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The sixth annual conference of the Wiltshire Crop Circle Study Group recently took place in Devizes, Wiltshire. PAMELA RIHAL gives her impressions of the event…

Definitely one of the highlights of the crop circle year, apart from the phenomenon itself, of course, is the annual conference organized by the WCCSG, which for the second year running took place at the Comprehensive School in Devizes on the 14th and 15th July.

Speakers and enthusiasts from many countries are attracted to this event in Wiltshire, set as it is in the most active area for crop circles in England and the whole world. Unusually, though, visitors from America were notable by their absence due, partly perhaps, to their unfounded fear of catching something in our country, but it was interesting to note a considerable French presence, possibly come to support the two lecturers from Brittany.

The large school in Devizes is set in extensive grounds and security staff, friendly but firm, posted at each entrance, ensured that only full-ticket holders were being admitted to the conference [and not a certain group of hoaxers giving out protest leaflets at the gate on the Saturday morning]. This innovation, whilst excluding any possibly disruptive element, meant that interested passers-by could not get tickets for single events as in years before. While the reason for this ruling is totally understandable, it did mean that over the two days there was no injection of fresh energy from outside, giving rise to a slight feeling of elitism and seclusion. Certainly stall holders in the marquees missed out on passing trade and the chance of opening minds to new ideas.

However, it was great to meet up with crop circle friends and to recognise the friendly faces of the WCCSG volunteer helpers. Although there seemed to be less excitement in the air, less of a ‘buzz’ than the year before, a great enthusiasm still pervaded the weekend. People were asking each other "Is it as good as last year?" and the answer generally came back as "Yes, but different". Change is life and life is change after all and we have all moved on consciously or unconsciously in the last 12 months.

The purpose of the conference, subtitled ‘Awakening Perceptions’, was "to expand our knowledge of crop circles, to explore different ways of looking at the world, to stimulate the exploration of the unknown, to relax amongst like-minded people and to enjoy a weekend in and around a unique and awesome phenomenon".

To this end no fewer than 14 speakers had been invited to present their very varied work and research. Apart from the lecture hall, which comfortably housed the 200 or so participants, there was an exhibition room, a cafe and the possibility to sit outside in the sunshine on the spacious lawns and talk and eat to the accompaniment of John Dalton’s beautiful harp music.

Beside an enormous Cedar, Rod Bearcloud had set up his Tepee. Bearcloud is a Native American of the Osage tribe and contributes articles to The Spiral, the monthly journal of WCCSG.

Present also was the tent of the Wyvern Dowsers, who had laid out a labyrinth for anyone to walk who so desired. Marquees housed the healing therapists and purveyors of the circle-related merchandise now so familiar to old conference attendees, but which would have been an exciting eye-opener to any first-timer.

Each day began with a short meditation lead by Francine Blake who founded the WSCCG in 1995. Then followed a balanced mix of lectures and presentations needing full and attentive use of both left and right hemispheres of the brain as the subjects ranged from the mathematical through the physical, metaphysical and sacred via the concept of Fourth-dimensional timing, swimming with dolphins and much, much more through to health issues and diet.

It would be invidious to pick out any one speaker for particular mention. Clearly an enormous amount of hard work, inspiration and dedication had gone into each presentation and one felt privileged to be sharing the results with them.

At break times there was the chance to come down from these heady themes and re-earth oneself at The Healing Life Crop Circle Cafe, run on-site by chef Peter Vaughan and his team who were serving the most delicious food at reasonable prices (they had even reduced the price of tea and coffee; would that this could start a trend in the catering trade!).

Then the difficult decision had to be made whether to indulge in one of the therapies on offer, take a helicopter ride over the formations or return to the lecture hall. The wonderfully rich programme was almost too full, generously continuing after supper with Rod Bearcloud’s colourful presentation on the Saturday and the closing ceremony on the Sunday.

Of the 2001 crop circle formations themselves, aerial photographs of these were available in the marquee and some featured in July’s Spiral. Sadly though, some could not be reached on the ground due to foot and mouth restrictions.

However, a nine-pointed star had just appeared in a field of wheat at Alton Barnes and the farmer whose field had been thus ‘gifted’ allowed the conference to hold the closing ceremony here. (Contrary to some malicious rumours, permission was given and the farmer received a generous goodwill gesture from participants).

Two young couples out walking their dogs in the stillness of that perfect summer evening on the downs above the White Horse at Alton Barnes could not believe their eyes as they crested the hill in what they thought was an empty landscape. Below they saw a mass of people gathered in the crop formation and coming up the tramlines others carrying musical instruments; a harp held aloft, Bearcloud with his drum, a didgeridoo, and Stephanie Cave, the healer who uses sound, bearing an enormous crystal bowl. The couples stayed a while to observe the simple but rather moving ceremony of music and chanting. Although locals, it was the first time they had seen a crop circle, hard as this is to believe. Four minds at least had been opened to other realities that evening, and had their "perceptions awakened"!

As night fell and the music ended, people drifted away down the hill, stumbling in the rutted ground. Had it been as good as last year? Yes, Brilliant.



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