Nostradamus – one of history’s most famous seers – made hundreds of predictions that not only span the centuries, but (many believe) have consistently come true. In celebration of Nostradamus’ birthday (born December 14 or 21, 1503) let’s take a look at the man behind the psychic.
A gifted healer?
Before he began documenting his prophetic visions, Nostradamus was licensed in medicine and treated plague victims with his own unorthodox recipes. He concocted a special potion known as the Rose Pill (the ingredients of which have not survived) and he earned great repute as a healer. However, in the 1530’s he suffered a tremendous personal tragedy as his wife and two children died from the plague. His medical practice consequently fell apart and he was scrutinized by the Inquisition concerning his relationship with Julius Cesar Scaliger — a philosopher and astrologer who was believed to have introduced Nostradamus to the art of prophecy.
After the death of his family he traveled around Europe before returning to France and remarrying. It was during this time that he began to record his prophetic visions. It is believed (there was no physical description left behind) that Nostradamus used the technique of scrying (crystal ball) by gazing into a bowl of water set in a brass tripod which he believed summoned a Divine Presence in Limbo who would offer him his fragmented visions.
He began by writing almanacs which became wildly popular and earned him a great deal of money and a reputation as a gifted seer. Ironically, Nostradamus was a terrible astrologer — he required clients to give him their natal charts as he was known for making mistakes such as putting the planets in the wrong sign.
Nostradamus then wrote his most famous work, Les Propheties de M. Michel Nostradamus (commonly known as The Prophecies or Centuries) which is still read to this day. This brought him to the attention of Catherine de Medici who was the Queen Consort to Henri the II of France. Believing in his psychic ability she named him Counselor and Physician in Ordinary to the King.
Nostradamus maintained celebrity status until his death in 1566 due to complications of gout and dropsy.
Famous Predictions…2012 isn’t Doomsday
Some believe that he was able to foretell the Napoleonic wars, American Revolution, the rise and fall of Adolph Hitler, the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy as well as the September 11 terrorist attacks. Other popular predictions include the death of Princess Diana and the moon landings of the 1960s. Many even believe that the third anti-Christ (if not discovered already) is still at large. And move over 2012, most notably, Nostradamus predicted the world would end in the year 3797.
His quatrains are so popular and cryptic that during World War II, they were used by both the Axis and Allied Powers as propaganda tools each highlighting quatrains they felt showed their impending victory. We all know how that one ended.
So was he for real?
As with many controversial issues, Nostradamus’ prophecies are vague and open to many different interpretations. It is important to remember that not only were his works vague in nature, but he used anagrams, poetry and at least four different languages to disguise their true meaning – that’s a whole lot of code to debunk!
A popular urban myth states that during the French Revolution his body was dug up and contained a medallion that had the exact date of his exhumation. Whatever you believe, Nostradamus has had a profound impact on pop culture and history and remains a distinguished member of the psychic hall of fame to this day.