It’s been a few centuries since his death but many still listen intently to what the French astrologer, Nostradamus saw while staring into a bowl of water and herbs. Granted, he has enjoyed a nice streak since 1550, maybe accurately foreseeing benchmark events in history like the French Revolution, Adolf Hitler, and 9/11 but how accurate was Mr. Know-It-All about 2020?

According to the introduction of his book Les Prophéties, published by Simon & Schuster in 1555, Nostradamus conveniently told his son Cesar that he purposely was vague and cryptic with his rythming anagrams (called quatrains) “to mystify,” afraid he would be persecuted. He claimed that in the future “enlightened” people would figure out his prophecies and there lies his true genius. By keeping his writings so general and obscure any passage could be connected back to anything in the news with a little imagination (and drugs or alcohol).

Plus, it is hard to hold Nostradamus accountable for any of his prophecies—who’s going to know if he was correct for predicting the world will end in the year 3797? June 21st? On a Saturday?

As a quite enlightened person myself, I scoured the poetic quatrains myself to find what Nostradamus got right and wrong:

At the house of the mouse
the tallest of the tall
Will play to an empty house,
until one will win and one will fall.

So big deal he predicted the NBA playing in Orlando’s Disney World. Next.

Turbulence sweeps the twin year
Shamed men of stone will fall
Streets filled with gas from men with headgear
While The Great Orange one just talks about his Wall

His fans insist that the twin year confirms he is referring to 2020 and “Shamed men of stone” can mean the tearing down of Confederate statues. The rest sounds pretty much out of the headlines, I’ll give him that.

People will stay one horse length apart
Except in states of Red
Blues will say they have no heart
And bake sour dough bread

Again, a little bit on the nose. Let’s move on.

While people escape outdoors
There will be shortage the like of which was never seen
As masses storm stores
For parchment used to keep clean

It’s a bit of a stretch to say this quatrain is about the hoarding of toilet paper. Worth noting, toilet paper was not invented before Nostradamus’ time so this probably has something to do office supplies being scarce.

In the eleventh month those will decide
As He in the Ivory Palace keeps his grip
And the New World will be a great divide
With many renouncing their citizenship

The eleventh month would be the election and Nostradamus scholars often consider America the “New World” so this passage may be calling the White House, the Ivory Palace. Time will tell.

Doors will shut where those get brew
Men of letters will wander the lands
Thanks to the great flu
Nobody is allowed to shake hands

Some could argue this is a direct reference to the closing of Starbucks and writers who use it as their personal office. I’m on the fence.

The bird of prey offers itself to the unhealed
Anointed from Lons le Saulnier, in needle form
Saint Aubin shall take off her shield
Students will finally return to their dorm.

Finally some good news from mister doom and gloom.

Condemnation to a operative
The will live without law exempt from politics.
A pardon to the old-timey captive
The great A hole will be in on the Fix.

Nostradamus did finish strong predicting that Roger Stone would be commuted by Trump. We will be on a wait-and-see regarding his call of a Trump victory with Americans fleeing the country and coffee shops welcoming back poets and novelists. But I will let Nostradamus get the last word as I know he will anyway.

As moon crosses Saturn my Heart stood still
And everyone walked home
Yes and his name was Bill
Da doo ron ron ron, da do ron ron.

Illustration by Bob Eckstein

Illustration by Bob Eckstein