Both the drawings and the script reveal, after analysis, the central character of the Codex: it is Jesus Christ. But, after you get to know them better, they suggest yet another theme, a self-imposed rule that is followed by the author: to do things in reverse. And these are the elements to support my observation:
1. The script – The entire CR is written right to left. Since there are writing systems for which this is the norm, it can be argued that it is simply inspired from Arabic or Hebrew script. But…
2. The page order is mirrored too – I have shown in the chapter “If This Script Makes Any Sense…” that in the open Codex, the page on the right is to be “read” first, then the one the left (first recto, then verso).
3. The Christogram – Even the elements of the Christogram were flipped in the author’s design
4. The Tetragrammaton – Now let’s take a look at the curious case of the secret name of God.
The four letters that make up the Tetragrammaton are YHWH, and when rendered in Hebrew letters, they are, of course, written from right to left, like in the Hollar engraving of the third day of creation.
Or maybe not.
If you know the Hebrew alphabet like me (not), you probably do like I did, rub your eyes and ask yourself if it is the same inscription. In fact, it is. The Hollar engraving is correct, observing the rules of Hebrew writing: right to left. In the Psalter, the same letters are written in reverse. First, I thought that perhaps it is an engraving mistake and they are plainly mirrored. They aren’t. I suppose the illustrator caved in to the urge to write the letters in the “proper” order, from left to right.
Where does the Rohonc Codex stand? Clearly, the script is in mock Hebrew letters. Let’s take a closer look. A and B, as they are. C and D, mirrored. Third line, Rohonc Codex.
I think it is pretty obvious. And the winner is… D. The Tetragrammaton scribble in the Codex is the mirrored version of the four letters written from left to right.
5. The Last Judgment – I don’t know many Christian images where left and right are so important as in The Last Judgment representations, where everything has its place in relation to Jesus: the Hellmouth on his left, the Paradise on his right, the righteous on his right, the sinners on his left. In Eastern Christianity, the people of the wrong faith (Turks, Catholics, and Jews) are among those damned, therefore they are placed on the left. The Jews invoke their great ancestor, Moses, to save them, and he is shown in the lead. Nevertheless, the entire party is doomed.
On the other side are the patriarchs and kings from the Old Testament.
In the CR they are reversed. With Jesus in central position, the labels identify the crowned character as one of the patriarchs (Isaac or Abraham) and the one facing him as Moses.
That the author did not know his left from his right is not a sufficient explanation. In conjunction with the script and the page flow, it rather shows a deliberate action, the author had an agenda. But what was it?
In looking for the answer, I will resort to two quotations that best summon the possible explanations:
1. Esoteric movements see the creation as a reflection of God. “He turns toward Himself and seeks Himself, God looks at Himself, contemplates Himself, in a divine Mirror which is the Word, engendered in the first act of reflection, and which is also the mirror of creation. God there discovers the soul, and the soul will there discover God.” (Antoine Faivre – Theosophy, Imagination, Tradition: Studies in Western Esotericism, p.54)
Mirroring back the word of God might be an attempt to reach Divinity. Pretty grand ambition for such a modest little book.
2. “A familiar characteristic of magic is the injunction to do things in reverse, to walk backward, to put one’s clothing on backward, to throw things behind one’s back. The same principle applies in incantations, and Talmudic and medieval Jewish charms amply illustrate its operation. Biblical quotations were often recited both forward and backward, mystical names were reversed; sometimes the words were actually written backward as they were to be uttered, so that it requires considerable mental agility not to be taken in by the unnatural rendering. Phrases that are capable of being read alike in either direction were especially highly prized. The purpose was to capitalize the mystery of the bizarre and unfamiliar, and the power that is associated with the ability to reverse the natural order of things.” (Joshua Trachtenberg – Jewish Magic and Superstition, p.116)
The quotation is from a book about Jewish magic, true, but with the constant cross-pollination between different strands of the mystic and the occult, it is perfectly conceivable that a Christian author would use mirroring as a magic tool.
And here is another interesting example from the same source. When “a woman was convulsed in labor pains, the Scroll was brought in and laid upon the sufferer to alleviate the pain.” (p. 105) At the same time, a womb-exhortation spell was said to help her give birth. The word and the object, both are put to work, both have the power to work miracles.
Either way, this is not just another book of prayers. The copious presence of the Tetragrammaton in the CR (I counted 140 occurrences in the entire manuscript) points in the same direction. We have serious reasons to believe that the author of the Codex from Rohonc was seeking powers beyond his human abilities.