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« A Woman Like a Fort on Sullivan's Island | Main | Zombie Boot Camp »

Genuine or Hoax? Visiting a Crop Circle Formation at Avebury, England

by Elyn Aviva

The news rippled through our group like a breeze through a wheat field: a crop circle had just been spotted! According to a crop circle blog, it had appeared only two days earlier, on the side of Windmill Hill, close to Avebury, in southern England. We were told it was still fresh and relatively untrammeled. Even better news was that we were nearby, since our group was visiting sacred sites in the area—including Stonehenge, Glastonbury, and Avebury, site of the largest stone circle in the UK. 

Crop formations usually occur in fields of ripe cereal grains. They appear all over the world but are most prevalent during July and August in the Wiltshire district of southern England. The complex patterns range in size from just a few feet across to over 900 feet, although the average is about 200-300 feet in diameter, and they vary in elements from a few to over 400. The designs may be circular (hence “crop circle”) or based on other geometrical forms (hence “crop formation”). 

They are controversial. Some researchers believe they are encoded messages from either Gaia/Earth or ET/the Cosmos; others believe they are hoaxes perpetrated by tricksters. They may be a relatively recent occurrence, first documented in 1976 in the UK, or they may be much, much older. I’d been reading about them for years, but I’d never seen one—and never walked inside of one. I was excited at the prospect.

Before setting out, our guide, Jude Currivan, showed us a tantalizing diagram of the crop formation. It looked like a huge, blunt-ended sword, pale gold cut into the middle of a field of dark ripe grain. Jude promptly christened it “Excalibur” and called it “the sword of truth.”

The sword blade was composed of 16 overlapping circles. Each overlap formed a geometrical figure called a vesica piscis or mandorla, which is often found in sacred art. Extending through the center of the circular handle and out the top were 10 circles in increasing and decreasing sizes. The handle incorporated both a disk (representing the sun?) and a crescent (representing the moon?).

We drove to the location, parked the van, and started walking up the country lane that led to the formation. We were not alone. Members of a crop-circle conference and tour were also hurrying to the site. Some people climbed over the farmer’s barbed-wire fence, but most of us kept going to the honesty box (a donations box chained to a large metal dumpster) next to a gate that opened into the field. 

In the distance I could see people moving through the grain. Heading in their direction, I walked between rows of rustling, waist-high golden wheat, careful not to trample any standing grain. That would only cost the farmer more in terms of lost harvest. 

Who, what, and how, were the questions that swirled in my mind. Crop circle researchers (called cereologists) have sent soil and grain samples to laboratories, which have reported peculiar findings. They have documented anomalous magnetic readings and the inexplicable malfunction of electronic devices. Some cereologists think the formations are created utilizing microwaves or energy beams to bend the stalks without breaking them. Something somehow creates huge, complex, precise patterns in the middle of a field of grain at night, without lights. Some researchers credit earth energies, others extraterrestrials. Perhaps not surprisingly, UFO’s and strange lights are often recorded near crop circles. But then, crop circles frequently occur near ancient sacred sites, so perhaps there is another way to connect the dots. Or circles. 

And then there are the scoffers. Two English hoaxers named Doug and Dave were interviewed in 1991 and asserted that since 1978 they had created over 250 formations. They alleged that they had used a rope and wooden plank to stomp down intricate geometrical patterns in the dark, just for the fun of it. Their claim did much to discredit crop circles as an authentic phenomenon, as did several made-for-TV documentaries. But neither the hoaxers nor TV programs can explain the complex crop formation called the “Julia set” that suddenly appeared on July 7, 1996, near Stonehenge, in daylight, between 5 pm and 5:30 pm.

Freddy Silva, a noted crop circle expert, feels that although authentic crop circles still show up, there are also a number of blatant fakes. These are not worth visiting insofar as they don’t carry any energy. The energy of genuine crop formations can generate altered states of consciousness. A psychic that Freddy works with has premonitions about the timing and location of genuine formations—and they do indeed appear there. This is but one example of—and I quote Freddy—“the interactive nature of the phenomenon if the intent is honorable.”

As we walked to the crop formation, one of our group asked Jude whether the crop circles were real or fake. She replied that we co-create our reality, so from her perspective, it was a non-question. Even if a crop circle is human-made, something is propelling the individuals to make it and giving them the ideas and the designs. The people are simply an instrument for the creation. Jude also said, “having experienced crop circles for over seventeen years, [I find] they remain a wonderful enigma helping us to expand our personal and collective consciousness.”

We reached the edge of the formation. Was I about to walk into an authentic earth mystery or a hoax created by tricksters? There was only one way to know—and even then, I didn’t know if I would. I took off my shoes and stepped gingerly into a large circle, one of several that went through the handle of the “sword.” I looked at my bare feet, crunching gently on the intricately laid-down wheat stalks. Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain in my chest. The Sword of Truth cutting through illusion? Cutting away something I didn’t need? 

Although the wheat had been swirled around in the circle, along the edges the grain followed a different pattern, lying parallel to the field. In the center, a few upright spikes of wheat remained, as if the creator was saying: “Pay attention. This circle wasn’t made by a guy standing in the middle with a rope and a plank.”

Following the circumferences of the circles, I walked to the smallest circle at one end of the formation. The pain in my chest remained constant. I felt a little odd, slowed down, as if time had become elastic. I stepped carefully around two women sitting in the middle of one circle, a large umbrella shielding them from the bright midday sun. One was drawing something in a notebook. Another was saying something about astronomical conjunctions, the precession of the equinoxes (whatever that meant), and the Mayan calendar. 

I continued walking through the handle and into the long blade. The light shifted and everything looked brighter than it had before. The neatly bent stalks of grain that formed the floor of the circle seemed lit from within and golden, as if they contained an extra dimension of—I don’t know what. The darker heads of wheat were all lined up on the ground, facing me. They seemed oddly animated, as if they had something to tell me. If only I knew the code. If only I understood the message.

I reached the end of the blade. It was time to go. I put on my shoes and stepped out of the formation. Immediately the sharp, cutting pain in my chest stopped. My husband, Gary, was waiting for me. He told me he had felt ten pounds heavier inside the crop circle—as if gravity was different.

A few days later Gary and I were at Avebury. A crop formation had just been spotted in the wheat field on the other side of the stone circle. Eager to see it from above, we climbed on top of the wide henge, the raised mound that surrounds the stone circle. In the distance, I saw people walking in the field. 

While I pondered whether to go into the crop formation, an attractive, blond-haired woman ran toward me on the top of the henge, waving her arms. It was someone we had met a few months earlier on Malta. She hadn’t planned to come to Avebury, she explained, but that morning a friend had suggested they look for crop formations, and so there they were.

I asked her whether the crop circle in the field below was worth visiting. She shook her head. “Don’t bother. It’s pretty ‘flat’ energetically. Not like the sword that showed up last week.”

“Excalibur?” I asked.

She nodded. “It’s one of the best I’ve been in for several years. Now, that’s a real crop circle!”


For more information on Jude Currivan, go to For more information on Freddy Silva, go to Two crop circle websites include and Aerial photo credit Steve Alexander,


Elyn Aviva is a writer, fiber artist, and transformational traveler. Currently living in Girona (Catalonia), Spain, she is fascinated by pilgrimage and sacred sites. Her PhD in anthropology was on the modern Camino de Santiago in Spain. Aviva is author of a number of books on pilgrimage and journey, and she is co-author with her husband, Gary White, of “Powerful Places Guidebooks.” The most recent one is Powerful Places in Ireland; Powerful Places in Wales is forthcoming this fall. To learn more about Elyn or her publications, go to,, and

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Reader Comments (19)

Thanks for this story. Fascinating account of walking through the crop circle. Did your pain ever return?

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJean Ross

Wish I could have experienced "Excalibur" with you, Elyn. Sounds like the real thing. How was the rest of your trip with Jude?
Kate, Jan & I are planning a trip down to Cornwall next June- any tips?

Thank you for sharing this experience. The pictures are helpful too. Perhaps the meaning of the message will come through
to you over time.

October 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWendy

Strange that the two possible explanations you give for crop circles are "genuine" (created without the help of humans) or "a hoax perpetrated by tricksters." Can't we say that crop circles are both genuine AND perpetrated by humans? There's no hoax about it... When Doug Bower and Dave Chorley came out in 1991 and showed exactly how they had been doing crop circles for years, people were profoundly uninterested - for some reason human creativity is never as interesting as supernatural or alien forces. As soon as Bower and Chorley showed their techniques, crop circles became much more common, and a much wider variety of shapes and forms started to show up, including everything from elaborate fractals to corporate logos.

One can certainly find meaning in anything/everything -- I find a lot of meaning in art, made by human beings, and I think of crop circles as just another example. Art may not be magical to some people, but there's plenty of inspiration there if you want it.

October 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoel Bass

Thanks for your comments! First: No, Jean, the pain never returned. It started when I was in the crop formation and stopped when I left. I have NO idea what that was about. As Wendy says, maybe the meaning will become clear with time. And Joel--you are right that the dichotomy in the title is incomplete and misleading. As Jude says, it's really a non-question. Humans make some of the formations I'm sure--and so is Freddy Silva. I have no explanation for some of the others, however--where the stalks are bent but not broken and the nodes are "blown" out--and when they are made in a very short time in complete darkness. Human ingenuity and creativity is pretty awesome, isn't it?
Wendy--as to Cornwall, there is indeed much to see. The tour with Jude included Tintagel, Merlin's Cave, and St. Nectan's Glen. But there's much more--email me and let me know what you 3 are looking for!
Many thanks--Elyn

October 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElyn Aviva

Well, I wrote a lengthy reply to everyone yesterday but it hasn't appeared! Will try again. Thanks for your comments! Jean, the pain started on the crop formation and ended as soon as I stepped off. And did not recur. Go figure. Wendy--yes, discernment is the issue, isn't it? As to Cornwall, Jude (leader on our journey in Albion) took us to Tintagel, Merlin's Cave, and St. Nectan's Glen (Whew! that's a place!). We've been to Cornwall before, and there are lots of powerful places, including holy wells. Send me an email describing your interests and I'll see what I can remember. An excellent guide would be Nigel Breen--I can send you his email. Joel--yes, I agree that "genuine or hoax" is an oversimplified dichotomy. Hard to be subtle in a header. As Jude says, for her it's a non-question. Humans certainly create many of the modern crop formations, and they are impressive. Freddy Silva suggests even the human-made ones are made under guidance (creative spark, perhaps?). But some of them--well, there's no apparent explanation for how the stalks are bent without breaking, or how they were made at night without light, or in a very short time. It's a puzzle. It's definitely a puzzle--and without discounting the wonderful creative expressivity of humans, there's still a puzzle.

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElyn Aviva

I have always wanted to experience a "crop circle",through your writting I have vicariously lived such an interesting mistery ! Thank you for sharing it!

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFrancisco

thanx for sharing another excellent adventure. your stories usually motivate me to research, if not actually buying a ticket to follow in your footsteps, which would be the best option. always look forward to your next report. happy trails.

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlynn from philadelphia

What an exciting adventure! You explain your crop circle beautifully - I feel as if I were present, except for the energetic rush you clearly felt. Makes me want to visit the site. Interesting that each person seemed to have a different experience, depending on how their energy field interacted with the circle's.

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBonney Rega


Excalibur is a stunning expression of the living earth and self-organizing universe - whether by human or other forces. Great article!

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

I have been going to crop circles since 1987. I honestly believe that anyone who says that they know who makes them doesn't. While obviously some are man made, others clearly aren't. They are an honest to God/dess mystery. It is always exciting when a crop circle effects the visitor personally - as it did for Elyn.

While many appear near ancient sacred spaces, IMHO they are not the same. 1. The energy is transitory. Unless you are one of the first (say) 60 to go in, they don't work. They work like a battery rather than a channel. And 2., I have been dowsing in Sacred Spaces since the late sixties. Sacred Spaces have similar patterns everywhere I've been from Peru to Scandinavia, Vermont to Stonehenge. Crop Circles do not have the same Earth Energy patterns.

It is also amazing to me how the establishment is now basically ignoring them. So either they are being made by the military (or some other conspiracy theory group) so the powers-what-be don't want too much publicity, OR they are messages from a different/higher realm, in which case the same powers-what-be hope that if they ignore them, maybe they will go away.

In any event, they are a real mystery!

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSig Lonegren

Delighted that this article is getting so much response--glad to do the research (great excuse for experiencing sacred sites!). Thanks, Sig, for your thoughtful and absolutely right-on addition to the conversation. I haven't had enough experience with crop formations to judge much about the energy--but I trust Sig's experience. Sig is a master dowser/geomancer living in Glastonbury (and Holland)--we studied with him in 2004. Check out his website, I agree--a massive disinformation campaign has helped turn people off to their significance.

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElyn Aviva

I posted a reply but don't see it yet--hope it shows up. Meantime, a friend just sent me a link to another crop formation that just appeared on Windmill Hill--where Excalibur was in July. It's late in the season for crop circles, and it is quite interesting.

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElyn Aviva

Great Article Elyn. You so beautifully captured my doubts while visiting the crop circle. My experience while in the circle was a testament to the higher energy vibration therein.

October 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTheresa

Hi Elyn, Thank you for sharing your interesting experience in the Crop Circle. I trust you more than the info that I hear on TV. Ila

November 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterIla Sage

Thanks VERY much, Ila. I try to be objective, to do my research, AND to honor the experience that I actually have.

November 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElyn Aviva

i agree with Sig....they are a real mystery, especially ones that are extremely intricate with hundreds of circles. How could anyone
possibly get such a perfect design in the dark without footprints? The sword is a great design with the vesica pisces forming the shaft of the masculine sword.
Maybe the sword is supposed to open the heart and thus the pain you felt of transformation. Any emotional shifts after entering the formation????
The precession of the equinoxes is caused by the earth's rotation into a different zodiac sign every 2000 years. Thus we are now moving from the age of Pisces to the age of Aquarius which is about more heart centered consciousness. Your experience makes sense in theis light. It sounds to me like the crop circles are areas on the earth, similiar to the Egyptian temples, where shifts in consciousness can occur.

November 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJan

Hi Jan--Freddy Silva in fact says much the same--that the crop circles are like the ancient temples, places whee shifts in consciousness can occur. You are right!

November 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElyn Aviva

Do these crop circles ever disappear as mysteriously as they appeared or do they last until the field is harvested? Was this farmer fine about people tramping into his field? Was the circle near the edge of the field so that people could enter it without trampling his crop? Please forgive the questions. I'm a lawyer, it's an occupational hazard which I try to control until I'm intrigued by something, so your post did spark my interest. BTW, I lived in Devizes, near Avebury, for a year (1969-1970) when my father was an exchange teacher. Are the chalk horses still on the sides of the hills? If so, have they figured out anything more about them? OK. No more questions.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJust One Boomer (Suzanne)

Just got a comment with questions from "Just One Boomer," which hasn't shown up here!, with some questions. So here goes, rephrased: Q: Do the crop circles ever disappear as mysteriously as they appear? A: To my knowledge, no. We've seen the "shadow remains" of last year's crop circles still visible in the fields as dark areas. But I'm not an expert. Q: Did the farmer mind people trampling in his field, and was "Excalibur" close to the edge so people wouldn't have to trample far? Farmers do mind. They lose valuable crops and valuable income from people trampling through their fields. Some destroy the crop circles right away to avoid having hoards of enthusiasts invading their fields. Others place "honesty boxes" (as described in this article) near a gate into the field so that people can make a contribution. Obviously, it is best to walk between rows and cause minimal damage, respecting that the crop circle occurs on private property. As to chalk horses in the area--yes, they are still there. And there's been an interesting archeological documentary posted on YouTube recently. Contact me off-line and I'll try to find it.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElyn Aviva

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