Milk Hill, Nr Stanton St. Bernard, Wiltshire | 08.08.2008 | Wheat
In my last two blogs I had been looking at two crop circles that appeared on the same date, the 8th of August 2015. But there was a formation that appeared back in 2008 on the 8th of August making the date the 8th day of the 8th Month 2008 – or 8-8-8. So I thought it might be an opportune moment to dive back into the archives and take a look at a formation that was yet another to appear on this date, but to have the added iteration of eight as the year that it appeared.
An Alliteration of Time and Form?
I wish I could find a word that would accurately describe the nature of the formation that appeared below Milk Hill between Alton Barnes and Stanton St Bernard, in Wiltshire on the 8th of August 2008 (8-8-8). The formation appeared as a huge figure eight in the landscape, made almost entirely from circles of varying dimensions. So it was a crop circle in the pattern of a figure eight which appeared on the 08.08.2008. If one were talking of prose, one might call it an alliteration, but what is the word for an alliteration of forms? I’m not sure there is one.
One might call it a synchronicity of dates and design, but even this doesn’t quite fit. Synchronicities (according to Jung) occur when there is an arational connection between something in the inner and outer worlds which has meaning for the person experiencing it. Here the connection was between time and form, and the event was was public, not personal; it was an event in which this strange constellation affected all those who saw it. Perhaps we need to invent a word for occurrences such as these? One might say there is a series of echoes, resonances, self-similarity; iterations of time, space and form.
One might also say that the design itself was time made manifest, or time concretised. Yet even this does not accurately describe the event, as while the formation itself seemed to concretise a specific date or moment, the figure eight of the formation has another (paradoxical) meaning – it is also the symbol of infinity.
Revisiting this formation has bought me face-to-face with just how easy to is to glibly smile at such an event, like it was nothing – “Oh thats a great play on date and form” (which it is) – but when we stop to really think about it we lack a vocabulary to be able to describe such an event even remotely accurately.
Eight and Infinity
That the entire design is a figure eight is obvious and that it is also an infinity symbol is also obvious. But there are some really nice subtitles to this formation that makes it worth taking the time to notice.
When we write (or draw) the figure eight the first thing we note is that the top loop is smaller than the bottom one, ‘8’ – even on my computer keyboard I can clearly see that the top is smaller than the bottom. In the crop circle, both circles are of an equal diameter, but if we look at the pretty feather or tear shapes that sit nestled between each of the small circles we can see that on one circle they are on the outside and on the other circle they sit on the inside. This makes one side bigger than the other in real terms, and therefore our figure eight is smaller in the top than on the bottom! You can see this very clearly in Steve’s great shot of the formation (fig1).
Another subtlety of this design is in the arrangement of the smaller ever-decreasing (or ever increasing circles), Looking at the design on its side you can see how these work in opposition to one another, so that the larger circles appear on at the top of circle on one side then on the bottom of the circle on the other side (fig 2). This clever and well thought-out arrangement gives the impression of depth, or three-dimensionality, to the entire design – it looks like the loops of a ribbon when tied in a bow.
This three-dimensionality links this formation to yet another shape and that is the Möbius Loop. The Möbius Loop is connected to the concept of eternity as it is an unbroken plane or surface, upon which one could travel eternally. You can make your own Möbius Loop with a simple strip of paper and either some glue or a piece of sticky tape. By twisting the strip once and the securing the two ends, one can create a simple eternal loop, with two twists, you can create a figure eight which has one single, eternal plane – see mine in fig 3. With three twists you create the international symbol for recycling!
Now, it’s important at this stage to state that Infinity and Eternity are not the same things, and if we are going to understand something about this formation then we have to understand what these two concepts are and why they are different.
Infinity, Eternity and Forever
Infinity and Eternity are easily misunderstood and are often confused, and used interchangeably with other concepts such as Forever.
Infinity itself can be broken down into two main concepts. As a ‘general concept’ it means ‘something which is impossible measure’. So if we are taking about a number, or a measurement, or a distance we would use infinity to describe something which is so big, or so small, or so far that it is impossible to measure or quantify. In this sense infinity is not a whole, we cannot see the end of an infinity, no matter how large we envision it, or how far we envision it, or how small that infinity might get.
However, in advanced applied mathematics it has been shown that an infinity can be a whole in its own right and not only that, but there can be many infinities and infinities of different sizes! This is an area of mind boggling complexity that I am neither qualified to talk about or really, truly understand, but I do know that some of the reason for this has to do with the way in which the mathematical concept of infinity encompasses and allows for extra or other dimensions. This is particularly interesting as there are twenty-two feathers (or tears) in each side of the formation. According to the geometer John Michell, twenty-two is the second number in the ‘Master Number Sequence’ and symbolises ‘First access to information from other dimensions’, which is infinitely fascinating!
While Infinity might be connected to many things such as size, quantity, distance or time, Eternity on the other hand, is specifically linked with he concept of time. While an infinity of time is an immeasurably long amount of time, or an immeasurable fraction of time, Eternity is ‘timeless’. Eternity crucially includes the ‘now’, the timeless moment of the present.
In William Blake’s famous poem Auguries of Innocence we read;
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
Here we can understand Eternity as including the now ‘Eternity in an hour’ and we can sense its timeless nature. Eternity might be described as a simultaneity of time, or as a-temporal (beyond linear time).
Forever is different again. If Infinity is immeasurable time, and Eternity is timeless (beyond time, or a-temporal), then Forever is ‘for all time’. Like the Möbius Loop, which is a closed whole, Forever is the ‘entirety of time’.
Another symbol closely linked to these concepts is the Ouroboros, the serpent that eats its own tail. It’s often said to represent Eternity, symbolic of the eternal, timeless, ageless wisdom which is always present. There is an element of the Ouroboros in this crop circle, both in its design and in the perennial wisdom it embodies.
A New Vision of Time
Infinity, Eternity and the ‘Forever of the Möbius Loop’ link this formation with the concept of Time. Add to this the synchronicity of the form (pattern) of the design and the date on which it appeared and there can be little doubt of the connection.
The philosopher and writer Jean Gebser wrote in his book ‘The Ever Present Origin’ that the next stage of human consciousness would involve a new perception of time. According to Gebser we are living at the dysfunctional end of a world age and are transitioning to a new state of consciousness. We are moving from what he described as the Mental/Rational consciousness state, to one which he coined as ‘Integral’.
What might an Integral perception of time look like? Certainly, all the concepts of time embodied by this formation might be involved. Gebser asked “What are the qualities of time?” and it is a very difficult question to answer. Gebser did talk about the a-temporal, non-linear nature of time – and this sounds very much like the concept of eternity. Time can also be described as an ‘intensity of experience’ – this is not as difficult to understand as one might imagine – If you’ve ever experienced how time elapsed slowly when one is anticipating something, or in the blink of an eye when one is dreading something – you are experiencing time as an intensity of experience. Time of course is also not constant; for anyone who has seen Christopher Nolan’s excellent film Interstellar, the characters have to use time as a resource when travelling close to a blackhole, where one hour on a planet can equate to many years for those remaining on the spaceship. From all this it should be clear that our understanding and experience of time is incomplete, but I like the idea of ‘an intensity of time’. Is that not what this crop circle is; ‘a concretion of an intensity of time’ ? It is the best description I have been able to come up with.
The Number Eight
We cannot of course complete our meditation upon this formation without looking at the number eight. I wrote extensively about the number eight in a recent blog about the eight-fold star at Haselor last year…
“According to the mathematician and geometer Michael Schneider, eight is the number of ‘Periodic Renewal’. This is most easily demonstrated by its role in the musical scale. When the seven notes of the major scale are played alone they sound incomplete; it creates a strange anti-climax. It is not until the octave (from the latin octavus: eighth) is played that the scale becomes a whole and feels complete. The octave simultaneously takes us back to the beginning and also on to the next level – or octave.
The number eight might therefore be said to represent that almost indefinable transformation from one level to the next, a transformation that moves us towards a new wholeness, in which we might be said to be different and yet still somehow remain the same. All experience changes us in some way, yet we still at our core remain the same; we are changed, but yet are still ourselves. This kind of experience is much talked about in psychological therapies, where patients are said to move towards wholeness, who are always changed by their experiences, but of course, at heart remain the same person. It is a fascinating subject for contemplation, an archetypal human process. In specific relation to the crop circles, eight may symbolise the transformative effect of coming face to face with “the other” and its effect upon the psyche. We are the same person we always were, but somehow the circles have that ineffable ability to subtly change us and move us towards a new level of wholeness.”
There is of course a direct link between eight and time because of its connection to the musical scale. Music is all about time – intervals, rhythms, beats and tempos – have you ever noticed how music affects our perception of time? Does not time become timeless when listening to music, do we not enter another world completely, where time knows no bounds, where all that exists is the moment? It certainly is an fascinating line of thought.
There are other numbers and geometries going on in this formation; I note the quintuplet at the centre of the formation, which anchors the whole thing. Like so many quintuplets in the crop circles it ‘squares the circle’ and in doing so creates a meeting place between Heaven (circle) and Earth (square) – Sacred Space – right at the centre of this formation. The duality of the two sides of the formation and the way they work together so beautifully to create a balanced whole is also noteworthy. There is also a Phi proportion in the design (see fig 4.) which has a synchronous link to Infinity too, not just in the way that Phi is an irrational number and therefore its decimal places never reach a whole number solution (i.e. they just carry on into infinity), but in the fact that Phi played a role in understanding the ‘many infinities’ theory in advanced mathematics because there is a way of using the Fibonacci sequence of numbers to demonstrate infinity as a whole and discrete system. At this point in our meditation it is, I feel, apt to invoke the famous Allan Brown crop circle axiom that “Crop circles do your f*****g head in!” and tell myself that here would be a good place to breathe!
Time and the Soul
One final thing before I’m ready to let this formation go; it is my intense experience that the crop circles are every bit as much about consciousness as they are about geometry, number, proportion et al. This being the case I cannot finish this blog with out talking about time and the soul.
It seems to me that that we have many different perceptions of time, but that we so take for granted that we live in linear-time that we don’t really think about the fact that there are times when we experience time as non-linear. In day-dreams, reveries, and when listening to music or engaged in art, time becomes timeless we don’t perceive the passing of time at all, we exist in the eternal now or moment. When we sleep we have absolutely no concept or perception of time at all, and dreams that in reality last just a few minutes, can feel like hours when we are perceiving them!
In the three-dimensional physical world, time can be counted and measured, even though sometimes (like in the film Interstellar) it can behave in very peculiar ways in certain circumstances. But in the realm of consciousness, psyche, the spirit or the soul, time is eternal, our experience and perception is beyond time, outside of time (a-temporal). That consciousness exists in a realm unconnected to temporality suggests it is not subject to temporal laws that govern physical reality and it has always seemed to me that our non-corporeal selves go on existing in that timeless realm even through our physical selves may perish someday.
This formation puts before us some vital and interesting concepts: time, form, infinity, eternity, the transition from one level to the next, integration, wholeness, sacred space and synchronicity: it’s a veritable university in a field.
How might we integrate these multivalent perceptions to reach a new integral understanding of time? It seems this is something which concerns our deepest selves, hence its manifestation in the fields…
With my thanks to Kayleigh Douglas-Alexander
Find out more:
Attend a Workshop: If you have been inspired by this blog, why don’t you think about attending our annual summer conference in July this year. We run workshops on both geometry and consciousness and the conference is big on participation! We cater for both the beginner and those who are a little more experienced. You can find out more about our event here.
Get your own photo of the Milk Hill formation to frame or to study further. We have two really beautiful 10 x 15 inch prints available on our shop you can see the overhead image here and the landscape image here. Each are priced at just £20.00 plus postage and look fabulous framed on any wall.
Milk Hill Watercolour Painting: Anyone wanting a print, or the original of my Milk Hill painting, please contact us for more details.
Addendum and Ephemera
The Infinity Symbol (or Lemniscate) in the Tarot.
The Infinity Symbol is also known as a ‘Lemniscate’ and appears in many esoteric images. It appears in the tarot; in the Tarot of Marseilles the hats of the Magician and Strength are Lemniscate shaped, later in the famous Rider Waite tarot the Lemniscate appears above the heads of the Magician and Strength. Here it represents two types of eternal wisdom, in the Magician card it represents thread of eternal esoteric knowledge passed down the generations, and in the Strength card it represents the eternal inner intuitive knowledge of the soul.