MANHATTAN (PIX11) — Predictions are just that: Predictions. But recently, social media has picked up on the well-known prophecies of French physician and astrologer Michel de Nostredame, better known as Nostradamus.

On TikTok, videos detailing what to expect for 2023, supposedly based on Nostradamus’ forecast, have caught the attention of hundreds of thousands of viewers — and many swear by it.

“I think it is incredible how there are so many accuracies over the years, and as much as I would love to think it is just a coincidence, it really doesn’t seem like it,” said Donald Kronenberg, of Long Island. “It is scary, but fascinating.” 

Who was Nostradamus?

Born in 1503 in France, Nostradamus became known for his knowledge and use of herbal remedies once used to contain viruses and plagues, all very common in the 1500s. At that time, folk culture was deeply intertwined with religion and other forms of creed, which ensured the extensive popularity of his practice.

But his prominence in today’s world has nothing to do with natural remedies and medicine. It is all tied to his book “Les Prophéties,” or “The Prophecies.” Published around 1555, the book is a collection of poems said to, as the name suggests, predict world events over the next two thousand years.

Engraving of Nostradamus
Engraving by Jean C. Pellerin of Nostradamus de Michel de Notre-Dame, (1503-1560). This French physician and astronomer is most famous for his prophecies which he wrote about in the book, “Centuries.” He is shown in magician’s garb, writing about astrology in a book in his laboratory. Undated illustration. (Getty)

The Prophecies

“Prophecies” is divided into ten sets of 100 quatrains, with each of the 4-line verses supposedly alluding to events expected for every year for the next 2,000 years. Followers have credited Nostradamus for predicting several world events throughout history, including the French Revolution in 1789, the development and use of nuclear weapons and atomic bombs, and even the Sept. 11 terror attacks. In Nostradamus’ words: 

Two steel birds will fall from the sky on the Metropolis 

The sky will burn at forty-five degrees latitude 

Fire approaches the great new city 

Immediately a huge, scattered flame leaps up 

Believers quickly connected the lines to 9/11, seeing the planes striking the World Trade Center serving as the “steel birds” and noting the position of New York City on the globe – around 45 degrees latitude. However, the vague verses leave a lot up to the imagination and personal interpretation of the lines.

“How would I know if he actually wrote that? I think it’s kind of a stretch to say he predicted 9/11,” said Walter McClean, of the Upper East Side. “His words could mean a lot of things. I think everyone will infer whatever they want.”  

The vagueness, paired with the lack of specific dates for each prediction, leaves a lot of room for believers to connect the dots following major events, providing fodder for viral posts and videos on the internet. In addition, because the original lines were written hundreds of years ago and in a different language, much could have been lost in translation and taken on new meaning thanks to social changes.

What did Nostradamus write about 2023?

Unfortunately, for those who believe the French author’s predictions, the picture for 2023 is grim. The original lines from his prophecy for this year, according to enthusiasts, are: 

From the celestial fire on the Royal edifice, 

When the light of Mars will go out, 

Seven months great war, people dead through evil 

Rouen, Evreux the King will not fail. 

World War III

Some have interpreted the line “Seven months great war, people dead through evil” as a possible reference to an escalation of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. For believers, Nostradamus could foresee a third world war that would last for seven months, which would undoubtedly result in massive casualties.

Mission to Mars fiasco

Although NASA only expects to reach the Red Planet by late 2030 or early 2040, other groups have already announced their plans to launch manned missions toward Earth’s neighbor. Back in 2013, Mars One, a Dutch company, publicly announced a mission to establish a permanent human colony on Mars. The company, however, never got around to doing so, filing for bankruptcy in 2019.  

In July 2022, California-based companies Relativity Space and Impulse Space announced they were teaming up to launch the first commercial mission to the Red Planet in 2024, many years before Elon Musk’s SpaceX was scheduled to launch the first spaceship of its Mars and Beyond mission. No matter who goes first, Nostradamus’s prediction for the trip seems to signal ill fortune – followers believe the prediction alludes to explosions, potentially caused by aircraft crashes.

Buckingham Palace Fire

Figuratively speaking, one could argue that the British royal family has already been under constant fire of late. From the tumultuous reception of Meghan Markle’s introduction to the family by marriage, to the death of long-reigning Queen Elizabeth II, to the explosive memoir penned by Prince Harry, the royals have faced their share of unwanted attention in recent years. If Nostradamus’ predictions are to be believed, more fire – this time, a celestial one – could be on the way. Enthusiasts have suggested that the prophecy suggests everything from a meteor falling on Buckingham Palace to a fire at the royal real estate.  

Residents of the French city of Rouen could also be on edge, considering the city is directly mentioned in Nostradamus’s quatrain. However, a possible meaning of the line “King will not fail” remains to be seen.

All predictions rely heavily on personal interpretation, but the theories surfacing online show no signs of slowing down. 

“I certainly hope he is off on those predictions,” said Kronenberg.