Will This Mysterious French Town Survive the End of the World?

Feb 1st 2011 – 1:00PM
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Dana Kennedy

An increasing number of people who follow esoteric teachings believe a small, picturesque village in southwest France has special powers and is the place to wait out the global apocalypse they warn is coming in 2012.

Among the many myths surrounding rural Bugarach, population 189, are claims that the so-called lost civilizations of Lemuria and Atlantis originated here. UFOs also allegedly swirl overhead, and the local mountain may in fact be a gateway to alien beings who like to sail their spaceships on a huge interior mountain lake.

"It's the town that will resist the end of the world," read a headline in La Dépêche recently, echoing "pilgrims" in Bugarach who believe that helpful extraterrestrials are waiting inside the mountain to whisk them away when the Mayan calendar ends on Dec. 21, 2012.

The mayor of Bugarach, Jean-Pierre Delord, poses on December 14, 2010 in front of a road sign, marking the entrance of the village of 200 under the 1,231 meter high peak of Bugarah, the culminating point of the Corbieres range in southwestern France. Some doomsday theories designate Bugarach peak as a sacred mountain that would be spared on December 21, 2012, when the Maya's Long Count calendar marks the end of a 5,126-year era -- a date some say marks the end of the world. Villagers in Bugarach fear an onslaught of visitors, trying to escape apocalypse.  (Pascal Pavani, AFP/Getty Images)
Pascal Pavani, AFP/Getty Images
Mayor Jean-Pierre Delord stands in front of a sign marking the entrance to Bugarach, a village of less than 200 under the mountain Pic de Bugarach, which is drawing visitors who believe alien civilizations exist underneath it.
But the locals of Bugarach, which is rapidly becoming the French equivalent of Arizona's New Age mecca, Sedona, are having none of it. They call the unwelcome influx of hippie-like outsiders since 2001, at least one of whom conducted a ritual while nude on the mountain, "l'invasion des ésotéristes."

Mayor Jean-Pierre Delord, who declined to comment to AOL News today, has threatened to call in the military if the growing numbers of visitors who believe that alien civilizations exist underneath the local mountain swell in size.

"This is no laughing matter," Delord told Britain's The Daily Telegraph. "If tomorrow 10,000 people turn up, as a village of 200 people we will not be able to cope. I have informed the regional authorities of our concerns and want the army to be at hand if necessary come December 2012."

That mountain, Pic de Bugarach, is at close to 4,000 feet the highest in the Corbières wine-growing area and ground zero for the mayor's troubles. It's said to be sacred by the outsiders who flock here and who call it the "Magic Mountain" or "Mystical Mountain." They call the upside-down like top of the mountain the "brooding cone."

"The apocalypse we believe in is the end of a certain world and the beginning of another, a new spiritual world," a man identified only as Jean, who lives in a yurt in a Bugarach forest, was quoted today in The New York Times.

"The year 2012 is the end of a cycle of suffering. [Bugarach is] one of the major chakras of the Earth, a place devoted to welcome the energies of tomorrow."

Bugarach and its mountain were said to inspire the science fiction writer Jules Verne's "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and Steven Spielberg's film "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

The plethora of rumors about the area also includes talk straight from "Indiana Jones" and "The Da Vinci Code" that politicians, Nazis and even the Israeli spy agency Mossad dug for mysterious information here.

It probably doesn't help that Bugarach is near the town of Rennes-le-Château, which has become the epicenter of conspiracy theories involving secret societies, buried treasures and the Holy Grail since the publication of a book called "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" in 1982.

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"Everything including the body of Christ is supposed to be buried in Bugarach," Tim Wallace-Murphy, an expert in esoteric teachings and the author of "Hidden Wisdom: The Secrets of the Western Esoteric Tradition," told AOL News today.

"True, it's a spiritually powerful place. It may have been used for worship. But whenever I hear aliens and Atlantis, my alarm bells go off. That's for a far-out fringe."

Valerie Austin, who left Newcastle, England, to retire in Bugarach 22 years ago, told the Telegraph that the New Age seekers were ruining a tranquil paradise.

"You can't go for a peaceful walk anymore," Austin said. "It's a beautiful area, but now you find people chanting, lying around meditating. Everybody has the right to their own beliefs, but the place no longer feels like ours."
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