Thoughts about one’s Lot

Lately, I came across “Lostafeln”, “lot tables” (with “lot” as in “fate”), something like a horoscope. Look at these pictures, drawn from two early fifteenth-century books.

lostafel_1 lostafel_2

Is it just me or could they have been the role models for the notorious f57v…?


I’m particularly intrigued by the concentric rings with the “start” markers, and the alphabetic letter sequences.

(Sources: Österreichische Nationalbibliothek Hs. 2352, fol 95r (dated 1392-94), and Stiftsbibliothek Zwettl, Hs. 323, fol 40v (dated 15th century).


16 thoughts on “Thoughts about one’s Lot

  1. Tables of this sort are found in conjunction with question and answer books; more fortune-telling than horoscope. Often used with dice (sometimes just two-sided). You ask a question – will my sister have a son soon – throw the dice – then look up the answer/s in the book. The top one could be medical, if the king’s globe is of amber. Amber[-gris] balls were the total fashion accessory during plague years

  2. Wheel of Fortune has been mentioned before. I don’t think anyone went beyond the four ages on another folio of the VMs with that idea. This shows a lot of resemblance to f57v. I can believe another “Lostafeln” very much like it inspired f57v. There may be many clues if someone will translate the writing on on the “Lostafeln” into English. Visions rush in, with the VMs rosettes falling like dominoes to translations and finally, Elmar at front and center as the Carmina Burana is performed in his honor.

  3. See how the astrological signs are not the only determinants of fate. There might be some words here that appear in the VMs, maybe in the “recipes” or “stars” section.
    Libro de la Venutura by Lorenzo Spirito
    Re. the “cosmo” drawings. There are modern Wheels of Fortune with curved radials. That could have been conceived at any time. Aside: Those drawings could be perpetual motion devices if they had hinged arms. The nymphs might be equivalent to the Fates and their labels descriptive of influences represented generically by the stars they hold.

  4. There is a whole corpus of late medieval writings about prognostica and astrology and literally dozens of mss. and modern publications on the subject and it is obvious that these things have something to do with the astronomical or rather astrological parts of the VMs, the problem is to find out what books the author was using and how much of his work is original work. I have been trying for some time, but did not get very far.


  5. Knox.
    Have you see that kind of ‘oracle’ which works by a magnet? The board sometimes has a small figurine holding a pointer, which points either to an answer or to a letter/number for sentences in a book. No idea why but the type was often called a ‘Chinese’ oracle.

    Here’s a different version of the same

    • Eerie, isn’t it, Rich?
      I actually browsed through a book on the middle ages when stumbling upon those lostafeln, thinking, “I’ve seen something like that before…)
      I think it’s quite plausible that the VM author deliberately drew a distorted version of a common lostafeln in his book, still recognizable as a lostafel as such, but of course not actually readable.
      It probably would fit the bill both for a “genuine” book and a fake, do you agree?

      • Yes I agree it fits both the idea of the inclusion of some genuine elements, but in unidentifiable versions; but conversely that they are intentionally garbled, so as to be something new and unidentifiable. Either way they are still “evocative of”, which is a non-committal way of saying it is similar, without the judgment call of authenticity.

        The issue with me is the sheer number of times this issue comes up. This is the case in almost all elements in the Voynich: They are close enough to some other illustration to suggest there is some connection; but then just different enough so that you cannot say for certain that it is connected. When you write “… quite plausible that the VM author deliberately drew a distorted version of a common _____… ” I could make a list of many items to replace “lostafeln” in that blank: zodiac, plant, constellation, crest, symbol, animal, internal organ, individual person, dress, and so on.

        I hope you don’t mind a link here, and you are welcome to delete it, but it applies to this notion: That I feel seeing these as plausibly deliberate is a key clue to the bigger picture. Because if this happened once or twice, it might be by accident. But I feel that since this happens in almost all cases, in almost every feature of and instance in, the Voynich, that it implies “deliberation”. And used that in your comment, “plausibly deliberate”, so I add:

  6. I would take interest in knowing: what the exact link of the book and secondly: can anyone read the text that is surrounding the man who is holding a coconut ? (obviously he is holding this sphere which hold the alphabetum de la vita which i think is a good clue for the VMS where is the same picture)

    • I can answer your second question: No one has convincingly been able to read any text from the Voynich, except perhaps for some of the central words of the zodiac pages, which seem to be months of the year. But the main bulk, and all labels, of the Voynich text remain unread/undeciphered/undecoded. That is not to say there are those who believe they have read some or even all of the text, but all these “solutions” are provably incorrect.

      So “no”, no one has read the text around the figure you point to.

      Personally, I have long felt that this is meant to be a man holding a speculum up to “read” it, even, possibly, John Dee holding his famous obsidian version (which still exists in the British Museum, although it is a bit larger, at 7″ in diameter or so). Yes, I know that is too new for most theories as to the Voynich’s origins. But I believe the Voynich is a modern hoax.

      Why would a modern hoaxer put John Dee in something that was meant to look older? Error from ignorance, whimsy, or arrogance… I think there are many similar instances to this effect.

      Why do you think it is a coconut? I don’t know that it isn’t one, but I was curious. As for “Alphabet of Life”, what is that? I looked it up, and found many different uses for the term. I would love to see that, if you have a link to the one you mean. Rich.

      • Rich thanks, i knew all that…i am working on some words in the VMS…
        But i was referring to the “Lostafeln”, “lot tables” in this topic.
        Has anyone the URL for me? I want to read that Latin first, so i can understand the context

      • i know a little bit of everything together with google, but i can not make our the letter very well on the pictures that is why i want the best qualtity. If you look at it closely you can read ‘soluet’ very well, but on the right circle with the man i can not read the letters. What is that first letter ?

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