Who isn’t interested in grimoires and strange texts we can’t decipher? Two years ago, I made a brief post about two such occult tomes, the Voynich manuscript and the Copiale Cipher. In that initial post, I noted how the Copiale Cipher had been cracked (it was revealed to be composed by a German secret society interested/obsessed with human eyeballs — and no, I’m not kidding.) As I noted, the more (in)famous Voynich Manuscript continued to resist all efforts to translate it. Well, it’s still untranslated, but the first cracks have appeared — some of the hitherto unknown animal and plant species drawn in the Manuscript have now been identified by ethnobotanists.
“We note that the style of the drawings in the Voynich Ms. is similar to 16th century codices from Mexico (e.g., Codex Cruz-Badianus). With this prompt, we have identified a total of 37 of the 303 plants illustrated in the Voynich Ms. (roughly 12.5% of the total), the six principal animals, and the single illustrated mineral. The primary geographical distribution of these materials, identified so far, is from Texas, west to California, south to Nicaragua, pointing to a botanic garden in central Mexico, quite possibly Huaztepec (Morelos). A search of surviving codices and manuscripts from Nueva España in the 16th century, reveals the calligraphy of the Voynich Ms. to be similar to the Codex Osuna (1563-1566, Mexico City). Loan-words for the plant and animal names have been identified from Classical Nahuatl, Spanish, Taino, and Mixtec. The main text, however, seems to be in an extinct dialect of Nahuatl from central Mexico, possibly Morelos or Puebla.”
So there you have it. Our first real clues to identifying what the heck it says. Speakers of Nahuatl, we await further findings!