Biographical accounts of
Nostradamus' life states that he was
afraid of being persecuted for
Followers and supporters of
Nostradamus' prophecies have
credited him with predicting an
amazing number of events in world
history. His writings have
supposedly predicted the
One of the most famous
Nostradamus predictions was
frequently interpreted as a prophecy
that a great disaster or event would
Nostradamus' writings have frequently been misquoted and in some instances, even deliberately altered in order to "prove" that he supposedly predicted various events.
Preparation and methods for prophecy
Nostradamus's medical studies included writings from Alberto Magnus, Paracelsus and Cornelius Agrippa. Paracelsus maintained that the soul must first be healed, that the source of disease was the mind, and he used astrology as a tool to "diagnose" how to treat the soul. Agrippa held the belief that man's "conscious" knowledge was useless, and that the societal conditioning to feel separate from existence/nature must be explored and released. The use of occult language in his prophecies suggest a familiarity with Hermetic magic, which has parallels with Tantra and Shaivite Hinduism. Nostradamus studied the Jewish Kabbalah, as well as astrology, which formed much of the basis of his predictive technique.
In Sicily, he connected with Sufi mystics and read "The Elixir of Blissfulness" by Sufi master al-Ghazzali, who stated that every seeker must pass through seven valleys or "dark nights of the soul" which included knowledge, repentance, stumbling blocks, tribulations, thunders, the abyss, and the valley of hymns and celebration. Nostradamus also appears to have studied "De Mysteriis Aegyptorum" (concerning the mysteries of Egypt), a book on Chaldean and Assyrian magic written by Iamblichus, a 4th‑century neo-Platonist.
It is also practically certain that Nostradamus consulted many other occult works during his life, including perhaps works lost to history. Near the end of his life, Nostradamus burned all the occult works in his library, and no one can say exactly what books were destroyed in this fire.
Nostradamus employed various techniques to enter the meditative state that he believed were necessary to access future probabilities. For entering a trance state (theta brain frequency), he attempted the ancient methods of flame gazing, water gazing or both simultaneously. He also seems to have used a technique of sitting on a brass tripod and gazing into a brass bowl filled with water and various oils and spices, which, according to an interpretation of C1 Q1, is to be referred to as Branchus, a divinity sometimes equated to Apollo, or an ancient seer by that name. In the Epistle to Henry II Nostradamus says "I emptied my soul, brain and heart of all care and attained a state of tranquility and stillness of mind which are prerequisites for predicting by means of the brass tripod."
A copy of his Prophecies dated 1672, located at The P.I. Nixon Medical History Library of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.:Main article Quatrains of Nostradamus
The Prophecies - in this book he collected his divinations. The first edition was out in 1555. The second, with three hundred more prophetic poem, was printed in 1557. The third edition, with three hundred new poem was printed after his death, in 1568
Nostradamus wasn't only a diviner, he was a physician. We know he wrote (at least two) books on medical science (one contained commentars to Galen, and in an other he wrote his experiences about the big epidemics of pest). He was involved in the profession of cosmetics, too (Treatise on Cosmetics and Conserves). He wrote some other works (Traité des fardemens).
Skeptics of Nostradamus state that his reputation as a prophet is largely manufactured by modern-day supporters who shoehorn his words into events that have either already occurred or are so imminent as to be inevitable, a process known as as "retroactive clairvoyance". No Nostradamus quatrain has been interpreted before a specific event occurs, beyond a very general level (e.g., a fire will occur, a war will start).
A good demonstration of this flexible predicting is to take lyrics written by modern songwriters (e.g., Bob Dylan) and show that they are equally "prophetic".
Some scholars believe that Nostradamus wrote not to be a prophet, but to comment on events that were happening in his own time, writing in his elusive way - using highly metaphorical and cryptic language - in order to avoid persecution. This is similar to the Preterite interpretation of the Book of Revelation; John the Apostle intended to write only about contemporary events, but over time his writings became seen as prophecies.
There was a definite prophecy that "a great and terrifying leader would come out of the sky" in 1999 and 7 months, but its fulfilment can arguably be linked to a scientifically predictable event knowable in Nostradamus's time: the solar eclipse on August 11 1999, which is the last day of July by the Julian calendar in use then. The eclipse track crossed northern France, and if the great and terrifying leader was just the moon it "revived memories of the great conqueror (or king) of Angouleme" - a figure in a mediaeval French regional war - just by darkening the sky over France.
The bulk of the quatrains deal with disasters of various sorts. The disasters include plagues, earthquakes, wars, floods, invasions, murders, droughts, battles and many other themes. Some quatrains cover these in over-all terms; others concern a single person or small group of persons. Some cover a single town, others several towns in several countries.
Misquotes and hoaxes
Nostradamus' writings have frequently been misquoted and, in some instances, even deliberately altered in order to "prove" that he supposedly predicted various events. Since the advent of the Internet, many prophecies have even been fabricated outright, therefore enhancing the mystique of Nostradamus. For example, after the September 11 Terrorist Attacks, the following was circulated on the Internet along with many more elaborate variants:
In the City of God there will be a great thunder,
Two brothers torn apart by Chaos,
while the fortress endures,
the great leader will succumb,
The third big war will begin when the big city is burning
As it turns out, the first four
lines were indeed written before the
attacks, but by a Canadian graduate
student named Neil Marshall as part
of a research paper in 1997.
Ironically enough, the research
paper included this poem as an
illustrative example of how the
validity of prophecies are often
exaggerated. For example, the "City
of God" (why is New York City the
City of God?), "great thunder"
(could apply to just about any
disaster), "Two brothers" (lots of
things come in pairs), and "the
great leader will succumb" phrases
are so ambiguous as to be
meaningless. The fifth line was
added by an anonymous Internet user,
showing obvious alteration since
Nostradamus wrote his Propheties in
four-line verses called quatrains.
Nostradamus also never actually
referred to a "third big war".
Sometimes, though, the hoaxes are tongue-in-cheek:
Come the millennium, month 12
In the home of greatest power,
The village idiot will come forth
To be acclaimed the leader.
Referring to the election of
George W. Bush as President of the
To verify the authenticity of a purported Nostradamus quatrain, compare the identifying number (e.g.: C1, Q25 means Century 1, Quatrain 25) against an authoritative version of Nostradamus' works — which will likely also contain the original old French. Even the Preface and the Epistle to Henry II have been assigned numbers (i.e., PF50, EP102).