A design appears in a field. For some it is a sign, a message from beyond. To others it is yet another hoax. Either way, the phenomenon of crop circles is as mysterious as it is actual. There is no question that crop circles are real – unlike other strange phenomenon, when crop circles suddenly appear in a farmer's field they are documented, walked into, flown over and studied.
The real mystery is who is making them and for what reason?
What do they mean? Are they man-made? Are they messages from ETs? Or from Mother Earth herself? Or something even stranger? Is there an unknown science hidden with the circles, waiting to be discovered? Or are the hoaxes a psychological operations of some kind?
"Crop Circles" is a name coined by Colin Andrews for the unusual geometric formations that have been discovered in various crops since the 1960's, although there is some historic evidence via woodcuts and the like that dates them back to the 1600's. Most researchers agree that the modern crop circle sensation began in 1966 with the Tully event in Australia, when a farmer named George Pedley heard a sound and saw a UFO rising from a swamp. He then found a circle of pressed reeds that was photographed and documented. Subsequently, other circles started to be discovered. Throughout the 1960's and 70's the formations consisted of mainly circles and rings.
Pi Crop Circle. Image courtesy of cropcirclesdatabase.com.
Many theories abounded as to what was causing these "saucer nests"; natural meteorological events such as lightning or wind were put forward as possible causes, which seemed to be accepted by most people.
In 1991 all that changed with the appearance of the Barbury Castle formation. This formation contained not only straight lines, but appeared to most as being intelligently designed and containing some kind of message.
Barbury Castle Formation. Image courtesy of Biblioteca Pleyades.
This particular formation was obviously not the result of weather: it divided people between those who thought a deeper mystery was presenting itself and those who maintained the simple designs were natural occurrences and the more complex designs must be man-made.
This idea was reinforced when, in the same year, two men came forward, Doug Bowler and Dave Chorley, who claimed they had been making the circles for 13 years. They disclosed themselves as the creators of several formations that had been deemed "genuine" (unexplainable and/or not man-made) by Pat Delgado, one of the experts at the time. Using boards, ropes and a sighting device, they gave a demonstration to the press. This demonstration convinced some and was scoffed at others.
Doug Bowler and Dave Chorley demonstrate crop circle creation. Image courtesy of todayifoundout.com.
It was pointed out that circles had been starting to appear all over the world and in several locations on the same night, so the claim they had made all of them prior to 1987 was questioned. However most mainstream sources considered the "case closed" on crop circles, despite the occurrence of increasingly complex designs in the decades that followed.
Crop circles today are still routinely written off as hoaxes by the mainstream media and other scientific institutions such as the Smithsonian.
Going Around in Circles
Bowler and Chorley's admission sparked a new wave of crop circle artists, or "Doug & Daves" and since 1991 the occurrences of crop circles has boomed all over the world. For some, creating crop circle designs became a form of "Land Art." There were others who saw the crop circle phenomenon as a communication between humans and ETs; therefore started to create the designs as a way of answering back. Others simply like to create them as a joke or a hoax. However there is also a marked military interest in crop circles; many times military helicopters are seen overhead when a crop circle appears.
This has created a more conspiratorial point of view for some… has the military "cracked the code" and crop circles are being studied as an actual form of communication with an unknown source? Or perhaps they being created by the military as a psychological operations to monitor public reaction, or to test or measure advanced secret technology?
It began to become apparent to some that there was indeed some sort of technology involved that could not be explained.
Far from being trampled, as would be the effect from boards and ropes, some crop circles began to display an amazing flow and weaving of stalks that had been flattened within the circles. The plants were bent without haven been broken and were still alive and flowering. Despite this, the average man on the street still overwhelming believed that the crop circles were man-made.
As an average of 200 crop circles were and are occurring every year in over 60 countries, serious researchers began to find ways to assess if a crop circle was genuine or man-made by more stringent methods rather than by the complexity of the designs alone.
Enter the Doctor
As it turns out, in that same year of 1991, a biophysicist named Dr. William C. Levengood began to study the stalks found within crop circles and almost immediately found anomalies. Over the next 10 years, thousands of samples of stalks within and outside the crop circle formations were sent to his lab to be studied. What he discovered was a lengthening of the apical nodes (the first "node" of a plant stalk beneath the seed-head) which seemed to be the result of some kind of electromagnetic or microwave energy exposure.
Biophysicist William C. Levengood found anomalies in crop circle stalks. Image courtesy of Open Minds.
This exposure caused the stalk to bend at various angles, sometimes as much as 90˚, depending on the degree, without killing the plant. This “expulsion of the node” sometimes affected only a single row of cells within the stalk, something that we do not currently have to technology to recreate.
Another discovery made almost by accident was that the seeds within the crop circle seemed to have been exposed to an "electron-ion impulse," an effect subsequently repeated in the lab and dubbed MIR. Seeds exposed to electron-ion impulse caused the resulting plant to have increased growth-rate, increased yield and increased tolerance to environmental stresses. This effected all the seeds within the crop circle whether the stalk had been flattened or not, as some of the formations had "standing parts" at the center of the circles.
Around the same time, attempts to witness crop circles as they were being formed were attempted by various groups led by Colin Andrews, Pat Delgado and Terence Meaden. None succeeded, although each group came away with enough equivocal data to suggest a non-man-made phenomenon had been observed had been observed.
Colin Andrews, who was actually quite critical of Dr. Levengood’s work, concluded after decades of research that 20% of crop circle formations were indeed “genuine” (unexplainable and/or not man-made).
In 1992, a investigation dubbed “Project Agnus” led by Michael Chorost also found anomalies in the plants and soil of crops within crop circles, although they concluded that they had failed to find the “smoking gun.”7 Despite the inconclusive evidence it seems fairly clear that some crop circles contain features that can not be hoaxed and should alone provide a basis of physical proof that something else besides boards and is creating a certain percentage of crop circles. Why then, does the "hoax" verdict dominate the mainstream?
Perhaps because the initial crop circle that was found in Tully, Australia was discovered alongside a report of a UFO sighting, causing the first circles to be dubbed "saucer nests," as well as other sightings of balls or light or light beings above or within the circles, UFOs and aliens have become linked with the crop circle phenomenon. After the famous Roswell UFO crash in 1947, "belief" in UFOs was deliberately ridiculed and became socially taboo; any professional who admitted their belief could damage or lose their career. This is still true today for many in the mainstream, although worldwide sightings, scientific discovery of thousands of earth-like planets and the sheer numbers of people who have had direct experience has skyrocketed, causing a slow but persistent shift in social acceptance.
The Tully Crop Circle, or "saucer nest", was found in Australia alongside a report of a UFO sighting. Image courtesy of Digitalseance.wordpress.com.
However it would seem that the connection of crop circles with UFOs and ETs provides enough "taboo" contamination for any actual scientific research to be taken seriously.
Much of the western world's social stability is strictly secular and relies on the scientific method, with no room for the magical or mysterious.
In short, western culture relies on facts, or at least, facts that support the status quo. There is, of course, the fact that many crop circles are indeed man-made. Documentaries such as the one produced by the National Geographic Channel in 2009, "Crop Circles: Is it Real?" provide the skeptic with an abundance of assumptions that support the dismissal of crop circles as supernatural. For those who do not give the subject of UFOs a second thought and feel the "more intelligent" way to go is to assume the crop circle mystery has been solved, or at least can be explained by existing technology, there is ground to stand on, and those people are, in fact, in the majority. The psychology behind this cognitive dissonance is perhaps the subject of another article.
Meanwhile as researchers and enthusiasts continue their studies of crop circles, the ET connection is coming into question.
There is no doubt that something unexplainable is happening, but current research is showing an emergence of what can only be described as a "psi connection" between people and whatever force is at work.
Gary King, a crop circle tour guide and researcher, sites an example of a Mexican group interested in ancient Mexican history who visited the Wiltshire area, only to have a beautiful Mayan design appear the very next day, seemingly "just for them." Researcher Lucy Pringle recalls a time in 2013 when Peter Knight, a expert on the "Long Barrow" (an ancient edifice in Wiltshire) was speaking at the WCCSG Conference in Marlborough. He had led a talk and meditation the night before and had "prayed for a crop circle." Amazingly, the next day one appeared near the Long Barrow. Colin Andrews for his part is convinced that some sort of communication is taking place. They are far from alone.
Many other people, from curious visitors to other dedicated researchers, have reported similar experiences and impressions, causing a consciousness link to be considered as an integral part of crop circles phenomenon.
The issue, of course, is when creation and meaning are not actually scientifically provable and the arena of consciousness is introduced into the mix, it's a bit of a game-over as far as reaching a unified understanding.
Like any kind of symbolic interpretation, crop circles mean different things to different people, although some have displayed mathematical language and computer code, which leave almost no room for speculation.
The famous 2008 Pi Crop Circle formation, the 2002 Chilbolton Crop Circle featuring an alien face and a disk containing ASCII code, and the 2001 Arecibo Message Crop Circle that seemed to be a direct response to the message sent by SETI from the Arecibo radio telescope in 1974, are but a few.
The Chilbolton Crop Circle features an alien face and ASCII code. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
Markings of an Agenda?
So at the end of the day, who is making the "genuine" or unexplainable crop circles, and what they mean, continues to be a mystery. The skeptics have their arguments on hand and ready, for example, "Why are there never any witnesses?," "If they are trying to deliver a message why use such obscure symbolism?" “The science hasn’t’ been proven.” These are valid questions and concerns, however, there is evidence that a larger manipulation may be taking place.
According to researcher and best-selling author Freddie Silva, the origin of "Doug and Dave's" pranks traced back to the British Military.
Other exposed hoaxers, such as Robert Irving and Jim Schnabel, admitted on a secretly recorded tape that many hoaxes and debunking efforts were being carried out by the American, British and Germany Secret Services, under a larger "super-national" organization, and that hoaxers often received large amounts of money for their services.
Farmers are not exempt, according to an ex-police sergeant whistleblower some are "paid off" to immediately mow crop circle formations.
And as documented in Episode 3 of Gaia's Crop Circles: Embrace the Mystery crop circle enthusiasts sometimes encounter men in newly discovered formations that claim to be the creators, identifying the formation as a hoax in order to dis-empower it. Although, their claim as the “creators” may itself be a hoax.
The Enigma Continues
Ultimately the choice whether to believe crop circles are the work of over-enthusiastic graduate students, land artists or other jokesters, a communication from an unknown cosmic, spiritual or earthly source, or a military psy-ops of some kind, is up to the observer. Being confronted with scientific facts does not necessarily make people change their minds.
One thing is for sure, crop circles continue to emerge and engage the imaginations of many. It is up to each one of us whether to embrace the mystery or not.