Dark Realms - Issue 10
For as long as man has been on this earth, he has wanted to know what lies in his future. And for as long as man has lived, there have been those who claim to know that future. The art of prophecy has a long and colorful history, full of charismatic charlatans and compelling doomsayers. Nearly all of the world’s so-called prophets have claimed to have received their fortune-telling powers from divine sources, but if this is indeed true, then the gods must be lovers of riddles and obfuscation. Most of the world’s famous prophecies are cloaked in arcane imagery with a multitude of meanings, and they confound us to this very day.
THE ANCIENT PROPHETS
There are numerous examples of prophecy in the ancient world. Foremost among these examples is the Greek oracle at Delphi. High upon the slopes of Mount Parnassus, Delphi was reputed to be the center of the world and the site where the gods could answer all earthly questions. The female oracle or priestess of Delphi was called the Pythia, an homage to a Greek legend in which Apollo slaughtered the terrible dragon Python who guarded a cave near Delphi. The fumes from the rotting dragon supposedly bestowed supernatural, hallucinatory powers upon the priestesses of Delphi. However, those who sought divine guidance from the Delphic oracle were usually given enigmatic riddles rather than direct answers. For instance, when King Croesus asked the oracle what he would be doing in 100 days’ time, the oracle replied, "I know the number of the sands and the measure of the sea. I understand the dumb and hear him who does not speak. The savor of the hard-shelled tortoise boiled in brass with the •esh of lamb strikes on my senses." The oracle at Delphi would be a nightmarish witness to cross-examine in a trial, where yes and no answers are prized.
If the prophecies of the Delphic oracle were maddeningly obscure, the prophecies of Joseph in the Book of Genesis were models of surprising clarity. Actually, Joseph was not truly a prophet. Rather, this slave of the Egyptian pharaoh was an interpreter of dreams. When the pharaoh dreamt of seven fat cows being devoured by seven lean and hungry cows, Joseph interpreted this to mean Egypt would experience seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. For this and for his advice on how to store food to combat the famine, Joseph was promoted to Overseer to the Kingdom.
The Bible abounds with other prophets, such as Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Daniel, but perhaps none is as enigmatic and controversial as John of Patmos, the author of the Book of Revelation. The apocalyptic imagery of Revelation is familiar to us all, from the number 666 to the great seven-headed dragon to the two diabolic beasts rising from the earth and sea during earth’s final days. Almost everyone agrees that the horrific images in Revelation are symbols and metaphors, and it has become a popular pastime for armchair doomsayers to interpret Revelation in terms of modern world events. But if Revelation is truly a divinely inspired forewarning of things to come, why would the divine source choose to cloak the warning in puzzling, impenetrable symbols? What is the purpose of seeing into the future if what you’re seeing is incomprehensible? The answer, like the ultimate meaning of Revelation, is far beyond our current intellectual grasp.
Perhaps the most famous—and most cryptic—prophet in history is Michel de Nostredame, also known as Nostradamus. Born in 1503 in Provence, Nostradamus became a doctor like his grandfathers and made a reputation for himself as a progressive physician. He was one of the rare doctors of his time who practiced good hygiene and he took a dim view of the popular but deadly practice of bleeding. His unconventional medical practices, combined with his Jewish heritage, led some to believe he practiced witchcraft. He caught the attention of the Inquisition, but Nostradamus eluded arrest and found a safe haven in Paris in the court of Queen Catherine de Medici. The Queen was intrigued by the doctor’s reputation—not as a healer but as a man who could see the future.
Along with medicine, Nostradamus had a talent for prediction that gave everyone pause. In one account, Nostradamus once came upon a swineherd named Felice Perretti in Italy and addressed him with much reverence as ’Your Holiness.’ In 1585, long after Nostradamus’ death, Perretti became Pope Sixtus V.
But Nostradamus’ reputation for prophecy comes primarily from his ten books of prophecy known as The Centuries, in which the fate of the world is told in nearly 1000 beguiling four-line verses called quatrains. If one is looking for a straightforward, comprehensible glimpse into the future, one cannot •nd it in The Centuries. Nostradamus purposely cloaked his prophetic visions in puns, anagrams and other codes in order to keep from offending the Church or other political authorities. A pope or king might be annoyed to read about his future fall from grace, annoyed to the point of silencing the messenger. Hence, Nostradamus’ quatrains became bewildering riddles hiding insights into the events of the near and distant future.
It is a popular belief that Nostradamus foretold the coming of Adolf Hitler and the carnage of World War II. In Century 2:24, Nostradamus writes:
"Beasts ferocious from hunger
will swim across rivers.
The greater part of the forces
will be against Hister.
The great one will cause him
to be dragged in an iron cage.
When the German child
will observe nothing."
Is ’Hister’ a subtly and intentionally altered version of ’Hitler?’ Or does it refer to the Danube River, which was known as the Hister prior to World War II? Does it somehow refer to both? We will never truly know. Studying the verses can be an enormously frustrating chore, akin to trying to discern images in a Rorschach inkblot.
History is full of lesser known prophets and seers whose predictions were, ironically, more comprehensible than the convoluted writings of Nostradamus. One such prophet was St. Malachy, also known as Malachy O’Morgair, a 12th century healer noted for his miraculous cures and for an odd list of words and phrases he set down on parchment in 1139. This list is a chronological compilation of descriptions of 112 popes, from Celestine II up to—and beyond—our current Pope John Paul II. According to the list, there are only two popes remaining after John Paul II. The final pope, whom Malachy believed would be called Peter of Rome, will preside over a collapsing Church during the •nal tribulation of the world.
Lest you think this is all apocalyptic nonsense, consider the fact that all of Malachy’s papal predictions have borne fruit so far. For example, Malachy predicted the reign of a pope whom he described as ’Light in Heaven.’ This entry on the list corresponds chronologically to Pope Leo XII, whose coat of arms bore the image of a comet. John Paul II was denoted with the phrase ’Labor of the Sun,’ which eerily corresponds to John Paul’s native Krakow, Poland, the city in which Copernicus introduced his theory that the earth revolves around the sun.
The modern era has had its share of prophets as well, most notably Edgar Cayce. Nicknamed ’the Sleeping Prophet,’ Cayce was born in Kentucky in 1877 and lived a seemingly normal life as a travelling salesman. But while being hypnotized by an itinerant showman named Al Layne, Cayce exhibited a peculiar ability to offer intricate and accurate medical diagnoses of his and other people’s ailments. This was not all. While in a trance-like state, Cayce offered predictions of the future and detailed glimpses into his and others’ past lives. Cayce became convinced that he had been ’Prince of Atlantis’ 10,000 years ago, and his predictions of the future included the Wall Street crash of 1929, the assassination of John Kennedy and a massive earthquake that would send California into the Paci•c Ocean in the early 21st century. Cayce also predicted that a ’Hall of Records’ of the lost continent of Atlantis would be found in a chamber underneath the left paw of the Sphinx in the late 1990s. In 1997, archaeologists discovered such a chamber, but as of 2003 the chamber has not been opened.
THE BIBLE CODE
Prophecy is still very much alive even today. One intriguing method of divining the future incorporates modern computer technology with the ancient text of the Torah, the •rst •ve books of the Bible.
In the 1980s, a team of Israeli mathematicians discovered encoded messages within the Torah naming famous Jewish sages who lived long after the Torah was written. These messages were hidden via a ’skip-code’ in which, for example, every •fth or tenth or hundredth letter would spell out a name or some other bit of information. Using computerized search programs, the mathematicians found other, more startling messages. Some of these messages related to events such as the moon landing and World War II. Were these messages simply meaningless, coincidental anomalies, much like clouds that twist and contort themselves into shapes reminiscent of people and things? If so, it made sense that they would •nd similar kinds of encodings in other texts. But when examining other, non-Biblical strings of text similar in length, the mathematicians did not •nd anywhere near the number or quality of encodings that they had found in the Torah. It was determined that there was only a one in 62,000 chance that the encoded messages were a purely random occurrence.
According to tradition, the •rst •ve books of the Bible were dictated to Moses letter by letter on Mount Sinai by God Himself, and ever since that day, Jewish scribes are instructed by their rabbis to never add or delete any letters or words when transcribing the Torah in its original Hebrew. Perhaps this is because the hidden information within the Torah will eventually degrade and vanish altogether if enough changes are made to the matrix of the text. It is also part of the Judeo-Christian tradition that there exists a mystical Book of Life containing the names and histories of everyone who has ever lived. Perhaps the hidden messages in the Bible constitute this Book of Life. The author of this article has uncovered his own name in the text using a commercially available Bible code software program. Is the occurrence coincidental... or intentional?
Michael Drosnin, author of The Bible Code and The Bible Code II, has discovered messages—after the fact, unfortunately—concerning September 11th and other global tragedies. He has also found encodings that indicate that New York may be hit by another terrorist attack in 2004, followed by a global atomic war in 2006. Only time will tell if these prophecies are authentic messages from God or merely random clouds in the sky.