Deciphering the Voynich Manuscript

68rMy original intent was to write a lengthy article on the astronomical / astrological findings used in the ongoing project of decoding the 600 year old Voynich manuscript by Professor Baxter at the University of Bedfordshire.

That now seems somewhat redundant since Professor Baxter gives us two lectures of a little less than two hours and has posted the full 500 page article of his findings on his homepage. I’m therefore opting for an introduction and an opportunity to congratulate Baxter for his achievement. I would also encourage traditional astrologers and students of cultural astronomy to take an active interest in this project

Baxter is a linguist who has gone a long way towards cracking the code of this artifact which has remained largely unintelligible until recently . There has been extensive inter-disciplinary sharing of information on this project

In keeping with the focus of this site, the astrological elements that helped to decipher this manuscript are paramount. Baxter tell us that ““The manuscript has a lot of illustrations of stars and plants. I voynich_dreams_vi_by_dantesangreal-d5c19ffwas able to identify some of these, with their names, by looking at mediaeval herbal manuscripts in Arabic and other languages, and I then made a start on a decoding, with some exciting results.”

He recognized Taurus, close to a picture of what could very well be the Pleiades, Pictures of known herbs were also useful. Baxter refers to seven ladies in water, but I’m inclined to think they represent the Pleiades themselves. However, this can be little more than an educated guess without seeing the context of the image to other images and text.

In the second video, Baxter discusses the Lunar Mansions, among other things as a calendar and seasonal indicator, This is in turn reveals the four elements and the humours.

He questions why Taurus would be where it is on the circle without mentioning the chart is an Octotopos, as is the image @ 11:08 in the first video. The Octotopos was a Hellenistic form using only eight houses. It is said that four mundane elements were divided by the four celestial points.

This would be supported by the fact that four of the houses are filled with stars. The other places four show lines connected to stars, each of the four houses contains a different number, from one to four as far as I can determine.

I make no claims to being an expert on that system. In the Octotopos, however, Taurus appears to be rising, depending on how it is viewed. Baxter ultimately refers back to the Lunar Mansions which divide the circle into 28 sections and puts weight on the position of Taurus indicated by the Mansion. 68r_gallica_1b

Again, we have more cultural context and linguistic information as the work of deciphering this fascinating artifact unfolds    Please refer to the previous article regarding Al Biruni and the Lunar Mansions for a deeper understanding. There are also pages on this site which discuss the Mansions directly.

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Magic and the Occult in Islam: Ahmad al-Buni

What follows is a very fine lecture by Saiyad Nizamuddin Ahmad (Department of Arabic and Islamic Civilizations, American University in Cairo) delivered at the Warburg Institute, University of London, May 2003.

This is an important lecture in it’s own right, but I’m also posting this as an introduction to my next post, regarding the decoding of a manuscript using astrological elements such as Lunar Mansions, Constellations and significant stars; while making reference to the Picatrix. I’m delighted to see so much research and scholarship brought to bear on the astrological tradition and it’s association with Alchemy, Geomancy. & Theurgy.

The Flight of the Hindenburg

hind1xThere are some events that become etched in the collective psyche, taking on almost mythical dimensions. Certainly, the explosion of the Hindenburg falls into that category as does the sinking of the Titanic – “the ship that even God couldn’t sink.”

A zeppelin requires enormous amounts of flammable gas to operate, The fact that they flew in electrical storms and on bombing missions in WWI seems counter-intuitive. The fact is they were a marvel of  engineering and considered very safe and efficient.

Most are unaware of the long time success of the airships and the fact that this single event put an end to it all. For almost three decades, travel on German commercial zeppelins saw tens of thousands of passengers flying over a million miles on more than 2,000 flights without a single injury.

What was it about the conditions of this last flight that caused the catastrophe?  Technicians are still not in total agreement about  why this particular zeppelin failed so spectacularly.


From a traditional astrological point of view there are several elements of interest, many of which appear to be errily literal, insofar as anything can be truly literal.  I’ll be looking at the charts for the departure from Frankfurt and the explosion in Lakehurst, NJ.The times and dates are 03 May 1937, 7:16 PM (CET – 1) and 06 May 1937, 7:25 PM (EDT = 4) respectively.

In the chart of departure, the first element of interest in the Scorpio Ascendant in Via Combusta  The Pre Natal Lunation is within 3.5° of the Ascendant. In fact, the Ascendants of the departure and combustion chart are a mere 2° apart.  This provides us with a rich study of the seed and fruition of the event.

This gives us a chart with fixed angles. If this were a horary chart, it would indicate ,misfortune on the part of the querent. ‘The term translates as Fiery Road’ or ‘Combust Way’.e

Perseus with head of Algol

The constellation Perseus and Algol, the Bright Star in the Gorgon’s head – Johannes Hevelius, Uranographia, 1690

The Ascendant is the place of the helmsman in Hellenistic astrology.  In this case the Helmsman is a retrograde Mars in aversion to  the Ascendant.

The Helmsman has no direct control of the ship. This gives us the image of the zeppelin taking off and exploding in the way of fire. Mars and the Nodal Axis are in the axis known as the Gates of Hades. Mars is also in opposition to the South Node in the opposite sign of it’s Exaltation. In spite of its condition, Mars is the Almuten Figuris of the chart. He is however in no position to steer the ship.

The scenario is already looking quite deadly. We find a Martial Venus in an unfortunate house and retrograde. The sixth house is the house of sickness and of the people, as in subjects or citizens of the realm, but in this case could just as well be the passengers According to the rules of Guido Bonatti Venus is the “killing planet” and Lord of the Twelfth House

We find Mercury in Taurus Rx in the house of open enemies, disposited by a debilitated Venus and conjunct the very unfortunate star, Algol meaning to lose one’s head. In many photos of the event, the Hindenburg appears to be having it’s “head” snapped off.

Mercury is also parallel Canopus, known to the Greeks as the rudder of the Celestial Ship. As if to underscore the danger here, we also find Mercury contrary to Sect and not in his chariot, according to Hellenistic thought. He is incapable of competence, but is nevertheless goaded into action.  In the house of the open enemy, his actions cannot be benign. They are in effect malevolent.


When we focus on the chart for the explosion during attempts to land in Lakehurst, the first thing of significance is the near exact degree of the Ascendant. This had not been planned. As mentioned, the zeppelin was several hours behind schedule.

It is also intriguing that the planetary Hour belongs to Mercury. On departure it had been in the Hour of the Sun. The appalling condition of Mercury conjunct Algol is Lord of the Eighth House of Death. The Eighth is in the Mutable Air Sign of Gemini, the placement of the S. Node and opposed by Retrograde Mars, in term disposited by a weak Jupiter in the domicile of Saturn. Jupiter is for all intents and purposes Peregrine, possessing a Ruler / Term reception with Saturn and exaltation / term and term with Mars

Not a great deal has changed from the departure chart, except of course the Moon has passed from Aquarius to Pisces. In and of itself, I don’t see this as being central to the disaster, but with a change of Moon comes a change in the Part of Fortune, the Lord of which is Mercury. Mercury is essentially conducting the events by default

The Hindenburg was several hours behind schedule due to a number of elements, not least the wind and a minor electrical storm. We could say the airship reached the destiny promised by the chart for departure. As mentioned above, this is all rather eerily literal, but impossible to ignore.

Sacred Science & Materialistic Literalism

Pythagoras - Detail from Raphael's "School of Athens"

Pythagoras – Detail from Raphael’s “School of Athens”

Considering the extreme distaste modern scientists have for dogma, they can be surprisingly dogmatic. Of course the greatest minds realize there is not a single means of perception and the same phenomena can be seen and understood in different ways without being wrong. For example, The Vedas show a remarkable wisdom and understanding which may fairly be called sacred science. Yet the hubris of modern scientists often finds the term sacred science to be oxymoronic.

There is a persistent and pernicious belief that real intelligence began with the Enlightenment . Whether of not this is wilful ignorance, it is blind to the extraordinary wisdom and what I would call sacred science which is older by thousands of years. Much of it is only now being understood by modern people.

However, much of the common parlance of scientists suggests a teleological sensibility, For example, I recently watched a wonderful documentary on marine life at 15,000 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the Philippines. .

Essentially all life forms at that depth have a luminescence comparable to the terrestrial firefly. Then the marine biologist in charge stated that a jelly fish like creature had a red stomach so that other life forms couldn’t see luminescence in the stomach.

That statement is in fact teleological. It is telling us that this trait exists for a reason and is therefore not the result of random mutation. The Oxford English Dictionary defines teleological as an “explanation of phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than by postulated causes.” The sense that there is meaning and purpose in the universe beyond what is virtually blind chance has been ridiculed by the term “Intelligent Design.”untitled

While the vast majority of astrologers would want to distance themselves from biblical literalism with a fear of science, the term itself is well conceived. Every time a scientist finds herself explaining creation by the purpose they serve, she betrays a split in consciousness.

There has been a hoax circulating for many years suggesting that Einstein was supportive, even admiring, of astrology. It’s a moot point in any case as there is no evidence that Einstein ever studied astrology. I cannot think why he would. However, for those of us who dostudy astrology, his scientific and philosophical views seem familiar and harmonious.

In an interview with Alfred Stern in the Contemporary Jewish Record 8  (June 1945 pp. 245-249,  Einstein tells us that he is “not a positivist. Positivism states that what cannot be observed does not exist. This conception is scientifically indefensible, for it is impossible to make valid affirmations of what people ‘can’ or ‘cannot’ observe. One would have to say ‘only what we observe exists’, which is obviously false.” ~

This video addresses these issues in an intelligent and respectful way.*


Modern materialist thought tends to be childishly literal, finding ancient systems of though such as astrology to be mere superstition or worse. Ironically, the greatest minds who lay the basis and furthered the cause of science were also serious astrologers. These include Galileo, Nicolas Copernicus and Sir Isaac Newton to name but a few. Wisdom and science were never so much at war as they have been since the European 18th Century

*I would like to give credit for the creator of this video, but have regrettably been unable to establish provenance beyond the VideoPress stamp. If you have this information, please contact me.