Cropcircles – a modern phenomenon?
by Florian Brunner und Harald Hoos, translated from German by Markus Schröder
It began in 1978. The farmer Ian Stevens didn’t believe his eyes when he started to gather his crop, sitting on his harvester: he saw an exact circle, pressed into the field. He hadn’t seen something like this before. Other people experienced this phenomenon in the same year and wondered about the cause behind it.
Due to a newspaper article in the Wiltshire Times 1980 the cropcircles were presented to a larger public. The article also caused UFO researchers to look into the matter. After the UFO scene and the public tried to establish a connection between cropcircles and extra-terrestrials – UFO researcher interpreted the circles as tracks of a UFO landing – the still ongoing research and discussion began. Many specialists believe in a connection between cropcircles and UFOs: they see them as tracks of a spaceship landing or as extra-terrestrial messages for us. More and more European countries, Japan, and the USA directed their attention to the circles.
The cropcircles changed with the time. Simple circles developed to circles with rings, to complex circle formations, to pictograms at the beginning of the 1990s. They gave much room for speculation and interpretation. Pictograms fascinate not only spiritualists but everyone in the fields due to their position and form in the mystical southern English landscape. Majestic forms, artistically perfect, situated in a landscape which moves something deep inside of every spectator – didn’t we all wait for something like that?
The cropcircle research established itself more and more. Even the one or other no-nonsense scientist was affected and gave a statement. Indications for a differentiation of true and false circles had to be found.
On September 9, 1991, the catastrophe struck. The British tabloid Today published an interview with two pensioners from Southampton, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, who insisted that they created most of the circles. While the public now had its »proof« for the long believed assumption that all circles were manmade, the shock for cereologists – as cropcircle researchers called themselves – was great.
From that day on the phenomenon lost much of its fascination and the public interest declined. The question »true« or »false« was in the centre of interest. Many researchers bickered about this question and the discussion still goes on.
Today we know that during the summer nights several anonymous and known groups stray through the fields in Wiltshire and elsewhere and press perfectly planned geometric forms into the crop. Nevertheless, the cropcircles fascinate their beholders again and again.
But many questions are still open: Did the first circlemakers have a model in nature for their work? Are there cropcircles and formations who are created by an unknown force or phenomenon? Are some of today’s formations a part of the basic phenomenon which show itself maybe in a simple circle? Questions which seems to be unsolvable because the making of the formations is so perfect and seemingly impossible to copy by humans.
The phenomenon exists since two decades. During this time a solid international interest group did emerge, in which diverse theories about the origin of cropcircles appear in a mostly peaceful coexistence. Cropcircle enthusiasts can be divided into two major groups. People who believe in a supernatural origin of cropcircles (»true« or »real« circles) and people who believe that circles are made by human hands or feet (»false« circles or »hoaxes«). Both groups are equally thrilled by the phenomenon. The majority of the first group believes in an extraterrestrial origin of cropcircles, others see in them a manifestation of a collective consciousness or a cry for help of our cruelly treated Mother Earth.
No matter of true or false circle – these signs in the fields have a magical attraction for many people. The interplay of landscape and formal aesthetics often leads to a strong transcendental experience. Many spectators say, that they build up a new relationship to the environment, live in a more intense way in and together with nature. Some have even experienced physical changes in cropcircles in a positive form (like healing) as well as in a negative way (like headaches and other physical problems).
Cropcircles managed to bring people from all parts of the world with different views and social backgrounds together. All of them feel a strong sense for spirituality in our de-mystified, scientific, and technological world. The de-mystification became also a factor in many religious beliefs, so that people seek for new kinds of religion. Those who have followed the history of cropcircles from its beginning will have noticed that it is a fertile soil for such, like every phenomenon in the paranormal area, because people can project their fears, hopes, and desires into the cropcircles.
Copyright Brunner/Hoos 2001