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Nostradamus is perhaps the most famous prophet of impending disasters known by the modern world. Throughout history, people have been fascinated with the possibility that there are individuals who exist in the world with an innate superhuman ability to predict future events. Thought to be possessed by particular characters from ancient medicine men to spiritual leaders to women accused of practicing witchcraft, the ability is seen interchangeably as either a gift from a divine being or a curse brought on from dealing with the devil. No matter where the ability may have originated from, people still tend to listen to the predictions for themselves and strive to pinpoint their connection with popular events, wanting to see for themselves whether a grain of truth can be found or not.
Born in France in 1503 as Michel de Nostredame, he was an apothecary and alleged seer who published collections of prophecies that are said to have predicted many of the major events that would take place centuries after his own time. To this day, many people still believe that there’s truth to be found in the published works of Nostradamus. 2012, the year often cited for the approaching Apocalypse, is believed to have been predicted by the prophet as well. This passage from a publication by Nostradamus called “The Centuries” may be the closest reference to a significant 2012 event (like the arrival of a massive comet) that could destroy human civilization:
Where all is good, the Sun all beneficial and the Moon / Is abundant, its ruin approaches: / From the sky it advances to change your fortune. / In the same state as the seventh rock.
A more popular quatrain written by Nostradamus is credited for predicting the Great Fire of London in 1666, further fueling many people’s beliefs in his “power” to predict events. It goes:
The blood of the just will commit a fault at London / Burnt through lightning of twenty threes the six: / The ancient lady will fall from her high place / Several of the same sect will be killed.
Nostradamus’ writings mostly dealt with wars, disasters, floods, earthquakes, murders, and battles. Aside from the Great Fire, he was also credited with predicting the rise of Napoleon and Adolf Hitler. However, some historians argue that vague passages such as this can be interpreted and deconstructed in any number of ways. People have a tendency to gather information on major events that have occurred and comb through similar passages for descriptions that can apply to the situation, and these are hardly fit to be considered hard facts. Unless other, more compelling works by Nostradamus are discovered with less ambiguity and more specifics, all people can do today is continue to speculate on the possibilities of the future.