Thoughts about the Voynich Manuscript

It’s not in our stars, but in ourselves …


… that we are underlings. (Shakespeare: J. Caesar, I.2 or such)

At the end of the VM, there is the “Recipe Section”, a text-only chapter of the book. The virtually only illustrations in this section are a number of stars along the left margin of the book, which seem to align with the text paragraphs: One star per paragraph.

Now, some of these stars are hollow, some have a dot inside, and some are solidly drawn. (Note that their appearance is similar to the stars held by the nymphs in their trashcans.) In 2006, I had the idea that the design and sequence of these stars may have some significance, for example, that they might be a kind of morse code, really telling us “Ha ha, fooled you!”, or something.

Here’s the result, for your dispersion and elucidation.

The following table gives the sequences of stars found in the recipe section, denoted by the following symbols —

One line in the table per manuscript page. The numbers in brackets following the folio number indicate the total number of stars on this page.

X--X-X--X--X-X--X-- # f 103r (20)
o-o-o-o-o-o-o- # f 103v (15)
X-XX-X-X-o-o- # f 104r (14)
o-o-o-o-o-o-o # f 104v (14)
1o-o-o-o-o # f 105r (11)(10)
o-o-o-o-o- # f 105v (11)
o-2o-o-o-o-o-o-o # f 106r (17)(16)
-o-o-o-o-o-o-o # f 106v (15)
o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o # f 107r (16)
o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o # f 107v (16)
--X--oX--X-X---X # f 108r (17)
o-o-o-o--o-o-o-o # f 108v (17)
# f 109r missing
# f 109v missing
# f 110r missing
# f 110v missing
o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o # f 111r (18)
o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o # f 111v (20)
o-o-o-o-o-o- # f 112r (13)
o-o-o-o-o-o-o # f 112v (14)
-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o # f 113r (17)
o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o # f 113v (16)
o-o-o-o-o-o-o # f 114r (14)
-o-o-o-o-o-o # f 114v (13)
o-o-oo-o-o-o- # f 115r (14)
o-o-o-o-o-o-o # f 115v (14)
-o-o-o-o-o # f 116r (11)


1 — f 105r: Not sure if the first star is supposed to be part of the sequence,

2 — f 106r: It’s a quite tiny star which doesn’t come with its own paragraph and appears to be attached to the subsequent star, so it’s questionable whether this item should be counted on its own account.

Both questionable stars are of the “o”-type (center dot).

The numbers in brackets at the end of the lines gives the number of stars on the page.

What you see is that for the most part hollow and dotted stars simply alternate. The only pages significantly deviating from this pattern are f103r, f104r and f108r.*) They are at the beginning of the recipe section, so the most obvious explanation would be that the writer/painter started off somewhat artistically ambitious, but after a number of pages got bored and decided to simply take turns between hollow and dotted stars.

All in all we have 23 pages in the recipe section, with 4 more apparently missing. The total number of stars is 347 (counting the two odd ones in). If we assume that the missing pages would also have had about 15 stars per page, like the rest of the section, the total would have been around 400. That’d be interesting in as far as this would just not be the number of days in a year, and defeat the popular idea that the recipe section is actually an almanac of sorts.

*) This could be a hint to the presumed re-binding of the manuscript between the time of its composition and the pagination, namely that originally f108 was supposed to immediately follow f104. I will have to look into his, how well it fits with other finds.