If you believe Nostradamus

Lubna Abdel-Aziz
Tuesday 23 Apr 2024


Once again an old book of prophecies is capturing the world’s attention. It is not just any book. It is the interpretation of Nostradamus’ Les Propheties, published in 1555.

The book by best-selling British author Mario Reading Nostradamus: The Complete Prophecies for the Future was published in 2005 and briskly sold 200,000 copies. Reading described Nostradamus’ prophecy of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001 thus: “Earth-shaking fire from the centre of the Earth, will cause the towers in the New City to shake.” While many believed, others remained sceptical and the furore died down.

Reading died in 2017. Five years later queen Elizabeth II died at the exact age that Nostradamus had predicted and Reading had interpreted in his 2005 book.

The premonition read: Queen Elizabeth II will die circa 22 at the age of around 96.

Even if sceptics find Nostradamus’ quatrains vague and open to various interpretations, this fact can neither be denied nor misinterpreted.

The first week following the queen’s death, 8 September 2022, sales of Reading’s 17-year old book started flying off the shelves. Some 8,000 copies were sold compared to five copies the week before. Numerous predictions of tumultuous times about British royalty are occurring at present.

Nostradamus predictions of the past five centuries resurfaced, with renewed interest in his future predictions — and they are many.

What will happen in 2024? Reading’s book includes chilling predictions besides British royalty crises. The 16th century seer hinted at major global power shifts, a new head for the Catholic Church, climate disasters, and continues to intrigue the world with his prophetic writings. Scholars admit that of the 942 predictions mentioned in his cryptic quatrains, 70 per cent have come true.

Nowadays, his name is being mentioned everywhere, with eyes on the Vatican, British royalty, wars, conflicts, floods, political and economic unrest.

He wrote about all of it 500 years ago.

The desire to believe in supernatural forces is primeval and exists in all of us, in varying degrees. The fear within us of ourselves, of each other and of the future breeds in us the need to eliminate it.

Who is this man whose visions are truths to generations?

Michel de Nostradamus was born in St Remy en Provence, France, in 1503 to Jewish parents who had converted to Catholicism, following the Inquisition. By the time his formal education began in Avignon, Michel was already a learned young man, having been tutored by his Jewish grandfather in classical literature, mathematics, history, astrology, herbal and folk medicine, the Cabala — and some even believe, a little magic.

At the Faculty of Medicine in Montpellier, he became famous for his innovative methods for curing the bubonic plague, or Black Death. He saved most of his patients but not his wife and two children who succumbed to the disease. Devastated, he wandered through Europe for six years, before he became aware of his prophetic powers.

Michel returned to Provence, remarried and had six children.

He transformed his attic into a private study; filled it with magic mirrors, divining rods, and astrolabes. In the dark of night, he would climb to his attic, don his special robes and partake of nutmeg powder, a hallucinogen that helped stimulate the mind, creating his bioelectric force. Gazing at flames or pungent smelling waters, he induced ecstatic trances that opened to him the portals of the future.

“I emptied my soul, brain, and heart of all care and attained a state of tranquility and stillness of mind.” Night after night he sat looking into the very far and dreaded future of mankind. Obsessed and driven, he could not stop.

Fearful of the Inquisition, he was reticent to make known his visions.

Because clairvoyance was considered an act of witchcraft, Nostradamus disguised his predictions every way he could. He wrote poems, riddles, anagrams, and epigrams. He wrote in French, Provencal, Greek, Latin and Italian, making them exceedingly complex and hard to interpret.

In spite of this, he continually engaged and enthralled all his followers through the centuries, and is considered by scholars, philosophers, and scientists as one of the world’s greatest prophets. His sheer “gift” of prophecy, repeatedly reinforced by the occurrence of foretold events, is unparalleled in history.

He predicted disasters, wars, the rise and fall of governments, dynasties, leaders, and nations. He wrote of Napoleon, Franco, Pasteur, Hister, (misspelled Hitler by a letter). Night after night he climbed to his attic to gaze at the stars. Vision after vision came to him. He recorded faithfully, feverishly, hoping men could avert the impending disasters he foresaw.

He saw world wars, spaceships, submarines, microchips, AIDS, and Covid-19.

What drove this affluent physician, astrologist, counsellor to kings and dignitaries to risk his life and write so uncontrollably of a faraway future, which neither he nor any of his generation would witness?

Was he a psychic, a soothsayer, a madman, a futurist, a quack, or a true prophet?

One fact that cannot be disputed, by supporters or detractors, is that he has been an outstanding success for almost 500 years.

What motives did he have? Was he trying to warn us to help avert those disasters? Could man reverse his destiny? That is the goal of a prophet.

How then has Nostradamus served mankind? Clearly, that was his intention.

Yet man never heeded, nor has he averted past, present, and future disasters.

Is it not all written, after all?


“Experience is the only prophecy of wise men.”

Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869)

* A version of this article appears in print in the 25 April, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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