Many of us take a dim view of fortune-tellers, astrologers, clairvoyants and the like. I guess we tend to lump them together with our skepticism about UFOs, mystics and the supernatural.
Certainly, we’re entitled to our doubts about things categorized as “occult,” but it also seems logical to have an open mind about areas we don’t understand.
For example, let’s have a look at one man’s attempt to predict the future. He’s generally regarded as the greatest seer Europe has ever produced and is respected by many as the most outstanding occult prophet of all time.
Perhaps you’ve seen TV documentaries or read about the predictions of the 16th-century prophet Michel Nostradamus. While some of it looks a little “fudged” for dramatic impact, it’s still fascinating, thought-provoking stuff, even if you view it with a great deal of suspicion or outright disbelief.
Here’s a man who many have credited with not only predicting future events of his time, but also foreseeing events that were to come hundreds of years after his death!
His writings have been interpreted as predicting, among other things: the French Revolution, Napoleon’s exile, General Franco and the Spanish Civil War, the abdication of Edward VIII, the work of Louis Pasteur, Hitler's rise to power, the Second World War and the nuclear bombing of Japan.
Nostradamus was a French astrologer and physician who first became famous for his medical work with victims of the plague. His revolutionary concept of not “bleeding” patients was unheard of at the time.
Also revolutionary was his astronomical idea that the earth circled around the sun. This belief came 100 years before the similar findings of Galileo.
As a prophet, Nostradamus became known in 1555 when he published the first of 10 books, which he called Centuries. Each of the 10 volumes contained 100 predictions. He wrote all these works in convoluted verse form and in his own language — French. Down through the years, there have been many possible English translations and an even greater number of interpretations of his prophesies. This confusing and vague aspect of the material muddies the water considerably and makes it hard to focus in on many of the predictions.
His writing style made it difficult to pinpoint exactly what was meant by certain vague references. This has resulted in a great variety of insights among those trying to decipher the Centuries.
Nostradamus may have been trying to avoid charges of witchcraft from the Church Inquisition. To do this, he often muddled the dating of his predictions and wrote in a complicated mixture of anagrams, symbols, Old French, Latin and other languages. Sounds like an approach politicians would like!
Some of the events that Nostradamus predicted for specific dates did not happen, but let’s look at a few of his most famous prophecies which appear to have been somewhat accurate:
Napoleon — Nostradamus allegedly foresaw the rise of Napoleon, whom he described as the first anti-Christ. The second was Hitler, and the third has apparently yet to appear.
Of Napoleon, Nostradamus wrote:
An Emperor will be born near Italy,
Who will cost the Empire very dearly.
Nostradamus had this prediction of Napoleon’s downfall:
The great Empire will soon be exchanged for a small place,
Which will soon begin to grow.
A small place of tiny area in the middle of which
He will come to lay down his sceptre.
Napoleon was exiled to the small island of Elba, but escaped for 100 days, during which his empire grew again. He later relinquished all power on the tiny island of St. Helena in the mid-Atlantic.
Louis Pasteur — The prophesies of Nostradamus regarding more recent people and events are impressive. In this case, he predicts both a name and a date:
Pasteur will be celebrated as a godlike figure.
This is when the moon completes her great cycle.
Louis Pasteur made a vital contribution to medical science when he pioneered the use of inoculation against disease. He founded the Pasteur Institute in 1889.
The cycle of the moon around the earth takes 19 years to complete. One such lunar cycle was completed in 1889.
Hitler and the Second World War — An example of the confusion about Nostradamus came in 1939 when Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich were unleashing war in Europe. Hitler's propaganda minister, Josef Goebbels, brought to his attention a prophesy Nostradamus had written 400 years earlier. It seemed to predict the rise of Hitler, even coming close to naming him when it referred to a German leader named “Hister.”
Part of the prophesy reads:
In the mountains of Austria near the Rhine,
There will be born of simple parents,
A man who will claim to defend Poland and Hungary,
And whose fate will never be certain.
Another verse describes Hitler’s army crossing the Rhine into France and suggests that most of Europe would be against him:
Beast wild with hunger will cross the rivers,
The greater part of the battlefield will be against Hister.
The prophesy could not be interpreted to indicate victory for Hitler, so the German propagandists composed fake “victory” verses which were widely distributed. British intelligence retaliated by also making up bogus verses which, of course, predicted triumph for the Allies.
Nostradamus also warned of “weapons heard in the skies” and “machines of flying fire,” which are possibly references to aircraft, bombing and the early “V” weapons. He supposedly conjured up a vision of a wartime pilot in an oxygen mask, helmet and goggles when he described him as, “half pig, half man, when battles are fought in the sky.”
Horoshima and Nagasaki — The nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were allegedly foretold in the Nostradamus passage that reads:
Near the harbour and in two cities
Will be two scourges
The like of which have never been seen.
The two cities are on the sea and both the explosions and the radiation that followed were horrors that the world had never experienced before.
The future — There are many translations and interpretations of what Nostradamus saw in the years to come.
Some saw him predicting the end of the world back in 1999. Whew! We made it through that one.
Others interpret the verses as a prediction of a new start to a new world with fresh values and a new spiritual re-awakening of nations no longer divided.
And then there’s this:
When those of the Northern Pole are united together
In the east will be great fear and dread
One day the two great leaders will be friends,
The New Land will be at the height of its powers,
To the man of blood the number is repeated ...
The “man of blood” is identified elsewhere as being the world’s third anti-Christ who will emerge in China. The “New Land” is supposedly how Nostradamus referred to what is now America. So one interpretation is that he was predicting war between China and a Russo-American alliance.
Or, maybe not — Other than the date 1999 being specific, this is all pretty vague, don’t you think? Many people — understandably — never bought into the “1999” premonition and propose the theory that Nostradamus simply put this prediction into his writings to appease the Church authorities. By making a prophecy that agreed with the current thinking of his time — that evil events occur at the end of a century — he might again be trying to fool the Inquisition.
Others simply rely on logic to suggest that Nostradamus was not predicting the end of the world back in 1999, pointing out that earlier in his writings he states that his predictions would last until the year 3797.
All-knowing, even from the grave? — Nostradamus predicted that he would die in 1566, which he did. Skeptics would scoff that the accuracy of this prediction could be easily arranged if he so desired.
Before he died, Nostradamus had a date engraved on a small metal plate. He instructed that this plate should be placed with him in his coffin. In the year 1700, the coffin was taken from the grave where it had lain for 134 years, and was moved to a more prominent place. The plate was resting on the prophet'’ skeleton. The date on the plate was 1700.