Going to that desert oasis for the spiritual energies reportedly found there? Visiting some jungle ruin purportedly built by aliens? You wouldn't be the first.
Spiritual tourism has been big business ever since Enoch, son of Japheth, built Edenworld a few hundred cubits east of the former residence of Adam and Eve -- and charged 30 shekels a head to get in.
They call it the pilgrim trade, and every holy place has one.
Below, we give you a heads-up about some allegedly mystic sites that probably aren't quite what they're cracked up to be. So, don't blame us when that $30 vial of holy blessing miracle water fails to cure your E.D.
Machu Picchu, Peru
A mystic city on a mountain peak, built a thousand years before backhoes or I-beams. How did they do it?
Your girlfriend's yoga instructor will tell you it was the work of spiritually evolved alien visitors. He'll point to stones that fit perfectly without mortar, and which were carried to the top of the mountain without wheel-based technology, and then laid out according to advanced astronomical principles.
Then he'll make a move on your girlfriend, and things will get tense.
But actual archeologists will tell you that Machu Picchu was probably built as a personal estate for Pachacuti
, the Sapa Inca (or "Only Inca," as his entourage would have called him -- as in "Who da Inca?" "You
There are ways to get the stones to fit
without mortar, and apparently a lack of wheels can be overcome with a lot of llamas -- and a lot of slaves.
Looks pretty cool, though.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
This church, purportedly built on the site where Jesus's tomb was located, is an impressive operation run by badass priests who actually throw down
over who gets the place for Easter and who has to wait for the Christmas pilgrim season.
But is it really Jesus's tomb? Jerusalem's tombs in the first century A.D. were probably built on the east side of the city
(downwind) -- yet the church is on the west side. Also, in those days, tombs weren't allowed within 50 cubits (about 25 yards) of a city, yet the church lies inside the old Jerusalem wall line.
So where did this tradition get started? Blame it on Helena
, mother of the Christian emperor Constantine and history's first proponent of truthiness
Three-hundred years after the fact, Helena wandered through the Middle East on a kind of package tour, miraculously "discovering" biblical site after biblical site. The emperor's mother was later backed in her claims by Eusebius of Caesarea
, who also wrote a famous kiss-ass book about Constantine and another book with a chapter headed
"That it will be necessary sometimes to use falsehood as a remedy for the benefit of those who require such a mode of treatment."
Back in the 1950s, both Shirley MacLaine and Sedona, Ariz., were known for their beauty. Three decades later, they became known for the Harmonic Convergence
After dramatically misinterpreting the Mayan Long Count Calendar, art professor and LSD hobbyist José Argüelles
predicted that on Aug. 16, 1987, a mystical event would either destroy the world or usher in a galactic era of peace and higher consciousness. He asked the world's psychics to gather in places like Sedona to help the Convergence along.
The world didn't end -- Joe is now pinning his hopes on 2012 -- but the New Agers never left Sedona. While conventional minds would attribute Sedona's atmosphere of peace and calm to its spectacular natural beauty, New Agers claim that this atmosphere is the result of the area's "spiritual energy vortexes," and that these vortexes come in three flavors -- male, female, and the politically-correct gender-neutral.
But since the vortexes don't do anything a really scenic sunset wouldn't do, it's kind of hard to prove they're not there.
The glorious thing is that, in the end, any cool-looking place will eventually get a mystic tagline. Coming soon to this space -- the supernatural origins of the Staples Center and the Grotto at the Playboy Mansion.