According to believers, the mountain is a “chakra” point where earth energy and alien technology combine to protect inhabitants from the upcoming cataclysm. Believers also say that the late French president François Mitterand, the Nazis, and Israel’s security service explored and excavated on the mountain. Local officials, by contrast, fear that the New Age believers plan a mass suicide like the Heaven’s Gate cult, who killed themselves when they thought a UFO arriving behind the 1997 Hale-Bopp comet would take their souls to an alien base on Pluto.
What interests me is the way in southern France the 2012 apocalypse is repeating a widespread bit of European folklore that dates back thousands of years.
In Serbia, the hero Marko is asleep in a cave high atop a mountain, awaiting the moment he is needed. In Denmark, the hero is Holgar Danske, who sleeps beside his knights in a tomb beneath Kronberg Castle. Both Charlemagne and Frederick Barbarossa (or sometimes Frederick II) are believed to be entombed within mountains (Odensburg and Kyfhauser, respectively) waiting to rise up and reclaim their thrones, as are the Saxon King Harold, the Duke of Monmouth, Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI, and Portugal's King Sebastian. (Some of these are entombed in caves rather than mountains.) In most cases, the sleeper is a powerful man with a long white beard.
Many scholars believe all of these myths trace their source back to Odin, the Norse (and also Germanic) god of war who was the first to slumber within a sacred mountain (note that one such mountain is Odensburg, “Odin’s Mountain”). Odin shares the long white beard of the dead heroes, and many scholars also believe that the knights routinely entombed with the hero originate in the dead warriors who rested in Odin’s Valhalla awaiting the violent end of the world, ragnorak, when they would be needed for the final battle against the forces of evil.
That this story is ancient can be seen in Plutarch, who reports a myth from the Celtic fringe of the Roman Empire in two sections of his Moralia. Here Cronus, the father of the gods, can be read as Odin:
…in this part of the world there is one island where Cronus is confined, guarded while he sleeps by Briareus; for his sleep has been devised as a bondage for him, and round about him are many demigods as attendants and servants. (De Defectu Oraculorum 18, trans. Frank Cole Babbitt)
There are three other islands equidistant from Ogygia and from one another, in the general direction of the sun’s summer setting. The natives have a story that in one of these Cronus has been confined by Zeus, but that he, having a son for gaoler, is left sovereign lord of those islands and of the sea, which they call the Gulf of Cronus. (De Faciae 27, trans. A. O. Prickard)
What is amazing, though, is that whether consciously or unconsciously, the New Age believers looking for dormant aliens within a sacred mountain are replaying an age-old story of the once and future king, the hero who will save us all when the End comes.