THE LETTER OF NOSTRADAMUS: FIRST INTRODUCTION TO THE PROPHECIES
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Ad Cæsarem Nostradamun Filium vita & Felicitas.
Thy late coming, Cæsar Nostradamus, my son, hath caused me to bestow a great deal of time in continual and nocturnal watchings, that I might leave Memorial of me after my death, to the common benefit of Mankind, concerning the things which the Divine Essence hath revealed to me by Astronomical Revolutions; and since it hath pleased the immortal God, that thou are come late into this World, and canst not say that thy years that are but few, but thy Months are incapable to receive into thy weak understanding, what I am forced to define of futurity, since it is not possible to leave thee in Writing, what might be obliterated by the injury of times, for the Hereditary word of occult prædictions shall be lockt up in my brest, considering also that the events are definitely uncertain, and that all is governed by the power of God, who inspired us not by a Bacchant fury or Lymphatick motion, but by Astronomical affections. Soli numine Divino afflate præsagiunt & Spiritu Prophetico, particularia. Although I have often foretold long before what hath afterwards come to pass, and in particular Regions, acknowledging all to have been done by Divine Vertue and Inspiration, being willing to hold my peace by reason of the injury, not onely of the present time, but also of the future, and to put them in Writing, because the Kingdoms, Sects, and Regions shall be so Diametically oppossed, that if I should relate what shall happen hereafter, those of the present Reign, Sect, Religion and Faith, would find it so disagreeing with their fances, that they would condemn that which future Ages shall find and know to be true; considering also the the saying of our Saviour, Nolite Sanctum dare canibus ne conculcent pedibst & conversi discumpant vos, which hath been the cause that I have withdrawn my tongue from the Vulgar, and my Pen from Paper. But afterwards I was willing for the common good to enlarge my self in dark and abtruse Sentences, declaring the future Events, chiefly the most urgent, and those which I foresaw (what ever humane mutation happened) would not offend the hearers, all under dark figures more than Prophetical, for although, Abscondisti hœc a sapientibus & prudentibus, i. e., potentibus & Regibus enucleasti ea exiguis & tenuibus, and the Prophets by means onely of the immortal God and good Angels, have received the Spirit of Vaticination, by which they foresee things, and foretell future events; for nothing is perfect without him, whose power and goodness is so great to his Creatures, that though they are but men, nevertheless by the likeness of our good Genius to the Angels, this heat and Prophetical power draws near us; as it happens by the Beams of the Sun, which cast their influence both on Elementary and not Elementary bodies; as for us who are men, we cannot attain any thing by our natural knowledge, of the secrets of God our Creator: Quia non est nostrum nosse tempora nec momenta, &c. Besides, although there is, or may come some persons, to whom God Almighty will reveal by impressions made on his understanding some secrets of the future, according to the Judicial Astrology, as it hath happened in former times, that a certain power and voluntary faculty possessed them as a flame of fire, so that by his inspiration, they were able to judge of Divine and Humane things; for the Divine works that are absolutely necessary, God will end. But my Son, I speak to thee too obscurely; but as for the secrets that are received by the subtle Spirit of fire, by which the understanding being moved, doth contemplate that the highest Celestial Bodies, as being active and vigilant to the very pronunciation without fear, or any shameful loquacity; all which proceeded from the Divine Power of the Eternal God, from whom all goodness floweth. Now my son, although I have inserted the name of Prophet here, I will not attribute to my self so sublime a Title, for qui Propheta dicitur hodie olim oacabatur videns, and Prophets are those properly (my Son) that see things remote from the natural knowledge of Men; but put the case, the Prophets by the means of the perfect light of Prophecy, may see as well Divine things as Humane, (which cannot be seeing the effects of future predictions) do extend a great way, for the secrets of God are incomprehensible, and the efficient power moveth afar off the natural knowledge, taking their beginning at the free will, cause those things to appear, which otherwise could not be known, neither by humane auguries, or any hidden knowledge or secret virtue under Heaven, but only by the means of some indivisble Eternal being, or Comitial and Herculean agitation, the causes come to be known by the Cœlestial motion. I say not therefore my Son, that you may not understand well, because the knowledge of this matter cannot yet be imprinted in thy weak brain, but that future causes afar off are subject to the knowledge of humane Creatures, if (notwithstanding the Creature) things present and future were neither obscure nor hidden from the intellectual seal; bu the perfect knowledge of the cause of things, cannot be acquired without the Divine Inspiration, seeing that all Prophetical Inspiration received, hath it original principle from God the Creator, next, from good Luck, and afterwards from Nature, therefore cases indifferently produced or not produced, the Prophecy partly happens where it hath been foretold, for the understanding being intellectually created, cannot see occult things, unless it be by the voice coming from the Lymbo, by the means of the thin flame, to which the knowledge of future causes is inclined; and also my Son I intreat thee not to bestow thy understanding on such fopperies, which drie up the Body and damn the Soul, bringing vexation to the Senses; chiefly abhor the vanity of the execrable Magick, forbidden by the Sacred Scriptures, and by the Canons of the Church; in the first of which is excepted Judicial Astrology, by which, and by the means of Divine Inspiration, with continual supputations, we have put in writing our Prophecies. And although this occult Philosophy was not forbidden, I could never be persuaded to meddle with it, although many Volumns concerning that Art, which hath been concealed a great while, were presented to me, but fearing what might happen, after I had read them, I presented them to Vulcan, who while he was a devouring them, the flame mixing with the Air, made an unwonted light more bright then the ususal flame, and as if it had been a Lightning, shining all the house over, as if it had been all in a flame; therefore that henceforth you might not be abused in the search of the perfect Transformation, as much selene as solar, and to seek in the waters uncorruptible metal; I have burnt them all to ashes, but as to the judgement which cometh to be perfected by the help of the Cœlestial Judgement, I will manifest to you, that you may have knowledge of future things, rejecting the fantastical imaginations that should happen by the limiting the particularity of Places; by Divine inspiration, supernatural, according to Cœlestial figures, the places, and a part of the time, by an occult, property, and by a Divine virtue, power and faculty, in the presence of which the three times are comprehended by Eternity, revolution being tyed to the cause that is past, present, and future, Quia omnia sunt Nuda & aperta, &c. therefore my Son, thou mayst notwithstanding thy tender brain comprehend things that shall happen hereafter, and may be foretold by cœlestial natural lights, and by the Spirit of Prophecy, not that I will attribute to my self the name of a Prophet, but as a mortal man, being no farther from Heaven than my sence, then I am from Earth by my Feet, possum errare, falli, decipi; I am the greatest Sinner of the World, subject to all humane afflictions, but being supprised sometimes in the week by a Prophetical humour, and by a long Calculation, pleasing my self in my Study, I have made Books of Prophecies, each one containing a hundred Astronomical Stanza's, which I have joyned obscurely, and are perpetual Vaticinations from this year to the year 3797. at which some perhaps, will frown, seeing so large an extension of time, and that I treat of every thing under the Moon, if thou livest the natural Age of a Man, thou shalt see in thy Climat, and under the Heaven of thy Nativity the future things that have been foretold, although God only is he who knoweth the Eternity of his Light, proceeding from himself; and I say freely to those to whom his incomprehensible greatness hath by a long melancholick inspiration revealed, that by the means of this occult cause Divinely manifested, chiefly by two principal causes, which are comprehended in the understanding of him that is Inspired and Prophecyeth, one is that he cleareth the supernatural Light in the person that foretelleth by the Doctrine of the Planets, and Prophecyeth by inspired Revelation, which is a kind of participation of the Divine Eternity, by the means of which the Prophet judgeth of what the Divine Spirit hath given him by the means of God the Creatour, and by a natural instigation, viz. that what is predicted is true, and hath taken its original from above, and such light and small flame is of all efficacy and sublimity, no less then the natural light makes the Philosophers so secure, that by the means of the principles of the first cause, they have attained the greatest depth of the profoundest science, but that I may not wander too far (my Son) from the capacity of thy sense, as also, because I find the Learning would be at a great loss, and that before the universal Conflagration shall happen so many great Inundations, that there shall scarce be any Land, that shall not be covered with water, and this last so long, that except Ænographies and Topographies all shall perish, also before and after these Inundations in many Countreys there shall be such scarcety of rain, and such a deal of fire, and burning stones shall fall from Heaven, that nothing unconsumed shall be left, and this shall happen a little while before the great conflagration; for although the Planet Mars makes an end of his course, and is come to the end his last Period, nevertheless he shall begin it again, but some shall be gathered in Aquarius for many years, others in Cancer also for many years, and now we are governed by the Moon, under the power of Almighty God; which Moon before she hath finished her Circuit, the Sun shall come, and then Saturn, for according to the Cœlestial Signs, the Reign of Saturn shall come again, so that al being Calculated, the World draws near to an Anaragonick revolution, and at this present that I write this before 177. years, three Months, eleven Days, through Pestilence, Famine, War, and for the mostpart Inundations, the World between this and that prefixed time, before and after for several times shall be so diminished, the the people shall be so few, that they shall not find enough to Till the Ground, so that they shall remain fallow as long as they have been Tilled; although we be in the seventh Millenary, which ends all and brings us near the eight, where the Firmament of the eighth Sphere is, which in a Latitudinary dimension is the place where the great God shall make an end of the revolution, where the Cœslestial Bodies shall begin to move again. By the Superiour motion that maketh the Earth firm and stable, non inclinabitur ia seculum seculi, unless his will be accomplished, and no otherwise; although by ambiguous opinions exceeding all natural reasons by Mahometical Dreams, also sometimes God the Creator by the Ministers of his Messengers of fire and flame shows to our external senses, and chiefly to our eyes, the causes of future Predictions, signifying the future Event, that he will manifest to him that Prophecyeth for the Prophecy that is made by the Internal Light, comes to judge of the thing, partly with and by the means of the External Light, for although the party which seemeth to have the eye of understanding, what it hath not by the Lœsion of its imaginative sense, there is no reason why what he foretelleth should come by Divine Inspiration, or by the means of an Angelical Spirit, inspired into the Prophetick person, annointing him with vaticination, moving the fore part of his fancy, by divers nocturnal apparitions, so that by Astronomical administration, he Prophecyeth with a Divine certitude, joyned to the Holy prediction of the future, having no other regard then to the freedom of his mind. Come now my Son, and understand what I find by my revolutions, which are agreeing with the Divine Inspiration, viz. that the Swords draws near us now, and the Plague and the War more horrid then hath been seen in the Life of three Men before, as also by Famine, which shall return often, for the Stars agree with the revolution, as also he said visitabo in virga ferrea iniquitates corum & in verberibus percutiam eos, for the Mercies of God shall not be spread a while, my Son, before most of my Prophecies shall come to pass; then oftentimes shall happen sinister storms, (Conteram ergo (said the Lord) & confringam & non miserebor) and a thousand other accidents that shall happen by Waters and continual Rains, as I have more fully at large declared in my other Prophecies, written in soluta oratione, limiting the places, times and prefixed terms, that men coming after, may see and know that those accidents are certainly come to pass, as we have marked in other places, speaking more clearly, although the explication be involved in obscurity, sed quando submovenda erit ignorantia, the case shall be made more clear; making an end here, my Son, accept of this Gift of thy Father Michael Nostradamus, hoping to expound to thee every Prophecy of these Stanza's, praying to the Immortal God, that he would grant thee a long Life in Felicity.
From Salon this 1. of March 1555