This past weekend, Yvette Monahan published a book of photographs about a rural area in south-central France between the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees mountains. At the region’s center is a mountain called Bugarach. Monahan spent a year taking pictures of the mountain and its surroundings, which have a rich mythical history. I was enchanted by the photos in her book, ‘‘The Time of Dreaming the World Awake,’’ when I saw them recently, so I reached out to her and got her to tell me what sparked her interest in this French spot:
I was visiting a friend in the area in 2010 when I first heard the story about the mountain Bugarach. A few months later, back in Ireland, I found myself retelling the stories repeatedly. Bugarach and the surrounding area are shrouded in mystery and myth, and seem to have drawn people toward it for centuries.
The mountain itself is a geological anomaly, since its top layers are millions of years older than its bottom ones, making it an ‘‘upside down mountain.’’ I’ve heard that due to this strange geology, its magnetism is inverted.
The mystery of Rennes-le-Château, a village on one side of the mountain, is quite a tourist attraction and receives thousands of visitors every year. The Treasure of the Templars, the Holy Grail some call it, is said to be housed in one of the Cathar castles that dominate the landscape, usually perched on spectacular rocky outcrops. Regarded as heretics by the Catholic Church, the Cathars were wiped out by the Albigensian Crusade led by Pope Innocent III. When a general asked how to distinguish between Cathar and Catholic, the response was ‘‘kill them all, God will know.’’
Nostradamus and Jules Verne were local to the area. Verne alluded to the mountain in much of his literature, Captain Bugarach was the hero in ‘‘Clovis Dardentor.’’ Bugarach is said to be where Verne found both the inspiration and the entrance for ‘‘Journey to the Center of the Earth.” His books are said to be written in code to protect the mystery of Rennes-le-Château. Verne burned all of his papers at the end of his life to protect these secrets. There were also many tales of President François Mitterrand’s being helicoptered onto the peak, of mysterious digs conducted by the Nazis and later the Mossad, the Israeli secret services. Finally, Bugarach is also thought to be the inspiration behind ‘‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind,’’ as Spielberg spent time around the mountain.
It is a tiny area in rural France, which adds to the mystery of why it is so rich in such significant histories, stories and myths.
Trailer for Bugarach.No one took much notice of Bugarach until the world was coming to an end. In early 2012, the citizens of this tiny village in the south of France are going to church, swimming in lakes and voting in their country’s upcoming presidential election. But amidst the growing paranoia of the approaching Mayan doomsday prophecy, a news story appears that alleges when the apocalypse hits, Bugarach will be the only place on the planet to survive. The story gathers global attention, attracting the interests of international media outlets, mystic prophets and all those looking for a ticket to the rapture. The anxieties of the inhabitants are less focused on apocalyptic prophecies and more on the massive influx of outsiders looking for a way to squeeze themselves into their quiet rural community. With the fate of the world on the line, Bugarach is forced into the spotlight as Earth’s surprising and reluctant hero.
Près d'un an jour pour jour après la "fin du monde" annoncée, le village audois de Bugrarach a repris "sa vie calme", alors que le compte à rebours de la prochaine apocalypse a déjà commencé.
Le 21 décembre 2012, Bugarach était sur le pied de guerre, attendant une foule d'illuminés pensant que le village niché dans les Corbières était un des seuls endroits sur Terre qui échapperait à la fin des temps. Des dizaines de gendarmes quadrillaient le secteur, les habitants excédés étaient terrés chez eux. Plus de 300 journalistes du monde entier se filmaient les uns les autres à défaut de mettre en boîte la cohorte de fanatiques que craignait voir débarquer le maire Jean-Pierre Delord. Car pour seul visionnaire présent à Bugarach, il y avait Oriana, bien connu dans la région. Ravi, "ce designer de soucoupes volantes" livrait alors à tous les micros son inerprétation de l'apocalypse, en fait une révélation qui "fait l'effet de 10 000 orgasmes d'un coup".
"Une belle kermesse"
Aujourd'hui, les ruelles de ce village de 200 âmes, objet d'un extraordinaire tapage médiatique depuis 2010, sont désertes. Il y a trois ans, le maire avait dit sa hantise de voir débarquer des vagues d'illuminés soucieux déchapper à la 183e apocalypse prédite depuis la chute de l'Empire romain. Bugarach et son pic majestueux, point culminant du massif des Corbières avec ses 1231 mètres, figurent parmi les lieux sacrés qui échapperaient à la fin du monde, prétendaient alors les prophètes de l'internet librement inspirés du calendrier maya. Las, "la fin du monde, elle est pour nous. Plus personne ne s'intéresse à nous", déclare aujourd'hui d'une boutade Jean-Pierre Delord, assumant avoir tiré la sonnette d'alarme. "J'ai mis la pression à travers les médias pour que les autorités assurent la sécurité du village et ça a marché", explique-t-il. "C'était un non événement qui était un événement quand même. C'était une belle kermesse, on a bien rigolé".
Un soufflé qui retombe
Dès le 22 décembre, tout est "retombé comme un soufflé", confirme Sébastien Lanoye, le sous-préfet de Limoux. "Bugarach et ses alentours ont repris la petite vie calme qui est la leur même s'il y a dans les environs des populations un peu marginales". De fait, disent les habitants, les touristes ne sont pas venus en masse découvrir à quoi ressemble ce village dont on a tant parlé. Ils veulent y voir la patte du mauvais temps au printemps et de la crise économique.
Sigrid Benard, gérante de la Maison de la randonnée, fermée pour l'hiver, explique de son côté qu'en dépit du retour de la clientèle de randonneurs et "d'ésotériques" qui avaient fui le bruit et la fureur, la saison a été mitigée. "Il y a eu des retombées économiques et il y en aura encore", assure le maire. Le village, qui dispose d'une centaine de lits marchands, compte sur la beauté intrinsèque de la nature, sa colonie de vautours et ses orchidées sauvages, pour attirer les touristes. Et aussi sur son pech au profil inoubliable qui cacherait un "garage à ovnis", réputé envoyer des ondes magnétiques.
Le magot de l'abbé Saunière
Patrice Etienne, gérant du relais de Bugarach (vente de souvenirs et d'escursions), veut rebondir avec "l'écotourisme" et jouer la carte de l'environnement et de l'histoire dans cette région cathare, où certains recherchent encore le mystérieux magot de l'abbé Béranger Saunière, dans le village voisin de Rennes-le-Château.
En attendant, sur internet, divers apôtres de l'apocalypse y vont déjà de leur prédiction pour la prochaine fin du monde même si les dates invoquées varient grandement. Jean-Pierre Delord a reçu une lettre expliquant que tout le monde s'était trompé dans l'interprétation du calendrier maya et qu'en réalité l'apocalypse est pour 2027...
Bugarach is dead centre – taken along from near Maury.
A brilliant mountain day — deep blue sky, warm sun, birds cheeping – what more could one want – well a fresh baguette delivered to the door and a pain au raisin.Some lovely Bach playing and Soph has checked in and is safe and happy.
Some of you may recall back in December that the catastrophic apocalyse was forecast by the Mayan calendar.Sadly they did not survive to witness this non event but here in France there are odd things afoot. One forgets it is an old old culture and these people, despite various invasions, are the aborigines of the land. Thick layerings of whakos or”esoterics” from around the world made Bugarach and its famous mountain the centre of mass visitations last December – from New Agers, interested bystanders, and journalists from as far away as Tokyo. The police and powers that be took it all very seriously, closing the village to all traffic from the 19th onwards. Seems there was a real concern that there might be mass suicides!
The mountain is the highest peak in the Corbiéres, ( 1230m) and is geologically fascinating in that the higher layers are older than the lower ones, due to an “overthrust”. The top is millions of years older than the base, so it is known as the “upside down” mountain. And within its bowels are a race of aliens living in space ships, who were supposed to come forth on Dec 21st last year and save all the Bugarachians. Well it didn’t happen – but the odd balls are still about, awaiting the next catastrophe.
Sun rise in Bugarach, a small village in the foothills of the Pyrenees on December 20, 2012 in Bugarach, France.
Will the world end this week? Possibly. Not positive, but pretty sure. The constellation of cosmic and everyday events seems right. “Weekend of fear in Greece as Monday brings salvation . . . or ruin,” reads one headline. Others follow: “Grexit ‘beginning of the end for Eurozone,’” “‘Last days of Pompeii’ as crunch time approaches.”
“Financial historians may look back at the events of next week and wonder how Europe’s financial unravelling was permitted,” writes Lawrence Summers, Bill Clinton’s Secretary of the Treasury and later president of Harvard.
I’ve been watching this for twenty years now and have come to this moment. Things break, money crashes and as economies shrink just an inch poverty and mayhem advances. Wars ensue. All at once that which you always assumed to be true no longer appears to be, and it becomes increasingly apparent that our basic assumptions were false all along.
‘Twas ever thus at the end of the world.
I’ve come to the conclusion long ago that the fire this time would not be external like the last time which brought the destruction of Europe from 1914 to 1946. This time it will be internal; for Europe, for the West, for America.
And it could last a good long time. Because this time, for those with the mystic bent, the end of the world occurs right here at the millennium; the end of the century, the end of the thousand-year arc, the end of the two-thousand year zodiac cycle known as Pisces, which gave the world the Christ and Mohammed, symbolized by two contrarian fish swimming in a circle.
The signs are plentiful today; the fall of the Twin Towers marking the first year of the millennium, the rise of Israel, the widespread, global anti-Semitism. Again. More likely the age will rise this time in Jerusalem as the millennial sun cycle awakened the last time in Bethlehem. That, say Europe’s old gnostic poets and Israel’s bearded prophets is what they do. Possibly that is why turmoil arises today on Temple Mount, the jewel heart at the very end of the long historic journey known to Jews as “the return.”
Signs in heaven, signs following. And perhaps this statement spoken not long ago by Moshe Feiglin, Israeli folk figure, Jewish advocate and former Knesset member is relevant: “The exile is over.” For when the Jews return to Israel, it has long been claimed by said poets and prophets, the millennium awakens.
There are symptoms here as well. Americans have lost faith in the Presidency, in Congress and the Courts corrupted each by populism, money and partisanship. American power today instead begins to advance contention between governors and big city mayors; classic contentions – urban against rural, North v. South, New York v. Texas, the formidable New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, increasingly linking the big cities to Washington direct, likely to find increased contention with the formidable Texas Governor Greg Abbott and his new posse of heartland governors increasingly repudiating Washington’s influence via the Tenth Amendment and other means.
“The Hill” reports that state legislators around the country have introduced more than 200 bills aiming to nullify regulations and laws coming out of Washington, D.C., as they look to rein in the federal government.
Our own Wise Old Man from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, fairly counsels, “I think rural America needs to understand what urban America feels. Urban America needs to understand the culture of rural America.” But he is alone in this. Otherwise, each here to the other declares, “J’accuse. . . !” One of these two, de Blasio or Abbott, may rise to dominance – perhaps conquest is the correct word – in the lifetime of Millennials.
Just one vicious, savage nudge now and everything could fall apart, as it did when Gavrilo Princip killed the Grand Duke. Like when a lone gunman terrorizes a historic African-American church killing nine in prayer in a pure act of political terror. If it suggests anything, it suggests a feral, unsettled and dangerous disquiet which haunts the very roots of our uncommon American condition every day.
Suddenly, the expansive, globalist model of American capital is passe. The world beyond our borders is beyond our reach.
But the fall said to occur next week is because the Greeks are fighting with the Germans and will soon leave or be thrown out of the Eurozone, which threatens to unravel the world like a cat toying with a ball of yarn. Thus the dire predictions; poverty, anarchy, decay and squalor. But what I find more interesting is this perceptive thought from Tim Worstall, a contributor to Forbes who has ideas on economics, finance and public policy. He wrote in Forbes in March:
“As I’ve been saying for some time now the biggest threat to the continuance of the euro is not that Greece might leave, but that it might leave and then thrive. At which point people in Italy will indeed be asking, well, why do we have to suffer all this pain when we could just bring back the lira? And it is Italy that is really suffering most from the euro of those two countries mentioned, Italy and Spain.”
Which is to say that the world may not be dying after all. It may be about to be born again.
Suddenly, the expansive, globalist model of American capital is passe. The world beyond our borders is beyond our reach. “Europe” as Bismarck claimed, is an illusion. Small is beautiful. Secession is acceptable and nullification is rampant.
The “second great political trend of the age: devolution” forecasts the world ahead according to a recent report to the CIA. Scotland, Venice, Catalonia, Texas, Vermont, northern California and even Wisconsin have all shown symptoms.
“Devolution is even happening in China,” writes Parag Khanna in a New York Times article, “The End of the Nation State.” “Cities have been given a long leash to develop innovative economic models, and Beijing depends on their growth. One of the most popular adages among China watchers today is: ‘The hills are high, and the emperor is far away.’”
In Greece it may be said as of Monday, we are seeing the future. And maybe this time it will work.
Il y a quelque jours, un ami m'a appelé pour proposer que la Bête à Poils, Hatchi, et moi l'accompagnions en randonnée. L'ami avait en tête l'idée de grimper jusqu'au sommet du Pech de Bugarach. Bugarach est devenu très connu car quand il y a eu la folie de fin du monde en 2012, la montagne était censée être le seul endroit à y survivre. Enfin, c'est ce que disaient beaucoup de croyances New Age.
Donc, le jour J, mon ami est venu nous chercher le matin et c'est parti pour environs 2h30 de route. Nous sommes arrivés au pied de la montagne vers midi et avons pique niqué sur place. Ensuite, nous avons démarré la grimpette.
Panneau à l'aire de pique nique, cherches les fautes !
Panorama du haut de la montagne
Je ne sais pas trop comment raconter une randonnée. Enfin, j'en ai surtout retenu qu'on a marché, Hatchi m'a beaucoup aidé à marcher plus vite et dans les endroits techniques de la descente, eu chaud et soif, vu des paysages sublimes et qu'on est rentrés épuisés. La Bête à Poils et moi pensons du coup à nous équiper un peu mieux pour partir plus souvent en randonnée avec Hatchi.
Bugarach, a small village on the French side of the Pyrenees, has become a centre of attention because some believe it is the only spot on Earth expected to survive a coming global apocalypse on 21 December
Des soucoupes volantes tout près du Bugarach, c'est le 6 septembre à Rennes-le-Château.
Échappant aux canons de l'approche scientifique classique, la discipline (parascience) qui étudie les OVNIS (Objets Volants Non Identifiés) ou UFO en anglais se nomme l'ufologie. Souvent pollué par des analyses fantaisistes, voire par des supercheries grossières, le désir des organisateurs de la 2e journée de l'Ufologie du Razès, qui se tiendra à Rennes-le-Château, le samedi 6 septembre prochain, sera de montrer qu'il s'agit au contraire d'un sujet sérieux méritant des études sérieuses.
L'illustration de notre sujet en carte postale est une photo de Jean-Louis Socquet Juglard, qui avait été éditée à l'occasion du 21 décembre 2012. Rennes-le-Château, capitale de tous les mystères, rebondit sur ce coup médiatique autour du Bugarach pour poursuivre l'événement.
Un programme fourni
De nombreux auteurs avaient accompagné l'année passée la première édition (Gildas Bourdais n spécialiste français de l'affaire de Roswell). Cette année, de 9 h 30 à 19 h, Yves Lignon (Université de Toulouse le Mirail), Jean-Luc Rivera (directeur de la Gazette Fortéenne), Didier Gomez (directeur d'Ufomania) et les chercheurs Thibault Canuti (auteur d'ouvrages sur le sujet) et James (scientifique) aborderont le sujet sous divers angles. Les grands cas inexpliqués seront évoqués, tout comme le cas de la surveillance particulière des centrales nucléaires ou des exo planètes (la vie dans l'Univers)…
Le nombre de places étant limité, les inscriptions (20 ) s'effectuent auprès de email@example.com ou auprès de Philippe Marlin au 06 11 72 38 06. Il est possible de prolonger la journée avec les intervenants au jardin de Marie (dîner 25 tout compris), préférer la réservation.
The Copper House Gallery will launch The Time of Dreaming the World Awake, a photographic exhibition, by PhotoIreland Festival Portfolio Award winner Yvette Monahan from 7-10pm, Saturday 5th July 2014. Yvette Monahan was selected by an international jury of 21 professionals as the winner of the Portfolio Award at PhotoIreland Festival 2013. The Time of Dreaming the World Awake will run as part of PhotoIreland Festival 2014.
Based on a small region in Southern France, The Time of Dreaming the World Awake is a portrait of a place, a landscape of possibility. The show is inspired by the mythical Bugarach mountain and it's connection to a Mayan prophecy which indicated that the world as we know it, would end on 21st December 2012. The prophecy claimed that this date would mark the beginning of a new era for humanity, Bugarach being the first bastion of this modern Arcadia.
Drawn to the esoteric legends surrounding Bugarach, over the course of 2012 Yvette Monahan was compelled to capture an allegorical landscape full of portents that exist beyond the sphere of visual reality. In order to access the intangible within the landscape, Monahan photographed people and places intuitively; her camera a method of visual enquiry translating the existential nature of this place. While the Mayan prophecy passed without event, the possibility of an idyll may yet exist in the realm of our imagination.
PhotoIreland is an organisation dedicated to promote critical thinking around photography and a deeper engagement with the visual arts. Now in it's fifth year, PhotoIreland celebrates a festival every July, promoting by way of a proposed theme, works from national and international artists. The theme to this year's festival being: Truths, Facts, Fictions, Lies.
The Time of Dreaming the World Awake, a photographic exhibition, by PhotoIreland Festival Portfolio Award winner Yvette Monahan, runs at The Copper House Gallery from 5th July until the 20th July 2014. Admission is free and all are welcome.
Bugarach transcends typical notions of filmmaking. Boasting a three piece screenwriting and directing team (Ventura Durall, Sergi Cameron, and Salvador Sunyer), Bugarach emerges as an experimental concoction that incorporates art-house imagery to tell a slightly fictionalized account of a real event in a small village in the foothills of the mountains of France. Laden with traces of documentary style realism, Bugarach further manages to rise in merit with its simple story of how one village of 200 people is turned upside-down by the insurgence of thousands who falsely believe Bugarach to be the only place of survival on December 21, 2012. With this story, Bugarachis ripe with complex critiques on the media and the frail integrity of modern day journalists.
Most of Bugarach’s charm is owed to its director of photographers, Iván Castiñieras and Cyprien Clément-Delamas, who create an air of haunting spectacle through their use of overly saturated, brooding colors in every scene. The color black appears in ominous opaque hues while other colors, like green, are dredged in darker shades. Though this dreary cinematography is ever present throughout most of Bugarach, it doesn’t take away from the film’s visual zeal as lighter colors pop with almost candy like brightness when shown. The majestic nature of the mountain that is the film’s focus is captured through long shots that exhibit its stature among the surrounding land mass and the clouds’ penchant for rolling over its peak.
Burarachis ultimately a template to outline the absurdities of journalistic integrity and the susceptibility of mankind. Poignant moments of dialogue and action skillfully exhibit how the outsiders who have intruded in the villager’s neighborhood affects them both superficially and internally. Some characters use the event to their advantage, while others try in vain to convince arrogant reporters that all they want is to be left alone. Bugarachpartly focuses its attentions on the absurdities of the mass hysteria surrounding the 2012 “apocalypse,” but it mostly is a magnifying glass with its sights set on human existentialism and man’s fear of death.
Mediapocalypse à Bugarach : chronique d’une fin du monde avortéePublié le : 20/12/2013 à 18h35
Le 21 décembre 2012, le village de Bugarach dans l’Aude doit être épargné par la fin du monde prévue par les Mayas. La veille du jour fatidique, le village se prépare à l’arrivée massive de journalistes venus des quatre coins du globe couvrir ce non-évènement. Mais chacun sait que rien ne va se passer. Entre une conférence de presse absurde, un maire dépassé par la situation, un troupeau de journalistes sans sujet, une poignée d’ésotériques en quête d’audimat et un écologiste venu faire du compost avec les excréments des journalistes, Mediapocalypse se moque d’un système médiatique qui se mord la queue. Mêlé d’images tournées sur place et d’images des médias présents, ce film propose de jeter un regard critique sur cette imposture subie par les médias.
We have lived in this area for 17 years and visited on holiday for years before that. We have always had the intention to one day climb to the top of the Pic de Bugarach, the mysterious mountain which, at 1240 metres, dominates the immediate area. Yesterday Gay and I, led by the intrepid Bill Harper, finally did that. Bill is a man who was born not too far from the place of my birth and indeed attended school only half a mile from my childhood home. But I met him only in recent years here in the Pyrenees.
Bugarach is the place which was alleged to be the only safe place in the world when the Mayan so-called phrophesies were scheduled to finish all the rest of us off last December. It is the centre of all sorts of other myths and legends as well, as you will find if you Google the word "Bugarach".
The mountain is hollow, many say, and contains variously a huge lake or flying saucers. The mountain is magnetic, it has upheld the feet of Jesus and Mary Magdalene - all these stories can be found. What is certain is that there are frequently odd characters to be found on the slopes of the mountain, singly or in groups. As we mounted yesterday, we heard chanting in a loud voice. Coming down the path towards us was a man, dressed in mediaeval garb. We spoke the usual greeting. He carried on chanting, wheeled left and down another path, giving no sign that he had seen us.
p.s. I wrote the above then went out for a haircut. I mentioned to the barber that we had been up Bugarach yesterday. He said "Did you see any extra-terrestrials up there?"
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