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Aug 99

Nostra Revisited

Daily Telegraph, 28 June, 1999. The concluding paragraph was rather amusing. Last post on this topic. Promise.

This week is a good time to make the most of whatever turns you on because – if followers of the 16th Century astrologer and physician Nostradamus are right – the world ends on Sunday.

In Japan, home of Nostradamus’s most fervent supporters, the ommunity has become obsessed with the event. The Internet is also being flooded with people offering their own thoughts on whether Sunday’s doomsday prediction is right and what one should do for their last week on Earth. Unsurprisingly, working and settling debts, or abstaining from alcohol do not seem to figure highly in the must-do activities for the week.

The basis for the current panic is a book called Centuries, in which Nostradamus wrote 1000 predictions in rhymed quatrains. For the conspiracy theorists, Century X Quatrain 72 translates as: “In the year nineteen hundred and ninety nine, seven months, from the sky will come a great King of Terror. He will resurrect the great King of Angolmois. Before and afterwards Mars reigns happily.”

While the forecasts by Nostradamus are vague enough to mean almost anything, the Japanese believe the Yellow naval battle between North and South Korea, the weak Japanese yen and – oddly – Martina Hingis’s Winbledon defeat are recent pointers to the end of the world. In Europe, there is a growing view that Nostradamus got his dates wrong by a month and that the world will cease to exist on August 11 when the northern hemisphere experiences a total eclipse of the Sun.

However, English philosophers are also urging the public not to panic. They argue that while Nostradamus has been credited with achievements such as forecasting the Great Fire of London, revolutions, wars and Adolf Hitler, he has been wrong before.

Importantly, they note his predictions continue until the year 2797, which they say is hardly a good sign that he really believed all would end on July 4, 1999.