Crop Circles As A New Expression Of Religiosity
November 26, 2012

Researcher Says Crop Circles Inspire A New Expression Of Religiosity

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Crop circles have always been a staple of the mysterious side of our world, and they´re often offered as direct evidence of a higher, other-worldly existence. The legitimacy of these shapes in the fields can be debated over and over, but no matter where the discussion falls, one thing remains: These crop circles have a certain magnetic quality. Even as an oddity or an amusement, we want to see, experience and most importantly question these crop circles.

This is all a natural response, says Anne Kalvig, a specialist in religion at Norway´s University of Stavanger (UiS). Kalvig has written an article about these “temporary temples” and the people who flock to them as a sort of pilgrimage — a journey once reserved for spiritual enlightenment and only the most sacred of sites. Her paper was recently published in Aura: Nordic Journal for the Study of New Religions. Kalvig didn´t only write the paper, but also got hands-on with the research, walking through these fields with her bare feet, investigating the phenomenon on the Internet and talking with those who pay homage to these crop circles.

“You can be involved a lot or a little in this,” explained Kalvig in a University of Stavanger press release. “Ever more aggressive opposition to various forms of new religiosity helps more to demonise [sic] this subject than to encourage critical thinking.”

In Kalvig´s view, these circles are like an embarrassing black eye for researchers who have yet to explain their existence in scientific terms, while others have perhaps too hastily attributed them to UFO theories and extraterrestrial beings. In her paper, Kalvig suggests these crop circles can be more than either of these things, offering up an example as to how religion and spirituality can be expressed in modern times.

After observing these crop circle doubters and enthusiasts, Kalvig noted three types of people generally emerged at these temporary temples. To define these people, Kalvig has drawn upon the mystical, calling the first type of enthusiast a “Magician of Chaos.” These observers are more masculine, she says, and often the creators of these crop circles. These magicians of chaos are often ambiguous and self-assertive.

On the other end of the spectrum are the “Kitchen Magicians,” a moniker coined by her Professor Ingvild Gilhus at the University of Bergen. These enthusiasts take a more feminine and relational approach to these crop circles, and tend to be more concerned with the body and health, and with their relationships to the crop circles themselves.

Finally, Kalvig found there was a third type of enthusiast that lacked a proper definition. Kalvig has dubbed these crop circle watchers the “Multimagicians.” These enthusiasts can switch back and forth between the Chaos Magicians and the Kitchen Magicians and have more of a willingness to openly discuss crop circles and their thoughts about them, all while remaining critically self-aware and keeping a safe distance from their activities.

These 3 types of enthusiasts can often be found seeking out new crop circles in southwest England, particularly in Glastonbury. This area has been described as the spiritual capital of these crop circle seekers and has become an unofficial headquarters for crop circle tourism.

Kalvig didn't conduct her research alone, recruiting her father and two of her siblings to join her during one trip.

While observing these circles, Kalvig noted the parallels between typical religious pilgrimages and the pilgrimages these enthusiasts take to visit these crop circles.

“The late modern ℠pilgrim tourism´ is an expression of the subjective trend in today´s culture, where the individual experience becomes important,” explains Kalvig.

“This is about an on-the-spot encounter related to the emotions and the corporeal — that which is unique to each individual. In new-religious tourism, the distinction between the self-sacrificing pilgrim and the tourist is highly fluid. The tourist is half-pilgrim and vice versa, to quote classic anthropologist Victor Turner.”

One critical part of Kalvig´s article addresses Internet discourses on crop circle spiritualism, which she feels are essential for those looking to study the role of crop circles in modern religiosity.

“But the element which makes this something tangible is that people write about their interpretations of crop circles, and often discuss their own position as a participant,” she points out.
“Every internet player becomes a spiritual contributor here, something which is again typical of the late modern era.”