Wizards that Peep and Mutter: The Importance of Prophecy
Written By: Scott Corrales
Nevertheless, prophets in all ancient religions were more feared than venerated on account of their eternal doom-and-gloom scenarios. The Sibyls of Greco-Roman tradition, living in caves or on river banks, issued their visions of the future in an agitated, trance-like state. Legend has it that Deiphobe, the Cumaean Sibyl (mythology records a total of ten) made the ultimate offer to Tarquin, the last Etruscan king of Rome: a history of the future in nine volumes in exchange for an exhorbitant samount of money. When the haughty Tarquin refused, the Sibyl destroyed three of the books, restating her offer for the remainder of the books at the same high price. Once more, the Etruscan monarch refused her offer, and three more priceless books were destroyed. Finally, Tarquin purchased the remaining three books at the price originally requested by the Sibyl, and these tomes were placed in the temple of Jupiter, where they were consulted in times of dire need. When the remaining books were destroyed in the 5th century A.D., people saw it as an irrevocable omen of the Fall of Rome, which occured later that same century.
Norse traditions are hardly more optimistic: the Vikings sung of the journey made by the god Odin to see the "Wise Woman" -- an embodiment of the mother of the world -- to learn the doom of the gods and the universe. In true prophetic fashion, the Wise Woman told him that the future held "a wind age, a wolf age, no longer is there kindness among men". The serpent of the cosmic ocean surrounding the earth will poison all the waters of the earth while the Fenris wolf, breathing fire through its eyes and mouth, shall literally set the world on fire.
While the names of no Egyptian prophets survive down to our days, the inhabitants of Land of the Pharaohs believed that after a cycle of one hundred thousand years, nameless gods from a level or plane beyond Earth would run across our world, with their hair aflame, weeping and covering their faces, proclaiming: "My lords, the hundred thousand years are over, it is time for the cycle to be renewed; the world shall be irrevocably destroyed and the mighty ocean dried up. Sumeru, the great king of the mountains, shall be destroyed and burned. Therefore, my lords, foster compassion, mirth and indifference; honor thy fathers and honor the elders among thy parents." (E.A.W. Budge, "The Book of the Dead, the Papyrus of Ani" New York, 1913).
These are only some examples of the prophetic traditions of cultures separated from our own in time and space.
Interpreting the Apocalypse
Myriad interpretations have been given to prophecies: each passing year gives us a reinterpretation of Nostradamus’ bizarre quatrains; the wisdom of the prophecies allegedly contained in the Great Pyramid of Gizeh has been widely touted (although its prophecies have always been incorrect); author Hal Lindsey’s interpretations of Biblical prophecy sold millions of books in the 1970’s. Contemporary scholars pore through the holy books of a number of traditions in an effort to decipher coming events which may have been foretold ages ago.
Argentinean novelist Hugo Wast engaged in precisely such an effort during the middle part of the 20th century, through his study and interpretation of the Book of Revelation (better known as the Apocalypse), in an effort to unlock one of the most intriguing and puzzling aspects of Biblical prophecy: the seven-headed beast.
In his book El Sexto Sello ("The Sixth Seal"), Wast claims that the seven heads of the beast are seven countries. Of these seven, five had already vanished by the time St. John composed the Book of Revelation in the 1st century A.D.: these would have been the Egyptians, Assyrians, Medes, Persians and Greeks. The sixth head still existed at the time that John received his fearsome visions -- the mighty Roman Empire.
But the prophet hastens to add that when the seventh head arrives, it is necessary that its duration be brief. Wast interprets this final head of the Biblical beast to represent Islam, which arrived in the 7th century A.D. and became a world power in the 15th century, withering in importance shortly thereafter.
The Argentinean novelist attaches great significance to the cryptic passage in Rev. 13:3 which reads: "And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death, and his deadly wound was healed; and all the world wondered after the beast". Wast then asks his reader the following question: "What empire could this be, that almost dead toward the end of times, is reborn by the power of the dragon? None of the first five, which were long gone in St. John’s day, nor the Roman Empire, which was not only wounded but which vanished altogether, as history shows us."
Wast now moves in for the prophetical kill: "We can interpret the prophecy to mean Islam, which appeared politically wounded to death after 1918 but which now, like a lion who has slept for centuries on the shifting sands of its deserts, sends out the signal of its impending awakening."
So far, so good. But what evidence do we have that this prophecy follows the interpretation given to it? The analyst now summons the heavy artillery provided by ancient numerical magic. Since scriptural sources insist that the "beast" will coincide with the also-prophesied "Antichrist", discovering the numerical value of one will doubtlessly provide the identity of the other: this brings into play the ominous number "666", which has been overused by authors of paranormal fiction.
Wast insists that the name Muhammad, written in Greek, spells out "666" : "History forgot an interpretation which today regains its importance in the light of contemporary events. If the first Muhammad wasn’t the Antichrist, and if Muhammad II (the Turkish sultan) wasn’t the Antichrist either, there could very well be a Muhammad III, lord of Asia and half of Africa, with hundreds of millions of subjects."
Mabus, September 11th and Usama bin Laden
At the time of this writing, the world is still reeling from the destruction of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the possible threat of a third world war between the western nations and the Islamic Middle East. Even though the the terrorist organization directly responsible for the attack is not know, it has been attributed to Usama bin Laden, the terrorist mastermind hidden in the mountains of Afghanistan.
Following the destruction of the majestic structures, the deaths of thousands of innocents and the blow to the world economy, it wasn’t long before some sought an answer in the prophecies of Michel de Notre Dame -- Nostradamus -- and an adulterated version of his visions circulated freely around the Internet in the days after the September 11th tragedy.
But there was no need to forge Nostradamus’s disturbing words: the French mystic broached the subejct of the Antichrist and his Middle Eastern roots in the quatrain which mentions "Mabus", the name he gives the Antichrist.
Mabus puis tost alors mourra, viendra,
De gens & bestes vne horrible defaite:
Puis tout a coup la vengeance on verra,
Cent main, soif, faim, quand courra la comete
(Soon Mabus will die, then followed,
by a horrid lost of men and beasts,
in a single moment his revenge shall be witnessed,
a hundred powers, thirst, famine when the comet passes.)
---Nostradamus (1555), Century II, Quatrain 62
It initially appears that the French seer correctly guessed the sudden nature of the attack (the WTC’s destruction) and the slaughter of both humans and their pets. As we continue down this treacherous path, it could be said that the "hundred powers" are a hundred nations affected by the outcome of the conflict, but later on, in Quatrain 77 of Century VIII, Nostradamus says: "The third Antichrist will die soon. Twenty-seven years shall his wars last; heretics shall be slain and captives sent into exile. Corpses bathed in blood and red hail covers the earth."
According to some eschatologists, "Mabus" could be Usama bin Laden (whose first name is incorrectly given as "Osama" in the Western press), whose name can be used to decrypt Nostradmus’ hidden cypher. It suffices to rearrarange the letters to come turn "Mabus" into "Usam b".
But what can we say about the supposed "death" of Mabus as foretold by Michel de Notre Dame? Media sources have repeated the belief that bin Laden suffers from kidney ailments which require him to receive dialysis. It isn’t at all unlikely, therefore, that the master terrorist could succumb to this condition and that the "twenty-seven years" of war represent the efforts of his successors in implementing their late master’s plans against Western forces.
This isn’t the first time, however, that the strange prophecies of Nostradamus have been used to foretell the destiny of the United States of America. In the 1970’s, author Stewart Robb stated that the works of the seer from the town of St. Remy made reference to a nuclear war whose effects would be felt in the United States. The quatrain signalling the oubreak of war is the following:
The scourge gone, the world shrinks;
Peace for a long time and population grows,
Safe travel over land and sea,
until war returns.
(Century I, Quatrain 63)
From our contemporary standpoint, the above cound be construed to mean the disappearance of the "scourge" of Communism with the fall of the USSR in 1991, the "shrinking" of the world through the instantaneous nature of the Internet, and the brief illusion of peace and prosperity of the Clinton years. However, Robb employed the Quatrains identified as Q25-28, Q180 and Q181 to describe the invasion of North and South America by the armies of China. The war would begin with the detonation of a nuclear device over New York State followed by an invasion of the South Pacific (Q194) and the conquest of Latin America (Q188-189)
The invaders would have destroyed an allied fleet in Venezuelan waters (Q190), but the hour of their might would draw to a close: a joint effort by the U.S. and Russia would prevent an invasion of American shores (Q185-189) follwed by a victory in the high seas (Q195-197) which would end with a nuclear attack upon China (Q197).
Did Nostradamus Predict the Columbia Tragedy?
Much in the same way that prophecies flew around the Internet like maddened crows shortly after September 11, 2001, the tragic destruction of the space shuttle Columbia on February 1, 2003 unleashed another round of associations with the predicitons made by the seer of St.Remy.
Puerto Rican philosopher and author Jaime Marcano Monta¤ez claims to have found a mention of the Columbia’s sad and unexpected demise in the following Quatrain:
New rain, sudden and impetuous
Shall suddenly thwart the two armies;
Stone, sky, fires make the sea stony,
The death of seven, earth and land sudden
Professor Marcano leafed through his copy of The Centuries only minutes after having witnessed the fiery trail of the disintegrating shuttle on his television set. Page 81 of his edition, he told reporters from the Primera Hora newspaper, found the quatrain transcribed above, which could be construed as "a warning to humanity" in the scholar’s own words.
Marcano interprets that the "new rain, sudden and impetuous" makes reference to Columbia’s trail of debris across the American southwest, covering a 1,300 kilometer swath from California to Texas and the Louisiana state line. The professor believes that the second line of the quatrain, involving armies being "suddenly thwarted" is the most significant, given that the entire world is at the brink of an armed conflict between the U.S. and Iraq. Furthermore, the "death of seven" would refer to the loss of the space travelers involved in STS-107.
"I was surprised," Marcano told reporters, "about the detail regarding the sudden and unexpected rain stopping the two armies, which could be a positive interpretation [of Nostradamus], meaning that the attack on Iraq may be halted and diplomatic negotiations may be allowed to continue. A very impressive verse is the last one, which mentions the death of seven, and obviously, the astronauts who died were seven."
The scholar, a writer in residence at the Abelardo D¡az Alfaro "Casa Rosada", was careful to add that the quatrain did not apply to the Challenger disaster of 1986, because the world was not at the verge of war, as it is today. "I believe that it could urge us to look toward reflection, and that the public should meditate upon the transcendence of life."
The Role of Prophecy in the UFO Phenomenon
The story of the South American contactee group which dubbed itself "Operation Rama" has been recounted elsewhere (UFO UNIVERSE Special, Winter ’97). But the success of this group, which originally began as a splinter of Peru’s Institute of Planetary Relations (IPRI) and then gathered followers all over the Spanish-speaking world, was predicated not on the charisma of its leaders, but on the prophecies dispensed by a group of aliens who communicated with humans by means of "automatic writing" (an old spiritist technique). The aliens, who identified themselves with strange, consonant-filled names, offered dire prophecies concerning the imminent destruction of the planet Earth by manmade and natural catastrophes that made the readers of the channelled communications shudder. But a beacon of hope would shine in Mankind’s darkest hour: thousands of flying saucers under the command of Ashtar Sheran would be on hand to evacuate hapless humanity to another world or worlds. The saucer-lifeboats were currently in space and on "yellow alert", so to speak, waiting to be called into action.
The young men and women who formed the backbone of Operation Rama churned out reams of such messages, most of them dealing with prophetic matters. In later years, when the forecasted ruin did not materialize, the wise entities from space told their human charges that the catastrophe had indeed happened, but on a "spiritual" plane.
"Operation Rama" broke up long ago and its members have moved on to other New Age-flavored endeavors, but they were not the first to fall prey to unfulfilled prophecies, nor would they be the last.
Many UFO prophecies deal not with the future but with the tantalizing forecast of "mass landings" by the ufonauts themselves -- an event which many would consider apocalyptic in of itself, since it would mark the end of humanity’s belief in its uniqueness.
One such recent forecast occured on August 15, 1988 when Spain’s contactee and New Age community mobilized in droves to Tenerife in the Canary Islands to greet the arriving space brothers. The contactee community had been abuzz for months about the fact that "the great starship Nulox", flagship of the Galactic Confederation’s fleet, commanded by "solar guides Tumar Axtrunglan and Ashtar Sheran" (the latter of whom had communicated with South American contactees) was returning to Earth with a message of peace and love for all mankind.
The imminent arrival of the space brothers was meticulously planned for, with not a single detail escaping the eyes of the welcoming committee. Over ten thousand people gathered at Mirador de Ucana on the cold slopes of 12,000-foot Teide Volcano to witness the event. UFO experts, Spanish television crews and journalists from a number of agencies were also on hand for what many thought would be a real-life rendition of the Mothership sequence in Spielberg’s Close Encounters.
Alas, it was not fated for human history to be irrevocably changed on that cold August night in the Eastern Atlantic: whether the alleged landing was simply another "test of faith" from the space brothers or whether the gallant Nulox broke down in interstellar traffic we will never know. The fact of the matter is that no landing took place and disappointment verging on despondency ruled the following day. One contactee was heard to say: "I was positive the extraterrestrials were coming. To tell you the truth, I’m somewhat disillusioned."
Perhaps it was a fitting ending to a cycle which in which beings very similar "Ashtar Sheran" had inaugurated over thirty years earlier, in a case that is common knowledge to ufologists, sociologists and psychologists alike.
In 1954, Dr. Charles Laughead, a physician at Michigan State University’s medical faculty in East Lansing, became involved in communications with extraterrestrial agencies through a psychic named Marian Keech, whose communications with "Sananda" and the star command she had been receiving through automatic writing. Amazed by the accuracy of trivial predicitions made by the space brothers, the small group of believers who clustered around Keech in hope for further revelations were soon treated to full-blown apocalyptic prophecy -- Sananda informed the group that the world would end, with clockwork-like precision, on December 21, 1954: The Americas would split in two, Europe would slip into the drink in a modern replay of fabled Atlantis’s fate, and a host of other catastrophes would be unleashed upon the world. However, Dr. Laughead, Mrs.Keech and the true believers could expect to be airlifted by saucer out of the predicament. After having gone public with the channelled revelations, the small group of would-be evacuees waited for the world to end and for Ashtar’s spaceships to appear. The story of their odyssey through the twilight world of prophecy was dramatically captured in the book When Prophecy Fails (Univ. of Minnesota, 1956) -- which should be required reading for any aspiring contactees.
Religious prophets who foretell a bright future have usually been considered false prophets. In a world awash in vices and moral degradation, how could anyone prophesy anything but death and destruction? Judgement Day -- the day in which, according to the world’s major religions, the Deity will affirm its
ultimate control over the world -- will hardly be a joyous one, because the world doesn’t deserve it. This train of thought leads to a belief in an apocalypse which will change our planet by means of a brutal transformation, forcing humanity to atone for its wrongdoings. UFO prophecies, or better stated, the prophecies allegedly handed down to humans by UFO occupants, whether directly or indirectly, follow the established pattern up to a certain point, after which they make the significant departure of offering "salvation" via UFO evacuation -- the ultimate deus ex machina.
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Note: parts of this article appeared in FATE Magazine (Feb.2000)
(C) 2003. Institute of Hispanic Ufology