What are Crop Circles? The phenomenon of crop circles, those mysterious circular patches of flattened corn, first came to attention of the public around 1980. Since then they have been reported in various European countries, North America, Australia and Japan though England still has the most examples year by year. The first reference to one appears to date back over there hundred years as a woodcut from 1678 shows a "Mowing Devil" at work on what appears to be a crop circle.

Crop CirclesThere had been several circles reported in England in the 1930s and 1940s, in France in 1954 and Australia in 1966 but these did not receive the wide publicity that greeted the circles of the 1980s. Press photographs showed them to be perfectly circular with corn stalks beaten down in a swirling pattern. For UFO enthusiasts the explanation was obvious! The circles had been formed by some form of power emitted when alien spacecraft had landed and taken off. It was something that excited UFO communities but there was no shortage of less spectacular explanations.

The meteorological explanation was that the circles were caused by a vortex or whirlwind started off by air currents or thermals rising in hot condition. The "earth energy" school of thought was inspired by the fact that the circles wre usually close to prehistoric sites and monuments and often stimulated by Ley Lines which channelled such energy. When this energy surged the effect was to create a circle.

For the supernaturally inclined, the circles suggested fairy rings. Finally there was the thought that the circles may be the result of hoaxers. By the 1990's the number of English crop circles had reached over three hundred a year and their designs had become more complicated - patterns within patterns. This rather poured scorn on the whirlwind theory but the Ufologists wondered whether these symbols were some form of message from aliens.

But more and more the hoax theory came to the fore.

Several groups publicly admitted to their part in creating the circles and demonstrated how they had done it using nothing more than a peg, a piece of rope to outline the circle and 'stomping' boards to press the corn stalks down. For those who took corn circles seriously known as "Croppies", such revelations failed to destroy their faith. While it was accepted that corn circles could be man-made, that did not mean that every circle in Britain and the rest of the world was a hoax!

One question arose over hoaxing: while it was understandable that some people might get together for a lark, why did hoaxers bother to go out night after night creating circles? But in the year 2000 the Mail on Sunday published an article in which an hoaxer explained:

"We make our initial designs with the help of a computer and then we work out on paper how to create them on the ground, dividing tasks up amongst the team."

"It's quite complicated because we have to work at night and in silence"

But yet serious research continues and Croppies still maintain that the crop circles are indeed genuine. What do you think?

Article by BY Linda Preston. Linda Preston works as freelance writer specializing in the paranormal. She may be contacted via her website: http://www.psychicreach.co.uk

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