500 Days until 12:XII:TWELVEHumanity loves prophecies: our histories are full of them.
According to several ancient cultures, we are entering a new phase in human development, human consciousness, earth-consciousness, union with the Divine.
Astrology was to the ancestral mind a gift from the future, the heavenly bodies’ allowing the human race a glimpse of time’s far shore, a beacon through uncharted waters –literally steering the human vessel by the stars. And –however skeptical you may be– all ancient cultures had their oracle, allowed themselves to be guided by astrological readings based on ever-changing celestial movement and planetary alignments and collisions.
Many have become dissociated from the daily rhythms of the Earth, forget to look nightly at the stars and their feelings seem divorced from reality –whatever that is. The thought of one’s emotions actively being influenced by the electromagnetic and orbital changes of planets in the solar system — let alone the distant stars — is often ridiculed as being naïve, even ignorant.But our ancestors were not ignorant. Unlike us, they were daily in touch with the earth, aware of her ‘forcefield’ — for want of a better word– her seismic and electromagnetic fluctuations which altered weather patterns, brought bounty and drought, changed seasons. They were so aware of such regular rhythmical cycles that they devised stone circles to measure and signal points in that cosmic compass, hours/days in that solar and lunar calendar. From modern scientific data collected at some stone circles, it is thought likely that our ancestors knew where and when risings of the sun and moon affected rings of stone to produce increased ‘flow’ — a power not unlike electricity as we know it.
The calendar of the ancient Maya has become significant in recent times as a wayshower to help us navigate through the choppy waters of group consciousness. In Mayan calculation, their ancient Long Count calendar — a measure of Man’s rising to meet the gods — is beginning to wind down. We are approaching the End Times, the Moment of Cosmic All-change, the point on the ecliptic where the Sun (and the Earth in orbit around it) comes into conjunction with the center of our Galaxy at 11:11 on December solstice 2012.
There are 500 days from Lammas this year to the 10-day prelude to solstitial union with galactic center: on 12:12:12 we shall either have completed planetary ascension or we will know our work has been in vain. I prefer to think we shall complete the program — that we as a species are destined to rise to the challenge facing us.
New Age philosophy and astrology support a path to ascension required of its vision-keepers, lightworkers (through meditation and right living) as a process of uniting these two conflicting polarities, emphasizing the need to bring harmony to the male-female yin-yang, left and right brain hemispheres which must operate before the Earth may return to a balanced state of wholeness and oneness.Crop circles this month have featured both the yin-yang (Louth, July 20), several spirals (July 13 Avebury) and an elaborate serpent motif (Inkpen, July 29), the symbol of all life, as well as orbiting bodies reminiscent of the inner solar system. See Siderealview blog for more detail.
The serpent, symbolic of Life, seen in the snaking of equinox sunset light down the pyramid of Chichen Itza, is common to many archaic worlds: medical science’s caduceus, Hermes the messenger to the gods, and the Garden of Eden would not be the same without him.
According to the ancient Maya, he rises through the world Ages, culminating with the flowering of human consciousness — NOW. To the Maya in their Long Count calendar, the Cosmos consists of Nine Underworlds or levels of development that complete in 2012. So important to their cosmological measurements were the numbers Nine (levels), Twenty (days, katun) and Thirteen (moons) that these powerful digits were expressed in their most significant monument construction. Mayan pyramids all have nine tiers or platforms.
The twenty-year (katun)cycle is intrinsic in all their calculation.
The longest tun-based time cycle was called the hablatun, each totalling 460,800.000,000 days = 1.26 billion years. Thirteen hablatuns made up the first Underworld (the initial creation cycle, beginning 3114BC) giving a total duration of 13 x 1.26 MM days or 16.4 billion years. This time period of 16.4 billion years is very close to current scientific estimates for the formation of matter from light at the birth of creation, or the ‘Big Bang’.
Each of the nine levels represented a different Underworld — expressed horizontally in the pyramids’ construction. Just as the levels of the pyramids are seen to become progressively smaller as they tier towards the top, so too the amount of time in each Underworld becomes shorter in duration as they progress hierarchically through the calculation.
It is interesting in a lunar calendrical context that this weekend –July 31-August 1– marks the Leo New Moon: a powerful coming-together of celestial forces following on from the Mayan Day-out-of-time, Monday 25 July 2011. And on August 1st we, the human race, walk through the dimensional wormhole and enter the Fifth Day of the Ninth and final Underworld of the Mayan Longcount.
This coincides with Lammas, Celtic quarter day, fire festival of the ancient Britons which was celebrated at the height of Nature’s season of bounty, the middle of the fruiting year when Earth empties her cornucopia into the laps of an unsuspecting world. As the midpoint (in all calendars ancient and modern) between summer solstice, June 21st, and autumn equinox, Septmember 23rd, Lammas —Lughnasad, the festival of light god, Lugh, revered in indigenous harvesting communities in the Old World– marks the point in the celestial sphere where the Sun culminates, arriving at 15 Leo on August 7th, a week from now.
Ancient Brittonic communities marked Lammas as the most joyous of all fire festivals, often feasting and dancing, sharing and giving for three weeks before LAMMAS and three weeks after. During the Neolithic, stone circles were used for such fire festivals, the central floor marked by successive generations of fire-burning, heavily pounding feet which revellers flattened like a remarkably sophisticated dance arena.
Video of West Woodhay Down, Inkpen crop circle July 29th 2011,Now, in the 21stC, we are greeted with the mystical equivalent for our time — crop circles, created electromagnetically — and capable, through the miracle of late age images and electronic media, of stimulating our primeval alert system, piqueing our human pineal gland into producing natural mellowing melatonin and driving our dormant DNA into revving up to a higher gear. We are entering the brief Mayan Fifth Day — a portal of opportunity which completes on August 17th.
thanks to Shumnyabai (Joan Wheaton): Divine Serpent with Neptunian forked tongue and rattler tail reflecting Maya god Kukulkan (Quetzalcoatl), the divine feathered serpent who gives life.
We should use it.
HUMANITY HEALING alert
Humanity Healing Community acts as one of the new world’s wayshowers in suggesting that the arrival of the Lammas/New Moon/Fifth Day is even more potent because as a point in consciousness — it encourages us to choose actively how we want our new world to be.
‘What do you Want?
The Universe is asking and waiting for your answer.
The cosmic force of Creation needs you to focus the lens, to get clear on your vision, your dreams, your intent. You can take a giant step forward with whatever you want this weekend when three energetic gateways converge.
There is both an opportunity and a responsibility in this.’
Humanity Healing: A call to focus
Thoughts, intent, actions, emotions are intensified — go quantum — at a time like this. The energetic portal is more than an opportunity given us by our overlighting Presence — Humanity’s Oversoul — it is an instruction. We can each make a difference, add a contribution to the fate of the human race.
This may sound rather dramatic. Actually, it is. This is a time, unprecedented in human history. On the esoteric level, we are told we asked to come and to be here –incarnate– at this time. On the psychic level, we are sensing a coming-together of many traditions, a meeting of minds from many populations and backgrounds. Many spiritual leaders of the world’s diverse faiths are encouraging us –willing us to take the plunge.
Planetary transformation. It’s what Carl Sagan would have called our stepping up to take on the mantle of a Level I civilization. He and Kardashev would have been proud.
Prophecies of indigenous people everywhere point to the times we are going through now as a period of intense purification, a transition from our current cycle to whatever comes next.
“So then, what is the message I bring to you today? Is it our common future? It seems to me that we are living in a time of prophecy, a time of definitions and decisions. We are the generation with the responsibilities and the option to choose the the path of life for the future of our children, or the life and path which defies the Laws of Regeneration. Even though you and I are in different boats –you in your boat and we in our canoe — we share the same River of Life: what befalls me, befalls you. And downstream, downstream in this River of Life, our children will pay for our selfishness, for our greed, and for our lack of vision.
“500 years ago, you came to our pristine lands of great forests, rolling plains, crystal clear lakes and streams and rivers. And we have suffered in your quest for God, for Glory, for Gold. But, we have survived. Can we survive another 500 years of ‘sustainable development?’ I don’t think so. Not in the definitions they put ‘sustainable’ in today. I don’t think so. So, reality and the natural law will prevail: The Law of the Seed and Regeneration.
“We can still alter our course. It is NOT too late. We still have options. We need the courage to change our values to the regeneration of our families, the life that surrounds us. Given this opportunity, we can raise ourselves. We must join hands with the rest of Creation and speak of Common Sense, Responsibility, Brotherhood, and PEACE. We must understand that The Law *is* the Seed and only as True Partners can we survive.”
Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation, and a Chief of the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs
All the Prophets said this moment would come. The Hopi say we are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the Bird Tribes, circling and massing, congregating for our shared flight through cyberspace, to reach consciousness, nay, communion with that all-pervasive force of the Universe, call it what you will. We have five hundred days to go. So, are we ready?
Coincidental with the 500-day look ahead, Father Time is presenting us with a seven-day energy window in present time for us to focus our intent. From Ramadan/new moon through Mayan 5 I’x (Gregorian August 3rd,2011 –this week) until August 5th–still to come– we would do well to use this cosmic energetic helper: 5 I’X was to the Maya symbolic of the Force of the Universe and the day of commemoration of the World.
As a springboard from which we step off and project ourselves into the new, Culture has not prepared us for what comes next. No avid scanning of ancient texts, no guru, no world leader, no reincarnation of the Spirit of Delphi or channeled message from Arcturus can prepare us any better than we can ourselves for what may greet us on the other side of this Portal in contemporary Time.
The Human Race has reached the Finish Line. We have to step forward and claim our prize, some call it our birthright, gird our loins and step into the blue yonder.
The energy window is OPEN. Let’s fly together.
What a trip.
©2011 Marian Youngblood
Sine umbra nihilMIDWinter Fire festivals were ancient man’s most fervent prayer to the Universe to return the light to the earth after the shortest day.
At 57º North latitude in Scotland, the equivalent in North America of the parallel of Juneau, Alaska, there aren’t a lot of hours of light in December and January. By the time solstice – the day the sun appears to stand still – December 21st – arrives, ancient man was getting to the point where it was going to get dark forever, unless something was done to propitiate the spirit world.
In the earliest known Calendars devised by Arabian astronomers, even the balmy latitudes of the Mediterranean and Arabian Seas saw a dwindling of the light. And so when Neolithic man erected stone circles and sacred precincts of stone leading the eye to the horizon to a point where the sun set on midwinter’s day, he did it for a most urgent purpose: to ask the Light of the Universe, the Sacred Fire, to return.
What better way to kindle the blessing of the gods of light and fire than with fire itself?
In Northeast Scotland, where recumbent stone circles abound, the recumbent or ‘resting’ stone lies in the southwestern quadrant of the circle, flanked by two carefully chosen pillars of stone (quartz, quartzite, granite with inclusions to reflect the light), creating a window on the horizon where the midwinter sun goes down. At 4:00 p.m.!It is more than seventeen hours before it rises again. Seventeen hours must have created an enormous hiatus of doubt and disbelief in the minds of ancient communities whose shaman or holy man might be the only one who knew the light would return. But did they? It is no wonder that oral tradition handed down tales of the supernatural abilities of such knowledgeable men.
We have no record of how such workers of celestial magic were named in the time of the first farmers, the Neolithic communities who raised the megaliths of Aberdeenshire.
But by the time of Roman historians, like Tacitus and Ptolemy, who wrote of ancient Britons’ ‘great powers’, Roman respect for the Celtic peoples of Europe and the Druids of the Britannia was great. Ptolemy and Caesar record phenomenal belief by the people in their magicians, their Druids, their ‘keepers of knowledge’ and rightly so. The Celtic traditions known to the Gauls owed their origins to the British druidic élite. Much veneration and respect was paid in Gaul to this small group of islands lying in Ultima Thule, or in Roman slang ‘off the map’ on the edge of the Roman Empire.Certainly by the time of our Pictish ancestors – those whom the Romans called the Caledonians – stone circles were in constant use for fire festivals and seasonal rites of propitiation for the welfare of the community. The Picts also had their own druidic priest class like those of Wales and other Brittonic peoples. And their power to be seen to command the elements of fire, water, wind and earth were extraordinarily great. Annals and documents from Gaul, Cornwall, Brittany and Rome confirm their hold over the people, not only to guide farming work through the annual cycle, but also to act as advisor to queens and kings.
By the ancient Celtic calendar, known to the Romans as their equivalent of the Julian method of calculation, there were ten months in the year and thirteen moons. Man moved according to the sun for daily light and warmth, but owed allegiance to the moon for rhythms of planting and harvest, the female menstrual cycle and hence the cycle of birth and death. The Julian calendar was a ruling force for fifteen hundred years, until it started to lose time.
By then the Church, mathematicians and enlightened astronomers had stepped in to alter the rhythm to run more closely with human time. Most nations changed over to the new calendar after it was decreed law by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. But the Orthodox Greek and Russian Churches refused to change. Other nations remained staunchly in favour of the older calculation. Among these were Ethiopia and Russia, who did not accept European calendar reckoning until 1750. Ethiopia still does not.
And Burghead in Moray.
In Burghead they burn the clavie to celebrate the return of the light of a dying sun. An ancient rite practised on the night of solstice in pre-Christian times, to propitiate and ask the dying sun to return, its confused calendrical transposition to January 11th can only be slightly rationalized by calendar change. Nevertheless, it is on this date that Burghead has through oral tradition and in living memory rekindled and paraded its torch of blazing fire.
It’s a little more complex than merely holding to the old calendar. Well-wishing for a new year is what we do in the Northeast of Scotland when the calendar points to January. It’s called Hogmanay. It was always so. Or was it?
In Gregorian, we count this as 2009; about to go 2010. It is already 5770 Jewish time. The month of February 2010 opens the Chinese year of the Tiger; on February 22 Islam moves into 1431. For Sikhs, new year (542) comes just before vernal equinox when Hindus (2067) and Persians (1389) celebrate, just as we used to before the Julian calendar adjusted new year from March to January.This is no surprise to the Clavie Crew of Burghead on the Moray coast. They still run on Julian time.
When Scotland changed calendars in 1660, there was much misunderstanding in country districts – the loss of 11 days was seen as someone in a position of power having robbed them of important events. This was also a period of change in parishes because of the implementation of new church doctrines introduced at the Reformation. Calendars in Church records added to the confusion by writing numbers in ‘Old Style’ and ‘New Style’. It caused so much concern that Old Parish Records (OPR) had to show both systems. Births in the OPR are recorded for several years in both Old and New Time.
Also at the Reformation pre-Christian festivals, such as clavie-burning and fire festivals at Beltane, Hallowe’en and harvest too, were frowned on. On the other hand, local tradition was strong: it was commonplace to mark the return of the light after midwinter in all northern communities and northeastern ports. Such pagan celebrations as ‘fire leaping’ and dancing round the fire within the precinct of stone circles was still known in 1710 and harvest fire festivals continued unabated until the year 1942. Gradually, however, other celebrations and farming fire festivals started to die out.
When the other northern ports stopped their Clavie burning in winter after the first World War, Burghead held on. After the second War, it continued to celebrate as it had always done. It has continued to do so ever since, except for two of the years during the 1939-45 European War.
Now only two villages hold to the ancient tradition: a pre-Christian ritual of celebrating the closing of one seasonal door and the opening of another.
Stonehaven in Kincardineshire celebrates with a street festival of fireball-swingers. Both festivities are awe-inspiring, if marginally dangerous to watch. It must be awesomely perilous for those involved. On Hogmanay night Steenhivers have a street party to end all street parties. Whereas Burghead only spills combustible materials over the shoulders of Clavie-bearers, Stonehaven delights in spinning fire in clumps into an unwary crowd.
Stonehaven has conceded to the newer calendar, swinging its crazy fire balls on Hogmanay; yet it is celebrating the same midwinter seasonal hinge as the Clavie Crew of Burghead: The end of the Old Year; Old Yule: Aul’ ‘Eel.
Burghead is more precisely still counting its eleven lost days.
In Burghead, lighting the eternal fire and carrying it round the town reenacts the celebration of the return of new light after the longest night in the Northern hemisphere – the dark of the Latin quotation often found on sundials: ‘without shadow there is nothing’. Implied, naturally, is the fact that the all-important entity which creates shade in the first place, is the Sun.
To the Clavie King and his torch-bearers of Burghead, this is Aul’ ’Eel, pre-Christian Yule or winter solstice. Yule becomes interchangeable with Christmas south of the border but Scotland has held to its pagan festival of Hogmanay, itself a testimony to and turning point in that Roman calendar.
Fire for the clavie is ritually kindled from a peat ember – no match is used. This is in respect for the spirit of fire itself which is eternal.
The Clavie itself is an old whisky barrel full of broken up staves ritually nailed together by a clavie (Latin, clavus, nail). One of the casks is split into two parts of different sizes, and an important item of the ceremony is to join these parts together with the huge nail made for the purpose. The Chambers’ Book of Days (1869) minutely describes the ceremony, suggesting that it is a relic of Druid worship, but it seems also to be connected with a 2000-year-old Roman ceremony observed on the 13th September, called the clavus annalis. Two divisions of the cask in the Burghead ritual symbolize the hinges of the old and the new year, which are joined together by a nail. The two parts are unequal, because the part of the new year joined on to the old is very small by comparison with the old year which is departing.Clavie King Dan Ralph has carried out his duty for twenty years. He gathers together his Clavie Crew and they help each other take turns carrying the man-sized torch: a tar-barrel stoked with oak staves soaked in combustible fluid. It is a feat of human endurance alone to lift what must weigh more than a man, not to mention avoiding flaming drops of leaking fuel. They stagger in unison round the town, dispensing luck as they go: flaming brands from the burning tar-barrel are presented as tokens of abundance to important burghers, including the publican. The bearers keep changing; circling the town sunwise, stopping only to refuel or change carriers. A final free-for-all happens after the clavie arrives at the fire-altar hill, on a rib of the old Pictish ramparted stronghold, which juts out into the Moray Firth. There it is fixed to its fire-altar, the doorie.
More tar, petrol, any source of incendiary fuel is added until the flames reach for the heavens. Then both fire and wooden vessel, the fast-distintegrating clavie, and its lethal blazing contents are left to die.
Happy New Year. Julian indeed.
Now there have been spates and floods before. Weather in Scotland, or Ultima Thule, is and always has been the topic which gets most discussion year-round. It’s because of its location:
Americans in particular are amazed to learn that the Moray Firth in Scotland lies at the same latitude as Juneau, Alaska.
For the latitude of Ultima Thule, the farthest and northernmost point of habitable land, read nine degrees below the Arctic Circle, or what is euphemistically named the Northern Temperate Zone. So it’s not unreasonable to experience weather conditions which are enormously influenced by the Atlantic Ocean on one coast and the North Sea on the other.At the northern end of the Atlantic, the Atlantic Conveyor kicks in, swimming through the Bristol Channel, up the Irish Sea, through the Minch and cresting at the entrance to the Pentland Firth. A small portion of this powerful warm current (more affectionately known as the Gulf Stream or North Atlantic Drift) noses its way along the Pentland Firth between Orkney and Mainland Scotland and curls back south to run inland along the Moray Firth, so-called Aberdeenshire’s North Coast. In historical summers, it has been known to create balmy climes for residents of these northern shores.
For those not aware of these obscure locations in an otherwise frozen belt of Icelandic waters, GoogleEarth will happily provide up-to-the-minute and up-to-the last aerially-photographed section of the Moray Firth, Orkney and Shetland Isles and Mainland Scotland.Aerial photographers, however, have had a difficult time of it these last three months. Unless, that is, you were racking up overhead shots of flooded football pitches and river basins fulfilling their description as ‘flood-plains’. Some photographers have documented Council employees who have had to stop road-laying and sweeping to race to the aid of a vast area of housing and newbuild schemes on the ‘rescue’ list in need of sandbags, rehousing the homeless, or pumping out flooded basements and High Street shopfronts.
The fact that these new houses were built on ‘flood-plain’ in the first place is something this blogger prefers not to discuss at this point.
Abnormally high rainfall in September washed out roads in the Highlands and Scotland’s West Coast at Oban and Skye. Over a four-day period in October, rivers Don and Dee in Aberdeenshire overflowed and took out roads and bridges in Banchory, Kintore and Inverurie and claimed the life of a farmer. The Rivers Spey and the Lossie at Elgin on the Moray coast reached record high levels. The Deveron at Banff flooded golf courses, links, part of the Old Town and made the A98 coast road impassible.Overnight on Hallowe’en and into the early hours of November 1st, the total expected rainfall for the month of November fell in six hours, and put Aberdeenshire Council into the red in its attempts to rescue and rehouse residents made homeless by rivers Carron and Cowie bursting their banks at Stonehaven and the rivers Bogie and Deveron flooding new houses at Huntly.
Aberdeenshire’s North Coast shares something in common with those river valleys in the glacial excavation grinding through the Mounth, the Cairngorms, and the Grampian and Ladder Hills. They have always had extremes of weather. Prophets of global warming suggested cooling temperatures for North Britain in 2005. Yet in the interim, except for the Wet Summer of 2009, Scotland has experienced record high temperatures. House building in floodplains has progressed apace. No wonder Mother Nature decided this year to rebel and balance the books.
She did something similar in the summer of 1829. It was the year of the Great Flood, or in the Northeast vernacular, The Muckle Spate o’ ’29.
If records are to be believed, three months’ worth of rain fell in one week in August of that year, inundating crops and farmland, transporting cattle, sheep, dogs and men from their homes downstream for miles. Bridges were heavy casualties. Even those robust granite bridges built by General George Wade (1673-1748) in 1724 to withstand the weight of his marching troops and to guide his mapmakers through the wilds of Scotland on their first attempt to document the country for King George I. But two centuries have elapsed since then and road- and bridge-building has advanced a pace. Or have they?In November, 2009, the Dee washed out the road and bridge at Banchory. Banff causeway was underwater and the Don bridge at Inverurie had water level with the arches. The Old Dee Bridge at Aberdeen was closed, as were roads involving bridges supplying Oldmeldrum, Kintore, Dyce, Turriff, Huntly, Stonehaven, Glass, Keith, Aberchirder, Ellon, Deskford, Banff, MacDuff, Elgin, Findhorn, Forres and Alford.
For all our computer-generated map-making and architect-free design models of flood plains, physical geography and world climate patterns, one would think we had learned something. Last week’s freak storm suggests we haven’t.
I thought you’d like to read a brief excerpt from the vernacular poem ‘The Muckle Spate o’ ‘Twenty-nine’ by David Grant, published in 1915 by the Bon-Accord Press, Aberdeen. Its subject matter was focused on the River Dee at Strachan (pronounced Stra’an) – a mile of so from the base of the Mounth. If you need a translation, I might suggest you ask someone from the ‘old school’ and keep handy a copy of Aberdeen University Press‘s Concise Scots Dictionary. Enjoy.Oh, yes. My giant sunflower: she weathered all three storms. She flowered during October, turning daily towards the light until it no longer rose above the shelterbelt of trees. Then, holding her south-facing stance, she pulled her yellow petals inwards as if to cloak her next (a sunflower’s most important) operation: to set seed. She showed a little yellow up until yesterday, but her colour is now mostly gone. Unlike her two less-lofty companions, she has not gone mouldy; but I hesitate to describe the activity presently occurring in her centre as ‘seed-setting’.
It rained again today after three days of watery sun. I think she may still have time to stretch herself into the record books: as the latest-bloomer of all time to brave insane weather and still reach her goal: the Giant Sunflower of Ultima Thule. Spates be damned.
The Muckle Spate o’ ‘Twenty-Nine by David Grant
‘At Ennochie a cluckin’ hen wis sittin’ in a kist,
Baith it an’ her were sweelt awa’ afore the creatur’ wist;
We saw her passin’ near Heugh-head as canty as ye like,
Afore her ark a droonit stirk, ahint a droonit tyke,
An’ ran anent her doon the banks for half-a-mile or mair,
Observin’ that, at ilka jolt, she lookit unca scare,
As gin she said within hersel’ – ‘Faur ever am I gyaun?
I nivver saw the like o’ this in Birse nor yet in Stra’an.
Faur ever am I gyaun, bairns? Nae canny gait, I doot;
Gin I cud but get near the side, I think I wad flee oot.’
We left her near the Burn o’ Frusk, an’ speculatit lang
Gin she were carri’t to the sea afore her ark gaed wrang,
An’ may be spairt by Davie Jones to bring her cleckin’ oot,
Gin she wad rear them like a hen or like a water coot.’
Crop circles are not new. The phenomenon is centuries-old, embedded in folklore in South Africa and China, achieving sparse comment from English academics in the 1600s; noted in police records and farming journals in 1890; by military and ‘classified’ sources through the 1950s and ’60s.
It was not until 1980, however, that the general populace began to notice them. Since 1990 size and intricacy have developed, mimicking computer fractals, fourth dimensional reality, esoterica known only to quantum physicists. Nearly 30 years after that Thatcherite time, discussion favours excitement over fear, anticipation rather than suppression, belief more than ridicule. The appearance of upwards of 10,000 reported ‘genuine’ crop circles in twenty-nine countries worldwide has brought the subject into the mainstream. It has become ‘cool’ to talk about what they might mean.
In the English countryside since 2005, designs have become so complex, it is natural to speak of codes and mathematical sequences and quantum physics and astronomical numbers. As simple ellipses expanded into trailing solar flares, hypercubes, calendrical geometry and astrophysical complexity, we became mesmerized by beauty in the summer landscape, breathless with anticipation of what would come next.
In 2009 the pick of the crop finished at the end of August. Fields in September were conspicuous by their absence.
They’ve got us where they want us: on the edge of our seats.
In a lull between September’s close and next year’s crop of never-before-seen designs, what have we learned? Why are we being gifted such inspiration?
What associative ideas do they generate? What emotions do they trigger? Where do they mostly appear?
Many delving, however briefly, into this phenomenon would associate the random appearance of crop circles with that other kind of circle: the ancient and sacred stone circle. That the majority of designs in England has focused on the hallowed precincts of great sacred sites like Avebury and Sillbury Hill, Wiltshire, Rollright Stones, Oxfordshire and within sight of ancient burial mounds of Hampshire is no coincidence. The same is true for appearances near ancient ancestral sites in other countries: Holland, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Latvia; even the Serpent Mound, east of Cincinnati, Ohio. In all this exotica, it is easy to miss one particular circle of great simplicity but infinite importance in the farmland of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, which appeared at the end of Lammas, 1995.
A little patience and we can find a context, a common link.
First off, like the siting of ancient stone circles, crop circle placement is not random.
Dowsers, diviners, engineers, television cameramen and aircraft pilots can all attest to electromagnetic anomalies occurring in cleared agricultural land where Neolithic and Bronze Age farmers placed their mounds, erected their trilithons, buried their dead. Feng shui proponents, who detect minute variations in electrical body pulses, have commented on the extraordinary fluctuations of energy contained within the relatively small area concentrated on Wiltshire’s sacred sites; Alton Barnes, with its twin village Alton Priors, rank high on the electromagnetic scale. It is not surprising, therefore, that this select valley houses not only the prehistoric White Horse, but was home to Milk Hill swallow configuration (2008) and multiple coded designs in 2009: whirling dolphins, star tetrahedron and the sextant (star navigational instrument) created in three stages; contemporary appearances at Alton Priors include – in perfect timing – the exquisite eight/infinity symbol of 08/08/08 (August 8, 2008) and the swallow with coded tail of June 2009.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to watch your compass needle fluctuate wildly at Yatesbury, Wiltshire; a newly-charged car battery die on the edge of a field at Sillbury Hill, near Avebury or your camera spontaneously recharge in the centre of a newly-laid crop design at Alton Barnes. These magnetic phenomena are commonplace to students of ‘leyline’ energy meridians, with which the Wiltshire basin and Cotswold range are filled. But it is significant that Yatesbury was home to the dragonfly glyph of June 3rd and Phoenix of June 12th 2009. Sillbury Hill has always deviated instruments; its great chalk mound resisting man’s excavations to discover its secret; but it opened its fields to decoration of extraordinary complexity on August 3rd, 2009 when plain swirled circles were found to contain at their centres the intricately woven patterns reminiscent of the medieval corn-dolly craft.
According to a representative of the British Feng Shui Society, an area of Britain ranking second only to the Avebury-Yatesbury-Windmill Hill energy vortex is the largely forgotten agricultural plain of Scotland–lying between the 56th and 57thN parallel–in the counties of Angus, Aberdeenshire and Banff. World attention has focused on names like Bishops Cannings, the Roundway, and Chiselden. But how many have heard of Sunhoney, Easter Aquhorthies, Culsalmond or Old Rayne?
Among the excitement of first circles decorating Wiltshire and Oxfordshire in the 1990s, the contemporaneous appearance of a single swirled design in wheat in Aberdeenshire was overlooked. Yet their locations–within ancient sacred landscape, in proximity to prehistoric ritual sites of previously huge importance to a country population–and the time of year in which they appeared have a common link.
In ancient times, the Celtic calendar revolved round the farming year: birds start to nest at Candlemas (February 2nd), Vernal Equinox fields are prepared for sowing; Beltane (May 1st) held a huge fire festival celebrating the seeded land; fire festivals were perpetuated ritually and with deliberate intent, until well after the Reformation. Only then did Church and State combine to desecrate such ritual, relegating it to the realm of pagan superstition (pagan = L. paganus = country-dweller), implication: simple country folk knew no better. Midsummer solstice was a time of rejoicing for the bounty beginning to appear in fruit and crops; Lammas (August 1st) marked the onset of harvest, usually over by autumnal equinox; and the Celtic Year ended and began anew with the festival of Hallowe’en/All Hallows Day. Christmas was superimposed on the earlier festival of winter solstice, when the land was in almost total darkness, with farming people praying for the return of the Light.
In an abundance of festivals, the greatest for agricultural and rural families was that of Lammas. While its pivotal date was August 1st, the festival coincided in a good summer with the actual harvesting of grain. In most communities it began three weeks before and continued until three weeks after that date–ending around August 24th. Through the medieval centuries, every community in the Land had a Lammas fair dedicated to the local patron saint, a Horse Fair, a fair to compete, display wares, buy and sell food, fruit and harvested bounty.Aberdeenshire, like many of the southern counties was rich in such events. The names, if not the actual ethos of the celebration, linger in local names. Old Rayne has its Lourin’ Fair; annual Aikey Fair occurs at Aikey Brae near Old Deer. And Culsalmond had the greatest fair of them all: St Sair’s Fair. Named after one of the earliest Brittonic saints to spread Christianity in the North, St Serf was the patron of the St Sair’s Horse and Feeing Fair. Not only serving as a forum for employing (feeing) farm servants, it attracted horse and cattle fanciers from all over the kingdom. While Aikey and Lourin continue to show horses, St Sair’s Fair did not survive World War II.
The stance at Jericho on the Hill of St Sairs has dissolved into the sod of the Glens of Foudland, like the tiny chapel to St Sair which used to mark the spot. Even after such fairs were officially banned in 1660, St Sairs was going strong in 1722. Horses were being traded in 1917 on the hill. Change in farm practices and two wars were its undoing.
What is significant, however, is not that great stallions used to parade these hallowed slopes, but that St Sairs happened within a sacred enclave of ancestral ritual circles, burial mounds and avenues just like Avebury and Sillbury Hill. The Culsalmond recumbent stone circle lies buried among the gravestones of the ruinous pre-Reformation kirk; Neolithic carved stone balls were found on the farms of Jericho, St Sairs and Waulkmill, within a sacred avenue flanked by three stone circles and two burial mounds. Bronze Age urns from Colpy and Upper Jericho have, along with charred body parts and Neolithic carved stone ladles, found their way into museums in Aberdeenshire, Edinburgh and London. More than one hundred flint arrowheads and several hundred flint implements have disappeared from this ancient place–and the archaeological record.
It was here on the last day of Lammas 1995 that a crop circle sent a reminder–a simple swirled design in wheat–to trigger in this ancient landscape a memory of connection to its agricultural past and, perhaps, if we are listening, the key to our communal future.