The Hospitality Portal
I must start with an apology. The site has been silent for weeks longer than I would have wished. First, my beloved computer started to show signs of distress and was taken off to Computer Hospital for the relevant tests and diagnosis. After a while, I was told that, sadly, the condition was terminal. I had to buy a new one!
This, along with the pressures (and delights) of the crop circle season, blew a large hole in my programme. I am sorry. One of the delights of this summer was the Devizes Lectures which was generally agreed to be the best yet. Part of my talk at Devize was The Hospitality Portal and I have reconfigured it here as my first post-season article.
THE HOSPITALITY PORTAL
In 1994, on the way to the Glastonbury Symposium, we spotted a formation in a field north of the A4 close to Froxfield. It was high on a hill and we had to go back through Froxfield village and search through the lanes to find it. This was a large and finely made crop formation, too big to be able easily to discern its overall design.Later, when the aerials arrived it was clear that this impressive crop circle [Fig.2] was based on the Flower of Life geometry. The formation did not disclose this on the ground. What it did reveal (and so powerfully that it intrigued me for weeks) was the overwhelming sense of welcome that I felt while I was there. I have rarely felt unwelcome in a formation. Crop circles seem always to be accommodating, but this huge Froxfield flower seemed almost strident in the generosity of its greeting. I wanted to understand how this sense of openness and hospitality was achieved.
I realised that the geometry had been carefully and deliberately adjusted to offer easy access to all the spaces or chambers in the formation. Were it the main hall of a large and elegant house, the Froxfield flower had made sure all the doors had been left open.(A short digression. Last year’s Chicklade formation [Fig.8] of 26th June 2011 was based on a similar geometry to Froxfield, but, as the photograph shows, adjustments were made to allow us easy access to all spaces. Compare photograph [Fig.8] with the silhouette [Fig.9] published on Connector. It is clear that the essential crop circle characteristic – the portal provision – was disregarded in the diagram. Someone did not look carefully or deeply enough.)
After Froxfield it became apparent that this was a regular and essential strategy of the circle makers. Their first intention is, I believe, is to show that we are welcome in their space. And secondly, I suggest, the portals, in offering us easy access, make it unnecessary for us to break through or to trample standing crop. Here they emphasize their respect for life.
Froxfield achieved its goal by a mastery of design and geometry. Other formations accomplish the same ends by differing, but equally ingenious, strategies.
LIDDINGTON CASTLE 1996: THE CAREFUL USE OF TRAMLINES
As shown in diagram [Fig.11], most people tended to enter the circle along tramline 2 which led straight through the heart of the formation. This central tramline touched the ends of the two flattened rather boomerang-shaped spaces, A and B. Walking around each of these forms one would find that they ended exactly against tramlines 1 & 3 which gave access into the main areas of the formation. There was no way of understanding, while walking spaces A and B, that a perfectly placed gateway back to the centre was available at the far end.Certainly, Liddington fulfilled its two primary objectives. We were welcomed and allowed to move easily around the formation and, secondly, out of respect for the plants, openings were made to facilitate our passage from area to area without the need to stomp down living crop.
Even while accepting these two objectives I had never seen tramline-formed doorways positioned with such care and precision. The Liddington Castle formation might have been a few feet larger or a few feet smaller but the perfect coordination of tramlines 1 & 3 and the outer edges of spaces A & B demonstrate two things. First, the formation was pre-designed and had – in some form or other – existed elsewhere, and second, before being placed in the field, decisions were made to adjust the size of the pre-existing formation to comply meticulously with the spacing of the tramlines in the field.
One thing is sure: the formation was designed and sized to maximise the use of the Tramlines; the tramlines were not shifted to accommodate the crop circle!
THE TRACER PATH
The circles, when swirled down, were always separated by a standing wall of wheat which was, where the circles wereclosest, between twelve- and eighteen-inches thick. But, because the path had been laid down before the circles were in place, a series of openings, gateways or portals were already in position along the whole chain. It was possible to visit each of the circles in the sequence without ever trampling standing crop. Photograph [Fig.14] shows how these portals led from one circle to the next. This picture was taken early in the life of the formation when the openings were still approximately at their starting width. Stonehenge was one of the most visited formations ever and the original eight-inch gaps soon became three or four feet wide.
The little formation at Uffington [Fig.1] on 19th May this year calmly and unassertively demonstrates the principles of welcome.
It is curious that here, once again, the drawers of diagrams have conspicuously failed to look with attention at the evidence of the photographs. Some drawings even show four small complete sealed circles! This is careless and misleading and, in my view, misses the whole point of the formation.
I have used four formations to illustrate some of the methods employed by the crop circles to create hospitality portals. Looking back, I cannot remember a formation which was not, at best, welcoming and, at least, easily accessible. For me this is a consistent and powerful indicator of aspects of the spirit of the circle creators. They welcome us – unconditionally – into their spaces (they seem to love us) and they help us to minimise bruising growing crop (they seem to respect life).The lovely West Woods wavy cross formation [Fig.17] of 17th July 2008 emphasizes the case. This elaborate and complex cruciform crop circle is designed specifically to draw our eye to its centre. And what is there? A flattened, beautifully swirled area of about thirty-three feet diameter surrounded by an imperforate eight foot thick circular ring wall [Fig.18].
As the photograph shows, this central element is situated between two tramlines. The wall has no break. Almost shockingly (and almost uniquely in my experience) not only are we not invited in, they seem to prefer that we stay out!I felt this was a test. They had always been overwhelmingly generous with access to their gifts; here they were saying “This is ours! We have made no openings or gateways for you. Admire it and enjoy it, but please have respect and do not enter.”
Sadly, in our humanness, not only did we fail the test, we failed it quickly and comprehensively. A man from Holland (who I hope never to meet) told protesting onlookers that he could get inside without casing damage! Obviously, he broke the wall and left a path. And of course, once opened up, the small private circle was invaded.
Perhaps this depressing little tale casts some light on certain selfish and inconsiderate aspects of the human spirit.
We do not know the authors of the crop circle phenomenon but I hope my notes on the generosity of their artefacts will illuminate the hospitality of their spirit.
Acknowledgements and thanks
Photography: Steve Alexander, Stuart Dike, Bert Janssen
Diagrams and graphics: Ofmil Haynes Jr