A couple of years ago an old friend visited. We chatted about mutual friends and recent interests. I talked a little about some of the topics I’ve found intriguing in recent years, some of which are discussed in this blog.
After a while, he asked what I thought about crop circles. I paused, surprised by the question and unsure what to say.
Of course, I’d heard of the crop circle phenomenon before – a long time back. I remembered press reports of crop circles mysteriously appearing, mainly in in south-western England, more than a quarter century ago. It’s predominantly – but not entirely – been an English phenomenon. But crop circles rarely feature in Australian news and I had to admit I just hadn’t thought about the topic for years – and really knew very little about it.
Over the next couple of hours we surfed some of the websites that discuss this remarkable phenomenon.
An elaborate Crop Circle at Woodborough Hill, Wiltshire, August 2009 (© Lucy Pringle)
I’m not sure what I thought he’d show me. Perhaps I’d expected to be confronted with photographs that could all be easily explained as the work of local pranksters? In any event, as we looked at more and more photos and read some of the accompanying text, he had no difficulty making his main point: a subtantial number of crop circles cannot be explained as the handiwork of amateur pranksters. That’s certainly an explanation for some of the crop circles, for sure; but the phenomenon as a whole goes beyond that.
Some circles have been the work of drunks in boots.Plenty of hoaxes – more or less sophisticated – have been acknowledged as such afterwards by the pranksters responsible. But there are also many designs that regularly yet unpredictably turn up in famers’ fields cannot be explained in this way.
Over the years, the designs have become increasingly complex. Since the 1990s, ‘crop circles’ has been a rather inaccurate term. Some of the designs are quite breathe-taking. There are cases when elaborate patterns have appeared, overnight, in fields directly adjacent to busy main roads. An example is a design that appeared next to Silbury Hill, adjacent to the A40. It’s a road that carries traffic at night. Drivers would surely have spotted a troupe of pranksters in their headlights as they drove past – but that didn’t happen. It never seems to have happened.
I became intrigued. This truly is a phenomenon that demands explanation. What on earth has been going on?
Of course, plenty of folk believe the answer lies way beyond this earth. Crop circles have long been associated, in the public mind, with UFOs and extra-terrestrial visitors.
If they are right, we now a lot more about these ‘extra-terrrestrials’ than we did when I was a teenager in south west England, way back in the 1960s.
- First, we know “extra-terrestrials” were to begin making large numbers of patterns in fields from the late 1970s/early 1980s onwards, often quite close to military bases.
- Second, we know the artistic galactic travelers developed a taste for more and more complex designs over time. The first reported ‘crop circles’ in modern times were rather bland and tended to be ‘circles’ in the normal sense. Later designs are a lot more exotic.
- Third, these ‘extra-terrestrials’ visiting planet earth have a peculiar fondness for the British Isles – especially south-west England. Their taste in scenery quite specific. If one was forced to nominate one English country as most favoured by the cosmic visitors, it would be Wiltshire. Perhaps they appreciate the excellent local beer?
- Fourth, they operate almost entirely in the summer months when the crops are nice and high – and occasionally travel overseas too.
Crop 'Circle' July 1990 Allington Down, near Stanton St.Bernard, Wiltshire; ambitious but not too flashy
Small wonder we weren’t taught this stuff in school 40 years ago. Our teachers weren’t to know this phenomenon was to occur during the lifetimes of their students. They weren’t to know how it would evolve. But teachers in the west country of England these days can’t pretend ignorance. I wonder what on earth they tell the kids now?
Good teachers should not present hypotheses as facts. They should, however, try to present all credible hypotheses. I have a hypothesis to offer which may or may not be on the English curriculum at present. The purpose of this article is to present it. It’s not original… but I do intend to push it rather harder than it’s been pushed before, for reasons I’ll explain.
A little more background first. There are plenty of websites that touch on the topics of ‘crop circles’ – and lots of media references. A few sites are dedicated to the subject and seem carefully prepared and cogent. One or two of them have quite detailed, year by year histories of new occurrences.
Most sites concur that a large number of crop cricles really are obvious hoaxes. In those cases there are tell-tale signs – footprints leading to and away from the circle and indications the crops have been trampled or otherwise manually disturbed to create the pattern. The proportion of crop circles that can be explained in this way is quite large; on one estimate, about 80% of the total.
That still leaves a substantial residue of cases that cannot be explained as amateur pranks. In these instances, there are no signs of trampling and no footprints. Often these happen to be the most complex and artistic designs.
There’s a stunning chronological gallery of Crop Circles on Lucy Pringle’s website. Her gallery goes back as far as 1990. As you can see, more complex designs developed over time – as did the precision of the design work. By the mid-1990s there were some highly elaborate designs. The artistic sophistication of crop circles has been even greater in more recent years.
Dr Rupert Sheldrake
At this point, I’d like to introduce an audio file which I encountered on the website of Rupert Sheldrake. It’s rather dated – nearly two decades old. Even so, I haven’t found a more recent discussion of equal sophistication.
The discussion about crop circles is one in a series of conversations between three remarkable and unconventional scientists. Dr Sheldrake has posted recordings of these discussions, which took place over a decade ago, on his website. He called them ‘Trialogues‘. They cover a fascinating range of subjects.
The Trialogue discussion on crop circles took place in September 1991.
If you have time, do listen. It’s a real treat!
For those who don’t have time, I’ll do my best to summarize what i regard as the main points in their discussion…
Rupert Sheldrake opened. He knew most about the phenomenon. In part, that was because Sheldrake is both English and based in England, which was the scene of most of the crop circle action at that time (that’s remained the case since).
Additionally, as someone with an interest in the paranormal, who’d already published the controversial (some said heretical) book A New Science of Life, Dr Sheldrake was also well-placed to review this intriguing new phenomenon in the broader context of public interest in UFOs, ancient earth mysteries and the like.
In any event, he gave an excellent account of the phenomenon to that time. It’s remarkable that not much has changed since then… even though new and ever more remarkable crop circles have appeared each year.
Robotic technology improving: Crop circle at Knoll Down near Avebury Trusloe, Wiltshire July 2000 (© Lucy Pringle)
His two colleagues took different positions. Physicist Ralph Abraham asked questions and made some thoughtful comments, but didn’t seem to have a particular theory to propound.
The third scientist, Terence McKenna, was arguably the most unconventional of the three in his professional and personal life. Sadly McKenna died in 2000 at age 53, but in the last years of his life he was a regular at festivals such as Glastonbury, sharing his thoughts and insights with small audiences in muddy tents. During his career, McKenna’s research interests had included ethnopharmacology and shamanism. One might think if one of the three men would come up with a really fanciful ‘New Age’-style explanation for the crop circle phenomenon it would have been McKenna.
In fact, the reverse was true. From early on, Dr McKenna expressed the view that this was almost certainly an exercise in psychological manipulation by British ‘intelligence services’ using advanced (but not ‘otherworldly’) technology to carry out the surreptitious nocturnal design work.
The conversation increasingly turned into McKenna expanding and elaborating on his theory, while Sheldrake and Abraham expressed varying degrees of skepticism about it.
McKenna ended up theorizing that the purpose of the psy-op was to discredit the ‘alternative’ ‘pagan’ movement. Sheldrake thought that rather ridiculous. I agree. In my opinion, McKenna was essentially right about the crop circle phenomenon being a military/’intelligence agency’ psy-op – but wrong about its purpose.
Funky Designs now the norm: Milk Hill, Wiltshire July 2009 (© Lucy Pringle)
McKenna made some predictions about how the phenomenon would end. He theorized it would either fade away (experiment concluded), or that at some point the hoax would be announced to the public. He didn’t consider the possibility that it would run for two more decades without any resolution. I think McKenna didn’t imagine the public would be so silly and disorganized as to put up with that.
But McKenna was wrong. The public has been that silly. The psy-op is ongoing – or was until 2010. Another enchanting and oddly appropriate set of patterns may well appear in the crop-fields of south west Britain in 2011 as summer returns. The game may still be in progress. I think it’s high time to bring it to a close.
McKenna made what to my mind is the killer argument against the phenomenon having an extraterrestrial or paranormal cause.
He pointed out that were that to be the case, the British establishment – military, police, secret services etc – would be on the highest state of alert. After all, powers of unknown origin that can make work-of-art crop circles unseen at night-time near military bases might well be able to re-arrange the bases themselves, scramble nuclear power plants and do heaven knows what to other very mundane phenomena that the British authorities are most keen to keep secure. As there are also numerous American bases in Britain, not only the British state would be alarmed. The whole world would be on edge over crop circles – even if the public as usual was last to know the whole story.
Instead, the entire affair has been laughed off by the establishment. That makes sense only if those ultimately responsible for ‘national security’ know perfectly well who is behind this mysterious phenomenon. They know – because it’s them.
Since the Trialogue two decades ago, we’ve leaned much more about the so-called national intelligence services, about the extent to which they may well have become infiltrated by hostile third parties and about their likely participation in crimes against humanity.
An elaborate Crop Circle at Woodborough Hill, Wiltshire, August 2009 (© Lucy Pringle)
The image of the jovial, rather inept British intelligence agent painted by Rupert Sheldrake back c 1990 is surely now a relic of past misunderstanding. Consequently, if the British intelligence agencies have been playing games with public consciousness over crop circles, there’s no reason to think its a benign experiment or joke.
My suspicion is that it has been – at least in part – an exercise in the manipulation of public opinion itself. The way the different elements of society conspired unwittingly to perpetuate spooks-seeded mythologies and false ‘New Age’ theories – while failing to home in on the rather obvious explanation for this phenomenon – may well have been tracked with keen interest. If the populace can be confused, befuddled and left in a state of utter uncertainty about a phenomenon such as crop circles, what might be possible with towerblocks?
Questions should certainly be asked in the British Parliament about Crop Circles. The media should not be allowed to let this subject drop until there are real answers. The deception should be publicly exposed – and heads should role in whichever rogue spook organization is responsible.
Playing mind games with the public may not be the worst thing these people do, but it’s an gross abuse of taxpayer funds and falls way outside accepted norms about the appropriate role of civil servants.
I noticed since publishing this article that Dr Sheldrake has a paper on his website entitled The Crop Circle Making Competition which I hadn’t spotted before.
Although undated, it appears to have been published much more recently than the Trialogue. Referring to the famous author John Mitchell with whom he jointly organized the 1992 Crop Circle Making Competition, Sheldrake writes:
Almost everyone now agrees that most crop circles are human made. But some enthusiasts still believe that a minority are created by non-human agencies. Surprisingly, there was an article about them in the scientific journal Nature on June 10, 2010, called ‘The Crop Circles Evolves.’ The summary reads: “A growing underground art movement combines mathematics, technology, stalks and whimsy.” But even this scientifically acceptable account has not managed to expel all mystery. The details of the bent stems suggest to the author of the Nature article that “some patterns may have been sculpted using microwave generators, such as masers or magnetrons from microwave ovens.”John enjoyed the continuing evolution of crop circles, their increasing geometrical sophistication, and the way they continue to defy simplistic explanations.
It’s odd to me that even someone as intellectually curious as Rupert Sheldrake can leave the mystery hanging, almost with satisfaction.
Perhaps he’s right to do that? After all, no-one outside the conspirators involved really knows who’s really been responsible for the elaborate Crop Circle phenomenon over the years. Who are they? MI-2012? Is more than one agency involved? Are they in the military? Are corporate interests involved? Who knows?
Unlike Sheldrake, I can’t brush aside the likelihood of state ‘intelligence agency’ / military involvement.
Having paid attention to the shenanigans associated with 9-11 and the 7/7 London Bombings, I’d say the liklihood is high that similar players are involved in this scam as well.
Was the much missed Paul Vijay, RIP, about whose mysterious death I wrote in 2009, coming to a similar view?
UPDATE 1 (there may be more!)’
Since publishing this article I’ve been followed by two new Twitter users: @CropCircles and CropCircles3d, both associated with websites.
Circles Info is an artistic and interesting site. CropCircles3d helps you turn your favourite design into furniture!
It occurs to me that theories should be testable and falsifiable, so in the spirit of Terence McKenna I’ll take a stab at predicting the end of Crop Circles, at least in their most sophisticated and mysterious manifestation.
I predict that if ever this theory (The Theory of the Spook Origin of Sophisticated Crop Circles) becomes widespread, the phenomenon will draw to a close.
That’s because being caught out AFTER widespread identification of this as the most likely crop circle theory seems unduly risky.
I could well be wrong about that. Who really knows what risks clandestine state-backed operators take?
After all, they appear willing to gamble the future of our entire planetary civilization in pursuit of insane policies of domination and war, derailing global society’s fumbling attempts to develop and implement a re-engineering for sustainability program – which so clearly should be Priority One.
Keep up to date with this season’s crop circles worldwide at eCropCircles.com!
Salisbury Plain warning sign: the public is excluded from ~100 square kilometers of what was once delightful English countryside
As you’ll see, there have been some reports from as far afield as Indonesia, but the peaceful rural County of Wiltshire still seems to lead the field for artistic wizardry.
Peaceful, that is, except for the Army Training Estate Salisbury Plain (SPTA), the largest military training area in the United Kingdom.