In case you haven't heard, we're nearly T-minus two days from the apocalypse on December 21. While I personally prefer the interpretation that the coming end of a cycle in the Maya calendar signals a global spiritual transformation (if I have to prefer anything at all -- hello Y2K), it seems like a lot of people are preparing for an actual Armageddon. I, on the other hand, have been making Christmas ornaments. :)
I haven't paid much attention to the whole thing, but my eye was caught by an article in the Daily Mail last week -- apparently one-way flights to Sirince, Turkey, have recently seen an increase of 30 percent because Armageddon theorists believe it's one of the few places on earth that might be safe on December 21. The Turkish press has reported that even Tom Cruise plans to be there. Why Sirince, you ask? Some people believe that it's where the Virgin Mary ascended into heaven.
In The National, a local explained Sirince's appeal for doomsday believers. "He said the town had been known as a 'place with a special energy' among new-age groups since the 1980s, because some believed it to be the birthplace of Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt and the forest, and the place where, in Christianity, that Mary, the mother of Jesus, ascended to heaven."
I haven't been to Sirince -- it's a teeny farming village, though reputed by Lonely Planet to be quite charming -- but that general area is quite interesting. When I went backpacking around Turkey in 2010, I stayed in the nearby town of Selcuk, home to Turkey's most famous classical ruins, Ephesus. Selcuk is also a fairly small town, but in addition to Ephesus, it also boasts one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis, and the Basilica of St. John, thought to be the site of the tomb of St. John. (It's believed that St. John brought Mary to Ephesus after Jesus' death; Mary's House, where the Virgin was said to have spent the rest of her life, is just outside Selcuk, up the side of a mountain.) For such a small, seemingly random area, it's got quite a lot going for it.
The other town mentioned in the Daily Mail article is Bugarach, France -- "...some believe that aliens will emerge from their 'spaceship garage' in the town's Pic de Bugarach mountain and take people to safety."
Okay, so let me see if I get this straight...in order to be safe from the Maya-predicted end-of-the-world event, you should seek refuge in a town favored by either the Virgin Mary or aliens? I'm, erm, confused. Doesn't that seem a bit like mixing your mythology? Accepting the premise that aliens exist and live in France, I can kinda understand this one --- it's like a futuristic Noah's Ark thing -- but why the Virgin Mary? I mean, I feel like if you're going to go for the humdigger religious site, you gotta go Jerusalem, no? So many questions, so few answers. :)