Some would argue that crop circles are the greatest mystery of our age. Others dismiss them as the work of pranksters and hoaxers. Some claim that they are a source of enlightenment whilst others are disappointed at the politics they have created. However you view the crop circles, there is no denying that they have had a profound effect on mankind in these latter years of the 20th Century. The crop circles can be viewed as a complete microcosm of human passion and vulnerability. Almost a condensed version of the human race itself, with egos, anger, peace and varying views all expressed by followers.
If for the moment we assume that the circles are nothing more than hoaxes and 'land art', then we gain no more 'awareness' than reading graffiti or visiting an art gallery. Although the latter is more open to interpretation of a higher order or inspiration, it is ultimately just the work of man. No messages from extraterrestrials, no warning from Gaia and no communication from a higher dimension or consciousness. Sure some works of art can be regarded as masterpieces and even create a spiritual stimulus for some observers, but none the less they don't hold some divine key or path to higher awareness (no doubt some would argue about the source of inspiration behind some masterpieces, but that's diverting from the discussion in hand). In this sense, then crop circles have become boring, even predictable. Sure, each year heralds ever more complex formations and elaborate patterns, but then that's the usual predictability of human nature - that of striving to better the previous patterns, going one up on a rival artist or hoaxer.
There would be no rewards for predicting that this years formations will be more complex than last year's, no surprise for guessing that hoaxers may try to copy the current cerealogical theories or 'logical progression' from what's come before. After all, researchers wished for seven-fold geometric designs in 1997 and these were duly delivered in 1998. There is no denying that hoaxing goes on and also the fact that many known hoaxers are seen attending crop circle conferences and lectures. But, are they really as proficient as they would have us believe? Indeed, is there some sinister plot behind the debunking of the crop circle mystery?
Now imagine that just a single formation - somewhere, from the thousands to appear during the last several decades in numerous countries around the world - is actually genuine. Firstly, we need to imagine what 'genuine' could possibly mean. I think I would be pretty accurate in guessing that most researchers, even if they wildly differ on personal theories, would agree that genuine refers to any formation which is not made by human circle-makers. Leaving aside the speculation of what could possibly create these elaborate shapes if not made by humans with rollers and planks etc., then we have a mystery. As many people have said in the past, we only need a single 'genuine' formation for there to be a worthy excuse to carry out research. Personally I believe there have been many more than just a single elusive, genuine, circle somewhere.
Lets move away from the actual method of construction for the time being and try to work out what the message, if any, might be. Again, there are 1001 different theories here - and each is perfectly as valid as any other in lieu of no concrete evidence available to any interpreters.
Is it a dire warning from Mother Earth to Mankind? Are they a communication from departed souls or ancient tribes? Are they markings from passing UFOs, Are they the military testing out secret new weapons? Are they a natural phenomenon caused by underground water reserves, wind vortices or mating hedgehogs?
Ultimately we may never know unless the circlemakers make the infamous 'landing on the White House lawn'. However, we can still speculate. If you talk to people, the most common interpretation is some kind of communication. With whom? We have no idea! Personally I believe it is with ourselves. A look inside human nature and understanding! Different people see different things. We each have our own paths to travel through life and each of us will encounter different challenges and possibilities along the route. Each person is also learning at their own rate. You only need to observe children at school to understand the diversity and varying speeds understanding and knowledge progress at. Is someone necessarily a lesser person because they learn at a different rate to someone else? They can overtake, slow down, recap some past experience or avoid certain situations. We are all masters of our own destiny, even if some people would like to think otherwise.
Crop circles act like a signpost to some end destination - that of becoming a better, more open and 'aware' individual. They refer us to some future state of our being; perhaps becoming more environmental, studying physics and maths, becoming more spiritual, whatever? Also, just like a regular road signpost, some people can miss what direction it's pointing in or follow it for a few miles and then take a wrong turning. Some pranksters could also come along and pull it from the ground and point it in a different direction in order to fool, or hoax, people. So what? Like all good communication, it's the message that counts, not the messenger. As long as we eventually get to our destination it doesn't matter which route we take, or if we take a different one to anyone else. By travelling our own path, we gain experience which is relevant and important to us, as individuals, not sheep following the consensus view.
This leads me to the most important question regarding crop circle research. If there is indeed some profound message for Mankind to be learnt, either spiritually or scientifically then what if certain people wanted the status quo to remain unaltered. Many may argue against such 'conspiracy theories' but, like the rest of crop circle research, I would urge you to keep an open mind and examine the evidence available. Turn over every stone you find. Do your own digging and see what you can discover for yourself. Like experiencing the circles themselves, nothing can beat personal experience. Each person needs to follow their own path to learning.
In the early years, much pioneering research was carried out by well known circles researchers such as Colin Andrews, Pat Delgado, Terence Meaden and others. The military were taking a keen interest. There was not much talk of hoaxing and questions were even being asked in Parliament. People didn't have answers to more and more questions being asked. Many theories were being developed. People began to look outside established thinking to search for solutions. Could the symbols in the fields point us to better understanding of science? Were they coded secrets for free, or zero point, energy systems? Were they hinting at higher levels of consciousness that humans have been losing through the ages? All these questions, and more, could worry those in power who want to hold the power over the population.
However, if something really was occurring in the fields, and it wasn't all a hoax, then what would be the best way to hide it from the public. Other than paying farmers to quickly destroy circles or to ban pilots from flying around the countryside, the most tried and tested method of dismissal is to ridicule and rubbish the subject. Give the population snippets of carefully prepared propaganda so that they get confused. Feed them so much information from different sources that their senses get desensitised. Hide a true fact between two lies so that people are unsure what the real facts are.
By 1990 circles research was at a peak. Even the BBC sponsored a 24 hour vigil at Bratton Castle under the name Operation Blackbird. Although the whole project was scheduled to last up to three weeks with constant round-the-clock surveillance including infra-red and night vision cameras, radar and huge media coverage there was surprisingly a result on only the second day. The BBC urgently contacted Colin Andrews for a statement who, with hindsight, made the mistake of excitedly proclaiming an event of great, great significance before he actually had the chance to visit the newly formed circle on the ground. Was this the BBC (and Governments') ploy to destabilise and undermine serious research. After all, when Colin and Pat eventually got to the location on the ground it was so obviously a hoax, even to the extent of placing a sinister looking board game and zodiac symbols in the centre and a couple of bits of convenient wire. By lunchtime the hoax was all over the National News and Colin was, unfortunately, made a laughing stock. However, an enquiring individual may ponder as to why the hoax was so clearly marked out as being a hoax, why was Colin pressed for a statement before he had a chance to visit the formation? After all, even a novice researcher would have immediately spotted this obvious hoax on entering the formation on the ground? Was the BBC trying to hammer the first nail into the coffin of serious crop circle research. I spoke to Colin recently and he made the following comments exclusively to Enigma.
"Whilst Pat and I were making our way to the field following the statement I made on Breakfast TV that day, we noticed about ten military jets in a hold circuit approx. 10 miles east of the site. At the exact moment we were commanded by the BBC to enter the field with cameras running, the jets grouped into formation and swooped directly over our heads, in what appeared to be a very deliberate act - it made the whole event seem almost 'carnival like'."
Meanwhile Dave Barrett of BBC Wiltshire Sound Radio, revealed that the MoD had placed a "D" notice on their live transmissions from the site, until later in the day - presumably when any government conspiracy had been completed.
Colin also exclusively revealed to me that a senior BBC employee instructed a leading "Blackbird" researcher to hand a fake video tape to Nippon TV for analysis - the original tape which recorded a second crop circle event, was never seen again! Also, and even more sinister, was that Colin made five confidential phone calls on his "government owned" mobile telephone as he was on his way to Bratton, on his own during the early hours. Nobody was ever told who these phone calls were made to, yet they appeared in Jim Schnabel's book some years later - Schnabel being a known CIA contractor.
What the motives behind all these events were, is anyone's guess but none the less, a percentage of the population lost interest in crop circles.
The cynic could argue that by debunking the project on the second day it would defuse the growing media frenzy and public curiosity into the circles in order to contain any future, more interesting, results that might occur. Of course, through the dedication of circles researchers like Colin Andrews, serious research continued - even though the BBC and global media had tried to fool the public into thinking it was all one big hoax. 1990 and the following year turned out to be major milestones in the history of crop circles with many hundreds of formations appearing - not only in the UK but all around the world. As more and more people visited crop formations for the first time, more people had first hand experience of the continuing mystery - even if the 'powers that be' did try to dampen public enthusiasm via debunking stories in the national media. If there is one thing that you can't deny it's your own, first-hand, felt in the heart, personal experience of anything - thus the subject refused to die.
In 1991 the circles continued to appear in record numbers and major formations appeared all over the country. However, by this time the growth of the New Age movement must have been seriously worrying the global manipulators. There was talk of the raising of consciousness, freedom from 20th century thinking and people were starting to question age-old beliefs in science and religion. A global shift was taking place (perhaps the true meaning behind the crop circles?)
According to the 'croppies', people were waking up to the environment around them, refusing to take government claims at face value, noticing the damage being done to the world by global corporations and oil companies etc. and to coin a quote by David Icke, daring to step outside the "hassle free zone". This no doubt concerned the powers that be, but if the entire subject of crop circles was a hoax then surely, if the hoaxers stopped hoaxing, the circles would stop - but they didn't. Hoaxers and debunkers couldn't predict the genuine phenomena so a dichotomy developed. Because the hoaxers couldn't simply say "it's all been a bit of a wind-up. We've finished now because we fooled you", and go home - the circles would continue to appear, thus hoaxers had to continue to issue their claims and counter-claims, even though to date not a single hoaxer has ever been caught (see article in this issue about last years hoaxing efforts by the BBC). The only way to effectively debunk and defuse something as public and noticeable as crop circles was to muddy the waters. As stated earlier, hide the truth between two lies, make a few circles, film a few hoaxers, publish a few "we made them" type stories and generally defuse public opinion to all those without their own personal experience (which of course no amount of media disinformation can deny).
On Monday September 9th 1991, the day after the first international crop circle conference was held at Glastonbury, the Today Newspaper issued the famous headline that forever changed the course of crop circle research; "The Men who conned the world", proclaiming two sexagenarians; Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, as perpetrators of the entire crop circle mystery using nothing but planks, ropes and a baseball cap (modified with a bizarre sighting device made from a bit of wire). Their claims resonated around the world within days and resulted in the majority of the population believing them - even though they provided no proof of their claims - other than a couple of hastily made formations for TV. I remember at the time I wrote a long, detailed letter to The Today newspaper pointing out flaws in their article and offering my own research for their scrutiny, even offering to test some circles for them. Obviously The Today newspaper wasn't interested in real research - I didn't even receive a reply! I'd have thought they'd love the chance to 'ridicule' another researcher who claimed to have scientific evidence. On the other hand, I might have been onto something and revealed their scam for the con it was. They were happy to just fool the public so that another percentage of the population lost interest in the circles.
Since 1991, although serious crop circle research has continued, there is no denying that the initial bubble of excitement has burst. A number of the original researchers, such as Terence Meaden and Pat Delgado have taken a back seat to concentrate on other interests.
However, this by no means indicates that the subject is dead. Indeed my argument is that the mystery, and message, is more important than any of the proponents whether old stalwarts or newcomers. The crop circle subject is much like peeling an onion. It consists of many layers. As soon as you think you've unravelled one, another will appear before you. However, these multi layers are non-linear - you never know where they may take you. One moment you could be investigating sacred geometry and mathematical theorems, the next unearthing mysteries of the ancients, musical ratios or human aura fields. Each signpost seemingly points to the next in a haphazard rambling kind of way. I suppose you could describe it a bit like a game of snakes and ladders. You never know if you are going to whiz ahead or stumble back. However, we all perceive some future, obtainable goal.
Like symbolism, I believe the message of the crop circles is also two fold; There is often an easily recognised part yet a second, hidden, part remains to be discovered by the dedicated seeker of the truth - just like secret societies and small groups of people through the ages have used symbols with which to communicate to others 'in the know'. For instance, boy scouts used to carve secret codes on tree trunks for others to see where their secret den may lie. Freemasons used, and still do, elaborate symbols with hidden meanings coded within them (take a look at the US dollar note or most modern multi-national Oil company logos for examples of this). The casual observer may recognise the symbol, but only the person you intended to receive the message will spot the hidden meaning.
Is this ultimately a way to decode the crop circles? Many believe so. Hoaxers may see shapes in the fields and try to imitate them - simply copying or emulating the shapes that have come before, or trying to pre-empt the latest circular theory or idea of the researchers. Some would see and copy perhaps a six sided symmetrical shape or odd shaped pictogram. However, by studying the sacred geometry of particular formations researchers have discovered that the geometry is slightly out, or non-symmetrical. However, rather than being a fatal mistake, this can actually reveal an even more complex geometry, which fits perfectly on a 'higher' level.
For instance, one crop circle I investigated back in 1993 at the base of Telegraph Hill (near Winchester, Hampshire) displayed a rather lop-sided geometry (fig.1) which I fed into the computer only to reveal a very high degree of accuracy when the shape was viewed as a three dimensional tetrahedron rotated in space (fig.2). I am planning future articles on the nature of sacred geometry.
Above all, crop circles have taught us to open our minds and our hearts, to look within for answers as well as without. We are all capable of observing the world around us and we may all see the same thing, but what we feel and perceive is unique to us as individuals. This is what I believe the government is frightened of. They don't want people to become the unique individuals that everyone is capable of. What if someone discovered that there is a free alternative to oil and coal? What if someone dared to question the science taught at school? What if crop circles were capable of giving hope and new ambitions to people, enabling them to set themselves free of the mundane, government manipulated society around them? I would argue that this is EXACTLY what the crop circles are doing - and that is why the government would rather you were sitting at home watching East Enders and worrying about going to work tomorrow in order to pay the mortgage, petrol and bills that the government is taxing so highly in order to keep themselves in control and you part of the system.
I would dare you to think differently, break away from normality and become a member of the "unique and special individual" club. Welcome to the future - whatever you decide to make it!