Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Ars Notoria, sive Flores Aurei

Browsing through the Beinecke Library alchemy works collection I was struck by similarities between two pages  of Ars Notoria (Mellon MS 1 here) and the Voynich manuscript f86r.

Ars Notoria contains prayers mixed with magic words (mostly made-up names). The book was not favored by the church, but was present in the inventory of Canterbury, Charles VI of France, the Dukes of Milan and was heavily researched in Bohemia by Mattheus Beran at the very beginning of the 15th century ( here).

Beinecke Library also owns a fine copy of the Ripley Scroll (Mellon MS 41 here) were we find alchemy process illustrated by eight circles  pointing to ninth one in the center, which reminds of the 'nine rosette' VMS f86v.  Similar 9-circles configuration is also found in 17th century alchemy book woodcut (Beinecke, Z92 15 here).

Similarities of the Voynich manuscript with alchemy works seems to be bad news for researchers (especially when magic words are involved).


  1. Well, Ellie,

    Folio 86r3: Several months ago, I identified that folio as being the discussion of the Shaggy-Mane mushroom and the deadly look-alike Alcohol Inky. At the same time, I mentioned, as an aside to you, that it may have been the cause of death of your "orphan" Pope. I began my discussion with the observation that the style of writing on all four side/margins of a manuscript probably was so that a lecturer could simply rotate the folio and continue speaking without having to flip to a new page or cue card. My translation and reading of folio 86r3 found references to Alcyone and Ceyx: mythical lovers who were transformed into kingfishers (birds who nest on water".

    It looks like we've done another tour completely around the Alban Lake and its smaller neighbor Lake Nemi. Do you remember that I intitiated the forum topic "Round 'n Round (in which I labeled that folio as the "Nine Rosettes" and discussed each "Rosette") ? Do you recall that it was only a few days after Nick returned from Frascati that supposedly his blog was hacked?

    Anyway, I can't blame Nick for being reluctant to acknowledge that "someone" has proven that there is NO alchemy in the Voynich manuscript. There is also NO cryptology (no secret code words/labels).

    Of course it is much more fun to compare the visual aspects of various manuscripts rather than slogging through page after page of various handwritten manuscripts. However, I have spent most of yesterday and today digging in the archives of the Carmina Cantabrigiensia". Wikipedia has a good discussion and illustration of one of the Cantabrigien folios: fol 436. If you find the right Wiki page, and are interested in hearing Sara Brightman sing one of the cantos, check the link which wiki offers.

    A virtual goldmine of actual manuscript hand-written cantos/songs which show very clearly each and every "mysterious cipher" which appears in the Vms (Boenicke 408).

    My husband's due home soon -- it will not surprise him in the least to see me still online with my computer. Do check my commentary on Nick's page "That which..........". Thomas Spande and I are buried some 5 pages in from Nick's current main page.

    I've recently contacted Bill Thayer at University of Chicago re my findings/translations of 8 different folios. I've already promised Nick that I'll be contacting a local "small-book" publisher who does a very decent job of printing our offerings.

    Husband is home! I'll catch up with you later......."a tout a l'heure"!

  2. I'm usually better at paragraphing my commentary. If do follow up on my reference to Sarah Brightman singing Carmina Cantabrigia (436?) in Vienna, you will find a brief "visual" backdrop which is an enlarged photo of one of the illustrations you posted, here on your pages, not too long ago. I'm still working on the clue which you yourself noted: The very mischievous and strange looking tree.

    My take on that tree was that it WAS a tree. The Vms, however, didn't (doesn't) have any trees at all. But, I found a couple of "berries" in the Vms. So I've added Vms folio 11v to my pile of translations:

    So, Boenicke Ms 408 (common name Voynich) folio 11v illustration appeared to me as a fruit of the Mulberry tree. I suspect that I will find some reference as to the value of this tree (the leaves feed silkworms) -- and maybe a reference to another mythological pair of lovers: Pyramus and Thisbe. We'll see!