The aim of this blog is to inspect the premises, assumptions and evidence (if any) which led to the formation of ideas that are now repeated everywhere.

After a century in which the ‘usual story’ has got us no-where in efforts to read the pictorial or the written text, it’s time to see just where the study went wrong – what is believed that deserves no credence? What began as a vague idea and was hardened into dogma by no more than repetition?  How much represents conclusions reached from solid evidence?

How much of what is said by modern ‘Voyncheros’ is a product of their own effort and which is just repeating ideas untested for a hundred years.

How much of what everyone (including the holding library) describes as “what we know” isn’t “what we know” but a long-ago speculation?

Posts to the blog look at those ‘Voynich doctrines’ in turn, tracing each it to its roots, how it came to be disseminated and includes a list of initial readings for anyone wanting to look at the topic afresh.

The ‘skies above’ series of posts is one exception. There, I didn’t feel it would be honest not to include something of my own work but as a rule (as with the last of the ‘Green stars’ series, any discussion of my own work is brief.

This isn’t about persuading readers of my own views, but about opening up the study to new approaches, without the need to believe older, unproven notions about the manuscript, still maintained by the traditionalist* theory.

*The traditionalist theory might be defined as  ‘its-a-zodiac-and-zodiac-means-astrology’.

2 thoughts on “About

  1. Ms. O’Donovan, my name is Dave Ladley, and I’m a small town family physician from the northeastern US and longtime lurker of all things Voynich. I recently started posting at Voynich.ninja under the username RenegadeHealer. I wanted to introduce myself to you over at the Ninja after reading a lot of your posts, and thinking that you add a valuable perspective to the discussion. But it soon became clear to me that you are no longer active in that community. I just wanted to say that I respect the way you remind all of us of the importance of adhering to the scientific and historical methods. Ditto to your courage to call out breaches of intellectual ethics and unkindness in scholarly debate. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem: which came first, the flaky reputation of the field of study, or the attraction of flakes to it?

    I’ve spent a good bit of my life on the margins and the fringes, and in my experience they have two kinds of local inhabitants: 1) Harmless weirdos, and 2) Toxic people whose weirdness includes a lack of empathy. Teddy Roosevelt’s advice about “walk softly and carry a big stick” applies here: Be openminded and accepting of others’ weirdness, but don’t leave yourself open to exploitation, and draw a firm line at any unkind behavior. I first picked up on this theme reading the Chinese classic “Outlaws of the Marsh” and seeing strong thematic parallels to American movies set in the Old West, as well as my own experiences with scenes far removed from mainstream society.

    I find the expertise of many of the quality contributors to Voynich scholarship awe-inspiring and humbling. I’m a very verbal thinker and a lifelong language and linguistics buff, so the text of the VMS is my main area of interest, in addition to the overall mystery. I realized the other day that if I found the solution to the VMS’s text, and had my name attached to this accomplishment, most of my soundbytes to the media would just be thanking the many past and contemporary researchers whose shoulders I stood on to reach that prize. Because to me, it’s not about the glory of solving it. It’s about bonding with other people, across the world, over a true treasure hunt which is in many ways a microcosm of the Human Condition.


    1. David, Thanks for the comment and encouraging words. I hope you will enjoy taking part in Voynich discussions online.
      PS – if you must use a title, ‘Dr’ is the one, but as a Quaker I prefer not to use titles unless it’s quite unavoidable – so just ‘Diane’.


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