"Internet chat rooms are abuzz with talk that 16th century French astrologer Nostradamus forecast the attack on the World Trade Center in New York," noted Reuters News Service last week. "Thousands of people have received e-mails containing this prophecy, often with a second part forecasting that the attack on the twin towers will mark the beginning of World War III."
As Reuters pointed out, several versions are making the rounds. According to one, ``In the year of the new century and nine months/ From the sky will come a great King of Terror/The sky will burn at forty-five degrees/Fire approaches the new city.''
This corresponds in a rough way to a passage in Nostradmus's Section Six, Quatrain 97. Several books claim the quatrain's first line refers to September 2001, the ninth month in the first year of the new century, while the 45 degree is interpreted, points out Reuters, as the latitude of New York. However, the city actually is below 41 degrees latitude and in reality Nostradamus's verse does not mention a great war. Such has been misrepresented in the countless e-mails, which also claimed the prophet mentioned that "in the city of York there will be a great collapse/Two twin brothers torn apart by chaos/... Third big war will begin when the big city is burning."
According to Reuters, this is not from Nostradamus. It's a fabricated version. Nostradamus's full name was Michel de Nostradame and his family had converted to Catholicism from Judaism. He practiced astrology and possibly other occult arts. In order to avoid being prosecuted as a magician, Nostradamus wrote that he deliberately confused the time sequence of his prophecies so that their secrets would not be revealed to the non-initiate. He once told a queen that all her sons would be kings, but this was somewhat inaccurate because one of them died before he could inherit the kingdom. Soon afterwards Nostradamus was warned that the Justices of Paris were inquiring about his magic practices. From this time on, suffering from gout and arthritis, he seems to have done little except draw up horoscopes for his many distinguished visitors and complete the writing of his prophecies. We won't judge the entirety of this man's life but will warn not to delve into its occult aspects, which can be dangerous...
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