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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