Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The Enigmatic Herakhan Baba

A lot of material was pruned from my Avalonian Aeon in the final edit. Some pieces are quite long and capable of pretty much standing alone even where some of the contents do refer to other parts of the book. The section on Rebirthing leading in to an account of my full-on 33rd birthday experiences was originally entitled Rebirthing and the Immortal Yogi and featured an account of Leonard Orr’s guru Herakhan Baba. I have reproduced the second part of it as originally written as the enigmatic controversial being has gathered around himself an incredible mythology full of archaic motifs and was also rather photogenic, hence the inclusion of numerous piccies.

Om Namaha Shivaya.

Just as Dianetics evolved into the realms of Scientology, Rebirthing expanded its scope. “Ultimately we may learn that rebirthing is a physical experience of Infinite Being which is not exclusively to do with the birth trauma.” It becomes, “a biological experience of religion”. For the breathing technique to work most effectively one must allow the great surging flow of bioenergy that arises to be felt as divine prana. This is accomplished simply through surrendering into the feeling that such a thing can really happen. The more one can luxuriate in the exquisite subtlety of the force at work, the more miraculous it feels. Orr came to feel that Rebirthing was not simply a self-help cult but an authentic American yoga.

Leonard Orr

The main factor in this expansion of Rebirthing was that Leonard Orr had a guru. One of the most notable developments of the sixties saw the meeting on the Californian west coast of the new wave of self-actualising psychology with the mystical techniques of the east. Rebirthing was perhaps the most flamboyant of all the emerging self-help therapies. It was only fitting that Orr sung the praises of someone who could rival Sai Baba in terms of the outrageous claims made on his behalf, for he was, “the Creator of the universe”! Paramahansa Yogananda’s beautiful masterpiece, Autobiography of a Yogi, published in 1946, had introduced incredulous western readers to Indian traditions of an immortal “Yogi Christ” named Babaji. This being has supposedly existed since the beginning of the world and been hailed as a Mahavatar, a special class of supremely great divine incarnation. He can be seen as a manifestation of Shiva.

Paramahansa Yogananda.

Babaji as depicted in Autobiography of a Yogi.

Whenever necessary, Babaji has created a human body for himself and appeared, sometimes briefly, sometimes for extended periods. He has impacted in significant largely secret ways on the life of humanity. For example, during the missing years, as well as being led by his uncle Joe to the Druids at Glastonbury, Jesus Christ was initiated by Babaji in India.

Lahiri Mahasaya

Yogananda’s own teachers had personal experience of the Mahavatar and considered him to be the head of their lineage of spiritual transmission. It had begun in the 1860’s when Lahiri Mahasaya was called by unusual means to a cave in a mountain where he met a young man who awakened in him memories of a past life as a devotee of Babaji, who he then realised was the man in front of him. That night Mahasaya experienced an initiatory event where Babaji seemed to materialise a sumptuous palace around them. Its purpose was to somehow fulfil and transcend Mahasaya’s previous karma. Whatever it was that “really” happened, Mahasaya returned to the world as a great saint in his own right. An energy and a teaching had been transmitted to him, which he in turn was able to pass on to others. It was known as Kriya Yoga. There were postures and breathing techniques. In combination with the mysterious energy that could be transferred during an initiation, the process was capable of rapidly accelerating spiritual progress. Mahasaya spread the energy to many.

The mighty majestic Sri Yukteswar

The most prominent of his pupils was Sri Yukteswar. He too experienced a meeting with Babaji and wrote a book under his instructions. This 1894 work concerned itself with the meeting, in harmony, of East and West. Yukteswar was also told to expect a pupil who would visit the west. The prophecy ultimately had a dual fulfilment. Firstly, his student Yogananda, who was visited by Babaji to confirm his mission, achieved notable success in establishing Kriya Yoga in America. Decades later, another Yukteswar graduate, Paramahansa Hariharananda, also settled in America to spread the good work.

Thanks to George Harrison, the Kriya lineage appeared on the Sgt Pepper cover. I find it a nice little Kali Yuga/Aeon of Horus interface to see Sri Yukteswar next to Crowley. Two men of more different temperaments it would be difficult to imagine. It may also be a significant sign of our epoch that a representation of Babaji was placed between William Burroughs and Stan Laurel.

Babaji is believed to be able to manifest simultaneously in more than one place. Separate from the accounts accepted by Yogananda’s organisation, The Self Realisation Fellowship, are other stories of a miracle-working saint, active mainly in northern India, between about 1890 to 1922, known as Hairakhan Baba and considered by his devotees to be a manifestation of the immortal yogi. The Hairakhan region carries a rich mythology that bears comparison with Arunachala and again hints at what once might have been believed about the Tor. Its name derives from Hiriya Khand which means “sanctified area”. There appear to be traditions there that seem to speak of the vastly ancient epoch before the current continents had drifted apart and the Himalayas had come into existence. There was a terrifying emanation of Shiva named Virabhadra who had a thousand heads, eyes, and feet, and was armed with a thousand clubs and arrows. He was sent from Shiva to create a sacred centre in the primordial landmass. As it split, the violence of the process was such that it appeared to be a new creation of the world. The great mountain range eventually emerged from the turbulence. Shiva and the gods had originally lived on Mount Meru, the World Mountain. The Hairakhan tradition considers its local Mount Kailash to have been that place. After the upheaval they retreated to another Kailash, the currently famous one, also held sacred by the Tibetans.

Hairakhan Kailash

In the new epoch, people settled around Hairakhan. Somehow it represents the meru danda of the world. This refers to the spinal column channel that links the chakras in the human body and the places in the world where the deities manifest, what might now be called planetary chakras. If we are to believe the theories of Kenneth Grant and Robert Coon it could serve to connect Glastonbury and Arunuchala amongst others.

Shiva married Sati and brought her to a place at the foot of the mountain where there used to be a lake. When she arrived she planted a tree that still stands today, the only tree rising from the Gautama Ganga river. The river had originally run underground but Shiva brought it partly to the surface as recognition of one of the seven Rishis, Gautama, whose practice of yoga in the region had been exemplary. Here we have a good example of the world mountain and tree motif linked to Ursa Major. At the mountain’s summit a simple Shiva sanctuary has been established with an altar of bells and a lingam. At the base of Kailash, near the river, lies a cave that supposedly dates back to the time of the creation. Passages within it lead deep underground. Legends say the Gods dwell therein. Shiva periodically retires there for meditation.

In 1890, on several consecutive nights, a bright light was seen atop Kailash, which stayed for some time and then vanished. Local villagers took it as a divine sign and assembled on the summit to sing bhajans in expectance of its return. The light did indeed reappear and a human form stepped out from it. Remember the tales from Arunachala of the lights in the sky and the mysterious beings who lived in the hill and hung out with Ramana Maharshi? It seems an outlandish story for sure and we can’t possibly prove its veracity a century later. It represents nonetheless a tale seemingly from a bygone age acted out in recent times. There are photographs of the mysterious being who emerged from the light. He has some kind of biography, later building a small ashram at the nearby town of Hairakhan. People who knew him left their accounts behind.

All agreed he was miraculously strange. He was seen to apparently go for six month periods without drinking, eating, or sleeping. Stories claim he could make it rain and cause springs to rise by sticking a finger in the ground. One devotee claimed to have flown through the air with him for forty kilometres. To some was granted a vision of his body of light. Others saw weird beings of light around him. In August 1922 he walked onto the waters of a deep, swift river, sat yogi fashion, and disappeared in light.

In June 1970 a local villager named Chandramani dreamt of his long dead father, who had been a devotee of Hairakhan Baba. The old man implored him to visit the holy cave at the foot of Kailash because the guru had reappeared there in the form of a young man. Chandramani awoke at 4am and immediately set off for the cave. He found an archetypal venerable yogi type, big bushy white beard etc, sitting in meditation. The old man told him to go home and come back in three days. When he returned he was somewhat stunned to find a remarkable looking young man in the cave. Imagine an Indian beardless Jim Morrison with dreadlocks, dressed like the yogi aspect of Shiva. The earlier Baba had manifested in light on the world-mountain top. Now there was a seemingly miraculous appearance from the cave system at its base dating from the primordial epoch of creation, a place where Shiva was said to periodically retire. In some sense the mountain with its subtle inner column of light was intimately connected with the true form of the saint. There he was, like Guenon’s Lord of the World.

View from the cave of manifestation

Within a few weeks, as word spread of the mysterious youth, he climbed to the temple at the top of Kailash and sat there in the lotus position for forty five days without moving, taking no food or water and having no toilet break, a feat similar to the kind attributed to Hairakhan Baba. Or so the story goes. There are witnesses to this unlikely performance. A famous photo was taken during the yogic marathon. Contemplation of it can supposedly be a powerful practice in itself, as the mysterious vibrations of the event it shows emanate from it. It appeared that he had clearly demonstrated supreme mastery of yoga.

Photo taken during the alleged 45 day yogic marathon.

The young man stated that he was the old saint returned in a rejuvenated body and laid claim to the ashram properties. In a court case that could probably only happen in India, he was legally acknowledged as Hairakhan Baba or Herakhan Baba as he is also often known. At that time there were still people alive who had been with the earlier version and testimonies were given of strange experiences during the interim period suggestive of a prophesied return and secret signs of its nature that the new youth seemed to clearly fulfil. Whoever he was, it seemed clear that he was no ordinary mortal. As with the original Baba, there were suggestions that he was Babaji himself. He later gave strong indications of this to Leonard Orr.

Famous photo often referred to as the "Angel of the Lord".

A British psychic shown a photo of the youth before he became better known picked up on a Glastonbury Abbey past life connection of some kind and a Joseph of Arimathea link. Hmm. Yogananda said that Babaji initiated Jesus in India. It’s all very tenuous but something subtle yet significant seems to be trying to suggest itself.

Those who spent time in his company in the following years attest to his endlessly changing appearance. It has often been said that he never looked the same two days running. A deluxe collection of photographs, Babaji Mahavatar, bears eloquent testimony to that. There was something strange about his body. Some saw it dissolve before their eyes into a 2001 stargate with a pulsating Sanskrit Om symbol at its centre. One devotee experienced the guru walking right through her. His personality was often playful like a child, occasionally fierce, always enigmatic.

The combination of his presence and the archaically sanctified surroundings of his domain often opened peoples’ doors of perception onto extraordinary vistas. A modern devotee spoke of an experience in 1976 of seeing the external appearance of the ashram and landscape disappear to reveal a kind of Indian paradise full of saintly yogis engaged in eternal ceremonials and chanting. It’s not unlike the sense of the true form of Glastonbury Abbey, where the monks of the Company of Avalon maintain the perpetual choir and constant devotions. This likewise can occasionally be glimpsed by the fortunate.

The fundamental teaching of Babaji was Truth, Simplicity and Love. This was to be lived through an uncomplicated series of disciplines concerned with constant elemental purification. Everyday life, especially in the west, can expose an individual to numerous noxious influences from pollution to the psychic garbage endlessly emanated by the traumatised masses. Elemental purifications can help restore the natural disposition of vibrant equilibrium. Rebirthing was an appropriate air practice. Herakhan Baba affirmed the veracity of conscious connected breathing. Orr came to believe that his apparently spontaneous, random discovery of the technique had been guided by Babaji. There was bathing before sunrise and sunset. Many westerners, including Leonard Orr, were somewhat challenged beyond their comfort zone to rise at 3am to go and bathe in the river. This extreme isn’t transportable to urban life but regular bathing accompanied by conscious connected breathing can effectively cleanse more than just the physical dirt of the day. There were fire ceremonies. Orr became a great advocate of the virtues of cleaning the aura and energy body by sitting in front of a fire for hours, days or even months. This may be accompanied by offering food to the flames and reciting mantras. Exercise and diet sort the earth element, along with communion with nature; time spent in forests, and so on. The most important of all the practices taught by Babaji was constant repetition of the mantra Om Namaha Shivaya. These elemental disciplines were added by Orr to Rebirthing events and trainings. He encouraged people to try and incorporate them into their lives.

Babaji at Benares by Paolo Polli.

Leonard Orr was emphatic that Herakhan Baba was Babaji and was physically immortal and was here to give us a demonstration of what that meant. The striking youth seemed to have come out of nowhere, simply walking out of Shiva’s cave as the mythos told it. Nobody ever came forward to claim he was really so and so from some village or another. If he’d lived in your vicinity you’d remember him for certain. He had a navel so most would assume he was born from a woman but if he was a being who could mock-up a body from the void any time he wanted that doesn’t make much difference. So who or what was he? Many are agreed that Babaji was an infinitely mysterious awesome being of great beauty. He did, however, die of a heart attack on February 14th 1984. Bummer. In fact, many things he said to his other devotees over the years make it clear he always knew he was playing a gig of limited duration.

Babaji Mahavatar by Paolo Polli

Orr believes that Babaji can have more than one body at the same time and that he was already functioning in another one in 1984. New contenders are appearing with increasing regularity. Orr’s passion for immortality remains undiminished. He has hung out with other yogis who he believes to be centuries old. On this particular subject he may well be a fruitcake but try the thought experiment of being willing to believe he might just be telling the truth and see where that gets you.

As for Herakhan Baba, his popularity and spiritual influence are increasing. Many have been drawn to him through Rebirthing. He has also reached thousands through the spreading of the bhajan chants from his ashram around the world in concerts and recordings by the superb Goma. A performance by them can be considered to be a potent transmission of their guru’s blessings. There are many lovers of Herakhan Baba in Glastonbury and more than one fire pit inspired by him.

Image of the guru at the Samahdi(tomb) of Herakhan Baba.

Om Namaha Shivaya

Friday, 16 July 2010

UFOs and Occultism Glastonbury lecture

I am lecturing in Glastonbury on Sunday July 25th between 15:45 to 16:45 on some rather interesting material featured in my book Aleister Crowley and the Aeon of Horus. (Above image of Lam by Yuri Leitch is taken from the cover).

My presentation is part of a Glastonbury Mystic Fayres event happening over both days of the weekend.
Daily Entry to the fayre only is just £1.00 with £5.00 for a daily talks pass & £9.00 for a weekend, including entry.

Topics covered include:
Was Aleister Crowley an ET contact? Who was the New Age Nazi who stood for US president and later claimed to be communicating with the Space Brothers? The early contactee scene was full of people with occultist leanings. Hear about George van Tassell, George Hunt Williamson, Trevor James Constable, John Keel, and Jacques Vallee. Discover the vital consciousness factor in the UFO mystery.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

The Circlemakers

It’s crop circle season. Consciousness starts to go a bit cosmic. In celebration of that I am re-posting a piece originally blogged-up a year ago that was intended to appear in my latest book Avalonian Aeon where it would have served to illustrate the extraordinary diversity of input the Andrew Collins psychic questing group were experiencing between a Glastonbury Zodiac intensive and the search for the seventh Meonia sword in the early nineties. I am still amazed at the manner in which his partner of the time, and our main psychic, Deborah Benstead, pulled her orgone material from the ethers. Space reasons meant it was eventually excluded but it will now feature in the follow up, Aquarian Phonenix, and is featured here as a taster of that work to come.

Andy has recently radically revamped his crop circle classic as
The New Circlemakers. Why not buy an autographed copy from him at

This piece is a snapshot from 1991. It contains a few references to other things in Avalonian Aeon but is able to stand on its own. The original version of Circlemakers serves as its centre of gravity but I have given it my own flavour with the scene-setting, the introduction of some other relevant questing material and examination of the Jon King and Cydonia Barbury items. Deborah Benstead reviewed my orgone summary and helped fine tune it. Later on in Aquarian Phoenix I return to the subject of crop circles in the post Doug & Dave conspiracy obsessed Glastonbury of the late nineties. This is a lengthy piece so I have broken it up with a few piccies and, most excellently of all the Cloudbusting video. Enjoy.


‘We looked into the ethers and we saw that they were very much alive.’
Steve Hillage. Light in the Sky.

On July 11th 1991 a total solar eclipse visible in Mexico seemed to be the herald of a spectacular UFO flap in that country that it was claimed coincided with the start of a new epoch in the Aztec calendar known as the Sixth Sun. This timescale was later discredited but the idea helped create a particular atmosphere around the events. In Britain, the crop circle season had come round again. Since the mutation of the phenomenon following the appearance of the Alton Barnes pictogram the previous summer, much thought had been expended in explanations and interpretations.

The Native American flavour “Voice of Mother Earth” theory was proving very popular and drawing together interesting groupings of diverse fellow travellers with mystical eco-sensibilities. The indigenous peoples of the Americas had paid a lot of attention to the phenomenon. For the Navajo, corn is the primordial food, linked with the very process of creation. It features extensively in their prayers. Their Night Chant, featuring a Corn Pollen Prayer, was included on the Voyager space probe package in 1977. Everyone of a certain age will remember it. It contained a general representative greeting message from humanity featuring a star map saying “we are here,” a picture of a naked man and woman, Chuck Berry and Beethoven music, and so on. It’s understandable that weird manifestations in corn, believed by some to be extra-terrestrial in origin, would have an impact. Tribal lore on star ancestors became aired in public. Some crop formations were rumoured to be identical to designs featured in Native American semi-secret initiatory rituals.

After finishing writing The Seventh Sword, Andy increasingly turned his attention to crop circles, experiencing a resurgence of the kind of enthusiasm he had known as a young UFO investigator. By July ‘91 he was in possession of all known information on the subject and was planning a group outing. There had already been cases of researchers using psychics and meditational methods to try and interact with the phenomenon and getting interesting results. With our track record it seemed worth making an effort.

On Saturday July 20th the questing crew headed down to Wiltshire. The first crop circle I ever set foot in just happened to be one of the greatest classics, later becoming somewhat legendary. The national press, using the omnipresent Saddamspeak of the time, referred to it as the ‘mother of all pictograms.’ The story of its manifestation contained all of the elements of crop circle mythology. Barbury Castle is an Iron Age hill fort on the Marlborough Downs in Wiltshire. It’s positioned roughly between Swindon and the Avebury area. On the night of the 16th/17th July local residents heard a huge rumbling sound and saw lights in the sky. There is an RAF base nearby and people were habituated to the kind of sights and sounds it regularly presented. This was something different. Not that far away, at Beckhampton, in the vicinity of Avebury and Silbury Hill, a group of circle watchers saw a variety of lights and a large dark triangular silent something passing across the night sky. All present were convinced that none of the usual explanations of planes, satellites and so on, remotely did it justice. One witness described the scene as being as spectacular as something from Spielberg’s Close Encounters


Spread over 12,000 square yards, the Barbury formation consisted of an equilateral triangle with smaller circular projections at its three points. There was a kind of large bull’s eye in the triangle centre. Two circles surrounded it, the outer one crossing outside of the triangle’s sides. Three lines linked the centre to the apexes. The basic appearance was of a three-sided pyramid, a tetrahedron. We all knew this particular shape only too well after the climax of the Zodiac quest.

A major storm and a steady stream of visitors had already dissipated the pristine clarity of the original formation by the time we arrived only a few days later. As we reached its centre, Debbie briefly referred to “orgonic” energy and the “language of sound”. Andy had created a group of about forty cards featuring black on white images of all of the major formations from the last few years. We took it to represent an unknown non-verbal language. The idea was to settle down in the middle of the formation beneath the little fluffy clouds, get into a meditational space, and invite communication with the phenomenon by filling our heads with it’s visible forms. The cards were passed round. Andy had brought our Tintagel sword along and struck it in order to produce a reverberating tone. We started to look at the cards. After consciously clocking each one, we briefly closed our eyes, allowing the after-image to arise. The bright sun greatly helped this effect. Spending three quarters of an hour doing this sort of thing is bound to change one’s state of consciousness. By the end though, we were more spaced than we might have anticipated. As Andy later wrote in The Circlemakers, ‘Paul Weston graphically described it as like having his mind completely scrambled.’

Not long after entering the formation, Debbie had started to feel that she was going down with flu. Her limbs were aching and she had a strange metallic taste in her mouth. I wasn’t feeling wildly lively myself. Alongside many tales of healings and mystical reveries, there are numerous accounts of unpleasant symptoms experienced in formations by even the most normal and sceptical. Other visitors to Barbury went down with a touch of the wobblies.

John Michell later claimed to have uncovered significant examples of sacred geometry encoded within the Barbury formation. He considered it to be a ‘divine revelation.’ Later critics suggested that he was using what could be termed idealised rather than accurate measurements of the formation to back up his argument. This was a charge occasionally made against some of his other work. Similar symbols were soon found in western occult lore. Brian Grist (who had witnessed the Beckhampton light display) examined in detail what was perhaps the closest fit. It came from the work of the mysterious Basil Valentine, the possibly pseudonymous author of The Twelve Keys, a work on alchemy first published in 1599. The tenth key is illustrated as a tetrahedral triangle with a large centre point and circles at its apexes. It represents ‘the heavenly stone of the third conjunction,’ the merging of sun, moon and mercury. It was the alchemical egg in the act of formation of matter. ‘The Barbury configuration was, then, a symbolic figure of the divine order that exists at the interface between one level of matter and another.’ The tetrahedron had already made me think of the Glastonbury Zodiac. I was reminded of Reiser on the Tor maze, ‘The morphogenetic field pattern for the embryogenesis of the world sensorium.’

Over the years a considerable variety of weird material has surfaced on the Barbury pictogram. For me, the most interesting concerned the case of Jon King, best-known in the nineties as editor of UFO Reality magazine. He had experienced a series of contactee episodes in the early eighties. They seemed to involve aspects of the classic abduction syndrome but also with a sense of parallel dimensions. Essentially, some ET types told King about their long-term plans for the human race between 1977 and 2013. This involved focus on a large triangular area of England centred on Barbury Castle, which is not exactly the most famous ancient site in the country. This area would receive “energy codings” to help prepare for “Decloaking”. A map drawn of the “Aquarian Triangle,” of which Glastonbury formed one corner point, also looked remarkably like the Barbury formation. There are obvious problems with this material. None of it appeared in print until years after the crop formation. It may simply make King a prime suspect for hoaxing it. I am personally willing to believe that he did have his strange experiences and that the map and mention of Barbury and the energy codings were part of it but that doesn’t mean I entirely accept the revealed ET agenda.

There was one response to the Barbury formation that was out there on its own in terms of cosmic weirdness and the mythology it generated. In 1976 a NASA space probe had extensively photographed the surface of Mars. One of the resulting images gained lasting fame. It seemed to show a large rock formation in the shape of a humanoid face. In 1980 computer work was done to make it clearer. The surrounding landscape was more closely examined. A small group came to believe that a series of features showed signs of intelligent design and were basically the remains of a Martian city. The main publicist of the ideas, Richard Hoagland, was quite an interesting character. He had been responsible for the message from the human race that had been sent into space with the Voyager probe. Hoagland came to believe that the face on Mars was a similar message.

The geometrical relationship between the different sites of Cydonia (as the “Martian city” came to be known) were examined in detail. Lots of lines were drawn on maps. All manner of numerical data was extrapolated. Our old mate the tetrahedron seemed to be much in evidence. This is strange enough to be going on with. Weirder still is the claim that the ritual landscape around Avebury, that includes Silbury Hill, is laid out to the same Cydonian plan. Assorted sites have the same proportional distances, alignments and angles between them. The inference is of an ET contact somewhere along the line, even if not directly in Wiltshire. Some of the Martian geometry had been spotted in various crop circles from 1990 onwards. The Barbury pictogram supposedly contained the whole package to an extent that blew Hoagland’s mind. One line of the triangle was not totally straight and this had suggested to some that the formation was a hoax. Hoagland actually found more Martian geometry in the distortions, triumphantly proclaiming it to show a definitive coded calling card from Cydonia. He was convinced that it was a clear message that the builders of Cydonia have returned. The fourth edition of Hoagland’s The Monuments of Mars: A City on the Edge of Forever supplies all of the necessary material for those with a taste for such things.

This typifies the excellence of the crop circle mystery for me. I don’t have a problem with the idea that the Barbury formation may have been created by humans with some esoteric inclinations. I also accept that it still may have served a purpose beyond the conscious understanding of its creators that sent ripples out in spacetime in a number of different directions.

Barbury began a day where we tried to enter, or see from a good vantage point, as many formations as possible. It was certainly striking to see clearly for ourselves what other observers had already written of, the definite proximity of the circles to assorted ancient sites, barrows, hill forts, chalk figures etc. As her physical condition deteriorated, something else was going on in Debbie’s brain. The brief reference to “orgonic” energy was the first indication of what was to follow.

It was later clear that things were already in motion the night before we left for Wiltshire. Debbie thought she saw a book moving on it’s own on a bookshelf at Andy’s home. It was standing out a little way from the row it was in. Its removal revealed another title that had fallen down behind and had been hidden from view. Andy retrieved a book dating from his UFO researcher days that he didn’t even realise he still had. It was Sky Creatures: Living UFOs, by Trevor James Constable, a work better known by it’s original title, The Cosmic Pulse of Life. I was familiar with it. Steve Hillage had taken a chapter title from it to name the instrumental track Ether Ships on his Green album (listen below for some cosmic consciousness).

Constable’s story was uniquely strange. It began with his meeting an early contactee named George Van Tassell who was the focus of gatherings of up to seventy people in a huge chamber beneath a place called Giant Rock in the Southern Californian desert. A mass prayer and chanting session got Van Tassell in the right state to channel the Space Brothers in a weird booming voice. Amongst a whole load of the usual ufological material, one idea forcefully struck Constable. It was stated that there are invisible living forms in our atmosphere that are not spaceships. Not only that but pointing a camera at the sky exposing infra-red film in dry locations would record their images. Constable moved on from Van Tassell and further fed on a diet of ideas derived from Rudolf Steiner.

In 1957 he went out into the desert and conducted some meditational invocations of the blobby dudes in the sky, who he referred to as “critters,” whilst a colleague waited with a camera. Amazingly enough they photographed over a hundred biological looking images and more standard UFO-type thingies (one result seen above). And these “bioforms” were pretty big, sometimes miles long. Constable believed them to have a kind of consciousness and intelligence.

The theoretical side of his work was considerably accelerated when he came upon the ideas of the heretical scientist/psychologist Wilhelm Reich who believed that he had discovered a universal life-force that he called orgone. Reich is perhaps most notorious in the history of psychology for his theories on orgone as the energy of sexual libido, most spectacularly present and active in orgasm. He believed that the free-flow of this process was essential to good mental and physical health. He later constructed a device known as an orgone accumulator, made of alternating layers of organic and inorganic materials to harness and stimulate the universal life force. Contention over it’s veracity with the American legal system led to the appalling tragedy of Reich being jailed and his books burned in a public incinerator, a disgraceful fate for a man who had fled Nazi Germany in search of freedom. He actually died in circumstances some have deemed suspicious in prison in 1957.

The basic unit in Reichian biophysics is known as the bion. They are produced when sunlight interacts with living tissue in a manner similar to photosynthesis. The resultant radiation permeates the body, helping to stimulate neurological impulses and their paths through the body. Reich carried out experiments where he viewed these bions to his own satisfaction through a microscope. The pulsings of the bion processes emit ultra and infrasound depending on the rates of frequency vibration. This demonstrates on a microcosmic level a similar phenomenon to that found when opposing ionised masses create thunderstorms. Some bion energy is held in place by a kind of electromagnetic field around the human body. It is present in the controversial photographs taken using special processes of the “aura.” Orgone on a different frequency escapes from living bodies on waves and finds it’s way either up into the atmosphere or down amongst the geo-magnetic fields on the surface of the earth.

The behaviour of orgone in the atmosphere was later summarised by Andy in his book, The Circlemakers. ‘When these particles are forced to remain in close contact they react with each other’s wave vibration to create even higher frequencies of radiation. These ultra-wave particles become ionised and so accumulate and condense themselves into undetectable masses that may be likened to cloud formations. They exist undetected in the upper atmosphere and their masses can vary from the tiniest particle to vast amoeba-like clouds of etheric plasma, constantly changing in size and shape. They are a dense and complex miasma of orgone, incorporating not just ultra-wave particles, but also known energies such as ultrasound and infrasound, electromagnetism and radioactivity.’ ‘These orgone masses move of their own accord by accumulating further wave particles of the same or a comparatively higher frequency, while discharging lower frequency particles -- they are constantly evolving, changing and transmuting like atmospheric amoebas.’

The same energy that animates the intelligence, consciousness, and memory of life-forms on the planet, particularly humans, ie orgone, is also contained within and animates the bioforms. The consciousness of a bioform is made of the same matter as the consciousness of a human, the only difference being that the bioform is a discarnate consciousness, it does not have a physical body. In this way, there may be an interface between human consciousness and the bioforms. This is because non local communication or resonance is a recognised process whereby particles of the same or similar nature can communicate and alter each others state across distances.

Some bioforms may become drawn downwards by the pull of higher orgone potential on the ground. A ritual landscape where natural orgone or chi dragon force has been deliberately manipulated would generate a strong attraction. They may split and react against each other in a process of excitation and oscillation. In coming ever nearer to the earth’s magnetic field they may start to become partly visible as light. They may ionise the air creating spirals and electromagnetic emissions around them. This kind of thing can lead to a full range of assorted light phenomenon, audible sounds, hums, whistles, and ultrasound, hence numerous reports of dogs howling for hours in the dark on nights when formations appeared. When the bioform hits the ground it will make ultrasound pulses or pressure waves that are a wave in the air that can imprint its pattern on any form that can hold it, hence Debbie’s phrase “the language of sound.” Most ancient sites constructed of inorganic and organic components such as stone and earth can act as orgone accumulators. This earth energy builds up and discharges along a line of least resistance. A descending bioform might trigger such a discharge and then be drawn some way across the landscape by it, thus earthing itself not right on top of an ancient site but in the general vicinity. This process seems to have been understood by the ancient Chinese geomancers who manipulated chi through the so-called dragon paths by subtle landscaping engineering.

In Reich’s orgone studies he began to differentiate between OR, Orgone Radiation, the natural state, and DOR, Deadly Orgone Radiation, a warped-out distorted form analogous to the stagnant types of chi familiar to Feng Shui practitioners. DOR could be dispersed by the legendary Reichian device immortalised in the Kate Bush classic Cloudbusting. (See video beneath featuring Donald Sutherland as Wilhelm Reich)Some of the after-effects were far from pleasant. It seemed that DOR might manifest in crop formations. If a bioform landed in a place of particularly potent earth energies it might produce a kind of orgone overdose that would cause electrical equipment to malfunction and produce varying symptoms in humans and animals. This might go some way to explain why there are accounts of both good and bad physiological effects seemingly stimulated by crop formations.

It is important to make clear that before entering the Barbury formation Debbie knew nothing about Wilhelm Reich and his ideas at all. Her extraordinary understanding of the possible relation of orgone to crop circles, which would emerge from that point on in a series of spontaneous outpourings during the summer of 1991, came as a download from nowhere. It demonstrated clear knowledge of the very essence of Reich and Constable’s work and even suggested new developments. It wasn’t a brief moment for the sake of a greater work either. This knowledge changed her life and later spurred her on to study the man and his work in depth and to gain a degree at university. Reich remains a significant influence on her, as best demonstrated in her 1998 Inward Revolution.

After dark we continued to search for weirdness. Many fields were full of watchers, hoping for a glimpse of the phenomenon in progress. As we moved amongst them I could easily see that we were in the midst of a rapidly evolving mythology. Many people had already made their minds up that the formations were the work of extra-terrestrials. Headlights visible on a distant hilltop were stated by some to belong to a van full of “hoaxers” who were on the loose that night and seemed to be conceived of as shadowy intelligence operatives involved in disinformation. A collective mindset of high expectation was clearly present. It seemed like the slightest prosaic thing could easily get seized on and interpreted exotically. That state is a mixed blessing. Receptivity to genuine weirdness is increased but critical faculties are decreased, leaving the problems of figuring out what had been misidentified, imagined, or hoaxed. The whole scene was like a second coming of psychedelic sixties ufology, Warminster and all that.

The matrix of Britain’s greatest and most sustained UFO flap was not that far away. Some of us with a bit of history in our heads could make some interesting connections. A genuine mystery of powerful strange noises and earthlight phenomenon had become interlinked with the ufological zeitgeist to produce an outlandish “event sociological”. For around a decade the hills around Warminster were visited by hordes of people settling down for night-time sky watches. Lights in the sky were seen by the thousand. The nearby presence of army bases that consistently flew helicopters, used flares, and generally set off all kinds of stuff that produced light effects in the night sky made little difference to the UFO cultic mentality. Arthur Shuttlewood’s books bring the folklore of the area, assorted ghosties and weird events into the brew. Ill-defined leylines became involved. In the end, messages from benevolent space brothers warning about ecological catastrophe capsize the whole thing into unreadability. The first offering, The Warminster Mystery, remains at least a classic mood piece. Sceptics came and joined the sky watches. Cynical reports were made. Hoaxes of various kinds were perpetrated. It really is quite extraordinary how much of the later crop circle scene was anticipated in the Warminster episode.

Andy was aware of this and made the point in The Circlemakers. Perhaps there are more fundamental links that touch the genuine core mystery. Andy’s only UFO sighting had actually occurred in the Warminster vicinity in 1976. This had been a strange light ball in a foggy night sky near the village of Upton Scudamore. Shuttlwood’s UFOs: Key to the New Age featured accounts and photos of crop damage circa 1970 discovered on more than one occasion near Cradle Hill, one of the key sky watching sites, the night after light in the sky activity. These included swirled circles and triangles. One of the earliest reported crop formations in the modern canon had appeared in 1983 near the foot of the other old sky watchers Mecca, the impressively huge and atmospheric Cley Hill. Much of the orgone hypothesis could be applied to Warminster.

There was a hint of dark forces at work when a supposedly sacrificed sheep was found near the Barbury formation. One of the crop-watchers we met was an old friend of Andy’s, the medium Rita Goold. She would go through a phase of believing that the Friends of Hecate had relocated to Wiltshire and were involved in the circles phenomenon. I never bought into that one but having found an obviously strategically placed dead rabbit at the apex of a spectacular formation much later on in 2003, I am certainly aware that people of diverse mindsets move amongst the night fields of Wiltshire.

In 1991 I did not feel at home in the crop circles world and had no desire to get more involved. Andy was relentless. We were still navigating along tramlines in cornfields at gone 2am, looking for more formations. Eventually he realised that the complete darkness made it increasingly unlikely we would find them. Silbury Hill was fairly close. Its car park was to be the resting place for the night. As far back as 1969, in The View Over Atlantis, John Michell had suggested that the manner of alternating layers of material in its construction were sufficiently similar to Reich’s orgone accumulator to imply a connection. Perhaps Silbury Hill functioned as a giant orgone device in the landscape. It did rather seem that it was at the very heart of the crop circle world. Alex Langstone and I opted to climb the hill and stay the night on it. There was no way we could be so close and resist it. The others slept in cars.

The question of why the phenomenon centred itself primarily in Wiltshire has inspired a lot of speculation. One of Debbie’s most intriguing suggestions of the time was that some great cycle was coming back round. It was known of in some way by the ancient peoples of Britain and similar manifestations of the bioforms had occurred towards the end of the megalithic era. This gave a hint as to why we were being drawn into the subject. It seemed to connect with the Green Stone era, the Akhenaten Exodus, the partial shutting down of the ley system and so on. Back in the late seventies, Graham Phillips had produced huge amounts of psychic material concerning that time. He spoke of the megalithic culture as the Laan People and a concept called Nyan, which he specifically compared to orgone. They were able to store it in stone for limited periods. Thought forms could be likewise deliberately held in place, alive and resonant through the use of this energy.

More formations were scheduled for Sunday. By mid-morning most of us were totally satiated with circles. Andy and Debbie carried on. The rest of the group returned to Essex. What was the immediate legacy of my experience? Later that Sunday, back in Southend, my nose began to run like a tap. I thought I’d got a cold but didn’t have any of the other normal symptoms. I took some medication that normally managed to dry me up. It didn’t work. I took some more. No difference. For nearly eight hours my nose ran like never before in the whole of my life. I was forced into walking around with rolled-up tissue stuffed up each nostril. It was hideous. From that day on, I became susceptible to the curse of hay fever. Prior to that I had never known as much as a sniffle. I’d wandered about for days in summer fields and slept outdoors on numerous occasions. Nothing, even when I could have been considered to be open and susceptible due to multiple drug effects, lack of sleep, and so on. Now, after being scrambled in that divine revelation sacred geometry crop circle by DOR, my immune system was permanently mutated. I could readily conceive of better results. For the time being, I had little enthusiasm for the subject.