The shadow of Michel de Nostredame flickered on the wall. Candle traced shadow of writing man, penning thoughts late at night whilst the outside world sleeps on. A shadow far more mobile than its author, marking out the passing time.
Michel ceased writing, rose from his chair, stretched his stiff back and moved across the small sparse room to sit on the ledge of the one large window. The shutters were open and the cool night refreshed him after his letter writing. There was no glass in the window but this did not disturb him. Very few Italian houses had glass windows, unlike Switzerland where he had recently been. There they had more glass windows than in France; even the poor had panes installed. "Undoubtedly the climate explains the difference" Michel mused to himself.
Jean Poinceau Poinceaux Mill Agen, France
Thank you for your letter. It has taken some eight months to reach me for I move around so much and it has had to chase me through six towns. It finally caught up with me in Italy at Milan.
Yes, I am still treating the sick and injured but more on a relief basis when the local physician is ill or absent. This allows me to pursue the quest that I have mentioned to you in the past, to find a means to bring back those I have lost, to beat fates blow dealt by this cursed plague.
It is eight years since the last major onset. This long period combined with its less regular recurrence over the last fifty years leads me to believe, as many now do, that the plague epidemic of the last two centuries has run the worst of its course. What tragic irony is there in that? That dear Aralyn and my new-born son should die by plague after the worst of the disease is over. Double irony when I look back on my success with many other victims and yet I could not save my own loved ones. Such a tragedy for them and me. Two sons and a wife all dead within two years. I cannot really blame the people of Agen for losing faith in me for it has taken me this last six years to recover. This makes me even more grateful for your constancy.
I am pleased to hear Scaliger has another son. Perhaps this one will be the bright young mind he has looked for! He still has not forgiven me for my wretched behaviour towards him. Grief makes one do strange things but even that does not remove my sense of guilt of betrayal of both him and Aralyn. This may partly explain my obsession with finding a means to reuniting with my most wretched, bewitching muse.
As always I continue to seek out material you have requested. Recently I met a very interesting man in Milan, the famous Girolamo Cardano. He is a physician like me but he deals with the noble families and is physician to the Augustine Friars. The rest of his time is taken up by his University duties. He is very keen on mathematics and astronomy and I am enclosing one of his algebra papers that is rapidly becoming widely known. Its called Practica Arithmetice which he first published three years ago. You may have already heard of it.
Cardano is a heavy long-term gambler but through it he knows some most unusual people. These contacts and his own strong knowledge of occult matters has proven most helpful in my search. I feel I am now very close to an answer and with luck I will soon be able to return home to France. I need to get just one more set of ancient papers that I found in a monastery near here. The Friars are reluctant to sell it to me even though they do not know its worth. There is however a bout of typhoid fever in the region and they are in need of my services.
Jean, you would be totally fascinated by Cardano. Like many in Italy he is very interested in codes. There are some really great advances going on here and he introduced me to many of its leading practitioners. One of the most fascinating codes is one that relies on using a key that only the true decoder knows. He then uses that key to tell him the order in which to use different sets of agreed letter transformations. The result is a code that is unbreakable. You can set the key in a book and then send it separately to the decoder. When you later send a coded message he then decodes it by looking up each letter in one of many tables in the order that his key tells him. It really is ingenious.
I am glad to hear that Michelle is working with you on your mathematics projects and wish you well in their publication. The books I am sending may assist you but I really cant help you with finding a publisher. There is a great resistance in France to the publication of works by unlettered authors. England may give a better opportunity for they are more open, especially in regard to the sciences.
I look forward to an early meeting with you and Michelle when we can discuss these and the many marvellous things I have seen on my travels.
With gratitude for your letter,
Michel de Nostredame.
The moon shone in full brightness over the distant mountains and cast an eerie glistening line across the citys rooftops. Michel needed this time of contemplation to gather his thoughts for the task ahead. Last night he knew was something special but a lot of it seemed lost. He had gone too far, too deep and now the dream was gone. "It is still there. It must be there, deep within my mind.. I can get it back, Im sure, but how?"
"Depuis donne! Depuis donne! Effet depuis donne!"
"Fixed ever since! Fixed ever since! Fixed effects ever since!"
These words had kept ringing in his ears since he first heard them the night before. A rhythmic chant that came from deep within and after which the dream went on but at such a depth that it seemed lost. His last recall was of intense visions unrelated to past experience that brought howling men and seas, waves pounding in his mind compelling him downwards, deeper down. A droning, drowning voice repeating sounds, sounds of depuis donne.
"So what is fixed? What does it affect? And from when?" now haunted the thoughts of Michel de Nostredame.
He knew he could rely on the strength of his memory to aid him if it was at all possible to bring back this dream. His innate ability to recall facts had seen him excel at learning and cope with rigorous examinations for both his degree and his doctorate. This capacity he still used for only recently he had become a quite capable speaker of Milanese Italian.
So as he sits contemplating the deep dark of the nightly sky his thoughts dwelt on mnemonics and the art of recall. Emotion was important, this he knew, for often he had traced a lost thread by dwelling on the ease or its opposite feeling that lingers when the thought is lost. Each thought left him feeling good, bad, excited, agitated or sexually aroused and this links to past memories that bring the lost thread flooding back.
"So how do I use emotion to pluck back the threads of my dream? How do I fix it in my mind and give it the detail that once was there?"
His thoughts rushed along many channels but from them he picked a single course. "First, I must set out that which I do recall. I must start the emotional trail once more and let it push bit by bit into the realm of mist and darkness in my mind. And I need these steps recorded. I did get there last night and it is important that I set it down so I can repeat it again and again. If I dont it will vary with time and when the art is lost I will never know which change caused it to fail. I need to be able to come back to this time and with accuracy retrace my steps. So it has a dual purpose as do so many things. If I set it out in writing maybe I can gain what is lost, but I can also use it later on.
"If I write down my experience there is little doubt as to the medium I should use. It must be poetry. I must use the strengths of oral science. Sounds that aid recall are necessary particularly since I cannot write it in such a clear manner that it could be used against me. Rhythm and chant, song and dance, to help me find my king and queen.
"So what will I write? Surely I need my setting but I also need the exact chants and their source. I need my reasons and I need to set out those things I saw and did remember.
Michel de Nostredame was now resolved and certain of the task that would engulf him for the next few hours. He rose from the ledge and moved back to his table, taking up a quill and a fresh sheet of parchment. The first device flowed easily from his mind..
.Nostradamus Centuries I, Quatrain 1.
"There is no doubt that I must mention the long hours I have spent and I must include the entrancing flicker that seems to lull my mind. These are the source of last nights dream and what I saw
was very strange, beyond things within my life, yet somehow they seemed to have reality. It is right I should record this feeling for it should help recall.
"But what next? How do I incorporate the ritual without it being used against me. I cant afford it to be known that my chants are based on runes.
His mind drifted from his task to the library of Scaliger where he had first uncovered these mystic runic formulas. Here with Aralyn he had spent many hours and it was her that brought him the runes, enquiring with a zestful interest as to what they were. Together they had read their meaning and learnt the songs to which they belonged. It was from these sources in Scaliger s library that Michel de Nostredame had built his mantra, a mantra meant to rescue Aralyn.
In his mind he repeated his mantra while dwelling on its meaning.
"Mannaz! Ansuz! Isaz! Algiz!
Break the links of destiny by bridging human minds.
"Mannaz: the speech rune of relations between humans. Mannaz I chose because of the words of the High One in the Eddic sagas:
|The torch lights another torch,|
|The flame feeds the flame,|
|Man knows man by speech,|
|The idiot does not know how to be recognized.|
"Mannaz: the appropriate rune where a candle inspires a linking of the mind for one who wishes to speak with the dead. The candle reference of the verse I have just written will lead into this theme. It also hints of facts and belief related to the human mind. I need no more devices to recall this rune for it is here in the lines I have just penned. However into the verse containing the chant I should use the image of the voice. This will link them giving strength to later efforts of recall.
"Each rune chosen for its meaning which I hide inside mnemonic verse. One already described and the others must now follow similar lines. I need a verse that hints at each runes song and builds them in its rhyme.
"Ansuz: another rune of Speech but one that demands the threads of fate be undone. Ansuz, the rune that breaks links according to the words of the High One who says.
|Groa uses Ansuz's power to unbind the fetters:|
|Here is what I sing for you in the fifth place,|
|If they put chains on you|
|Around your ankles.|
|To your joints|
|I shall tell a magic freedom|
|That will make the bonds of your legs jump.|
"So the reference point of the verse that hides my chant shall be the feet.
"The third rune is Isaz, the rune of the bridge, the bridge I need to link the present time with that of the past. This rune of Isaz is important for all those who seek a means by which to bridge two distant times. And Isaz is a rune of Undertow, Waves and the Sea and this I must also build within the verse. But it is more than an allusion, for the invocation of this rune seemed to wet my feet. An invocation that by its disturbance recalled some deeper inner-mind experience.
"Lastly Algiz! Algiz, the rune I chose because of its import to my quest. As the Eddic sagas say:
|You must know the runes of Branches|
|If you want to be a doctor|
|Who knows how to probe wounds;|
|On bark you must engrave them|
|On the twigs of a tree|
|The large branches of which stretch toward the East.|
"Algiz is my natural rune for I am a physician and Algiz is the rune to heal my wounded mind when correctly inscribed on a wooden rod. So by the use of terms like branches and engraved rod I can build reference to this rune. Branches is powerful because it links the limbs, the limbs of trees, the limbs of man, rod and feet become united.
Mannaz! Ansuz! Isaz! Algiz!
Break the links of destiny by bridging human minds.
A shiver trembled through Michels body; a shiver of remembrance, a shiver of anticipation, as he sensed the closeness of his goal. The same feeling as last night when he placed the runic rod held in his hand upon the bowl and felt for the first time the experience of transition, the linking in the mind, that brings past and future into present vision.
Once more he repeated the chant and then felt inspired to write:
|La verge en main mise au milieu de BRANCHES||The rod in the hand is placed in the middle of the limbs.|
|De londe il moulle & le limbe & le pied||Of the wave he is wet on his legs and feet.|
|Vn peur & voix fremissent par les manches||A fear rising in him and trembling voice from the sleeves,|
|Splendeur diuine. Le diuin pres sassies||Divine splendour. The god sits nearby.|
Nostradamus Centuries I, Quatrain 2.
"And the sounds of the runes are in the verse. "Manches gives "Mannez, Ansuz, concealed in Main mise au, Isaz in sassies and Algiz in La verge.
"But what happened before the god came? I need to describe the process. My chant with its carefully chosen date had its impact even before the appearance of the god.
He swiftly penned:
|Corps sublimes sans fin a loeil visibles||The hidden bodies endlessly visible to the eye|
|Obnubiler viendront par ces raisons||The obsessed will find it comes by their own reasons|
|Corps, front comprins, sens chief et inuisibles||The
body and the conscious mind,
the main senses for which awareness ceases
|Diminuant les sacrees oraisons||As the sacred prayers diminish|
Nostradamus Centuries-IV, Quatrain-25.
"This needs more detail of the time mechanism I placed in the chant if my dream is to be accurately remembered for I will undoubtedly use many other dates from this time forth. I need a verse to hold the detail, a verse that spells out the passage of time since I first tried to influence Aralyns astronomically determined fate. And I need to make it clear that it is a code
Michel once more committed to paper the words that he needed but this time created two verses.
|Le diuin verbe donrra a la substance||The divine word will give substance to|
|Caprins ciel terre, or occult au laict mystique||[Capricorns
point in] earths sky,
occult gold to the mystical calculation
|Corps, ame, esprit ayant toute puissance||The body, soul and spirit will all be stronger|
|Tant soubz les pieds comme au siege Celique.||So
much has passed beneath the feet
since he went to the Celestial seat.
Nostradamus Centuries III, Quatrain 2.
|[caprins roc=Capricorns; cap=point]|
|Le diuin verbe sera du ciel frappe,||The divine word used for the heavens will be carved.|
|Qui ne pourra proceder plus auant :||And he will not let it proceed any further,|
|Du reserant le secret estoupe,||It will be a secret locked within these revelations|
|Quon marchera par dessus et deuant||So that people will walk both above and under it.|
Nostradamus Centuries II, Quatrain 27.
"The god came when I used this process. I saw it and felt its presence but what was the feeling that I felt beyond that time. Was it a vortex, a vortex in the mind spiralling downwards in glistening tubes? A vortex, that was surely it, taking me down into a world of crystal, a palace of the windswept tree.
"And the god was it a duality, two spirits bound as one? It had a strong feminine presence as well as masculine, Sophia entwined with Hermes. I need these feelings in my verse for this male female mixture was crucial to my emotions.
|La Lune au plain de nuict sur le haut mont,||The Moon in the fullness of night is over the high mountain.|
|Le nouueau sophe dun seul cerveau la veu:||The new Sophia, as seen by a single brain.|
|Par ses disciples estre immortel semond,||By her disciples seen to be the reprimanded view of god ,|
|Yeux au midy, en seins, mains, corps au feu||Eyes to the South, hand to the breast, body to the fire.|
|Nostradamus Centuries IV, Quatrain 23.|
Michel paused. He knew that he had been changed by the experience of the previous night and here, in these verses, he had the core he needed to remember how it happened, so that he could repeat it when required. He also hoped that he could now trace back into the recent past and recall detail not meant for conscious minds.
Michel had walked much of Europe to achieve this quest. And he knew that some of what he saw was a result of this search. The constant reading of gods and hidden secrets had to create an impact on his mind. The observer cannot remain impartial and any quest impresses change upon those who pursue it.
He also knew the God that was worshipped in his time was a diminished god, stripped of much of its softer qualities and of far harsher tones than that revealed within his vision. He sensed it, felt it as a physical force, the emotions linked to the vision before his senses locked him out. The spirit of the previous evening was a less masculine god of softer values, merciful and forgiving, an earthy god linked to nature, a Venus moonlike God.
"Sophia." He softly breathed "This is Sophia, that part of God disapproved, reprimanded, removed by the masculine mind-set that had evolved in the recent centuries of social tumult. Sophia the goddess of wisdom, the feminine half of which Hermes is the remainder. Sophia and Hermes! Venus and Mercury;God and Goddess of wisdom.
And with this vision Michel de Nostredame felt changed , changed from his past, chained to the future, channeled from Nostredame, physician to the prophet Nostradamus.
His musing continued, a sequence of ideas drawn out by the threads he had initiated and at each step a glow, a feeling of emotion as each thought left its trail of satisfaction. "The church is not solely responsible for Venus demise. For pressure also comes from men of science and commerce."
Nostradamus was aware of the sophic quality of his vision and through the duality saw the images beyond. "She, the feminine god, seated facing south, her hands to her breast, the goddess burnt as witch. She and he, Sophia and Hermes, the godlike duality sat in communion with me. That is what I felt, their presence inspiring awe and fear but holding vast treasures of the mind"
And he knew immediately why these images appeared in this form. Much of his reading had been into the Hermes legend based on an ancient Egyptian philosopher king. Michel had always been vitally interested in this author of supposedly twenty thousand books in which he revealed to mankind ideas of medicine, chemistry, law, art, astrology, music, rhetoric, magic, philosophy, geography, mathematics, anatomy and oratory.
Once more he was filled with pleasure as the memory flowed through his mind, stirred by his writings and this mental trail. His feelings drew him back over the patterns of the last few years. This appears to help for that mist drawn over the previous night seems about to yield its secrets.
"And additionally it was Hermes who wrote "The Book of Thoth", which contained the processes by which the regeneration of mankind was to be accomplished. The process of regeneration, that is the basis of my quest and why I seek the works of Hermes.
Although he had found nothing definite about the contents of this book Nostradamus was aware that its pages were supposedly covered with strange pictorial writing, which gave to those acquainted with their use unlimited powers over the spirits of the air and the subterranean divinities. He also knew that when certain areas of the brain are stimulated by the secret power of Hermes Mysteries the consciousness of man is extended and the practitioner is permitted to behold the Immortals and enter into the presence of the superior gods.
This ancient legend had led Nostradamus on his search and in the Norse legends and runes he had found striking similarities. It was as though the runes were part of Hermes forgotten legacy.
These thoughts of runes and Hermes were definitely linked with what went on the night before. He could sense their association and feel their union drawing him deeper into the veil that clung beyond the god like image. "I have a destiny linked to these runes and I sense their call. This must be included in my records as the time that I became aware of it even if the detail is still unclear. I need to build in the Norse words in a way that is not easily seen. The fates and the Norse runic alphabet, the futhorc or futharc I can use as triggers for my goal." He thought some more then wrote:
|Dvn nom farouche tel profere sera,||Using a futhorc to utter the name.|
|Que les trois seurs auront fato le nom||That the three sisters of fate will get from destiny.|
|Puis grand peuple par langue et faict dira||Then by this great peoples language tell the real story.|
|Plus que nul autre aura bruit et renom||No other will have the same renown and clamour.|
Nostradamus Centuries I, Quatrain 76.
The impression of this god-like figure is the last clear memory Nostradamus had retained from the night before because, in holding the vision in his mind, all normal channels closed down.
"I went to a deeper level, hovering close to the unconscious precipice and maybe even further.
"In order for me to remember other details of this communion with these beings I therefore need these mnemonic trails, these emotional links stirred by words. I need ancient techniques of recall rather than direct memory."
He had seen a duality and placed upon it ancient names to fit its emotional aura but in reality he knew that the images were not Hermes and Sophia. Even though their initial presence had called these gods to mind the actual emotional aura of these spirits drew them back to him..
"This god of mine, this dual god is a union of two lesser beings. Two people whose personal lives are in some way linked to mine. Perhaps she is Aralyn but who is he and what has he to do with her?"
Nostradamus felt the yearning ache left by his vision. Lovers tied in duality for harmonically they are one. Their differences create this yearning tension that their unity resolves. And from them, in them was his quest, the response itself an entwined meaning. He became more certain she held the essence of Aralyn, and the other half, the masculine half, the hidden secret of her fate.
And Nostradamus felt other things, emotional things, brought out by his aroused senses. From her there was a movement away, a locking out of him. Aralyn dead, aloof from Nostradamus. And from the male side of the equation a contact strong in purpose. A common goal, united need, to save, to be eternally united with this ill-fated female half.
Nostradamus now knew more. Emotion triggered recall. He felt an ongoing memory left by that presence in his mind. Vestiges of thought and facts left buried in this 16th century brain. He sensed the language and the man, felt a bond that would not break; their sublime minds he knew were joined. He whispered "I and this strange fellow are locked in a most unearthly course, a spiritual conspiracy"
There was no clear recollection of the detail and Nostradamus hoped that repeated visitations would bring clarity to the plan. At this stage all he felt was a comfortable sense of an ally working to the same end. An ally that sought to circumvent the same tragedy he had induced on Aralyn.
During the time he had been visited Nostradamus knew he had pressed his own case. It had not all been one way. His mind followed their emotional trail but they, in turn, used his. There were strong emotional associations whenever he brought the visitor and his aims together. This strength of satisfaction was the basis on which he relied to recall their meeting.
Nostradamus did not dwell on one part of his life for it gave him no pleasure but it lay at the heart of his quest and he could feel their awareness of it. They drew it from him against his will and it lay harsh amongst his other thoughts. "I propelled the dying Carolin into the future. A future where she would once more be with me. Born again to live with me. Slightly altered but essentially the same. I used formulae given to me by Scaliger but my clumsy, sacrilegious attempts failed. "
He knew long ago that he had failed for she did not reappear. Its failure was a source of guilt for this besotted man. Driven by guilt Nostradamus had come to believe Aralyn was now in some other time outside his control and destined for an undeserved fate.
Guilt had driven him on this quest and would not end until he felt he had undone the harm he had caused. Only by rescuing Aralyn from wherever she was and placing her in a better time, a chosen time and not one of chance, would he be absolved. The vision that he had encountered was in empathy with his cause. It knew his feelings and carefully unravelled his deeply hidden hurt. This he knew and it pleased him.