Can you believe I'd never heard of this until a few weeks ago when I was doing some (proper, historical) research on John Dee, and found it mentioned in a footnote, dug up a lot of info about it on the web. One ot the most fascinating things I've ever heard of, anyway, so I thought I'd ask:
1) Is it "real"? i.e. is it an actual encrypted message, or just meaningless squiggles and pretty pictures?
2) Anybody got any pet theories on what it actually is/means? Or where/when it originates from?
3) Is it definitely linked to Dee, or is that just speculation?
4) Have any American student types linked it mischieviously to the (nonexistant) Necronomicon? Because the Dee angle just begs such a connection, doesn't it?
The VM came up in a thread a few weeks back, PDM. I think
it was a query about the books of Cornelius Agrippa and went
on to other weird books including the Lovecraft thing I can't

The VM came from the library of Rudolph II of Prague and Dee
was a guest at his court but there is no more direct link I know of.

It would be a bit galling if it turned out to be by a madman with
a thing about chubby ladies in hot baths. :)
Nothing wrong with chubby ladies in baths...

Well, according to something I read, apparently the page numbers on the VM are supposed to be "definitely" (ahem) in Dr Dee's handwriting, but that's a bit tenuous, to my mind. Very inconsiderate, by the way, to scribble on library books (even ones you don't understand), but they were like that in those days...
As for madmen, a linguist who analysed the recurrence of groups of symbols ("words") in the VM said that the syntax (and understand, I have no idea how he could be sure about this, not being a linguist or an encryption expert) resembled no known European language. In fact it most resembled certain Polynesian dialects or, alternatively, the half-lucid writings of chronic schizophrenics. So my money's on the madman theory.
Unless of course, it's the only surviving copy of the Secret History of the Templars!!! Or somesuch.
nothing wrong with ladies, chubby or otherwise, in or out of

The manuscript does in some ways resemble certain examples of 'outsider' or schizophrenic art... Obsessive repetition of arcane words and symbols that only the creator can decipher.

There is a large history even in this century of mad/singular men and women creating vast oeuvres in book form, impenetrable to anyone but themselves. Although the invention of a completely new language is more unusual.

That isn't to say that the manuscript wouldn't contain interesting or valuable information once decoded.


Re: nothing wrong with ladies, chubby or otherwise, in or ou

-M- said:
Although the invention of a completely new language is more unusual.

That isn't to say that the manuscript wouldn't contain interesting or valuable information once decoded.

Weren't there those twins who supposedly invented their own language, that nobody else understood? Can't remember their names or where I read about it.
As for deciphering it, I understand there's some sort of ongoing project to do so, isn't there? Does anybody know how much progress they've made?
And then there was that chap who said he'd translated it, and it was all about secret Cathar rituals, but I don't think anybody believed him.
To me, speaking purely as a layman, the VM illustrations I've seen look similar to some of the allegorical pictures in alchemical treatises from the medieval/renaissance period, but that's just a guess.
So we're looking for a schizophrenic alchemist with an eye for the ladies...
There is a natural tendency to try to relate the VM to alchemy
and there are some mighty weird treatises on that subject.

The Alchemy Virtual Library has an amazing range of material,
written and graphic:


But the VM just doesn't seem to relate to the Great Work in any

The underlying problem of the VM is the linguistic analysis which has
found a lower number of repeating patterns than in other human
languages. Fascinating but much of the online material is not
easy reading and some of it a bit mad in itself. :eek!!!!:
Well, yes, quite. I think I tend towards the idea that -M- outlines, that it's some sort of strange, esoteric work of art, meaningful only to the person who created it, although I can't speculate on that person's frame of mind. It amuses me to think of John Dee, if he ever saw it, trying to unlock its "secret wisdom" and, of course, failing because there was no secret wisdom to unlock (although who knows? we'd need to decipher it - probably an impossible task - to be sure of that). I don't think anybody will ever prove anything either way about the VM, although it's fun to speculate.
I've had that alchemy site bookmarked for ages, and keep meaning to have a good trawl through it, but never seem to find time.
I've heard of the VM but I no nothing about it. Anyone care to enlighten me? :confused:

Seeing as you helped me with the Sigil stuff, check out this website. Not the easiest to read, but loads of information.


I'm off for a jacuzzi....................

:madeyes: If anyone is interested there is a half-hour programme about the Voynich manuscript on Radio 4 at 8.00pm tonight. Might be worth a listen.....
Voynich manuscript: concerted attempts by supercomputer-enab

The current (17th November) edition of New Scientist carries a fascinating article about the latest attempts to decipher the Voynich manuscript. You may have to buy the mag, 'cos I think the Archive on their site is only accessible to people who have a subscription to the mag.
read that one and it seems intriguing that all they can show is that it probably is real text.

Mind you if it is Roger Bacon's lab notes it'll be great - expect rapid advances in AI :D

I suspect it is a chinese text saying "Boy, these europeans are really backwards"
The voynich manuscript...

Was the subjest of an FT article (with colour photos) not too long ago. Last year possibly. I assume you could probably get it through this very website. (Unless you don't actually read the world's finest magazine, in which case Shame on you, Sir!)
There is a theory that the VM is indecipherable (much like my spelling) due to contraction of the pages over the years, which has altered the letters.
I only mention this for completeness, as I for one believe this to be a load of old huey. I'm pretty much convinced that the VM is a very personal manuscript - the meaning was probably largely only relevant to it's creator.

Now, I normally take a very open minded approach to such matters, so prepare for me to be proved wrong and shot down in flames as no-one ever has been.
I wrote a letter to the Fortean Times saying that I could see the word Zoe or Zo repeated throughout the text, i.e. my name. Zoe is a Greek word meaning "Life" which I have seen used on alchemical documents to mean the elixir of life.

However the *****ers did not publish my letter and I'm still bitter.
Might be a repeat

Currently listening to this on Radio 4

The Most Mysterious...

Radio 4

Mon 9 Sep, 11:00 - 11:30 30 mins

In 1912, Wilfrid Voynich, an antiquarian book collector, bought an old manuscript richly illustrated with mysterious plants, astronomical maps and naked women.

The beautiful, flowing text is written in an unknown script and what appears to be an unknown language. Despite the efforts of the world's top code breakers, the book remains unread.

Could its author be Roger Bacon, the 13th-century English scientist? Is it a hoax? Does the text conceal a formula for the elixir of life? Gerry Kennedy investigates.

I don't know if this is a series...could have other interesting Fortean Topics if it is.
I had another quick look at the Voynich MS the other week. But the
idea of understanding anything, when it has defeated so many, seems
daunting. Unless that is part of the problem - the way it attracts
monomaniacs. It seems to be widely believed that sections of the
MS describe a number of different subjects, such as strange astronomy,
strange botany etc. At least two different "languages" or ciphers are

Like many "Voynich Tourists" I mainly look at the pictures and leave the
script to linguists. I went through a stage of believing the supposed
botanical drawings were versions of the Cabbala and some of the
odd fruit and flowers very much resembled the ecstatic visionary
art of Hildegard of Bingen. But on another occasion, I convinced
myself that one of the plants was bearing cocoa pods and the whole
work could be an imperfect transcription from some lost Mayan? sources.
These are the sort of hunches which seem exciting for a few moments,
until you find nothing comes together.

As regards baths, I was surprised to read how popular they were in the
early Medieval period. There were thirty-two public bathhouses in Paris
in 1268. Later, they became associated with immorality and were
closed during the 1300s, leaving us with the word "stews" which came
to mean brothels. Jean Gimpel remarks, in his essential book The Medieval Machine,
that "Hygiene then disappeared from Western society, not to reappear
for half a millennium".

So far as I know, there is no complete Voynich on the Web
yet but Yale University Library has about 60 of the 200 or so pages
available as images on its site. A complete b & w photocopy is available
from the same place, if anyone fancies their chances. :rolleyes:
I wonder if it could be someone's attempt to copy a much older text, of which they had no (or a very limited) understanding? Just a thought.
My pet theory is that it's an encrypted version of an early modern artificial language, such as those of John Wilkins or Francis Lodwick. This would account for the fact that it's less entropic and far more repetitive than most natural languages. It would also, of course, involve denying the MS's medieval origins....:confused: :hmph: :confused: ...curses!
Going through some of the images, i found an unusually high number of repetitions, particularly in the following pages...

Folio 15v (http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/8389/voynich/medium/f15v.jpg) : (transliterated) crox;
Folio 17v (http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/8389/voynich/medium/f17v.jpg : (transliterated) offcox;
Folio 47r : ccox;
Folio 75r: gotte8g; also on 75v (http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/8389/voynich/medium/f75v.jpg), 78r, and 84r

These aren't simply cases of frequent words - in most cases there are whole lines consisting of a single word, repeated over and over again
Great documentary on BBC2 last night about this mysterious cypher. However, the linguist experts made a bit of a mistake I feel! They said that certain words in the manuscript were repeated sometimes up to 4 times, and this is the equivalent of using the word "the" twice in a sentence - "the the", and the chap couldn't think of an instance of this occurring. It occurred to me that this sometimes happens in English, for instance, saying "its very, very, very, very hot".

Anyone else see this programme?


Yep, I saw it. I think they made a point about the repitition because it happens alot in single sentences, right through the book. I also thought what the herbalists said about the book was very interesting. Whilst I don't think the manuscript is a modern fake, I've often wondered if it was in fact (as the programme implied) a medieval fake made to look like something esoteric (for whatever reasons). Or perhaps it's like 'outsider art', but made by some strange monk somewhere in medieval Italy ;)
Yes I saw it too, by accident, it wasn't too well trailed.

A good little programme, I thought the herbalists made a pretty good case for it being a coded pharmacopeia. The case for it being an alchemical text looks quite atrong as well.

The angelic language connection was pretty intriguing too, any centuries long conspiracy involving John Dee and Kelly has to be entertaining.

There's the makings of a really grand conspiracy theory for someone, with Roger Bacon, John Dee, Sidney Reilly 'Ace of Spies' (allegedly one of the inspirations for James Bond), the Jesuits and possibly ETs involved. And I wonder if the time when Reilly and Voynich were researching medieval manuscripts in the library at the British Museum, conicided with the time when Charles Hoy Fort was carrying out his research there.;)
DPL said:
It occurred to me that this sometimes happens in English, for instance, saying "its very, very, very, very hot".

Sometimes, but not often, and mostly in the speech of children. At any rate, given the sheer amount of repetition, it would be more like "it's very, very, very, very, very, very, very, (repeat for next two lines) hot".

A crying shame that carbon dating of the manuscript is forbidden.
Can't scholars learn anything about the book from the bindings, book, vellum etc.?
from what the narrator (was it Ken Cranham?) said, coding was almost a competitive sport in medieval Italy, meaning that the creators of the manuscript may have used a code something so utterly intricate it has yet to be unravelled.

But from what various experts to have studied the manuscript have said, it doesn't obey any of the known "formats" of coding as understood by those in the know. They can't reverse engineer to find any kind of logical path that the code makers might have gone down (which is a different thing from being able to solve the code, but would at least have identified it as code).

On the other hand, as mentioned by other posters, the script also breaks all the rules that would make it a newly devised language.

Yet it's got to be one of the two, surely? (code or language)

I felt they glossed over the issue of the manuscript's age. It's dated to the 15th century, but it depicts a sunflower, unknown in Europe until 1492. So are they narrowing it down to an 8 year window?
Saw it too, seems to have been a repeat from BBC4 (another reason to get one of those set-top free-to-air digital boxes). I was especially fascinated to hear the history of the book and the hands it had passed through - particularly Dee and Kelly. Dee was a master cryptographer and spy - the original 007 - and also, as explained, had experience of channelled "angelic" languages. It would be very interesting to see if Dee made any mention of the text in his diaries...