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Crop Circles

Mostly Fakes, but a Few Exceptions

by John Van Auken

Once thought to be of grave concern to humanity and its home world, crop circles have become fodder for tabloids.

Why? Because all of the alien designers turned out to be native to this planet! Most famous among them are Doug and Dave of southern England, who claim to have made almost all of the crop circles for over ten years. Even the most complex Circlemaker designs were discovered to have been man-made. Now, each year, there is a race to see who can create the most spectacular circle without being caught in the act. Farmers are plagued by these tricky trespassers. Harvest season in England is a rag-sheet editor’s dream, with front-page photos that boggle the minds of average people who fork over their hard earned money to buy another alien mystery. Yet, upon further investigation, each new circle, despite its marvelous construction, has been found to be the work of a most imaginative creature: a human being.

Case closed? Quite the contrary. Amid the many bogus circles, there remain a few fascinating exceptions that are overwhelmed by the awesome hoaxes and get very little attention. Let’s take a closer look at them. In the 800s, the Bishop of Lyon, France wrote a letter to a priest who was taking over a new parish. The bishop warned the priest that there had been “devil worship” by the parishioners. He explained that they were collecting seeds out of “flattened circles” in the fields and using them for fertility rites.

Another documented case of a crop circle is the “mowing devil” pamphlet of 1678. The text describes “the Crop of Oat shew’d as if it had been all of a flame: but next Morning appear’d so neatly mow’d by the Devil or some Infernal Spirit, that no Mortal Man was able to do the like.” The pamphlet includes this illustration Mowing Devil.

Crop circles were originally simple, circular depressions in crops, soil, or snow that appeared to have been caused by a heavy object. Since there were no tracks leading to or from the depression, it was assumed that the object had landed on the spot and lifted directly off–or that the “Devil or some Infernal Spirit” had done some magic. Most of today’s circles are complex works of art, having no connection to a depression left at a flying saucer landing site.

One of the most famous flying saucer landing-site incidents, called the “Tully Nests,” occurred in a town called Tully, in tropical north Queensland, Australia, in 1966. At 9 a.m., January 19, 1966, a calm, sunny day, a 28-year-old banana farmer named George Pedley was driving a tractor near Horseshoe Lagoon. When Pedley was about 25 yards from the lagoon, he heard a loud hissing sound, so loud that he could hear it over the noise of his tractor. Suddenly, an object rose out of the swamp. “When I glanced at it, it was already 30 feet above the ground, and at about treetop level. It was a large, gray, saucer-shaped object, convex on the top and bottom and measured some 25 feet across and 9 feet high. While I watched, it rose another 30 feet, spinning very fast, then it made a shallow dive and took off with tremendous speed. Climbing at an angle of 45 degrees it disappeared within seconds in a southwesterly direction....”

Another surprise came when Pedley rounded the bend of the road and came to the spot from which the object had risen. There in the lagoon was a large circle, clear of reeds, in which the water was rotating slowly. It had not been like that three hours ago, when he had passed the lagoon earlier, about 6 a.m. About noon, Pedley returned to the lagoon for a second look. The scene had changed; now the circular area was covered by a floating mass of green reeds that were distributed in a clockwise radial pattern. The circular mass of reeds was about 30 feet in diameter. Pedley quickly left to tell Albert Pennisi, the owner of the land on which the lagoon is located. Upon hearing Pedley’s story, Pennesi recalled that his dog had acted strangely that morning, barking madly and heading off toward the lagoon at about 5:30 a.m. Pennisi and a friend who accompanied him were amazed by the circular mass of reeds. Wading out to the mass, they found that they could swim under the mass of reeds and that the lagoon floor beneath it was smooth and showed no traces of roots. Pennisi got his camera and took photographs of the mass of reeds, which was now beginning to turn brown on its top surface. George Pedley reported his experience to the Tully police that evening, and they in turn reported it to the RAAF, after making a trip to the site the next day, January 20.

Within days, the media had picked up the event, and the area was filled with investigators, many of whom were trying to prove theories as to the cause of the “nest,” such as helicopters, big birds, crocodiles, reed-eating grubs, and whirlwinds of one sort or another. Pedley’s UFO sighting was all but overlooked in the flurry of explanations. During the course of the Crop circle investigations, as many as five other “nests,” all smaller than the original, were discovered. In some of these, the reeds were rotated in a counterclockwise direction, and a couple of them showed signs of burning in the center of the nest. Samples of the original nest were sent to Brisbane for analysis, but nothing unusual was detected. Other than being part of the nest, the only unusual thing about the reeds was that they turned brown in about eight hours, whereas reeds uprooted by hand in the lagoon took three days to turn brown.

In another unusual twist, Albert Pennisi told a reporter from the Sydney, Australia, newspaper, The Sun, that he had been dreaming about a UFO landing on his property for a week: “I’d get them almost every night. And they were beginning to worry me. I couldn’t understand them. It was always the same. This thing like a giant dish would come out of nowhere and land nearby. And I would watch it in my dream and get real afraid before it went away. Then on Wednesday morning about 5 o’clock, my dog suddenly seemed to go out of its mind. It was howling like a mad thing and raced off towards the lagoon.”

Not as spectacular as the Tully Nests but another key participant in the crop circle phenomena are the so-called Fairy Circles. Many stories in medieval literature make reference to pixie circles, elf circles, and fairy circles. They fall into two categories: the widely common type, which appears in moist turf grass, and those that only appear in the dry desert of Namibia, Africa. The first type can be explained by a growth of fungus in the soil that expands in a circular pattern. But the second type is more difficult to explain. In Namibia, Africa, fairy circles are disks of bare, sandy soil, anywhere from 7 to 33 feet in diameter. Found exclusively along the western fringes of the Namib desert in southern Africa, they are easy to spot because they are barren in the middle yet have unusually lush perimeters of tall, dry, desert grasses, which stand out from the otherwise sparse vegetation of the desert. From the time researchers began to take an interest (in the early 1970s), three major explanations emerged: termites, radioactive soil, and toxins left in the soil by the poisonous milkbush plant. The radioactive soil theory was easily dismissed after Gretel van Rooyen, a botanist at the University of Pretoria, sent samples to the South African Bureau of Standards to be tested for radioactivity, and they were all found to be negative. To check out the poisonous plant idea, van Rooyen’s team located some milkbushes in the desert and took samples of soil from underneath. They also tried to grow desert plants on this soil in the lab and found that the grass flourished in the soil, showing there were no toxins to account for the barren patches. That left just one proposed explanation: that termites mop up all the seeds on the fairy circles, leaving nothing that will grow. “We dug trenches up to two meters deep [7 feet], but found no signs or remains of termites,” van Rooyen says. So where do the circles come from? For the moment, van Rooyen admits, “we’re left with the fairies.” Though unexplained and strange, the Namibia fairy circles have never been connected to any sightings of flying saucers.

Amazingly, we have an Edgar Cayce reading that supports the landing of visitors from other planets: “The entity was among the priestesses of the Mayan experience. It was just before ... those that were visiting from other worlds or planets.” (1616-1) Here’s another: “Man may become, with the people of the universe, ruler of any of the various spheres through which the soul passes in its experiences.” (281-16) People of the universe?

It’s possible that these “people of the universe” that Cayce speaks of are more fourth-dimensional than three-dimensional, more mind than matter, making it difficult for them to maintain a presence in our reality, also difficult to communicate with us. Perhaps they can only appear or take form for brief periods. Perhaps the form they take is not well structured in atoms of matter, more a thought-form. This may explain why so many UFOs break the laws of matter, such as making right turns at Mach 10, a feat that would tear any truly material object into pieces. It would also explain why unmanned radar never “sees” UFOs, only manned radar. UFOs may be more in consciousness than in matter. As humanity’s consciousness expands, we are sure to find out what is the real truth.