|Are Crop Circles Real?
"you're aware of looking at it, so it clearly exists, and is evidently achievable, but at the same time you cannot quite believe what it is that you are seeing"
Are Crop Circles Real?
The author asks the question: is it possible to navigate a safe path through this bizarre phenomenon?
I have never stood in a crop circle, nor even seen one, other than in photographs or on the TV. I'm therefore commenting on this from a position that is far removed from the epicenter of the phenomenon - which may grant me a certain impartiality. To be sure, all I have to go on are the tales of others, and like many of us, I must make of these what I can. These then are my opinions, rather than facts, but then as anyone will quickly realise, when it comes to crop -circles, actual "facts" are hard to come by, and those that can be gleaned are somewhat open to interpretation anyway.
But here goes.
I remember the fuss crop circles caused, back in the eighties, when they seemed to be in the news all the time. They were a nationwide, even a worldwide curiosity then, something out on the fringe - dare I say even possibly paranormal? No one knew for certain what they were, but unlike other "paranormal" goings on, crop circles were a rather more visible phenomenon, and impossible to turn a blind eye to.
They were simple things in those early days - just a plain circle or a small group of circles which seemed to have a prediliction for forming specifically in the crop fields of the south of England, an area roughly centred on the counties of Wiltshire and Hampshire. But what were they and how were they made? Was it really possible they were evidence of something in nature we did not understand? Or was the answer altogether more prosaic.
Various scientific theories were proposed, the main ones based upon some form of unusual atmospheric disturbance, a vortex perhaps, or something linked to ball lightning. Witnesses came forward to say they had seen these things forming and their testimony tended to support the idea of some sort of vortex as the main agent. However as the years passed, the crop circles became more complex and the basic theories were unable to keep up with what seemed to be an emerging phenomenon.
It was all very peculiar.
In 1991, a couple of guys, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, said they'd been making the crop circles all along. Other hoaxers also stepped into the limelight, perhaps spurred on by the rascally reminiscences of Doug and Dave. Then the media began sponsoring hoax circles to see how easy it was, and took great delight in embarrassing the researchers who had taken them seriously. The whole thing became something of a farce. The professional scientists quietly withdrew and have been notable by their absence ever since. Even if there was something interesting going on, the scientists had to consider the possibility that their earlier theories were based upon data gathered from circles that might have been fake. Worse than this, how was it possible to have confidence in any fresh data when it was uncertain the circle they were looking at was the real thing or not.
As for me, I felt a bit foolish that I'd even half entertained the desire that crop circles might be evidence of something mysterious and wonderful taking place in a world that had by then turned brittle and frigid with yuppie materialism. While a question mark remained over the very simple circles, the rest - well - of course they were man made.
What other explanation was there?
A Sceptical Media
The downlands of Wiltshire are a long way from where I live, up here in the wilds of rural Lancashire, so if I don't see a crop circle in the news, they're not on my radar at all. Not surprisingly perhaps, after the revelations of Doug and Dave, the phenomenon was no longer looked upon by the media in the same way and all the fuss seemed to die down. Now and then a spectacular crop formation would make its way onto the news, but the journalistic angle was by now one of universal scepticism, and criticism at the amount of damage being caused to crops by irresponsible jokers. Although one could not help harbouring a sneaking admiration for the skill and the sheer daring involved in such an undertaking, I was no longer intrigued by the subject.
It was like graffiti spraying: sometimes it seems impossible, the places these dubious characters manage to carry their spray cans, but they manage it very well, and for no other reason than because when people set their minds on something they can be far more ingenious and capable than others, not possessed of that peculiar obsession, would give them credit for.
It was a shame but at the bottom of it all, it was simply the result of a lot of silly people mucking about.
A second look:
What made me take notice of this subject again, some twenty years later, was the so-called Jelly-fish crop formation that appeared in a Barley field at Wayland's Smithy, Wiltshire, in May, 2009. The jelly-fish made it onto the national news, as one of the lighter items, all be it that the commentary was one of outrage that anyone could be so irresponsible. The scale of it was breathtaking, and I found myself asking: how many people would it take to crush that amount of crop in one night, and how could they do it without being seen? We were talking about an area covering 600 ft by 150 ft here. It would be a challenge to flatten that amount of crop even in a random pattern, but to carefully mark it out and produce a pictogram?
Obviously it was done, but how?
My experience of people involved in anything, is that the more there are, the less likely things are to go smoothly - sorry to be such a cynic - but the impression I have of crop circle makers is that they are small groups who know each other very well and can work together instinctively, and quietly. This small number, whilst not necessarily limiting the complexity or the ingenuity of a crop formation, must limit it in terms of the amount of crop that can be flattened.
Anyway, images of that jellyfish lingered in my subconscious for long enough to prompt my fingers at some point over the coming days to go clickety click over the Google box, and to spell out the words "crop circles". What came back at me has left me feeling rather bewildered - also feeling as if for the past twenty years, I've been living on another planet.
The scale of the phenomenon
Far from dying down, the crop circle phenomenon has been getting bigger, in the number of formations that have appeared each year, in their complexity, and in their scale. Indeed such is the prevalence of the phenomenon these days, I'm left wondering how there can possibly be any crop left to harvest in the south of England, come August. If, like me, you're unfamiliar with what's been going on, might I suggest you link across to this website: www.lucypringle.co.uk/photos/ and simply have a look at the splendid aerial photographs.
Then come back to me.
Okay? Been there?
Now tell me: what on earth is going on?
The "circle makers" have obviously progressed way beyond the simple circles I remember seeing, and have introduced geometrical patterns, based on circles, or at least on least geometry that can be constructed by scribing arcs with a compass (or a rope) - so we've had triangles, squares, pentagons, pentagrams, all of which have been developed into figures reminiscent of religious mandalas - like neat set pieces in Euclidean construction.
We've also had more organic pictograms, like the jellyfish, which for all I know could still, conceivably, have been drawn by someone with sufficient skill and motivation, using nothing more than ropes for marking out, and a plank for crushing down the crop. But there have been other formations, that seem to rule out the use of such simple construction tools, and appear more to me like computer print-outs, scanned line by line into the crop to produce, from the ground, an effect so subtle as to be almost unintelligible, yet which, from the air, make sense - or rather blow away one's senses.
This rather suggests, at least to me, that in these particular cases, namely the Chilbolton pictogram of 2001 and the truly astounding Crabwood "alien" face formation of 2002, that some form of aerially deployed technology was involved. Common sense alone would seem to rule out out an amateur, ground-based crew. In the world of crop circle showmanship, these are definitely the Cirque du Soleil, or the Kung Fu Circus: you're aware of looking at it, so it clearly exists, and is evidently achievable, but at the same time you cannot quite believe what it is that you are seeing.
Even speaking as an engineer of some thirty years experience, I have to say the pictograms at Chilbolton and Crabwood are quite beyond me. Indeed, I'll have to pretend for a moment that they never existed - otherwise I'll make no progress at all in getting to grips with subject at all. Of course you can't ignore them for long, and sooner or later they will come back to haunt you.
But for now, let's just try to get a toe-hold in it, and ask:
What, if anything, are we to make of it all?
Like any potentially paranormal field, the casual enquirer is at once presented with a range of conflicting evidence, tossed about upon a tempestuous sea of wild speculation and paranoid conspiracy theory, all accompanied by the overture of a million blown raspberries, courtesy of the knee-jerk debunkers of anything even remotely spooky.
We'll start in the safest place possible: with the ground based evidence.
Fortunately, not all technical researchers have left the field and laboratory analysis has shown that the crops in some formations exhibit definite changes in their growth, and their molecular structure, when compared with crops from outside of the formations - also that instead of the crop stalks being broken or kinked as they are laid flat, they show a physical abnormality which causes the stalks to bend over - which seems to rule out heavy footed human causes. Also, there are reports of geomagnetic anomalies, and unnaturally large concentrations of microscopic particles of magnetite within the formations. Then there are changes in the water content and the structure of the soil.
So, this is interesting: There is apparently scientific research that suggests some circles are the result of causes that cannot yet be explained by our current understanding. So, in other words not all crop circles are fakes, as was supposed when the faking craze was exposed back in the early nineties!
Evidence of hoaxing
If we're looking at the ground based evidence, then we should also consider evidence that tells us a circle is a hoax. If we can find this, it might tell us what scale and complexity of circles the hoaxers are capable of attempting. Fortunately, it seems such evidence can be found in abundance. There are post holes at crucial marking out points, and the flattening of a crop with a plank or a garden roller leaves a tell tale signature in the swirl, or the "lay" of the crop - to say nothing of the amount of damage it does to the crop itself.
Hoaxers also make mistakes, as at the Silbury Hill and the West Stowell formations, both in July 2000. These are large and geometrically intricate figures. Were I asked to repeat them myself I'd probably need a few days in broad daylight, plus several crossings out to get them spot on. The lesson here is that we should not underestimate the capabilities of people, and that unless you've tried something yourself, you're unlikely to be able to accurately quantify what is achievable.
Such evidence as this led one researcher (Colin Andrews) to conclude that of those formations he studied in 1999 and 2000, 80% were man-made, much to the chagrin of the crop circle "community", who in spite of the by now self proclaimed involvement of hoaxers, maintained that hoaxing was nowhere near so prevalent, and that most circles were "genuine".
While we can argue over the statistics, it seems that we've established conclusively that it is possible for a team of people to sneak out into the fields at night, undetected, and produce a jaw-dropping picture in the crops, so complexity alone should not be used as a determining factor when deciding whether a circle is genuine or not - we should never say: "it must be genuine because people could never have made this".
Now, not having visited a single formation myself, I'm perhaps not best qualified to comment, but I think we've managed to establish from the work of others, that the majority of crop formations are probably hoaxes and that this possibility should be our first thought when presented with any new formation. In short we should ask first: "How the hell did they make that?" Not: "I wonder what it means."
This is not to debunk those crop circles that remain a genuine mystery. It's just unfortunate these genuinely interesting ones are lost in the noise and the fuss created by the nonsense surrounding the rest.
Hoax or genuine: telling them apart.
When we go back to the roots of the phenomenon, we remind ourselves that the early formations were single isolated circles - curious enough, mystifying perhaps, also irritating for the farmer, but nothing about them was immediately suggestive they were the result of a paranormal agent. There is good anecdotal and documented evidence that such crop circles are not a modern phenomenon. There's a written report of observations from the 1880's, also further back to a phenomenon imaginatively labeled "the mowing devil". So, it's possible at least the simpler formations have always occurred. The farming community certainly seems to have been aware them, neither offering nor seeking any explanation. When the farmers can be persuaded to talk about the phenomenon, their testimony is most compelling which shouldn't surprise us because they're in the front line and often the first to see these things.
One farmer interviewed for an on line documentary suggested that the genuine article is visually quite different from a fake. So far as I can make out, this comment refers to the way the downed crop presents a brushed appearance to the observer, that the circles are not tightly spiraled, but exhibit a unified swirl of of between one and two rotations. After a while a circle of crop downed in this way is so delicately arranged that it will begin to straighten itself up again as the season progresses.
One can imagine downing a crop in a spiral pattern with a plank "stomper", but the number of revolutions taken to do this would be in relation to the radius of the circle divided by the width of the stomper - ariel photographs do reveal these very clear differences - reveal also that the allegedly "genuine" swirls are exceedingly rare, though crucially, not isolated to simple circular formations alone. Could this swirled effect be faked by other means? Possibly. Therefore we should not look upon it as conclusive evidence of the genuineness of a formation. Fortunately though, there are other things to look out for: there are reports of complex interlayering of swirl patterns, which defy any explanation at all. Then you can throw in the previously discussed geomagnetic and plant growth anomalies, and one begins to wonder why the sceptical press does not make more of this evidence.
To be fair to the press, if you begin to consider the evidence, it's only natural to suppose that the evidence will point to conclusive answers, and this appears not to be the case. It's just easier to debunk the whole thing.
Are only the simple circles genuine?
The answer seems to be no. The spectacular Julia set formation of 1996, which appeared opposite Stonehenge, is given as being a "most likely" genuine formation, since eye witnesses claim the field in which it appeared was apparently empty one moment and there the next. Interviews of witnesses seem to leave us with a thirty minute window of opportunity for construction, in broad daylight, but given the scale of the thing, it's impossible that it could have been carried out even by an army of hoaxers in that time. There is also a lab report prepared by the respected BLT research group to back up these claims, quoting "mitochondrial damage" and germination anomalies in the crop within the formation - other reports from this same group indicate anomalies at Cherhil in 1998 and Littlebury Green in 1996. Other reports exist but are not yet available to casual researchers on line, though I'm informed they can be obtained from the BLT group, for a small fee.
One would think by now there would be a definitive list of "genuine" as opposed to "fake" formations, based upon the evidence of anomalous features, but there isn't. Yes, there's scientific analysis which points out anomalies at complex formations, but as with any potentially paranormal subject, earnest research is dogged by arguments over what constitutes a standard baseline for agreement in the first place. This means that otherwise compelling evidence is vulnerable to pedantic hole-picking by debunkers who can easily, and quite pointlessly, tie researchers up in knots for years - so that no progress is made at all.
However, even a brief study of the the research to date, such as it is, does tend to suggest that some of the complex formations appear to be genuine anomalies. This is very curious indeed, though I'm also tempted to say at this point that beyond a few tantalising clues, the layman is no nearer an understanding of the truth, now, even after twenty years of study, and is better off not engaging with the subject at all if he's after a definitive answer.
There are anomalies, there are apparently genuine formations, and there is a tentative procedure for establishing which of the plethora of formations appearing each year are probably the real thing, but these are whispering voices all but drowned out by the noise caused by the "greater phenomenon", which is primarily human in nature and seems uninterested in establishing for a fact whether the phenomenon is real or not.
When I say "noise", I refer to those spectacular hoaxed formations which obliterate all common sense and reasoned argument. Given the ad-hoc nature of the research, and the endless arguments over the conclusions, there's not much emphasis being given to informing the public which are the real formations and the fake anyway. Also, it seems some of the hoaxers nowadays claim paranormal guidance anyway, as if they were somehow the instruments of a greater plan, rather than the mere instigators of a fake, so lending a veneer of mystique to their creations. The psychology is complex here and it seems that so far as the greater phenomenon is concerned a known hoax can still be seriously touted by some as a part of the genuine phenomenon. I don't know what to make of this. I guess the enthusiast would say it's something for which I'd really have to be there in order to get it. I do know that with each formation, there comes a deluge of post-hoc analysis, as enthusiasts pore over the geometry and tell us what the circle "obviously" means, rather than: was there any evidence of hoaxing at this one. We need to be careful: it's fun to look for faces in clouds - we're good at that sort of thing, but we should never lose sight of what is real.
From reading the blogs and articles of circle enthusiasts, I'm led to believe that a crop circle, however it is formed, seems to induce an emotional response in its visitors. I suspect this is entirely subjective and the function of many things, including the psychological state of the individual, the attitudes, or the apparent emotions displayed by others visiting that circle. Crop circles are, in this sense an art form and transcend such labels as "real" or "fake" anyway - but if we're saying they're an art form we shouldn't get so hung up about the artists. But then what about those anomalies?
People will also talk loosely about "energy" - they say they feel a certain "energy" when they're standing in a crop circle, when I suspect, what they mean is they feel a certain emotion. This word "energy" when couched in such ill defined terms, feeds directly into the New Age vibe, which for all its pretensions of being an anarchic movement aimed at a worldwide brotherhood of spiritually realised beings, is at its heart a massive industry, its devotees pitifully vulnerable to being duped by others who are simply trying to sell them things.
There is another group involved in the crop circle phenomenon who would disagree that use of the term energy is ill defined. These are the geomancers. For them the "energy" is the so called subtle energy that science cannot measure, but which any Tom, Dick or Harry can sense with a couple of bent brass rods, a pendulum, or a twitching stick - what Feng Shui practitioners and even Qigong practitioners like me might call "Qi"
We're talking about dowsing of course, and geomancers claim to able to dowse these subtle energy patterns in and around the genuine crop circles, but since dowsing (or Qigong) has no credibility among scientists, we can dowse all we like, but there will never be a meeting of minds, or basis for a meaningful dialog with these techniques. Even the mention of the word "dowsing" opens up another can of worms which go wriggling off in all directions, confusing the situation even more.
Crop circles as part of the economy?
Wiltshire and Hampshire are very beautiful counties, resplendent in the summer months with their rolling downland, and dotted with ancient monuments. It's always been a place of romance and mystery. And now it has it's crop circles which are equally romantic and mysterious. Indeed since the 80's crop circles have become a massive draw, bringing tourists, and their money, from all over the world. It simply makes no financial sense then for anyone with a vested interest in this business to point out that "actually, old boy, this year's most spectacular formation is a fake and I can tell you who did it."
There are also suspicions that some farmers may be instrumental in organising hoaxed formations. Tourists are then charged an entrance fee to view the latest creation. Over the length of a season, farmers report takings of tens of thousands of pounds - which far exceeds the value of the damaged crop - so it must be a temptation.
This is not to say that all farmers who charge for access to a crop circle are obviously "in on it". The farmer has a difficult call to make. He's lost some of his crop - does he want to lose the rest when the croppies come trampling all over his field? Or does he try to control access, preserve what he can of the untrampled crop and maybe hope to recover a bit of the cost in the process by charging a small admission fee? Or does he want the bother of it all in the first place? Why not just cut your losses and harvest the damned thing out, then there's nothing for anyone to see?
Many farmers do take the latter view and behave as other farmers do in my experience, as if the land is theirs and no one else has any right to be there - so as soon as formations appear, they grind their teeth and send in the harvesters before the woolly jumper brigade and the dowsers find it and are tempted to risk trespassing. Tensions can run high between those who want access and those who would seek to deny it. Frustrations reached new heights in 2009 with a farm worker actually firing shots over the heads of tourists who were trying to gain access to a formation.
It sound like 2009 was quite a summer, down Wiltshire way.
What is it the crop circle tourists think is going on?
Devotees of the Crop circle phenomenon seem to divide into two camps - one that the formations are the work of extraterrestrials, because mere human beings are totally incapable of doing such things - or two, that it is somehow the earth itself that is speaking to us. The rationally minded will already have switched off here, but if I could coax you back and ask you to run with this one, it might be useful to explore what it is that these two camps think the earth, or the ET's are trying to tell us.
Perhaps not surprisingly, it's all about Armageddon: The earth or the aliens are trying to enlighten the "grass roots" population, so that we wise up in time, and avoid self destruction, or something like that. It's not quite so simple of course because each camp is broken up into various factions. Some members of the ET camp are convinced that spaceships are orbiting the planet and beaming down these formations, while others say the transmission is more indirect, and somehow beamed from the ETs' home-planets through a convenient wormhole, or something, or that the aliens are even our future selves beaming messages back into their past. Then again there are those who say the aliens, by whatever means, are only trying to say hello. After all, this is nothing we haven't tried to do ourselves.
Back in 1974 we beamed a cryptic message out into space from the Aricebo telescope in South America. We encoded various basic bits of information about ourselves as a sort of calling card for any intelligent civilisations that might be "out there" and capable of listening. Why haven't we received a reply in the same cryptic language? Well, you might be surprised to learn that we did: in 2002 - a highly plausible reply it was too, but it didn't come crackling in over the airwaves and it wasn't picked up by some lone observer working late into the night at a radio telescope. Instead it was stippled into the crops, appropriately enough, near the radio telescope at Chilbolton, for all to see.
There are two theories on this one: that the message is obviously a fake, and two, that it's genuine but the pesky government's been involved in a sophisticated disinformation campaign of which the Crabwood Alien face, the following year was an example.
Okay, we're back to that rather spooky Crabwood Alien.
When I first saw it, my reaction was one of amusement. Truly, I laughed at it. It looked like something straight out of an old Dan Dare comic strip. It was only when I tried to get my head around the technical details of what I was looking at and how it might have been constructed, that I stopped laughing, and to this day, I still don't know what to make of it. There was also a message encoded rather cleverly into this formation, first in binary, which, when translated, rather peculiarly into into ASCII, translated itself in to English. Unfortunately, the message was so banal, it could have come from the ravings of any conspiracy theorist's website. If it was words of wisdom the believers were after, they were left sorely disappointed.
The use of ASCII, generally known only to the computer literati, seemed unnecessarily contrived, as if the use of plain English would have been too much a turn off. Astonishing though it was, if any cynics remained in the closet by the summer of 2002, they finally came out in droves and the whole alien conspiracy myth was dealt a severe blow. It all sounds like a mad joke, but the fact remains the jokers, or debunkers, whoever they are have wielded a technology over the fields of Wiltshire, the likes of which has yet to be revealed to the general public.
Where where we?
We began, innocently enough, several thousand words ago, merely curious about crop circles, and now look at us: we're up to our necks in the quagmire of contemporary myth. All we need now are some references to the Mayan apocalyptic milestone of 2012, and we're just about done.
Well, if you're not already sick of the whole thing, I'm sorry to have to tell you that many crop circles have indeed been interpreted as referring to 2012. Indeed, in recent years the Mayan symbology of the formations has been increasingly obvious. As bizarre as it might seem, the English countryside is now host to many motifs suggestive of an ancient South American deity by the name of Queztalcoatl. What about him? Well, in a variation of modern mythology, Queztalcoatl has been stripped of his divinity and is instead portrayed as a spaceman, who's coming back in 2012 to sort out the mess we've made for ourselves.
I think I need to nail my colours to the mast at this point and say that personally, I'm happier distancing myself from the alien/government/Mayan apocalypse conspiracy, for no other reason than the people who support such ideas all seem to shout very loudly, and in total disproportion to the evidence they present. Perhaps there's just been one too many reports of imminent apocalypse for me to have patience with such things any more. I grew up with the very real possibility of a man made apocalypse - namely the cold war, and it seems that since the Berlin Wall came down in '89 we've been casting about for a suitable replacement ever since. It's perhaps no coincidence that the modern crop circle paranoia took hold about the same time as the Berliners began wielding their hammers.
Tales of a dying earth crying out to humanity to pull itself together and heal the Great Mother, are more romantic, and attractive, but again lack any evidence. It's long been apparent to me that our approach to the natural world is completely wrong, but the Great Mother has been around a lot longer than we have and my feeling is that if she ever decides she can manage without us, I don't think for one minute she'll bother consulting us over the matter.
Both of these things, the alien conspiracy, and the mother earth hypotheses, require advocates to adopt a position of irrational belief, and really, I'm disappointed. As a species we really should be growing out of this by now and learning to stand on our own two feet. I'll be more than happy if Queztalcoatl turns up in 2012 to usher in a more enlightened era, but I think it would be unwise for us to bank on it.
Back to reality
This all getting too much for me now. I'm more deeply in the quagmire than I wanted to be. I need some air, so I grab my hat and my stick and I wander off down the quiet little lanes of Lancashire. The meadows here are every bit as vast as those in Wiltshire and equally beautiful, the ripening wheat swaying gently under the evening sunshine, all beneath a great big sky.
Harvest time is approaching, and the crop circle season down south is drawing to its close. The tourists are returning home with their mugs and tee-shirts, and the hoaxers are settling down as the evenings draw in, to plan next year's spectacular formations. Although I'm not inviting it, I wonder why the hoaxers have never tried their hand up here. Too far to travel perhaps? But then we have our share of universities and colleges producing young men with the technical ability and the youthful irresponsibility to rival anything their southern counterparts are capable of. Obviously, they've obviously never felt the urge. Is it something in the water perhaps?
So far as UFO mythology is concerned we have our own stockpile of curious anecdotes of sightings of flying saucers, but the Lancashire ET's are obviously not so artistically inclined as the one's down south. Does the lack of local hoaxers prove anything? Indeed why is every farming community in the country not plagued by circle makers? There's many a quiet corner of the UK that could benefit from the tourist revenue these days, besides Wiltshire you know?
I realise there's not a lot of sense I can make of it, being so far removed from the centre of things. It's frustrating, this sense that while there may indeed be something interesting going on, its all so obscured by noise it needs forensic examination to unpick things properly, at a time when the very scientific investigators we need seem to have run away screaming at the madness of it all. We are left then in the hands of commentators who seem so enamoured of their right brain thinking, that their left brains have shriveled for want of exercise, to the extent that we can barely trust them to tie their own shoe laces.
"That's fine for you to say," you remind me.
"This is the man who consults a 3000 year old oracle for sage advice, and occasionally pontificates on the possibly blurry relationship between psyche and matter but with total disregard for the scant evidence. Why should we listen to you?"
Well,... exactly. I've tried to be careful here in presenting only the facts, or rather the range of beliefs encompassed by the phenomenon - as anyone else might glean from surfing around the subject. With a little stretch of the imagination, we can look at crop circles and see them as a kind of mandala pattern. A mandala is an image of psychological and spiritual significance. If you sit down and draw yourself a mandala, it is like the drawing of a map of your psyche. It can tell you where you are and what you need to do in order to get from A to B. Or it can simply become a mirror for any wild fantasy you want to believe in. I think that's where we are with crop circles. The answer to the question "what do they mean?" depends really upon us, and for now we seem unable to decide even whether they are there or not. Like the Crabwood alien, we see it but we do not believe in it. So the mandala becomes a simple mirror, and we see reflected in it an image of whatever it is we want to believe instead.
Which brings me to my own "belief" - though I tend to be shy of that word these days because it carries with it the sense of an irrational conviction that something is true, for no other reason than someone else told you so. I try to "believe" in nothing, hold to no convictions, but instead look to my own experience for connections which might suggest a reasonable basis for holding a particular view - nothing more, or we can become too dogmatic and brittle if our suppositions are later shown to be simply wrong.
Anyway, having created sufficient wriggle room for later retractions, I can say that I feel if there's something going on here, I'm more inclined to explore it from the point of view that it's cause is more of an "internal" than an external agency - internal, that is, to the human psyche. In this sense, all circles could be man-made - even the one's it seems we haven't touched. How?
Well, there's growing evidence from other research - unrelated to crop circles, but equally controversial - that under certain circumstances, collective thought can become so entrained it will influence matter - that if enough people think along similar lines, at the same time, they can begin to influence the physical world, sometimes in ways that seem to short-circuit what we generally understand as "time". I know this is just as woolly an explanation as any of the others, but it's all you're going to get out of me for now. So far as I can tell the researchers exploring such entrainment - or conscious entanglement - are fighting their own battles for credibility and aren't interested in crop circles - because, I mean, they're all fake aren't they? But maybe it's worth them taking another look.
To answer that question: Are crop circles real? Well, it seems probable most of them are not, and that the massive "crop circle" phenomenon of recent times is mostly human generated.
But what about the rest? Are there no genuine anomalies in the crop circle world? Well, my opinion is that the evidence suggests there may be something interesting and "genuine" going on, but there are so many chattering voices, it's impossible to get to the bottom of exactly what that "something" is. I'm not sure I have the wit, the resources, or the first hand experience of the phenomenon to define things any clearer for you than that. I'd really like to explore this thing further but at the moment I seem to lack the courage to do so. Why? Because the other question I asked was: is it possible to navigate a safe path through all of this? The answer is a resounding "no". Anyone hanging around the crop circle scene for too long is going to be labelled a crank. So I'm off to look at other things, before the stigma catches up with me, and I turn into yet another muddle headed croppie.
In the mean time, roll on 2012, because once that date is out of our system, and those who are pedalling the next apocalypse find themselves facing sunrise as usual in 2013, it'll eliminate half of the croppie field in one go - perhaps ushering in at last a new era of common sense, and sober research.
Maybe that'll be the time to have another look at it.
Copyright © M Graeme 2009