Crop circles are some of the most beautiful, mysterious and controversial landscape phenomena in the world today. They are found throughout the world and appear in countries with large agricultural areas. They are also fundamental for a cultural change with research approaches that imitate science and make the paranormal more common.
Unlike UFOs, ghosts and sasquatches, crop circles are tangible: humans can touch them and approach them. At least 30 appeared in England last summer. In British Columbia, crop circle formations were formed in Vanderhoof, about 100 kilometers west of Prince George, in 1998 and 2001.
The cultures and what people are doing with them is one of the aspects of my four-year research project that examines the recent growth of beliefs, practices and paranormal experiences. My field research examines paranormal research groups in Vancouver and paranormal conferences in North America and England.
Recent social science literature on paranormal cultures holds that, despite the emergence of a secular and postreligious society, paranormal discourse is gaining prominence in the lives of Westerners.
Because the paranormal refers to "events or phenomena that go beyond normal scientific understanding," researchers have long recognized that the paranormal is part of "normal" everyday life.
Recently, however, due to a paranormal influence in pop culture, the emergence of new spiritualities and related services, such as large cauldrons, healing stones and the psychological benefits of online researchers have begun to challenge interest in the paranormal as subcultural or countercultural instead of the mainstream.
The paranormal becomes conventional and scientific
Research organizations and international conferences that mobilize emotions, knowledge and paranormal practices are fundamental to the fusion of the paranormal and the mainstream.
Based on models and techniques that imitate conventional science, these conferences and organizations are open to the public and have led to the democratization of paranormal research and the availability of paranormal experiences.
Researchers, especially in the humanities, recognize the relevance of the paranormal. The persistent skepticism in the social sciences, however, about the legitimacy of claims of paranormal phenomena and experience, means that there are no critical studies on how people actually identify with the paranormal.
Academic research has already recognized the importance of paranormal local groups and international conferences dedicated to paranormal phenomena, especially spirits, UFOs and cryptocounts such as Sasquatch. However, we know very little about the relationships between these groups and the conferences, and why and how they shape the daily lives of people.
My study helps explain how paranormal organizations and conferences contribute to these sociocultural changes.
Rationality comes into conflict with the mystery of crop circles
The study of the agricultural circle or "cereology" illustrates the tension between the ordinary and the extraordinary.
No matter what you hear the cause of crop circles, be they artificial or aquifer, bright lines, divine feminine energy, ancient sacred sites, lightning or even UFOs, crop circles that include reveal a mysterious separation between the language and the visible, as in the book by Jean-François Lyotard Speech, FIG.
The French philosopher argues that there is an unstable relationship between the linguistic sense and the units of meaning, are the visible motives of words, dreams, symbols and visual arts. Because there is no inherent meaning in a signifier (meaning that it always depends on another word and a broader context) given, and art and symbols are by default on the plane conceptually opaque, are necessarily opposed to a simple rational understanding .
For example, the Crop Summer Crop conference in Devizes, England, illustrated the difficulty of studying crop circles.
One day, during the conference, I went into a cultivation circle with other researchers only to find a sign on the door of the property: "Closed crop circle". The person who represents an organization that serves as a link between farmers and researchers in the growing circle is not present. As we could not continue without an illegal entry, we returned to the car.
Back in the conference, a discussion began on the behavior of some researchers who had ignored the "Closed Circle" sign, climbed the fence and headed for the growing circle.
For a researcher, this transgression was disturbing because it represented the gross consumption of what he considered a sacred phenomenon. Another researcher who ignored the sign, responded that he respected this opinion, but felt that the circle of culture "called" him and that it would be disrespectful to ignore the attraction of the saints.
The researchers had different views on whether to follow a closed circle that indicated an inappropriate limit or obstacle to the "call" of the growing circle.
The tension between appearances and the meanings of crop circles was also responsible for the difficult patience required in a sacred geometry workshop. While the participants' lines drawn with compasses and conveyor belts, they tried to replicate the intricate patterns of the crop circles only to lose small pieces of lead and fight so that their compasses would not slip on paper. The conference organizer, Karen Alexander, said the exercise provided the participants with a deeper appreciation and understanding of the crop circles.
Interpreting paranormal cultures
As part of my work, I explore the tension between image and language, focusing on the complexity of cultural landscapes where amateurs have trouble navigating in and out of cultivation. circles
Lyotard focuses these events on the "figurative space": elusive elements that interrupt and transcend the understanding of language. Basically, crop circles, unlike ghosts, UFOs and Sasquatches, are very tangible signs. But what they want to say and what they are remains a mystery.
Despite the claims of the "creators of the circle" that they are made by humans, the size and complexity of the circles contradict a 100% artificial explanation.
According to the researchers at the conference, the counterfeiters, when asked how they were capable, about 80 perfect circles without breaking the corn stalks or breaking up, are not able to replicate the patterns and ignore the researchers' questions.
In addition, finding and reaching crop circles, navigating narrow and meandering paths and finding their exact location in large fields of wheat or barley is not an easy task.
Like all other cultures of paranormal research that I have studied so far, research in crop circles blurs the distinction between the ordinary and the extraordinary. In addition, the importance of geography in micro-spaces of camps and conference venues can not be ignored. The regional character and the extent to which crop circles are landscape phenomena encourage many people to know the sublime.