The Prophecies of Nostradamus
Jung says that the course of our religious history and an essential part of our psychic development could have been more or less accurately predicted – as regards time and content – from the precession of the equinoxes through the constellation of the Fishes.
An enantiodromia set in from the vertical Gothic striving toward the heights to a horizontal movement outwards, ushered in by the voyages of discovery and the rapidly increasing “conquest of nature.”
The vertical was cut across by the horizontal ( one remembers that in many of the old representations of Pisces, one fish is vertical and the other horizontal), and man’s spiritual development moved in what became increasingly obvious was an anti-Christian direction, leading to the present-day crisis whose outcome is still very dubious (par. 150).
With this background in mind, Jung then turns to Nostradamus.
I shall only summarize this very briefly, partly for the reasons already mentioned and partly because although I have tried more than once to study Nostradamus, we two somehow do not click!
Yet one must admit it is exceedingly interesting that, in a letter to Henry II of France, dated June 27, 1558, he prophesies that, founded on astrological basis, the year 1792, more than two hundred years later, will see a greater persecution of the Christian Church than there ever was in Africa, though at the time “everyone will think it a renovation of the age” (par. 151).
Nostradamus may have based his own calculations on earlier authorities, but it is certainly strikng that whereas an earlier prophecy said “1789” and Nostradamus said “1792,” that both
dates fall in the time of the French Revolution.
The enthronement of the Goddess of Reason in Notre Dame de Paris was indeed (as Jung has often also elsewhere pointed out) a dramatic event which proved to be an anticipation of an increasingly anti-Christian trend and yet was hailed at the time by many as a “renovation of the age,” exactly as Nostradamus prophesied two hundred and thirty years before.
There was even a revolutionary calendar with a new system of dating – begun in September 1792 (par. 156).
Great stress is laid on the north, both by Nostradamus and the earlier authorities.
They would have been familiar with the idea …… of the north as the abode of the devil.
This ideology goes right back to the Old Testament where Jeremiah says: “From the north shall an evil wind break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land” (J er. 1: 14), and Isiah speaks of Lucifer as intending to exalt his throne above the stars of God and to sit on the mount of assembly in the far north (Isa. 14:12) (par. 157).
The Benedictine monk, Rhabanus Maurus (ninth century) says that the “north wind is the harshness of persecution” and “a figure of the old enemy.”
He adds that it is obvious that the north signifies the devil because it is said in Job: “He stretcheth out the north, over the empty space, and hangeth the earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7).
Rhabanus Maurus interprets this as meaning that “God allows the devil to rule the minds of those who are empty of his grace” (par. 157).
Jung quotes St. Augustine and several other authorities who identify the north and the devil and adds that it is hardly surprising that Nostradamus and his predecessors warn us concerning “a usurper from the north” when they prophesy the coming of the Antichrist. Luther had promptly been greeted as the Antichrist, which is probably why Nostradamus speaks of “the second Antichrist” who is to appear after the year 1792.
Jung just mentions that we should not forget how much capital the Nazis tried to make out of the idea that Hitler was completely the work of reformation which Luther left incomplete. (As Jung has often pointed out elsewhere, Nazi Germany was an example par excellence of the process of individuation happening unconsciously and automatically and therefore negatively.) (par. 159)
Jung ends the chapter by saying that, given the existing astrological data and the possibilities then extant of interpreting them, it was not difficult for Nostradamus to predict the imminent enantiodromia of the Christian eon; but by doing so he already stood himself in the anti-Christian phase and served as its mouthpiece.
[The German is stand er selber schon in der antichristlichen Phase drin – literally translated, he thus stood already in the anti-Christian phase. The English translation “placed himself firmly” is misleading here, as it sounds as though Nostradamus did this consciously which was, of course, not the case. Now this is a very common intellectual error that arises from the prejudice that there is no unconscious which has a genuine effect upon us, but that we do everything consciously.]
[We can see this same process as one sees here in Nostradamus in ourselves if we look back on the time when we first came into contact with Jungian psychology. Our dreams then will show us how much our unconscious standpoint was changed, though our conscious lagged behind. It is often particularly clear in the transference, which can be in full bloom years before we realize it.] ~Barbara Hannah, Aion, Lectures on Aion, Pages 47-49