f 57 v
Because the picture contains individual VM glyph, not all of which were used in the VM text, I am assuming that this was one of the first pages. It seems out of place between the flower picture and a full text of writing. The pictures are very rough sketches. Various connecting lines are tried for the minim ‘I’ (on top, in the middle), but there is no combination of minims for ‘n’ or ‘m’, ‘u’ or ‘w’, as if it was taken for granted that combining minims forms these letters. The author used them in the words, though.
I suppose whoever combined the pages for the book was not aware of the fact that this picture represents the beginning of prophesy that evolved into the Christian liturgy. If author himself placed it in that order, he might have his own reasoning. According to Lisa Fagin Davis, it was written by scribe No. 1.
According to my first impression, this picture represents a Christian mass and four different aspects of it: communion, blessing, preaching, and healing. The Latin alphabet for Slovenian language was developed to enable Latin priest to say mass in vernacular, that is, in Slovenian language, and to teach lay brothers to read the bible and other books. Since I believe the service was perhaps more like Waldensian or Hussite, regarding communion as a symbolic, not actual transubstantiation, it would be reasonable to assume that there is no literature to describe it. I was not able to find any information on that on the internet, nor on the mass in Old Church Slavonic, nor on the Bogomil religious service.
The ritual might have been unique since Slovenians have a unique word for Communion bread – OBHAJILO.
The author would be motivated to learn the words associated with this religious ritual, because most religious groups, accused of being heretical, were calling for the use of vernacular language in liturgy.
Some Notes on Slovenian Medieval Grammar
Slovenian language is most archaic language and very difficult for a foreigner to understand. The language used in the mid-16th century, when the first Slovenian Protestant books were written, was even more complicated, because the Latin letters for Slovenian sounds were not consistently used. There were also other grammatical practices modern Slovenian readers are not familiar with.
The VM was written 100 years prior to any other larger text in Slovenian language and Latin letters, which means that the grammar was even more archaic and inconsistent.
It is evident that the author had a lot of difficulty writing down the word, because the vowels were not pronounced clearly. In the VM semivowels are not written down, so that the writing shows some likeness to abjad. Example: vьsь ‛ves, cel – Since Latin had no equivalent for Slavonic ь, it was often dropped. This has been a common occurance in the earliest Slovenian writing so that the Protestant Slovenian writers of the 15th century, the authors of the first Slovenian books, insisted the vowel should be inserted. In most cases this has been done by 17th century, however due to various dialects, it has not been done consistently. This is the reason some words with the same meaning are spelled differently. There are also many words with different meaning that are spelled the same, because the accent is not shown. Only a few accent marks could be found in the VM text.
Slovenian and Croatian linguists also pointed out that in Dolenjska dialect of Slovenian language, the vowels and consonants were often dropped in speech, and consequently in a written form, like ‘ladati’, instead of ‘vladati’. I noticed this might be the case in the VM words, such as OKA – ROKA (hand, arm) and OZA – ROŽA.
My insertion of the missing vowels is based on medieval Slovenian writing, and on dialectical pronunciation.
I also noticed that the author, being a foreigner, occasionally used te wrong word, such as the word ‘taste’ for ‘smell’.
Slovenian grammatical forms are often weird and inconsistent with the 16th century Slovenian writing. The author could have created a word he had not heard, using the wrong word for example, or add a foreign ending to Slovenian word, or Slovenian ending to a foreign word. In many cases, the Slovenian endings had changed later, like SVETEC to SVETNIK, or ŠKODAIV to ŠKODLJIV, DARAV – DARIL, DARAIV to DAREŽLJIV. These changes could be assumed from the way such words are used in different 16th century texts.
I had chosen f57v for detailed analysis since it contains visual images, VM letters and represent the central message of the entire book.
I am not claiming that the translation is 100 percent correct, since different division of the words can generate words with different meaning, and some words can have better meaning in some other language. For my translation, I used the words that I was able to find in the Slovenian and Croatian writing of the 16th century, adjusted to the grammatical form (and even a grammatical form the foreign author might have used).
Holy Offering – Holy Sacrifice
I am assuming the label in the top left corner of the outside circle is the title because it has a meaning that seem to be relevant to the central picture. I read the word as DAIROL.
According to EVA alphabet, as well as other transcription alphabets, this word could only be transcribed as DAIROL. In the Slovenian language, this could only be translated into the word related to giving. DA IR is often used in the VM to mean GIVE GIFT. The form DAIROL would be the word that eventually evolved into DAROVAL (made offering) and DAROVANJE (offering). In Slovenian, the mass is called Holy Offering, which is equivalent of English Holy Sacrifice. The word DAROVANJE is part of the Catholic Mass, which in Slovenian is called SVETA DARITEV (Holy Giving, Holy Sacrifice).
The Central Picture
At the first glance, we notice the four concentrical circles around the central circle in the middle which is the focal point.
Looking at the picture, the eye focusses on the central circle with the dot. This has been one of the oldest written symbols that has been continuously used on the Balkans and had a mystical meaning.
According to the ancient interpretation, it represents God. The symbol was accepted by the Rosicrucians for their symbol for God.
In Slovenian, this symbol was called RIS (sounds like RES – Slovenian for ‘truth’). In Slovenian pagan tradition, this symbol was drawn at intersections for protection against the evil spirits.
I suppose we can interpret this as God’s infinity in the smallest dimension, and the progressive larger circles as the extension towards the infinity of the other extreme.
God is in the infinitely small things and in the infinite big things, but humans are limited in time and place. By way of their creativity, they show likeness to God – the ultimate Creator. In Jesus, human and divine tendencies are crossing and overlapping.
Religion was created to help men orient themselves in time and place. It consists of magic of words and rituals. It has developed from the primitive magic which eventually was rejected as the institutionalized religions introduced their magic. From the primitive religions, based on superstition and rituals, the more advanced religions were formed based on transmission of wisdom, and past experiences, by way of written words.
This circle is surrounded by a square, the sides of which seem to be three half-circles, offering an allusion to the Trinity. From the middle of the circle, a line of writing is arranged in such a way that the words form a cross in a shape of X. In between the cracks of this cross, there are four male figures (just the upper body) forming another cross. Their outstretched hands are suggestive of talking. The one on the right looks like he is lifting-up the communion bread, the one on the left, looks like he is giving the blessing with his hand.
From this middle picture, it is evident that the man is holding a host in his hand. The poses of the other three men are also suggestive of talking, preaching, blessing.
The majority of Voynich researchers believe that this page represents the basics of the alphabet and language. I also agree with that. We need to remember that the medieval writers, especially the mystical writers, were focused on Jesus as the Word of God and rejected other images of Jesus. A lot of philosophical-theological debates and disagreements were also around the question how God’s Word became flesh.
Writing on + Cross
Top: OTARDALY – OTARDALI – a verb from TRD (hard, strong), which is often used in Slovenian religious terminology for ‘strengthen’.
OTAR DALY – O(L)TAR DALI (place on the altar) – a person with two outstretched hands (an allusion for preaching). Preaching the Word of God means strengthening one’s character. Also, the Holy Words (the Bible) is placed on the altar.
These two Slovenian words in a way compliment each other. In the medieval times, the critics of the Church were mostly preachers who sacrificed their own happiness for the sake of the Truth (God), following the example of Jesus who sacrificed his life. The prophets place themselves on the altar (as sacrificial lambs), and the Church often ‘place them on the altar’ as saints to strengthen the faith.
Bottom: OSVARAIR DLY – the words SVAR and OSVAR are very frequently used in the VM. They stand for the imperative singular verb SVARITI – to warn, to give warning, as well as ‘to scold’, ‘to criticize’. While the verb “svariti” was often used in a peasant speech, the noun was uncommon. We can imagine that the author of the VM, coming from a different linguistic background, formed the noun from the verb by dropping the ending -ty/dy and replaced it with -air. The word DLY could stand for D(E)L(A)J (make), if we consider that in phonetic speech, the semivowel was pronounced (but not written; the vowels were inserted later).
The root word here is SVAR (give warning). It sounds similar as STVAR (to make, to create). The similarity of the expressions is also complimentary, meaning: a prophet (genuine artist) is giving the warning about what is wrong in society and at the same time, he is creating alternatives for improvement. He is warning and creating at the same time. ‘O’ is Slovenian prefix, indicating finished action.
The artists, who only criticize, are basically just healing their own anxiety. This idea was beautifully expressed by Slovenian writer Ivan Cankar, when he said that ‘heavenly Creator makes a casket and a cradle at the same time’.
A priest, or a preacher is imitating Christ by criticizing people’s bad habits and warning them about the consequences, while at the same time proposing a better way to create better life for the individuals and for the society (communion of people).
The Writing on the X Cross
Top left: ARKALDY – This word is pointing at the man with outstretched arms. Depending where we break the word, we can get two different words, which could be remotely associated.
ARKAL + DY – AREKAL DAJ – govori, prerokuj – (you) give a prophesy! This form seems associated with the word REČI (govoriti), which originates from the Latin/Italian spelled word REC for Slavic REČ. In Slovenian language, two grammatical forms evolved from this root: REČI which means ‘to say’, ‘(you) say!’, or ‘words’, ‘things’. The remnant of REC can be found in Slovenian words REKOČ (while saying), OBREKATI (gossip, saying about), PREREKATI (argue), NAREK (dictation). If we drop the letter B (as it was often the case with the prefix OB-) and replace K with C (as in Latin spelling), we get the word OREKATI. The grammatical form for the 3rd person (singular, masculine, past tense) would be spelled ORECAL. The linguistic trail could go as far back as Greek ORACLES, where “oracle” is a prophetic saying as well as a temple.
ARKA LDY – (B)ARKA LDI – boat + people – this could be the word used for the part of the church. In Slovenian language, the large part of a church is called “barka” (now: ladja) which was separated from the altar with a low decorative gate. This place in the church was reserved for ordinary people, while only the priest and his assistant were allowed near the altar.
ARK in the Bible was a ship, built by Noah, to save his family and animals from the flood. In the bible we read that the Noah’s ark landed on Mount Ararat in Armenia. The search for the physical boat on Mount Ararat is still going on by those who take biblical writing literally.
Ark of Covenant is a reference to the Hebrew chest of stone tablets with the Ten Commandments. It is much more likely that this ‘ark’ landed on Mount Ararat.
I would also like to explain the work ‘arka’. At the first glance, the word reminds me of Slovenian swear words ARKADIO, ARKAMADONA and AKRADUŠ. The Venetologists are explaining the word ARKA as a magic word of the ancient Veneti. Since DIO means God in Latin, it could be assumed that the word ARKA means swearing to God. This meaning is clearly understood from the last swearword, where ARKA is combined with the Slovenian word DUŠ (soul). Unlike English, who swear on the Bible, Slovenians were known to swear on their soul.
The word arka originates from Greek god Arcas, the son of Zeus and Callisto. He was a hunter who became king of Arcadia. He taught people weaving and baking bread. Callisto was associated with goddess Artemis. Arcadia in Greek mythology was the home of god Pan (depicted as half goat, half man). In European Renaissance art, Arcadia was celebrated as an ideal land, like heaven. In Slovenian literature, Simon Gregorčič wrote a poem Veseli Pastir (Happy Shepherd) expressing the happy, worry-free life of a shepherd on the mountain, comparing him to more enlightened people in the valley who were faced with constant wars, and with worries and burdens of conscience as well, if they did not conform to the Church’s rules.
Since it is highly unlikely that the flood would carry a boat adrift to an elevation of 3,896 m (12,782 ft), it could be presumed that the biblical story was told in the figurative language, which means that “new wisdom”, such as the one in the Ark of Covenant, was brought with the peace-loving people who fled from the general degradation of the materialistic and immoral culture, which was creating slavery, wars, and moral degradation.
Considering all these alternative meanings, I am quite convinced the correct translation would be preach!, prophesize!
Top right: ORALARAR – assuming ORA means pray or preach (Latin: orator – speaker, preacher), oralarar could be a Slovenicized word for a prayerbook, pulpit, or some other word related to preaching. According to Texas University Language site, RAR was Illyrian word for heaven. In Slovenian, it evolved to RAJ. There is also a possibility that ORALAR is a combined word, comprised of Latin ORA + LAR. The word LAR is explained in 1592 dictionary as ‘house god’, ‘idol’.
Bottom left: OLKCHDAL – OLKČDAL – from the root LEK (healing remedy) – verb LEČITI – LEK DATI – healing give, heal. It is possible that the strange spelling could be a result of authors attempt to relate to the etymology of this word.
The spelling is somewhat strange since more familiar word would be OLEKAL or OLEČIL. However, a foreign writer could easily spell it as OLKCHDAL, since the grammar rules were not established yet and no marks for the pronunciation were used. The possibility that this long word could also be a combination of short word further complicates the proper translation.
This VM expression, related to a man with outstretched arm, could be compared to a final Catholic blessing ‘Peace be with you’. The olive branch was an ancient symbol of peace and the expression ‘giving olive branch’ is still used in Christian terminology.
This label is located next the person with one outstretched hand, an allusion for blessing. The original meaning of blessing was ‘to say good things about’, but eventually became to mean “making holy”, “bestowal of divine favour”, which in essence is healing.
We need to understand that the ancient writers were aware of the healing power of words, particularly prayers, which offer people hope and reinforce their believes and expectations. For this reason, various magical remedies were usually administered with magical words. The Christian sacrament of Communion replaced pagan magical healing remedies and incantations with specific words and substances that have transformative and healing power. Even the prayer before the communion is focused on the “healing of a soul” and “protection from anxiety”.
OL K CH DAL (OL K Č DAL – oil that if I would give) is the phrase obtained by different division of the above VM word. It could be related to the anointing with the Holy Oil. It might have origin in ancient common meaning related to olives. The Olive branch was offered as a sign of peace and respect in the ancient civilizations. The olive branch is still a symbol of peace.
The olive oil was also recognized as a healing remedy in the ancient times. Infused with various herbs, it became used in religions for anointing kings and prophets. The holy chrism was made of olive oil and up to 70 different plants. The olive oil also became the base for making various herbal remedies. In Slovenia, people still make their natural remedies at home by infusing healing herbs in olive oil. The symbolic meaning of the Olive branch in religion was beautifully described in the poem Oljki (To the Olive Tree) by Slovenian poet Simon Gregorčič.
DAL – is a form of the word DATI (give) which eventually evolved in a suffix -DAL for the words that could be associated with giving, such as POGLED-DAL – POGLEDAL – (he) looked.
Bottom right: OKALI – OKALITI means ‘splitting the seed and sprouting a plant’, making plant grow. KALINA in Prekmurje dialect means plant. Many Slovenian words also had symbolic meaning, so that the “preacher” could also be regarded as the one who magically enables the words to grow. Since the word is pointing to the host, this could be understood as invisible mystical initiation, like germination of the seed that is invisible and incomprehensible for a simple mind. The seed produces plants, and they produce the multitude of seeds. This analogy is quite suitable for Communion, for which Slovenians have unique word OBHAJILO.
According to the Slovenian Etymological Dictionary, the word OBHAJILO originates from the word ‘visiting’, ‘walking around’. The expression ‘Misel me obhaja’ is used as an example. The connection to communion is made via Latin ‘celebrare’ (visiting) and Slovenian ‘praznovati’ (often visiting).
I believe the word ‘hajati’, which I was not able to find in the Slovenian Etymological Dictionary, would make much better etymology for OBHAJILO. The word ‘hajati’ is not only an old Slovenian word, still in use, but also the word used in the Bible to express growth, expansion. In Slovenian, the word was used mostly for the ‘rising of bread’, ‘the expansion of bread dough’.
It is true that the word SHAJATI also means ‘getting together’, which could also be related to the early Christian community getting together and expanding.
The words KALITI (to germinate, to grow) and HAJATI were taken from the natural, agricultural world to be applied to abstract ideas.
Bottom left: OSVČOR OKEAR –OSVČOR seems to be related to something holy, such as a person who performs holy incantation, or distributes the communion bread or wine. If the word was not followed by OKEAR, I would be tempted to say it means ‘a person doing blessing’, SVEČENIK or SVEČAR in Slovenian, but the word OKEAR sounds like ODKER, which in dialect means ‘uncover’. It was a customary in the religious ritual that the chalice was covered so that the ‘mystical transformation’ was hidden under the vail. In the Orthodox religion, such veil was called AIR, because it was made from very light material, most likely silk. The word OSVEČAR is related to SVETITI which means ‘to bless’, but also ‘to enlighten’. In Slovenian language, it evolved to POSVETITI, POSVEČATI.
The central composition is encircled with perfectly rounded concentrical circles which form four bands of writing.
The first concentrical circle contains individual glyphs, mostly used as letters in the VM text. Among them are also some that were not used in the VM. Some also form meaningful words.
The First Circle (from the inside)
It is not clear whether the author intended to write coherent text with separate letters, or individual letters and ligatures. Towards the end of the circular writing, there are some words that could be meaningfully translated into Slovenian language. Even the individual glyphs could be divided into Slovenian words.
I am having some difficulty with some glyphs, such as the one I identified as q, hv; it looks like VM glyph V, topped with Latin T. Slovenian language does not have letters Q and X; instead KV, HV and TV are used (to a foreigner, they would all sound like Q). In some 16th century writing, the letter Q was still occasionally used. The letter X was used in some medieval writing as H.
* This could be an experimental word, a shortcut for Creator. In Slovenian 16th century writing, I had seen a few of the letters that look like the first part of this glyph. They stood for CH (Č).
Assuming that the first letter is Č, we get the word ČDLO, if we put the ligature apart. By adding R on the left and AR on the right side, we get the word that reads RČDLOAR, which could be a word a foreigner might create for the ‘one who makes words’ – a writer, a preacher.
The first band of writing could be understood as an illustration how symbols became letter, and letters the words that were spreading outward, as illustrated with the concentrical circles. The second circle is already comprised of words. The glyphs are also suggestive of the author’s various attempts to combine simple letters.
The Second Circle
The second circle is comprised of complete words. In the table below, I have copied the VM words (the left column), followed by transliteration into medieval Latin letters (as they were written and as they sounded), the evolution of those words and translation into Slovenian language, and in the third column, I copied partial etymology from the Slovenian Etymology Dictionary. The words might not match exactly, because they change with the grammatical form. I added my remarks to explain this.
The third band of writing
The third circle is again comprised of individual letters, as if the author wanted to emphasize that the nation already had its writing system that was no longer in use and had to learn it again. At the same time, it reflects the author’s intention to collect the symbols (letters) that could be used for the unique Slovenian language (and invent some new one for this purpose). It seems he was experimenting with connecting them in the cursive writing and forming ligatures for certain sounds taken from the OCS Glagolitic alphabet.
The most peculiar among the letters are four glyphs that look like ligature and are spread evenly (in the first circle, there is only one sign, like these, but not equal).
I would not speculate what these glyphs represent. The first glyph looks like the Glagolitic Č, which is connected to VM letter D, but the last letter is unclear; it might be o or reversed VM glyph Y.
On the outside circle, there is one more band of writing with a similar theme, focused on spiritual things.
The Bogomils that left their mark in Slovenian liturgy were interpreting the biblical writing and religious rituals as symbolic. To explain this to the simple-minded Slovenian people, they used the analogies from nature.
Because these words are so closely related to the lives of ordinary, peasant people, they were suitable for analogies for the abstract, spiritual things. For the primitive people, words were the greatest gift of God, so much so that St. John started his episle with, ‘At the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’. Many medieval theologians and philosophers meditated on these words, which were particularly meaningful for those who believed that the Son of God was the Divine Logos. Most of the genuine prophets and mystics came to this understanding. A mystical prophet has to suffer inner division (individual search for what is right and what is wrong), and die to his old self (experience spiritual transformation by abandoning wrong teaching or wrong understanding, and embrace a universal and eternal Truth. He had ‘sprouted’ out of the faith community, becomes critical of that same community, and proposes improvement, and eventually becomes ‘seeds’ for the new spiritual growth.
This analogy can explain the majority of the VM plant/floral imagery.
The signs representing letters are not just imaginary glyphs; most of them are letters from different alphabets (see my post of Voynich grammar). This is indicative of carefully laid down plan to devise a written form of a language. If strange pictures in the biological pages give the impression the author was a mystic, this page is suggestive of the author being a scholar and educator. This, too, led me to believe that the author might be Nicholas Kempf, who spent years teaching at Vienna University before entering the monastery. As a prior, he served in two Carthusian houses in Slovenian speaking region. He was a strong proponent for the use of vernacular language in liturgy. As a prior, he had to learn Slovenian language to be able to teach lay brothers how to read and understand the Bible. From Kempf’s writing, it is clear he understood the Biblical writing as symbolic esoteric writing, which means that the stories could not always be interpreted literally and that they needed to be studied carefully in order to arrive at the meaning. In Slovenian, KARATI (to scold, to criticize) and SVARITI (to warn, to give warning) seem to be synonymous, yet there is a fine distinction: KARATI pertains to accusations of one’s mistakes, bad habit, while SVARITI pertains to approaching danger or to harmful consequences of one’s actions.
It is clear the author of the VM, like Nicholas Kempf, understood the ideas behind the Christian sacrament of Communion, and the incarnation of Christ in his followers, particularly in genuine mystical prophets who speak on His behalf.