Sunday, July 9, 2017

Dowsing at Thorn Hill crop circle, East Kennett

Crop circle visit on 3rd July 2017
The Thorn Hill formation in green wheat was one week old when I went there with my friend Marvin Naylor who has been visiting crop circles for a long time. It was all a much newer experience for me. I didn't know what to take with me and it was only really on a whim that I chucked a dowsing rod into my camera bag on the way out the door. I thought that dowsing a crop circle might be complicated by the fact that you don't necessarily know what responses are related to the formation itself and what was already there in the landscape before it was formed. But in practice, I found it was relatively easy to tell. Both the crop circles we visited today had their own localised energy spots which related to specific features of their design, and these spots produced a more decisive response from the dowsing rod than I'd normally get if I was dowsing randomly about the countryside. Telluric energies which belong to the landscape tend to have some flow or movement, often changing direction on some kind of cycle. The 'energies' (or whatever they were) in the crop circles seemed to be a bit more static. Or at least I got no obvious sense of movement from them. What happens to them after the crop circles are harvested is a question I can't answer for the moment! But there was enough dowsable stuff going on in them to make it well worth the experiment.

We walked to Thorn Hill straight from the nearby Boreham Wood formation, as the two are very close together – at least as the crow flies. If you're not a crow and you have to walk there along roads and paths then it's a more considerable distance, but still perfectly walkable. Despite their physical proximity, I didn't get any sense of the two formations being connected (just my own impression, and I make no claims beyond that). They had very different vibes. At Boreham Wood I was seized by a giddy euphoria and was so delighted to be there that I found it very hard to leave. Thorn Hill was also friendly, but not in the same way – it felt more serious and sedate, and seemed to command respect rather than generating any emotions. It occurred to me that they might feel different simply because the Thorn Hill one has been there for longer, but there is only a few days' difference between them.

One thing about the Thorn Hill formation is its lovely location. It sits in the hollow of a small valley formed by a long ridge on either side. When you're in it, there's a sense of being enclosed within a gently scooped out curved landscape (something which doesn't come across easily when viewing aerial photos, where the field looks flat). The high ground on either side means that whichever side you approach from you get a lovely view of the formation and can see its overall shape fairly well. It's not, however, visible within the wider landscape – you have to be on one of the ridges immediately next to it in order to see it.

This was demonstrated to us very clearly because a series of bizarre irrational thought processes (mostly on my part) meant that we managed to go completely the wrong way along the wrong track and for a while we had no idea where the formation was, until we came to the edge of the ridge and suddenly saw it down below. Although it was quite a trek, it is a beautiful way to stumble across a crop circle, so I've no complaints. Walking along the top of the ridge we were surrounded by butterflies everywhere – meadow browns and marbled whites – with the air full of the sound of skylarks. Plus a view of Silbury Hill which helped to put the whole landscape in context.

The only thing that interrupted the rural idyll was a drone which turned up while we were sitting in the middle of the formation. It came rushing in with a whining lawnmower noise and spent some time hovering directly over our heads. Now that is a weird experience, being out in the fields with nobody else around and suddenly finding yourself being photographed from above by a remote-controlled camera – not knowing who is watching you or where they are. So now I'm looking at all the drone footage I can find of the Thorn Hill formation, trying to see if any pictures have got us in them!

Our first view of the crop circle from the west side after the ... er ... slight detour.

And from the opposite side, the Ridgeway path on the east side. Those glowing green blobs are lens flare, before anyone asks. Though they do look quite evocative.

The formation consists of three circles along a central bar, with the circle at either end half enclosed by a curved outline, like a mudguard around a bicycle wheel. The middle circle is smaller than the other two and has a dot in the centre. This dot (formed by a small standing clump of wheat) feels like it's the primary focal point of the formation. There's some kind of polarity thing going on with the two larger circles at either end but it's not a simplistic case of one being masculine and one feminine or whatever – it's more subtle than that. Both poles can be taken interchangeably, as long as they're in balance. This was brought home to me partly by the way the formation is placed in the landscape, where you can view it from either side and it doesn't look much different either way, neither side being more 'the right way up' than the other. And when I was taking photographs in a circle at one end or the other I would often look up and find that Marvin was in the other circle down the opposite end. It happened a few times, though we weren't doing it consciously.

Even if the formation has an 'either way up' kind of vibe to it, that's not to say that the two main circles are the same, either in their design or their energy. They're not. The circle at the southern end, nearest the trees, comprises three concentric rings, all made from flattened crop but laid in different directions to make a distinctive pattern of its own. The outer ring is swirled clockwise. The next one is laid radially, with the heads of wheat facing outwards and just touching the edge of the outer ring. And the inner ring is clockwise again, with a flat rosette in the very centre. From the air this gives a beautiful two-tone effect so it almost looks as if the three rings are embroidered onto the landscape. At ground level you're more struck by how beautifully tidy the outlines are, and how the evenly flattened crop has been laid in different directions with such precision.

My attempt to draw the Thorn Hill design.

This southern circle was the first part of the formation we entered when we arrived and it immediately made me feel a bit light-headed and disorientated – though not in an unpleasant way. There were a few occasions when I struggled to keep my balance while walking about in this circle, and at one point, walking along a tramline, I almost fell over as if somebody had given me a sideways push. Every dowser is familiar with that "shoved sideways" experience, which is a weird sensation when it happens but is quite common when dowsing ancient monuments. I didn't actually have a dowsing rod in my hand when it happened, but it was very much the same phenomenon.

When we did dowse this circle there was no response over any of the concentric rings but we did get a strong upward ('positive') response in the very centre, over the swirled rosette.

The central swirl in the southern circle. The small patch of bare earth in the middle was the one place where we got a dowsing reaction.

The other circle at the northern end of the formation is the same size but a different design. It has a single wide ring of flattened crop, exquisitely laid in a clockwise direction, plus a central ring where the crop has been left standing (intersected by a pair of tramlines). Dowsing over the centre area is a bit more of a challenge here because the standing crop is in the way, so I'm mostly left with just my own impressions. I had none of the disorientation here which I felt in the southern circle, and not much impression of anything else in particular, except perhaps for a sense of movement around the circle – almost a desire to run around it, which would not actually be possible because the linear bar along the axis of the formation blocks the way and prevents you from going full circle. In fact the access to the curved outer semicircle is also blocked at this end of the formation, so you have to walk the long way round to get to it, unlike the other end where you can walk into it freely – a subtle difference between the two halves of the design which I only really noticed after I got home.

The circle at the northern end, looking southwards, with the circle of standing corn in the middle.

This picture shows how the linear axis of the formation forms a continuous line which joins up to the central circle of standing wheat.

And this view from slightly further back shows the outline of the semicircle which curves around the outside of the circle. The two halves of the semicircle are separated by an unbroken line of standing crop, so in order to get from one side to the other you have to walk all the way round the inside of the circle. That's not the case at the other end of the formation, where the other semicircle has a continuous path and can be walked around freely.

Then there's the smaller circle in the centre of the formation. Unlike the two circles at either end, the crop here is laid in an anticlockwise direction, and fully flattened apart from a single clump in the centre which appears as a dot in aerial photos. Dowsing over the central tuft gave a 'positive', upwards response with the dowsing rod, and I could feel it twitching and tugging as I approached it, even from several feet away.

The central clump is looking a bit windswept now but you can see the swirled ring of flattened stalks wrapped closely around the base of it.

The outer edge of the central circle.

It's worth saying something about the alignment with the landscape. First there's the curvature of the surface of the field, which is like this:

I do find it amazing that the pattern looks so crisp and perfect in aerial photos when the field is not actually flat. The formation lies along the bottom of a valley with a very gentle slope. The field only has a slight curve but it's enough to curve the lines of the formation, as the photo shows.

The other thing the photo shows is the efficiency with which they've made use of the tramlines. The linear section which makes the axis of the design is formed very simply by the standing crop between two tramlines – giving it two ready-made straight edges. That's the essential structure, and everything else has been lined up around it. So then you realise that the alignment is not quite perfectly placed at the lowest point of the valley, it's actually lined up on the nearest tramlines. As a result the whole formation has a very slight tilt towards the east.

Super-efficient use of tramlines as a design feature

As I said, I didn't specifically set out to do a dowsing survey here today so it was just a spontaneous experiment, and we ended up making an impromptu video. Here you can see me dowsing the centre of the southern circle and then finding various responses along one of the tramlines, corresponding with gaps and other features in the formation. Most of the responses are upward but when I got to the northern circle I started getting downward reactions instead. I'm using a V-rod or spring rod made from two bendy plastic rods bound together at one end – an adaptation of the traditional 'forked twig' divining rod. The idea is to bend it outwards into a V-shape so that it's held in a state of unstable tension, and then find a neutral position where it's balanced in a horizontal position but can very easily spring in either direction (up or down). Very often I feel it tugging or twitching just before it reacts, but some of the reactions here are more sudden and localised.

So what is it I'm picking up here? I'm not entirely sure at the moment. But one of the things I often find while dowsing is the presence of entrances and gateways. For example if I'm dowsing on a site where there was formerly a building I can usually pick up the location of a doorway or boundary even though there's nothing visible there on the surface. These reactions felt very similar to that – so my working hypothesis is that the Thorn Hill formation is full of energy spots which act as entrances or gateways in some way. Which doesn't seem unreasonable. What is a crop circle if it's not a gateway?

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