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Since the French physician and seer Nostradamus [Michel de Nostredame (1503-1566)] is widely believed to have predicted everything ever, I decided to look in his writings for something about the coming historic election, because surely it would be on the mind of a 16th century Frenchman (after all, his modern American interpreters would have us believe he was obsessed with the Kennedy assassination).  

As luck (or fate) would have it, I found not one, but several references to play with. And yes, these are real Nostradamus verses. The first was a simple quatrain, so defiantly (and predictably) obscure that I'm giving you the chance to figure it out for yourself.

The most interesting example is a series of half a dozen verses that takes us from the horror of the Bush 43 administration to Obama's triumphant election.  Or not.

Come along to the past to take a look at the future.

If you're wondering what Nostradamus said about your current circumstances, the best way to seek relevant prophecies is with the aid of a handy Nostradamus search engine. This ensures that you get genuine Nostradamus and don't have people fobbing things off on you like

"From the wounded white soldier, a vow
To do a century's combat in the East
The black knight unhorses him,
Cheers greet his vanquishing."

which I just took about thirty seconds to make up, but I promise not to cheat like that again; you can look up all the verses I cite.  

First there is the question of what to search for, since prophetic language will be clothed in obscurity to begin with, and it will be further obscured by the passing of time and the vagaries of translation. If Nostradamus actually had any inkling of events half a millennium away, he wouldn't have any frame of reference to understand them (for example, if looking for McCain, I couldn't expect to find 'maverick' or 'POW' in his verses). So, I picked some easily translatable, universal concepts that would have been around in the 1500s.

Audacity, hope, and change didn't seem to turn up anything relevant (maybe Nostradamus couldn't read the English campaign posters; well, except change is the same in French). So I tried simpler concepts. War is too common, sadly, to be able to differentiate them in the Nostradamus context, so I picked the word most associated with McCain according to recent polling: old. This quickly brought the following result from Century 1, Quatrain 78, which begins:

D'un chef vieillard naistre sens habeté,
Degenerant par scavoir & par Armes,

i.e.,

An old leader shall beget an Idiot,
Who shall degenerate in Learning and in Arms,

This is clearly true about Bush père et fils, but doesn't seem to fully apply to our current situation, as idiocy is rampant, and the rest of the verse goes on to discuss France. We need something with Obama in it, so let's expand the search terms. How about: black, white, prisoner?  Aha! My first relevant(?) hit -- Century IV, Quatrain 85.

Le charbon blanc du noir sera chassé,
Prisonnier fait mené au tumbereau,
Moré Chameau sus pieds entrelassez,
Lors le puisné filera l'aubereau.

"But," you complain thanklessly, after I've done all this work for you, "my Old French is a bit rusty.  I'm not sure I quite get that 'tumbereau' bit." (As if that made a difference).

OK, here's a rough translation to get you started:

The white coal will be chased by the black one,
Made prisoner and led to the cart,
Moor(?) camel on tangled feet [or feet twisted upon a black camel],
Then the younger one will fly the small falcon.

(adapted slightly from this translation)

Got it?  Good, because I don't. I couldn't get past the part where McCain was a piece of coal, let alone understand the "Moor (or moral) camel". I leave this oracle up to you to decipher. This is do-it-yourself prophecy so your interpretations are welcome in the comments. You're also welcome to fine tune the translation, if you've got the wherewithal. For instance, you might think "aubereau" should be 'little eagle', which is a lot easier to work with than a falcon in an American context. And 'filera' could be taken as 'will spin' rather than 'will fly'; it can also mean to pay out line, or to shadow/tail someone. Nowadays a "tombereau", translated here as "cart", is a dumptruck, but you might find the old meaning of tumbril, as in the cart that took prisoners to the guillotine, more relevant. If you don't know where to begin, here's a 17th century reading:

The first Verse is altogether Allegorical and Metaphorical, therefore I leave it to the judgement of every Reader. I shall only deliver my opinion upon the whole:
I take it to be some white Prince, that shall be overcome by a black one, put in a Dungcart, after that, tied upon a black Camel, and then the younger son of that black Prince shall give the prisonner a little more liberty.

So, for instance, it could mean that McCain loses to Obama, and goes to some Middle Eastern country in disgrace while Obama pardons Michael Vick (the falcon).

I hope you can come up with something better, so I'll leave the disentangling of this verse to you, because I've got something much juicier, using "black" and "old", we run across the following series of verses, which I will take as connected:

XXXV.
Plus le Grand n'estre, pluye au char, le cristal.
Tumulte esmeu de tous biens abondance.
Razez, Sacrez, neufs, vieux espouvental.
Esleu ingrat, mort, plaint, joye, allaince.

XXXVI.        
Grain corrompu, air pestilent, locustes.
Subit cherra, noue nouvelle naistre.
Captifs ferrez, legers, haut bas, onustes,
Par ses os mal qu'à Roy n'a voulu estre.

XXXVII.
Saisis au temple, par sectes longue brigue
Esleu ravi au bois forme querelle.
Septante pars naistre nouvelle ligue.
De la leur mort. Roy appaisé nouvelle.

XXXVIII.
Roy salvé Victeur, Imperateur.
La foy faussée, le Royal fait congneu,
Sang Mathien, Roy fait superateur
De gent superbe, humble par pleurs venu.

XXXIX.
Par le despit nopces, epithalame.
Par les trois parts Rouges, Rasez partis,
Au jeune noir remis par flamme l'ame,
Au grand Neptune Ogmius convertis.

Translation:

35.
The Great One to be no longer, rain, in the [cart/tank/float], the crystal,
Tumult stirred up, abundance of all goods:
Shaven ones, Holy ones, new ones, old ones frightful,
Elected ingrate, death, lament, joy, alliance.

36.
Grain corrupted, air pestilent, locusts,
Suddenly it will fall, new pasturage to be born:
Captives put in irons, light ones, high-low, loaded,
Through his bones evil which he had not wished to be the King.

37.
Seized in the temple, through a sect's long intrigue,
Elected, ravished in the woods, forms a quarrel
[or the elected one is overjoyed, a quarrel breaks out in the woods]
Seventy pairs new league to be born,
From there their death, King appeased, news.

38.
King hailed as Victor, and Emperor,
The faith broken, the Royal deed known:
Mathian[?variously interpreted as Macedonian or epileptic] blood, King made conqueror,
The arrogant people come to humility through tears.

39.
Through spite nuptials, wedding song,
For the three parts Reds, Shaven ones divided:
For the young black/king through fire the soul is restored.
To the great Neptune Ogmios converted.

Link for ye of little faith:

As prophecy goes, this scarcely needs interpretation.  

Verse 35: This is about Katrina (rain on the float [symbolizing New Orleans], tumult stirred up), the Bush administration (old ones frightful) , their rich tax-break cronies (with the "abundance of all goods"), and GW Bush himself (the "elected ingrate"). The "death, lament, joy, alliance" section is a bit more problematic, because we've had so much of the first pair, and so little of the latter two. It could be Katrina still, or 9/11 and its aftermath, or the invasion of Iraq by the coalition of the armtwisted willing.

Verse 36: Here Nostradamus refers to contaminated wheat gluten from China (Grain corrupted), global warming (air pestilent, locusts, new pasturage), Guantanamo (captives put in irons), Cheney (the evil one who's not the King),

Verse 37: This is a bit obscure, but may refer to the arrest and execution of Saddam Hussein, although the French grammar indicates that 140 people were killed, not one. Alternate interpretations/translations welcome.

Verse 38: Bush declares "Mission accomplished!" Then Bush's lies are discovered, the American people finally are catching on what a nightmare Iraq is; jingoistic fervor turns to distress as problems abound. The "Manthien blood" phrase is not convincingly explained in any reference I've seen, but if you want to go out on a limb (as if you're not already there), you can use this for the epileptic meaning.

Verse 39: Gay marriage is legalized in spite of opposition, and then we get to the elections: "Three parts red" (out of how many? if it's out of 10, then only 15 of 50 states go red!). As for the "Shaven ones" (I'm hoping it's not Britney Spears and Paris Hilton), this phrasing recurs in various Nostradamus quatrains. It could refer to religious figures, so perhaps the evangelical vote is split.

Finally, the conclusion and it's great news, with the young black (Obama) restoring our souls. Nostradamus also alludes to his fiery rhetoric. Ogmios, in case you were wondering, was a Gaulish deity pictured as leading a band of men whose ears were chained to his tongue; the usual etymology for his name is that he is the god of leadership, but he is thought by some scholars to be a metaphor for eloquence!

About that Neptune allusion, it could refer to the planet or the god or the ocean--maybe we'll have to live underwater due to the glacial melting. Or maybe Obama takes up swimming to make up for his lack of bowling skills.

But a note of caution, should one be required, from Theophilus de Garencieres, who translated and commented an edition of Nostradamus in 1672. He gave a list of 10 reasons not to "run mad over-studying these", from which I excerpt:

The seventh, the experience we have had of many, who pretending
to understand the Author, have made a quantity of false
Prophecies, expounding the Stanza's according to their fancy, as if
God had given them the same understanding that he gave the Author,
and what ought to confirm us more in this point, is, that
they have expounded some Prophecies, as if they were to come to
pass, which were past already, by which we see the darkness of
humane wit, who without authority pretendeth to bite into the
forbidden fruit of knowledge.

... For these reasons (dear Reader) I would not have thee intangle
thy self in the pretentions of knowing future things. If you
have light concerning them, keep thine own Secret, and make use
of it for thy self: Preserve peace, and let the Almighty govern the
World: for he can turn all things to his Glory, and may when
he pleaseth, raise up some Wits that will make known unto us, what
we desire, without any further trouble to our selves.

Lest there be any readers that got their hopes up, I should point out that these verses were taken from Nostradamus' Almanac for 1559, of which no full copy survives, only 13 prognostications or "presages". It is generally presumed that these were predictions for the year 1559, which must have been a heck of a year. In fact, these verses are often shown with months assigned to them (the grain corruption month, for instance, is February, which is correct if you assume it refers to Chinese wheat contamination, but Obama restoring our souls is in May, and the primaries weren't even over yet).

Should you wish nevertheless to cling to the hope of that 35 state (+ DC) electoral victory, there are those who refer to Nostradamus' statement in an earlier almanac that "these are for another time", and they cite repeated phrases from different almanacs to show that they are not specific to the year in question. Plus, there's no telling what was in the missing portion of his 1559 text. Nostradamus in his extant writings did on occasion explicitly refer to the far future, for instance, specifically mentioning 1792, or the 7th millennium (that's what we're in, in his timetable). So if it turns out that McCain only takes 15 states, you can say you read it here first. If we're not all underwater.

Originally posted to fleisch on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 06:50 PM PDT.

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