Off the Shelf—“The Secrets of Nostradamus”

By Marcus Pan

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The Secrets of NostradamusDavid Ovason, a teacher of astrology and studier of Michel Nostradamus for over four decades, is the penman behind this book, subtitled A Radical New Interpretation of the Master’s Prophecies. For some reason, maybe it’s because of the recent change in the millennium, a lot of folks are suddenly re-interested in prophetic verse, oracles and seers of old and are now attempting to re-interpret things that had already been written up centuries earlier, dozens of times. This particular hardcover was picked up for me by my mother in law as a Christmas gift under the idea of “Nostradamus was strange, so is he,” and here it arrived nonchalantly and without much fanfare. Reading the book was a burdensome chore and for many reasons.

Ovason, of course being a self-proclaimed authority on the subject of the Savant of Salon, put this book together to challenge and change the deciphering of Nostradamus’ Propheties which have become so utilized today to predict the future that bogus versions of his quatrains were distributed worldwide via e-mail on the Internet just after the September 11th attacks to prove he had predicted this too(1), but those of us familiar with the seer’s actual work found this pretty boorish (if however well-written). Whenever the name of Michel or Michael Nostradame/Nostradamus is bandied about, the room fills with fear, horror, images of destruction. And why not? Much of his prophecies dealt with just that. After all, we’re a humanity of the morbid.

Let’s get to David Ovason however. In The Secrets of Nostradamus, Ovason explains how the beliefs, culture and languages of the seer’s time should be used to translate the man’s work. Indeed true. He also tells us how he is one of the few persons in the world who understands and utilizes Green Language techniques to interpret Michel Nostradamus’ work. This part is not true: so has Torne-Chavigny, Luciano Sampietro and many others. Ovason treats the prophecies like pieces of clay that can be molded into various interpretations – with only his being accurate and all the others inaccurate – by using anagrams, abbreviations, Green Language anastrophe techniques, ad continuum. While much of Nostradamus’ work was meant to be molded and smoothed out, Ovason goes to extremes in mincing and breaking things apart in order to reassemble them to meet his needs. Extremely sloppy interpretation leads to extremely sloppy reading and the end result is a boorish book with unconvincing possibilities and a bit of down-speaking attitude that only made it that more annoying to read.

One of the main points of Nostradamus’ Prophecies is the fact that they aren’t really meant to be interpreted prior to the events they discuss. And in more than one instance they can be interpreted accurately and convincingly into other possible meanings without much to do about it. Did Michel mean the river Hister or was this metathesis to mean Hitler? Was Michel using the sign Leo to better date a part of the prophecies using astrological cusps, or was he instead trying to point to NapoLEOn? So you see just how loosely things can be translated by Ovason to suit his purposes. I can just as easily interpret them using these numerous “occult blind” methods that David uses to show my forthcoming rise to power as emperor of the East Coast without much difficulty.

Additionally, I find it pedantic to go back and reinterpret and/or verify quatrains that have already been found by many to be easily shown to have come to pass. It’s a “why bother” situation – what’s the use? What do you learn from something you already knew happened? While it can be intellectually interesting to a point, not once did Ovason step from the past to the future to apply his Green Language discoveries to what may come to pass in the further chronology of the Nostradamus texts. After all, when and if these interpreted events don’t occur, how can he defend against that? It’s easier and safer to reinterpret things that you can apply directly to history because then it’s his word versus the other interpreters through the ages. The Secrets of Nostradamus really sheds no light or finds much new in any of the Savant of Salon’s work that would be interesting to most folks. People today are interested in the future, if possible, and not rehashed re-reads of the past. Rather than the current subtitled used, I’d like to suggest: A Radical New Interpretation of Shit We Already Know.

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“The Secrets of Nostradamus” by David Ovason
Copyright © 2001 by David Ovason
Originally published in the UK by Century, Random House UK Ltd.
Published by HarperCollins
ISBN: 0-06-019671-8

(1) I have just begun reading yet another Nostradamus related book I received in the mail specifically for the Off the Shelf column: Nostradamus: The Final Prophecies by Luciano Sampietro. In this, Luciano goes into the futuristic quatrains to show how Nostradamus did indeed predict the World Trade Center attack – but since I just started it, the jury is out on my criticism.

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