Hot spots draw believers, but not doomsday

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Hundreds of people have converged on Stonehenge for an “End of the World” party that coincides with the Winter Solstice.

Arthur Uther Pendragon, Britain’s best-known druid, said he was anticipating a much larger crowd than usual at Stonehenge this year. But he doesn’t agree that the world is ending, noting that he and fellow druids believe that things happen in cycles.

“We’re looking at it more as a new beginning than an end,” he said. “We’re looking at new hope.”

Meanwhile, end-of-days parties will be held across London on Friday. One event billed as a “last supper club” is offering a three-course meal served inside an “ark.”

SERBIA

Some Serbs are saying to forget that sacred mountain in the French Pyrenees. The place to be Friday is Mount Rtanj, a pyramid-shaped peak in Serbia already drawing cultists.

According to legend, the mountain once swallowed an evil sorcerer who will be released on doomsday in a ball of fire that will hit the mountain top. The inside of the mountain will then open up, becoming a safe place to hide as the sorcerer goes on to destroy the rest of the world. In the meantime, some old coal mine shafts have been opened up as safe rooms.

On Friday a New Age group called “The Spirit of Rtanj” was holding a conference there. Participants, however, said they expect not the end of time but the start of a new time cycle. Locals turned out to sell brandy and herbs.

“There will be no tragedy, no doomsday,” said resident Dalibor Jovic. “It was supposed to happen at 12:12 and I think that time has passed. So, we can now go on with our lives and be happy to be alive.”

TURKEY

A small Turkish village known for its wines, Sirince, has also been touted as the only place after Bugarach that would escape the world’s end. But on Friday journalists and security officials outnumbered cultists. This outcome disappointed local business people who had prepared a range of doomsday products to sell, including a specially labeled Doomsday wine and Turkish delight candy whose “best before” date was Dec. 21, 2012. One restaurant prepared a special “last meal” menu that included a “heaven kebab” and “forbidden fruit dessert.”

ITALY

Another spot said to be spared: Cisternino, a beautiful small town in southern Italy in an area of trulli, traditional dry stone huts with conical roofs. The notion that Cisternino could be a safe haven at world’s end derives from an Indian guru, Babaji, who said “Cisternino will become an island” at world’s end. His followers built a community in Cisternino centered on an ashram built in 1979. Hotel bookings are up this weekend.

Mayor Donato Baccaro told the AP that the beauty of the place has inspired many foreigners to live there. “This confirms that this place has a special energy,” he said.

CHINA

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