In examining what Nostradamus had to say about the year 2012, it helps to understand why some people think 2012 could be a significant or even disastrous year in the first place. The most significant source of speculations comes from the fact that the Mayan's Long Count calendar ends on Dec. 21, 2012 [source: NASA]. Some theorize this could be the day the world ends ostensibly from Earth's collision with an asteroid or hidden planet, but the scientific community has found nothing to corroborate their predictions.
So what does "The Centuries" tell us about 2012? It's hard to say. We know that Nostradamus never emphasized the number 2012 in any of his writings, so we're left to comb through quatrains looking for evidence of comets, mass destruction and, perhaps, the end of the world. Using those criteria, we could make the case that Nostradamus did indeed foresee Earth's collision with a comet. Consider this Sacred-texts translation of a quatrain from the fifth volume of "The Centuries":
Is abundant, its ruin approaches: /
From the sky it advances to change your fortune. /
In the same state as the seventh rock.
Could the "it" referenced above be a massive comet destined to destroy human civilization? If so, the phrase "change your fortune" is a wee understatement. Like all of Nostradamus' writings, the prediction is lacking in specifics, but those inclined to believe 2012 is a significant year might consider it further evidence of impending doom lurking just outside our solar system. Similarly ominous prophecies litter Nostradamus' writings, and while it's impossible to say any are specifically about the year 2012, it's also impossible to say with certainty that they aren't.
What's more, some people believe Nostradamus' writings tell only part of the story and that Nostradamus was behind a book of prophetic drawings as well. These drawings -- contained in a version of a book called the "Vaticinia de Summis Pontificibus" -- depict burning towers, terrible wars and all manner of celestial strife that, according to some, tie directly into purported Mayan predictions about 2012. But despite their claims, the drawings in the Vaticinia actually date back more than a hundred years before Nostradamus was born [source: Lemesurier]. So why are they attributed to Nostradamus? The confusion stems from a version of the book discovered by Italian journalist Enza Massa that cites Nostradamus as the author, despite the fact that we have no evidence Nostradamus could paint or draw.
With his quatrains rife with ambiguity and his supposed "lost book" being someone else's work entirely, we aren't left with anything suggesting Nostradamus considered the year 2012 to be significant in any way. So on that matter, at least, Nostradamus and the scientific community are on the same page.
More Great Links
- Barkham, Patrick. "The worst predictions in history." May 11, 2011. (June 7, 2011) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/11/worst-predictions-in-history
- Brown, Janelle. "Nostradamus called it!" Salon. Sept. 17, 2001. (June 7, 2011) http://www.salon.com/technology/feature/2001/09/17/kooks
- California State University. "Logical Fallacies and the Art of Debate." Jan. 29, 2001. (June 7, 2011) http://www.csun.edu/~dgw61315/fallacies.html
- History.com. "Nostradamus Effect -- Nostradamus Biography." (June 7, 2011) http://www.history.com/shows/nostradamus-effect/articles/nostradamus-biography
- Koenke, Jeffrey. "Nostradamus FAQs." May 7, 1996. (June 7, 2011) http://alumnus.caltech.edu/~jamesf/Nfaqs.html
- Lemesurier, Peter. "Nostradamus, Bibliomancer: The Man, The Myth, The Truth." New Page Books. Aug. 20, 2010.
- MacDonald, Jeffrey G. "Does Maya calendar predict 2012 apocalypse?" USA Today. March 27, 2007. (June 7, 2011) http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2007-03-27-maya-2012_n.htm
- Mills, Ian C. "Nostradamus - Physician, Astrologer, Prophet." Discover France! (June 7, 2011) http://www.discoverfrance.net/France/Features/Nostradamus.shtml
- NASA. "2012: Beginning of the End or Why the World Won't End?" Nov. 6, 2009. (June 7, 2011) http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012.html
- Randi, James. "The Mask of Nostradamus: The Prophecies of the World's Most Famous Seer." Prometheus Books. March, 1993.
- Sacred-texts. "Nostradamus." (June 7, 2011) http://www.sacred-texts.com/nos/index.htm
- Taipei Times. "New York disaster spurs Nostradamus book sales." Sept. 15, 2001. (June 7, 2011) http://taipeitimes.com/News/worldbiz/archives/2001/09/15/0000103144
- Villard, Ray. "Will Earthbound Comet Fulfill 2012 Prophecy?" Discovery Communications. March 22, 2011. (June 7, 2011) http://news.discovery.com/space/will-earthbound-comet-fulfill-2012-prophecy.html