The Nostradamian world is ever abuzz with the new flavor of books coming out claiming to have broken an all-encompassing code that makes the nebulous verses of Nostradamus apparent and clear. The most recent claimant, Dr. Michael Rathford, produced a book under the name “The Nostradamus Code” that purports to de-fuzz the fog of Nostradamus to describe in detail the fog of a third world war happening from 2008 to 2012. One needs no unlocked code to safely predict that possibility. There are enough astrological predictions listed without premeditated occultation in the prophecies of Nostradamus to date the beginning around 2007 to 2008. There are even more astrological predictions that would have the war lasting far longer than 2012, even all the way into the 2020s. See many of these time windows for world war described in my new eBook.
Many of you have asked me what I think about Rathford’s book and the theory that Nostradamus had some all-encompassing key to unlock his cryptic prophecies faster than impish actress Audrey (Amelie) Tautou can say, “Da Vinci Code.”
Some answers gain more authority with time. My answer to Rathford and all those before and after him who attempt to find a code has not changed since I wrote the following opening extracts in the mid-1990s for my complete translation of Nostradamus’ prophecies, published in 1997, in a book entitled “Nostradamus: The Complete Prophecies.”
The first passage gives some background. The second directly takes on the theory and the theorists who believe in Nostradamus Codes.
GUIDELINES FOR READING NOSTRADAMUS
I was willing to hold my peace by reason of the injury, not only of the present, but future time as well, and refrain from writing because if the present kingdoms, sects and religions were to see the future kingdoms, sects and religions to come, and see how diametrically opposed they are to their pet fantasies, they would condemn that which future centuries will know to be true… Later… [I] decided to relinquish withholding my tongue and pen from paper by declaring in dark and cryptic sentences the causes of the future changes of mankind…by clouding them in obscure but, above all, prophetic language.
Michel Nostradamus 1555
I made up my mind, but I made it up both ways.
Manager of the New York Yankees (circa 1955)
If Nostradamus was ever reincarnated as a baseball manager, the thought-and tongue-twisting Casey Stengle of the New York Yankees and New York Mets would be my first choice. Like Stengle, Nostradamus turns his native tongue into his own language, fashioning and discarding syntax and grammar rules one sentence at a time. Stengle’s retrograde thinking and dyslexic words of wisdom revolutionized baseball. Nostradamus’ peculiar pen has made him the unsurpassed king of prophets. In the dross of absurdities and calculated insanities Nostradamus hides the gold nuggets of authentic and unrivaled prophetic inspiration. Stengle’s fractured figures of speech were innocent utterances, whereas the seer of Salon, Provence, shaped his ambiguous messages with great care and forethought.
And Nostradamus’ obscurity conjures many results. For one thing, his writing is muddled enough to be taken any way one wishes. It befuddled the Church Inquisitors to the extent that Nostradamus accomplished something rare for authentic seers of his day — he avoided torture and execution as a magician and died peacefully in his bed. His ambiguities have kept the controversy of his prophecies alive, and even enhanced his stature as a seer in the centuries following his death (just as he predicted).
What Casey Stengle once said about managing a baseball team can be applied to Nostradamus’ success as an obscurer: “The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.”
Nostradamus’ cryptic chronicle of the future has succeeded in distancing his attackers from the majority of his undecided readers. Defining his nebulous narrative is not unlike lying on your back in the grass and gazing at the shapes of puffy clouds. You see a giraffe. Your friend sees an elephant. You can argue with him. Your success at convincing the other depends on your eloquence, not on the reality of the cloud. People keep playing the same game with the misty mentality of Nostradamus. He understood that people love to project their prejudices onto the canvas of the obscure and that this passion in human nature for giving shape to ambiguities will always survive a skeptic’s attack. Nostradamus ensures his cloudy credibility by injecting moments of brilliant clarity that occasionally burn an opening in the general overcast of his narrative. We suddenly see names, dates, and intimate details of events as they happened — or will happen.
Nostradamus’ 36,200 weird words of prophecy are the molecules that compose the dark surface of his magic looking glass. On rare occasions we can peer into its surface and see the seeds of humanity harvested in tomorrow’s field of dreams. But the magic doesn’t end there. Nostradamus’ “glass” reflects both ways. His strange language, symbols, barbarisms, and insights can also be used as a projector of the hidden secrets of his interpreters, be they the commentators or the readers of his oracular opus. A study of Nostradamus is more than just another examination of fulfilled and yet-to-be-fulfilled prophecies; it can be an exploration into how we project our thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears on the future.
Before beginning a journey through time and our projections, it would be advisable to study some of Nostradamus’ grammar rules (or lack thereof), decoding techniques, and interpretive pitfalls uncovered during four hundred years of scholarship. In this way we can rub some of the fog off his looking glass to better see who or what is gazing back at us.
Contrary to the claims of many imaginative dilettantes and a few sincere theorists, no one has yet found the key to any single all-encompassing code that unlocks his secrets. After 22 years of study [make that 33 years, now] I conclude that a magician of Nostradamus’ intelligence would not be so stupid as to forge a weak link in the chain of his future legacy. At best there may be random devices and codes, but as we will see, even unlocking a random code conjures up more questions and mysteries than answers. It seems to be Nostradamus’ rule to keep’em guessing.
Some of the most entertaining books on Nostradamus’ boast about discovering some secret code. For instance, in 1991 authors Peter Lorie and V. J. Hewitt boldly claimed that they had made a complete scientific decodification of the prophet, from his chapeau of anagrams down to his syllable toes. With such a marketing hook I wondered why the promised “detailed” and scientific instructions were tucked away in the back of the book. The instructions brazenly asked the reader to comprehend Hewitt and Lorie’s “scientific” theories by taking a leap of faith beyond objectivity. The back cover boldly declares that Hewitt herself was foreseen by the prophet as the one who would unlock his secrets. So far this book is only remarkable in its remarkably detailed failures, such as Prince Charles’ failing to become king of England in 1993, George [H.W.] Bush failing to win a second term as president of the Untied States, and California not sinking into the Pacific Ocean at exactly 7 pm on 8 May, 1993.
Since that time Hewitt has struck out on her own and her declarations are far more cautious and open to interpretation. One no longer sees the dates for “decoded” prophecies listed on the cover of her books. There is much more use of “could” than “will” in her declarations these days.
I would cordially suggest to Hewitt, Lorie, or any future code-busters that they submit their claims to an impartial test. Anyone who believes he or she has decoded Nostradamus’ quatrains should send their selection of decoded quatrains, with down-to-the-day-and-minute declarations for the coming year, to a reputable metaphysical organization such as the American Society for Psychical Research. After one year those interpretations can be unsealed before an audience of debunkers, journalists, and true believers to test their veracity. After predictions are verified, then, and only then, should that author publish his or her book claiming to decode Nostradamus.
Rather than play hide-and-seek for some code to dispel all mystery, future translators might consider that Nostradamus may have intended that we apply the perspectives of our own era to his prophecies.
His own astrological makeup indicates that Nostradamus was not an ego wishing to be found out. But he was an alchemist of controversies. His obscurity has worked to keep alive for centuries what may be a practical joke or a true prophetic gift, or some combination of the two. Debunkers and blind believers alike ought to be aware that attempting to make the prophet fit their own preconceived ideas and prejudices and calling it his “real” intention, are futile.
Nostradamus: The Complete Prophecies,
pp. 11 – 12, 18 – 19.
(08 September 2007)