Voynich Manuscript


Historians can only guess at the true origins of the enigmatic document known as the Voynich Manuscript. Some claim it was written in Central Europe (?) at the end of the 15th or early in the 16th (?) century. It is known that the codex at one time belonged to Emperor Rudolph II of Germany (1576-1612), who purchased it for 600 gold ducats and believed that it was the work of 13th century British friar/alchemist/mystic Roger Bacon Roger Bacon (1214-1292). The exact origin and date of the manuscript are still being debated as vigorously as its puzzling drawings and undecipherable text.

It is very likely that Emperor Rudolph acquired the manuscript from the English astrologer John Dee John Dee (1527-1608) whose foliation remains in the upper right corner of each leaf. Dee apparently owned the manuscript along with a number of other Roger Bacon manuscripts; he was in Prague from 1582-86 and was in contact with Emperor Rudolph during this period. In addition, Dee recorded that he had received 630 ducats in October 1586, and his son Arthur (cited by Sir T. Browne, Works, G. Keynes, ed. (1931) v. 6, p. 325) noted that Dee, while in Bohemia, owned "a booke...containing nothing butt Hieroglyphicks, which booke his father bestowed much time upon: but I could not heare that hee could make it out."

Emperor Rudolph seems to have given the manuscript to Jacobus Horcicky de Tepenecz (d. 1622); inscription on f. 1r "Jacobi de Tepenecz" (erased but visible under ultra-violet light). Johannes Marcus Marci of Cronland presented the book to Athanasius Kircher, S. J. (1601-80) in 1666. It was acquired by Wilfred M. Voynich in 1912 from the Jesuit College at Frascati near Rome. Eventually, it was given to the Beinecke Library in 1969 by H. P. Kraus (Cat. 100, pp. 42-44, no. 20) who purchased it from the estate of Ethel Voynich.

The writing is scientific or magical text in an unidentified language, in cipher, apparently based on Roman minuscule characters. One reason the text is believed by some scholars to be the work of Roger Bacon is that the themes of the illustrations represent topics known to have interested Bacon. A history of the numerous attempts to decipher the manuscript can be found in a volume edited by R. S. Brumbaugh, "The Most Mysterious Manuscript: The Voynich 'Roger Bacon' Cipher Manuscript" (Carbondale, Illinois, 1978).

The Voynich manuscript is currently located at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University (121 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511, U.S.A.).


By current estimates, the book originally had 272 pages in 17 quires of 16 pages each. Only about 240 vellum pages remain today, and gaps in the page numbering (which seems to be later than the text) indicate that several pages were already missing by the time that Voynich acquired it. A quill pen was used for the text and figure outlines, and colored paint was applied (somewhat crudely) to the figures, possibly at a later date.

The illustrations of the manuscript (which you can see in the links on page 2; linked to below) shed little light on its contents, but imply that the book consists of six "sections," with different styles and subject matter.

  • Herbal: each page displays one or sometimes two plants, and a few paragraphs of text - a format typical of European herbals of the time. Some parts of these drawings are larger and cleaner copies of sketches seen in the Pharmaceutical section (see below).
  • Astronomical: contains circular diagrams, some of them with suns, moons, and stars, suggestive of astronomy or astrology. One series of 12 diagrams depicts conventional symbols for the zodiac constellations (two fish for Pisces, a bull for Taurus, a soldier with crossbow for Sagittarius, etc.). Each symbol is surrounded by exactly 30 miniature women figures, most of them naked, each holding a labeled star. The last two pages of this section (Aquarius and Capricorn, roughly January and February) were lost, while Aries and Taurus are split into four paired diagrams with 15 stars each. Some of these diagrams are on fold-out pages.
  • Biological: a dense continuous text interspersed with figures, mostly showing small nude women bathing in pools or tubs connected by an elaborate network of pipes, some of them clearly shaped like body organs. Some of the women wear crowns.
  • Cosmological: more circular diagrams, but of an obscure nature. This section also has fold-outs; one of them spans six pages and contains some sort of map or diagram, with nine "islands" connected by "causeways," castles, and possibly a volcano.
  • Pharmaceutical: many labeled drawings of isolated plant parts (roots, leaves, etc.); objects resembling apothecary jars drawn along the margins; and a few text paragraphs.
  • Recipes: many short paragraphs each marked with a flower-like (or star-like) "bullet."

To continue, please go to page 2.

Voynich Manuscript - Page 1 Voynich Manuscript - Page 2

Twitter Facebook Youtube

Aurora Paradox
Paradox Cargo Cults
Supraterrestrial Crop Circles
Species Climate
Mystères Democracy

[ Voynich Manuscript - Page 1 | Voynich Manuscript - Page 2 ]
[ Aurora Paradox |
Paradox | Supraterrestrial | Species | Mysteres |
Cargo Cults | Crop Circles | Climate | Democracy ]

[ Home ]


Creative Commons - Protecting original talent
Creative Commons
Safe Surf Rated
Safe Surf Rated

Online since April 1999, Geb (Tiamat, Pachamama, Terra, Gaia).
© 1999 - Danyel Seagan. All rights reserved
Unless otherwise stated, all original material of whatever nature created by Danyel Seagan
(including text, digital images, multimedia files, web design and layout, and any other original works),
is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Astral Traveler Enquiries