A Rosetta Stone for Decoding the Voynich Manuscript - Part I

A Morten St. George Investigation

In most online descriptions of the Voynich Manuscript (VMS), the twenty-three pages of bulleted text found in quire 20 (the final section of the manuscript) relate to the botanical plants depicted earlier. In our alternative description, those pages are the source of thirty-nine prophecies that were attributed to King Solomon of biblical fame and later incorporated into the more than nine hundred prophecies published in France under the name of Nostradamus.

Evidence for the alternative contention will be presented throughout this essay. The implication is that, with parts of the VMS text decoded and published in the 16th century, we have the potential for acquiring a Rosetta Stone helpful for a fresh decoding of the entire manuscript. It is only a matter of identifying the specific lines of VMS glyphs that encode the verses of a specific prophecy.

On the surface, this may seem like an impossible task as no one in contemporary times knows what the undecipherable manuscript has to say, so there can be no way of associating any sequence of VMS glyphs with anything understandable to us. But not all of the VMS text is unintelligible. Specifically, there are four brief lines of text on the last page of the manuscript where we find words that, in addition to the unfamiliar glyphs of the VMS alphabet, contain glyphs that resemble letters of the Latin alphabet. Those four lines are often referred to as marginalia because they may have been added subsequently to the original writing of the manuscript but, nonetheless, they give us something to work with.


These are the first two words found on the last page.

Voynich Manuscript marginalia - pox leber - f116v

Scholars refer to this page as folio 116v (f116v) where the v denotes the back side of a page. It is the very last page of quire 20, coming right after the last page of VMS script. Handwriting experts transcribe these words as pox leber. On closer inspection, however, we see that the last letter of pox is darker than the rest, suggesting that the x overwrites another letter. One possibility that quickly comes to mind is that the x overwrites an r, giving us por, a common Spanish word meaning by.

Continuing now with leber, we see that it has, also in darker ink, the dot of an i above the letter r. One of the two e's might be an i, and the curl of the first e looks like it could be pointing to the dot. In Latin, the word liber means book as a noun and free as an adjective. By moving the final r one place to the left, we get libre, the Spanish word for free.

Por libre, by free. By free what? Curiously, one the Nostradamus prophecies begins with Par cité franche, by free city. Is there a Spanish word for city on f116v?

Voynich Manuscript marginalia - ubren - f116v

To get libre from liber, we needed to move the r one space to the left. If here again we move the r one space to the left, we get urben, and the first four letters of that gives us urbe, a Spanish word for a large urban area or city.

Por libre urbe, by free city. Here is the complete prophecy in the original French:

Solomon Prophecy: Nostradamus V-35

By free city of the great sea Saline,
That carries encore the stone to the stomach,
English fleet shall come under a drizzle
To grab a branch, from the great one: open war.

Translation notes: the appearance of the word "sel," salt, in the last line of the preceding stanza (see graphic below) was taken as a signal to translate "Seline" as Saline (containing salt); the English encore, like its French counterpart, is here employed in the sense of a second achievement of a feat; in the third verse, classe is a Frenchification of the Latin classis, meaning fleet, and in the fourth verse du grand (masculine gender) cannot modify the ouverte guerre (feminine gender).

Voynich Manuscript marginalia - oladabas - f116v

One must assume that this is Spanish as the first few words have already steered us to that language. And indeed we find that ola (the first three letters) is the Spanish word for wave, which fits quite well with the saline sea of the first verse. Meanwhile, dabas is the Spanish word for you gave, from where we understand you gave wave, fair enough for a free city on the sea. But now look closer at that d in the middle of oladabas.

Voynich Manuscript marginalia - S - f116v

The bottom part is open, not closed as it should be, and top curves over to the right and there is even a mark further out to the right as if the top should be extended to reach it. In other words, in isolation, that d could easily be construed as an s, actually a capital S when contrasted with the small a's that surround it. Notice that this S is preceded by la, and in reverse, laS gives us Sal, the Spanish word for Salt (the Sel of Seline).

Voynich Manuscript marginalia - portas - f116v

Scholars generally transcribe this as portas and we concur. Found at the end of the second line on f116v, portas is the Spanish word for you carry. It correlates with the French porte found in the second line of our prophecy. This correlation is significant: we are very lucky to find a match because the marginalia gives us only a few of the thousands of words in the Spanish language.

The free city carries the stone to the stomach. Perhaps this can be envisioned as applying to the city of London in its fight against the Spanish Armada in 1588. In the critical battle, the English inserted fire ships (the stone, something small) into the Spanish fleet (the stomach, something large). Fearing that the fire ships contained explosives, the Spanish ships broke formation from where they were subjected to attack by the faster moving English ships. Curiously, an anonymous play about Edward III, published in 1596, refers to an English fleet and uses the word stomachs in a single dialogue:

Well said, young Phillip! Call for bread and Wine,
That we may cheer our stomachs with repast,
… (five lines)
That, with the sulphur battles of your rage,
The English Fleet may be dispersed and sunk.

Wikipedia insinuates that this play makes a grievous error as the French Philip (in the first line) was "historically not yet born" when those events occurred, but the Spanish Philip was very much alive when he sent his Armada against England in 1588.

Voynich Manuscript marginalia - abia - f116v

Again, with Spanish considerations in mind, "abia" can be viewed as a contraction of "abierta" as seen in the phrase abierta guerra, open war, at the end of our prophecy. This phrase soon found its way into English literature: "if I claim by open war."

More likely, however, abia (normally spelled habia but note that the h is completely silent in Spanish) is a basic Spanish word meaning there was or there were. There was what?

Voynich Manuscript marginalia - maria - f116v

This word immediately follows abia. Handwriting experts view it as saying Maria and once again we concur. The cross in the middle apparently associates Maria with Christianity, Catholicism, or perhaps a sacrament like baptism or marriage. Indeed, Maria is the Spanish name of an English queen called Mary, beloved wife of King Philip of Spain who sent the Spanish Armada against England. One can imagine that memories of the deceased Mary and her devout Catholicism influenced Philip's decision to send an armada to England depose its new queen, a Protestant.

Voynich Manuscript marginalia - ccccc - f116v

C was the Roman numeral for 100. One way of interpreting this sequence from the second line on f116v is to take into account the single C seen in the first group, the first C in the second group as the next two glyphs are blurred, and the three C's seen in the last group, making a total of 500 (5 x C).

Voynich Manuscript marginalia - xxxv - f116v

For this sequence from the third line of f116v, it can be assumed that the X's and V's are Roman numerals, thereby bringing into account the final X on the first three words and the V at the beginning of the fourth word. These add up to 35: 3 x X for 30 plus V for 5 more.

And if we assume that the letter I should also represent a Roman numeral, we can extract the following sequence:

IX (9) + X (10) + X (10) + VI (6), which also adds up to 35.

In total, all the numbers add up to 535. As we know, the number of the Saline Sea prophecy is V-35 (535).

Voynich Manuscript marginalia - mich - f116v

The author of the marginalia drops another hint. Toward the end of the fourth line we find the word mich which certainly looks like a truncation of the name Michel, as in Michel Nostradamus.

In case there remains any doubt that the marginalia refers to a Nostradamus prophecy, the author gives us still another clue:

Voynich Manuscript marginalia - umer - f116v

These two words, of Germanic appearance, immediately follow the pox leber in the first line of f116v. Note the dot above and just to the right of the p but there is nothing here that looks like an i. Later, we are going to encounter a capital P with a lower dot to the right of it, taken as a signal to transition the capital P into a small p. Here, we must assume the opposite, a signal to transition the small p into a capital P. Note that German is a language that capitalizes its nouns.

Earlier, we saw that the marginalia abia (in the third line of f116v) could be either a truncation of the Spanish abierta or a truncation of the Spanish habia. With a precedent for truncation at hand, we can also view umer untpfer as a truncation:

u(nter) mer unt(er) Pfer(d)

Unter is the German word for under, mer is the French word for sea as seen in prophecy V-35, and Pferd is the German word for horse: under sea under horse, that is, a seahorse. In mythology, seahorses pulled the chariot of Neptune whereupon they come to symbolize the carrying of a cargo across the sea.

By free city of the great sea Saline,
That carries encore the stone to the stomach,

Thus, the seahorse carries the stone across the sea Saline to reach the stomach of our prophecy!


From where within the main corpus of the VMS was prophecy V-35 derived?

The general area is self-evident: the text pages of quire 20 are the only realistic source for prophecies; everything else in the manuscript apparently relates to nearby drawings mainly botanical or cosmological in nature. But, of course, we need to know the specific page and the specific lines on that page.

Voynich Manuscript marginalia - aror - f116v

You are looking at the first two words (written entirely in VMS glyphs) of the fourth line of marginalia on f116v.

Voynich Manuscript text - aror - f104r

And these two words are found in line 28 of f104r (the r denotes the front side of a page).

As you can see, there's a match. The point is that these are the only two places in the entire manuscript where this precise sequence of glyphs can be found. Hence, the marginalia unambiguously identifies a specific location within the main text of the VMS. It points us to line 28 on f104r.

Logically, the fourth line of marginalia on f116v (where we find those glyphs) should correspond to the fourth verse of prophecy V-35 and the preceding three verses should lie above it on f104r. Note that at line 28 the tail of a red star in the left margin comes to an end.

The target folio (f104r) is the third page of quire 20. It is also the first page on which the stars in the left-hand column (functioning as bullets marking the start of new paragraphs) have tails. The stars on f103r and f103v have no tails. This leads us to suspect that the tails are marginalia marking the lines that were translated into the Nostradamus prophecies.

The top star (a red one opposite line 2) on f104r has a tail that runs into a white star below and from there the tail continues downward one line but has a faint extension that continues further down and finally comes to an end at line 8.

The next tail starts with the black star (possibly blackening out a star erroneously colored red) opposite line 10, runs through the red star at line 12 and comes to an end at line 13.

The next tail starts with the white star opposite line 16, runs through the red star at line 19, then through the white star at line 22 and finally comes to an end at line 23.

The next tail starts with the red star opposite line 27 and runs down just one line, ending at line 28. This is the line to which the marginalia on f116v points us.

In summary, lines 8, 13, 23 and 28 should convert into the four verses of prophecy V-35, with one VMS line in its entirety converting into one prophecy verse in its entirety.

Note that each of the four VMS lines are found between consecutive pairings of two stars to which red coloring has been added. Note as well that after line 28, red stars are marked with red dots rather than full coloring in red; this affirms that line 28 corresponds to the last line of the prophecy and not to some other line of the prophecy.

Voynich Manuscript marginalia - mich o - f116v

This here is the end of the final line of marginalia on f116v. As we saw, the mich is suspected of standing for Michel Nostradamus. Note the alignment of four dots (slightly curved reminding us of the tails) above the final glyph that looks like an o. Presumably, each dot represents one of the four verses of the Nostradamus prophecy.

Voynich Manuscript script - o8 - f104r

Lines 8, 13, 23, and 28 on f104r all begin with these two glyphs. Thus, we can rest assured that we have selected the lines correctly.

Note also that those two glyphs are the same two glyphs with which the VMS decoding alphabet begins (see below).


The marginalia on f116v has identified a specific Nostradamus prophecy for us. It has also pointed us to a specific page of VMS script where we find that red-colored stars separate verses and star "tails" pinpoint specific lines of VMS script. We therefore have everything we need to create a Rosetta Stone. For the VMS symbols, we will use the popular EVA (Extensible Voynich Alphabet) transcription.

VMS, f104r, line 8:
equates with V-35, First Verse:
Par cité franche de la grand mer Seline,

VMS, f104r, line 13:
equates with V-35, Second Verse:
Qui porte encores à l'estomach la pierre.

VMS, f104r, line 23:
equates with V-35, Third Verse:
Angloise classe viendra sous la bruine

VMS, f104r, line 28
equates with V-35, Fourth Verse:
Vn rameau prendre, du grād ouuerte guerre

Note that the French lines are almost certainly not what underlies the VMS encryption but merely a French translation of the underlying sounds. Those sounds could be representing words in Latin (most likely), Hebrew (encryption source), and possibly even a scattering of words in Spanish or English (languages spoken by the content combatants).

Back in the year 1800, the Egyptian Rosetta Stone was immediately recognized for what it was, but it still took another twenty years of tedious work to decipher the hieroglyphs. Fortunately, the author of the marginalia has provided us with clues on how to proceed and we will get to that shortly. But first, let's see if it is possible to expand our the Rosetta Stone.


In the published output of the 16th century, the thirty-nine prophecies of Solomon were grouped (in quantities of 9, 15, 15) into three great spheres called Keter, Hokhmah and Binah, respectively. Among these thirty-nine prophecies, thirty-two were determined to be Paths of Wisdom and then divided into the six directions of space as follows: above {1}, below {6}, east {5}, west {5}, south {5} and north {10}. Below and north (the last three "Centuries" of Nostradamus) combined to form the inferior world and the others formed the superior world.

Prophecy V-35 above, the prophecy of our Rosetta Stone, is no ordinary prophecy because it is the first stanza of the "west" group. On f104r, V-35 occupies lines marked by the four fully-colored red stars with tails. There are no more such stars after that because, as already noted, at the bottom of the page the full-red stars are transitioned into stars with red dots. Page f103r has full red stars but they have no tails. Only f108r has full red stars with tails and there are no other pages with full red stars. Logically, therefore, V-35 has to be preceded by the last four full red stars with tails on f108r. And now we must ask: which Solomon prophecy preceded V-35 in the original prophetic work?

Nostradamus Extract V-34 - V-35

Here we see the first line of prophecy V-35 preceded by the last line of stanza V-34 which begins by saying by wine, and salt. Note that the "sel", salt, of V-34 obliges us to translate, in this particular instance, the "Seline" of V-35 as salty rather than as crescent. Let's now look at the last prophecy (and also the last stanza) of the "below" group, numbered IX-49:

Solomon Prophecy: Nostradamus IX-49

Note the words "sel & vin", salt and wine, in the third line, which effectively draws this prophecy to V-35 via the last line of V-34. In other words, chances are good that where the tails come to an end after each of the last four full red-colored stars on f108r are the four lines that convert into prophecy IX-49. Note also that V-35 and IX-49 stand at either the beginning or ending of a direction of space and thus would mark a point of transition between the inferior and superior worlds.

Of course, if f108r really holds prophecy IX-49, it would effectively double the size of our Rosetta Stone. But here the lines begin with glyphs different from what we saw for V-35 and therefore the underlying language (which was translated into French) might not be Spanish. Latin merits consideration, as does Old English which in the 12th century was claimed to be an original language of the prophecies ("de Britannico in Latinum transferre").

One should also keep in mind that within the Nostradamus publication, Solomon prophecy V-35 is preceded by Solomon prophecy IV-89 and followed by Solomon prophecy V-81. In other words, Prophecies IV-89 and V-81 might lie close to f104r (Prophecy V-35) in the VMS.

In quire 20, we find additional items of marginalia:

Voynich Manuscript marginalia - mini star - f106r

This star on f106r is highlighted by a miniature star just above it. If the intention is to denote a title line, it could be referring to the title line of the following Incantation:

Nostradamus Legis Cantio

This is the only stanza in Nostradamus written entirely in Latin and the only stanza with a title line. It is not one of the thirty-nine prophecies but was apparently written by the same author as a prelude to his prophecies. The star trails on this page tend to point to lines that begin with a glyph that looks like the number 9 (EVA "y"). Thus, this glyph (at the beginning of lines) could be marking lines written in Latin.

The title line raises the Incantation total to five lines. The thirty-nine prophecies have four lines each. In grand total therefore, there should be 161 lines. To divide up continuous text via red stars in the left margin, you need one more star than the number of sections. Thus, for 161 sections, you need 162 stars to mark the beginning and ending of each section. The stars section does in fact have 162 stars marked with red coloring.

The number thirty-nine is not a modern supposition. Three editions of the Nostradamus prophecies published in the 16th century (Roffet, 1588; Roger, 1589; and Ménier, 1589) refer to "trente-neuf articles" on their title page. All three editions present mathematical schema based on the deletion and replacement of thirty-nine stanzas scattered throughout the text.

Voynich Manuscript marginalia - three dots - f107r

This star on f107r is marked with three dots to the left.

The word "tiers" (meaning third) appears in the first line of prophecy III-77 and also in the last line of prophecy VIII-83. Meanwhile, we find the word "trois" (meaning three) in prophecy VI-2.

Voynich Manuscript marginalia - six dots - f107v

This star on the top of f107v is marked with three dots to the left and three dots to the right. It could mark the end (last line) of the preceding three-dot star if this be a rare instance where the pages run consecutively. Alternatively, it could refer to prophecy II-51 which contains the words "trois les six," three the six.

Note that three of the prophecies just mentioned refer to the city of London ("Londres") and another to an English ("Anglois") fleet. This is hardly suprising given that the English spearheaded efforts to decode the VMS.

Other prophecies referring to the English or British include III-57 ("gent Britannique") and VIII-76 ("en Angleterre"). It could facilitate a fresh decoding if the VMS script for any of the British prophecies were to have something in common.


We find this marginalia at the top of f105r:

Voynich Manuscript marginalia - funny glyph - f105r

The marginalia here are the question marks (?) written across the first glyph, possibly suggesting that we should search to find it elsewhere. Minus the final loop (possibly an error made by an overenthusiastic scribe), we find this glyph on f57v where it is the 14th glyph in a series of 17 glyphs placed inside one of the concentric circles. We like to refer to these concentric circles as the wheels of the Merkabah as there is plenty reason to believe that they derive from Merkabah (Chariot) mysticism of the first millennium. In Part II of this essay, we will look at other marginalia that likewise points us to these wheels.

Voynich Manuscript Merkabah Wheels - f57v

The VMS "alphabet" of 17 glyphs is seen here on the second circle of glyphs from the top. All 17 glyphs are depicted in this image. Note that roughly half of these glyphs appear regularly in the main text of the VMS and that the VMS text has glyphs that do not appear here; some of the glyphs are unique to the wheels. The sequence of 17 glyphs is repeated four times around the same circle which we will refer to as the alphabet wheel.

Voynich Manuscript Wheel Pointers - f57v

This here is the center of the Merkabah wheels where we see four individuals pointing in the opposite direction, which suggests a merger of what lies behind with what lies on the opposite side of the wheels. Some scholars think that the VMS glyphs, like Hebrew, represent only consonants, not vowels. Curiously, a famous vocalization contains exactly 17 letters (precisely the number of glyphs in the VMS alphabet): Yahawa Yahowe Yihwo. By replacing the 17 glyphs with yahawayahoweyihwo, the consonants on the other side of the wheels could be matched with a vowel sound (assuming w can substitute for u, all the vowels would be represented).

Before changing themes, note that there is an empty circle both above and below the alphabet wheel. One can imagine that a line of VMS text should be entered into one of these empty circles and perhaps a string of Latin letters into the other. There is one more empty circle further down (close to the center) for which we can perhaps consider entering an alignment sequence for when we turn the wheels. This could help us determine when and where a certain glyph gets converted into a specific letter of the Latin alphabet.

Voynich Manuscript marginalia - first glyph - f103r

The first glyph depicted here (at the very beginning of quire 20) is the ninth glyph to appear in the sequence of 17 glyphs comprising the VMS alphabet. This particular glyph tends to appear at the beginning or within the first line of paragraphs and is rarely seen elsewhere inside that quire. This suggests that the first line of the respective paragraphs could be a distinct language, or that the first line along with a line below it are both transplanted to fill two empty circles of the Merkabah wheels, whereupon the first line could be used to align (upon rotation of the wheels) the second line for conversion into the Latin alphabet. However, a wheel containing Latin letters is nowhere to be found within the VMS.


In addition to the marginalia we have already seen, we find marginalia at the top of f17r which we will discuss in Part II. Other marginalia include the names of months which were written in Latin letters next to zodiacal drawings in the astrology section and, in the bottom right hand corner of certain pages, we find quire numbers ranging from one to twenty. A quire is a group of folios (the front and back of a page) within a manuscript that are folded together one inside another. Quire numbering is not something we would normally expect to find inside a manuscript so surely, with these numbers, the author of the marginalia is up to another one of his tricks.

Folio numbers, also marginalia, were entered into the upper right hand corner of the right-handed pages. As a general rule, efforts were made to avoid overwriting a VMS drawing or VMS text when inserting the folio numbers. The number "17" on f17r touches a drawing that is itself marginalia, so there is only one exception to the rule with regard to original drawings and text:

Voynich Manuscript marginalia - 42 - f42r

It seems the author of this marginalia, for some unknown reason, wanted to draw our attention to the number forty-two as it was easy enough to move the number a little to the right or left as was done everywhere else. During the 13th century (there is reason to believe that VMS encryption was invented in or near the city of Toledo circa the year 1250), the number 42 did in fact appear frequently in the literature of Spain and Southern France: the mystical name of God had precisely 42 letters. It came in two versions:

אבגיתץ קרעשטן נגדיכש בטרצתג חקבטנע יגלפזק שקוצית


יה יהוה צבאות אלהי ישראל אלהים חיים ומלך עולם אל שדי

With or without the spaces, however, there appears to be no obvious way of connecting these 42 letters with the alphabet wheel on f57v because the number 42 does not intertwine well with four series of a 17-letter alphabet. They add up to 68, but if we were to imagine a space between each series, the total would come to 72. And it just so happens that even more popular than the 42-letter name of God was the 72-letter name of God sometimes referred to as the 72 names of God.

Each of the 72 names is comprised of three Hebrew letters drawn one letter from each of three consecutive verses of 72 letters found in Exodus. Fortunately, we do not have to figure out how to convert these Hebrew letters to the Latin alphabet because it was already done for us in the medieval literature, in three similar versions, minor variants are also noted:

1: h. t. o. e. r. o. r. a. b. a. l. a. y. q. c. l. y. s. t. a. l. g. a. a. o. w [or n]. o. s. v. l. a. r. y. t. c. e. k. r. p. f. y. o. m. e. m. a. n [or u]. a. r. e. l. a. t. e. v [or d]. a. t. o. n. o. n. a. o. y. l. e. o. t. s. y. n. a.

2: h. t. o. e. x. o. r. a. b. a. l. a. y. q. c. i. y. s. t. a. l. g. a. a. o. w. o. s. v. l. a. r [or t]. y. t. c. e. k. x [or s]. p. f. y. o. m. e. m. a. n. a. r. e. l. a. t [or c]. e. v [or t]. a. t. o. n. o. n. a. o. y. l. e. o. t. s. y. m. a.

3: h. t. o. e. x. o. r. a. b. a. s. l. a. y. q. c. i. y. s. t. a. l. g. a. a. o. n. o. s. v. l. a. r. y. c. e. k. s. p. f. y. o. m. e. n. e. a. u. a. r. e. l. a. t. e. d. a. t. o. n. o. n. a. o. y. l. e. p. o. t. m. a.

Note that a couple of the manuscripts were not printed until the 17th century and therefore the decoders of the VMS may have played some role in modifying or publishing them. These Latin letters, placed around the outer concentric circle of the Merkabah, could supply the critical element needed to convert VMS glyphs into letters of the Latin alphabet.

Also note that the medieval texts indicate that these strings of letters operate around a circle, which seems to be exactly what we are looking for. And, unlike Hebrew which runs from right to left, the Latin letters are said to run from left to right, but observe, however, that the 5th thru 8th letters of the first string of 72 letters, in reverse order, become a.r.o.r., which reminds us of the first word of the Rosetta Stone link:

Voynich Manuscript marginalia - aror - f116v

This word was followed by a second word of four letters and in the first string above, right to left, there remain four letters to reach the beginning of the string. Maybe it is just a coincidence, maybe not. But there are other indications that the VMS decodes right to left and that the direction of the output must be manually reversed.

Years ago, a linguistics expert determined that each line of VMS script functions as an independent unit, and hence we can assume that each line should also have less than 72 VMS glyphs so as to be completely covered by the name of God. The EVA character count on the four lines of our Rosetta Stone are 69, 64, 76 and 72, respectively, so only three of the four are covered. Note that 76-character line includes the EVA word aiir and now look at this extract from one of the wheels (not the alphabet wheel) on f57v:

Voynich Manuscript Marginalia - aiir - f57v

There you see it: the EVA aiir functions as a single character or sound, and, no doubt, there may be other combos of this type involving the glyph that looks like a backslash (\, EVA "i"). Thus, all VMS lines to be decoded should contain no more than 72 characters so that all VMS glyphs including blank spaces can acquire a Latin letter during oscillations of the wheels.

Before moving on from here, note that the 72-letter name has been connected with:

i. Roger Bacon of the 13th century to whom, in the 17th century, the 16th-century decoders attributed authorship of the VMS apparently as an evasive tactic, and

ii. John Dee who has been accused of everything ranging from writing the VMS page numbers to selling the VMS to an Emperor, but who, in the late 16th century, may have really participated in the publication of the VMS prophecies.

The all-critical page of wheels (f57v) is also marked by what seems to be a quire number in the bottom right-hand corner where we find a mysterious figure that looks like the number "5". But this cannot be the 5th quire because f57v lies between the 7th and 8th quires, and an earlier page is already marked as the 5th quire. Here you see our mysterious number 5 [disputed] followed by, for comparison, the markings for the 5th and 15th quires:

Voynich Manuscript Marginalia - quires - 5

The first figure is our "5" from f57v. It reminds us of the handwriting style of the 16th century (when the horizontal crossbar was introduced for the number 5) whereas the next two depictions mimic the handwriting style of Roger Bacon who wrote in the 13th century (one can only imagine how the experts wish to explain handwriting of the 16th and 13th centuries in a manuscript carbon-dated to the 15th century!).

A major discrepancy between the 5's of the 13th and 16th centuries is that the latter has a horizontal bar across the top. So, in addition to why is the author of the marginalia trying to allude to quire numbers at the bottom right of f57v, we need to ask: why in the world is he trying to draw our attention to a bar?

Voynich Manuscript Marginalia - bars - f57v

Well, it turns out that we do in fact find bars on the wheels of the Merkabah. And the middle wheel, our alphabet wheel, has a double bar. Curiously, we also find that a double bar (in physical appearance) is used for one of the quire numbers:

Voynich Manuscript Marginalia - 11-mn-f72v1

Here the 11 stands for undeci, the "m" stands for "m", and the "9" stands for the letters "us" (Roger Bacon wrote Opus as "Op9"), giving us the Latin undecimus, meaning eleventh. Do you know on which page we find these markings for the 11th quire? If you guessed on f72v, you would have guessed correctly. The author uses the bars to draw our attention to the 72-letter name of God!

It's possible that the "5" on f57v is really be meant to be a macron (bar) placed above the Hebrew letter Lamed, ל. That would make sense because the numerical value of Lamed is 30, which if added to the 42-letter name of God (recall the blatant overwrite on f42r) gives us the 72-letter name of God!

The 9 seen in the 11th quire, however, looks a little different than the 9's seen elsewhere:

Voynich Manuscript Marginalia - abbrev-9

The first 9 (Latin abbreviation) comes from a Roger Bacon letter, followed by 9's from the 9th, 10th and 11th quire numbers, followed by the letter "n" found at the end of the word "ubren" from the marginalia on f116v. Question: Is the 9 in the 11th quire number really a 9 or is it an "n"?

The letters "mn", of course, are an abbreviation of the name michel nostradamus allowing us to conclude that the 72-letter name is in fact the key to decoding the thirty-nine prophecies. Before you laugh at this, recall that the marginalia on f116v gave us the name "mich" which is short for michel in the same way that "mike" is short for michael.

Voynich Manuscript Marginalia - octebre-f72v1

We find this marginalia in the middle of f72v (the quire 11 m9 page), next to a depiction of Libra the Balance. Here's the point: in the Solomon prophecies incorporated into Nostradamus, "Octobre" is the only month that is directly named.

Of course, the reason for replacing the o of octobre with an ē merits investigation: the earliest publications of the prophecies when viewed in light of subsequent revisions reveal instances of confusion regarding the vowels.

The zodiac section of the VMS inexplicably begins with March (Pisces) on whose backside we find April (Aries). Both sides of this folio display naked women sitting in circles around the respective zodiac symbol. It is immediately followed by another April (Aries) folio (with Taurus on the back) but on this folio the people (which now include both men and women) are fully clothed. All other zodiac folios display only naked women and there is only one naked-women page for each month. It therefore seems plausible that the clothing folio (there is only one of them) was inserted only to alert us to two Aries.

Among the thirty-nine prophecies attributed to Solomon, signs of the zodiac are nowhere to be found except that the word "Aries" makes not one but two appearances! To view, follow the links for III-57 and III-77 above.


If anyone is still trying to decode the VMS, it might be foolish for him or her to ignore the great name of God in view of indications that it is needed to decode the thirty-nine prophecies of quire 20.

For more information:

A Rosetta Stone for Decoding the Voynich Manuscript - Part II

A Brief History of Solomon's Prophecies

Useful links:

High quality TIFF images of the VMS (Yale U.)
f57v: 1006187 ; f104r: 1006256 ; f108r: 1006264 ; f116v: 1006277

French text of Solomon's Prophecies (PDF file)