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The extraordinary crop formations which appeared at Chilbolton, Wiltshire, last year (one a humanoid face and the other a seeming response to a message Mankind sent into deep space in 1974) are still making waves a year on from their appearance. Now renowned author and geometer John Michell has added his own thoughts into the equation, courtesy of his new booklet ‘The FACE & the MESSAGE’, as reviewed by MICHAEL GLICKMAN…

John Michell is a great man. He founded ‘The Cerealogist’, the first crop circle journal, in 1990 and was its editor for its first exemplary years. Before this he had produced a number of seminal books which remain - in my view - required reading.

This little book - it is referred to as a pamphlet - is perhaps one of the most important publications our subject has ever been granted. The Chilbolton Face is of great importance and I suspect that its true significance will become clearer year by year. This small volume, the full title of which is ‘The FACE and the MESSAGE: What do they mean and where are they from?’, will come to be regarded, slim as it is, as the standard text on the subject.

As always, Michell’s thinking and writing form a seamless and elegant unity. One is taken comprehensively through the narrative of events and then a range of possibilities is considered and assessed. Though I have been working and lecturing on the Chilbolton events for the last twelve months I found this book to be exciting and informative. John Michell both clarifies and amplifies the tremendous questions posed by the Chilbolton formations.

Jay Goldner, an Austrian graphic artist, recently produced another very impressive study of the Chilbolton formations, ‘ET Hat Geantwortet’ (‘ET has answered’), which will shortly become available in English. I have read it and I am sure that it will be well received. It goes into much more detail than Michell, but in comparison it is fundamentally less satisfactory. Goldner’s book might be entitled ‘Jay Goldner has answered’, for he puts forward many unsubstantiated, and indeed unsubstantiable, claims which may or may not be correct.

One closes Michell with more wisdom. If questions are raised (and if they are subsequently answered) they are dealt with unassertively. Goldner, as I recall, does not touch on the nature and deeper symbolism of the original SETI message to star cluster M13, as closely reflected in the Chilbolton ‘Message’. Michell, however, considers it in some illuminating depth and shows us the tawdry motivation and implications of the original Arecibo transmission. Is this how we should really represent ourselves to the stars?

‘The FACE & the MESSAGE’ has been designed by Richard Adams, a long established colleague of John Michell who was responsible for the design of ‘The Cerealogist’. Like that magazine in its early years, the book (pamphlet), though light, is a lesson in consideration and restraint, with its pale green print. One of the additional delights (and easy to miss) is that some of the illustrations, as well as the cover, are in fact John Michell’s own meticulous water-colours.

From the current blizzard of crop circle publications, I believe this beautiful and considered volume should be acquired for everybody’s bookshelf. But be quick! It is a limited edition.

‘The FACE & the MESSAGE’, by John Michell, published by Gothic Image 2002, ISBN 0-906362-61-X, 36 pages, Ł6.95

Postal enquiries: Gothic Image Publications, PO Box 2568, Glastonbury, Somerset, BA6 8XR, UK

Online ordering: The book will become available through the Temporary Temples website within the next month at:



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