Feature Articles – Crop Circles: Messages From the TimeWave?
As 2012 approaches, the expectation of a global paradigm shift grows. Modern anomalous phenomena like UFOs and crop circles are seen as precursors of this change, which is said to be forecast not only in the end of the Mayan calendar, but also in Terence McKenna’s TimeWave Zero – the end of time itself.
by Philip Coppens
When Hernando Cortés landed on Mexico’s Yucatan in 1519 AD, ambassadors from the local ruler Moctezuma II soon arrived with gifts. Cortes said that he learned that he was considered by the Aztecs to be either an emissary of Quetzalcoatl or Quetzalcoatl himself. According to a prophecy, the god Quetzalcoatl would return on a day in one of the One-Reed years; 1519 was a One-Reed year. In Bernal Diaz’s, The Conquest of New Spain, he outlined that Montezuma that he truly believed that they were those whom his Aztec ancestors had prophesized about. Montezuma elaborated about the arrival of those from the “direction of the sunrise” who would have tremendous military success and rule over them.
In 1519 AD, prophecy came true, and even though most in retrospect will be hard-pressed to consider that Cortés was Quetzalcoatl, he nevertheless did indeed bring great change and ruled over “his” former homeland.
Had the Mayan priests correctly prophesised the future? Or was their calendar – with cycles of 52 year – a recipe for disaster? It meant that sections of the population would long for the return of this deity every 52 years – and anyone, like Cortés, could be mistaken, or promoted, as the return of this legendary figure. In one of his most specific, yet least understood prophecies (Century X, Quatrain 72), Nostradamus wrote: “In the year 1999 and 7 months; From the sky will come a great King of Terror; He will resurrect the great King of Angolmois; Before which Mars rules happily.” With the forward correction from the Julian calendar of Nostradamus’ day to the current Gregorian calendar, Nostradamus seemed to refer to the total solar eclipse of August 11, 1999.
Nostradamus’ Centuries hardly mentioned specific dates, and hence, this specific verse became the cornerstone of debates as to who the “King of Terror” was, and what would happen during the summer of 1999. The date being so close to a new millennium, apocalyptic prophecies and predictions of comets colliding with Earth, an alien invasion, a nuclear war, or the return of the plutonium filled Cassini spacecraft were all listed as possible terrors. Others interpreted it as the awakening of the spirit of Jesus within the masses, or the opening of the Hall of Records under the Sphinx – who, in Arab tradition, was called “the Father of Terror”. Less than a decade later, the new “August 11, 1999” is December 21, 2012, the end of the Mayan Calendar, and linked with another astronomical event: the conjunction of the Winter Solstice Sun with the crossing point of the Galactic Equator. The new date for a new hope for a better future – and/or the demise of this earth – is therefore reprogrammed from 1999 to 2012. Nostradamus has been exchanged for the often self-proclaimed heirs of Mayan priests, who claim that the end of the Mayan calendar will mark the apocalypse. In truth, though it is a fact that the Mayan calendar will end, there are no Mayan accounts that argue doom, or great change of any nature, will coincide with this calendar end.
Indeed, the question remains what – and specifically if – something will happen on that winter’s day in 2012. In “2012, The Return of Quetzalcoatl”, Daniel Pinchbeck states that he advances a radical theory: “that human consciousness is rapidly transitioning to a new state, a new intensity of awareness that will manifest as a different understanding, a transformed realization, of time and space and self.”
In his exploration of whether we are indeed evolving into this new state, Pinchbeck spoke to British crop circle researcher Michael Glickman, who holds that some of the crop circle formations found in England and elsewhere were in fact calendars. He points towards the “Grid Square” that appeared in Etchilhampton in August 1997, which he interprets as a map of time. A square within a circle, it was made up of 26 rows of 30 squares, the total number of squares of which, Glickman noted, coincided with the number of weeks remaining from the date of the circle’s appearance until the end of 2012. For Glickman, that year too marks a dimensional shift. As to the purpose of crop circles in this, Glickman believes they are both there to key us in to this change, and to give us clues as to how this shift in dimension will manifest itself in our world. Prophecies of doom and gloom, or the hope of a new world, are age-old. In the Western world, this event is linked with the Apocalypse, which is a series of events that is presumed to involve the arrival of both the AntiChrist and the Second Coming of Christ, before the dead are resurrected and the “end of time” occurs. Within Christian eschatology, the “End of Days” is linked with the so-called “Signs of the End”. Matthew 24:3-8 is quite specific about these, stating they will be famines, pestilences and earthquakes, as well as people proclaiming they are Christ. But for many others, any phenomenon of an anomalous nature is often seen as the precursor to the Apocalypse.
Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles led the American religious group Heaven’s Gate. The group coincided with the appearance of Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. Applewhite convinced 38 followers to commit suicide when the Comet Hale-Bopp appeared in 1997. He apparently believed that their souls would take a ride on a spaceship that was hiding behind the comet – a spaceship that was carrying Jesus. They believed that the planet Earth was about to be recycled and that the only chance to survive was to leave it immediately – i.e. die. Whereas most UFO and crop circle researchers have spent more than five decades trying to “prove” these phenomena, others have merely taken the phenomena for what they are: anomalous events, signs, of potential divine, or diabolical, nature – and part of the end times. Sites such as “Return of the Nephilim” are alas typical of a modern – largely American – mindset, in which biblical eschatology is mixed with… everything else. Hence, on the group’s site, one can read: “To link the rebellious Sons of Elohim who inhabited the heavenly places, the atmosphere and beyond, to the current non-human intelligent beings we see more and more frequently, so-called ‘aliens’, is not such a large step. Not only do many advanced beings hint at angelic origin in their contact with humans through abductions and channeling , but the crop circle phenomena attributed to UFOs proves their interest in the planets and asteroid belt — the areas which the Sons of Elohim still have dominion over. If the so-called aliens and their UFO craft are not themselves the rebel b’nei Elohim of the Scriptures, they are under the jurisdiction of Satan, the Prince of the Powers of the Air.”
Indeed, for many Christians, these “signs” are not signs of God, but of Satan – here to deceive us.
Thus, whether signs of the Second Coming, or the Coming of the Saucers – whether an alien invasion or friendly contact – Christians and UFOlogists alike interpret these signs, whether in the skies or in the fields, as the precursor for a major event. This imagery has made the transition into popular culture: in the French television series “Mystère”, crop formations are seen as coded messages, indecipherable for the military that is trying to crack them, but legible for those “special people”, the end product of an extra-terrestrial interbreeding experiment, which will result in their return to their extra-terrestrial family; the crop formations are “notes” left in the field, which tell these people where to meet, and when, for their intergalactic taxi back home. The plot is somewhat similar to Spielberg’s “Taken”, in which there is also a, though much smaller, role for crop circles.
If UFOs marked the major new anomaly of the latter half of the 20th century, the new anomaly of last quarter of that century was no doubt the crop circle phenomenon. As the countdown to the new millennium progressed, the numbers of circles appearing in the fields of England – and soon elsewhere – increased. It is therefore not surprising to note that, just like Glickman has worked the circles into 2012, in the 1990s, they were worked into the August 11, 1999 hype.
Some even made a link with the Great Planetary Alignment that was to occur on May 3, 2000, and noted how on May 3, 1999, a crop circle appeared in the fields in Wallop, near Andover, England, offering a pattern that “strongly suggested” a solar eclipse. Today, the nature of the crop circle phenomenon – whether man-made or somehow made by “something else” – remains hotly debated, but this has not stopped its incorporation in various end of times prophecies. If they are messages to be read by special people, i.e. the scenario offered in “Mystère”, it is clear that their message is not straightforward to decipher.
Hence, crop circles have become a modern form of divination. In an age where tealeaves, animal intestines or urine have become less favourite mechanisms of interpreting the desires of the beyond and the gods, and specifically the future they have in mind for us on an individual and global level, crop circles have become a new form of divination whereby Mankind is hoping to interpret the messages from the gods. We seek meaning in the circles, from alchemy, as was the case in Barbury Castle, to other topical notions, such as the Mayan calendar. Gerard Hawkins and John Michell both followed this approach for many years and today, enigmatically shaped designs continue to function as a Rorschach test on the cerealogists – the crop circle researchers.
Some circles, such as Barbury Castle, as well as the Stantonbury Hill yin-yang inspired circle that was reported on July 7, 2007, lend themselves easily to divination. The “art” is somewhat discredited, in my opinion, when people try to apply it to dissecting a stylised depiction of a dog, as occurred with another formation of 2007. Whatever crop circles might be, a separate question is whether there is a countdown to 2012, of which crop circles are not necessarily a required ingredient, as Pinchbeck and Glickman seem to believe.
One person, Terence McKenna, believed there was nevertheless a definite a countdown. McKenna’s model is known as “TimeWave Zero”, and is part of his “Novelty theory”, which attempted to calculate the ebb and flow of novelty in the universe as an inherent quality of time. The fractal waveform, the TimeWave, was simply a wave, mapping how much novelty – new things – made their appearances in the universe. The arrival of “new things”, such as crop circles and UFOs, irrelevant of what they are, could thus be incorporated into this approach. McKenna said he was given this information when he and his brother Dennis partook in entheogenic experiences in the Columbian Amazon, at a site known as La Chorrera; details of his exploits are written down in the books “True Hallucinations” and “The Invisible Landscape”. McKenna described the moment as “an encounter with an insectoid intelligence who had curious things to say about the nature of time.” He also felt that these creatures were the real occupants of the UFOs, stating “We are part of a symbiotic relationship with something which disguises itself as an extra-terrestrial invasion so as not to alarm us.”
McKenna believed that the proliferation of UFO reports was indicative of the approach of “a transcendental object from beyond the end of history”; the future was breaking into the present. And the origin of this rupture – or rapture – was this “something”, this “transcendental object”, that had revealed the time-wave equations to him. Though McKenna now possessed this “gift of the gods”, what was lacking was a mechanism by which he was able to map the fractal wave pattern onto the historical timeline. This anchoring was important, for the wave came with an omega point, in which infinite novelty occurred at a tremendous rate; literally, the end of time. After much study, McKenna decided to use December 21, 2012, the end of the long count of the Mayan calendar, as this point – point Zero of his TimeWave.
Some have seen the TimeWave and its related computer programs as a gimmick, there to help McKenna in conveying the message that certain hallucinogenic substances, used in a ritual setting, as practiced by shamans, brought Mankind in contact with another intelligence, in another dimension. But on the occasions I had the pleasure of meeting and seeing McKenna lecture, he actually did not use the TimeWave as such. If anything, he downplayed the TimeWave, as he knew it was an unproven possibility. Still, he was largely convinced that it existed, and that he was right in its anchoring to 2012. He was convinced because he felt it had accurately predicted the past: the precise moments of great novelty that corresponded to known upheavals in history, both ancient and modern. The time-wave’s ability to model the past was, for McKenna, a good reason to trust that it would model the future, and 2012 was key in that. For McKenna, the end times would be when anything and everything conceivable to the human imagination would occur simultaneously. Pinchbeck’s opinions are therefore largely in agreement with McKenna. The question, of course, is whether the Mayan were supposedly aware of this, yet why no-one else – including modern science – seems to be.
Furthermore, linking such prophecies with the crop circle phenomenon is tenuous, as the phenomenon has never been present in the Mayan heartland; if anything, it should be linked to the Celtic harvest calendar, native to England and the megalithic monuments around which the most ingenious formations each year appear.
However much we make of 2012, the Mayans themselves never saw it as an end of times, or the return of Quetzalcoatl, as Pinchbeck subtitles his book. They “merely” saw it as the end of one of their calendars – others continuing beyond. After all, the Mayans did not see August 12, 3114 BC as the literal date when Earth was created, but “merely” as the start of that calendar round.
Furthermore, originally, McKenna had anchored novelty with an event in recent history, using it as the beginning of the final 67.29 year cycle. The event he chose was the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, which gave an end date in mid-November 2012. Then, he discovered the proximity of this date to the end of the current 13-baktun cycle of the Maya calendar and adjusted the end date to match this point in the calendar. It makes the science behind TimeWave Zero less precise. So what can we expect from December 21, 2012? What is it? John Major Jenkins wrote “Maya Cosmogenesis 2012”, with a foreword by Terence McKenna. In this introduction, McKenna underlines that he was the first person to suggest in print, in 1975, that in our time, the winter solstice was moving closer and closer to the point on the ecliptic where it will eclipse the galactic centre. By the early 1990s, Jenkins and McKenna became more and more convinced that the end-date of the Mayan 13 baktun cycle was linked with the conjunction of the sun with the intersection of the ecliptic and the plane of the Milky Way. It is indeed a major astronomical event, and one does stand perplexed by the conclusion that the Mayans were aware of this centuries before science was able to confirm this fact. And what to make of the “coincidence” of our physicists’ discovery of a black hole at the centre of our galaxy and the Maya belief in a great black hole in the same spot?
McKenna also noted that it was remarkable that the Maya were fascinated less by their own time, and more by the time we live in, a time that lay more than two millennia in the future at the time the first Long Count dates were recorded. McKenna added that “over millennia, the Maya observed the drama of the approach of father sun toward the vagina of mother sky and, though the cosmic event itself was calculated to occur many centuries in the future, the Maya made the future conjunction the anchor point of their machinery of cosmic time keeping. Their myth […] chose our time as the quintessential moment of creation.” A year before his own death, McKenna wrote how the world was perhaps not meant to end, but was to be born, on December 21, 2012.
It coincides with John Major Jenkins’ conclusion, that “the ancient Maya understood something about the nature of the cosmos and the spiritual evolution of humanity that has gone unrecognized in our own worldview. This understanding involves our alignment with the center of our Galaxy, our cosmic center and source, and identifies A.D. 2012 as a time of tremendous transformation and opportunity for spiritual growth, a transition from one World Age to another.” Indeed, if ever there is a call for spiritual awakening required, it might be that science and legend, at the close of the 20th century, were beginning to reveal the same “truths”, where the real challenge of 2012 might be that each side of the debate needs to learn to embrace the other: the marriage of history with legend, of age-old “truths” with modern scientific discoveries – resulting in new insights – novelty.
2012 is close, and the challenge, listening to the news on television, seems already lost; 2012 seems like it will pass, just like 1999, and it will be substituted with another set of prophecies, no doubt linked with 2033, the alleged 2000th anniversary of Jesus’ assumed death.
For centuries, the “end of times” has failed to occur. Messages like those of the apocalyptic preacher Vincent Ferrer, that the apocalypse was not a passive event, but something for which all of Mankind needed to work together, in order to achieve it, remain anathema to our modern consumer society, in which we continue to demand that a new world is given to us, rather than worked for. To quote Pinchbeck at the conclusion of his book 2012: “As the Hopi also say: We are the ones we have been waiting for.” Each piece of the puzzle – 2012, McKenna’s TimeWave, crop circles, etc. – are all worthy causes of further study. But mixing all of these ingredients together, before we understand the separate pieces, is unlikely to lead to a greater understanding. To this, we need to add that even though time is the prime organiser of our daily lives, we know little about it.
Is it merely a human construct, to organise – divide – that great flow from alpha to omega, from birth to death, on a global, social and individual level? Or is there more to it? Noting that space and time are intimately linked, and that space has demonstrable physical qualities, what about time? Isn’t it time that science begins to address the nature of time? And when it does, perhaps then, will we better understand the nature of prophecies and predictions – and whether or not, if not where and how, we need to slot in Mayan calendars and time-waves. This is where a true new hope for a genuine new age may lie: quantum physics does tell us that above space and time, stands consciousness. And it is towards consciousness that all prophecies and predictions look. For one, it are certain notables, the Nostradamuses, who were said to rise above time and space, and see into the beyond, what the future held for us. Secondly, alas, out of this triple set, we have only looked into space; the frontiers of time and consciousness remain beyond everyday scientific exploration and looking towards the scientific establishment, it seems they are literally afraid to properly analyse the role of consciousness. The triple constraint of time, space and consciousness is nothing new. It is extremely old, and the basis of astrology, which argues that our consciousness is “baselined” according to the time and location of our birth.
Similarly, Wim Zitman has studied the dates given by Nostradamus in his Centuries, and argues that they reveal a familiarity with certain calendars, a so-called rhythm of the universe, that is similar in concept to the Mayan calendars. But neither Zitman nor Jenkins expect cosmic catastrophes or alien invaders to arrive; the past milestones of these calendars have similarly never led to the end – or beginning – of time, the world, or an alien invasion. What these milestones dates do seem to represent are… milestones: marks in time whereby an inventory is made of where humanity, or the university as a whole, is, and challenges for the next period are either set out, or a new “episode” in the drama (or soap opera) of the universe, begins.
Hence, perhaps 2012 might signal the time when “we” began to understand that it is indeed “we” who hold the key, and not the stars, aliens, or “something” in another dimension. If so, Pinchbeck might be right after all that we are transitioning to a new state of awareness. It also echoes McKenna’s opening statement in “The Invisible Landscape”, that “the search for liberation, a paradisiacal state of freedom that mythology insists is the ahistorical root of the historical process, has always been the raison d’être of the human species’ conscious pilgrimage through time.” This article appeared in Special Issue 4 of New Dawn Magazine (February 2008).