Friday, December 29, 2023

An Odd Voynich Translation


In this age of technical sophistication like AI and Google, it should be quite easy to pinpoint the language and hence the origin of the Voynich manuscipt...or at least find a relative to it. With that power in our hands, we may be able to peer into the manuscript and produce either a few words or some blaring flubs. At any rate, it's fun to try. But there is a pivotal question: have we gotten the transcription at least close enough to produce meaning?

I ran an experiment. 

I transferred the page below using the transcription that most closely resembles Scottish Secretary Hand, a pretty obscure writing style that renders what at least look like words that you can read aloud. I have a hunch that this writing style has its origins in Old Permic script. It seems counter-intuitive to say the least, but I believe the people to which the manuscript belongs were travelers and traders, especially in and around the marine and riverine passages in northern Europe, including the region's many subterranean courses.

Keeping line and paragraph breaks as its only punctuation, I plugged the following passage from Quire1-f2r of the Voynich manuscript into Google Translate. 

Lasona apkei som elkoi apkom feita 
Serkera klar t her fa fe 
Jelom fua a ker ka asa kom
?onsa housa klessa pa soit kellom s 
eleker oi hesom keison alkom son 
tom sons slei ter aleisa skei ska fa 
her fa soma keison 

Lason hom jea t hei pesan alh ei hua sonrisa 
sithe lei hua jelka alesa te kei ala son some 
jela kei om hei hula som fua lu ei som som 
ekon soi ka soier hon son eit om hua fer 
eloi ka ker aer on kon tom kula kala toi 
he alko kua som ufa 

Leem kepker elom eson ker son hla 
luelka he hei jelke iekut jella ker som 
elka ker iha kei kesa keson ufa som 
he keie kuor kesom 

Luor ha som ufea thua ser kei som
ser kei ker kei luei ka ula som elker con 
som keluka jeluka kelker kuut ur ukom 
kelerhu ker kei kei seiesa 

Luket jepoi kei fei souss 
akuer ker sos jelkes kos 
eker jeuker kei som fua 
teka ker koi kos kos ke 

Jelei keieia t kos fei 
elkei jesom ker her sore 
aher ker kei ela sose 
he ?er hueisos elkese ei 
a sor keifor 


The Result

Immediately, GT detected Finnish and nothing else. As you may know, I have believed that the Voynich language derives from some lesser known Finnic language. The thing is, there are many of them, some already extinct. I have covered this in another page titled Language Candidates

But what if we selected various languages in GT? Do any of them return legible words or even better sentences with even the slightest meaning?

Yes, one and only one does. 

This language, which produced more than a smattering of meaning, shockingly, was Hindi. It returned full sentences in a style which closely resembles Helkavirsi...weirdly.

What the heck are Helkavirsi?

A helkavirsa is a Finnish poem in the Kalevala meter (trochaic tetrameter), especially one sung in a helkajuhla. From helka +‎ juhla (“celebration”). The initial component from Old Norse helgr (“holy”). It is Säaksmäki's spring singing festival for girls. 

Girls, perhaps, like these two, who are watching two matrons with fancy headdresses dance?

Confusing matters, Finnish poet Eino Leino published collections of his poetry in 1903 and 1916 under the title Helkavirsiä. Whether he borrowed from the actual, authentic canon of Helkajuhla songs is outside of our scope, so I'll just leave it at a mention.

First, the Name

Origin of Helka/Áile: Old Norse or Old Finnic?

As usual, it's assumed to be originally a Germanic origin, but it could be much, much older, an Old Finnic term created by the Sami, who have resided in northern Europe for millennia.


From Proto-Germanic *hailagaz (“holy, sacred”), whence also Old English hāliġ, Old Frisian hēlich, Old Saxon hēlag, Old High German heilag, Gothic 𐌷𐌰𐌹𐌻𐌰𐌲𐍃 (hailags). Akin to heill +‎ -agr.

Adjective heilagr (comparative helgari, superlative helgastr): holy, inviolable, sacred
Old Norse Helga ("holy"), a pre-Christian term, feminine form of Helgi. Doublet of Olga.

From Old Norse helga, from Proto-Germanic *hailagōną. Cognates include English hallow.
Verb helga (present tense helgar, past tense helga, past participle helga, passive infinitive helgast, present participle helgande, imperative helga/helg): to hallow, sanctify, to ornate, (reflexive) to visit

Olga: Borrowed in the 19th century from Russian О́льга (Ólʹga), a saints' name borne by Russian royalty, a medieval form of Helga, Old Norse heilagr (“holy, prosperous”). Doublet of Helga.


This name derives from the Old Norse “helgi > heilagr,” meaning “holy, blessed.” This name and its variants (Hege, Helle, Helge, Helga, and Helka) are a female name used mainly in Scandinavia, Iceland, Germany, and Hungary. The name was in use in England before the Norman Conquest but appeared to have died out afterward. It was re-introduced to English-speaking nations in the 20th-century from Germany and the Nordic countries. Eastern Slavic name Olga derives from it. The Scandinavian male equivalent is Helge or Helgi. The name day is celebrated: Estonia: May 31, Hungary: October 3, Latvia: August 11, Sweden: November 21, Finland: May 31, Greece: July 11.


Uncertain, possibly related to Helga or Alice.

Koponen, Eino; Ruppel, Klaas; Aapala, Kirsti, editors (2002–2008) Álgu database: Etymological database of the Saami languages‎[1], Helsinki: Research Institute for the Languages of Finland

From Sami; an Inari Sami variant of Aili. Possibly related to Laila.

Now the Event: Helkajuhla

Hela, or helka party

With spring and the melting of the snow, the festivities moved to nature: meadows, fields, groves and mountains. Some places that started with Helk or Hiisi are known to have been places where the Hela or Helka party was held. By celebrating the festival, the fertility of the fields and meadows and a good harvest were ensured. In Hämee, Satakunta and Uudellama, lucky candles have been burned around which people sang, played and danced.

Whites were burned on the eve of Maundy Thursday or, depending on the locality, also at other times until Pentecost or Midsummer. Fires could also be lit several nights in a row. According to Ganander's description from the 18th century, the people of Hämälä had fun at the helavalke, drinking good beer, playing music and cheering. The girls had to get a swing for themselves on the eve of Maundy Thursday. If you couldn't get a boy by your side that night, you couldn't get any other time the whole year.

There are certain rules associated with lighting a bonfire. The fire could be made as a friction white and only certain trees could be burned in it. According to information recorded from Central Finland, nine different types of wood were used for lighting. The villagers could also have a habit of bringing one tree, branch or sparrow to the fire. Juniper and tar were burned in the fire, the acrid smoke created by them was believed to drive away malicious people.

There are plenty of known party places and they are often located in high places. Local helka places have been, for example, Kankaanmäki in Juhtimäki in Ikaalisten, Inkula helkaketo in Viljakkala, Helaaketo in Oriniemi in Punkalaitumen, and Kalmonmäki at the northern end of Lemakkajärvi in ​​Hämeenkyrö.

The most famous helka festival is celebrated on Pentecost in the village of Ritvala in Sääksmäki. At the party, the maidens walk the route to Helkavuori and sing carnival-style songs as they go. The celebration has also traditionally included dancing, playing and burning candles. In addition, the girls are said to have picked Helkavuori's flowers for their baskets. It was believed in the village that Ritvala's fields would stop yielding if the people stopped celebrating the festival.


Here is a snippet from a legendary poem of the Big Bull*, the gist of which recurs in various forms from eastern Karelia to western Finland: 
Is the broth cooked,
Old crowed,
For the tired crowd,
For the rising youth?
Is there any bread in your castle
Without baking bread?
Is there butter under the mountain
Without asking Kirnu?
Is there meat in the castle?
Without killing the bull?

*Excerpted from  Kantelettare's studies I, by Julius Krohn, 2014.

You'll notice the immediate, intimate tone, cryptic allusions to events peculiar to the region, questions, and lots of metaphorical detail.

And here is a snippet of the translation from Hindi to English:

You will see that it has the same intimate tone, similar questions, and allusions whose sources have been obscured by time and distance, and so the meanings remain positively cryptic. do you celebrate the ancient rites of your ancestors without ticking off the church fathers who wish to abolish and erase your heritage? Well, you could keep the gist and throw in mention of a Mary and a Jesus to calm the clergy's vigilance. After all, they may speak Swedish, German, and Latin, but their Finnish may be spotty, so keep the language, sprinkle it with Christian names, and wink-wink rhetorically as you and your sisters process up the hill. That seems to be the Helkavirsi we have today. See Kaarina Kailo's The Helka Fest—Traces of a Finno-Ugric Matriarchy and Worldview?

As for deriving the most meaning from a Hindi translation? That's intriguing to say the least, and it opens a can of worms that wriggle toward the dangerous waters of Frisia and a treacherous sojourn into Punjab, India...but that's for a future post.

For more information related to Hel/Ail/Hol, such as Frau Holle, Helya’s Night, Huld, and the Huldra, see the post called The Rites of the Hidden.

Friday, May 27, 2022

The Ghost Faces of Carmarthen

In 2015, researchers at the University of Cambridge shined a UV light on an ancient Welsh manuscript and discovered "details hidden in the book that had been erased from history, finding doodles, marginalia and an additional verse" ( Among their findings are the two faces shown below on the right.

They speculate that a later owner had erased parts of the manuscript with a pumice stone to "tidy it up." Apparently, it was a commonplace practice to add and subtract material in this way.

That raises questions about the Voynich manuscript. How much of the original survived? Was any of it erased? Might there be pages or folios out there from this manuscript that have been erased and repurposed? Would it be possible to sleuth lost folios out by an analysis of the vellum and marks, wrinkles, inks, and perhaps even erased script? 

The hunt for more of the manuscript would be, as with everything about the Voynich, tortuous. However, the Black Book of Carmarthen gives us tangible evidence that manuscripts can hold stunning secrets.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Old Permic Script and the People of the Perm Krai

Mikael Agricola, who lived in the early 1500s, is credited with creating the first comprehensive writing system in a Finnic language. He is even called "The Father of literary Finnish." However, the birch bark letter no. 292, created over 200 years before Agricola, is the oldest known document in any Finnic language.

In addition, inscriptions in Old Permic script are among the oldest relics of the Uralic languages. To set the exact date of Komi writing is impossible. But the fact that it originated long before the 10th century is evidenced by the Books of Ahmed Ibn Fadlan about his journey to the Volga in 921-922. Arab traveler and secretary of the embassy of the Baghdad Caliph wrote about the correspondence of the king of Volga Bulgaria with the ancestors of the Komi people, calling them Vysu (вису).

The Komi ancestors did not have one, but two kinds of writing. The first is the so-called practical letter of the pass, or symbol. With these signs, the zyryane (Komi) tagged their belongings and hunting grounds, and also made calendars. Similar signs existed among all Finno-Ugric and Samoyed peoples. Almost without changing, these icons endured to modern times on spinning wheels, as well as embroidered and knitted patterns.
Komi Calendar Passes

Georgy Lytkin wrote about the difference between the two types of writing in the 19th century: “Zyryan passes never had the meaning of letters, they cannot convey what the Egyptian hieroglyphs conveyed. No approach can be made between passes and stefanovsky letters.” Unlike the Komi passes collected in the 19th-20th centuries, tamga-like graffiti on archaeological finds belong to the 12th-14th centuries. They are undoubtedly the oldest of such signs.

Stepan Khrap of Perm (St. Stephen) is said to have created Old Permic script for the Komi language in 1372. Actually, all he did was employ a script already well known to him. His grandfather, an educated Komi merchant Dzebas, often climbed up Vychegda and Vym in his trade affairs. It was then that he would have seen for the first time the Komi letters that Zyryan merchants used in trade.
Stephan of Perm

This occurred a century before the creation of the Voynich manuscript (according to carbon dating), and roughly two centuries before Agricola and his writing system.

Not until the 17th century was Old Permic, aka Abur, superseded by the Cyrillic script from which it was loosely adapted. I say "loosely" because Old Permic is called a "highly idiosyncratic adaptation" of Cyrillic and Greek, with Komi "Tamga" signs. Interestingly, since not many persons knew it, Old Permic was also used as cryptographic writing for the Russian language.

Could the Voynich manuscript use the Komi's two writing systems, the Tamga system for f66v and f57r and for the rest of the text the more formal writing system employed by the Komi to send letters to trading partners like the Bulgar king?

Let's take a look at Old Permic script, especially Old Permic cursive, and compare it against the script in the Voynich manuscript used for what appear to be 1) a list of rune charms and 2) a calendar.

Pronounced correspondences occur on two pages, one possibly listing runic charms and the other on what appears to be a seasonal calendar. The rest of the manuscript appears to employ, however strangely,  more of a Latin script. The characters which appear similar to Old Permic are not used throughout the manuscript but rather in special, isolated places, as if they were runes or numerals. They in fact do have quite a few correspondences with Tamgas, those used in Finno-Ugric culture.

Here is a comparison between Voynichese, Hungarian Tamga-like symbols, and the Old Permic writing system.



If the Voynich manuscript has been influenced by an obsolete script from the Perm Krai, and if its folios contain words from inhabitants of the Perm Krai, then perhaps there are extant records of folk songs that would bear resemblance to the frequently repeated words in the Voynich manuscript.

So then, we have this:
One striking correspondence is that the above wedding tune from the Vatka Komi in the Krov district, uses the letters that, if my transcription is fairly accurate, are found in abundance in the Voynich manuscript: a, u, o, i, e, s, p, t, k, m, and l. In addition, it repeats small two-letter words: oi, pe, ok, and uk. 

Other correspondences exist regarding Komi mythology, folk costume, and lore.

Power over water

Mythic focus on women

Zarni Ań (Golden Woman) was the supreme goddess of the Zyrian people (Komi).

"In the mythologies of Uralic peoples, a woman is seen as the ruler of life and death and the southern and northern direction of the corresponding air directions," says Academy Professor Anna-Leena Siikala." The gods of the shamans are the gods of nature

Depictions of female suns

Päivätär ('Maiden of the Sun'), is the goddess of the Sun in Finnish mythology. Described as a great beauty, she owns the silver of the Sun, spins silver yarns, and weaves clothes out of them. In Kalevala, young maidens ask Päivätär to give them some of her silver jewelry and clothes.

Professor Anna-Leena Siikala finds it possible that Päivätär was a goddess who ruled over life and light. During Christian period, she was replaced by Virgin Mary.
Below is a contemporary depiction of Päivätär by sculptor Kaarina Kuusisto-Lukkari.
Above, Komi female sun

Symbols of spinning and weaving

Not only was Päivätär a goddess—she was the goddess of spinning, and her sister, Kuutar, goddess of the moon, was in charge of weaving.

Komi Women


Thus, we find shared nuances in script, mythology, and symbolism between the Voynich manuscript and Uralic culture, especially among the people of the Perm Krai. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

30 Keys to the Voynich Manuscript

The research outlined below indicates northern Europe as the Voynich manuscript's origin, and it goes further.

1. Transcription Alphabet - 90 words gleaned using the transcription alphabet in this blog suggest constructions of an old Finno-Ugric origin with a substantial amount of Old Norse. In addition, there is a distinct Slavic influence. (Below is apai, aunt in Udmurt)

2. Female suns  The Voynich manuscript with its heliocentric star charts was written 105 years before Copernicus’ publication that posited the sun in the center, causing the Copernican Revolution. That's a dead giveaway that the Voynich was created outside of the scientific canon. Having little to do with astronomy, the Voynich suns represent some core elements of north European mythologies that can be found in Scandinavian, Finno-Ugric, north Germanic, and even to some extent Celtic traditional belief systems. These belief systems go back thousands of years.

3. A location with the topographic features depicted in the Voynich manuscript: marble caverns with extremely green water

4. Kolovrat – swirled star

5. Head-dresses

6. Spa/Sauna/Banya

7. Held objects: torcs and Seidr staff

8. Folk art motifs similar to those found in Karelia and elsewhere in N. Europe, especially Finnic lands.

9. Seasonal calendar and the Wheel of the Year

10. Architecture

11. Design reminiscent of Sami shamanic drum

12. Plants from northern hemisphere
Bog rosemary, only found in bogs in cold peat-accumulating areas
    And Pedicularis flammea found mostly in subarctic regions

 13. A congruence between the graphics and translations of the text, which speaks of seasonal folk rites within discrete north European belief systems to bring abundance and protection.

14. Complexion and build of the women

I have observed a connection with fertility in the case of the lizard motif (e.g. Figures 48, 51–52). This fits to the explanation according to which lizard symbolised Earth and the under-world, the world of the dead.  From: THE PERMIAN ANIMAL STYLE, Editors Mare Kõiva & Andres Kuperjanov & Väino Poikalainen & Enn Ernits.

16. Rain/water/fertility ritualin northern European folk traditions as documented by Sir James Frazer

17. A plausible, missing piece of provenance tying the manuscript to recorded history

18. Treenware

19. Mention in Legend and History
20. Norse words used throughout manuscript: eller, kor, ella, som, alla
21. Consonant gradation
22, Norse runic glyphs

23.  Heliocentric star charts resembling brooches

24. Labels on herbal jars include a base, a fertility booster, a wound salve, and a medicine for liver. Also, the herbs in the jars, are being identified.
25. Nordic names for women being used in the calendars.

26. Correspondence with northern European mythic cosmology.

27. Correspondence of handwriting style with another historical document from northern Europe.

28.  Correlations in phraseology to traditional rune songs and chants that use a distinct meter.

29.  Folk dance poses.

30.  A pronounced absence of symbolism that would indicate any other culture.

These various elements within the Voynich manuscript all converge on northern Europe as being the origin.