f71v 1 + f71v 2. ZODIAC FOLIOS: TAURUS

f71v, Taurus light, Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. f71v, Taurus dark. Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

 

The Taurus folios are assigned to the month of April and the events for this month are shown below: 

April 7th
13th
25th

Mercury at superior conjunction
Jupiter at quadrature
Penumbral eclipse of the Moon barely perceivable

Taurus like Aries is split into two sections this time light and dark.  Taurus is a zodiac sign of critical significance because it is the constellation that SN 1054 appeared in, although not related to the month of the zodiac sign.  Notable events in April are Mercury at superior conjunction, Jupiter at quadrature and a Penumbral eclipse of the Moon which was barely perceivable to the eye.  Much work still remains on the zodiac section and only highlights are marked on the folios at the moment.  Once again the double tethered star seems appropriate as a supernova and it is located near to the horns of the Taurus bull which is where SN 1054 appeared.

f71v, Taurus light. Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Overlay by P. Han showing some points of interest on the folio. f71v, Taurus dark. Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Overlay by P. Han showing some points of interest on the folio.

Taurus light contains a number of nymphs with circular brimmed hats, particularly the nymph in the inner circle at 8 O'clock which may relate to the rings of Saturn and their changing perspective over time.

Taurus dark may contain subject matter on Mercury, the nymph in the outer circle at 12 O' clock appearing to be a hermaphrodite, which is the specific characteristic of Mercury.  There are no missing stars which means it is unlikely that the actual conjunction of Mercury is on this folio as it becomes invisible behind the Sun.

 

This month is of great speculative interest because although July 4th is regarded as the most reliable date for the appearance of SN 1054, there have come to light over time a number of other sources for the appearance of a new star or other unusual celestial phenomenon that may be interpreted as the same supernova.  The earliest of these going back to April 11th which would be covered by the Taurus folios.

It has been suggested by VF Polcaro and A Martocchia, that the Song Chinese records may have been deliberately censored to remove any mention of SN 1054 before the conjunction of the Sun with this point and specifically in relation to the eclipse of May.  The emperor was represented by the sun and an eclipse was therefore a threat to the life of the emperor, a new star represented disharmony in the universe which was the responsibility of the emperor to maintain and a new star at the eclipse literally predicted the death of the emperor due to the loss of the support of heaven.  It would have taken a brave astronomer to report this to the emperor and indeed court astronomers had been put to death for less, even for slightly miscalculating astronomical events.  This date of 4th July is the earliest date in relation to the Northern Song dynasty but in the south where the emperor died the year after the new star appeared there is retrospective mention of a new star and an eclipse in relation to the predicted death of the emperor.  In Japanese records there is mention of the star appearing in June-July, although the Meigetsuki mentions the middle of the forth month, this is assumed to be a  copy error as SN 1054 would have been in conjunction with the Sun and therefore not visible at the time the manuscript states, the middle third of the fifth month would give a date of June 28th - July 7th.  The European and Arabic records suggest it may have been as early as April and that it may have brightened and faded a few times before finally becoming the blazing star as recorded in China but these records are not clearly referring to the same phenomenon. 

It is thought the Native Americans also recorded this event as may be seen in petroglyphs in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, "Big Deer Site" in Central Arizona and by Pacific islanders in Guam.  The subject of Archaeoastronomy and the interpretation of rock art is outside the immediate scope of the task at hand but an event of such magnitude in the night sky could not have gone unnoticed and I would expect records to be found in relation to supernovae carved into the rocks and legends of cultures around the world.  Although my theory suggests the specific intention of the author to relate the Chinese observation of SN 1054 to later European celestial phenomenon it could also draw on the observations and records of other cultures as may have been available to the author at the time and possibly as early as April.

The details of SN 1054, its historical records and placement in relation to the Crab Nebula is a fascinating subject in its own right that has much written about it, but it is not my intention to examine the details of the various sightings in depth, rather to attempt to interpret the Voynich manuscript, its images and text in relation to this and other supernovae.  However on the "links" page there are links to many sources of information on the subject including many arguments for and against the relevance of various texts from different cultures.

There are no main markers on these folios. Below are and the arms markers and the bull leg marker for the two folios of Taurus.  The star maps to compare them to are unknown but may be dates of the events highlighted above, dark Taurus has attributes that suggest Mercury may be a highlighted topic on the folio.  The label seen through the hole in the vellum next to the double tethered star I translated as Venus and wondered if it may have been deliberately placed so to be visible through the hole in relation to the double tethered star. In Chinese records the brightness of SN 1054 was compared to that of Venus.  In written records in the Dresden Codex, in it has been interpreted that the star was mistaken at first to be Venus and its appearance as Venus appearing in the wrong place caused great confusion and concern.  Therefore, the linking of Venus and SN 1054 is not without president and within context.   In April Venus is also found next to the location to be occupied by SN 1054 as suggested on the folio also and was located in Taurus throughout April.  If the interpretation of the supernova being visible during the solar eclipse in May then it is most likely that it was already in the sky before May, maybe brightening and fading before its full appearance, maybe behind cloud, maybe below the horizon, there are many reasons why it may have very few recorded sightings before July, and lastly its coincidence with the East West schism which for different reasons to China may have led to some censorship or fear in reporting it. 

Maybe it is not to far out of the realm of extreme possibility to suggest that the star may have appeared even earlier transiently from February as even the Pisces folio appears to refer to the supernova with accuracy.  The calculations pre-July could have all been made retrospectively given that the position of the constellation Taurus could be calculated backwards in time but one has to wonder why this would be done unless the author had reasoned that the star had already existed.  The point at which Venus would have been right beside SN 10545 around the 25th April (from China), setting in the evening sky alongside Venus. There are at least two celestial sightings which have been considered to possibly be connected with SN 1054.  In the "Irish Annals" a "Cloictheach tenedh" fiery pillar in the sky is reported to be observed on 23rd April and the Roman "De Obitu Sancti Leonis" reports a bright light in the sky in late April.  There are a number of interpretations of the Irish event and depending which viewpoint it sounds very much like a tornado but one lasting five (sundial) hours seems unlikely, also the mention of the area of Ros ela is taken to imply the date of "Sunday the feast of St. George" is wrong and to have been seen from the nearby Abbey of Durrow, Tullamore over Ros ela it must have been seen in July as the Chinese texts suggest.  But the date of the "feast of St. George" is very specific and it would be odd to make such a mistake, also the area of Ros ela may not be quite as assumed nor the Abbey as the specific place of observation.  A brightening of the star before it went supernova combined with Venus next to it may account for these descriptions.  I have examined the central figure markers in light of a possible Venus connection and find that the foot markers coincidentally cover the position of Venus at the beginning and end of the month, Venus does not feature in the astronomical events of the month, so the only connection would be its occurrence next to the position of SN 1054 in Taurus at this time.  On St. George's day it would have been almost in conjunction with Venus and combined they may have produced a new and indescribable sight in the sky.

f71v, Taurus light. Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Overlay by P. Han showing possible nymph arm markers. f71v, Taurus light. Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Overlay by P. Han showing hoof marker of the central bull figure.

 

f71v, Taurus dark. Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Overlay by P. Han showing possible nymph arm markers. f71v, Taurus dark. Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Overlay by P. Han showing hoof marker of the central bull figure.

 

Combined celestial North Pole centred star maps, the Abbey at Durrow, Tullamore, County Westmeath, Ireland. Credit: Redshift6.  Overlay by P. Han showing the position of Venus over the month of April 1054 AD and on St. George's day in relation to SN 1054. Combined images showing the of the position of Venus over the month of April in relation to the markers of the folios' central bull figures. f71v, Taurus dark, cropped and f71v Taurus light, cropped, Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Combined celestial North Pole centred star maps, the Abbey at Durrow, Tullamore, County Westmeath, Ireland. Credit: Redshift6.  Overlay by P. Han showing the position of Venus over the month of April 1054 AD and on St. George's day in relation to SN 1054 and the hoof markers of the central Bull images. 

The eye markers are not easy to interpret but using the horns and head as a guide for the direction the Bulls may be looking.  Taurus light then marks the beginning and end locations of Venus within the constellation of Taurus in April, Taurus dark roughly marks the position of Venus when passing SN 1054 or around 23rd April and the end location of Venus within Taurus.

Combined images showing the of the position of Venus over the month of April in relation to the markers of the folios' central bull figures. f71v, Taurus dark, cropped and f71v Taurus light, cropped, Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Combined celestial North Pole centred star maps, the Abbey at Durrow, Tullamore, County Westmeath, Ireland. Credit: Redshift6.  Overlay by P. Han showing the position of Venus over the month of April 1054 AD and on St. George's day in relation to SN 1054 and the hoof AND eye markers of the central Bull images. 

Conjunctions were a very important part of how Kepler interpreted the formation of supernovae and interpreted events, particularly in relation to the constellation they occurred in and it might not be unreasonable to surmise that the picture within Taurus in April was the prelude to something big ,especially when using this logic.  At the begining of April Mars and Venus enter Taurus conjuncting fully on the 5th, on the 12th the Moon conjuncts Mars and Venus in turn.  On the 16th Mercury enters the picture conjuncting with Venus on the 26th.  On the 23rd Venus is level with SN 1054 and this is the sate of the "firey pillar" seen over Ros ela and the Sun enters Taurus just after.  This is all taking place in a background containing the Pleiades, the Hyades and Aldebaran, although the whole picture would not have been visible due to the presence of the Sun on 23rd, and the planets only visible briefly after sunset by the time Venus and SN 1054 neared the horizon it would have been well into the darkness of night.  April would have been the astronomical equivalent to astronomers like Kepler looking retrospectively of a busy day on the underground, and sure sign that something was brewing in the heavens.

Horizon based star map as seen from the Abbey at Durrow, Tullamore, County Westmeath, Ireland. 23/4/1054 AD. Credit: Redshift6.  Overlay by P. Han showing the position of SN 1054.

In conclusion, even if the above interpretation of Venus is not correct, Taurus is crucially important as the constellation that hosted SN 1054, and the massing of planets in April.

As discussed in the Aries folio section, the Pleiades stop rising just after sunset around the 20th April in 1054 AD which may correlate to the disappearance of the upright barrels in Taurus.  Although Aries and Taurus are laid out uniquely compared to the other folios and may not be expected to show the same type of imagery.  There is a conjunction (Mercury - Sun) and a partial eclipse of the Moon (barely perceivable) during April which I have suggested would normally be indicated by the presence of "Conjunction Nymphs" with both arms outstretched.  Though not very clear the nymph below may be an example of such nymphs. 

 

There is also a nymph in the outer circle at 7 O'clock with a very unusual hairdo.   I have given a possible translation for the label of this nymph which sounds like a "hairy" or tailed comet, but there are no obvious comets during this time and it may refer to the fiery pillar phenomenon in the sky seen near Ros ela on the "feast of St. George".

 

f71v, cropped, Taurus dark.  Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. "Conjunction Nymph"? f71v, cropped, Taurus dark.  Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.  Strange hairdo.

 

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Copyright 2010 P. Han