Explanation from Danny:
This humble feature began as a cheap space-filler in SC magazine and unexpectedly grew into a Frankenstein’s monster as the public demanded more. So more they got, as seen below, now available for the first time on the Internet.
This is a work in progress – so far we’re up to the letter ‘M’. More will follow, I’m afraid, at least that is when I can be bothered to do some more. Rest all too assured, you’ll be informed when I do.
Dive in, then, for Danny Sotham’s weird, wonderful and utterly indispensable… A – Z of Cerealogy!
Only a cerealogist (qv) knows what this means.
Wiltshire beauty spot with scenic views, of archaeological interest, nice facilities with post office, village hall, nearby canal side pub (see BARGE, THE), camp sites, etc. Well located for military helicopter training. Major spot for UFO sightings. Oh, and some crop circles appear here sometimes. Not that you'd know that from some sections of the UFO community, who endlessly go on about the former but completely dismiss the latter.
No-one knows where this is, but it's rumoured to constitute a couple of small fields somewhere adjacent to Alton Barnes. When formations appear here they get classified as being at Alton Barnes anyway so it hardly matters.
Large amusement park which some people believe is a major spot for crop circles.
The only crop circle researcher many people, particularly Americans, have ever heard of. Not to be confused with the sadly departed Richard Andrews (qv), or indeed Andrew Collins (qv).
Prominent dowser/circle researcher, sadly deceased. Not to be confused with Colin Andrews (qv) or Andrew Collins (qv).
Contagious breeding ground for circle hoaxing rumours inside and probably malaria in the camp site swamp out the back, where cases of Trench Foot have also been diagnosed from time to time. Nice canal side pub actually, spoilt for visitors to the beauty spot of Alton Barnes (qv) only by an endless series of obsessed morons talking about crop circles. The latest hoaxing news can be caught up with on the helpful notice board in the snooker room if you don't mind a cue hitting you in the ear every two minutes.
Supposedly derogatory term used by debunkers to describe those who dare to think some of these weird crop circle things might actually not be made by the fibbing bounders who usually claim them.
See ‘CIRCLEMAKERS’ WEB SITE
Ask most Canadians what a crop circle is and they'll start muttering something unintelligible about peanut butter. Apparently the only widely-known formation which has ever appeared in their country is a computer-generated advertising logo for some brand of peanut butter or another. The conversation which usually follows revolves not around the meaning of the phenomenon but instead about how crap dry old English peanut butter is compared with the lovely moist confection enjoyed in Ontario, or something.
Generic term for one who studies crop circles, coined when it still looked (erroneously) like the study of 'cerealogy' might one day become respectable and demanded a proper title. Not to be confused with the study of breakfast cereals or the totally unrelated journal of the same name. Actually, there are hardly any real cerealogists left now, but plenty of circle tourists, otherwise known as 'croppies' (qv). There's some argument about whether it should be spelt 'cerealogist' or 'cereologist', but given that 99.9% of the world doesn't know what it means anyway and it wouldn't be accepted in Scrabble, who gives a toss?
Once the Alton Barnes of Hampshire and associated with some spooky goings-on involving trilling sounds and 'horned lights' (or something) in the late 80's. Nine times out of ten pronounced 'cheese' as in Edam, even though it's actually pronounced 'chess', as in board. Amazing fact: the 'Devil's Punchbowl' field was once used as an amphitheatre by Montgomery to address British troops before the Normandy landings. There, you've learnt something useful from this page.
‘CIRCLEMAKERS’ WEB SITE:
See BOUNDERS, FIBBING.
Early circle book. Once a prime requisite for those interested in actual crop circles; essential reading, but now by and large forgotten by those eager for nothing but elaborate pictograms. Dog-eared discounted copies usually seen unfairly lying ignored on stalls at conferences, next to battered (with chips) remainders of Crop Circles: A Mystery Solved. Shout it out - circles and rings ARE interesting!
One-time circle researcher, convinced that 'orgone', as produced by living things, particularly during orgasm according to Wilhelm Reich, played a role in circle-creation. Given this alleged quality, it's surprising there aren't more formations directly behind The Barge camp site. Oddly, practical experiments with orgone failed to garner many supporters at the time. Not to be confused with Colin Andrews (qv), Richard Andrews (qv), or indeed little-known researcher Randy Colons.
Maturely nicknamed 1996 Essex formation, even though it actually appeared to be a diagram of deep astrological significance. In fact, some thought it looked more like a pair of, er, bosoms.
Strange swirled indentations which sometimes appear in fields. Some croppies still talk about these in amongst all the drinking, squabbling, hanky-panky and philosophising.
The cerealogical equivalent of 'Trekkies' (Star Trek fans), pressed into service when it was realised that a) the term ‘cerealogist' was never going to become respectable, and b) that barely anyone was actually researching crop circles anymore, but simply having a jolly old time gallivanting about Wiltshire as tourists with notebooks and getting sloshed at The Barge. Given that 'Trekkies' actually hate this term and prefer to be known as 'Trekkers' in the futile hope this won't make them look sad anymore, should 'croppies' in fact now be changed to ‘croppers'? Then all people getting into crop circles could be said to be 'coming a cropper'...
The only fictional TV series ever to feature crop circles as a major part of its storyline (in which a golden plate is dug from a Barbury-like pictogram and used in a man-made formation to attract flying saucers down, or something). This X-Files-like slice of paranoia was supposed to cover a 30 year period of history and would have got around to the circles again in a big way, no doubt, if it hadn't been unceremoniously yanked from the schedules by ratings-worried Hollywood executives at the end of its first season. It's a bloody conspiracy! See also DUCHOVNY, DAVID
Pick any summer's evening to find a crop circle in the Avebury area and chances are you won't need directions, but simply need to listen for Rolf Harris-type sounds (with the possible exception of Stylophones) wafting on the breeze towards you. Doing any real work in formations these days is now pretty much impossible for falling over New Agers parping on said Aboriginal gadgets or tapping on those cheap tom-toms tourists seem intent on bringing back from Tunisia and the suchlike, while the smell of dodgy substances (unwashed skin in several cases) drifts around. And while we're about it, why is it every time you want to get a clear look at a circle centre there'll either be someone cross-legged and gaga plonked right on top of it or a couple on the verge of copulation. On the other hand, perhaps they've got the right idea.
Sadly, this much-loved cult sci-fi show was taken off the air just before the crop circles came to media prominence. A great shame because one can well imagine the possibilities of their inclusion in a script such as 'The Death Crops of Silbury':
THE MASTER: "So Doctor, I have lured you into my trap by creating this massive pictogram which will now destroy you with its deadly radiation emissions at the touch of a button... (pauses and leers) ... but no, that would be too easy. Instead I will gloat at you for another ten minutes, giving you time to escape." THE DOCTOR: (activates sonic screwdriver) "Ha! - I escape again!" THE MASTER: "Curses! You will suffer for this Doctor!" (activates pictogram too late as field erupts in dodgy BBC visual effect. Cut to TARDIS dematerialising. Cue music sting. Fade to credits.)
There's been much said about the alleged strange behaviour of canines in the middle of formations over the years, a large part of which seems to revolve around their depositing strange dollops of an unusual smelly substance which then gets smeared on the writhing couples’ and meditation brigade's bottoms. Curiously, such a deposit was once paranormally left on the carpet of The Barge by a prominent croppie’s dog. For a fiver, their name won't be revealed on this website.
Fun pastime for those who enjoy twiddling their rods or swinging their dangly things. Also known to like a 'good ley’ from time to time.
DOUG 'N' DAVE:
Vaudeville comedy duo who keep making unexpected comebacks despite one of them being dead. Some people think they invented crop circles. See also SAD OLD MEN WHO REALLY OUGHT TO GET A LIFE.
Any croppie worth their salt will by now have developed the talent of driving a vehicle with their head turned in a 90 degree angle to either side, on the look out for new wonders of the crop fields. Astonishingly, miles can be covered, bends negotiated and junctions taken without even realising one hasn't so much as glanced at the actual road in front in the meantime. And no harm seems to result! Well, apart from the odd 50 car pile-up here and there.
Master of the deadpan smoulder, pin-up hunk Duchovny's X-Files character Agent Mulder is another of the few cult heroes ever to have had anything to do with crop circles. Famously the only show ever to refer to the CCCS 1992 ‘Project Argus’ report on scientific effects in circles, Mulder is dismissive of its findings when a UFO enthusiast (usual babbling-hippie-nerd TV archetype) mentions the phenomenon in a very early episode. Presumably he's forced to eat his words later when, after chasing a bunch of shape-shifting, sex-changing puritans (honest) into a field, a light shoots upwards and Mulder and the ever-lusted-after Scully find themselves wandering around a large but rather messy single circle... Actually, as even in the crop circle 'community' only about three people understood what Project Argus really did find (and one of those is dead now) through all the jargon and scientific terminology, the reference was lost on 99.9% of viewers anyway, but it was a nice touch for the really alert. Copies of the Argus report may still be available for those who enjoy reading telephone directories and the suchlike. Some have suggested the deliberately obscure presentation of the final report was a - hey! - conspiratorial attempt to conceal its true findings, but as we know, “The Truth is Out There”. On the other hand, “Trust No-one”.
If you go down to the fields today, you're in for a big surprise... All those 'paranormal investigators' who fritter away their time looking for strange phenomena with cameras and tape recorders in old mansions which haven't seen a spook for years are simply looking in the wrong places. As we know, all they need do is rush down to a flattened swirl of crop somewhere and they'll get all the weird effects they could ever want, according to many. On the other hand, none of their equipment (oo-er missus) would actually work inside if some reports are to be believed so perhaps they'd be wasting their time after all. Allegedly, mobile phones are a good test of electronics-zapping, often failing to operate within a circle. Why this quality hasn't been put to good use is a mystery - next time the pocket of that annoying git next to you on the train starts bleeping, quickly whip out a swirl of circle-affected crop to pop under his/her feet and - hey, presto! - instant dead telephone and deliverance from bellowed guff about being 'home in five minutes, darling'. You'll be saving them from ear cancer or something anyway.
One old chestnut mutated out of all proportion over the years is the yarn about the fighter jet pilot ejecting after being caught up in some weird circle-connected force. Versions range from a Harrier smashing headlong into the centre of a formation to the pilot's parachute getting tangled in a flying saucer. The real evidence? A pilot's body was once found near a field where circles had appeared, er, two months earlier. If crop circles down planes so easily, the whole of Wiltshire should by now be littered with the wreckage of everything from 707's to Concorde and those bloody little microlights that whine overhead like wasps when you're trying to get some decent kip... er, do some proper research in a formation. On the basis of such convincing circles-influencing-events evidence, most local newsworthy occurrences, from warehouse fires to old Mrs Jones from Marlborough winning the W.l. bramble jelly competition, could be attributable to crop formations. "My God, Holmes, the whole of human history was all a massive manipulation – by the crop circles!" (cue dramatic music, rumble of thunder, etc.). Still, as one famous circle researcher once remarked "you have to spice it up a bit, don’t you?".
END OF THE WORLD:
Because of the appearance of solar system charts with Earth missing, that sort of thing, some believe the formations are a warning that the end for our planet is nigh. How nice of some higher intelligence to come gloating over the fact that our days are numbered. This is like patting the hand of a terminally-ill patient at the bedside and saying gleefully 'Never mind matey, by this time next week you'll have kicked the bucket'. Still, maybe aliens do enjoy sick humour as some believe the circles are made by the same chaps who also perform rectal probes and suck brains out of cows.
ENIGMA, THE CROP CIRCLE:
Term used so often now that whoever first thought of it really should have slapped a copyright down. Also the name of an excellent 1990 book which stands today as quaint and incontrovertible evidence that a) certain researchers once believed the phenomenon wasn't mostly man-made, and that b) croppies very briefly lived in peace and harmony with each other.
Sorry about this one but we cannot hide the fact that at least two crop formations displaying male genitalia have arrived over the last few years, most notably near the prime-minister's home at Chequers, Buckinghamshire. Now there's a message if ever there was one. Only hardcore 'believers' (and Reg Presley) defended it as genuine. Still, if ETs (qv) are responsible for the phenomenon, maybe these formations tie in with the stream of general abuse concerning our imminent demise (see END OF THE WORLD), the perpetration of cosmic bottom-probing jokes and hilarious bovine dismemberment.
For a phenomenon of which almost nothing is known for sure, there's a lot of people with a lot to say to a lot of people wishing to hear a lot about something of which almost nothing is known for sure. Thus, we pay lots of money to torture ourselves by forcing our posteriors onto excruciatingly uncomfortable seats in hot stuffy rooms listening to distant figures on badly-lit stages, muttering incoherently into unintelligible school PA systems, showing upside-down slides for hours and hours on end in the hope that we will learn something useful, while, as everyone knows, the real reason for attending circle conferences and events is for the crucial gossip titbits of scandal and character-assassination in the stall rooms and cafes.
Once these were called 'little green men'. When that became offensive to some, 'alien' was introduced. Now 'alien' has been branded by ET-lovers as, er, alienating. And so 'Extra Terrestrial' or 'ET' has become the currently acceptable term for these beings which many believe are responsible for the crop circles. Various sub-categories include 'Greys', 'Lizards' and 'Nordics'. Norwegians must be pleased to know they are considered to look like aliens. Sorry, little green men. Sorry, ETs... Evidence that these beings actually make crop circles is thin and contradictory, but much sought by alien, sorry, ET believers. When a grey-type ET face appeared as a crop formation at Waden Hill a few years back, then, naturally it was greeted as... a hoax.
There are around two dozen well-documented eye-witness accounts from people who claim, without evidence, to have seen crop circles forming out of nowhere. Of course, all these people are plainly psychotic liars, while anyone who claims, without evidence, to have made a formation with a plank or garden roller is obviously a paragon of virtue and truth.
Famous prophet of that famous bestseller ‘The Old Testament’ (God Publications, 1500BC) often cited as evidence of ancient UFOs, and, in some interpretations, crop circles, what with all the ‘wheels within wheels' stuff he allegedly witnessed, along with beings with 'four faces' and the rest. Evidence also exists that Moses drove a motorbike - "he cameth down the hill in Triumph' - and of biblical optical deformity - "How did you get like that?" "Well, 1 Isaiah than the other".
Strange creatures which roam around shouting unintelligible things at visitors to crop circles, run combine harvesters through centres of formations or cut out their middles, and have the cheek to act as if they own the place. See also FEES and FIVERS.
One aspect to crop circles considered particularly fishy by the media are the fees charged by some farmers (qv) to enter formations, leading to accusations of their deliberately hiring hoaxers for profit (there's a good title for a book; ‘Hiring Hoaxers for Fun and Profit’, the kind of tome that sells by the bucketload at Amway conferences) - as if farmers haven't got enough to do, what with all the shouting, combining circles out, burning Foot and Mouth herds and, er, actually running a farm. Inflation seems to be pushing up fees, though. Back in the 'good old days', a mere £1.00 would get you past the scruffy caravan and bored farmhand and into your pictogram of delight. These days, some have been known to charge up to a whopping three quid a head - and even more on the black market (see FIVERS). Some trusting agricultural souls, unwilling to spare workers or recalcitrant offspring to man their fields have tried honesty boxes on posts at the entry gate to fields, with signs along the lines of "Don't betray our trust, donations please". An equally effective notice might as well be a sign saying "ROB ME". Honesty boxes have probably funded many a pint at The Barge. The latest wheeze is for local village yoofs, unconnected with any farm, to turn up at formations and charge gullible tourists several quid each to enter, before scarpering up the road to buy crack or something.
As any self-respecting cerealogist knows, permission should always be sought before entering a crop formation. However, as there are actually very few self-respecting cerealogists left anymore, it's therefore worth transgressors carrying a wad of five-pound notes around instead for that horrifying moment of post-trespass discovery, signified by the unintelligible shouting from the edge of the field (see FARMERS). A fiver waved tantalisingly at an angry farmer is like cat-nip to a moggy, having smoothed many a potential scrap. If they demand tenners though, leg it quick. (Update: Foot and Mouth trespass fines could push your fee up to £5000 right now – so have a chequebook handy.)
A morbid question often asked about crop circles is whether dead animals are ever found inside. Apart from a couple of mashed porcupines some years back, only a bunch of half-melted flies seem to have attracted any attention, found hideously fused, still alive, to stems at Cherhill last year. Now we await anxiously for news of a baseball-capped, plank-bearing pensioner being discovered in similar circumstances. Which would, of course, be awful.
As each year goes by, there's a bigger and bigger bun fight between budding aerial photographers for the same tiny pool of aeroplane pilots who must spend their entire summers spiralling round and round these ridiculous markings in fields. There's probably a special automatic control in the cockpit now marked 'crop circle mode' which, when pressed, leaves the plane circling and the pilot free to read a book. Recently, there's been a bit of a pilot famine since the Civil Aviation Authority decided to get snotty about any Tom, Dick or Harry making dosh from profiteering cameramen for what is supposed an amateur hobby, threatening licence-revoke on offenders. All that has now happened, of course, is that the annual fight over aviators between squabbling croppies has shifted to unsuspecting CAA-approved helicopter pilots who don't know what's hit them and are probably planning a strike even as we speak. When every 'copter jockey in the country has had his fill of "could you just go round again and hover for a bit longer?", or when the first unfortunate cerealogist 'accidentally' falls out of the cockpit to the ground below when 'leaning out a bit far' ("honest, M'Lud"), aerial photographers will have to develop special 200' high stilts to get their wares. It'll be a bit like War of the Worlds, with strange bestilted figures striding over roofs and houses. Perhaps that's what Doug and Dave did - didn't they say something about using stilts?
Knowledge of these would be quite handy in the saloon bar of The Barge these days, as spotting an Englishman can be tricky at the height of the season. German would be especially useful to know. Or American. (There goes our US readership - Ed.)
Let's all get excited about some potato that looks a bit like the Virgin Mary, shall we? Or about the story of a man who got his toe stuck in the tap and had to spend the rest of his life wearing it? Et cetera. All exciting stuff, who'll deny? But hang on, what's this - crop circles? A load of cobblers. Let's spend several pages a month rubbishing them. Better still, why not rename the mag ‘The Skeptic’ and merge with another well-known open-minded institution? Charles Fort must be spinning in his grave at high velocity.
Do we really need to name any names here?
The state of most researchers at the end of a season. Also indicative of the state of most croppies at the end of a night at The Barge.
There’s been much tell over the years of horses going wild inside crop circles. What no-one has ever satisfactorily explained is a) why horses are being ridden into the middle of sown fields, and b) how they actually get inside without causing major crop damage. Perhaps they go astride the tractor lines, one set of legs in each.
The very few, if highly apocryphal, cases of alleged radiation-sickness in some formations doesn't put off many intrepid croppies traipsing into fields wielding boxes they don't understand which make funny crackling noises when swung around. If the crackling should suddenly rise (a bit like a pork-roast) they'd be well advised to run extremely quickly in the opposite direction. A cheaper alternative to this generally pointless exercise is to stand for a week or two in a crop formation and see if any limbs drop off. A couple of scientists in the early 90's claimed to have detected radioactive isotopes in a couple of formations. By the time most croppies had reached for their dictionaries to find what 'isotope' actually meant, the claims had already crumbled into the dust of doubt and recrimination. Radioactive dust, of course.
There's a long history of home-made electronic 'litmus test' gadgets for crop circles. Nearly all have a dial with an excitingly flickering needle and a protruding aerial. Some even make the exciting crackling noises. And nobody knows what any of them actually do or what they are detecting, hence the application of the dubiously revealing name 'gizmo', a friendly-sounding christening which appears to give some kind of validity to something utterly useless. By God though, if the needle doesn't flicker then the formation must be a man-made dud. Always good for impressing novice croppies, a single flash of a gizmo in a formation (furrowed brow and look of deep concentration a must) will have holidaying Sid and Doris from Clacton at your feet and hanging on your every word in a matter of minutes as you will look like an important scientist (see also GEIGER COUNTERS). Such devices are also reliable totty-magnets when used by male cerealogists and the old gizmo manoeuvre has led to much huffing and panting in tents at The Barge later. If a genuine scientist (rare in this community, admittedly) or someone sporting a bigger gizmo than yours appears though, the game will be up and you will see how fickle gizmo-attraction can be, in which case retire from the formation quickly with as much grace as can be mustered, ie. leg it quick.
Site of the world’s biggest annual crop circle gathering, yet, oddly, not of any actual crop circles. Such is its reputation as a spiritual haven, this picturesque town, with all its good energies, holy wells and souvenir tat shops, actually employs living gargoyles to walk the streets frightening off evil spirits. At least we think that’s what the ugly, foul-smelling, unkempt-bearded shufflers nursing beer cans and lying in pools of wee outside Londis must be for.
The eternal fuel of the croppie community, no validation required. The Internet has nothing on the speed at which this commodity flies through the information channels of, well, the gob, basically. The World Wide Gob is an important source of vital data such as who's slagging who off, who was seen in whose tent at The Barge the night before and, of course, which hoaxing team made what formation that week. The joy of the World Wide Gob is that no corroborating evidence beyond what you heard through a 10-pint haze at the bar is necessary in convincing your listeners of the veracity of the data. Many sources rely on the WWG nowadays to send messages and transmit important lies, sorry, information, to those hooked up to this valuable system. Some have based whole careers on it.
Cerealogical practice much carried out by aging male researchers on younger, usually female, researchers at conferences, traditionally under the guise of "Oh (whoever), come and give me a H-U-G, it's been SO long since I've seen you..."
There has been much scaremongering from old guard croppies for years about the likelihood of trespassing circle sightseers getting blown away by irate farmers, spoken of with much shaking of heads and doomy rising and falling "you mark my words"-type intonation. The fact that a) killing people (or even shooting at them) is actually illegal, and that b) this has never happened in a decade and a half of active circle interest, doesn't seem to put them off. On the other hand, a farmer did find himself in court recently for blowing away a burglar, so perhaps we'd better watch it. Given the higher likelihood of US researchers actually bearing arms themselves, though, any American farmers thinking of taking pot-shots at apparently harmless croppies could find themselves in a return-fire all-out shoot-out and therefore this course of action is even less recommended in the States.
‘HANDS OF FRIENDSHIP’:
So-named formation which appeared at Cherhill in 1993, actually more closely resembling two grappling Captain Hooks than ‘hands’. Nevertheless, some felt this was an overture of friendship from the Circlemakers - like, they’d really want to mix with the likes of people who hang round empty fields all day, swill beer at The Barge at night and argue over which hoaxing group made which pattern, instead of reaching out to a social set more likely to give them an interesting conversation. The same year, an American researcher of sorts went out into a cornfield with a rotavator and etched a crude design of a human and an ET shaking hands. This shaky symbolic message, which would have disgraced a four-year old, probably did more harm to interplanetary relations than any single event since we carelessly started broadcasting Third Rock from the Sun out into space.
Common ailment amongst campers at The Barge which usually prevents ‘researchers’ heading out into the fields much before 4.30pm, just in time to get a quick round of formations in before returning to the bar to get down to the serious business of contributing to the following morning's mystery illness.
Pioneer in the discovery that many crop formations encode the ‘diatonic ratio’ in their dimensions. Yes, that’s right, the diatonic ratio. You know, er, like musical scales… …white notes on a piano… …funny numbers… …Stonehenge… …hugely important… …er… well, you know how it works, don’t you..? DON’T you? Give Professor Hawkins a call. He’ll explain it to you. Whatever it means – and most preach of its importance without actually knowing - the matching of diatonic numbers apparently requires very accurate measurements being taken to the nearest inch. Given the general state (see HANGOVERS) and limited capacity of most croppies when it comes to numbers or even holding a tape measure straight in the first place (let alone turning up in the right field), one wonders if Professor Hawkins has been alerted to the probability that most crop circle surveys are elaborate works of fiction hastily concocted from averages when it becomes apparent that too much bar time is being jeopardised by the lengthy work REAL surveying takes to do.
One of many reported anomalous effects oft reported amongst visitors to crop circles which clearly has no connection whatsoever to a) the burning sun above, b) pesticides/anti-croppie death sprays slurped all over the field by the farmer, or c) the seven pints followed by a rum chaser and a curry in Devizes the night before.
Given the troubles of the National Health Service, it’s a surprise they haven’t started writing prescriptions for sufferers to get themselves down to a crop formation ASAP, where, according to sources, miraculous cures await all who enter. Well, apart from those who come out with vomiting fits, blinding headaches, rashes and depression, but these are obviously cathartic symptoms and they’ll feel a whole lot better afterwards. (Well, they would, wouldn’t they?) Those unable to physically visit one of these beneficial patterns in crop fields can now, courtesy of some enterprising croppies, save themselves the travel fare and instead shell out a perfectly reasonable 20 quid for a small plastic bottle of healing tap water previously buried in a formation for two minutes. Isn’t medical science a marvellous thing?
It’s sobering to think that most ‘right-thinking’ people in the western world see crop circles as having about as much validity as this other well-established fraudulent scam which fooled the world for five minutes. Or was it a scam? What if it was real? Is Hitler still alive? Who cares? Apparently a swastika formation a couple of years ago “dowsed well”, though.
A term now considered offensive to ‘human circlemakers’ by the, er, hoaxers and some misguided croppies alike who would have us believe such jolly japesters are in fact guided by ‘higher forces’ to create their works of genius. Yeah, right, like Doug Bower is an agent of the Divine. If he is, one can only imagine it’s the Divine of the deceased mad drag queen doggy-poo eating type rather than the Holy Creator. And as for ‘Team Satan’ – well, hey, the title says it all. A ‘hoax’ is something with the intention to deceive by way of pretending to be something it’s not, you see, whereas the human circlemakers believe they’re in fact devoting time and spiritual energy to making all our lives better with their works of inspirational art. Ahhh, bless ‘em.
Native Americans who get terribly excited when they see pictures of crop circles and sing their praises accordingly for the deep meaning they have for Humankind. Typical, isn’t it? The circle-making forces go to all the trouble of making their enlightening precision symbols in the holy area of Wiltshire, England, only for cackling locals to go “it’s all bloody students, ain’t it?”, while a small group of spiritually advanced tribesmen seeing a bunch of Foto-Stop prints in Cod Creek Backwater several thousand miles away are the only people who seem really interested.
‘Scientific’ research into anomalous effects suggests large increases in the production of human hormones take place when visiting crop circles. Given the amount of near-copulating couples found writhing inside formations each year, it hardly needed a, er, hard scientific study to show that. Perhaps this also sheds light on the unexplained grey jelly-like substances researchers have found on, er, entering crop circles in years past (oh, stop it – Ed).
HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM:
It’s amazing the amount of croppies who also claim that the story the beloved NASA has fed the world about the Moon landings might be just a teeny-weeny bit of a fib and that the whole thing was a big fraud. Could this be because after the hard slog of getting someone to consider the unlikely possibility of this idea, selling the idea of crop circles being made by extra-dimensionals suddenly seems a doddle in comparison and can be produced as a nice little conversational dessert after gruelling dinner party discussions?
With all that satellite junk floating around up in orbit, capable of reading your newspaper from space, as technologists are so fond of telling us (why can’t they just pop out to the newsagents like everyone else?), and with infra-red night-sights and the like, wouldn’t you think one of them might have monitored the fields of England long enough to have a) captured the creation of a crop formation out of nowhere, or b) captured the activities of all these baseball-capped artists/students/pensioners/Young Farmers who we’re constantly assured are out there thrashing away every night? Instead, a telling, deafening silence reigns. The only answer is going to be for CCCS or someone to save up enough to launch their own spy satellite. Now, I wonder what you can get for £37.50 these days..?
Strange phenomenon commonly sighted on screens at conferences or tucked away into paragraphs of books, but hardly ever actually seen in reality, rather like circles spun into the tops of pine trees, etc. Actually, a few photos have done the rounds over the years, and there is a neat picture of an American ice ring which looks just as if Wile E Coyote or some other such cartoon character has done the old sawing-through-from-beneath trick. Maybe we’re missing all the best formations, down in Antarctica or something.
INDIAN TRACKING SKILLS:
White man see footprints. White man think heap big hoaxers at large. White man need skills of red man. White man say “How?”. See also INFRA-RED PHOTOGRAPHY.
Some modern wags would have you believe they purvey the best in humorous writings on croppiedom, but all (present company excepted) pale into vast insignificance when set against this rather charming publication of evil intent, which did the rounds back in the golden days of master hoaxing bullshitters like Jim Schnabel, et al. Cheaply photocopied and sent at random to leading cerealogists (as they were then almost respectably known, before someone stupidly coined the phrase ‘croppie’), it was largely an exercise to stir up researchers against each other and promote the notion of hoaxing (as it was then almost respectably known, before someone stupidly coined the phrase ‘Circlemakers’). However, its grasp of satire and humour, though cruel and cutting, was utterly hilarious and perhaps inadvertently entertained the 10 people who ever received it in the dark days of the Round In Circles fall-out, with gem headlines like ‘Vigay to Hoax Hoaxed Hoax’ (don’t ask) never bettered. Shame, then, that such talents were wasted on spreading falsehoods, but there you go. Pale Informer imitations followed, this time by sad and bitter croppies themselves, writing anonymously, trying to plot revenge on hated foes (typically, not hoaxers, but other researchers), but the moment had passed. Mind you, The Informer’s prophetic powers were less impressive, referring to Southern Circular Research’s esteemed founder Barry Reynolds as “destined to be put down by a Sussex coup”. We’re still waiting.
Another in a long, long line of totally unproven and utterly baffling techniques wheeled out in moments of desperation as the crucial ‘litmus test’ of the genuineness of formations. Thus we know that THAT Oliver’s Castle formation was faked because someone’s infra-red pictures of, er, something or another, failed to show what, er, they should have done, or something. See also GIZMOS, INDIAN TRACKING SKILLS (qv), NODE LENGTH MEASURING, etc.
Previously seen as the natural development of the long pictograms of 1990, these bug-like designs have somehow been retrospectively degraded in recent years to become associated with the formations Doug and Dave DID actually make, purely because a) two semi-circular rings looking nothing like D’s whatsoever have since been suggested to represent two D’s (geddit?), and b) designs that look like insects are clearly stupid and therefore have no validity. What marvellous deductive skills we have, eh? No stone of logic unturned! The fact that discounting the insectograms leaves a vast gap in the apparent evolution of the pictograms doesn’t seem to bother the same people who are quite happy to accept the pictograms of earlier and later years as genuine, but not the ones in-between. When insectoid aliens turn up and blast the hell out of us, or the Earth dies from genetically-engineered pesticides, they’ll be laughing on the other side of their faces.
Never has such a better gift to help the art of bullshit flourish fallen into the laps of those who spew it forth than the Internet. There’s some great info and great websites out there. It’s just a shame one has to wade through such masses of unedited, ill-thought out, grammatically-challenged utter pants along the way (“Pants”: translation for US readers = rubbish, garbage. See also “complete pony”, etc. We’ll train you up yet). As much a divine gift for the spread of bigotry and ignorance as it is for freedom of speech and democracy. We’re given the gift of spel chquers and who’d ever know it? Ironically, some of the best written and presented paranormal pages have been sceptic sites. Well, until Swirled News came along, anyway. The Devil has all the best music, etc.
There’s been a number of religious symbols out there in the fields over the years and the sects and denominations can fight over who’s got the most. If you take crescent moons as Islamic, though, Muslims win hands down. And who’s going to argue with that? Allah be praised!
Each year strange sightings are reported of minibuses packed with small humanoid figures flitting from crop formation to crop formation, pointing odd apparatus at people’s faces and firing off unintelligible questions. The annual arrival of the Nippon TV crew is now awaited with some excitement as their presence invariably brings with it another amusing scheme to chase video-makers across car parks or attempts to catch the phenomenon in the act, usually resulting in infra-red cameras pointing in entirely the wrong direction while East Fields bursts into a frenzy of light balls, black helicopters and flying saucers. Meanwhile, the homeland itself, where the plasma vortex theory remains inexplicably popular, can lay claim to having had the only reported cases of circles in the dirt of underground rail subways, and a paddy field formation. Team Satan must have spent days drying their boots out afterwards.
Substance allegedly found in a number of early formations, put down to ectoplasmic paranormal processes by researchers and melted boiled sweets by scientists. Nearby Rowntree’s boxes have been conspicuously absent. Others have suggested these blobs were in fact sewage waste ejected from aircraft toilets. Alleged hoaxer Doug Bower monotonously claims to have once been hit on the head by an iced block of just such a discharge, despite the incredible odds against a) such a small object hitting a person, and b) anyone surviving it. On the other hand, such a blow could account quite well for his mental state, and it brings a whole other meaning to the word ‘sh**head’.
Popular figure in Christianity. Some believe the crop circles herald his second coming, pointing to the many cruciform shapes which have graced the fields over the years. Given the large amount of Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist and Pagan symbols which have also popped up, one presumes we can also expect revisits from Krishna, Mohammed, Buddha and Alistair Crowley in the near future. We’re going to be pretty crowded with historical religious and occult characters, but the TV chat-shows should be interesting:
JEREMY PAXMAN (‘Newsnight’ presenter): Krishna, you’ve been away for rather a long time. Don’t you think it’s a bit late to be making a comeback?
KRISHNA: Well, I…
PAXMAN: Come on, I haven’t got all night. Jesus, what have you got to say..?
JESUS: This is…
PAXMAN: Oh come off it, that was two thousand years ago. Answer the question, man. And now over to Kirsty Wark for today’s headlines…
If you find yourself sniffing the air on entering a formation, thinking some paranormal scent is lilting in from another dimension, the chances are it is, in fact, a hideous odorous smouldering piece of wood bought from ‘Smells & Bells Ltd’, stuck in the central swirl as an offering to the circlemakers. Quite why they should be impressed by some cheap, niffy old stick isn’t clear.
Before the advent of wide Internet usage, the flame of continuing interest in the bizarre and wacky world of crop circles was much carried by those old-fashioned things called printed sheets in the dark times of the post-Doug and Dave holocaust, the post-Jim Schnabel fall-out and the Country File Armageddon. Never have staplers and photocopiers had such power. Well, apart from in the hands of secret campaigners in totalitarian states, but cerealogy is something that really matters, after all. Glossy UFO magazines have come and gone in the wake of fads and fashions (The X Files largely to blame), other paranormal ‘zines and newsletters have been set up and died deaths almost from birth, but on the cerealogical journals plod, against all odds and adversity. Which is something to be proud of - or are croppies just extremely bloody-minded?
Lady who lives at 31b Barrack Terraces, Devizes, who is getting just a little tired of receiving letters from croppies asking how her Fibonacci spirals are this month. Still, pity Mr and Mrs Fractal who live next door. Or Mr Koch Snowflake, come to that.
Oft-quoted coffin-dodger (actually he didn’t dodge it, did he?) with glasses whose work has apparently much to say about crop circles, you know, power of the mind… archetypal symbols… flying saucers, er… puns about ‘The Jung Ones’, er… will this do? (No – Ed)
Remember those ‘thought bubble’ designs of 1994? Many thought they might in some way represent the fragments of the whacking great comet that just happened to be giving our friendly neighbourhood gas-giant a good old going over at about the same time. This connection was further compounded when one of the black scars comet Shoemaker-Andtheelves 9 left after striking Jupiter appeared to mirror the shape of the West Sussex East Dean crescent thought-bubble. If the Galileo probe ever starts sending back photos of crop formations on Ganymede or something, which resemble Earth atlases with big holes in the middle, we’d better run for shelter fast.
Not a spin-off from The Archers radio show, but a collection of minuscule half-horse villages near Avebury, just off the, er, River Kennett, where many a pictogram of delight has arrived. Trouble is, no-one can ever decide whether formations are at West Kennett, East Kennett or just ‘The Kennetts’, or whether it’s spelt Kennett, Kennet or Kenett. Crop circles which have appeared next to the West Kennett longbarrow are often mysteriously listed as being at East Kennet, while formations at East Kennett go down as being at West Kenett or sometimes even nearby West Overton, not to be mixed up with Overton in Hampshire or Overtown near Barbury Castle. However, other formations at West Kennett are variously listed as being at the Avebury Avenue, The Sanctuary, or Silbury Hill. Confused? Many circle documenters have been, proven neatly by the most casual look through the myriad contradictions, messes and listings paradoxes in various books, journals and databases, which have led to formations being registered twice, thrice or even quadrupled in some cases. Thus, about 20 formations can be knocked off the grand total of circle numbers from any year in which designs have appeared anywhere near the Kennetts/Kennets/Kenetts.
KEYS AND CLAWS:
Early pictogram appendages which some said were the ‘Hands of God’, others said were weather symbols and others still said were, er, keys and claws, representing dragons, cosmic locksmiths, etc. Some believe the famous Alton Barnes design of 1990 was simply a recording of the prevalent weather conditions of the time using Met Office signs. Way to go, fellas. All that effort just to let us know AFTER THE EVENT what we could have learnt from Michael Fish after the news the night before. Mind you, he didn’t predict that hurricane thing of ’87, did he, etc, etc. The fact that the formation’s resemblance to weather symbols was superficial to say the least is neither here nor there, of course. Others have suggested the claw-like appendages represented the claw-like appendages of beings communicating with us using their claw-like appendages as a sort of semaphore. Nope, haven’t quite got that. The shocking discovery of a rusting Yale key in the East Field a year or so back, meanwhile, was proof enough to some that the pictogram keys represented the ‘keys to the landscape’. Trouble is, we haven’t found the lock yet (though it could well be at 31b Barrack Terraces, Devizes or some other ‘portal’).
We constantly hear about the CIA being involved in covert circle surveillance, funding of Team Satan, Fortean Times, etc, but what about the KGB or whatever they’re called now, eh? Why is it always the CIA? Why shouldn’t the Ruskies be involved? They’ve had snow circles in Siberia, you know.
Also known as the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, The JAMMS, The Timelords and numerous other nomenclatures, this now defunct pop music/art terrorist outfit has been targeted as a possible culprit for the Bratton Castle hoax of 1990, which rather embarrassingly caught Andrews and Delgado out in front of the world’s media, as if inflicting ‘Doctorin’ The TARDIS’ on the Top 40 wasn’t bad enough. In fact, only one formation is ever known to have been made by the KLF (their logo), as used in their infamous Tammy Wynette video, but this didn’t stop entire theses being produced by the hoax-obsessed victims of the McCarthy-like paranoia which struck the circle community in the early 90’s, in which they were accused of masterminding much of the entire phenomenon based on the evidence of one pop video. Like the KLF haven’t got better things to do, like, er, stringing dead cows from pylons (mission aborted), giving out free booze to London down and outs (cocked up), burning £1 million in genuine bank notes (accomplished!) and planning to knock down Stonehenge with JCBs as an ‘art statement’ (mission aborted). Be warned, there remains a standing threat to demolish the unguarded Rollright stones in Oxfordshire as an artistic protest against their Bronze Age makers using such useless erosive stone, so if they should get flattened one night, you read it here first. Or in Bill Drummond’s book ‘45’.
KOCH & KYBORG:
Two German cerealogists whose worryingly repetitive summer holidays each year revolve around heavy bed and breakfasting and the construction of a man-made crop design at Woodborough Hill. Not a hoax, mind, but a human “response” to the beings from Orion who are apparently speaking to us through their esoteric symbols. However, as they never tell which formations they are responding to, nor what their response means, the only ones who understand the point of all this are Koch and Kyborg and, presumably, the beings from Orion, though they may also be scratching their heads wondering what on earth K&K’s crop scribblings are going on about.
Source of much schoolboy-like merriment amongst those pathetic enough to see innuendo in everything at conferences since 1997. Suspecting that this presumably German name for the pretty fractal is really pronounced ‘Koch’ as in the hilarious ‘cock’, croppies have got very coy about it now and settled on the far less amusing and probably incorrect ‘Koch’ as in ‘coch’, in much the same way Uranus is now pronounced ‘Ur-an-us’ as opposed to ‘Ur-anus’ which has had children giggling since the planet was first named by 16th century comedians (with thanks to BBC Radio 4 for not allowing us to nick this gag).
Is it kundalini, or ch’i, or earth energy, or dragon energy, or serpent energy, or the Universal Life Force, or prana, or orgone, or bioenergy which keeps being experienced within crop circles, and why can’t anyone agree on what it’s called? Or is it just Acme Pesticide?
What fun croppies have had with this amusing term through the ages. Simply walk into The Barge and say “was it a good lay?” to someone when they start going on about the latest formation, and there will be a guaranteed laugh, nudge or “ooer-missus” from someone. Really, you can’t go wrong with this ever-dependable accessory to a good time in those long summer evenings and it should be deployed at every opportunity. However, given the amount of writhing human flesh spotted in all sorts of positions over the years in various supposedly secluded formations, be prepared, on activating the old “was it a good lay?” wheeze, to get an occasional straight “yes” from red-faced, sweaty-looking couples with far-away looks in their eyes. Also be prepared for the party-pooper – usually a newcomer to the scene – who answers a straight “yes” to the question and goes on to yawn everyone to death in great detail about crops, magic bends, S-shape swirls and layers instead of doing the decent thing and playing along with the joke. Have nothing to do with these people. Unless, of course, they are actually talking about sex, in which case ask more about their magic bends fast.
Emergency mantra used by victims in extreme moments of full debunk attack. Gibbering restlessly in fear, back against the wall as the Skeptic moves in for the kill, the prey will suddenly blurt out “…Levengood!” The effect of this move can be dramatic, stopping inexperienced Skeptics in their tracks, as the prey follows up its alarm call with a series of staccato noises along the lines of “bent nodes! – expulsion cavities! – seedhead mutations! – H-glaze! – cell wall pitting! – ‘Physiologia Plantarum’!”. The momentary doubt set up in the mind of the Skeptic can be enough to allow the prey to break free and confuses other less determined predators. (Warning: this doesn’t always work, particularly when attacked by the Lungebird and Kickingson species.) [If novices don’t understand this, by the way, we just can’t be bothered to explain it.]
Not to be confused with ‘lays’ (qv), although a similar, though less common, giggle-generating wheeze can be used when addressing dowsers as in “did you get a ley?”, provoking at the very least a Roger Moore-style raised eyebrow. Of course many arguments rage as to whether leys or ley-lines exist or not, and those who do believe in them often can’t seem to decide whether they’re talking about ‘energy lines’, as in invisible, natural electricity-type thingies, or true leys, which are physical alignments in the landscape. If challenged, dowsers usually get around this by stating that ley lines actually follow the course of energy lines, talking animatedly as pendulums are excitedly swung and rods twiddled in front of questioning eyes, hypnotising to the point where no-one can think straight anymore and the exact nature of the original enquiry is forgotten. The ‘twiddlerod’ manoeuvre (also known as ‘the pendulswing’), as it has become known, was first deployed by students of Alfred Watkins who’d already forgotten his real theories, and has proved a useful distraction from straight answers ever since.
Sadly now kaput cable TV station on which an interview with Michael Glickman once followed on from their flagship programme ‘Topless Darts’, a gameshow where pneumatic ladies (funbags on full display) thrust large phallic projectiles at a target on some beach somewhere. Less successful was a follow-up series attempting to cater for the ladies, ‘Lunchbox Volleyball’, in which tall men with big, er, lunchboxes cavorted around a net in skin-tight shorts. Meanwhile, news bulletins would be livened up by the appearance of the ‘News Bunny’, a fluffy puppet which would react appropriately to the serious issues of the day. You think we’re making this up, don’t you? If only we were. L!ve TV did, however, manage to produce a not-bad-actually series entitled ‘The Why Files’ (geddit?), in which crop circles featured fairly regularly. Unfortunately, it was also this crew that once managed to lose a whole painstaking day’s footage of croppie interviews because the sound person… forgot to check the sound levels.
A bizarre area of Wiltshire which, rather like The Kennetts (see last issue), seems to fluctuate wildly in size and border depending on who documents any crop formations appearing in the general area. Overall, for many, ‘Lockeridge’ is taken to be the large area of land between the A4 and Alton Barnes, although purists then spoil things by insisting on using fiddly little place names like Furze Hill, West Woods, etc. Come on, we all know the real truth of things - north of Alton Barnes, but not as far as the Who’d a Thought it pub? Lockeridge. South of West Kennett Long Barrow and that vague area which might or might not be West Overton? Go for Lockeridge every time. Well, nearly every time. Was the ‘Lockeridge whale’ of 1991 universally known as the ‘West Woods whale’? No, it was not. Yet, suddenly the ‘dragon’ which appeared in the SAME FIELD in 1998 was described as being at the new-fangled ‘West Woods’. Ha! - it’ll always be Lockeridge to old hands. Even if it’s wrong.
Little lights which famously dance around crop formations in the summer months, BOLS, ‘amber gamblers’, call them what you will. ‘Dandelion seeds’ is one term which has been used. ‘Balls’ is another. However, videos prove their reality. Apart from the Oliver’s Castle sequence, which is, of course, cobblers, as any discerning researcher knows because of all the, er, convincing, er, evidence sort of stuff that sort of proves it a bit, er... Despite the proper proof for BOLs which does exist, it is a fascinating curio that so many of these luminosities are seen by people leaving The Barge at ten pints past midnight. It’s an amazing thing – these obviously sentient globes have the power to home in on brainwaves altered by fermented sugars, enabling those transformed to be taken to other plains of existence, enabling full visibility of said balls. Wonders will never cease!!!
First fractal formation which amused childish croppies by looking like... a big fat BOTTOM!!!! Also known as the ‘Mandelbum’. Hilarity ensued.
As any self-respecting doom merchant knows, the Mayans prophesied all sorts of things very accurately, like, er, the shooting of JR, and, er, sliced bread, and things like that. However, all their calendars end, by our reckoning, in the year 2012, depicting catastrophe and other fun entertainments. Bugger. Just when we were starting to enjoy the 21st century. The digits 2012 have popped up in several formations over the years, embodied in their mathematical structure – even the Mandelbum uses the number 2012 as part of its ‘fractal wave form’ apparently. So we now have 11 years left in which to enjoy ourselves. Party time.
Supposed press agency which put out the original Doug and Dave story, but turned out to be the head office of MI5 or something. James Bond may be the sort of spy they’d like you to believe is out there, but the sad reality appears to be two funny old men with silly hats. A bit like the House of Lords.
MEADEN, TERENCE, DR:
Like most English people, he liked to talk about the weather and was, for a time, the publicly acceptable face of crop circle research, what with his theories of ‘plasma vortex’ whirlwinds and all that, before jumping ship when the pictograms started to arrive. Well, you would, wouldn’t you, what with having to defend natural theories against all those blatantly faked elaborate patterns, whackos talking about ETs and all the rest of it. If only he knew that a decade on, those same whackos would be having to defend natural theories against all those blatantly faked elaborate patterns, whackos talking about ETs and all the rest of it. If only he’d hung on another decade, eh?
Not to be mixed up with Penny Farthing, this delicate area of female life was suddenly thrust into the cerealogical limelight when it was reported that the ‘energies’ of the fractal formations of 1996 (including, appropriately, the Julia Set) profoundly affected this marvellous monthly gift of the human reproductive system, causing enlightened mystical experiences such as excessive bleeding. Could the crop circles be part of some huge bio-tech industry experiment sponsored by Bodyform?
Remember the German formation in 1991 where that guy dug up three mysterious discs of gold, silver and bronze? They’re mine, they are - I now remember dropping them and realise I have been looking for them ever since. If that blaggard with his metal detector is reading this, could I please have them back, c/o Swirled News? They were my designs for new Olympic medals and are very valuable.
MICHAEL & MARY LINES:
Mr and Mrs Lines have been living in Avebury for many years and would now like to be left alone, thank you.
Apparently these have been detected at many formations, largely by people falling over them, together with old dumped fridges, washing machines, etc.
Hail all phone-in listeners to radio crop circle interviews! Here’s an original thought for you, when you refuse to believe in things like little green men – why not ring in and say “It’s the all the military, innit??” like everyone else does? This, of course, answers everything without explaining anything, as all good conspiracy theory does. Why ‘the military’ would want to make crop circles in the public’s face, how they do it and what technology they use, and why they have to invent MI5 plots like Doug and Dave to put us all off after having raised our interest is neither here nor there, of course. Hail all-seeing, all-hearing, all-powerful military! - the answer to all mysteries. Helicopters flying low over Alton Barnes prove the conspiracy, naturally. The fact that nearby Salisbury Plain and the surrounding areas just happen to constitute the largest military training ground in England, thus creating the teeny-weeniest chance that helicopters might play games around there, is also neither here nor there. The circles are obviously all made by hedgehogs anyway.
The first known hoaxed circle, 1678. The perpetrator? Satan. Proved by the illustration in the local news rag. Court case expected soon.
MORE TO COME...!
(That is, when Danny gets around to writing some more. Hopefully before 2012. Look out for bulletins.)