Five weird and strange books that may hold some of the deepest secrets of the universe or may simply be complex fakes. Aquiziam reveals our top five list with more to come in the future.
1. THE RIPLEY SCROLL
The Ripley Scroll or “Ripley Scrowle” is one of the most important works (books) of Sir George Ripley an influential and renowned English alchemist of the 15th century. The life of Ripley is as mysterious as his legacy of mystical alchemical writings and illustrations but it is alleged that he studied in Rome and may have been an agent of the Papacy during this time with connections to The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem otherwise known as the Knights Hospitaller. During his latter life he returned to England where he produced most of his recognised works on alchemy. It is interesting to note that a Papal Decree of 1317 had forbidden the study into and publishing of alchemical texts and particularly forbade “clerics” from pursuing this subject and yet a little over a hundred years later Ripley, a clear favourite of Pope Innocent VIII seems to have dedicated his life to the pursuit of this science. The Ripley Scroll has been interpreted in many ways but still remains a mystery. Most scholars believe that the Ripley Scroll is the “recipe” for immortality but there are those that believe researchers have missed some crucial evidence. This mystery needs to be examined in much more depth in another section of this website. Perhaps Ripley may have known much much more than seems obvious.
2. THE PROPHECIES NOSTRADAMUS
The prophecies of M. Michel de Nostradame (Nostradamus) have been repeatedly published over the centuries from the time when they were first made public in 1555AD. In brief, they are a collection weird verses called quatrains that apparently predict events that will occur in the future. (With a start date of 1556). Nostradamus never claimed to have personally experience visions or prophetic inspiration and openly attributed much of his work to earlier sources – a practice that was typical of the time. Ancient wisdom was already much more respected than modern discovery … a practice that still continues 500 years later. The final edition of his works was published in 1568 and comprised of 942 quatrains divided into ten Centuries. It is worth noting that the last Century only has 42 verses indicating that Nostradamus planned more prophecies in the future. In addition, there is only one quatrain that does not rhyme and some scholars believe that this was deliberate and is a “key” to unlocking the others – others still believe that this is the prophecy for the last engagement or the final battle between good and evil. Hundreds of people and tens of thousands of words have tried to explain the mysterious writings of Michel Nostradamus but the truth is we are no closer to understanding today than they
were in 1555.
3. THE CODEX SERAPHINIANUS
Written between 1976 and 1978 by Luigi Serafini it is best described as the natural history book of a parallel Earth where life is similar but at the same time mind twisting and strange in its alien representation. Approximately 360 pages in length, it is almost entirely written in code or cipher text. Although the author is still alive in 2009 he has steadfastly refused to comment whether the language is real or simply an assembly of symbols collated to produce the illusion of meaning. The book is broadly separated into 11 sections that include; Flora and Biology, Fauna and Animals, Bipedal Creatures, Physics and Chemistry, Machines, Biology and Sexuality, Historical and religious, The Language, Social Practices, Entertainment, and finally, Architecture. There is no doubt that the book is a masterpiece of the imagination that challenges the natural instincts of human perception. The images are vibrant in colour and while clearly impossible in many cases are also strangely believable. The writing is based on the Western style with the words organised from left to right with a clear repetition symbols and a sense of grammar that is consistent with a written language. It has yet to be deciphered although there have been claims the pagination system has been “broken” by Bulgarian linguist Ivan Derzhanski. It is also now quite rare and if you can get an original edition it can cost well over $500. Whether it was intended merely as an weird experiment in art or is a complex code that will one day be deciphered remains to be seen.
4. PRODIGIORUM AC OSTENTORUM
The Greco Romano world (500bc – 400ad) had long known that beyond the borders of their respective empires there were vast unexplored lands teeming with weird and mysterious animals as well as strange people. Leopards, cheetahs and other beasts were even brought back to Rome and displayed to the awed citizens. A thousand years would pass before Konrad Lykosthenes assembled his Prodigiorum as Ostentorum Chronicon and published it in Basel in 1557 which described various beasts and creatures as reported by travellers to distant lands. The real mystery of this manuscript is not the strange and mythical creatures depicted but the accuracy of the descriptions and images of those that are known to be real. Page 17 clearly depicts a Canadian moose even though the famous mariner and explorer, John Cabot, had only recently, in 1497, rediscovered the region. (The woodcut is remarkably accurate.) Page 18 has accurate representations of both an Indian rhinoceros and elephant. Page 19 reveals a Camel and, more surprisingly, a good representation of a Chacma Baboon (Papio Ursinus). On leaf 24 is a collection of sea monsters and at least three of the creatures can be identified as a giant lobster, a narwhale and an oarfish. Leaf 27 has a good representation of a crocodile and 29 clearly shows a Pelican. However, some of the other images are of creatures unknown to modern science. While there is the temptation to dismiss these as the fantasies of travellers their does remain the possibility that they did once exist and are now extinct. Perhaps the most intriguing image in the book is the picture on page 31 which is clearly a representation of the now extinct Mauritian Dodo (bird). However, the first recorded Journey to Mauritius took place in 1598AD – 40 years after Lykosthenes book was published.
Currently in the library of St John’s College, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.
5. EGYPTIAN BOOK OF THE DEAD
Although this is now considered just a part of weird ancient history, the Egyptian Book of the Dead was once considered to be the most powerful collection of spells and paranormal power to have ever been known to mankind. The correct name for this collection of writings and incantations is “The Spells of Going Forth by Day”. In essence, it was a collection of songs, spells and guides that was placed together with a deceased person to help them pass through the veils of death to the place of immortality. The most well known of these funerary scrolls is the Papyrus of Ani, a document prepared in the 19th dynasty of ancient Egypt during the period of the New kingdom circa 1240bc. Critical to the efficacy of the scroll was the accurate depiction of the powerful magical images or drawings which were often of a high quality. The writing itself was often less than perfect. This is not surprising as most Egyptians, even many of the higher classes, could not read but could appreciate the significance of an illustration. At its most basic, the scroll should be considered a handbook to survival in the afterlife not a magical or religious object in itself. The deceased was expected to use it rather than just benefit from its ethereal power. The most important image that had to be included was known as “The Weighing of the Heart”. The dead person would have his heart weighed by Anubis and if it was found to be lighter than a feather they would be allowed to proceed to the next place of existence. In general, there were four main variations of the scroll. This is a very short synopsis of a very complicated concept.
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