Almost half a millennium after his death, Nostradamus is still history’s most famous astrologer and seer. His number one status is also particularly remarkable when you consider just how strange and cryptic his writings are.
Published in 1555, his book Les Propheties lays out his visions in the form of poems known as quatrains. These have been endlessly re-read and re-interpreted for centuries, with generations of readers believing that Nostradamus predicted everything from the Great Fire of London to the nuclear devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
But what clues has he provided for more recent times and for our immediate future?
What did he get right about 2022 and 2023?
The world has been shaken by seismic economic shifts in recent times, with the soaring cost of living affecting everything from food to fuel. Nostradamus seemed to have seen this coming with his grim prediction: ‘So high will the bushel of wheat rise / That man will be eating his fellow man’.
Fortunately, this prophecy has remained purely metaphorical, but it certainly points to the everyday financial hardships that have been felt recently, with headlines last year noting how many people on low incomes had to decide between ‘eating and heating’.
Climate catastrophe in 2024?
We don’t need Nostradamus to tell us that climate chaos is well underway, with violent storms, wildfires and skyrocketing temperatures having been widely reported this year. But what’s interesting is how he seems to have foreseen these apocalyptic events, all those centuries ago.
‘The dry earth will grow more parched,’ he predicts in one quatrain, ‘and there will be great floods’. Elsewhere, he warns of ‘Very great famine through pestiferous wave’, the latter phrase potentially referring to tsunamis destroying agriculture and allowing disease and starvation to take hold. If such visions are accurate, we may be in for even more calamitous climate events in 2024 than many already fear.
A confrontation with China in 2024?
Journalists, economists and geopolitical experts have written whole tracts about the rise of China as a global power, and how this is fundamentally re-orientating the balance of power in the world. Many have gone further, openly saying that the rivalry between the United States and China amounts to a new Cold War.
Of course, just as in the days of the Soviet Union, a Cold War with China carries the dreadful implication of a ‘hot war’. And there are some lines by Nostradamus which may well point to this eventuality shortly.
In a quatrain which opens with a vision of ‘combat and naval battle’, he writes that the ‘Red adversary will become pale with fear / Putting the great Ocean in dread.’
Is ‘red adversary’ a reference to communist China? And could the rest of the quatrain be referencing a confrontation at sea? It’s all too easy to imagine some accidental skirmish between the Chinese navy and members of NATO triggering a diplomatic incident – or worse. Considering that China boasts the largest navy in the world, anything is possible.
Royal tumult in 2024?
In a book published back in the mid-2000s, bestselling Nostradamus commentator Mario Reading asserted that Nostradamus foresaw the death of Queen Elizabeth II in the year 2022. While this did indeed come to pass, it’s probably more of a testament to Reading’s clairvoyance than Nostradamus’, since there’s little in the quatrains that could really be interpreted as pointing to the death of the Queen.
That said, Nostradamus does refer to someone he calls the ‘King of the Isles’, who has had a controversial divorce and who is ‘driven out by force’. What’s more, he is replaced by ‘one who will have no mark of a king’.
In Reading’s analysis, this points to King Charles III being forced to abdicate due to ‘persistent attacks on both himself and his second wife’, and Harry – the man who has ‘no mark of a king’ – taking the crown as opposed to William.
This may seem highly unlikely, especially given all that has happened in connection to Harry since Reading wrote his book, but there’s no denying that Nostradamus’ words do suggest some kind of tumult involving the new king.
A new Pope in 2024?
Pope Francis is currently in his mid-80s and has suffered health problems in recent times. Could a change in the Holy See be afoot? Nostradamus tackles this subject directly in one quatrain, and it doesn’t bode well for the Catholic Church.
‘Through the death of the very old Pontiff / A Roman of good age will be elected,’ he writes. While the arrival of a younger, vigorous Pope sounds like a good thing, Nostradamus immediately goes on to say that the new leader will ‘weaken his see’, and that he will be Pope for a long time.
The exact meaning of ‘weaken’ is of course open to debate. Does he mean the influence of the church will somehow lessen or is some greater scandal on the way? Time will tell, but if Nostradamus is any indication, the 2020s will continue to bring proverbial ‘interesting times’ for us all.