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Crop Circles: ET’s Art? Nah. . .

As some people may already be aware, many of my views on crop circles are hardly what might be termed conventional. But, as crop circles are themselves in no way conventional, for me, at least, my approach to the subject is a highly appropriate one. Here’s the deal: for numerous people crop circles are the work of aliens, ET, little grey men with large, wrap-around black eyes, and over-sized heads. You get the picture, right? Of course you do! For the true-believers who pray daily at the altar of our hallowed lord and master, Kenneth Arnold, it has to be ET; it just has to be.

Actually, when it comes to crop circles, no, it doesn’t have to be. At all.

In response to those true believers, I say: “Okay, then what about the human element of the crop circle mystery?”

Well, whenever I bring up that distinctly thorny issue I very often hear two tired, well-worn and usually utterly defensive statements that broadly go something like this: “All those people who say they make crop circles are liars.” Or: “They’re nothing but hoaxers.” Blah, blah, blah. Etc, etc., etc.


To the uninitiated, the unacquainted and the outright biased, I say this: have you ever actually spoken to any of the people who make these formations? Have you ever spoken to even just one such person? Have you ever hung out in an English field – in the dead of night – and watched carefully while a massively complex formation is created undercover of darkness by a highly-skilled team?

For those who have not, but who instead prefer to make loud proclamations from the confines of their office or living-room (and possibly even on the other side of the world), I say that it’s about time you did! To all of the above.

Dude making a circle

Most people who create highly intricate crop formations are actually not out to fool anyone, to con anybody, to entice tourists to the area, or to deceive the populace and the Fortean community in the slightest. That is nothing but a media-driven myth, which is believed by millions. And it’s a myth that many people accept without question or barely a second thought.

In reality, the motivations for making crop circles run much deeper and stranger than just having a laugh at the expense of someone else. One person I have interviewed extensively on the human angle of crop circle-making is Matthew Williams. He is one of the very few people in the world, thus far, arrested, charged and convicted for making a crop formation. Or, for causing a bit of a fuss in – and damage to – a field in Wiltshire, England, as the local police preferred it when they decided to haul Matt before the judge.

Matthew Williams

Now, Matt is a good mate of mine, and I have known about his circle motivations, beliefs and actions for around 15 years or so. Basically, Matt is of the opinion that the human element is the key element in crop circles: to put it bluntly, they are made by people.

Very early on in his crop circle research, however, Matt came to realize something deeply strange and highly intriguing: namely that many people who made the formations were themselves experiencing unusual phenomena – and on numerous occasions in the formations of their very own making.

For example, Matt has experienced (as have a number of other, well-known circle-makers, more than a few of who are reluctant to speak on the record) a wealth of weird phenomena in crop circles that he himself created, including seeing small, aerial balls of light zipping around, detecting unexplained animal-like presences, and even experiencing significant periods of missing time.

Matt spelled out to me what he believes lies at the heart of all this, and it involves a belief system suggesting that crop circles are somewhat akin to 21st Century versions of Stonehenge or the Avebury Stones. They are rather like modern-day – but highly alternative – temples that, via ritual magic, can be instilled with extraordinary properties that, in turn, lead to the sometimes unusual effects experienced within such formations.

Of course, discussion of scenarios like these can often lead to a distinct rolling of the eyes on the part of those obsessed by nothing but Area 51 and Roswell, and who long for the return of Mulder, Scully and the Cigarette-Smoking Man. And, to an extent, such ideas are dependent on the belief systems of the circle-makers and those that share their views.

But, the fact of the matter is that some human circle-makers do believe this: they firmly accept that creating a crop formation, and engaging in ritual and rite within the formation in question – sometimes coupled with entering altered states of mind via the use of psychedelics – can open doorways to other realms of existence, and to paranormal-style phenomena. Plus, they have seen that high-strangeness up close and personal in their own crop-based creations.

14_Chartley_Castle_Circle_06Now, this is all highly controversial, I’ll be the very first to admit. It’s also worth noting, however, that I came across a crop circle at Chartley Castle, Staffordshire, England in the summer of 2006 that showed clear evidence of occultists having been at work in the direct vicinity of the formation and which involved the ritual slaughter of a peacock.

Now, Matt and his colleagues try and instill circles with positive energy; but there was nothing positive about the Chartley Castle crop circle: it utterly oozed negativity and was shrouded in an air of menace. But, all the same, the highly intricate Chartley Castle creation was without doubt the work of humans.

So, for those interested in crop circles, but who are massively misinformed about the people who make them and why they do so, I say this: look to the human angle for the answers to the crop circle puzzle. But don’t label those people such as Matthew Williams as hoaxers. That is the very last thing they are. It’s much more subtle than that, and runs deep into the heart of British folklore, mythology and ancient rite and ritual.

And stop focusing on bloody ET. The truth of the crop circle enigma may be far stranger than anything those bug-eyed little creeps could ever hope to cook up.

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  • Dahcthc

    Does anybody no how much it cost per acre to make a crop circle legally? I’m fascinated by the art and the other aspects mentioned in the article.

  • boe

    Great article!!!

  • PurrlGurrl

    The formations are so obviously human handiwork, it’s baffling why anyone would believe them to be the work of extraterrestrial visitors.

  • Lawrence

    Redfern, you are informative, iconoclastic (in the best sense of the word) and fascinating as usual. Enjoyed the podcast recently with Knowles btw (who comments here of course!). Yet as with Knowles, I agree the phenomenon runs deeper than mere human artistry, even if we have no idea what that phenomenon truly is. Yes agreed, ET has nothing to do with it, it’s just a cultural obsession. Yet I think we get caught in a false duality when we say ‘it’s either ET or human artists’. There are other alternatives, obviously aside from the reality of human artists. Clearly the human MIND is intrinsic to the phenomenon as a whole, given how the patterns in the agriglyphs incorporate human esoteric, alchemical, mystical, and astronomical/astrological symbolism and iconography, sacred geometry, nature symbolism/motifs etc. All that tells us is that, dare I say it, the collective unconscious is involved or may be involved in combination with something else/other factors of which we can’t even guess at, utterly enigmatic.

    I can’t write a huge article here of course, yet there are and have been scientists, academics and serious investigators/researchers from around the world who see the agriglyph mystery as a genuine mystery. And they know all about Mr Williams (as do I) and his fellow artists and yes many of them have gotten their feet dirty in English cereal fields. And not only in England…

    It’s worth remarking that this talk of creating a sacred space through ritual, it reminds me of Mircea Eliade’s thesis in his landmark book ‘The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion’. Yes agreed on this, most definitely.

  • What is an “extraterrestrial visitor”? Do you even know how to know what that would be? Does anyone know what that would be (other than the fantasies we have imagined)?

  • Stormeye

    As others have mentioned, it seems to me that there are several levels to the crop circle phenomenon and thus a number of explanations for their existence. Addressing the purely human aspect of this mystery though, inscribing a crop circle can have all the elements of a successful ritual. The amount of energy that these people pour into their “art” in the form of picking a pattern, planning out how to bring that pattern to life, accumulating the tools to make their vision reality, implementing the plan in a heightened emotional state (if nothing else, they might fear being caught but it also seems that at least some of these folks take a spiritual view of their art) and bringing the whole project to a conclusion is quite similar to what one would find in the planning of a work of successful magic. Looking at circle photographs, I am often struck by the thought that these circles (when they are not known mystical symbols) seem to be glyphs or mandalas specifically designed for calling . . . something. Given all this, I would frankly be amazed if there were not phenomenon of all sorts manifesting at these sites, particularly during the making of the circle/glyph.

  • djanick

    A lot of very good research documents that for many crop circles, the stalks are not cut or broken, as would happen if they were knocked down mechanically by a person (or alien). Instead they are made to “bend” at nodes above the ground and then stalks interweave in ways that would take humans many hours to reproduce. Best guess is that microwave energy was used to “explode” nodes in a directed way that makes them fold in a desired direction, but even this is at best a partial explanation. While I appreciate Redfern’s article and I am glad that all hypotheses are being considered, there is nothing here that can account for what is seen in these careful studies.

  • Kocour Honza

    Crop circles ARE REALLY, only and only a message from our Mother Earth (also known as Mother Nature). Created only by her, in co-operation with natural, scientifically explainable, provable and verifiable forces and effects. Measurable and recordable.

    None vortexes, none wallabies, hedgehogs, microwaves, UFO, ET. Only absolutely normal, classic lightning, with unimaginable electrical currents and electromagnetism, also static electricity. Creating electromagnetic field lines of force (circular), like around a wire. Also electrostatic. Unimaginably great. Weakening of plants appear many days after damaged by the electricity from the lightning. Provable, verifiable, by infinite number of measurements and experiments.

    Plants may be also damaged by induced electricity (both electromagnetic and electrostatic induction). Provable, verifiable, by infinite number of experiments.

    Anyone from “anomalies”, present there, possible explain thanks to precedent lightning. Provable, verifiable. Geomagnetic anomalies, dead insects, etc.

    Anyone of so called “circlemakers” (D&D or anyone else), are in fact, deeply mentally ill people, and in fact they made only a tiny fraction of one percent from crop circles found. Also that never found. D&D, in fact, never made a single, odd one, crop circle before their “confession”. They were only liars (drunken too much).

    Say, more precisely – absolute every crop circle, made by psychotic circlemakers, are some time later “discovered”, found in cereal field. Crop circles, that were “Nature made”, by the discharge of lightning, are localised in cereals only a minimum from that really existed. Only that largest and most complicated.

    In fact, yearly, there are “not found” millions of crop circles, in cereal fields round the whole world, whose diameter not exceeding one meter. Clockwise or counterclockwise, etc.