Last Updated: January 12, 2014
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We don't know why or how, but long ago ancient cultures got the notion that they could predict the future by looking at the night sky. As the legendary Philosopher's Stone succinctly put it, "As above, so below."Luckily, much of this sage wisdom remains accessible to us today. The History Channel's hit documentary 2012: End of Days features prophecies from civilizations around the world, beginning in ancient Rome with the Cumean Sibyl. Besides predicting the birth of Jesus, she referred to the present day in her Fourth Book of Oracles:“These things in the tenth generation shall come to pass. The earth shall be shaken by a great earthquake that throws many cities into the sea. There shall be war. Fires shall come flashing forth from the heavens and many cities burn. Black ashes shall fill the great sky. Then, know the anger of the gods.”
Written some time between 1 and 300 A.D., this prediction lays out a scenario echoing many other cultures from antiquity. Hermes is the Greek name for the Egyptian god Thoth. The narrative originated in Alexandria by unknown authors but can be attributed to Coptic Greeks. Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval, in their book Talisman: Sacred Cities, Secret Faith, believe the multiple texts known as the Corpus Hermeticum accurately represent the ancient Egyptian religion of thousands of years earlier. The passage quoted below is from a text called Asclepius (or alternatively, Perfect Doctrine).
"Do you know, Asclepius, that Egypt is an image of Heaven, or to speak more exactly, in Egypt all the operations of the powers which rule and work in Heaven are present in the Earth below? In fact it should be said that the whole Cosmos dwells in this our land as in a sanctuary. And yet, since it is fitting that wise men should have knowledge of all events before they come to pass, you must not be left in ignorance of what I will now tell you. There will come a time when it will have been in vain that Egyptians have honored the Godhead with heartfelt piety and service; and all our holy worship will be fruitless and ineffectual. The gods will return from earth to heaven; Egypt will be forsaken, and the land which was once the home of religion will be left desolate, bereft of the presence of its deities. O Egypt, Egypt, of thy religion nothing will remain but an empty tale, which thine own children in time to come will not believe; nothing will be left but graven words, and only the stones will tell of thy piety. And in that day men will be weary of life, and they will cease to think the universe worthy of reverent wonder and worship.
They will no longer love this world around us, this incomparable work of God... Darkness will be preferred to light, and death will be thought more profitable than life; no one will raise his eyes to heaven; the pious will be deemed insane, the impious wise; the madman will be thought a brave man, and the wicked will be esteemed as good. As for the soul, and the belief that it is immortal by nature, or may hope to attain to immortality, as I have taught you, - all this they will mock, and even persuade themselves that it is false. No word of reverence or piety, no utterance worthy of heaven, will be heard or believed. And so the gods will depart from mankind, - a grievous thing! - and only evil angels will remain, who will mingle with men, and drive the poor wretches into all manner of reckless crime, into wars, and robberies, and frauds, and all things hostile to the nature of the soul.
Then will the earth tremble, and the sea bear no ships; heaven will not support the stars in their orbits, all voices of the gods will be forced into silence; the fruits of the Earth will rot; the soil will turn barren, and the very air will sicken with sullen stagnation; all things will be disordered and awry, all good will disappear.
But when all this has befallen, Asclepius, then God the Creator of all things will look on that which has come to pass, and will stop the disorder by the counterforce of his will, which is the good... Such is the new birth of the Cosmos; it is a making again of all things good, a holy and awe-inspiring restoration of all nature; and it is wrought inside the process of Time by the eternal Will of the Creator...
The gods who exercised their dominion over the earth will be restored one day and installed in a city at the extreme limit of Egypt, a city which will be founded towards the setting sun, and into which will hasten, by land and sea, the whole race of mortal men."
Around the Sixth Century A.D., the Celtic shaman Merlin (a.k.a. Myrddin Wyllt) envisioned severe climate conditions and a geological meltdown that would take place, apparently after the invention of the cell phone:
"At that time shall a man standing on the shore of England speak instantly to a man standing on the shore of France through a speaking stone...The seas shall rise up in the twinkling of an eye. The winds shall fight together with a dreadful blast… The planets will run out of their appointed paths and the earth shall run riot through the sky.”
A lesser known English oracle, Mother Shipton (a.k.a. Ursula Southeil), made an even darker forecast:
"A fiery dragon will cross the sky. Six times before the earth shall die. Mankind will tremble and frightened be for the six heralds in this prophecy. For seven days and seven nights Man will watch this awesome sight. The tides will rise beyond their ken to bite away the shores and then the mountains will begin to roar and earthquakes split the plain to shore. And flooding waters rushing in will flood the lands with such a din that mankind cowers in muddy fen and snarls about his fellow men. Man flees in terror from the floods and kills, and rapes and lies in blood and spilling blood by mankind’s hand will stain and bitter many lands.
And when the dragon’s tail is gone Man forgets and smiles and carries on. To apply himself - too late, too late for mankind has earned deserved fate. His masked smile, his false grandeur will serve the gods their anger stir. And they will send the dragon back to light the sky, his tail will crack. Upon the earth and rend the earth and man shall flee, king, lord and serf. But slowly they are routed out to seek diminishing water spout and men will die of thirst before the oceans rise to mount to the shore. And lands will crack and rend anew. Do you think it strange? It will come true!"
Like the elusive Merlin figure, authorship of the Mother Shipton prophecies has never been authenticated by scholars. Regardless, Medieval prophecies correctly describe modern inventions with astonishing detail. It's no wonder that during the Roman Empire, military and political leaders were making regular pilgrimages out to the oracle of Delphi to get consultations on matters of state.
Site of the Oracle at Delphi. Photo: National Geographic Channel.
After a draught lasting for many years, seven blazing suns will appear in the firmament; they will drink up all the waters. Then wind-driven fire will sweep over the earth, consuming all things; penetrating to the nether world it will destroy what is there in a moment; it will burn up the Universe. Afterwards many-colored and brilliant clouds will collect in the sky, looking like herds of elephants decked with wreaths of lightning. Suddenly they will burst asunder, and rain will fall incessantly for twleve years until the whole world with its mountains and forests is covered with water. The clouds will vanish. Then the Self-created Lord, the First Cause of everything, will absorb the winds and go to sleep. The Universe will become one dread expanse of water.
Markandeya, Hindu sage (cited in Earth Under Fire)
Modern skeptics of course dismiss the power of prophecy, pointing out the doomsday warnings of various cult leaders in modern times that never panned out. Yet, the publicity hounds referred to here bear little resemblance to those elusive shamans and prophets of antiquity. It's interesting that our well-worn term "disaster"comes from an old Latin (i.e. Roman) word meaning "evil star." The words influence and influenza come from the Latin influentia, defined as "the emanation of ethereal fluid from the heavens affectng mankind," as Roy Gallant explains in his 1979 book The Constellations: How They Came to Be. The word desire harkens back to the Latin desidere, which means "without a star, the outcome unfulfilled."
The Cross at Hendaye and its strange imagery.
It's not just words, either, that connect our modern society to a long tradition of mysticism and sky watching. In the 1920s, a man writing under the pseudonym Fulcanelli published The Mystery of the Cathedrals, a controversial book alleging that Medieval mason guilds encoded astrological communiques into the churches they built throughout Europe. As fascinating as that revelation was, decades later a chapter was surreptiously added to the book, entitled "The Cyclic Cross at Hendaye." It claimed that an old stone monument outside a French church bears a cryptic message about the end of the world.
In the History Channel documentary Nostradamus 2012, authors Vincent Bridges and Jay Weidner make a gallant attempt to interpret the strange symbols on the stone. (See the photo above.) As they explain in their book Monument to the End of Time, the star represents the Milky Way Galaxy, while the unhappy face is the Sun. And the oval that's divided into four sections is a reference to the Precession of Equinoxes.
Moreover, the two men suggest that each quarter cycle featured there signifies a world age - Golden, Silver, Copper/Bronze and Iron. In a 2004 interview, Weidner said of the 2012 doomsday prediction, "Fulcanelli clearly tells us that this catastrophe will not only herald the end of the Iron Age but will also be of a celestial nature. Indeed the angry sun face on the Cross indicates that this disaster has something to do with the sun." For more on the concept of precession, see Ancient Method for Caclulating Cataclysms.
As luck would have it, the psychic Nostradamus grew up several blocks from the Cross of Hendaye. In the 16th century, this legendary figure predicted that in five hundred years, the full impact of his own prophecies would be realized. And so here we are, right on schedule, talking about them. Among the hundreds he penned in his famous book of quatrains:"In the month of October, a massive movement of the globe, such that there will be those who will think that the planet has lost its gravity, being plunged into the abyss of darkness...There will be omens in the spring, and extraordinary changes thereafter, reversals of nations and mighty earthquakes... During the appearance of the bearded star, the three great princes will be made enemies. Struck from the sky, peace earth quaking, Po, Tiber overflowing, serpent placed upon the shore.”
Like Book of Revelation prophet John of Patmos (see next page), Nostradamus warned readers to be on the lookout for the anti-christ. Actually, he predicted three such characters that would terrorize the world in turn. While Napolean and Hitler are thought to represent the first two, the third is still undetermined.
In recent years, the History Channel has aired numerous documentaries about Nostradamus, even dubbing a 2009 series on the occult The Nostradamus Effect. However, its most successful broadcast to date remains Nostradamus 2012, which interweaves prophecies from many cultures with the forecasts of the French visionary. Here are some of the quatrains cited in the program:
Century 1: 29
When the fish that travels over both land and sea
is cast up on to the shore by a great wave,
its shape foreign, smooth and frightful.
From the sea the enemies soon reach the walls.
Century 2: 3
Because of the solar heat on the sea
From Negrepont the fishes half cooked:
The inhabitants will come to cut them,
When food will fail in Rhodes and Genoa.
Where all is good, the Sun all beneficial
and the Moon is abundant, its ruin approaches:
From the sky it advances to change your fortune.
In the same state as the seventh rock.
At the forty-eighth climacteric degree,
At the end of Cancer very great dryness:
Fish in sea, river, lake boiled hectic,
Béarn, Bigorre in distress through fire from the sky.
The latitude designated in the last quatrain, incidentally, corresponds to the location of bread baskets in the northern hemisphere, which include the midwest United States.
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"Fulcanelli, Alchemy and the Great Cross at Hendaye." Interview with Jay Weidner
Prophecy of St Malachy
End Times Prophecies
The Mystery of 2012: Predictions, Prophecies and Possibilities (2008).
Book of the Hopi (1963) by Frank Waters.
Talisman: Sacred Cities, Secret Faith, by Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval. Buy at Amazon...
Nostradamus (1961) by Edgar Leoni.
Monument to the End of Time: Alchemy, Fulcanelli and the Great Cross at Hendaye (1999) by Vincent Bridges and Jay Weidner.
The Mayan Prophecies (1995) by Adrian Gilbert and Maurice Cotterell.
The Orion Prophecy (2001) by Patrick Geryl and Gino Ratinckx.
DVDs and TV Programs
History Channel: Nostradamus 2012 and 2012: End of Days. See also the series The Nostradamus Effect.