1568 Lyon Benoist Rigaud

Les trois pellices de loing s’entrebatron,
La plus grand moindre demeurera a l’escoute:
Le grand Selin n’en seta plus patron,
Le nommera feu pelte blanche routte.

OF ‘pellices’ is the key to this quatrain. As it happens, this is a difficult word to trace. Old Occitan has ‘pel’ (pelt) for skin or hair and OF ‘pelletier’ is a furrier (a pelt-er). OF ‘pelisse’ is a ‘tunique de pelleterie’, a fur coat. OF ‘pelis’ was an odd piece of costumery; dry tufts of wool taken from a sheepskin and attached to a ‘chevalet’ or ‘petit cheval’. Other meanings include loose women and diggers, even spade-work. By metonym it might have become the root crops that were dug for. Some mature ‘three-leaf’ plants are toxic.

Line 1 OF ‘loing’ could be a short-form of the word ‘esloinges’ with its notion of distance and location, placement and alignment. Could these ‘trois pellices’ be Mercury Venus and Mars, making this line some kind of astrological time-marker? OF ‘entrebattre/s’entrebatron’ means to be in combat, one with the other or else with negative aspects inside oneself. (It can also mean to clack the teeth.).

Line 2, the least signicant or smallest makes the biggest impression. The jumbled letters of ‘Seder’ or ‘Marror’ and OF ‘mereur’, meaning affliction or sadness, may be found here (with others detailed further down the page).

Line 3, Selin no longer calls the shots at OF ‘seta’: another difficult noun. It is very likely not a misprint of ‘sera’ but a Latinate variation on ‘Seder’ (the Jewish Passover rite of eating bitter vegetables and herbs, not the OF verb ‘séder’, appease, calm) or else the sixth letter of the Greek alphabet, ‘zêta’. Further possible sources for ‘seta’ are
OF ‘sete’ = siège, cour = seat, court
OF ‘se taire’, silence others
OF ‘septain’, the number 7

Line 4, the French for horseradish is ‘raifort’ and this might just name the one that supercedes Selin, whoever or whatever that is in this context. Among other possibilities (including ‘céleri’ or celeriac) it could mean the Moon.

The Hebrew calendar was both lunar and solar. Loosely speaking, the Passover would start at the first Full Moon after the Spring Equinox. Actually, the Nisan Moon, as confirmed by the ripened barley harvest, determined the month in which Passover would be celebrated and periodically this was pushed from March into April by the extra month inserted for balance in that year.

The Hebrew word ‘nasa’ means lift up or take up or elevate (to leadership) and relates to how much we can bear. The Hebrew nasa lunar data  calendar with ‘Nisan 14’ for Passover and assuming ‘32 AD’ as the year of the Passion may indicate drift in our Easter calculations (http://endtimepilgrim.org/70wks5.htm) or, perhaps, in the year of the Passion.

Michel Nostredame may have touched on this in his Epistle to the King. He wrote “for a long time Mars will not be in Caresme”. (Lent will not be in March.)

The changeover to a 365/7 x 52 calendar by the pagan Romans threw out the lunar apects in favour of their Sun god (Sunday is his day of rest) replacing the periodic extra month with an extra day at Leap Year.

Horseradish, raifort, is fiery. It creates a sinal psycho-sensation. It’s a root vegetable with shield-shaped leaves and white flowers. (White mustard is also found in Southern France. The jumbled letters of ‘remoulade’, mustard sauce, are to be found in Line 2.)

The Passover Seder is meticulously prepared to retain its biting bitterness or fiery pungent effects. It is a ritual food like a mixed salad. It represents an ordeal of the Jews and is not intended to be a gastronomic pleasure. The jumbled letters of nouns like radis (radish) panais (parsnip) celeri (celery) abound in this quatrain and “pellices de loing s’entrebatron, La plus” contains the word  ‘brassicacée’ also. ‘Les trois’ brassicas might include less pleasant flavours (to some) from uncooked wild mustard greens, kale, collard greens, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, horseradish and Savoy cabbage. The quatrain letters also contain, perhaps, the name of a Provençal dish called ‘garburo’. (Only perhaps, as this is a cabbage soup sweetened today with bacon pieces and we cannot tell what was allowed by Nostredame’s family or Jews in those days.) Michel could well have attended Passover observances. He would have been interested in these food plants as they all have medical uses and may be grown in well-dug small gardens.

Nostredame’s Cambridge-educated contemporary, William Turner, wrote books on the pharmacology of foods and wines much like Michel’s own treatise on confeitures.  The late Sixteenth Century had Gerard writing of horseradish as ‘raphanus rusticus’, all the letters of which can also be found jumbled up inside this quatrain. Coincidence?

The age-old three ‘pellices’ bite us back/struggle within us,
The greatest will remain less than its satellite:
The great Selin is no longer the chief at ‘seta’,
Call him ‘raifort’. (the fiery and hirsute white rooted row crop)

Quite possibly this is about Seder/seta and ‘pellices’ is a local term, perhaps some customary and disparaging epithet for the unpleasant ingredients of the bitter and pungent salad-bowl mix. The second couplet may be playing a game with us about the names ‘Selin’ and ‘raifort’. In many other Nostradamus Quatrains, Selin appears to be a social figure of great effect and renown in the World.

With his usual complexity, Nostredame may have interwoven three themes; the Celestial Science star formation, the Passover’s ritual dish and a clue to the name of whoever takes the baton from Selin.

                                           Nigel Raymond Offord © 2012