Crop Circles

Crop Circles

Mysterious nonhuman intelligences are leaving strange geometric designs in fields of cereal crops around the world. Whoever unlocks the key to these bizarre circular markings will discover if the unknown artists are here to help or to hinder humankind. Strange geometric designs have appeared in stands of cereal crops around the world, even in the rice paddies of Japan. The designs are often hundreds of feet in width and length and may cover many acres.

Controversy rages over how these “crop circles,” as they are generally known, originate, as they are usually formed overnight and involve downed, not cut, swaths of grain stalks. Although many people believe crop circles are a comparatively recent UFO-related phenomenon that began in the late 1970s or early 1980s,the mystery is hundreds of years old.

Unexplained geometric designs occurred in fields of wheat and corn in Scotland in 1678, and rural residents of England speak of the “corn fairies” that made similar designs in the fields in the late 1800s. Researchers have discovered accounts of the discovery of so-called fairy circles in fields and meadows dating back to medieval times throughout the British Isles, Germany,Scandinavia,and France. Recent evidence indicates that Chinese farmers found crop circles as much as three thousand years ago.

In those cases of crop circles that have appeared since the 1980s,investigators have determined that the crops were biochemically or biophysically altered. Cerealogists (experts in this bizarre field of research) state that since 1989 there have been in excess of two hundred formations in the UK each year. The so-called golden years of crop circle appearances seem to have been 1990 and 1991, in each of which there were between three hundred and four hundred formations.

In 1991 Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, two retired artists in England, confessed that they were responsible for making the crop circles that had baffled the world for so long and that they accomplished the most intricate of designs by using a simple board pulled by a length of rope. While the confession of Bower and Chorley satisfied a good many skeptics and journalists, serious crop circle researchers asked how these two elderly gentlemen could have accomplished their hoaxes throughout the world in such great numbers.

While admitting that there have been hoaxes, cerealogists point out that pranksters have been unable to create crop circles with the same precision and undisturbed nature as those thought to be of alien or unknown origin. Some suggest pranksters and tricksters far older than the retired artists as the perpetrators of the enigma. Why deviate, they ask, from the suspects who were originally named as culprits?

The creators of the crop circles might be found among that group of beings commonly called fairies, elves, or devas—entities that have played a significant role in the myths and legends of every planetary culture for centuries. Regardless of general dismissal of the crop circle phenomenon by conventional scientists, it would appear that there is a genuine mystery in the formation of many of the incredible designs that suddenly appear in fields around the world. Four principal theories regarding the origins of crop circles are the following:

1. extraterrestrial entities offering clues to their identity and intentions toward earthlings;
2. natural phenomena, ranging from insects to lightning, from plasma vortices (a kind of ball lightning) to electromagnetic anomalies;
3. hoaxers, such as the duo of Doug and Dave;
4. an ancient nonhuman intelligence indigenous to this planet that is utilizing archetypal designs in order to warn contemporary humankind to be more responsible and more respectful toward Mother Earth.

Various scholars have focused on the fourth possibility and suggested that many of the designs appear to be bound by the laws of sacred geometry. Sacred geometry, these experts state, embodies harmonic waves of energy and universal proportions. Some mysterious intelligence could be attempting to communicate geometrical and proportional wave forms—veritable keys to the cosmos and symbols of the archetypal world.

The English researcher Lucy Pringle believes that many crop circle formations are due to natural causes, such as the discharge of some electromagnetic energy, but she also notes that a particular design formed around April 21, 1998, appeared very close to the prehistoric mound of Silbury Hill. She likened the double-ringed circle with thirty-three scroll-like bands between the rings to a Beltane wheel, an ancient symbol used at Celtic fire festivals on May Day.

In July 2002 a three-day conference of leading crop circle investigators was held in Somerset, England. Andy Thomas, an organizer of the meeting, commented that his eleven years investigating the enigma had convinced him of one thing—that not all the circles were made by pranksters. Other than that, he stated, it was hard to say whether the phenomenon was caused by extraterrestrials, some kind of superconsciousness, collective psychokinesis (mind over matter), natural forces, or some other thing currently beyond human awareness.

Most cerealogists in attendance insisted that it is relatively easy to tell the difference between circles made by hoaxers and those made by what appears to be some kind of superior intelligence. The first crop circle of 2005 appeared in the Netherlands, and cerealogists predicted that the strangely designed circles would soon be manifesting primarily outside the United Kingdom, the nation previously most associated with the phenomenon.


  • Andrews,Colin,and Pat Delgado. Circular Evidence . London: Bloomsbury,1990. Crop Circle Connector . https://www.cropcircleconnector. com.
  • Crop Circle Research . https://www.cropcircleresearch. com. “Experts ‘Amazed’ by Crop Circle Designs.” BBC News , July 19,2002. uk/england/newsid_2138000/2138424.stm.
  • Howe,Linda Moulton. Mysterious Lights and Crop Circles . 2d ed. Jamison,PA: Linda Moulton Howe Productions,2002. Lin,Rosanne.
  • “China Says Crop Circles Appeared There 3,000 Years Ago.” Shanghai Star ,August 2, 2002. . 27/crops.htm.
  • Pringle,Lucy. Crop Circles—The Greatest Mystery of Modern Times . New York: HarperCollins,2000.
  • Silva,Freddy. Secrets in the Fields: The Science and Mysticism of Crop Circles . Charlottesville,VA: Hampton Roads,2002.

From :Conspiracies and Secret Societies : The Complete Dossier – by Brad Steiger and Sherry Steiger

The term crop circle refers to any design, not necessarily a circle, that has mysteriously appeared in a field, formed by the flattening or twisting of the plants’ stalks. In many cases the plants’ stems are bent without being broken, and they appear to have been heated from the inside. Plants droop toward the earth, yet the seed heads of the plant remain undamaged. The affected plants are woven into layers, twist intricately around one another, or remain upright to form an outward swirling pattern. People who have seen crop circles find these patterns particularly amazing when viewed from the air.

Early Reports

The earliest reports of mysteriously appearing crop circles date to the late seventeenth century. These were either simple circles or variations on the symbol of a cross first used by the ancient Celts and therefore known as the Celtic cross. During the mid-1980s, however, straight lines and more complex images started showing up, and today crop circles can be so intricate that their construction would require the continuous use of very precise measurements.

For example, a 1997 Wiltshire crop circle in a wheat field resembled a snowflake within a snowflake and had 192 small circles as part of its overall design, which measured 234 feet (71.3m) across. A 1999 crop circle formation in the same area was a spiral 300 feet (91.4m) wide.

Another intricate modern crop circle, which appeared in 1999, was approximately 640 feet (195m) long and depicted what seemed to be the stages of a solar eclipse; a series of circles showed the Moon gradually covering the Sun. Interestingly, it appeared at a time when the news media were carrying reports about an upcoming solar eclipse. That same year, a crop circle in England pictured a serpent whose image was identical to one used by the ancient Aztecs of Mexico to symbolize the end of the year in the Aztec calendar, and a celebration related to that event was taking place in Central America the night the crop circle appeared.

The incidence of crop circles appears to be on the rise. Up until 1970, only about two hundred crop circles had been reported. Between 1970 and today, however, there have been more than nine thousand additional crop-circle reports, many near the sites of ancient temples and monuments. More than 90 percent have appeared in England, many in the Wiltshire area, and the remainder have primarily been found in America, Canada, western and eastern Europe, Japan, and Australia. At least four thousand of these crop circles have no apparent explanation, and they display the unusual characteristics, such as internal heating, that have baffled researchers. The remaining five thousand or so crop circles, however, appear to be hoaxes perpetrated by pranksters.

Mysterious Origins

Researchers who have studied crop circles say it is fairly easy to tell a human-made crop circle from one of more mysterious origin. They have noted that in hoax crop circles, the plants are bruised, trampled, or crushed, whereas in genuine crop circles the plants appear to have been gently laid and swirled, undamaged, in well-defined layers. In addition, genuine crop circles often appear in areas where the earth’s electromagnetic field is uneven: compasses used near these crop circles are unable to locate north; cellular phones will not work; and the instruments of airplanes flying over the circles typically fail.

Because of the electromagnetic aspects of the phenomenon, some researchers suspect that the earth’s magnetism is responsible for the circles. Others have suggested that the circles are the result of some unknown natural phenomenon related to the earth’s orbit around the Sun because most appear between 11:30 P.M. and 4 A.M. on the shortest nights of the year. Still others—including Professor Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s most renowned physicists—have theorized that the crop circles are made by natural vortices, or wind currents, in the earth’s atmosphere. Some blame a combination of changes in wind patterns and the electrical effects sometimes produced by those changes. They believe that winds sweep through the crops in a way that causes opposing electrical charges to build. This, they say, could produce not only the unusual plant formations but also flashes of light. Proponents of this theory say this would explain why some witnesses report seeing strange lights in an area just before a crop circle appears.

Many people, interpret these lights as being from alien spacecraft, under the belief that extraterrestrials must be creating the crop circles. Such people argue that the speed with which the circles are produced—some seem to appear within seconds, during a brief time when the Moon went behind a cloud—means that no human could be responsible for them. Moreover, whenever people camp out in fields where crop circles are known to occur, hoping to be the first person to observe one in the process of forming, nothing happens. The same is true for stakeouts using sophisticated surveillance equipment, suggesting to some that an intelligent being, rather than a natural phenomenon, is responsible for the circles.

Some crop circle researchers, however, have suggested that the intelligent beings are not extraterrestrials but humans whose minds are somehow producing the phenomenon, particularly since the images portrayed in crop circles represent symbols that are part of the body of human knowledge. Under this theory, people’s thoughts are somehow being transmitted to the crops to make these images appear. Under an alternate theory, Earth itself has a life force and is creating the pictures in an attempt to communicate with humans.

Skeptics’ Explanations

Skeptics, however, believe that human beings are creating the circles not with their minds but with ordinary tools, as pranks. This would explain, skeptics say, why the circles only appear when no one is watching. Skeptics also say that the notion that some crop circles have unexplainable characteristics, such as unusual layers or evidence of odd heat exposure, is a myth. In support of their belief, many skeptics point to an incident that occurred in September 1981. At that time, two elderly men, Douglas Bower and David Chorley, claimed that they had been faking crop circles in England for years. They insisted that they had created the designs using wooden boards and twine to depress the crops without leaving any footprints behind. In reporting on this technique, the international media promoted the idea that the mystery of crop circles had finally been solved.

However, when Bower and Chorley were asked, during various interviews, how they had accomplished specific effects in specific crop circles known to have unusual properties, they would typically answer that they did not fake that particular circle. They claimed to have never traveled outside of England for their pranks, and they did not take credit for any crop circles that appeared prior to 1978. Consequently some believers in the extraterrestrial origin of crop circles suggested that the British government was behind this hoax story, hoping to use it to end concerns about all crop circles.

Believers have further suggested that government agencies and skeptics actually fake crop circles themselves in order to discredit those who attribute the phenomenon to extraterrestrials. Indeed, during a 1992 British circle-making contest organized by Cerealogist, an independent journal that focuses on crop circle studies, an American named Jim Schnabel proved that he could create a crop circle while working alone and with only the simplest tools. Schnabel wrote a book, Round in Circles, that convinced many people that all crop circles were human-made.

No human being, however, has yet taken credit for any of the crop circles made between the late 1990s to the present, despite the fact that during the early 1990s many people were eager to make such claims. This has caused a resurgence in the belief that the phenomenon is not of human origin. Skeptics counter with the suggestion that a secret club of circle makers is creating the circles for fun, but without hard evidence of this, the origin of crop circles remains a mystery.


  • Earth energy;
  • ufology


The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning