Code Cracked to Oddest Book Ever!

BREAKING NEWS: Further to my article a few weeks ago about the Voynich Manuscript, otherwise known as The Oddest Book in the World, this has happened …

Although the purpose and meaning of the manuscript had eluded scholars for over a century, it took Dr. Gerard Cheshire two weeks, using a combination of lateral thinking and ingenuity, to identify the language and writing system of the famously inscrutable document.

University of Bristol

Says Dr. Cheshire:

“I experienced a series of ‘eureka’ moments whilst deciphering the code, followed by a sense of disbelief and excitement when I realised the magnitude of the achievement, both in terms of its linguistic importance and the revelations about the origin and content of the manuscript.

“What it reveals is even more amazing than the myths and fantasies it has generated. For example, the manuscript was compiled by Dominican nuns as a source of reference for Maria of Castile, Queen of Aragon, who happens to have been great aunt to Catherine of Aragon.

To find out more about how he did it, and what he discovered, read the University of Bristol Article:

The Oddest Book in the World

Written by a philosopher, a mystic, a coven of witches, or a muddle of martians? We may never know…

Carbon-dated to 1420, this enigmatic 240 page creation seems to document a forgotten culture in an unrecognisable language with dream-like illustrations. Some of the world’s most prominent cryptologists have tried—and failed—to decode the text.

If you’d like to have a go yourself, the whole thing is available online.

Take a look at this short film about why the Voynich Manuscript is truly a really Odd Bit of Writing!
Continue reading

‘Do Not Mistake Love for Happiness…’

Valentines-day

Within a few moments, the kitchen hands had a fire lit. Free and unburdened by work, there seemed to be a magic about them tonight on the Eve of May. Sparks seemed to fly from their hands as if they were witches.

The kitchen girls produced food as if from nowhere. Their hands were empty and then suddenly full. Of things like a whole clove-studded ham, freshly baked loaves, mincemeat pies and honey cakes.

The washerwomen unfurled the largest of blankets, which seemed to float over the glade like a ship’s pennant before landing in the perfect picnic square.

The cleaning girls pulled wooden sticks from the fire and touched them to a million candles in a million lanterns. They peppered the clearing and hung about the trees, as bright as captured stars.

The village girls arrived bearing jars of jams and pickles, and jugs of ale from the tavern, their cheeks rosy and warm from the walk through the dark woods. They greeted the castle workers with whoops of joy and tender embraces. Most of them were related, after all. Mothers, daughters, aunts and cousins.

Catalina was awestruck. She had never seen anything so magical or so perfect. It was hard to connect these people with the downtrodden, subservient characters that ordinarily toiled in her world.

Someone showed her to a space on the blanket. Another handed her a silver goblet, full to the brim with ruby red wine. She drank half of it down immediately. The youngest serving girl, Joan, approached her, goaded by all the others. She brought out a crown of hawthorn blossom from behind her back.

Dropping a curtsy, she said: “We wish to crown you the May Queen, my lady.”

“Me?” Catalina replied, delighted. “It would be the greatest of honours.”

She rose up onto her knees and bowed her head solemnly. Joan placed the blossom crown on her head and everyone clapped.

“What do I have to do?” Catalina asked Maude, her nursemaid.

“You have to start the proceedings,” Maude replied. “Oh, look, my daughter’s here!”

And then Maude abandoned her. But Catalina had been waiting for many years for Maude to abandon her, so she didn’t care one bit.

“What do we do first?” she called out to the nearest girls. “And can we please do everything?”

But nobody had chance to answer her because, just then, there was a strange rumbling noise in the glade. There was a lot of ‘shushing’, and the women fell quickly silent, listening hard. Catalina stared along the hidden path to the right of The Tree as the rumbling came closer.

“It’s Boboli!” A washerwoman exclaimed.

She was greeted with disbelief.

“It can’t be…”

“Don’t be ridiculous…”

“He isn’t due this year…”

But the rumbling came nearer and, just as Catalina’s eyes were burning with the strain of staring, a black horse walked into the clearing pulling a black covered wagon, on which was written in gold the legend ‘Boboli ~ Who Knows All That Is Worth Knowing’. Continue reading

Begging Letter #4: Tree-Climbing Sheep

In the 15th Century, Blackwood is plagued by malicious faeries, as everyone who lives there knows. Everyone except the Lord of Blackwood, that is, who refuses to believe there is such a thing…

Petition presented to Thomas the Castellan by Marcus Meadows:

Mr Meadows lost three of his sheep while out grazing. When he returned through the woods he found all three sheep stuck high up on tree branches. It took him all afternoon to free them. He demanded a full investigation.

(The Lord of Blackwood was informed of this petition and dismissed the claim as foul play. Mr Meadows was asked to go away and think about whether he had recently offended anyone.)

Looking back through the archives, there are hundreds of petitions from the villagers to the Lord of Blackwood (via his Castellan), begging him do something to make their village a safer place. The Castellan does not even pass many of them on. We can read from this that he knows very well what his master would say if he presented them. The gravity of the matters mentioned in the petitions varies and, indeed, some could be attributed to vivid imaginations at work. Other, like the tragic case of the Crumb family in 1413 are harder to dismiss.

I will be sharing some of the appeals with you here (edited for the modern reader). You can make up your own mind.

by Dr Melchior Williams (Co-Author of ‘The Blackwood Crusade’ a medieval fairytale based on his discovery of the intriguing Blackwood Archives)

Engraving: ‘The Lost Sheep’ by Sir John Everett Millais


‘THE BLACKWOOD CRUSADE’

(Paperback and Kindle) is available at AMAZON.COM and AMAZON.CO.UK

Banner

Can a Witch REALLY Turn You into a Toad?

Toad

Witches don’t exist. Not the ones who fly around on broomsticks cackling at the moon and turning people into frogs. That was all made up by some nasty men to get rid of little old ladies who knew a lot about plants and healing, but not much about the Lord. Of course, that’s a very broad sweep over the subject because I can’t go into it now. Continue reading

Begging Letter #3: What shall we do with the Drunken Soldier?

fairie-funeral.jpg

by Dr Melchior Williams (Co-Author of ‘The Blackwood Crusade’ a medieval fairytale based on his discovery of the intriguing Blackwood Archives)


In the 15th Century, Blackwood is plagued by malicious faeries, as everyone who lives there knows. Everyone except the Lord of Blackwood, that is, who refuses to believe there is such a thing.

Looking back through the archives, there are hundreds of petitions from the villagers to the Lord of Blackwood (via his Castellan), begging him do something to make their village a safer place. The Castellan does not even pass many of them on. We can read from this that he knows very well what his master would say if he presented them. The gravity of the matters mentioned in the petitions varies and, indeed, some could be attributed to vivid imaginations at work. Other, like the tragic case of the Crumb family in 1413 are harder to dismiss.

I will be sharing some of the appeals with you here (edited for the modern reader). You can make up your own mind.

Petition presented to Thomas the Castellan by Balrick Broadback:

Soldier Broadback reported seeing strange lights flashing in the Black Wood whilst on watch on Monday eve. The lights continued all through the night. He requests a patrol of the surrounding area.

(The Lord of Blackwood was informed of this petition and Soldier Broadback was dismissed from service for drunkenness.)

Painting by John Anster Fitzgerald


‘THE BLACKWOOD CRUSADE’

(Paperback and Kindle) is available at AMAZON.COM and AMAZON.CO.UK

Banner

The Surprising Origin of ‘COOL!’

COOL

“You are my champion,” Silas told Christina, blushing a little. “My family all died, and here you are seeking revenge, not just for yourself, but for me, and others like me. You have enough courage for the whole of Blackwood. I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ because I may not have another chance.”

She looked flattered and amazed at the same time, then examined the remains of her flower. “Nobody has ever said anything as nice as that before. I thought everybody saw me as a blood-hungry madwoman, driven insane by my curse.” Continue reading

The Long Lost Secret to Good Fairy Cake

Fairy Cake

Meanwhile, Silas was lobbing half of the faerie cake into the river.

“SNAPDRAGONS!” he shouted.

Tapping his foot on the lush grass of the riverbank, he waited for a response. The river was very deep and fast and he did not relish the idea of swimming across it. The very idea struck fear into him when he thought of his father’s hand disappearing into the raging grey water as it had carried him away once upon a time. Still, he was prepared to do it if…

“’Ere I am. Don’t be going getting your tunic in a twist,” came a familiar voice, gurgling up from the depths. Continue reading

Alternative Fact #4 from ‘Blackwood’

Meachers Dog

“Just one question,” asked Mab. “Where will I be?”

“You will be looking after my horse,” replied Lady Christina, briskly. “Now, Silas, are you ready?”

She turned to the door.

“Wait,” Mab said, momentarily confused. “The horse is staying here. Are you telling me I must stay here too?” Continue reading

Begging Letter #2: The Wrong Type of Mushroom

toadstool john anster fitzgerald

by Dr Melchior Williams (Co-Author of ‘The Blackwood Crusade’)

In the 15th Century, Blackwood is plagued by faeries, as everyone who lives there knows. Everyone except the Lord of Blackwood, that is, who refuses to believe there is such a thing. Continue reading