the frame
waits a darker world
Get behind it
Fortune  But the words don’t rhyme
 Cast your dice
Castle Cause I just can’t afford to love you
…down, stone by stone
Stars  …came out, she heard them shout
…you know, don’t need no crystal ball to tell me so
Sky  will fall, but I don’t care
… or clouds … I see, sitting in a Chinese restaurant
Dice divine my fate
Frame Let her hair down
and the glass is breaking now

search your land

So just to show that interest in Emilie and the puzzle still remains across the world, I have had visitors from 23 different countries since I started this search.

Argentina
Australia
Austria
Belgium
Brazil
Canada
Czech Republic
Denmark
France
Germany
Ireland
Italy
Netherlands
Philippines
Poland
Romania
Serbia
Slovakia
Spain
Sweden
UK
USA
Venezuela

If everyone is looking in all of these places then surely we must turn up the prize somewhere. Thank you for your interest and input.