Letter Columns on Folio f1r

I’ve studied the three letter columns on f1r off and on for some time, and here is a table of everything I’ve managed to tease out.

I note that the value of EVA d matches the one I found for Value Set 1, and that EVA e and EVA r matches their alternate values.

If anyone has found more and would like to work with me to add to this data, please feel free to contact me.

The Date of Folio f68r1

I wrote a paper (announcement and link below) containing evidence of the date of f68r1 being 18 July 1533, showing the Great Comet of that year. I’m not going to rewrite the paper here; if you want details, read it.

To further call attention to it, I have made a new page with the diagrams. The link is above. (I am having trouble getting them set the way I want them, so expect modifications.)

The first is the folio in question. The second is a diagram of the comet’s path from Apian’s Astronomicum Caesarium 1540. The third is the folio and diagram overlaid, The fourth is a star chart from Starry Night Pro 4.

This date refutes the idea that the vellum of the VMs was used immediately after creation, circa 1420. Other dates found in the Astro section cluster near the late 15th Century (see the earlier entry).

“Degrees of Freedom”

One of the most common objections to a proposed translation method is to invoke “degrees of freedom”. This multiplies the letters and gives the total of possible combinations. If anagrams or dropped letters are allowed, this increases the total.

So it’s “Whoops, your method has too many degrees of freedom, so the results can be almost anything.” The ones objecting stop here, aka ‘hit brick wall, end of story’. But that is NOT the end of the story. As raw math, “degrees of freedom” is valid, but it ignores the rules imposed that reduce the number of possible answers.

It’s exactly the same as an argument I’ve seen advanced by Creationists: “There are so many elements that the odds against certain ones combining to make life are astronomical. Therefore a Creator is necessary.” That too is raw math, and ignores the rules of chemistry that make the odds of the right elements combining a near certainty.

As an idealized example I am using the first label I cracked, by the large star in the upper left pie slice of f68r3. It is laid out in what I call a breakdown box. This is NOT the VMs decoding method, but a workaround I use in my label research. These are Set 1 letter values, and the word is complete (on the folio the 2nd A and R were dropped).

There is a length of 9 letters, 6 different, and 5 have alternate values with 2 connected. If I understood correctly, there are 1134 possible strings. If that was all there was to the method, there would indeed be too many possibilities.

However, imposing rules changes that:

1. Discard all nonsense strings.
2. Discard words of other than 9 letters.

The program WordFind has a lexicon of ~150,000 words, and running the values returns 14,  reducing the number of possible strings by 98.7%:


These results are filtered through a third rule: in any Voynich word, a given letter may have only one value. (That is, EVA Ch is either E or S, and any word containing both is invalid.)

That leaves one valid result: Aldebaran.

The lesson here is that one should not be so quick to reject a method based solely on a lowest-level mathematical calculation.

Letter Values Set 1

In my label work I have found there are three sets of values for the labels, but none work on the regular text.

Below are the values for what I have designated as Set 1. These were the first I had luck with on f68r3, and as can be seen, are not complete. Set 2 is completed, but Set 3 still has 5 values missing.

Note that “4o” can have a value of “AL”, the beginning of many star names, and that EVA iiin is “IUM”, a common Latin ending.

As has been determined by others, it is not a simple substitution. The multiple values for some letters follows Philip Neal’s work. My reasoning is: if the Voynich letters are interchangeable, the plaintext values should be as well. This raises the “degrees of freedom”, but I will address that later.

I have, at this writing, nearly 100 labels cracked. So far, star labels are star names, many archaic (as might be expected). On f67r2 the twelve words under the moons are country names, eight of which no longer exist.

Does the VMs Protect Itself?

Now for a short foray into insanity before I get into my next subject.

I’m starting to think that the book has a spell on it protecting its secrets from the general public. The experiences I’ve had are subjective, but that’s what they add up to.

Robert Firth’s Notes Part 15, An Account of a Curious Dream Concerning the Voynich Manuscript was the first indication that might be the case. (The Notes can be accessed through Elmar Vogt’s blog. Well worth reading for early research.)

I’ve had success cracking labels in the Astro section (and a few elsewhere). Nothing happens while I’m working, but whenever I try to communicate the method to others, emails don’t go through or are delayed, files are corrupted or missing, or something crops up that distracts.

Once posted, the proposal gets little response, and what others do say focuses on something other than what I am saying, or what is important. I compound the problem by getting annoyed and frustrated and letting it show. Not because it isn’t immediately accepted and praised by all, but because I write fiction that gets good reviews, and am a professional story editor, so I know I can write clearly. And yet no matter how carefully, simply, and completely I explain, it is misunderstood. The fault may be entirely mine, but I have trouble believing it.

I had my own Voynich-related dream some months ago.

In a nutshell, I was visiting an old, 3-story red brick school I had attended. I wandered around reminiscing, then heard a particular person I wanted to see again.was still there. I went to his room but it was locked and I was told that if he wanted to see me, he would come out.

He did so, and took the form of a (real) favorite teacher in high school who taught biology. We talked about the Voynich for a while, then he asked if I wanted to read it. He handed me a copy, and we walked to the cafeteria and sat down. I leafed through it, saw the missing folios, and everything was in the English alphabet. Unfortunately, you can’t read in a dream, so I learned nothing new. I handed it back and he left. Later I wanted to talk to him again, but he wouldn’t see me.

There is one physical thing that happens. I wear a jade Chinese dragon my wife bought me for good luck. It dangles from a short loop on a thick cord around my neck. I’m right-handed, so I use that hand to open the clasp when I put it on.

But sometimes when I’m preparing to share my Voynich work, I find the loop has gotten tangled in the clasp. When I take it off to untangle it, the cord has somehow reversed itself, and I have to open it with my left hand. The cord won’t go over my head, so that shouldn’t be possible.

If those Entities from Firth and my dreams are responsible, maybe I should take a hint.