The Roundway formation, 23rd July 2011Every now and again, there comes a circle that is really unique, original and inventive; the Roundway formation of 2011 was one such formation. Seemingly a long, cascading, daisy-chain of flowers, stems and petals, there was something rather unassuming about the design, yet it was soon obvious that something more serious lay beneath its pretty, summery exterior.
As I write it is February of 2012 and most of the crop circle community is already expressing its excitement about the 2012 season. But I am such a slow coach, I’m still trying to fully absorb the crop circles of 2011! To me there were so many fantastic circles last season that it’s taking time to get to grips with them all, to sketch the ones I’m ‘drawn’ to and to try to tease out some meaning from their magnificent forms. Perhaps it is a sign of growing older, but perhaps it is equally symbolic of my aversion to the stamp collecting and superficiality of some of the popular interest in the crop circles. I am of course, as excited as everyone else when a new circle appears, sometimes as giddy as a school girl (I know that may be hard for some of you to imagine!), but I prefer to savour my favourites, revisit them, not abandon them as soon as some new beau arrives in town. Perhaps, I sometimes wonder, this is some reflection of our modern consumerist society, in which every ‘new thing’ is fickly abandoned in favour of every ‘new thing’. We gallop hungrily through information and news at an alarming rate in our online travails, but I also wonder, how much of that sinks in, or how much is truly understood or appreciated? To simply consume information, is not the same as understanding it, or being able to see its implications.
To appreciate the circles is to want to spend time with them, much like a good friend. I like to look at them, listen to them, and even engage in a little play with them. I like to feel that I got to know them a little and that in doing so I might be able to understand them better. The internet may have brought us ever more speedy news and images of new circles, but what has been sacrificed is a deeper engagement with the formations and most importantly: considered comment. So much of the interpretive ‘work’ applied to the circles is instantaneous, literal and shallow. I am constantly flabbergasted that they are cursorily consumed and accepted en masse with not another thought. Once a circle has been seen and some ‘soundbite’ or hurried inference is made, the case is effectively closed. I find this incredibly sad. Perhaps we have become so accustomed to being spoon-fed information, that we rarely question it, or even give it a second thought?The Roundway formation of 2011 was something new. We had not seen a design anything like it before. Within hours it had been rightly pointed out that the pattern was some kind of play on a molecular diagram of Melatonin. This was very curious, many had mistakenly assumed that it was perhaps some kind of psychedelic, and at first I thought it might be Seratonin (our happy hormone), Melatonin seemed an off-beat substance to be presenting us with.
While I contemplated this, I decided to draw the formation. It was fantastic to draw! It was one of those formations that just danced itself onto the page. It was also almost entirely self-generating, each part of the formation anticipated the next, so that practically no guess work or field measurements were needed.I began with the six-fold round-petalled flower, dividing a circle into six, by creating an internal six-fold flower. This is achieved by establishing a straight line through the centre of the circle. Then keeping the compasses at the same diameter as the circle, you place one end of the compasses on the perimeter of the circle where the straight line intersects and draw a curve (which travels through the centre of the circle) until it intersects another point of the perimeter, then you place the compass point on the place where that curve intersects the perimeter and draw another curve – so on and so on – until an six-fold thin-petalled flower emerges. The diameter of each of the six circular petals in the finished formation was extrapolated by drawing a circle that fitted exactly into the space between each of the thin petals. The further division of the circle into twelve allowed for the compass to be placed at the precise centre between the two petals to draw the circle in. This small circle diameter was then used to create all the ‘round petal’ circles in the formation. Before I had gotten around to drawing the formation out in its entirety I had already drawn the central component on of the formation – a six-fold flower conjoined to a five-fold flower. I was fascinated by this conjunction. It is quite unusual to see such a side-by-side marriage of two different shapes. Usually, the combination of numbers is more centralised, or overlaid in crop circle design. Six is the number of best economy, harmony and love, while five is the number of life and the self-generation of all living things. To see love and life hand-in-hand, so to speak, was beautiful – what a marriage indeed. Five and six equal eleven, the number that signals ‘access to other dimensions’, but in this formation the particular conjoining of these two flowers produced only nine petals. Nine is the number of birth or threshold – Love, Life and regeneration was indicated – here numbers are much more than mere quantities, they are sheer poetry. The rest of the formation was made from the conjoining of many more six-fold circles. Even the placement of the arms were guided by circles of the same size, which were similarly divided into six. In picture 5 you can see the six-petalled flower nestled between two circles, one divided by six and another divided by five. On the page, I used a straight edge drawn between the two petals that would be attached to the five-fold flower to draw a pentagon, using that line as one side of the five-sided shape – then enclosing it in a circle. This gave the precise size (diameter) of the five-fold flower, which was smaller than the six-fold flower and the rest of the circles used to underpin the formation. Rather than thinking about the formation as a series of circles, which the design seems to suggest, think about the formation as being underpinned by a series of several hexagons and one pentagon at it centre.
After I had finished the drawing I decided to make a collage to show the way the hexagons and the one pentagon fitted together. The traditional molecular diagram (picture 2) shows exactly these shapes at work. Now that the underlying skeleton was complete all that was left was to pick out the design in black ink.
Quite unconsciously, I realised sometime later, I had chosen to colour the drawing with light and dark blue, the colour of the daytime and night skies. Clearly I had been meditating deeply on the significance of melatonin while I had been drawing!
So what are we to make of a reference to melatonin? Several things spring to mind. Firstly, melatonin is a hormone produced by the body that plays a central role in the regulation of our biorhythm of waking and sleeping. Melatonin is produced in the brain when the light coming into our eyes begins to dim and prepares the body for sleep. I think there are layers of meaning here; the first is the idea that the crop circles are made during the hours of dark, and are revealed by the coming day, so they too are part of our sleeping and waking cycle. Another idea was expressed by a friend of mine who proposed that it may be a reflection of how asleep we are spiritually, and how we need to “wake-up!” Another colleague suggested that it could be telling us to “watch our dreams”, or that it may symbolise the unconscious.
Finally, some weeks after making this drawing I began to see something else. The two-fold nature of this formation had been playing much on my mind; the idea of night and day, wakefulness and sleep, consciousness and unconsciousness, standing and flattened crop and finally the thought of it’s inherent geometry and number and also its symbolism and beauty. I realised something that I think is really important to my understanding of the crop circles themselves, and that is that their designs appeal simultaneously to our left- brain with their geometry and clever design, and to our right-brain with their symbolism and beauty. The circles are not just designed to appeal to our intellect, but also (if you will permit me) to our souls. I had an inkling of this idea earlier in the season, I think I even wrote about it in an earlier blog, but this formation brought this home to me in a very experiential, visceral way. For those that consider the crop circles to be messages of some kind, the fact that they are messages that are ‘directed’ at both hemispheres of our brains is fascinating to say the least.
I wonder, however, if the crop circles are a reflection of, and simultaneously a catalyst for, a re-balancing of our very left-brained western culture. For the last hundred years or more we have seen the rising dominance of the mental/rational consciousness state. We have seen the role of dreams, art and even the paranormal suppressed by a way of thinking that cannot quantify them. We have systematically rendered our world, if not our universe and our very existence, down to a set of numbers and empty space – we are in danger of falling in to a nihilistic stupor. That we have something manifesting in our world that marries the ‘rational’ and the ‘imaginal’ is, I have to say, quite amazing and the implications are nothing short of auspicious.
KAREN ALEXANDER – FEBRUARY 27th 2012
More… The number Nineteen and the nature of Synchronicity
Perhaps we might be allowed to make one further, final speculation? Perhaps this paradigm shift is to do with the re-acceptance of the soul; the role of the imagination, dreams, mythology and folklore as vital parts not just of the human psyche, but as the old hermetic sages would have had us believe, as an active and fundamental part of the make-up of reality.