When Nostradamus presented his Preface in 1555 he expressed strong ideas about the origin of his prophecies and the ability of humans to see the future. Throughout this work he presents a non-orthodox Trinity involving the created universe, nature and the isolated realm of mankind.
In presenting his case he draws on ideas that don't come out of the 16th century. In many ways they rely on concepts from future times and many of them seem shaped by the understanding of our own age rather than his own.
These concepts relate to evolution's momentum which suggests beings will emerge that interact with a broader range of time than we do. As a consequence such beings have the ability to be present in our time. And Nostradamus' writings indicate that he not only understood this fact but was able to utilize their presence. (See author's paper called An essay on the aliens already shaping human destiny for more on this theme).
In any written work there are conventional forms of address that are used throughout and Nostradamus' work is no different but this means his references to God and Christ have to be examined closely to remove those that are just formalities needed for that time that are unrelated to his deeper beliefs. That he had such a need is illustrated right from the beginning of the Preface as can be seen from the following selections. And in them there are also indicators that validate the claims of the preceding paragraph.
In the first of these examples his proper addressing of the immortal God, good angels and true Savior identify sources of inspiration familiar to a 16th century Christian audience. Yet in the same sequence he identifies the sources involved in his future-seeing by interactive labels such as divine essence and spirit of prophecy, him whose power is so great, rays thrown out by the sun and influencing bodies that are elementary and not elementary.
It is his choice of phrases rather than the individual words that make it apparent Nostradamus is not only giving his interpretation of how he sees into the future but he is doing it for an audience who understands the part the electromagnetic realm plays in communication. This obviously wasn't intended to be understood by his 16th century peers.
He sets this out in the following passages and as he does so he also points out the inability of people of his time and near future to understand what he is saying.
Nostradamus' belief that he was a genuine prophet is conveyed by his attempts to explain the dilemmas involved in future seeing. In doing this he draws a distinct difference in the relation between his Creator-God and humankind. The first set of paragraphs given above states that human mechanisms have no way of tapping into the secret workings of the universe but as implied in the second some understanding may come as a legacy implanted in the human mind.
The above also indicates that Nostradamus considered the prime creation agent of the universe has natural bounds so removed from the senses of mankind that our understanding of that agent is fragmentary. This refers to the nature of time from the standpoint of a being from an eternal realm and that of beings such as humankind who have ability to bridge time. And to bridge such a gap requires a common mechanism that is accessible by each,
The above quotes from the Preface also suggest that whatever connections there are between the two they are natural parts of the universe manifested through the filters of the human mind.
But in the quote below there is a hint of God's role in Nostradamus experience and that comes as an indirect judgment tool that steers the final outcome of the prophecy.
He relates that both good and bad visions arise within the mind and the right choice by the prophet relies on God but this God doesn't do it himself. Nostradamus sees angels and fallen angels as God's agents with such an approach being consistent with his second verse in the prophecies. In presenting his contact in this way he is giving the credit to beings with greater powers than his own.
Each of these references presents an image of virtual-beings capable of communicating with his mind and thereby hints at the possible sources of his foreseen knowledge.
This accords with judicial-astrology [astronomy] where as in the past certain powers and voluntary faculties come to them like flames of fire that appear inspiring that person to judge human and divine inspirations. Because these divine works are to be absolutely complete, God comes to perfect them and while the normal is the work of the angels the third [class delivers] the bad...Cesar 1555 Preface (PCE3).
In the Preface Nostradamus then tries to bring these thoughts to bear on his own experience and his way of readying his mind for detection of the spirit of prophecy. Once again his wording the great eternal God's divine power is a thoughtful choice that equates the remote qualities of the cosmos to the acceptable religious values of his time.
But my son I speak to you a little too deeply however the hidden prophecies that I received were by the subtle spirit of fire, which sometimes comes from restless understanding while attentively contemplating the stars above, the surprise of which leads me to write pronouncements without fear or expectation of shameless loquacity and what emerges is the product of the great eternal God's divine power from which all goodness proceeds...Cesar 1555 Preface (PCE4).
From this foundation Nostradamus begins to structure his ideas on prophecy and his own part in the scheme of things. It is a humble expression of the limitations of mankind when dealing with matters of future time.
It is in the next paragraph that Nostradamus spells out the two seemingly incompatible dimensions which prophecy must straddle with eternity being the aspect of time that defines the cosmos while the linearity of momentary experiences defines humankind's awareness of existence. His bridge is that the two things coexist, so part of the eternal may well fleetingly influence the momentary state of the human mind.
There is a dilemma in such a union of eternity with the moment and Nostradamus shows his understanding of these issues. He starts by stating that although the dimensions between the eternal and the momentary are vast that doesn't mean linking is impossible but rather that they are subliminally present in everything we do.
Nostradamus goes on to acknowledge that although this connectivity may be universal the means of utilizing it is not. The passage below implies that it is a product of specific individuals who are given, through good luck and nature, an inheritance. But it is only usable when specific meditative mechanisms are employed.
But the perfect causes cannot be acquired without divine inspiration since all prophetic inspiration receives its prime motivating force from God the Creator, then from happiness and nature. Wherefore causes that are indifferent are produced indifferently the presage only partly comes true where it has been predicted. Because where human understanding is created intellectually it cannot see hidden things except by the voice coming from limbo via the thin flame, showing in what direction part of the future causes will be inclined...Cesar 1555 Preface (PCE4).
The Preface ostensibly is directed at his son Cesar for reading when he was old enough to understand but it reads like a document meant for a distant time when the art of future-seeing was better understood. The paragraph that follows on from the material already presented sees Nostradamus caution against the use of drugs which he considers even worse than the art of astrology.
In the next paragraph he amplifies his views expressing his dislike for astrology and disdain for its practitioners. It recounts how in order to prevent his methods from falling into the wrong hands he destroys his own records. In stating I have hidden from the long centuries that [which] my own works cover his wording tells us that this Preface was aimed at a future audience.
Having delivered his caution about wrongful use Nostradamus returns to describing the outcomes and limitations of successful future-seeing. Throughout his work he sees the continuity of the stars as the timing mechanism linking what is momentarily seen to the eternal stream. It is the immutable revolution of the universes elements that give an eternal being the means of identifying between our universe's past, present and future. And from the human perspective the continuous expansion of the universe from what was a unity means all mass, space and time is linked.
The relation between Nostradamus' God, the universe, natural laws and man can be conveyed quite adequately by a metaphor of the relation between an organisms parts and a complex multi-celled organism. Any cell and the organism of which it is part have no communication directing their functioning yet they function in the way predestined for the continuance of each. It is nature and laws of the universe that ensure this result. Within the context of this metaphor 'God' is the chemistry and the 'good and bad angels' are the nourishing and destructive chemicals that impact on the cell.
Likewise Nostradamus' view of God separates the dynamic-cosmos, the holder of eternity, from the moments of man and just as the cells are functionally but remotely linked to the organism there is an interface where what happens to one sends ripples into the other.
These early sections of Nostradamus' 1555 Preface contain the major elements of his understanding the place of human prophecy in the universe. However he goes on from here to give detailed mechanisms by which he composes his quatrains. Important among these are the section I label PCE9 for it is the pragmatic means by which he is able to project an accurate calendar relying on planetary positions into the future. It relies on 'perfect' cycles which are periods in which several planets come to the same position in the sky at the same time. All of this is covered in detail in the chapter about 'the order of the chain' (Star-Chain).
This change from the more philosophical nature of the prophecies to their pragmatic delivery is quite clearly stated in the following paragraph from the Epistle. And once again there are pointers that tell us it was unlikely Nostradamus set out to deceive. For instance the wording They contain perpetual predictions for (the period) from now until the year 3797 is a bold claim to reading the future far beyond that required by any charlatan and a date so disjoint from his present that it is actually counterproductive advertising.
'Possum non errare falli decipi' [Latin: 'I am able not to err, fail or be deceived']. I am a sinner no greater than anyone of this world and subject to all human afflictions. But being surprised at how sluggishly time flows, I have made long calculation and during the time of night's sweet odors I have composed books of prophecies each containing a hundred quatrains of astronomic prophecies, which I have intentionally arranged a little obscurely. They contain perpetual predictions for (the period) from now until the year 3797...Cesar 1555 Preface (PCE6).
The next section begins with Nostradamus challenging the notion that there is no interaction between the existent-universe (eternal God) and its components. He then reiterates his claim that there are humans with minds capable of interacting in the dimensional time-realm of the cosmos. But he goes further in the subsequent paragraph and talks of two ways that such interaction is accomplished and these are by infusion into the mind and then the process of inspired validation.
How is it that the eternal God is the only one that knows the eternity of its light, proceeding from himself? And [in response] I say frankly that is to those whom he wants to reveal his long inspired melancholy in all its immeasurable, incomprehensible magnitude, that are subject thereof to hidden causes manifested divinely.
They are mainly of two major causes, which are confined to the mind of the inspired one who prophesies. One of these allows the clarity of the supernatural light to infuse the character who predicts by the doctrine of the stars, and the other enables the prophesies to become inspired revelation. All of which is certainly the participation of the divine eternity, by means of which the Prophet comes to judge that his divine spirit has been given to him by means of God the creator, and a natural incitement.
This is [the way] to know that what is predicted is true and has its origin ethereally placed. And such light and emergent flame is very effective. And its altitude is no less than the natural clarity and natural light that makes the philosophers assured that only with the principles of the first cause can they enter into the deeper chasms of the highest doctrines...Cesar 1555 Preface (PCE7).
Even after this the connection is not well established so Nostradamus expands upon the relation between natural causes and divine manifestation. And as he progresses it is apparent it is a mental device recognized in modern science. It is the emotive power of the mind where neuronal resonance resolves shadowy, blurred vagaries into images of conviction. And the final act performed by the prophet described by Nostradamus is the proper placing of that image in the context of human time. By these means the resonance between two dissimilar systems draws separate meaning within their own dimensions and according to Nostradamus prophets dream the unthinkable.
It is possible to deduce from the foregoing arguments and evidence that Nostradamus did not set out to deceive since in the Preface he draws a detailed picture of the process in which he was involved. Remarkably the placing of a Deist-style God and a mortal-framed man within two different dimensions of time places his thoughts in a period well beyond his own.
Additionally his writings develop as a progression describing the relationships and mechanisms allowing the interchange of images from different dimensions. This would not have been an easy course to take in the strait-jacket religiosity of the sixteenth century.
And this structure he describes seems more than a fiction since it is very similar to modern science's understanding of the workings of the human mind. It is the modernity that makes the narrative seem obscure because it doesn't easily fit to our expectation of the age of alchemists, heretics and old-style religion.