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Denver International Airport: Major hub for American travel or nexus of soul-sucking occult evil?

In the past, we’ve covered world-spanning conspiracies, legends of forgotten civilizations and even cryptozoological monsters. But this week we turn our gaze to a subject that, at first glance, seems far, far more mundane: An airport.

In most cases, people tend to see airports as glorified, more expensive, well-guarded bus stations: Places that you have to suffer through in order to get to your destination, bland, grey, and sterile. But the Denver International Airport is different, as conspiracies swarm around it like taxi cabs looking for a fare. And to the conspiracy theorists’ credit? There’s definitely some weird stuff about DIA.

First up, and perhaps most notably are those murals. We’ve dropped an image of one down below, but seriously, it’s worth your time to open up a new tab and do an image search for more. They are, in a word, bizarre. Not The King in Yellow, blast your mind into lunacy bizarre, but definitely off-brand head shop at the beach bizarre, and far, far stranger than what you’d expect to show up in an airport.

We’re talking storm troopers in gas masks, brandishing swords over sleeping children. Apocalyptic imagery, with sad-faced kids cuddling animals with flaming cities in the background. The youth of multiple nations coming together to defeat a soldier and seemingly pay homage to some kind of glowing, multicolored plant.

On a city street or an art gallery, you probably wouldn’t think twice about this stuff. But, situated in an airport, a place where people are generally uncomfortable and bored for long periods of time, the murals have inspired a shocking amount of conspiracy theories. Though the details vary, most of them involve seeing the murals as prophetic visions — or maybe hopeful ones — of a time when humanity will destroy itself in a fiery conflagration, giving way to a glorious, peaceful new civilization.

Like many conspiracy theories, if you dig down a little bit, you find one of the old standbys, and the Denver International Airport is no different, as believers tend to argue that the building’s designers are in support of the coming (or already reigning!) New World Order. Even the titles of the murals, “In Peace and Harmony With Nature” and “The Children of the World Dream of Peace,” seem rather ominous, or, at the very least, like the pamphlets the Jehovah’s Witnesses used to drop off at your house.

Of course, the artist behind the murals, Leo Tanguma, claims that the murals are not ominous warnings, but rather, hopeful wishes for the future. He claims that while they do depict destruction and genocide, the more important part of the images is what comes next: Healing the planet and joining together to live in peace. He’s even done interviews and spoken publicly to address and refute claims of sinister messages in his work.

But Tanguma’s murals are far from the only “evidence” of something dark and/or strange going on beneath the surface of DIA. Conspiracy theorists frequently point to the layout of the airport itself, which some people claim, that when viewed from above, depicts a swastika.

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Aside from the fact that the resemblance is far from exact (it’s not symmetrical and even has an extra arm), there are also some legit reasons for the runways having been laid out in such a way. By going with this somewhat unorthodox design, DIA is able to accommodate an extremely quick and efficient schedule of takeoffs and landings. In addition, its runway “arms” also give more room for planes to maneuver during the windy, inclement weather that frequently settles down upon the area.

All right. So there are explanations for both the airport’s admittedly disconcerting murals, as well as its somewhat unusual layout. But what about the strange messages and markings found throughout DIA? Some are even carved into the floor, written in unrecognizable languages, with some conspiracy theorists asserting that they are Satanic and/or occult in nature, or, at the very least, Masonic (more on that in a bit). What on earth could be the explanation for things like Cochetopa, Niinenii Niicie, Sisnaajini and Dzit Dit Gaii being written on the floor of DIA?

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Well, the answer is a pretty satisfying one: All of the words above are Navajo and are the original names of various geographical sites in, you guessed it, Colorado. And the Braaksma and Villarreal that eagle-eyed conspiracy theorists have also found written in the airport? They’re the signatures of two artists who worked on various sculptures and paintings in DIA: Carolyn Braaksma and Mark Villarreal.

Conspiracy theorists also frequently point to the strange series of underground tunnels that run beneath Denver International Airport. Typically, the claims tend to revolve around these being evidence of a massive bunker or fall-out shelter, meant to protect some shadowy cabal in the wake of a nuclear war or other disaster.

But not only is there a very rational explanation for these tunnels (they were part of a proposed, attempted and ultimately scuttled automated baggage system), but underneath DIA would be a profoundly bad place to build a doomsday bunker. With the Rocky Mountains so close by, why wouldn’t said bunker be placed under tons and tons of rock, instead of a willfully creepy airport? NORAD tends to agree, as their nuclear bunker is just about 75 miles away in Colorado Springs.

Finally: The Freemasons. That’s right, you can scratch off “Secretive Masonic doings” on your conspiracy bingo card, because there are plenty of folks who think that the Freemasons are behind all of the weirdness in DIA. And, in their defense, you can understand why they might think so.

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That’s almost entirely because of the airport’s dedication marker, which includes not just the symbol of the Freemasons, but also the ominous words “New World Airport Commission.” The marker hangs above a time capsule that is meant to be opened 100 years after the airport’s dedication, in 2094, at which point…who knows what will happen.

As damning as all of that sounds, however, like the rest of the strange stuff in DIA, there exist pretty reasonable explanations for all of it. First of all? The Freemasons, while ostensibly a secret society, aren’t some wicked cabal operating in the shadows. They’re a legit community service and fraternal organization, and Colorado happens to hold two separate Grand Lodges, both of which are named on the dedication plaque. And the “New World Airport Commission?” Rather than some malevolent star chamber of villains, it’s actually just a group of small businesses that worked to help support the airport’s development.

The seemingly rational explanations behind all of the weirdness at Denver International Airport has done little to stifle the persistent conspiracy theories that swirl around it. Are the explanations just an effort to muddy the waters and obscure the truth? Tell us down below in the comments.

Aubrey Sitterson is the creator of SKALD, the ongoing sword & sorcery serial, available on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher & Podomatic. Follow him on Twitter or check out his website for more information.

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