The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating.
The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them
changes both the maker and the destination.
-- John Schaar
The Practical Nostradamus
This book combines future expectations for the early years of this millennium, integrating the prophecies from Nostradamus's, famous ten-volume work the Centuries, with visions offered by modern authors and scientists, economy experts, and journalists. The idea is to create a book that explores the sixteenth-century prophet's extraordinary ability to see far into his future and at the same time to exemplify the future envisioned by contemporary individuals, many of whom have spent years mapping trends that are likely to occur in what is now an immediate future through the early part of this century. What we find in this prophetic partnership is a remarkable synchronicity.
Michel de Nostradame was born at the beginning of the sixteenth century into a Jewish family in France. His family was forced to convert to Roman Catholicism because of the threat of the Spanish Inquisition, a powerful, militant delegation of the Holy Roman Church that roamed Southern Europe rooting out what the Church believed to be anti-Christian behavior. This was defined so as to include the work of witches in the rural areas of a world that still functioned on a pagan foundation, albeit more than a thousand years after the birth of the Christian faith. Some would say, probably correctly, that this "cleansing" was nothing more than prejudice against women, because for the most part it was women who passed the Wicca magic from one generation to the next. But there was also a great deal of occult practice among men, who still secretly studied alchemy, the occult, and astrology -- the three cornerstones of ancient belief. Nostradamus was to become one of the most famous of these practitioners.
Nostradamus was carefully educated in the arts of the occult and provided with all the Judaic background to his true faith as he was brought to adulthood by two loving relatives, his uncle and grandfather, who also encouraged him into the medical profession. He grew up to be a brilliant and innovative doctor, living at a time when the bubonic plague was blitzing Europe, especially in France, where Nostradamus lived, and in Italy, where he spent much of his life. Dr. de Nostradame studied the ancient natural cures and introduced them to his contemporaries in France. He used, for example, crushed and dried flower petals and oils. These provided vitamin C and other health-giving properties to the suffering, who might otherwise have been subjected to "bleeding" by doctors who typically appeared on the doorstep of a patient's home with a necklace of garlic around their neck and pieces of garlic stuffed up their noses in a vain ploy to prevent the ghastly plague from spreading. Even the young Dr. de Nostradame recognized the foolishness of these bizarre attempts at medicine, and successfully reverted to the pagan cures used by the Wicca tradition for thousands of years.
Though there are stories of how Nostradamus discovered his rather special gift even at an early age in small events such as predicting birth dates and the sex of unborn children. In adulthood, he focused instead on his medical practice, curing thousands of plague victims in his hometown and beyond. He was also, however, a skilled and successful astrologer, so much so that his work came to the attention of the French royal family. Catherine de' Medici, King Henry II's queen, was a politically powerful woman with strong interests in the occult, which she hid behind a Roman Catholic public persona. She summoned the astrologer to Paris, providing transportation for him on a journey that took more than a month (a journey Nostradamus complains about vociferously in his writings). He brought his astrological ephemeras to read the charts of the court nobles, his perfumes and cosmetics to bring youth to their skins, and he made one of his most famous prophecies, that Henry II would die in a so-called fake jousting tournament. The prophecy was, needless to say, not at all popular with the king, but Catherine was so taken by this enigmatic prophet that she adopted him as her unofficial adviser in matters of the future. The death of Henry occurred almost exactly when Nostradamus predicted, four years later, and under the precise circumstances he had described: with a splinter from a spear to his eye through his jousting helmet. This, of itself, established Nostradamus as the world's greatest living prophet of the time.
Nostradamus's most important written reference for the methods of the magical aspect of his work was a Latin translation, published in Venice in 1497 by Marsilio Ficino, of a book by a fourth-century philosopher named Jamblichus. In his book, compiled a thousand years before Nostradamus lived as a documentation of all the magic of the ancient world, Jamblichus provided rituals, devices, potions, methods, and all manner of secrets. His goal was to save the rituals and devices of the ancient world against the impending Christian era, which the author feared, with good reason, would attempt to drown pagan practice.
An edition of Ficino's translation of Jamblichus was published in Lyons, close to Nostradamus's home in Salon, in 1549, at the time when the prophet was scribbling his prophetic verses in the middle of each night. (Documentation left behind by Nostradamus's son, César, and his helper, Chavigny, contends that the original prophecies were scribbled on pieces of paper during trance sessions, mostly in the middle of the night and with the help of occult magic and large quantities of nutmeg, which affects the body and mind in a way similar to modern ecstasy drugs -- though the quantities of nutmeg required were ingested over long periods of time and in very large amounts.) Nostradamus's methods of using water gazing, trance, and other rituals are precisely documented in the Centuries, the opening verses of which are almost literal French versions of Ficino's Latin translation of Jamblichus.
The following morning the scribbled prophecies would be gathered up and transcribed into legible script by Nostradamus's helpers. Nostradamus would then "fix" them in time and space, using what was considered to be the science of astrology for the temporal aspects. His visions were literally pictures of the future, and needed to be organized somehow in the sober light of day, his precise knowledge of the future positions of the planets serving to provide this requirement. The end result, a series of extensive notes and commentaries, was then turned into the verses, or quatrains, written in French, Latin, and other languages to disguise their content. These verses were arranged in chronological order at that point, dating from Nostradamus's lifetime on to 3797, the year he tells us the planet Earth will die or cease to contain human life.
The last step was to jumble the verses out of temporal sequence and organize them into the order in which they appear in the Centuries. This was done to prevent the Roman Catholic Church authorities of the time from comprehending the prophet's work, thus avoiding the Spanish Inquisition, he hoped. Nostradamus was as much at risk from militant Church authorities as any witch.
In the coming pages of this book, for each event in each year or series of years, the English translation of the original is provided with the interpretation. To confuse the authorities of his time, Nostradamus deliberately clouded his work in obscurity, using prophetic language, anagrams, complex and hidden dating methods, astrology, obscure names and locations, and arcane terminology. This has been taken into account in the translation and interpretation of the verses.
It is not that Nostradamus did not want us to understand him, for his whole philosophy was that if we could see the future, we could alter it beneficially. But the whole tradition of magical and mystical understanding was intrinsically inhibited by the need to work hard in order to succeed. The doctrines of ancient alchemy exemplify this tradition. If it wasn't enormously difficult, then it wasn't enormously useful. Even the relatively young Christian religions are filled with astrological and alchemical references borrowed from much older religious doctrines and beliefs -- mystical traditions that influenced Nostradamus more profoundly than Catholicism. As mentioned above, Nostradamus was Jewish by birth and studied the ancient Cabalistic understanding of God, which still contained a good deal of alchemy and other pagan rituals as a major part of its doctrines. The basis of what we might call mystical camouflage is that the essence is shrouded in mystery, indeed, ultimately unknowable. But we can dig into these depths and be rewarded if we understand the smoke and mirrors employed. And although you will not be asked to comprehend all this bizarre camouflaging, it is of interest to learn something of how it works.
Decoding the Prophet
1. Anagrams. One of Nostradamus's favorite methods of disguising his prophecies is through the use of anagrams, in which he scrambles words like crossword clues. Henry II becomes "chyren," which, when unscrambled, becomes "Henryc," the Latin version of the name. Colonel Khaddafi is "Adaluncatif," which we can turn into "Catafi Luna," or Khaddafi of the Crescent Moon (the crescent of Islam).
2. Obscure names and locations. In one of his most famous verses, Nostradamus refers to a place called "Angoulmois," a location in the France of his time, in relation to the date July 1999, which is specifically mentioned in the same verse. The area is also known as Angouléme, and during Nostradamus's lifetime the Count of Angouléme was also King Francis I (the king who followed Henry II). A man in Francis's court, Giovanni da Verrazano, was sent by his king to discover new lands across the oceans, and landed, during his travels, on an island off the coast of what would become America. This was very close to the time when Columbus landed on the mainland of America. Verrazano named this island Angouléme, after his king. It later became Manhattan Island (Manhattanites will be familiar with the Verrazano Bridge). This kind of extraordinary, complex, and yet fascinating wordplay is common to the verses.
3. Dating methods. Each verse, or quatrain, is numbered. There are ten groups of quatrains, known as "centuries," and each verse is numbered within that "century." This is how Nostradamus arranged his verses after jumbling them up at random, and so we find Century 1, Verse 10, designated as C1 V10. But, as always with this enigmatic prophet, the story is not as simple as that. Occasionally the date of successful predictions coincides with the century and verse numbers. We cannot say that this dating method works very often, but it can help in the detective hunt when combined with other evidence in the verse, along with the actual dates and astrological clues. We cannot suppose that even Nostradamus was able to date precisely every event he foresaw. The use of the word century to describe each "chapter" of his verses does not, unfortunately, often help us to date the century in which the prediction was intended to fall. This would be all too convenient. His prophetic attempts are scattered throughout almost a thousand verses, sometimes with more than one event in a verse, and sometimes spread apart by several hundred years, which means a lot of searching and decoding is needed to find any kind of certainty. Nevertheless, the verse numbers occasionally prove helpful if we compare the contents of the prediction with current expectations.
Ordering the Verses
The basis of the ordering of dates in this short study of Nostradamus's work arises largely out of an attempt to put at least some of the verses back into the temporal order in which they originally occurred. A few verses remained in sequence, quite obviously, as the events clearly tend to follow one another. But some 90 percent of the verses were out of temporal sequence. The task of gathering verses into a sequence that appears to work is ongoing, and could not be completed for all of the verses. Further volumes may follow, and further temporally sequenced verses will emerge for any future titles. For now, however, the time line appears to work well, fixing events in the years specified.
Our Part in the Future
This book is not only about Nostradamus and his prophetic capabilities, it is also about us, the human race on earth, and our capabilities. Nostradamus saw -- very often with remarkable accuracy -- a future, at the turn of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, that looked to him exactly like an apocalypse. Filled with world war scenarios; massive and wide-ranging earthquakes, floods, and other natural catastrophes; political problems; and economic fluctuations, the twentieth century would have appeared to him like no other time in history. In essence, he describes this period and the early years of this century in a way reminiscent of the biblical apocalypse from The Book of Revelation -- one of the other most extraordinary forms of prophetic literature -- with a world that seems to be going insane prior to what the Bible describes as a time of peace and tranquillity...the storm before the still.
The twenty-first century, in Nostradamus's view, marks the beginning of a thousand years of peace. From this perspective, we might be forgiven for viewing the end of the twentieth century as a little like a madhouse, chaotic and apocalyptic. There was a sense in that century that much of life was out of control, that no one was at the helm. God had largely lost favor, presidents could not be relied upon, disease and war claimed more lives than ever before, and crime entered a state of violence and madness more serious and dangerous than at any time in the past. This could very easily have been the so-called apocalypse. The prophecies from both the Bible and Nostradamus's Centuries both predict that at some time around "now" a thousand years of peace would begin. These time periods, of course, don't take their cues from calendar dates, so that we cannot expect this glorious "everlasting" peace of 1,000 years to coincide with any millennium value, but we are told that a new world will emerge from the old one, and perhaps, as we will see in the coming pages, we have reached the end of the "apocalypse," though the word itself does not mean what we tend to think it means. If we look closely at the word "apocalypse," it breaks down into Latin as "Ap kali ipse," which translates into English as "from the call itself," the "call" being the spiritual call of God to consciousness, enlightenment, or awakening. This is not a physical state but a state of the soul. The call is the call that the individual receives to become a monk/nun or priest -- a person of God. This is literally God calling us. So, from the original teachings of the Old Testament and those of Jesus and John, the apocalypse is the time in which spiritual death and rebirth occurs on a massive scale. Those who receive the call become transformed and those who don't catch the train go to hell. Perhaps the apocalyptic age we are transforming through is literally a new call to God, and not a physical end or transformation of the world.
More significant than the sense of chaos and disaster in the last century is the understanding that we are the sole cause of it. No one else is to blame. This realization may be one of the most important of all time, for if we accept our own part -- the greater part -- in this scenario of world transformation, we must also accept responsibility for changing it. The future, disasters and all, is created "man-ually." Many individuals in the past came to this realization on their own. Nostradamus, for one, made the point several times in his epistles and verses that there would come a time -- this time -- when mankind would become aware of his powers over his own fate and be in a position to change the future, hopefully for the better. Acceptance brings power. We are no longer able to blame nature, or political leaders, or other people's greed and foolishness. We are no longer, for the most part, controlled by distant kings and queens, or powerful autocrats and generals. We no longer even have God to blame. That leaves us in command. We elect the politicians. We are polluting our environment and wasting our resources. We created God in the first place. We are responsible, and so we can make the changes for the better -- or worse.
No single individual in the history of prophecy is better known than Nostradamus. As an "engineer" of the future, living in sixteenth-century Europe, he turned what at that time was a complex, mostly muddled, and secretive art -- bound up in magic and mysticism -- into something more of a science. Even the biblical prophecies remain shrouded in eschatological complexity, employing language intended to remain essentially mystical (i.e., written for the "secret gathering of individuals with special knowledge" -- the definition of the source word mysterium).
But to say that Nostradamus's quatrains are written in simple language would be a gross exaggeration. Hundreds of translators and interpreters have made as many different senses of the verses over the past four centuries. The thousand or so verses have been applied to many different times and events, and as the future gathers speed before us, verses that failed to work on past events are applied to future events in the hope that this time the interpreter will be lucky and get it right! One wonders what Nostradamus actually saw when he wrote the word Hister, for example. Was it a river in Austria, or the "second Antichrist," Adolph Hitler?
Whichever, there is often a strong sense of excitement attached to reading the work of this prophet. Events do occur that appear closely related to the verses he wrote. During the mid-1980s, for instance, it seemed likely that Colonel Khaddafi of Libya might be the subject of a verse that begins, "There will be a melting of a great fleet." Other references in that verse and subsequent verses, which concentrate on Middle Eastern conflicts and a certain "Colonel," inspired the author's idea that something frightening might occur shortly on the confrontational stage between the United States and the Middle East. The interpretation of these verses was completed in January 1986. Just three months later, on the twenty-fourth of March, Colonel Khaddafi declared his "Line of Death," a naval barrier not to be crossed by the U.S. fleet, which had taken up cautionary positions in the Mediterranean. The excitement engendered by the recognition of an event already interpreted is so great that one begins to understand the passion and energy Nostradamus experienced after he began to cultivate his own prophetic powers.
Many stories are told of events in which Nostradamus predicted the future and then watched reality fulfill his words. Try to imagine yourself successfully achieving even a minor prediction of your own future: The result would be both enormously exciting and very frightening. And in that foreknowledge, what would you do differently? On a grander scale, how would world authorities -- politicians, teachers, economists -- change their ways if they believed in an accurate and scientific prophetic method? Would John Kennedy have died? And if he hadn't -- because he had listened to the prophets who predicted his death -- how would the world thereafter have been changed?
But this is all academic, for most of the world is skeptical about prophecy, because it is still shrouded so darkly in the shadows of magic and disbelief. And yet, in this millennial era, we spend a great amount of time gazing into our crystal balls, with both magic and science as our tools. The last decades of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first have seen a worldwide spiritual awakening, during which astrology, palmistry, channeling, and other even more mystical arts have formulated a plethora of methods for seeing into our personal futures. In the more precise areas of politics, economics, ecology, science, and technology, barely a day goes by without a book or magazine containing material related to the future being published. We predict changes in the value of money every second of every day in the financial futures market and we continually assess the likelihood of changes in political arenas. A number of successful professional prophets are constantly preoccupied with "knowing" how national and international conditions will develop under any given circumstance. In this sense, there are many would-be Nostradamuses. We might say that prophecy has always been an inexact science, but we employ it more energetically now than at any time in our past. And as life becomes more uncertain, more frenzied, and complex, the need to know something of our future will increase still further.
This book, which could be described as a "history of the future," is concerned with the years 2003 through 2025. With that as their focal point, the texts in the following pages make use of both the mystical, the scientific, and the political. Both Nostradamus and modern prophets of the twenty-first century attempt to bring the future closer -- as if it were not close enough already! We will see what Nostradamus has to say about the Computer Generation's prediction of faster and faster organic chips. We will see how the quatrains match up with where seismologists calculate the likelihood of earthquakes around the world. We will take a look at Nostradamus's words on the subject of medical advances in the fields of aging and body parts, and we will also pay special and extensive attention to the predicted rise in the power of women in every field of life, as this is felt to be of perhaps greater significance than any other single subject. And where we hope for political and economic changes during the first quarter-century of the third millennium, we will also have Nostradamus's guidance. There are times, of course, when the ancient and the modern do not meet. This is because our prophetic attempts tend to be based securely in the present, whereas Nostradamus's were created through what he believed to be divine intervention. In the pages of this book, however, we are concerned only with the successes.
When Nostradamus lived, time somehow stretched further away, more slowly than in the twenty-first century, when time has speeded up to such an extent that we can be sure anything we imagine is going to happen twenty years from now will actually happen in ten. Nevertheless, the prophecies of Nostradamus continue to amaze us. Even if we look upon his verses with the maximum cynicism, they still bear considerable fruit for this extraordinary time of change. Though he was concerned with many periods of the history of the future, one of the most important was the end of what he called the "sixth millennium" (referring to the Jewish calendar reckoning) and the beginning of the "seventh" (which is the Christian "third" millennium). More of his verses are concerned with this time than with almost any other, perhaps with the exception of the France of his own period. It is for our own era, however, that he actually provided real dates for events he foresaw. For "1999 and seven months," for instance, he predicted the event in the United States that is the precursor of a series of prophecies in this book that actually began in September 2001 (I think it is fair to give Nostradamus a leeway of one year!).
It is during this century that he also saw an apocalypse -- something most of us have feared -- which might, without an increase in human consciousness, result in the end of the world. He warned of a third Antichrist and an increase in earthquakes, volcanoes, and other earth-shattering events. He foresaw political changes that we might not have imagined possible just a few years ago -- friendship between the United States and China, for example, and the fall of Communism. He even wrote: "...if the kingdoms, sects and religions were to see the future kingdoms, sects and religions, and see how diametrically opposed they are to their favorite dreams, they would condemn what the future will know to be true..."
In general, humans are not successful long-term prophets. We may attempt the task of becoming Nostradamuses, but we rarely succeed, except in the very short term, and then not so often. So the master remains popular. Nostradamus's prophecies have stayed in print, in fact, during the entire four and a half centuries since his death. And sadly, as we open this new millennium, the gifts of prophecy become more desirable, more essential, to our lives but not necessarily more successful. Back to the drawing board. Back to Nostradamus, perhaps, for he understood our need to project our hopes onto the shadows of the future, and our tendency to overcome skepticism by imposing order on obscurity. But this only works for us in terms of Nostradamus because sometimes he gets it right -- more often, in fact, than chance would allow. Who better to rely upon, therefore? In truth, hardly anybody else from the past gives us a glimmer of the future so successfully.
The actual interpretations of the future prophecies begin with the year 2003, early in the third millennium after Christ, but prior to that we have included something remarkable to show just how close Nostradamus could get to actual dates of events. This coming short section is directly related to September 11, 2001.
Copyright © 2002 by The Book Laboratory, Inc.