You said that the tapir could have been used to make the vials for mixing the herbs. What animal was used to make the parchment on which the Voynich manuscript was written?

On the last page of the manuscript (folio 116v), we find the following depiction:

Voynich Manuscript drawing of a marsh deer allegedly used for parchment

Many mammals resemble this animal to some degree or another. The only one that lived in the American swamps, and whose skin could serve as manuscript parchment, was the deer.

The marsh deer, similar in appearance to the Voynich depiction, is still extant in parts of South America. A photograph of a female marsh deer in similar position can be seen here.

Take special note of black coloring of the lower legs (a feature not seen on European deer) and compare with the Voynich drawing where you will notice black coloring on the lower legs.

Note also, in both cases, that the ears are pointing up and back from the back of the head (deer ears), unlike horses, mules, donkeys, sheep, goats, cows, or dogs, all which have ears pointing straight up, forward, sideways or down.

The Cathar perfecti were vegetarians, which makes me reluctant to suggest that they hunted deer for food, but depictions of the consolamentum ceremony imply that some of them had to be credentes, who may have been allowed to eat meat. Of course, if they ate deer, it would become easy to explain how they managed to accumulate enough hides to produce more than a hundred pages of parchment.

On folio 76v, we see an indication that the girls were not shy about skinning animals:

Voynich Manuscript drawing of the hide of a spotted jaguar

Though far from certain, she may be holding the hide of a spotted jaguar; thus, her right is raised as an expression of triumph over the predator animal.

I recently read that, to help gain converts in Europe, the Cathar perfecti established workshops for teaching paper-making among other skills. There is plenty of reason to believe that they could have had the skills needed to make something to write on in the swamps, including the following drawing:

Voynich Manuscript drawing of instruction in parchment making


1. This is not the ceremony of consolamentum as the perfecta's right hand is placed behind her back. Also note that her left arm is misplaced, too far down from the shoulder.

2. The perfecta is not poking at the credente's eye but rather pointing to her brain. Knowledge is being passed from the perfecta to the credente.

What is being taught to the credente?

3. In her right hand, the credente is holding a curved blade with handles on each end. This was the standard tool of medieval parchment makers. They used this instrument to scrape away animal fur from the furry side of the hide, a necessary step in the making of parchment.

4. The credente is dreaming about making a belt and short skirt from scraped animal hide.

5. The credente is standing in blue, not green, water. Another important step in making parchment was the frequent washing of the hide, requiring clean rain water, not the dirty green water of the swamps.

Conclusion: These gals knew how to make parchment.

You say they drew the marsh deer to indicate that this was the animal used for parchment. Do they also portray the manuscript's authors?

Yes, of course. We see the proud author here:

Alleged female author of the Voynich Manuscript

This gallant female presents herself directly under the drawing of the deer and is the last thing we see in the Voynich manuscript (folio 116v).

Why are all the women naked?

That's a silly question. In the rainforest we still see naked people today. With high heat, high humidity and frequent rainfall, clothing can be more of an annoyance than a necessity.

Indeed, the fact that these women are naked is another reason for believing that the Voynich manuscript was compiled in a rainforest and not in Europe. As far as I know, there were no nudist camps in medieval Europe.

But at night, the temperature in the tropics can drop considerably and it can feel even colder due to all the dampness.

Voynich Manuscript drawing of a rainforest female wrapped in a blanket while sleeping in her tree hut

On folio 82r, we see one of the girls wrapped in a blanket, peacefully asleep in her tree hut under the stars.

With such strong evidence for the tropics, why do scholars think the Voynich manuscript was written in northern Italy which is hardly tropical?

It seems the notion that the Voynich was written in northern Italy is entirely based on M-shaped merlons (defenses on top of the castle walls) that are depicted on the castle drawing. These merlons resemble swallowtail merlons that were wildly popular in northern Italy as an ornamental design in the 15th century and therefore scholars conclude that is where the Voynich was written. The Voynich castle also depicts a conical or saddleback tower that were not popular in northern Italy. Only a few instances of cones can be detected and, so far, no saddlebacks, but the scholars wish to ignore this in favor of the merlons.

Let's have another look at the castle depiction:

Voynich Manuscript depiction of a fortress suspected to be Montségur

The edifice at Montségur, home to a community of Cathar women at the end of the 12th century, was newly rebuilt (and made defensible) after 1204 and then completely destroyed, dismantled stone by stone (which could explain why no one is able to identify the Voynich castle), in 1244. As far as castles go, it had a very short life. Virtually all Cathar literature and drawings were destroyed by the Inquisition. Crusader accounts of the conquest provide some details (for example, we know it had a tower), but apparently (and I presume someone has looked into this) no description of its merlons. As a new construction, Montségur might not have necessarily resembled older edifices in the region. The architects of Montségur could have come from anywhere highlighted on this map:

Wikimedia: Map of Cathar Expansion

By this map, the saddleback design may have originated in northern Europe, and perhaps the M-shape merlons in Italy, but the merlon design is not so unique that it could not have simply been imagined by artistic-minded females.

What I find the most puzzling about the Voynich drawing is a doorway shown on the opposite side of the fortress from the tower. As far as I can determine, medieval castles in general built a tower on top of the entrance. The reason is obvious: it was far easier for invaders to break through the door than to break through a stone wall, so from the tower the defenders could drop stones and boiling oil or whatever down upon the would-be invaders.

Uniquely for Montségur, however, an indefensible doorway on the opposite side makes sense. It seems this fortress shared the mountain top with a village outside its walls, and the village was itself defended by walls on top of vertical slopes. On the same page, and just to the left of its Montségur drawing, the Voynich depicts some of the village houses:

Voynich MS drawing of houses on Montségur mountain

As you can see, these houses are built on a steep slope (which, if Montségur, would quickly descend into a vertical drop).

Note that the M-shaped merlons are most readily distinguished on the village side of the fortress. It is unclear if the merlons on the other side (especially to the left of the tower where real fighting was expected) are also M-shaped. Typically, I believe, archers would hide while loading their arrows, then come out briefly into the opening to fire, then hide again, but the V drop might expose their head to attack. This makes the M shape not particularly suitable for real combat but, with some curvature added, it could serve quite well as ornaments in Italy, especially for Italian Cathars who wanted to remember or honor their comrades who died at Montségur.

Prior to retreating to the Montségur fortress (the last refuge of the Cathars), some of the perfecti reportedly resided at a couple of chateaus in southwestern France. As these edifices were destroyed by the Crusaders, it is today impossible to identify the castle or chateau depicted on folio 86v3:

Voynich MS drawing of unidentified castle or chateau

There is no realistic chance that the Voynich manuscript was compiled in northern Italy. Coned towers were a feature of French, not Italian, architecture.

Have you identified any of the Voynich plants other than the one that you showed us?

I have found several candidates, but many plant species have similar looking leaves, similar looking red berries or whatever, and not being a botanist, I have no wish to speculate in this area. I am, however, confident that the green blob seen in photograph represents what is depicted in the manuscript.

Botanists have claimed that the Voynich manuscript (folio 93r) depicts the common sunflower, Helianthus Annuus L. Sunflowers are native to the Americas and were unknown in Europe until Columbus brought them back.

Voynich Manuscript drawing of a sunflower

A distinguished university professor has commented that it is impossible for this to be a sunflower because the manuscript has been dated to pre-Columbian times. Perhaps if the sunflower were the only evidence of an American connection, his comments would be reasonable. But, as we have seen, there is a lot more evidence. Keep in mind that medieval boats were quite capable of crossing the Atlantic and that the Cathars, being hunted down to extinction in Europe, had every reason to take their chances at sea.

Let me cite a few lines that I found on the Purdue University website:

"This Chapter is based on three published works: (1) a paper by Hugh O Neall (1944) that identifies two New World plants (sunflower and chili peppers) in the Voynich manuscript; (2) a paper of Tucker and Talbert (2013) which identified 39 plants in the Voynich as indigenous to the New World; (3) a paper by Tucker and Janick (2016) which extended the list to 59 species."

For my part, however, I believe that the vast majority of the plants shown in the manuscript are now extinct and hence can never be identified. In a rainforest environment, plant species can appear and disappear every year.

The Voynich manuscript is dated near the beginning of the 15th century and then appears in Europe in the 17th century. How did it get from A to B?

I do not know the answer to your question, but let's note that, except for a few signs that the manuscript was seen in the city of London in the late 16th century, there appears to be no historical record of the Voynich manuscript, or of any similar manuscript, anywhere in Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries. It would not be unreasonable to suspect that, during those centuries, the manuscript resided elsewhere.

Curiously, the Incas claimed to have been in possession of a book. Wikipedia cites the historian Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa (1572) on the creator-god Viracocha: "a man of medium height, white and dressed in a white robe like an alb secured round the waist, and that he carried a staff and a book in his hands." Would not a great scholar, like Sarmiento, have made an extreme effort to track down such a book? I once imagined that he found the Voynich manuscript and brought it to London in 1584.

It seems a bit incredulous that the pre-Columbian Incas, a people who did not know how to read or write, could have imagined a "book" (or even a white man) in their mythology. Perhaps this was intended to refer to the epoch of Viracocha Inca, the king who ruled from 1410 to 1438, dates that correspond quite well with the radiocarbon range given for the Voynich manuscript: from 1404 to 1438.

The chronicler Martín de Murúa informs us that Viracocha Inca, the eighth Inca, was bearded, a sure sign that he could have been a white man because native Americans did not grow facial hair. Possibly, therefore, the Incas made him their king when he walked into Cuzco, thinking that, because of his white skin and beard, he was a direct descendant of their creator-god.

This, of course, is pure speculation. We need to decode the manuscript in order to prove that Viracocha Inca was the last of the Cathars. That would be the case, for example, if the final pages (pure text) are found to contain the Inca Prophecy that chroniclers have attributed to Viracocha Inca.

Why did the Cathars decide to go to America and not somewhere else?

They may not have planned to go anywhere specific. West of northern Africa they would have encountered the north equatorial current, which runs east to west toward the Americas.

It is unknown where and how they got the boat. The Cathars had some friends among the Knights Templar (who operated a fleet from the west coast of France) and also among the cabalists (another persecuted sect) in Girona, which was located roughly two hundred kilometers southeast of Montségur on the other side of the Pyrenees. I think it most likely that they crossed the mountains (in 1244) to reach Girona. At that time the leader of the cabalists was Nachmanides (1194–1270), whose Hebrew writings express familiarity with a text that could have been the sacred text of the Cathars.

While the escapees of Montségur may have planned to die at sea, in peace, praying (and then woke up one day to see the Americas!), there is reason to believe that their sacred text implied the existence of undiscovered land, suggesting a dedicated effort to cross the ocean. In that case, they may have been joined in this effort by a cabalist or two. Decoders would be well advised to consider encryption techniques employed by the cabalists including the interchange of letters and numbers.

Also note that Girona was a city of Catalonia, which leads us to observe that the Voynich manuscript (in some parts of its text) makes use of accent marks and abbreviation markings that are found in the Homilies d'Organyà, a work written in the Old Catalan language. In any case the Cathars should have been familiar with that language, a close relative of Occitan which was spoken in southern France.

What ever happened to the rainforest Cathars? Why didn't the Spanish find them when they arrived there?

Wikipedia states the following about the Cathars:

"… reproduction was viewed by them as a moral evil to be avoided—as it continued the chain of reincarnation and suffering in the material world. It was claimed by their opponents that, given this loathing for procreation, they generally resorted to sodomy."

This aversion to procreation is symbolically depicted on folio 80r of the manuscript:

Voynich Manuscript depiction of Cathar aversion to procreation

It is easy to see what this young man (no beard) wants, but notice that the girl is literally running away from him.

No other males can be clearly distinguished in the swamps. One possibility would be that mainly women made the transatlantic crossing so we should not expect to see men depicted in the swamp environment. Another possibility would be that the women we see in the manuscript are extremely old and the men had already passed away. Still another possibility is that the men went out to convert the native Americans to Catharism, leaving the women in the safety of the swamps.

The notion that these women are old is further reinforced by depictions of the sacrament of consolamentum, which was intended to be administered as close to death as possible (it could be given only once in a lifetime) to ensure that the recipient remained cleansed upon entering the afterlife.

Above all, notice that no infants or young children are depicted in the manuscript. Hence, there is no need to speculate on their demise due to disease, headhunters, or mass suicide. They could have perished from natural causes: the lack of offspring.

By theory, however, the American Cathars did not become extinct so quickly and instead made their way to Mexico where they found converts. Between 1404 and 1438 (the carbon dating), the Mexican Cathars made a copy of the deerskin writings using the skin of baby or fetal bison (buffalo) as parchment. The Voynich manuscript, therefore, is a missionary's book, to be used to convert native Americans to Catharism in other regions.

Can you prove your theory that the Voynich manuscript was written in the Americas and not in Europe?

I do not like having to call it a "theory" because that word is often used to refer to ideas based on weak evidence.

The Voynich manuscript has 112 folios depicting plants that have never been unambiguously identified with any plant seen in Europe; there are 20 folios depicting every aspect of life and survival in swamps that are nowhere to be found in Europe; there are 34 folios related to herbs (roots and leaves) none of which, as far a I know, have been identified with herbs used in Europe; and there are drawings of fish and animals that are rare or nowhere to be found in Europe.

It is abundantly obvious that certain Europeans decided to go elsewhere during medieval times. The Voynich manuscript is in and of itself the evidence. Unfortunately, Earth has become a planet inhabited by zombies largely incapable of independent thinking. For them, there is no truth and no reality except what is programmed into their minds by television and radio.

To answer your question succinctly: Barring unforeseen circumstances, such as the successful decoding of the manuscript by someone who is very rich and very powerful, the Voynich will forever remain a document written by imaginative monks in northern Italy. It does not matter that no monks or monk activities are depicted in the manuscript.

People have been trying to decode the Voynich manuscript for a hundred years without success. Do you think it will ever be decoded?

Yes. In fact, I'm pretty sure 156 of the 161 red-star passages (called "recipes" by the charlatans) were successfully decoded, translated, and then published in the year 1590 and many times thereafter. The other five were decoded and published but not translated, that is to say, they were left in the original Latin.

Incantation of the Law Against Inept Critics

The first of the five Latin lines was a title line and, lo and behold, we find what could be a title-line indicator in the manuscript: a miniature red star just above and attached to a red star (folio 106r).

For four of those five lines (including the shorter title), the Voynich script converts into Latin at a ratio of a little more than 3 to 1. Curiously, in all four cases, this ratio was found to apply both to the number of words and to the number of characters including spaces.

Unfortunately, for the third line in this sequence, the Voynich script of 36 words (265 characters) converts into just 6 Latin words (40 characters or 44 if & stands for atque), a word ratio of 6 to 1, putting a quick end to my decoding career!

But someone else might be able to figure it out. More info here.