Analysis: The Voynich Manuscript

Named after the book dealer who acquired it in 1912, the handwritten and hand-painted Voynich manuscript has defied decipherment by cryptographers, including World War I and World War II military code-breakers. The author, language, and identities of plants illustrated in the book are all unknown. Carbon-dating the vellum and testing the ink has indicated that the book was made in the period of 1404 to 1438. The book is presently owned by Yale University. 

In the 1950s, a team of NSA cryptographers is said to have hypothesized that the manuscript’s text is most likely a European language rendered obscure by using an algorithm to draw letters from a uniquely created alphabet. Many other assumptions were also made with respect to word length, removal of vowels, the rearrangement of letters, and false word breaks, among others. Adding to the difficulty of decoding the book, some pages are missing, pages appear to have been reordered, the number of characters in the enigmatic alphabet is uncertain, some words appear only rarely, some words are repeated with unusual frequency, word structure is unusual, punctuation is absent, and there are symbols that appear astrological. The NSA’s decoding effort reportedly failed. 

Among several hypotheses, it has been suggested that the words in the manuscript are disguised code numbers to be looked up in a separate codebook. This hypothesis is problematic because such approach to coding is unlikely to have been used in such a lengthy document. Other theories have also been considered: that it is a hybrid or constructed language, for example, but all ideas have been set aside for one reason or another, not the least of which reasons is failure to actually decode the book. 

Our theory is new: that a method similar to a codebook was used, except that where a code and codebooks would normally be created for the purpose of periodically encoding and decoding messages to and from a second party, this was created for one encoding application and many subsequent readings by a person holding forbidden knowledge and secret power. Although the manuscript’s alien language would be impossible to read without a codebook, the codebook itself required a code-map contained in a third book. Each of the three books would be meaningless or appear benign without the other two. 

What we are envisioning in our hypothesis is a situation where one person found and translated a book of ancient knowledge of plants used to make poisons, transferring the knowledge to a set of three interlocking texts. During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the period during which this book was created, poisoning was the method of choice for eliminating political enemies in church and state as well as unwanted high-born family members. The original text would have been destroyed so that only the person knowing the configuration and location of the three books—one serving as a coded “dictionary”—would be able to bring them together and use the information to concoct unique poisons. 

Prior to invention of the printing press, single privately made books were not uncommon. For example, The Book of Venoms, compiled by a monk named Magister Santes de Ardoynis in 1424, described poisons known to Church officials and how victims could be treated.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

5 Responses to “Analysis: The Voynich Manuscript”

  1. Nick Pelling Says:

    Sante Ardoini’s book on poisons (“incipit liber de venenis”) is indeed interesting (Thorndike’s History of Magical and Experimental Science, Volume IV, pp.180-182). I name-checked another Quattrocento book on poisons (Antonius Guaynerius of Pavia’s pre-1440 twin treatise on plague and poison).

  2. PluribusOne™ Says:

    We understand that you have written a book about the Voynich manuscript, a book that we have not yet read, and appreciate your taking time to make an informative comment.

  3. Stark Raven Says:

    Some say that an occultist, perhaps John Dee or Roger Bacon, was the maker of this “magical” book. Either man would seem to have been up to the task.

  4. PluribusOne™ Says:

    I do not believe the Voynich manuscript was drafted in England or northern Europe. There has been that speculation that either John Dee or Roger Bacon created it, perhaps to encode some covert operation for the royal family. However, based on the carbon-dating results, that seems less than likely. The manuscript was made in the early 1400s (1404-1438) and neither Dee (1527-1608) nor Bacon (1214-1294) fits into that period.

    My theory is that the manuscript originated in Italy and that the knowledge it contained played a key role in the political power-plays of Church and State from that period forward. The Medici of Florence, Italy were known to be collectors of ancient books, and they were also patrons of the arts, which would have included the creation or replication of books because the printing press had yet to be invented.

    Cosimo de Medici (1389-1464) fits into the carbon-dated period of the Voynich textbook on—as we previously concluded—the making of toxic potions for use as medications and poisonings. Numerous intrigues are recorded with respect to Cosimo’s life, as well as in the lives of his son, Piero, and grandsons, Lorenzo and Giuliano. His great-granddaughter, Catherine de Medici, was reported to have had knowledge of toxic plants and was renowned for formulating numerous poisons. We note that the name Medici means “medical doctors.”

    Is there any tangible evidence linking Cosimo de Medici to the Voynich manuscript? Yes. As you can see in our Image File #31, the pattern on the floor over Cosimo’s tomb bears a resemblance to the “metaphysical map” found in the manuscript. Both have a design that has three sections of three with the center section being larger than the rest. Coloration is also similar. This is essentially the layout of a design I created years ago to represent the nine dimensions of Omniverse. Maybe that is what these designs symbolize.

    Although circumstantial, we believe that our connecting of the dots provides the most promising avenue to date toward discovering better evidence of the nature and origin of the Voynich manuscript.

  5. PluribusOne™ Says:

    The following update is aimed at those who persist in saying that the book is filled with nothing but meaningless gibbererish posing as esoterica.

    As reported in the Huffington Post on June 26, 2013, a theoretical physicist from the University of Manchester, Marcelo Montemurro, has found a linguistic structure, a pattern consistent with real language..

    The language may be one-of-a-kind, designed just to keep the secrets locked in the book, or it may be a secret society language. In any case, if researchers work with other texts containing knowledge of poisions it will help them unlock the code.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s