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The Circular Challenge

Crop circles in 2007

Delivered at the Nexus Conference 2007, Brisbane, October 22 2007

Since the early 1990s, the crop circle phenomenon has become part and parcel of the alternative scene, and specifically the science fiction industry – and even the subject of a movie, “Signs”, by M. Night Shyamalan. Equally, in the mini-series “Taken”, crop circles are featured briefly, where they are “discovered” to be a hoax. Both movies highlight the debate that has existed for almost two decades, as to whether they are man-made creations or the result of an otherworldly or extraterrestrial force.

“Cerealogy” – or crop circle science – was created by Colin Andrews, whose book “Circular Evidence” (published in 1991) was the first attempt to make crop circle research appear as a scientific discipline. Eventually, Andrews would argue that 80 percent of crop circles were fake. Andrews arrived at this conclusion in 2001, after having received funding from Laurence Rockefeller, with which he conducted a two year investigation into crop circle “hoaxing”. Andrews studied circles that had been commissioned by various media outlets and worked with several groups known to be creating man-made circles. With this information in hand, Andrews concluded that 80 percent showed “unassailable” signs of having been man-made. He argued that he could not account for the remaining 20 percent, for which he was unable to find signs of human interaction.

One group of such crop circle artists is the UK based Circlemakers.org, which have been asked to create numerous crop circles since the mid 1990s for movies, TV shows, music videos, adverts and PR stunts. Clients have included Greenpeace, Microsoft, Nike, Shredded Wheat, Pepsi, BBC, The Sun, Mitsubishi and even Big Brother.
Its members include Rob Irving and John Lundberg, who have written “The Field Guide: the art, history and philosophy of crop circle making”. It contains a 54 page “beginner’s guide” to crop circle making – which must be seen as the best guide so far, until, perhaps, the arrival of a “Crop Circles for Dummies”.

My own interest in crop circles began in 1995, when the month of July involved, amongst others, a visit to Glastonbury and attending the crop circle conference – in the presence of none other than our esteemed host, Duncan Roads. Events were largely akin to a “Church of Circle-ology”, most speakers affirming their belief in the otherworldly nature of the phenomenon – almost on par with scientists today unquestioningly pledging their allegiance to the dogma of man-made global warming. But amongst the delegates was the devil – not even in disguise – in the form of a group of crop circle makers who largely remained stoic throughout the proceedings, as well as the more vociferous and high profile Rod Dickinson, at the time perhaps the most outspoken crop circle “faker”.
Dickinson had earlier that month been invited as a speaker at “The Incident” in the Swiss town of Fribourg, where he explained his interest in the phenomenon. Dickinson was a “hoaxer”, but approached the phenomenon as a new form of art, designed to make “temporary temples”, in which people could wander and ponder – as all “real art” is supposed to accomplish.

Despite Andrews’ 2001 conclusions, cerealogy has not moved with his 80-20 conclusions. Hence, cerealogy today or in 1995 is very much the same. The problem is that the “new science” had not even had its breakfast before someone peed in its cereals – and Andrews played a pivotal role in this episode.
In 1991, two somewhat elderly gentlemen, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, went to the national media (the since defunct Today newspaper) and stated that they had largely been responsible for the crop circle phenomenon, ever since in 1978 they had left the Percy Hobs pub at Cheesefoot Head, near Winchester, to go out on Friday nights and make one or more circles. For five years, their summer exploits had gone unnoticed, until August 1980, when one of their creations made it into a newspaper, the “Wiltshire Times”. The headline ran “Mystery Circles – Return of The ‘Thing’?”, referring to the infamous “Warminster thing”, a series of UFO sightings that had occurred in the area previously.
The newspaper report stated that the flattened crop circle was believed to be not man-made, because there was an absence of tracks – wrongfully assuming that someone walking through a crop field will leave a distinct trail behind.

1991 is hence seen by many as a marker in time, differentiating BDD from ADD – Before and After Doug and Dave. Doug and Dave have been labelled everything from liars to disinformation agents, paid by the British government to discredit the entire phenomenon. But probably the sanest account of the controversial episode is that of John Macnish, a television producer, who in “Cropcircle Apocalypse”, explains the antics of these two somewhat archetypal Englishmen.
First, it should be underlined that Doug and Dave only ever created crop circles – and not any pictographs. Second, Doug also had a life-long interest in UFOs. He had lived in Melbourne in the mid 1960s and told Dave about the sighting of a UFO at Tully and the nest it had left. He was also aware of Billy Meier’s claims of how an extra-terrestrial spacecraft from the Pleiades he was liaising with, had allegedly made indented circles near Meier’s Swiss home. Over perhaps too many beers, the two Ds aspired to reignite public interest in UFOs. In retrospect, their goal was most certainly achieved.

From their early efforts in the late 1970s, for five years, their efforts went unnoticed. When their creations were finally receiving some attention, the media largely reported them as anomalous, with one Dr. Terence Meaden claiming they were due to natural causes. Over the next decade – the 1980s – Doug and Dave tried to create ever more elaborate circles, in the hope of forcing Meaden to admit no natural phenomenon could achieve such damage to a field. Unfortunately, as the circles grew in complexity, so did Meaden’s theory. As such, a design that was obviously meant to leave the impression that a four-legged UFO had landed in one field, was explained as the result of a freak weather phenomenon.
By 1990, the pair decided to incorporate straight lines into their design, in an effort to finally vanquish Meaden’s theories about the phenomenon. But then, on July 12, 1990, when the pair had already decided which formation to create, a “double pictogram” of East Field at Alton Barnes was made – not by Doug and Dave. It was a huge pictogram, possibly the most famous crop circle of all, which would later feature on a Led Zeppelin album cover. It consisted of a number of circles, rings, paths and various appendages to the rings and signalled a new age for the phenomenon: though the phenomenon would continue to be labelled “crop circles”, for the next decade, the most intricate designs were to be pictographs, rather than circles.

Cerealogists have made a series of claims about the impossibility of human interference with these designs. Some of these are based on circular reasoning. For example, that people would have a hard time making these circles in the middle of the night works both ways: it is rather bizarre that circles always appear at night; a truly otherworldly force would unlikely distinguish between night and day for creating such glyphs and would seriously be able to impress us if it could form a circle by daytime, in mere seconds.
The stalks that have been bent, not broken, as well as certain enlarged sections of stalks recovered in circles were all popular anomalies in the 1990s, specifically with the articles written by one Dr. William Levengood. This “proof” has since been abandoned and negated by the vast majority of cerealogists. We all know that things normally bend before breaking, and anyone who has made crop circles, as I did in 1995 with a small group of Dutch crop circle enthusiasts, will know that the natural tendency of the crop is to first bend, rather than break. Any researcher telling you otherwise should only create a crop circle himself to disprove his own theory.
Still, each year, a series of anomalies have been pointed out as an indication – or evidence – that the phenomenon has an anomalous nature. At first, this was the statement that some corn was left standing in the middle of the circle, and more recently how certain insects seemed to be stuck to the stalks affected by the circle’s formation. A popular theory is that some form of microwave power “zaps” the field, bending and expanding the affected crops, and killing or affecting any life that is present inside the formation during its creation.

The “best evidence” in many people’s book for an otherworldly origin is the apparent complexity of the circles. But to underline the human perfection that can go into circles, four examples should suffice. Two examples were made by Circlemakers.org, the first a design for a Wheatabix advert, the second a commission for a BBC television documentary. Whereas the Wheatabix circle is unusual, the perfection in creating what appear to be from a distance uniform letters, including openings in the letters e, a and b, underlines the expertise of some of the makers. The BBC design is of a complexity on par with at least 80 to 90 percent of the circles that appear today. The end result was a 300 feet design in barley, which incorporated some level of sacred geometry.
The BBC commissioned this circle as part of its landmark art series “A Picture of Britain”, presented by David Dimbleby. The six part series explored how the British landscape had inspired artists over the years. The last of the series reached an audience of eight million and featured crop circle artists, alongside the works of Constable and Turner.
The third example is probably a watershed event in the history of crop circle making. It was a crop circle that broke the scientific integrity of Colin Andrews, and was a circle made by artist-musician Bill Drummond and Jim Cauty, of the acid-house band KLF (Kopyright Liberation Front). Their anarchist tendencies are probably best underlined by noting that previously, they were known as The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, but had to change the name when their debut album contained samples of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”… without asking the group’s permission. Later, they would become famous for the song “Justified & Ancient”.

At the height of the 1990 crop circle fever, Andrews seemed to have a direct line to the BBC, and hence phoned in to BBC Breakfast News, noting his team of crop circle watchers had just witnessed – overnight – the creation of a crop circle in Bratton Castle. The interviewer asked: “Are you quite sure you couldn’t have been the victim of some elaborate hoax last night?”
Andrews’ reply: “No, not indeed. We have high quality equipment here and we have indeed secured on high quality equipment a major event… we do have something of great, great significance… Yes, we have everything on film and we do have, as I say, a formed object over a field… We are doing nothing more now until we have helicopters over the top, to film in detail what we have, before anyone enters the field.”
TV producer John Macnish, who was on site during the furore, stated that just before, Pat Delgado had claimed that witnesses had seen triangular shaped objects in the sky, which had come together in a great light show before sending shafts of light down to the ground.
Unfortunately, in their efforts to inform the world’s population of this circle, Andrews and Delgado had ignored certain blue items inside the circle, which turned out to be a board game called Zodiac Spells, placed beneath crossed sticks in the centre of each of the six circles. Furthermore, a more detailed study of the circle also revealed a large number of footprints. Andrews and Delgado realised they had to admit that this circle was a hoax, and now stated: “As soon as I saw the edges of the first circle, I could tell at once it was an obvious hoax […] This affair has improved our credibility, as we were able to detect a hoax within seconds… our equipment can tell within seconds whether a ring is a hoax or not… It even detected the heat of the bodies of the perpetrators!”
The media, however, were unimpressed with this 180 degrees turn. ITN’s Vernon Mann, when interviewing Andrews, stated – rather than asked – “Admit it you have been made to look complete fools, you were premature when you came out with the statements you gave this morning.” In an effort to further the crop circle enigma – and some might argue their profile – Andrews and Delgado had just committed the most serious of errors, and had set both the enigmatic nature of the phenomenon and their public profile back.

The experience also gave the media the idea to seriously test the scientific capability of the cerealogist. Hence, in 1991, Channel 4 would use a group of students, working under the name of “Wessex Skeptics”, setting up crop circle enthusiast Busty Taylor and Terence Meaden. In September 1991, the Today newspaper, when scooping the Doug and Dave revelation, created yet another circle, this time in Kent, this time in an effort to expose Pat Delgado as a fool.
The KLF logo was also found in a Wiltshire wheat field a few days after the Bratton Castle circle. This time, the cerealogists had learned their lesson and immediately called it a hoax, if only because the farmer straightforwardly confirmed he had received £350 from KLF to allow access to his field.
To underline the rather eccentric nature of this group, at the height of their fame, the KLF apparently also took a flight to Scotland and burnt one million pounds in genuine bank notes, as well as devising plans to knock down Stonehenge with JCBs – a mission that was aborted.

These examples clearly show that man-made crop circles are definitely on par, if not superior, to any circle that cerealogists deem to be “anomalous”. Furthermore, despite Andrews’ two year campaign to learn from the makers himself (which in retrospect was too little, too late), as early as 1992, a crop circle competition was organised. The idea came about by none other than scientist Rupert Sheldrake, who also invited D&D to participate. The pair turned down the offer if only, in my opinion, because they knew their circles were by now far inferior to what others were able to achieve. The contest involved the teams having to copy a design given to them by the judges, and resulted in eleven almost identical pictograms, each showing little or no sign of entry.

Where does this leave the crop circle phenomenon? At one level, the theories proposed by some of the cerealogists have been totally discredited, yet are at the same time not very far from a possible truth.
Doug and Dave made it clear that they were specifically inspired by UFOs in their crop circle efforts. Doug was specifically interested in the subject, and hoped that by leaving anomalous circles in fields, speculation about UFOs would be reignited. As mentioned, his interest was derived from an Australian UFO case from the 1960s. On the morning of January 19, 1966, in Tully, Queensland, a 28 year old farm work, George Pedley, was driving his tractor across his banana farm when he heard a strange hissing sound. At first, Pedley thought the hissing was from his tractor tyres, but the sound was instead coming from a medium-sized, horseshoe-shaped lagoon on a neighbouring property.
“Suddenly George saw this machine rise up from our lagoon. It rose about 30 to 40 feet (10-12m) and then it turned on its side and just shot away”, landowner Albert Pennisi said. “It was gone, vanished into thin air.”
George went to the lagoon straight away and he saw the water still swirling, still churning around. Floating on Pennisi’s normally unremarkable lagoon was a UFO “nest”, a nine metres circular mass of reeds, tightly woven in an intricate design swirling clockwise and so strong, Pennisi said, that it could easily support the weight of ten men.

The Tully case is but one in several – if not hundreds – in which reports referenced UFOs leaving certain marks on the ground – and if that ground was a field – a circle in grass or crop. Often, this “sign” took the form of burning or flattening and was seen as a CE-II: a Close Encounter of the Second Kind, in which physical evidence was deemed to be present.
CE-IIs are as old as the UFO phenomenon itself. For example, in 1952, a 16 ft ring was found in Lamont, Missouri, following multiple UFO sightings. Two years later, a glowing object was observed touching down at La Roche-Brenil, France, leaving a 12 ft ring of “ash-like” appearance.
The famous astronomer Patrick Moore reports how in the summer of 1963, he came to a site in the UK, to see a crater of what appeared to be meteorite. But Moore noticed something different nearby: “in the adjoining wheat fields were other features taking the form of circular or elliptical areas in which the wheat had been flattened. I saw these myself; they had not been much visited, and were certainly peculiar. One, very well defined, was an oval, 15 yards long by 4.5 broad. There was evidence of ‘spiral flattening’, and in one case there was a circular area in the centre of which the wheat had not been flattened. In no case was there any evidence of an actual depression in the ground.”
“Reports over the radio and in the press caused widespread interest, and this was heightened by a statement from an Australian who gave his name as Robert J. Randall, from the rocket proving ground at Woomera. Dr. Randall maintained that the crater had been produced by the blast-off of a saucer from the planet Uranus.” Enquiries with authorities in Woomera later denied having a Dr. Randall, but the incident is typical of the era before Doug and Dave arrived on the scene.
Doug and Dave designed crop circles to be associated with UFOs, and ever since, the extra-terrestrial hypothesis is the more popular explanations for the phenomenon – though remarkably, many of the cerealogists themselves, will argue for an otherworldly – rather than an extraterrestrial – intelligence.

So, whereas Andrews accepts eighty percent to be man-made, are, in fact, 100 percent of circles man-made?
In the aftermath of the two Ds’ revelation, the believers have levelled some unfounded accusations against them. First of all, Doug and Dave never claimed they were the sole people making crop circles, nor that they were responsible for all crop circles. What they did argue – and could prove – was that they had been making circles since the late 1970s, and were responsible – until the late 1980s – for the best-known circles, many of whom were labelled as “genuine”, i.e. not man-made, and made the careers of the likes of Andrews and Meaden.
“Hoaxers” – crop circle artists – are furthermore the first to point out that the phenomenon predates Doug & Dave – much more so than cerealogists. In fact, cerealogists often imply the phenomenon began in the 1970s, picked up pace in the 1980s and exploded in the 1990s. Though many make some reference to it, in fact, the phenomenon – of the crop circle, and not the pictogram – is much older. And this is the rabbit hole cerealogy should perhaps explore more.

One little-known account states that in the first half of the 20th century, the existence and origins of crop circles was quite well-known. Young lovers were said to have made such circles to “enjoy themselves”, without being seen by family members. Apparently, several such circles were made in different locations, so that the young lovers had various places of close encounters of the sexual kind (CE-X?), without parental oversight. One woman noted that when some of the circles were discovered – though without any sexual encounter apparently in progress – “the disturbed corn was often put down to the deer.”
Historical evidence of crop circle reports can also be found in the 17th century. The most famous example is found in a pamphlet, dating from August 22, 1678, which shows a woodcut of a demonic figure cutting oats with a scythe. The story is about a disagreement over price between the landowner and the farmer, with the farmer telling the landowner that the devil himself should mow the oats, as he will not do so for the proposed price, leaving the man to it. The following morning, somewhat mysteriously, a circle has been cut into the oats field and the devil is blamed for it: “he cut them in round circles, and placed every straw with that exactness that it would have taken up above an Age for any Man to perform what he that one night: And the man that owns them is as yet afraid to remove them.” Despite the assumed superhuman exactness, which would reappear almost exactly three centuries later, it seems likely the farmer was responsible for the circle, trying to underline – with a sense of humour – his point of view to the landowner.

Almost one thousand years earlier, in 815 AD, Agobard, the archbishop of Lyon, wrote “Against the foolish opinion of the masses about hail and thunder” and reported that people believed in “Tempestarii”, which had conjured cloud ships from Magonia, a far-off place in the skies. These resulted in fierce storms, and a ransom was demanded on behalf of the Magonians in the form of crops they had flattened. The account was made famous by UFO researcher Jacques Vallee in his “Passport to Magonia”, in which he underlined that the UFO phenomenon seemed to be a modern variation of an ancient theme. Like crop circles, UFO researchers have instead preferred to maintain 1947 as the birth of the phenomenon, despite hundreds of reports and incidents that predate that year, including the anomalous foo-fighters of the Second World War.

Indeed, circles on the ground have always had a magical connotation. Take, for example, the fairy rings, which are linked with tales of passers-by that were lured away to the land of the fairies. As such, these fairy rings were “doorways into other dimensions”, which is another theory proposed about what crop circles might represent.
In German-speaking Europe, fairy rings are known as Hexenringe, or “witches rings”, stemming from an old medieval belief that the rings represented places where witches would have their gatherings.
In English folklore, fairy rings were said to be caused by elves, fairies or pixies dancing in a circle, wearing down the grass beneath their feet. These mythical creatures, of course, are often associated with mysterious balls of light.

This medieval folklore has changed little from the earliest agrarian civilisations, which were reliant on successful harvests, at the time one of the greatest revolutions Mankind had witnessed. As such, within the pantheon of gods, certain deities became corn deities. It was the Roman earth goddess Ceres who would give her name to cereals and cerealogy, the “science of the crop circles”.
Nearby, in Greece, it was Persephone who embodied the corn – carrying a sheaf of grain in her hand. It was, of course, she who was abducted by the King of the Underworld, Hades. Hence, any hole in a crop field was said to mark the spot where this happened, underlining the link between crop circles as a gateway to another dimension yet again – and thousands of years before the arrival of D&D – or UFOs in 1947.

This legend also provides further detail to the modern phenomenon. The name of Persephone was often seen as taboo, for the Greeks knew another face of Persephone: her role as the queen of the dead. She was also at the centre of the secret initiatory rites at Eleusis, which promised immortality to their participants. The nature of the rite has never been revealed, but some argue that a hallucinogenic substance was administered to the initiates, whereby their mind opened to other dimensions. Various substances have been proposed, but perhaps the most logical one, in the context of a corn deity, is ergot, a fungus that can be found in grain. The resulting visions are often reported as being similar to LSD; lysergic acid, a molecule used in the synthesis of LSD, can be isolated from ergot.
Human poisoning due to ergotism was common in Europe during the Middle Ages and was often known as St. Anthony’s Fire or ignis sacer. It has also been posited by Linda Caporael in a “Science” magazine article in 1976 that the Salem Witch Trials were initiated by young women who had consumed ergot-tainted rye and some have linked ergotism with the visions experienced by Joan of Arc.
British author John Grigsby claims that the presence of ergot in the stomachs of some of the so called ‘bog-bodies’ reveals that ergot was once a ritual drink in a prehistoric fertility cult akin to that at Eleusis in Greece. Finally, in “Beowulf and Grendel”, Grigsby argues that Beowulf, meaning barley-wolf, suggests a connection to ergot which in German was known as the “tooth of the wolf”.

Robbert Van den Broeke

This overview makes it clear that the phenomenon is much older than most authors on the subject give credit for. This leaves us with another, even more important question: is there a non-human intelligence behind the phenomenon – and I would underline we are talking about crop circles, not crop pictograms.
A famous case comes from Holland, where a young self-proclaimed medium Robbert Van den Broeke made contact with Dutch cerealogists, stating he spoke with alien beings (featuring a well-known, yet faked photograph of an alien in his living room), but also interacted with an intelligence, intelligent light bowls, who specifically appeared and interacted with him during the night. He would wake up, open the window and see a light show outside his home. When he went out, he would find crop circles in the field nearby. Two Dutch cerealogists, Bert Janssen and Eltjo Haselhoff, have worked with Van den Broeke, but at one point decided to forego further co-operation with the medium. Speculation has it that Van den Broeke either engineered or was led to believe into some of his “powers” and in 2003, the Dutch newspaper “De Telegraaf” reported that his parents had been caught by the neighbouring farmer vandalising his field.

The most notorious example of an interaction between lights and circles no doubt occurred in 1996, with the infamous Olivers Castle video footage, filmed on August 11. The video was allegedly shot by John Whaley (some sources write his name as Wheyleigh), who claimed to have witnessed the lights in the early morning hours, whose appearance and display was seen as being responsible for the creation of a crop circle formation. If genuine, the footage would be seen as the Holy Grail of cerealogy.
Unfortunately, in truth, John Whaley was John Wabe, who was co-partner of First Cut studios, a post production studio located in Bristol, which supplied video post services and animation to professional media productions. In this instance, it were crop circle researchers themselves, and Peter Sorensen in specific, who tracked down the real story of what had happened.
In short, the circle had been created by a team of which Wabe was a member; Wabe was the person responsible for filming the creation. As soon as the work was done, the team left the circle to be discovered, whereas he raced back to his studio, to add the lights and the shaky effect – the latter part of a video editing package the studio had just received. He then raced back, to show his “amateur film” to an assembly of crop circle researchers in one of their favourite hangouts. For months, the video made audiences gasp in astonishment, before, as mentioned, the truth was finally learned.

Olivers Castle 1996 Crop Circle

Still, since this faked footage, a number of other videos have shown anomalous lights circling over or near crop circles, such as the Milk Hill footage of 1991, which nevertheless does not show any causal relationship between the light and the formation. Other, similar evidence includes the 1976 eyewitness statement of crop circle researcher David Kingston, who at the time worked in British military intelligence. He was part of a group investigating UFO activity in Wiltshire. One night, they watched six or seven “spheres of light” hover in the air, then merge into a long sphere. The long sphere ascended to the height of the stars, then blinked out. At daylight, they found a straightforward circle, thirty feet in diameter, in wheat.

One of the few scientific paper published on the crop circle phenomenon is by Dutch biophysicist Eltjo Haselhoff in “Physiologi Plantarum”, a scientific journal on plant physiology and biophysics. In this paper and his more popular books, Haselhoff proposes that crop circles are created by “single-point sources of electromagnetic radiation” – thus arguing that balls of light are responsible for the creation of some of the crop formations. Though at present there is no evidence – let alone hard evidence – for Haselhoff’s theory, his theory is nevertheless very similar to medieval proposals as to how “fairy lights” were responsible for flattening crops.
In recent years, the subject of “fairy lights” has been renamed “earthlights” by the likes of Paul Devereux, as well as Michael Persinger, who both have argued that proximity to such anomalous lights – who in their analysis may possess some form of intelligence, or at least perceived intelligence – also acts on the brain of those people nearby – which may hence be linked with the notion of “abductions” to the Underworld or other realms, by the likes of Hades or the fairies.

So, where are we in 2007? Remarkably, very much as if it was 1996. No doubt the most sensational crop circle in 2007 occurred in East Field in Pewsey Vale, in the early hours of July 7, 2007.
The story goes that three crop circle researchers were watching East Field, which in the past had been the scene of known man-made and some unclaimed circles.
According to Gary King, one of the three researchers, “on a couple of occasions, I’ve had intuitions about crop circles like you would have before a phone is going to ring. I’ve had intuitions where I’ve gotten up in the morning and driven down to Wiltshire from my home in Wales and been lucky enough to walk into a fresh formation.”
On Friday, July 6, 2007, King thus woke up in his Wales home around 3.30 am, watched the sunrise and decided to go to Wiltshire with his girlfriend, Paula, to see if any new formations had appeared. King met up with UFO and crop circle researcher Winston Keech, who had already set up surveillance cameras on Knap Hill, overlooking East Field. Nothing happened during the day, but after the three settled down for the night, shortly after 3.00 am, they saw a sudden flash: “almost like lightning” says King that “covered the whole land and was like a big camera flash going off everywhere”. The flash was captured on camera. Then at around 3.20 am, they saw the crop circle formation through a viewfinder on a light sensitive camera. At 3.45 am, it was light enough to see the formation with the naked eye and the three went down to East Field for a closer inspection.
This new video and the circle’s reporters became a sensation within cropworld, though the entire “amazing coincidence” that three men just happened to be present and had “intuitions” something would happen, has all the hallmarks of yet another staged event. Cerealogist Andy Thomas has reported on these suspicions in the October-November 2007 of Nexus. Furthermore, claiming intuition and self promotion are described – based e.g. on the Olivers Castle video – as key tactics crop circle makers should employ, dixit The Field Guide manual.

Apart from this notorious incident, England anno 2007 “only” had 50-odd circles, with around one hundred circles – twice as much – worldwide. Still, the British formations were better and more complex than anything the rest of the world was able to offer, with some notable exceptions. As in previous years, pictograms that dominated the 1990s remain elusive (though are more common outside the UK), the majority of formations being complex circles.

So where does this leave the phenomenon? Crop circles definitely are a sign of our times – though unlikely of any end time. Rather than continue to debate whether crop circles are man-made or natural, crop circles are, in my opinion, perhaps the best example of an archetype that is at work in our society. The involvement of ancient deities like Ceres and Persephone are clear evidence of an archetypal component to the phenomenon. Furthermore, archetypes exist in a Jungian framework as “thought formats” of another dimension. They are, like the ancient Egyptian gods, “charged” by belief and devotion by human beings; archetypes die without devotion and belief.
That too applies to crop circles. Specifically, it applies to crop circle makers and cerealogists alike, and specifically to Doug and Dave, who stated their intention was to specifically “charge” – i.e. enforce belief – in UFOs and “the beyond” by creating these circles. As such, their magical experiment has succeeded.

Equally, crop circles have become a modern form of divination. In an age where tealeaves, animal intestines or urine have become less favourite mechanisms of interpreting the desires of the beyond and the gods, and specifically the future they have in mind for us on an individual and global level, crop circles have become a new form of divination whereby Mankind is hoping to interpret the messages from the gods. We seek meaning in the circles, from alchemy, as was the case in Barbury Castle, to other topical notions, such as the Mayan calendar. Gerard Hawkins and John Michell both followed this approach for many years and today, enigmatically shaped designs continue to function as a Rorschach test on the cerealogists.
Some circles, such as Barbury Castle, as well as the Stantonbury Hill yin-yang inspired circle that was reported on July 7, 2007, lend themselves easily to divination. The “art” is somewhat discredited, in my opinion, when people try to apply it to dissecting a stylised depiction of a dog. Hence, we read: “I notice that the following crop circle […] seems to resemble the periodic table of elements. It’s a connection of rectangles, but if you look at the crop diagram, imagine seeing it from a viewpoint down within the ground. There you see a similarity to the basic structure of the periodic table, yet the diagram has new islands of elemental structure, perhaps representing new inter-relationships between elements and physics of a new sort. The possible new extensions branch off from the alkaline metals and the alkaline earth metals, and also form unusual islands stemming from the trans-uranic elements (i.e. un-unpentium reported by Bob Lazar and also UC Berkeley discoverers).” Still, the history of divination is replete with well-meaning and charlatan-like figures… and in this sense, cerealogy is no different either.

In 1993, Jim Schnabel’s “Round in Circles” underlined how insular thinking in crop circle research meant that the field had created experts of its own, which went around arguing in circular logic, in efforts to try and convince the public of the scientific nature of their research. More than a decade onwards, crop circle research is still going round in the same framework, trying to find “the evidence” that will convince the world of the non-human nature of the phenomenon.
By almost exclusively focusing on this goal, a lot of information and insights have fallen by the wayside. Hence, what are crop circles in 2007 can scarcely be better answered today than in 1991 – or 1691.
If cerealogy decides to continue to fight the battle of The Barge Inn, it will continue to practice circular reasoning to a new art form of its own, as has already been in evidence in the theories of Terence Meaden; in the second option, a genuine breakthrough in our understanding may occur, at the very least in our understanding of our relationship with archetypes, divination, and perhaps even in the field of earthlights and the workings of our mind.
Meanwhile, cerealogy continues to be a science of our time, potentially filling a mystical – not to be confused with religious – void, yet drawn apart by those who believe and those who believe not. Like the UFO phenomenon, it provides us with a mirror, providing us with an opportunity to see our true selves, showing us and society on deep psychological levels. In this framework, it does not matter whether the artist is an alien or a human being. Any good artist, like a psychiatrist, is able to externalise that what Mankind misses, so that it heals and transforms itself. As Stanislav Grof said: “The most frequent triggers of unitive experiences are natural and human made creations of extraordinary aesthetic beauty.”
That may be the real challenge. And as any psychiatrist will tell you, unless you face your problems, you will continue to go around in circles.