Text and diagrams © Freddy Silva. Photos: © Lucy Pringle and Russell Stannard.

The first major crop circle of 1997 appeared in oilseed rape (canola) below Barbury Castle. Very similar to last year's Littlebury Green, Essex, formation, it is a ringed circle with six crescents. This formation encodes Ptolemy's theorem of chords, the foundation of trigonometry (below left).

While helping Prof. Gerald Hawkins figure out possible Euclidean geometry and diatonic ratios in this crop circle I discovered, through the geometric construction lines, that it contains the exact crop circle that appeared two weeks later at Stretall in Essex. You can see the overlay of the latter crop circle in yellow (below right).

It is interesting to note that several people gifted in the area of channeling have stated that the Circlemakers this year will be concentrating on designs which have a predictive quality: that they can be predicted in advance by position and shape. 

The next formation (above) was a huge 360 ft ring in flowering oil seed rape. Note that the center for the small ring lies is in untouched standing crop and therefore very hard to hoax. Additionally, if one had made this, the weight of a rope or wire 180 ft in radius would have scraped the tops of the delicate yellow flowers, yet as the picture shows, no damage was evident.

In Native American philosophy, this symbol means 'awakening and connecting to the nature of things'.

This beautiful 'snowflake' formation (right), some 320 ft in diameter, appeared on the same field made famous over the past two decades by stunning formations including the 'Julia set fractal' of 1996. The geometry echoes the hexagonal pattern begun at Barbury Castle earlier in the season and will quite possibly be the theme for this year.

Most will agree that this is a snowflake pattern. However, during the course of the overlay geometry I was quite fascinated by the way it bore little in the way of geometrical reference to the ice crystal structure and more with the Tree of Sephiroth from the Qabbalah (left). The implications, if I am correct, may be of great impact on the validity of both this formation and the actual representation of the Tree of Life formation at Barbury Castle earlier this year, still disputed as being of, er, more earthly origin.

The diagram is a very close representation of the Qabbalistic tree as it sits below the ground, its roots- and route- bringing the adept upward toward the ground to begin his knowledge of the physical world. As you see, there are 32 spheres. This too is significant in that it is analogous to the 32 Paths of Wisdom. As Manly P. Hall wrote, "The Qabbalistic tree of organized manifestation is not only a macrocosmic symbol but also the emblem of humanity itself and its rootness in spirit". It is an emblem of philoshophic growth, symbolic of growth from without inward, a directionalization of consciousness to the center of being.

This sentiment begins to have far greater meaning when analysed in context of the rest of the year's formations. First, we have at Bourton the five pointed star, itself a symbol of healing, and a site where much healing was in fact performed this year; then the Torus at Alton Priors, an unusual formation in the sense that it contained a stillpoint of energy at its centre, enabling anyone who so wished to focus the mind on matters of the soul. Are we then to deduce that this was a year when we should all be experiencing and acquainting ourselves with the soul of the phenomenon? To establish a link by meditating? Our research team certainly went out with that intention this year and achieved incredible results (more on this later).

If all this conjecture is true then I would not hesitate on edging my bet for next year's formations- lots of 7-sided stars and diagrams, the symbol of mysticism.

This interesting formation appeared in barley at Winterbourne Bassett, a few miles north of Avebury, possibly on the same location as another similar formation in 1995. It measures 150ft in diameter.

Pretty and pristine formation near the site of a old WWII hospital.