Above: Star of Wonder: East Field, Alton Barnes, Wiltshire | 3rd July 2005 | Wheat
… Picking up fragments
The formation that appeared in the great East Field, in Alton Barnes in 2005, is one of my all-time favourite formations. After doing some preliminary work on its geometry back in 2012, I recently found my original sketches and decided to complete the work I started. It also seemed apt to be doing this in the lead up to Christmas, as this was no doubt a Star of great Wonder…
2019 will mark the 29th year of my involvement with the crop circle phenomenon. I saw my first circle in the newspapers in 1990, by 1991 I had stepped in my first formation, 1992 brought the considerable and considerate gift of four crop circles, all within a mile or so of my house – they were considerate as I didn’t drive (I still don’t), and I could therefore walk to them. 1993 marked my first visit to Wiltshire to see the circles there and in 1994 I first began working with Steve and we have been visiting the circles and flying over them every season since.
We have recorded many hundreds of circles in that time (perhaps even over a thousand) and, of course, in that time we have come across some really wondrous formations. The circle that appeared in East Field in the summer of 2005 is one of my all-time favourites; its sheer magnitude, elegant – yet complex design, and its location make this a circle that just stands out amongst its peers.
My sense of this formation is further enhanced by the memories I have of visiting it on the ground that summer and meandering though its complex labyrinthine spaces. I got to sense first-hand the effect this unique architectural space had on my psyche and the way in which it got me thinking about several distinct themes and ideas – more of this later.
Back in 2012 I had started work on some preliminary sketches of this formation as an exploration of eight-fold geometry in the crop circles, but I became too busy with other more pressing drawings to complete this one. However, I came across them recently and it got me thinking that it was probably time I brought it to its conclusion.
The Circle, the Square and the Vesica
(and the octagram star)
To begin drawing this formation, one looks for the obvious elements as a starting point. It was very clear from the overhead photo that this formation was contained by an octagram star. In classical geometry there are two octagram stars possible (see Fig.1). In Star A every 3rd point is connected, in Star B every 4th point is connected. While we have seen both stars in crop circle design, it is Star A that we see most often. This star is of course a double-square; two squares of an equal size seemingly overlaid and offset at a 45 degree angle to one another. The 2005 East Field formation was a type A star; but not just one, but two of these stars, one nestled inside the other.
There are four large squares in this design that create the two octagram stars that make up the bulk of this outer pattern. The relationship between the two is shown in Fig.2. Squares are most easily drawn inside containing circles, where one can proportion them by dividing the circle into four and joining the four points on the perimeter of the circle to create your square. To create the second square, one can then further divide the circle into eight and connect those points to create the second square needed to make-up the octagram star. If you like (and I do!), you can divide the circle from four into eight by using arcs. Putting the point of the compass on any of the four points on the perimeter of the circle and drawing an arc which passes through the centre of the circle, one can find the points needed to divide into eight (Fig.2). The eagle-eyed amongst you will see how elegantly circles, squares and arcs combine to create the octagram stars. This is lovely geometry.
There is also another method for dividing a circle into eight using a compass and straight edge illustrated in Fig. 3. However I think Fig.2 provides the most illumination on the East Field circle, if you look at the aerial photo you can see the tracer path of a circle in the laid crop. This was the geometric clue to drawing the pattern.
Having established the outer design, the second element is the myriad of boxes in its interior. I find when looking closely at this formation that the formation divides into three distinct visual parts; the first is the very elegant outlines of the octagram stars, the second is the mind-boggling complexity of the central square, and thirdly are the beautiful array of tiny squares that surround the entire formation – like a array of floating satellites orbiting some huge planetary body.
The interior square of this formation is a marked contrast from the simple, elegant lines of the octagram star. If you take one of the small squares as 1 – then the interior square needs to be divided into a 12 x 12 grid to accommodate the pattern (Fig.5). However, to then create all the boxes within boxes you will find you need to further divide the square to create a 60 x 60 grid! (Fig.4)
Magical, Resonating Numbers
12 x 12 gives us the magical number of 144 and and 60 x 60 gives 3600. 144 is often seen in magical or religious literature and is part of a canon of number preserved and passed down to us from ancient times in the form of myths and legends. These numbers relate to geometry in nature and the measure of the earth, but also to the movement of the stars, which were very important to our ancient ancestors.
These so-called magical numbers can be expressed in many ways; 360 for instance can be expressed as 36, 360, 3,600, or even 36,000 in myths and tales, but the meaning of the number remains essentially the same
So, in the numbers of this grid, we have 144 and 3,600. It is very interesting to note that there are 1440° in an octahedron. The Octahedron is the Platonic solid with 8 triangular faces (180° x 8). As this formation has an eight-fold geometry, this feels significant. The 3,600 can also be expressed as the 360 degrees in a circle. As the circle also plays an important role in the construction of this formation, it too feels significant.
This kind of numerical and geometrical entanglement is all the more interesting when one realises that resonance is a prime function of the number eight. Just in the way 3600 reverts back to 360 and 144 can be expressed forward as 1440, the number eight is the number of the octave in the musical scale. The sounding of the octave (eighth), simultaneously takes us back the the beginning, and to a new scale. This coincidence of numbers in the interior grid appeared to be doing something very similar which is utterly fascinating.
More about Eight
Eight is the first cubic number. This is interesting as it marks a shift from two into three dimensions. The cube has six, four-sided faces, but it has eight points. Eight also plays an important role in the structure of elections in atoms – again this is fascinating, because when one looks at this crop circle as a whole there seems to be an element of deconstruction, or complexification at work – one might even say an element of ‘atomisation’.
Eight also plays an important role in the construction of sacred space, where the octagon is seen as a mediator (or midway) between the Square of the Earth and the Circle of Heaven. It is often seen in Islamic Geometry and is seen regularly in Japanese Pagodas where it denotes scared space connecting heaven and earth.
Experiencing the East Field Star of 2005
I was very fortunate to have the amazing experience of visiting this formation on the ground. It was a beautiful July day and Steve and I were accompanied by my daughter and her friend. As just about anyone who has done so will tell you, a visit to East Field is always special; it’s a huge undulating field which seems to stretch on forever. When the sun is shining and the crop is growing, you can almost sense the life force at work in your midst. As with so many formations of this size and complexity, it is very difficult to appreciate the shape in which you are standing at ground level; while the crop circles do create a kind of architectural space, it’s not the type with which we are usually familiar, and can therefore be quite disorientating. As you can see from the photo (Fig. 8), there were many people also visiting that day. To me, a crop circle feels incomplete without visitors. Something special happens when the human psyche encounters the crop circle space – a ‘participatory entanglement’ if you will. It’s as if our psyche helps charge the space somehow and that charge, or energy, can sometimes manifest in all kinds of different ways. Sometimes it’s a sense of presence, or perhaps euphoria, sometimes it’s a profound sense of peace and openness. For me, it was all those things and it was utterly magical.
Sometimes however, that ‘energy’ for want of a better word, can manifest itself in other ways. My colleague and good friend Dr Jonathan-Paul DeVierville also visited this field with his son Benjamin as part of a tour group. It was Jonathan’s second visit to the UK’s crop circle fields, but it was the first time for his son.
The Second Circle
(East Field 2005)
Now there were in fact two circles that appeared in East Field in 2005, the first of which was the octagram on the 3rd of July, the second occurred a couple of weeks later on the 18th (Fig. 9). This second formation was a row of seven increasing/or decreasing circles, accompanied by tiny satellite circles and a short, narrow pathway extending from the largest circle.
The tour group visited the field at the end of July when both circles had been in the field for some time and had been visited and ‘charged’ by hundreds of visitors. After walking in the octagram formation the group then visited the second formation.
Benjamin had an SLR film camera with him. As they walked around the circle he started to take pictures, but after shooting a few images the camera would not work. Jonathan, curious about what might be happening, suggested that his son walk out of the formation via a tractor-line to see if this would effect the camera. Once outside the perimeter of the circle the camera seemed to work again. Fascinated, Benjamin returned to the circle only to find his camera again would not work, he walked into the tractor line once again, and again the camera worked. Both father and son looked at the camera, no settings had been changed, both were utterly perplexed by this occurrence.
A Liminality of Consciousness
This, for me, is another distinct, yet equally important facet of the crop circle phenomenon. It is a facet that is discussed less and less because it doesn’t fit in with certain narrow narratives about the crop circles, i.e that there is nothing more to them than flattened crop art. There can be little doubt that the ancient landscape lends a little of its magic to formations that are placed sympathetically in relation to ancient sites and that their geometry can create (like music) a silent and unconscious effect on the mind, but it is the addition of people into the mix that adds the possibility or potentiality of real ‘magic’ in the fields – it is that engagement and entanglement of human consciousness that is key to the phenomena associated with the formations and elevates the subject to a ‘phenomenon’ in its own right. Crop circles were always meant to be visited and interacted with – and this is a very big part of why.
The crop circles also present us with the open-ended question of how they got there. This too is important, again it sets up a potentiality that is not easy to collapse – holding the tension – creating and crafting a rare liminality of consciousness where that possibility and potentiality can become manifest.
There is ‘dignity in anonymity’ I was once told, but there is also a bigger purpose too – because without the open ended question, all potentiality collapses. When one steps back and sees the bigger picture, looks at all the artefacts on the table, you realise immediately that there is something important happening and that it deserves our attention, curiosity and inquiry. What if we could learn to use that liminality of consciousness, where would it take us, who might we become?
Context – Something Similar
Returning to the first formation in East Field (the main focus of this blog), there are a couple of similar formations worth noting. Firstly it’s important to say that I consider both the square and the cube to have played an important role in the development of the crop circle narrative, particularly in its symbolism and geometry. The Square in its representation of the Earth and the Earthly, and the Cube in being the first dimensional shift – from 2 to 3 dimensions. A 4-D cube (a tesseract) also appeared as a crop circle in 2010 and marked the first in a series of circles that denoted further dimensional shifts into the fourth and fifth dimensions – in 2011 a Penteract appeared as a crop circle. See the Additional Images section at the end of this blog for images of these two circles.
The circle that appeared at East Kennett in 1999 (Fig. 10) was a fractalised square and it came on the heels of a number of both true fractals and fractal-esque designs that had appeared as crop circles in the preceding years. It has been speculated that the satellite circles around its perimeter could denote or suggest further the iterations of the design too small to show in the medium of a crop field. The use of square and the satellite circles make a comparison to the East field octagram an obvious one.
There was another circle in 1999 which was a direct relation to the East Kennett circle. It appeared at Windmill Hill earlier in the summer on the 16th of July. This formation creates the same essential shape as the later East Kennett formation, but uses tiny circles to leave the squares standing, rather than flattened in the crop. The square is then contained by a large circle.
These two 1999 formations were almost an inverse of each other.
A year later in 2000, there was double-square octogram at Bishops Cannings in Wiltshire. I believe this was one of the first double-square octagram designs to appear.
At the time I visited the first East Field formation in July of 2005, I was struck by its images of internal fragmentation, atomisation and simultaneous increase in complexity, yet that process was being held and contained by the larger formation itself. It seemed to be an image of a process in progress – or is it progress in process?!
As pure ‘Image’ this formation seemed like a constellation of elements. A self-contained statement about something. The reverberant number eight, seemed to speak of a resonant shift to another level, its interior denoted an interior fragmentation, leading to a greater complexity. The whole thing, surrounded by an iteration of squares magnetically attracted to it, which seemed to draw attention to, intensify and magnify the importance of what was being conveyed. Just looking at it, one gets the sense of something utterly extraordinary, something stellar. The star is often a symbol for the soul or spirit, so perhaps whatever this shift is, it is spiritual and internal as the crop circle suggests. Even after all this time since its appearance (some 14 years), its magnificence and magnitude has barely dimmed. This star still has the power to awe, let’s hope we never lose our ability to wonder.
Karen Alexander December/January 2019
Accessing Larger Images: Clicking on any of the images in this blog will bring up a larger image for you to look at.
Steve Alexander – For his beautiful Crop Circle Photography in this blog & general good advice
Jonathan-Paul DeVierville – for sharing his story of the East Field (2) formation
Kayleigh Douglas-Alexander – for proof reading
Albert Lamb – for constructive comments
All drawing and painting images are by Karen Alexander
For information about reproducing any materials form this blog please contact us.
Painting: Please don’t ask me for the painting – it already has a new home!
Fig. 7 The Platonic Solids and their Numbers
I have not been able to find an attribution for this image. I will be happy to apply the correct attribution should the owner of the image connect me. No discourtesy is intended.
Stages of drawing and recreating the East Field 2005 crop circle – in addition to those in the text above – and the Tesseract of 2010 and Penteract of 2011.