Wednesday, June 21, 2017

List of Research Questions

Following is a list of questions. Further research into them through the lens of women's culture may help to open up understanding of the Voynich manuscript. I will be adding to them periodically. Feel free to take on the one that piques your interest and to collaborate. I check the blog comments regularly and can be reached at the(dot)pyat(at)gmail(dot)com.

  1. Women's brooches (solde, solju, risku, sakta, kösöntyű) are found throughout northern Europe, often depicting the sun and signifying fertility. Do these appear to have any correspondence with the star charts in the Voynich, many of them containing a woman's face in the middle.
  2. The Permian Style of ornaments often depicts a lizard of the underworld that resembles the lizard in the Voynich manuscript. Are there other symbols that may point to a belief system akin to that held by the makers of Permian Style artifacts? Do any artifacts found around Lake Ladoga resemble images in the Voynich?
  3. One folio shows a women emerging from a fish that resembles a pike. From what cultural tradition may this be from? What are some myths or shamanic practices that might speak to this image?
  4. How much do images in the Voynich manuscript resemble elements of the Finnish Mythological Cosmos and other Finno-Ugric traditions?
  5. Stars are drawn throughout the Voynich manuscript. This blog posits that the majority of them do not represent astrological bodies but rather mythological constructs in possibly Nordic, Baltic, and/or Finno-Ugric cultures. The number of rays each stars has may be intentional and significant.
  6. Implements of spinning and weaving figure into the Voynich manuscript. A woman hold a drop spindle, and other women hold distaffs, covered and uncovered. What may be the cultural significance of these women, given that they are naked, in water, perhaps even a cave, and marching or dancing with these implements? Is there a correlation between them and the folk tradition of Frau Holle, Perchta, and/or Freya?
  7. Is there an artistic correlation between the graphics of the Voynich manuscript and graphics in murals and pew ends in various medieval churches throughout Finland and Scandinavia? For example, some of these church murals depict a demon helping women produce milk from their cows. In the Voynich manuscript, there is depicted a creature that fits the rustic description of a para, which was said to help the milkmaid increase her production. What is the evolution from para to demon? 
  8. The cadence of the Voynich manuscript appears to be related to the trochaic meter used in the Kalevala and in Baltic rune songs. The text has no punctuation. Is this because it is already divided up into phrases? Are there correlations between Leelo singing in Estonia and what is depicted in the Voynich manuscript? Are the women depicted in the manuscript also bringing about magic through their singing? One folio in particular appears to be a list of rune chants. Does this match with known traditions?
  9. One article of clothing that nearly every woman depicted in the manuscript has is a head covering of some sort. Are there correlations in style between medieval folk dress of various geographical areas in northern Europe and the headdresses throughout the manuscript?
  10. Throughout the manuscript, the women are depicted in poses strikingly reminiscent of those used even today in European folk dance. Do these poses have names, meanings, and circumstances? How many can be recognized within the manuscript?
  11. Embroidery found throughout northern Europe and perhaps especially on the islands of Estonia bear a remarkable resemblance to some of the depictions of plants in the Voynich manuscript. In fact, many of the plants are so outlandishly rendered, similar to embroidery, that they are almost impossible for a botanist to identify. Is there a language of flowers in embroidery that could crack the code to identify these plants?
  12. The rosette map is one of the most bizarre elements of the Voynich manuscript. It looks less like a map than a grid for lacework such as the fine textile, Vologda lace. Are there elements in it that could tie it to such textile work instead of cartography? If it is more a journey map, what journey is it alluding to?
  13.  One calendar chart in the Voynich manuscript shows odd configurations of faces in geometric patterns. The only relative to these graphics I have been able to find are rune staves from nineteenth-century Icelandic magic books. These charm runes are tied to the Huld, the Volva, and the Seidr. (Eventually most of the Sweden's transition to Christianity caused the ancient shamanistic practices to be pushed into the background and occasionally persecuted. Volver, who practiced seid, a Scandinavian pre-Christian tradition, were executed or exiled under the new Christian domination in the 11th and 12th century .

  14. The Icelandic Althing decided to introduce 
  15. A thorough examination of Draumstafir or Galdrastafir and a comparison of them with the figures found in the Voynich manuscript may shed light on the calendar chart and the work as a whole.
  16. In her paper, "Time and the Indo-European Gods in the Slavic Context," Emily Lyle associates the three Dumézilian functions (three sons) with the three seasons, priests with spring, warriors with summer and food producers with winter (1990:4,86). Then she combines the three into a four-part whole, with their mother, an overarching woman, representing an intercalary period (seen in many ancient calendars) as well as the entire year. This intercalary period in the winter is equated with Eliade’s period of eternal return when the old again is regenerated. The Voynich manuscript appears to have such a calendar with the seasons personified, as well as the overarching woman. Further study of this may yield rich results.
  17. A history of women, water, and ritual may shed light on the graphics of the Voynich manuscript as well as the text. Some traditions to explore are sacred spring keepers, Nerthus, Melusine, women's water drumming, Rauna, and many folk traditions captured by James Frazer in the Golden Bough.
  18. Legend has it that a Women's Land or Terra Feminarum lay in the Baltic, possibly at one time encompassing a territory from Norway to Karelia. A handful of ancient historians mention it, as discussed in the blog. What is known about this mysterious legend and what is not known? What archaeological discoveries may shed light on why the legend persisted?
  19. In the Baltic isles, boat travel was ancient, and in Finland many place names suggest that there were boat landings for men and boat landings for women. This means that even in medieval times these women had their own boats. In addition, they had their own skis in the winter. What might be the cultural ramifications of women having their own means of solo transportation this early in history? 
  20. There appear to be similarities between the myth of the Selkie and the myth of the Huldra. One is prominent on the northern isles of Scotland, the other along the west coast of Norway. What could have accounted for this myth? Are there perhaps any ties to historical events that would weave threads of truth into the fabric of these stories? Any ties between them and the legend of the Venusbergs, the Hörselloch, Finnish Huuhta Swidden Culture, and the Sithonia tribes?
  21. The Voynich manuscript depict buildings with red roofs and onion domes. In addition, the swallowtail crenellations may or may not indicate certain regions such as northern Italy or the Khanate of Kazan. Further study is needed on the architecture rendered in the manuscript to try to pinpoint a possible point of origin.
  22. The Voynich manuscript depicts the typical implements of a north European sauna/spa/banya: a bucket and spoons. Tracing this tradition throughout history, especially with regard to its use in childbirth and applying correlations to the Voynich manuscript could shed light on the work's origin and cultural context.


  1. Claudette, I'm curious to know whether you have any example of what would be, in effect, an anthropological work given that the Permian artefacts date to c.10thC, a time when as far as I know the only people who made manuscripts were Christian monks, and these produced copies of religious works supplemented by some few secular matters which aided exegesis or related to their own monastery, its daily routine and religious Rule.

    Do you know of an exception?

  2. The Perm style is not relegated to the 10th c. and manuscripts outside of the Roman Catholic Church are known to have existed quite a few centuries before the 15th century. That is the short answer. In a new post I will put a long answer that ties up much of the research in the other posts.