Preface to Cesar Nostradamus

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Preface to Cesar Nostradamus
by Nostradamus, translated by Edgar Leoni

Greetings and happiness to Cesar Nostradamus my son

Your late arrival, Cesar Nostredame, my son, has caused me a great deal of time in constant nightly watches so that after my death you might be left a memorial of your father, revealing in writing that which the Divine Spirit has made known to me, through the revolutions of the stars, to the common benefit of mankind.

Since it has pleased the immortal God that you should have appeared on this earth but recently, and your years cannot yet said to be coupled, your weak understanding is incapable of absorbing that which I must needs record of the future. Furthermore, it is impossible to leave you in writing that which would be obliterated by the wear and tear of time. Indeed, the hereditary gift of prophecy will go to the grave with me.

Events of human origin are uncertain, but all is regulated and governed by the incalcuable power of God, inspiring us not through drunken fury, nor by frantic movement, but through the influences of the stars. Only those divinely inspired can predict particular things in a prophetic spirit.

For a long time I have been making many predictions, far in advance, of events since come to pass, naming the particular locality. I acknowledge all to have been accomplished through divine power and inspiration. Predicted events, both happy and sad, have come to pass throughout the world with increasing promptness. However, because of the possibility of harm, both for the present and most of the future, I became willing to keep silent and refrain from putting them into writing.

For kingdoms, governments, sects, and religions will make changes so complete, truly diameterically opposite, that if I came to reveal what will happen in the future, the great ones of the above kingdoms, sects, religions, and faiths would find it so little in accord with what their fancy would like to hear, that they would condemn that which future centuries will know and perceive to be true.

As the true Saviour said, "Give not that which is holy unto dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and turn and rend you." This has been the cause of my withholding my tougue from the profane, and my pen from paper.

Later, because of the vulgar advent, I decided to give way and, by dark and cryptic sentences, tell of the causes of the future mutation of mankind; especially the most urgent ones, and the ones I perceived, and in a manner that would not upset their fragile sentiments. All had to be written under a cloudy figure, above all things prophetic.

Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and the prudent, that is, from the powerful and from kings, and hast revealed them to the small and the weak. And to the Prophets. By means of the Immortal God, and his good Angels, they received the spirit of prophecy, by which they see distant things and foresee future events.

For nothing can be accomplished without Him whose power and goodness to His creatures is so great that as long as these dwell in them, much as they may be exposed to other influences, on account of their good genius this prophetic heat and power approaches us. It approaches us like the rays of the sun, which cast their influence on bodies both elementary and non-elementary.

As for ourselves, who are but human, we can discover nothing of the obscure secrets of God the Creator by our own unaided knowledge or by the bent of our ingenuity. "It is not for you to know times or hours, etc."

However, now or in the future there may be persons to whom God the Creator, through fanciful impressions, wishes to reveal some secrets of the future, integrated with judicial astrology, in much the same manner that in the past a certain power and voluntary faculty came over them like a flame, causing them to judge human and divine inspirations alike.

For of the divine works, those which are absolute God completes; those which are medial, the angels; and the third kind, the evil spirits.

But my son, I speak to you here a bit too obsurely. Hidden prophecies come to one by the subtle spirit of fire, sometimes through the understanding being disturbed in contemplating the remotest of stars, while remaining alert. The pronouncements are taken down in writing, without fear, without taint of excess verbiage. But why? Because all these things proceeded from the divine power of the great eternal God, from whom all goodness flows.

Furthermore, my son, though I have mentioned the name prophet, I do not wish to assume for myself a title so sublime for the present. For He who is called a prophet now was once called a seer.

Strictly speaking, my son, a prophet is one who sees things remote from the natural knowledge of men. And it can happen that the prophet, by means of the perfect light of the prophecy appearing before him, thinks he sees things divine as well as human; but this cannot be, for the effects of future prediction extend far.

For the incomprehensible secrets of God and their efficient virtue belong to a sphere very remote from human knowledge, deriving their immediate origin from the free will. They bring about the appearance of causes which of themselves could not attract enough attention to be known, neither by human augury, nor by any other hidden knowledge or virture comprised under the concavity of heaven, even from the present fact of all eternity, which comes in itself to embrace all time. But through some indivisable eternity and by means of epyleptic agitation: the causes are made known by celestial movements.

Understand me well, my son. I do not say that the knowledge of this matter cannot yet impress itself upon your young mind, nor do I say that very distant events are not within the knowledge of reasoning man. If future events are merely the creation of the intellectual soul out of current events, they are not by any means too greatly hidden from him, nor, on the other hand, can they be said to be revealed at all.

But the perfect knowledge of events cannot be acquired without divine inspiration since all prophetic inspiration receives its prime motivating force from God the Creator, then from good fortune and nature. For this reason, the presage occurs in part, where it has been predicted, in proportion to the extent to which similar events have manifested themselves similarly or have failed to manifest themselves.

For the human understanding, being created intellectually, cannot see hidden things unless aided by the voice coming from the limbo via the thin flame; showing in what direction future events incline.

Furthermore, my son, I beg that you will never want to employ your understanding on such dreams and vanities as dry up the body and put the soul in perdition and cause trouble to the weak senses. I caution you especially against the vanity of the more execrable magic, condemned of yore by the Holy Scriptures and the Canons of the Church.

However, Judicial Astrology is excepted from this judgement. For it is by this, together with divine inspiration and revelation, and continual nightly watches and calculations, that we have reduced our prophecies to writing.

Although this occult Philosophy was not condemned, I did not desire that you should ever be faced with their unbridled promptings. I had at my disposal many volumes which had been hidden for a great many centuries. But dreading what use might be made of them, after reading them I consigned them to the flames. As the fire came to devour them, the flame licking the air shot forth an unusual brightness, clearer than natural fire.

It was like the light of lightning thunder, suddenly illuminating the house, as if in sudden conflagration. Thus, so that you might not be led astray in the future in a search for the perfect transformation of silver, or of gold, or of incorruptible metals under the earth, or hidden in the sea, I have reduced them to ashes.

But what I do want to make clear to you is the judgement obtained through the calculation of the heavens. By this one has knowledge of future events while rejecting completely all fantastic things one may imagine.

With divine and supernatural inspiration integrated with astrological computations, one can name places and periods of time accurately: an occult property obtained through divine virtue, power and ability.

By means of this, past, present and future become but one eternity - for all things are naked and open.

Thus, my son, notwithstanding your your young brain, you can easily understand that things which are to happen can be prophesied by the lights of the sky at night, which are natural, coupled with the spirit of prophecy. Not that I would assume the name or power of a prophet. It is as a mortal man, whose senses revealed inspiration places no further from Heaven than his feet are from the ground. I cannot fail, err, or be deceived, though I am the greatest sinner in this world, subject to all human affliction.

Many times in the week I am overtaken by an estasy; having rendered my nocturnal studies agreeable through long calculation, I have composed books of prophecies, of which each contains one hundred astronomical quatrains of prophecies. I have sought to polish them a bit obscurely. They are perpetual prophecies, for they extend from now to the year 3797.

It is possible, my son, that some will raise their eyebrows at seeing such a vast extent of time and treatment of everything under the moon that will happen throughout the earth; but if you attain the natural span of human life; you will come to see, under your own native skies, the fulfillment of future events that I have foreseen.

Although the eternal God alone knows the eternity of the light which proceeds from Himself, I say frankly to all to whom He has wished to reveal His immense magnitude - immeasurable and incomprehensible as it is - amidst long and malancholy inspiration, that it is a hidden thing, manifested divinely.

It is manifested chiefly by two means which are contained in the understanding of the inspired one who prophesies.

One comes by infusion: clearing the supernatural light for the person who predicts by Astrology; making it possible to predict through inspired revelation.

The other is a fixed participation of the Divine eternity. By means of it, the Prophet comes to judge what has been given him by his divine spirit through God the Creator and his natural intuition.

So that what is predicted, and is true, has an ethereal origin. This light and the thin flame are altogether efficacious, and are of heavenly origin no less than natural light.

And it is the latter which renders philosophers so sure of themselves that by means of the principles of the first cause they have penetrated to the innermost cores of the loftiest of doctrines. But an end to this, my son, for I must not stray too far from the future capacity of your senses.

I find that letters will suffer a very great and incomparable loss. I find also that before the universal conflagration the world will be deluged by many floods to such heights that there will remain scarely any land not covered by water, and this will last for so long that everything will perish except the earth itself and the cultures which inhabit it.

Furthermore, before and after these inundations, in many countries the rains will have been so slight, and there will have fallen from the sky such a great abundance of fire, and of burning stones, that nothing will remain unconsumed. And this will occur a short time before the final conflagration.

For the planet Mars will finish its cycle, at the end of its last period, it will start again. Some will assemble in Aquarius for several years; others in Cancer for an even longer time.

Now, by means of the supreme power of eternal God, we are led by the Moon; before she has completed her entire circuit, the Sun will come and then Saturn.

For according to the signs in the heavens, the reign of Saturn will return; so that, all told, the world is near an death-dealing revolution: from this moment, before 177 years, three months and 11 days have passed, by pestilence, long famine, wars, and most of all, by floods, the world will be so diminished, with so few remaining, that no one will be found willing to work the fields, which will remain wild for as long a period as they had been tilled.

This is according to the visible judgment of the stars, for although we are now in the seventh millenary, which finishes all, we are approaching the eighth, wherein is located the firmament of the eighth sphere.

This is in the latitudinary dimension, whence the great eternal God will come to complete the revolution and the heavenly bodies will return to their sources, and the upper motion will render the earth stable and fixed for us, not deviating from age to age, unless He wills it otherwise.

By ambiguous opinions beyond all natural reason, by Mahometan dreams and even sometimes through the flaming missives brought by the angels of fire of God the Creator, there come before exterior senses, even our eyes, predictions of future events or things significant to a future happening.

These ought to manifest themselves to one who presages anything. For the presage which is made by the exterior light comes infallibly to judge partly with it and by means of the exterior light. Truly, the part which seems to come by the eye of the understanding comes only by the lesion of the imaginative sense.

The reason is very evident. All is predicted through divine inspiration and by means of the angelic spirit with which the man prophesying is inspired; rendering him annointed with prophecies and illuminating him, moving him before his fantasy through diverse nocturnal apparitions.

With astrological calculations certifying the prophecy in the daytime; there is nothing more to the holiest future prediction than free courage.

You must see now, my son, that I find by my calculations, which are according to revealed inspiration, that the sword of death is now approaching us, in the shape of pestilence, war more horrible than has been known in three lifetimes, and famine.

This famine will fall upon the earth, and return there often, according to the words, "I will visit their iniquities with a rod of iron, and will strike them with blows."

For the mercy of the Lord, my son, shall not be extended at all for a long time, not until most of my prophecies will have been accomplished, and will by accomplishment have become resolved. Then, several times during the sinister storms, the Lord will say, "I will trample them, and break them, and not show pity."

And thousands of other events will come to pass, because of floods and continual rains, as I have set forth more fully in writing my other Prophecies; which are drawn out in length, in prose, setting forth the places and times so that men coming after may see them; knowing the events to have occurred infallibly.

This we have noted in connection with the others, speaking more clearly. For although they are written under a cloud, the meanings will be understood. When the time comes for the removal of ignorance, the event will be cleared up still more.

I make an end here, my son, Take now this gift of your father, Michel Nostradamus, who hopes to explain to you each prophecy of the quatrains included here. I beseech the immortal God that He will be willing to endow you with long life in good and prosperous happiness.

From Salon, this first of March, 1555.