Your mouth can be your own worst enemy. The Stranglers were absolutely correct when they sang 'Sometimes there are things on your mind you should keep' ('Always the Sun') because by voicing my opinion I've been forced to write this article. It wasn't only my fault, there are others guilty of expressing the same opinions so they are also guilty by association.
It was quite difficult to write this because I really wanted to name names and show everyone who the real spiritual people were and who the money-grabbers, brown-nosers, hangers-on and paranoid schizophrenic researchers were, but I'm not getting into a slagging match and don't need any of that negative stress.
Looking back at this whole article I'm glad I've said it because there are some things that should be said...
Originally I was first introduced to The Barge and the crop circle scene by Tom & Kerry Blower, who, in May '94, showed me all the latest circles, all the ancient sites around Wiltshire and introduced me to the other croppies at The Barge, and everything was cool. It really changed my life and I've become a more spiritual person because of what I've seen and I discovered a side to my personality I never knew existed.
The Barge was great: Long, cool nights under a starry sky with some great, like-minded company. I could not get over the beauty of the place, having lived in cities and towns I was not accustomed to seeing such a black and starry sky, always expecting to see the orange glow of suburban street lamps.
Being able to wander around the countryside uninhibited was another novelty, I was used to the sound of my Dr Marten boots on concrete and tarmac. Always half expecting some boy-racer in a stolen XR3i to come screaming around the corner playing some Techno tape too loud. Every one was so friendly, people would stop and talk to you! Strangers would actually talk to you! I mean in a friendly manner! This was unheard of to me. Normally talking to a stranger in the centre of Cardiff would get you some funny looks or maybe a good kicking for your troubles.
People were so free and easy. They seemed to have lost a lot of inhibitions and conditioning that urban life forces on you. People were coming from abroad to stay at The Barge! What the hell is going on? Coming from the states to stay in The Barge. You can travel anywhere in the world, and you come to a small pub in the middle of nowhere, for goodness sake!
But there was something truly magnetic about the place and the people. But I feel that has changed, that spiritual vibe is gone. My main whinge (to cut all the poetic literary rubbish) is that The Barge is very 'cliquey'. You have to be part of the in-crowd. It was easy for me because Tom & Kerry had introduced me and most people seemed to accept me so, hey, I was part of the gang. But the amount of times a stranger would walk in to The Barge, take an obvious interest in the croppie notice-board and would be viewed with some suspicion until he/she left rather sheepishly.
There was no real warmth, none of that spirituality shown there. Hey, I'm as guilty as the next man, perhaps I should have said something. Perhaps they didn't want to come and join us for a chat, but the more time I spend in The Barge the more I see everyone breaking into their little groups. Bitching about this and that, slagging off so-and-so because they said this etc. I can get this in any inner-city pub, you're not showing your spiritual edge. It's all too competitive.
Everyone wants to get all the latest info, hoard it, use it for their advantage. No-one wants to discuss their research for fear of someone else nicking their ideas, people only invite certain people to certain events etc for their personal gain etc.
Everyone wants to make a name for themselves. Much ego massaging in the area. (I would like to dish the dirt on everyone but I would have at least a dozen writs on my doorstep. Perhaps I should, just to ruin some 'reputations'). And the main reason everyone is getting so competitive (in my view) is that too many people are trying to make a living out of their beliefs. "Yeah, I believe in crop circles being a genuine phenomena, now buy my video" or "Yeah, I think there is a genuine phenomena, if you join my three day course for a bargain £80, you can learn as much as I know". And so many people are now doing it. The notice board in The Barge is becoming a real market place. Everyone is selling something. But I think the most disturbing element is that people are trying to make money out of their beliefs.
I personally enjoy meditation. It gives me a real buzz, chills me out and I can face our messed up society, but I have no urge to produce a meditation magazine, meditation videos or organise meditation workshops and sell them to all and sundry. I also have a love of PVC clothing but I don't feel the urge to bludgeon anyone with 'my expert opinion'. Anyone can meditate, anyone can wear PVC shirts, anyone can go view the circles in the field. ITS FOR EVERYONE!
No-one is extra special because they have deemed themselves an 'expert' and maybe have a few snippets of info. For me, whether you believe crop circles are genuine or hoaxed is irrelevant. It brought people together, a common quest. Searching for the truth, that personal quest on life's spiritual path. That sense of questing has gone.
I'll name no names, but I bought a croppie magazine recently and after paying a couple of quid I basically had bought somebody's diary of what they did in Wiltshire last weekend: "We saw all these formations, here's a few (very) small pics and in my industry respected opinion they may be genuine or they may be hoaxed". No attempt to discuss the imagery contained within the formations, did they mean something? Is anyone still trying to decipher them? Is anyone still interested in them? Does anyone think anymore? Hello? Hello?!
Everyone seems to be missing whatever point or message was contained in the circles. It's basically "Hey, lets just keep talking whether they are hoax or genuine for a few more years and we can still make a couple of quid out of this."
Admittedly I'm clever enough to realise that there must be research done to ascertain the genuine/hoax nature of certain formations, but perhaps occasionally we should look at some of the wider issues here? I personally have no interest in what some researcher had for breakfast before they visited such and such a location, but there it all was. Like was I supposed to be interested?
Tell me about the formation and some idea what you think it means, that‘s what you had the money for. There are several people who go into The Barge and have some of the best theories I have ever heard, but they are dismissed because they're not part of in-crowd or don't write for respected magazines or just dismissed because no-ones actually listened to what they say, so they go unheard.
We all lose out because of this attitude. Another thing that amazes me is that by advertising your wares at The Barge you're basically preaching to the converted. Most people know about the information contained in whatever video or magazine being sold, it was passed on usually by word of mouth. We know it all, so why bother? Because everyone has heard that The Barge is where all the croppies go, so hey, lets find our target market and flog it to them.
I know several people who produce magazines but don't advertise them in their own home areas because there is no interest there, just publicising them in Wiltshire, hoping to catch some croppie with more money than sense. Instead of maybe trying to create some local interest or whatever, just make a couple of quid just to cover the cost of a trip to Wiltshire.
Don't get me wrong there are some truly beautiful people in The Barge, but I think it's sad that it's not quite what it used to be, not quite the glorious haven it could have been. A lot of people have said that to me recently, I couldn't put my finger on why I didn't enjoy the place as much as I used to and it took somebody else to point it out, several people in fact. I think its really sad. And the root could be money, or people needing to feed their ego's, or Thatcher's legacy of smashing people's solidarity and making everyone individuals dependent on the something, too many 'researchers' or 'experts', there - could be millions of reasons, I have loads of answers, but I'm just some reformed anarchist on a spiritual path who has jumped on my hardly used soap box for the day, I'm not really part of the in-crowd so no-one listens, but do I care?
I will leave you with this quote to ponder on: "The most powerful thing you can do to change the world, is to change your own beliefs about the nature of life, people, reality to something more positive... and begin to act accordingly." I would also like to thank those people, too many to mention, who I have met since going to The Barge for all their friendship and wise words, huge respect, love, light and laughter.