Category Archives: alchemy

HAS THE VOYNICH MANUSCRIPT BEEN CRACKED?

This is an update to a blog I did in 2012 about the Voynich Manuscript. Recent work done by Dr. Stephen Bax (Professor of Applied Linguistics, University of Bedfordshire) has resulted in some startling findings.

voynich botanical

From 2012:

I love tales of missing manuscripts especially in fiction, but also in non-fiction. Last week, I finished The Swerve which featured the true story of the recovery of Lucretius’ poem, On the Nature of Things, and how it influenced our modern world. I liked the idea of a Renaissance book hunter slipping into monasteries looking for ancient wisdom. But I have a better story to share.

In 1912, Wilfrid Voynich recovered a mysterious manuscript that bears his name and resides in the Yale Library as Manuscript 408. The curious document has defied the patient and persistent attempts by all amateur and professional cryptographers to break it.

Its exact history is sketchy, but the document is alleged to have belonged to an Emperor, several practicing alchemists, and a religious order. Some have even proposed that Roger Bacon or John Dee authored the manuscript.

Consisting of 240 vellum pages with colored illustrations, the writing script is unknown and unreadable. Many of the illustrations resemble herbal texts of the 15th Century except that only a few of them can be identified. Aside from the herbal renderings, there are also illustrations covering topics on astronomy, biology, cosmology, medicines, and recipes. The drawings are fanciful, colorful, and complicated. Carbon-14 dating in 2009, dates the manuscript to between 1408 and 1438.

The text itself has puzzled for decades and even modern computer tools have proved ineffective. The writing itself seems to progress left to right with no punctuation. There are no obvious corrections, the document being very carefully executed. There are some 170,000 separate glyphs utilized throughout and many are used only once or twice. Statistical analysis of the work reveals that it resembles the flow of natural language. But what language? It seems to share some correspondences to English and Latin, but not entirely. The repetition of the glyphs is not a characteristic of European language.

Manuscript 408 remains the only undeciphered Renaissance manuscript and it continues to draw many into its mystery. Some think it’s an early herbal or medical text. Others see it as a work of alchemy (early chemistry) or hermeneutical teaching. Still others have declared it a hoax, but if it is a hoax of some kind, it goes beyond anything produced in the 15th Century. It goes beyond the codes and cyphers used then, and continues to evade codebreakers today. What is this curious work and who penned its bizarre contents?

For those intrigued enough to read further:

The Voynich Manuscript- Gerry Kennedy & Rob Churchill

The Friar & the Cypher- Lawrence Goldstone

Six Unsolved Ciphers- Richard Belfield

Drawing on work done to date, Dr. Bax undertook a detailed look at some of the plants and signs in the manuscript. He began with some of the speculations on plant names to decipher letters within the text. He believes he has deciphered ten words and fourteen signs to begin the process of identifying the language MS 408 was written in. Dr. Bax believes the manuscript is not a hoax, but rather a 15th Century book on nature written not in code but rather an unknown language. Now, the hard work begins to try to reveal more of the manuscript. It seems like this is an instance when having the right experts makes all the difference.  

Watch Dr. Bax’s video describing his process and work. http://stephenbax.net/?page_id=38

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WHEN DEE MET KELLEY

John Dee Portrait- Ashmolean Museum

John Dee Portrait- Ashmolean Museum

February, 1582

Mortlake

Light flooded through the west window illuminating the simple study. The doors were closed against the noise of his toddler children. Within was sanctuary. Some especially interesting manuscripts had been hidden in a traveling bag secreted inside the chimney. The comings and goings at Mortlake had drawn many rumors which John Dee had carefully tried to sidestep. Owning one of the best libraries in Europe drew many scholarly types. Dee’s interests included math, astronomy, astrology, navigation, and the occult. He had access to the powerful ministers of Queen Elizabeth I’s court as well as to the Queen herself. Dee’s interests were not unique because many at court dabbled, but Dee hated the caricatured image created by the term “arch conjuror” he had been given in some circles.

Dee called his work optical science and for him crystal gazing was just another way of discovering how the universe worked much like using a telescope to understand the motion of the stars. But Dee had a problem. Not having the power to scry himself, he had to rely on others to do the gazing for him. Previously he had worked with Barnabas Saul but Saul had disappeared a few days earlier. Now a man named Talbot (later known as Edward Kelley) had appeared on his doorstep claiming to be able to do what Saul had done.

Dee’s expectations were modest but using a crystal ball, Talbot soon had a vision of the archangel Uriel. Unable to resist access to such a highly placed spirit, Dee asked about a coded manuscript he possessed. Uriel told him that The Book of Soyga (a copy resides in the British Library) was revealed to Adam in paradise and could only be understood with the help of Archangel Michael. In a later session, Uriel told Dee to construct a table to facilitate future angelic communications.

The table was to be set into four divine wax seals and each seal had to contain an image revealed by the angel. On the top of the table, resting on the Seal of God, a crystal ball or shew stone would be placed.

Objects belonging to Dee at the British Museum (photo: British Museum)

Objects belonging to Dee at the British Museum (photo: British Museum)

 

Later in the week, Talbot had a vision of the Archangel Michael anointing Dee. There was no doubt in Dee’s mind that some very special work lay ahead of the two men. Over the next decade Dee and Kelley would receive and communicate in Enochian, a fully developed angelic language. People still puzzle over those messages and their importance.

For more investigation:

John Dee’s Conversations with Angels- Deborah E. Harkness

The Queen’s Conjuror- Benjamin Woolley

John Dee’s Five Books of Mystery- Original Sourcebook of Enochian

Magic- Joseph H. Peterson

The Complete Enochian Dictionary- Donald C. Laylock

Enochian Alphabet- Vincent Bridges (YouTube- video, the importance of Dee’s

communication )

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Free Online Conference, STARTS MONDAY, You Must Register First

QUANTUM HEALING, CONSCIOUSNESS, AND SOUL EVENT

I’ll be hanging out at this conference and so can you! I’ve heard some of these speakers before and they are worth the time investment. If you’re unavailable for the live event, they offer a replay you can watch anytime. Pick and choose what interests you most. Register today by providing an email address and get set to learn something new for 2013!

http://www.quantumhealingandsoul.com/

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NEWTON AS ALCHEMIST

When we think of Isaac Newton, most of us probably return to high school physics. Laws of motion, gravity, incline experiments, and lists of equations come to mind. Newton was a great scientist and collective thought has enshrined him this way. But this is a very modern way to see him and casts aside and discards him as a spiritual being, for Newton was an alchemist. Sir Isaac wrote more on Biblical hermeneutics and occult studies than on math and science. He placed great emphasis on rediscovering the occult wisdom of the ancients and probably considered his scientific work to be of much less importance.

Although alchemy is generally viewed as a precursor to science (and it has that role), it was so much more. Alchemy incorporates Hermetic principles which include ideas from mythology, religion, and spirituality. Below HJ Sheppard outlines the dualistic nature of alchemy as both external (in the material world) and internal (spiritual) practices.

Alchemy is the art of liberating parts of the Cosmos from temporal existence

     and achieving perfection which, for metals is gold, and for man, longevity,

     then immortality and, finally redemption. Material perfection was sought

     through the action of a preparation (Philosopher’s Stone for metals;

      Elixir of Life for humans), while spiritual ennoblement resulted from some

      form of inner revelation or other enlightenment.

 We will probably never know the full extent of Newton’s alchemical work. Much was destroyed by fire. He also worked in a time when many alchemical experiments were banned and religious views differing from what was considered mainstream was heresy. Historians are still trying to piece things together.

An auction at Sotheby’s in 1936 created a worldwide sensation. Previously unpublished and unseen documents (Portsmouth Papers) surfaced and were presented for sale. About one-third of them were considered alchemical in nature. The papers show Newton’s keen interest in the philosopher’s stone. To this day, several projects are underway to catalog, transcribe, and make Newton’s papers available.

Other writings point to Newton’s interest in occult knowledge, sacred geometry, and prophesy. Throughout his life, Newton associated with members of various esoteric groups but his actual membership in any of them has never been confirmed. Certainly he shared many of the same interests these groups had. At the time of his death, Newton’s library contained 169 alchemical books and for its time, it would have been one of the best alchemical libraries in the world.

Recently I read Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott. This is a fictional story which revolves around Newton’s life at Cambridge. Stott is a professor who bases the book on actual records of Newton’s life. At its core are the mysteries of Sir Isaac’s rise to power and position, a series of murders near the university, and the influence of alchemy. A very interesting read.

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HAS (MS 408): THE VOYNICH MANUSCRIPT BEEN DECIPHERED?

This is an update to a blog I did in 2012 about the Voynich Manuscript. Recent work done by Dr. Stephen Bax (Professor of Applied Linguistics, University of Bedfordshire) has resulted in some startling findings.

voynich botanical

I love tales of missing manuscripts especially in fiction, but also in non-fiction. Last week, I finished The Swerve which featured the true story of the recovery of Lucretius’ poem, On the Nature of Things, and how it influenced our modern world. I liked the idea of a Renaissance book hunter slipping into monasteries looking for ancient wisdom. But I have a better story to share.

In 1912, Wilfrid Voynich recovered a mysterious manuscript that bears his name and resides in the Yale Library as Manuscript 408. The curious document has defied the patient and persistent attempts by all amateur and professional cryptographers to break it.

Its exact history is sketchy, but the document is alleged to have belonged to an Emperor, several practicing alchemists, and a religious order. Some have even proposed that Roger Bacon or John Dee authored the manuscript.

Consisting of 240 vellum pages with colored illustrations, the writing script is unknown and unreadable. Many of the illustrations resemble herbal texts of the 15th Century except that only a few of them can be identified. Aside from the herbal renderings, there are also illustrations covering topics on astronomy, biology, cosmology, medicines, and recipes. The drawings are fanciful, colorful, and complicated. Carbon-14 dating in 2009, dates the manuscript to between 1408 and 1438.

The text itself has puzzled for decades and even modern computer tools have proved ineffective. The writing itself seems to progress left to right with no punctuation. There are no obvious corrections, the document being very carefully executed. There are some 170,000 separate glyphs utilized throughout and many are used only once or twice. Statistical analysis of the work reveals that it resembles the flow of natural language. But what language? It seems to share some correspondences to English and Latin, but not entirely. The repetition of the glyphs is not a characteristic of European language.

Manuscript 408 remains the only undeciphered Renaissance manuscript and it continues to draw many into its mystery. Some think it’s an early herbal or medical text. Others see it as a work of alchemy (early chemistry) or hermeneutical teaching. Still others have declared it a hoax, but if it is a hoax of some kind, it goes beyond anything produced in the 15th Century. It goes beyond the codes and cyphers used then, and continues to evade codebreakers today. What is this curious work and who penned its bizarre contents?

For those intrigued enough to read further:

The Voynich Manuscript- Gerry Kennedy & Rob Churchill

The Friar & the Cypher- Lawrence Goldstone

Six Unsolved Ciphers- Richard Belfield

Drawing on work done to date, Dr. Bax undertook a detailed look at some of the plants and signs in the manuscript. He began with some of the speculations on plant names to decipher letters within the text. He believes he has deciphered ten words and fourteen signs to begin the process of identifying the language MS 408 was written in. Dr. Bax believes the manuscript is not a hoax, but rather a 15th Century book on nature written not in code but rather an unknown language. Now, the hard work begins to try to reveal more of the manuscript. It seems like this is an instance when having the right experts makes all the difference.  

 

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Filed under alchemy, Book Review, Books, health