DREAMING IN THE FIELDS
Some personal experiences on entering and falling asleep in a crop circle.
by Phillip Mann
CHE FECE… IL GRAN RIFIUTO
For some people there comes a day
When they must declare the great YES
or the great NO. He who has the YES
ready within him is clear, and saying it
moves forward in honour to fulfilment.
He who refuses does not regret. Asked again,
would still say NO. Yet that NO, the right NO,
condemns him for the rest of his days.
If you were to lead me blindfold along the tram lines and into a crop circle, I am certain I would know the moment of entry by the way it affects my stomach. I experience a slight nausea. It comes instantaneously as I enter, and passes away after a few moments and there is never, I hasten to add, any danger of it being realized in any other or unpleasant way. This experience does not seem to diminish no matter how old or heavily tramped the circle may be. The nausea simply fades away leaving me focused on the present moment, attentive within myself, and nicely calm. This coming of calm I associate with tuning in, with adjusting to energies present in the crop circle; and I shall have more to say about this later.
On these occasions, I like to think that I am experiencing the crop circle ‘in my water’, which I take to mean the deep senses of my inner being. It is an intuitive thing, and it pleases my greatly for I see it as a kind of knowing: one that is akin, albeit to a lesser degree, to dowsing or to that sensitivity which some people possess towards events before they occur.1
I have also been interested to discover that quite a number of other people experience the same feeling in their stomach when they enter a Crop Circle. So far as I am aware, this reaction does not happen when I enter a ‘hoax’ circle, one that has been set up to deceive or discredit the real phenomena. But to be honest, I have only ever entered one such circle and that was a poor and miserable affair, uneven and clumsily made. However, I am prepared to believe that if a man-made circle, is made with the intention to communicate and if it uses the ‘language’ of harmony and proportion so evident in many of the ‘true’ circles, then it would have the same impact as the mysterious ones that appear in our fields.
So, inside the circle, feeling a calm anticipation, I usually wander round for a while trying to find my bearings. If I have seen pictures of the circle I try to imagine where I am, but this is not easy. Indeed, I usually feel a bit lost and disorientated and I somewhat envy those fortunate souls who upon entering a Circle Circle, make a bee line for some point of power that they sense, and there settle down to meditate without more ado. I can’t do that. I ramble, trying to think what it would have been like to be standing there when the circle was made, trying to imagine the great rush of energy as lines met and crossed; trying to feel some after-echo of the swirl of the wheat as it twists to a tuft and the energy withdraws.
For me, the imagination has always been my main participatory organ. Thus, I may be wrong in a factual way, and what actually happened at the moment of creation as seen by a video camera may be quite different to the images I see in my mind’s eye, but nevertheless that imaginary vision enables me to participate in the energy of the creation, and that is a kind of truth.
And then I usually yawn.
Visiting crop circles can be quite tiring. I get a great longing to lie down, and so I wander about, hoping that some quiet spot will offer its self – and it usually does. I discover a nondescript place away (as far as possible) from the main thoroughfares and the chatter of sightseers. There I lie me down, flat on my back, my head on my pack, a straw in my mouth and my hands folded in front. My final thought as I drift off is that I must resemble one of those stone effigies of the long dead that adorn our old churches.
Kate Gooch once told me that visiting Crop Circles was the best excuse she could think of for lying down in a field of corn. And I agree.2 However, I have noticed something strange that has begun to happen to me over the last couple of years. No sooner am I settled than I begin to experience lucid dreams3 . One of these has been very important to me as it has shaped my thinking about Crop Circles in general, and it on this that I wish to concentrate for the remainder of this article.
In 2008 I visited The Swallows of Alton Priors. [PHOTO??] This formation was created over two nights – July 22, 23. When I visited, some several days after the formation had first appeared, it was almost deserted, there being only myself, my friend Elizabeth T, a young woman who was deep in meditation. At one of the edges, a child who was playing happily with a dog which barked occasionally. It was a gorgeous day: high summer with scarcely a cloud in the sky.
After my usual ramble, I felt a great urge to fall asleep and so I found myself a place near one of the outer ‘birds’. I was surprised that as soon as I closed my eyes, the lucid dream began. Usually I have a few moments to settle. I was aware of myself lying there on the bent stalks and of the sun on my face and the smell of the field… and at the same time I was aware of myself as a young man sitting alone in an old oak-panelled room at an old wooden desk and with a blank sheet of paper in front of me. I became aware that the situation was an examination for an open scholarship to a college at Cambridge University. When I turned over the paper, the only question printed there was Discuss the Meaning of Beauty.
And immediately I turned the page, as though this were some kind of trigger, I seemed to hear my essay as though it was already written and was now being read. The voice I heard was similar to my own but clearer, and it seemed confident in its expression with no hesitation, deviation or repetition and no sense of being hurried. And this I can say; the essay I heard was vastly superior to anything that I could have written.
May I say also that I was delighted and happy to be doing this, especially since at an earlier part of my life I would have loved nothing better than to be a scholar devoted to quiet study in a place such as Cambridge. The fact that my life has carried me to work in the theatre in a distant country and to write science fiction stories simply underlines the truth that what we want to do and what we actually end up doing can be miles apart, though the lessons we learn may being similar, whatever the path.
So. Beauty? The first point that was made was that the perception of beauty is a ‘liminal’ state. I remember thinking at the time that the word ‘liminal’ was interesting as it was not the kind of word that I use easily. However, no sooner had I thought this, then I was presented with a visual definition. I saw myself approaching a green door in the stone wall of a country garden. As I pressed the sneck and pushed open the door I experienced a jolt, a shock, a sea-change, a reconciliation of opposites. I was, as it were, confronted by a different dimension of being, and I progressed no further. Thus, I was not being given special insight or a gift of wisdom. I was being given a definition. I was being given an experience of what it is to cross a threshold. What I saw beyond the door is not the point – though to those who are curious I can say it was white light. Important only was the change that is induced when one crosses a threshold (the limen) 4.Some people are born with that knowledge inside them, others (such as myself) have to work to acquire it, for it is a gift of persistence.
After the definition, I again found myself in the room with the essay. The voice continued as though nothing had happened, but the message was emphatic: the moment of perceiving beauty is the moment one crosses a threshold of understanding. This crossing of a threshold is a pre-requisite for further understanding, for born at this same moment is a new level of awareness.
I seem to recall that the voice made a jocular reference to Saul’s experience on the road to Damascus adding the dry comment that not all awakenings needed be so drastic. Saul was after all a bit of a hard case and in need of a good shake-up! The experience I had been shown was one to be desired rather than feared. There was even a suggestion that the experience of beauty is a mark of maturity, a coming of age.
Thinking about this moment in the dream some time later, I realized that there are many different degrees of liminal states. Life is packed with them from falling in love to grieving for a dead friend and everything in between. They are moments of learning. What was different about this threshold concerning beauty however, was that it was not something that just happened as a consequence of living, it had to be wanted, it had to be discovered, it had to be sought. As Dame Julian of Norwich said, ‘It is all in the seeking. It is all in the asking’. I was left with the knowledge that this experience was still before me. I had merely been shown that it was there if I cared to seek it.. I trust I will be understood when I say that I felt both honoured and humbled by this experience, and even now, I am still trying to understand the meaning.
Somewhat chastened by the knowledge that I had a lot to do and a long way to go before I would approach that door again, I was given a moment of repose. The intensity lessened and I was aware that I could wake up fully if I wanted to. (En passant, this freedom of choice whether to quit or go on is a characteristic of lucid dreams in my experience.) But I wanted to go on. Very much so. I was shaken but willing. Kavafi’s poem Che fece… il gran rifiuto, which I quote at the beginning of this essay, came to my mind, for it is to do with the issue of choice – ultimate in some ways – between Yes and No..
Immediately I expressed the desire to continue, the dream came alive again; but it had changed slightly, a bit like a lecturer who, having established his premise, now moves to elaboration… and I thought, “How warm the sun! How pleasant the speculation!. What next?”
“Rightly understood, Beauty is more a force than it is a response or a quality. It is active, not passive; an agent of change rather than a product of contemplation. Transformative, it can initiate and enliven. The notion that beauty is solely in the eye of the beholder is a mis-direction, for beauty has an objective existence which, once perceived, leads to deeper understanding. It is a concentrating force and a convergent force, ultimately leading to simplicity of vision.”
This level of high-octane exposition I was not expecting, and while these are not the exact words I heard, they are close. Sometimes lecturers do this, you know – they ‘up the ante’ regarding one’s intelligence just when one is starting to feel comfortable. However, what I can not replicate is the clarity and precision with which the ideas were expounded. I liken it to the way that Shakespeare’s verse and metaphors can leap at you in complete clarity when spoken by a good actor. And what is more, I seemed to understand them. Now, as I write, I am struck by how difficult it is to describe in a meaningful way an experience that affected me so deeply. Tangible in experience, the explanation becomes abstract in expression.
Put quite simply, beauty has energy. That energy can effect change in anyone who perceives it. It seemed, and I hope this does not sound too crude, but like a kind of food.
As a ‘convergent force’, I understood Beauty to be akin to those other great forces which we know by names such as Truth, Knowledge, and Love; names which are themselves just different reflections of a central simple and indivisible Reality. To put that slightly differently, those shaping forces which can be understood to lie behind the material world, can be seen as the different colours of a majestic spectrum which together make up the Lux Dei.
Thus, Keats had expressed something essential when he said ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’ Well I am not sure about the “All ye need to know” but if one can accept this equation even as a possibility, then at least the door in the garden is beginning to open.
Lying there on the top of the hill, with an ant wandering over my hand, I wondered, what could the voice mean by saying that ‘beauty has an objective existence’. Immediately was reminded of the first crop circle that I had ever seen. It was a picture in a magazine that caught my eye as I was hurrying from the library in Wellington. The image had stopped me in my tracks. My response had been immediate and aesthetic – yes, I had reacted in unthinking response to the simple beauty of the formation. I knew then, in the hungry way that one does when confronting something that speaks to one’s inner being, that I needed to know more, that here was the kind of mystery that would delight me, perhaps for the rest my life.
The beauty, of which my dream spoke, is in the form. By this it meant the totality of the physical elements: the location, the size, the curves, the lines and the lay, as well, most importantly as they way all these cohere. Just as a fire becomes stronger when the burning branches are placed together. So, it is this totality of these elements which become charged with a transcendent power. A mystery is captured and held for our contemplation.
Again, thinking about this afterwards, I came up with an example of how this idea works in practical terms. Consider the Golden Section.. Almost everyone responds to the Golden Section5. It is a special ratio, an irrational one, very prominent in the internal structure of a pentagram. In painting and in architecture, the Golden Section can create a sense of balance and harmony. One will often find that a skyline in a painting, for example, lies close to the golden mean.
Thus, in the Golden Mean, we can point to something which has an objective mathematical existence but which has for many people a deep emotional and aesthetic reality, whether they know of the Golden Mean or not! The suggestion in the dream was that the kind of relationship we can detect in the Golden Mean is also true of other relationships. Thus our sense of the sacred, or of the wonder of nature, or of things transcendental can be quickened simply by experiencing the harmony and completeness of beauty. Initially we experience some stimulus subliminally – as for example when we might see a photo of a crop circle, or catch sight of Stone Henge from the road, or are stopped by the sudden beauty of a flower or a song or a sculpture or a painting . However, the fulfilment of the perception of beauty comes with the emergence from the sub-liminal to the liminal; from the unconscious to consciousness. It is an awareness of coherence, and all that that word implies.
“How nice,” said my voice, “that Beauty should be the start of the mystic path!” I had never heard that before. And of course, we do not need to find intellectual equivalents for this experience since any such approximations will always be on a lower order of coherence and hence effectiveness. These words I write, for example, are so much less than the experience they seek to record.. I note how my words, even as I write, blur into abstraction even as I attempt to approach the moment of understanding.
For what it is worth, here is what I believe. To see, (indeed to seek) the beautiful is to open a portal in one’s mind, and that is one purpose of the crop circles: to make the beautiful manifest. I believe this is true of crop circles in general6, and many people have commented on the similarity of some crop circles to mandalas. Of course, we must never confuse the beautiful with the merely pretty. The pretty fades, it is subject to mutability and decay, but the beautiful is eternal and stable; and to be found in the most unexpected of places. As ever, in seeking this beauty, fortune favours the prepared mind.
The beauty in the Crop Circles, while it can, to some extent, be broken down and analysed, nevertheless speaks in its totality, to a different kind of intelligence, to ‘the intelligence of the heart.’ I do not know where I first encountered this lovely phrase – perhaps in the works of Schwaller de Lubicz or Anthony West – but it sums up a level of understanding which can only too easily be overlooked or undervalued. However, let no one think that my remarks regarding the intellect possessing a ‘a lower order of coherence’, as being in any way dismissive of the intellect. I am an amateur mathematician and I delight in studying the internal structure of the crop circles and devising how they may have been constructed. I love the elegance and the economy of their construction. Perceiving these has, more than anything else, given me a deep respect for the makers – whoever they be. I am simply aware that though we can take the crop circles apart with straight line and compass, the parts are never greater than the whole, and that whole will (with a little push) become the holy.
My dream ended with words similar to these; with a statement that the beautiful is omnipresent if we care to see it and that to discover the beautiful is to partake of a deeper reality. Then the exam papers were collected. The dream ended, and I woke up properly, bemused but happy.
Fifteen – perhaps thirty – minutes had elapsed since I lay down. Whether I passed the exam or not I do not know… and nor does it matter. For there was no exam and the context of the dream was there simply to impose a certain gravity on the occasion and to push me to give more shape to ideas that I had (perhaps) puzzled over for a long time. But it remains one of the most important dreams of my life. There is much more to this lucid dream than I have been able to convey in this article, but it remains there locked safe within my mind, and will out, I trust, when the time is right, and perhaps even find its way into a book.
There remain a few issues I need to mention. While preparing to write this article I revisited the photos of the Alton Priors Swallows formation, and I noticed something strange and which I had overlooked before. In the first appearance of the formation there are three pairs of ‘birds’ in a line, with each pair flying in opposite directions. Between the two lines of birds are nine vesica shapes which could, in combination, form the figure 8 twice and three eyes. These are potent symbols in their own right, but there are other possibilities too. In flight, it looked as though the birds were pulling the eyes open.
The following night, six new birds were added, and these increased the formation’s strength and symmetry. If the first formation showed the eyes being opened, (or woken-up if you like) by the pull of the birds, the second formation built on this idea and suggested a greater awakening, almost enlightenment as the swallows winged outwards. And how many eyes were there? Three. Two for the material world and a third eye for the inner and spiritual world.
Seen in this way, the formation is an outward and visible statement of the ideas I have been trying to illustrate in this article. All that needed to be added was the idea of beauty. How interesting it would be if others who dozed in that formation had a similar dream.
I am not a great lover of channelling, which is not to say that much of the information so received may not be true and valid. My doubt is just that I do not believe my material was achieved by channelling. Nor do I think I have any skills in that area. Our minds are such vast places and with resources beyond our expectation. I do believe that we have access to immense stores of wisdom through our own individual subconscious and that lucid dreams (as well as ordinary dreams) do give us access to that wisdom. Of course, the subconscious is not ‘sub’ anything.
It is. Just as, I am. Just as You are.
It is a meeting place where we join, where we share the old knowledge that it contains; for it belongs to us all as part of our heritage as human beings.
Wellington. NZ Sept 2009
1. When I was a student I worked as a bus conductor. On one occasion I was doing the country run through the foothills of the Yorkshire Moors. My driver was a genial man who did not speak much but used to hum to himself as he drove. We were going down hill and approaching a bend under some trees. I was standing at the front , holding the over head straps as conductors do, when he suddenly pulled over. Moments later a car came round the curve and it was on the wrong side of the road. It missed us by inches, and sped on. Had we not stopped, a crash would have been unavoidable and probably fatal. Later I asked him how he knew to stop? Had he seen the other car coming? He shook his head. “No. I just knew it.” he said, smiling a bit shyly as if her expected me to pull his leg. “Always have. And its saved my bacon many a time.”
2. In my case, I must admit that this habit is not restricted to Crop Circles. Some of my happiest memories are from the time when I worked as a ploughman on the Yorkshire Wolds. When the harvest was in and bagged, the work of clearing the fields began. I started work at dawn and took my lunch break at about 11.30. Then I’d stretch out amid the wild mint and the stooks of straw, so still that the rabbits came to scamper round me and the birds pecked the crumbs. Once I experienced vertigo, convinced I was going to fall upwards into he clouds.
3. A lucid dream is one in which one is conscious that one is dreaming and thus one is enjoying s split sense of reality: there is the dream and there is the awareness of the dreaming. In some cases the dreamer can shape the development of the dream. However, I prefer to let the content carry me where it will, for I think it is answering some inner question, and probably a question of which I am unaware.
6. I say ‘in general’ but I am aware that crop circles can be differentiated in terms of style. Thus we have some designs which look like the shadows or blueprints of machines, others which are images of known shapes such as pyramids, others that use known symbols such as yin and yang and even some which depict faces or messages in binary code. Thus generalizations can be dangerous. However, many of our symbols have mysterious origins and it is possible that their power originates in their form which (as it were) speaks to our minds and upon which we have now built our understanding.