This story was originally posted on Nov 17, 2012 (see update below)
France on Friday dashed the hopes of those who had planned to take refuge in one of the few places on Earth some believe will be spared when the world ends on December 21.
Local officials banned access to the Pic de Bugarach, a mountain in the southwest where rumour has it the hilltop will open on the last day and aliens will emerge with spaceships to save nearby humans.
Eric Freysselinard, the state’s top representative in the area, said he was blocking access to the mountain for public safety reasons to avoid a rush of New Age fanatics, sightseers and media crews.
Believers say the world will end on December 21, 2012, the end date of the ancient Mayan calendar, and they see Bugarach as one of a few sacred mountains sheltered from the cataclysm.
This is a small town, a beautiful place so they say. For decades, it’s said to have New Age attributes.
Anything goes. The Pech is a secret base where UFOs come to refuel. Better, it would house an underground cavity where the records of a supernatural world wait to be discovered by “called”. Some people are looking for telluric waves beneficial, or engage in rituals that blends Tibetan Buddhism, Amerindian, Hinduism, Taoism, Celtic civilization, fantasies Cathars and the Templars secrets. Others seek the mysterious treasure of Saunière, the priest celebrates the neighboring village of Rennes-le-Château, while “insiders” claim that the overview of the mountain were prohibited because of its magnetism – a statement formally denied by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation – and that “everything will end up with better again elected to the new world.”
The “upside down mountain” has geological significance as well. But it’s the manufactured magical powers of the place that are causing trouble. No one seems to know how this idea spread that it’s the one “safe” place during the coming Apocalypse but the small town simply can’t handle the hype heaped on it.
UPDATE: (6-Dec-2012) The Telegraph has a piece:
To avoid a sudden, massive influx of esoteric outsiders, the mayor has banned gatherings of any sort, and anyone landing in a light aircraft will be arrested.
But some from among the end-of-the-world crowd claim the real reason authorities are shutting down the area is that they are really there to investigate dozens of recent UFO sightings.
Local police are also clamping down on those hoping to cash in on doomsday fever by selling end-of-the-world memorabilia at out of this world prices.
Local press reports say one landowner is offering to rent out his four-bedroom house on the slopes of Bugarach for 1500 euros a night next month, or an empty field for those wishing to camp at 400 euros.
Some of the locals and vendors are taking advantage of the tourists, it appears. One can’t help wondering what a mess this will all make come Dec 21 when faithful may storm the Pic de Bugarach.