Ancient man knew a lot about the significance, and the influence, of the invisible linear veins that criss-cross the planet. Today, only dowsers and alternative architects take much notice of them - which is probably one of the reasons that we, as a society and species, have come to be who we are.
The matrices of ‘energy’ currents are, from one perspective, akin to the blood vessels in our bodies or the electric cabling in our walls - conveying and containing important information about our environment and advising us how to best interact with it. Without them, we would cease to exist - at least in the physical sense of the word - yet for almost all of the time they reside, unnoticed, just below the surface of our perception.
We know that the ancients knew and revered these etheric features precisely because they put such mind-boggling effort into marking, and possibly using, the places where the various currents run, cross and interact. It’s not just Stonehenge and the Pyramids that record these massive undertakings. The solitary menhirs of Devon and Cornwall, Brittany and Ireland are, in their own way, even more evocative of this determination to establish the energetic points and lines in everyday perception. And maybe it was only when the Long Straight Lines were fading from immediate human sensation that the menhirs and their cousins came to be needed at all.
Some of the LSLs are actually quite recent in origin, implying that they are probably human in origin, products of the anthropocene. But many others dowse as dating back to a time before the dawn of the human era. They appear to be inherent in the very nature of planet earth - and probably those of other celestial bodies - and their interaction with Gaia and her progeny is almost an afterthought.
The modern appreciation of LSLs probably dates to the early 20th century, when Alfred Watkins, a landscape historian and
folklorist from Herefordshire, became aware of the alignment of ancient sacred and religious sites in the west of England - both when seen from high ground and on maps produced by the Ordnance Survey. The term ley, to give a tag to these features, was
coined by one of his colleagues (on the
basis that you had to call them something). But later, it entered common parlance and also into the written work of Watkins himself. Watkins didn’t think of leys as lines, as such, but merely as alignments of significant places that had been established, perhaps as trackways, in times long gone.
However, when Guy Underwood - a Trustee of the British Society of Dowsers -was writing in the 1950’s and 1960’s, being both a diviner and someone who considered the local landscape in a more physical manner, he was certainly discussing not just the nature, but also the structure, of these Ley ‘Lines’.
A few years later again, John Michel was taking a more esoteric view of the phenomenon. His focus was on sacred geometry and how that could help us to understand the transcendent, even spiritual, components of both the biosphere and of the planet herself. It was Michel’s vision of an LSL stretching from Glastonbury Tor to St Michael’s Mount that inspired Hamish Miller and Paul Broadhurst to embark on their epic quest, which rediscovered both the St Michael ‘alignment’ in the UK and equivalent linear entities across Europe and beyond. Others, notably Gary Biltcliffe and Caroline Hoare, have carried this baton forward - and regenerated comparators of the St Michael Alignment are coming, almost literally, to the surface all of the time.
If leys of varying lengths, widths and qualities were the touchstones that sent a generation of dowsers on a linear grail search, then grids have filled in most of the remaining land-surface with improbable geometric forms. Forms that have, to date, defied any credible explanation. The Hartmann and Curry grids are found by most dowsers - and are believed by some to be fundamental to both the texture and the feeling of many built structures. Other grids - and notably that revealed by Anton Benker in 1953 - may also have added significance to the way our society has subsequently evolved.
However, some feel these grids have little, if any, beneficial or detrimental impact on the biosphere, while others consider them to be mere figments of the dowser’s imagination (although that does not make them any less ‘real’ - to the questor at least).
Northern Ireland dowser Billy Gawn has added his own ingredient to this conglomeration,
with the astonishing discovery of inter-planetary grids - possibly lines of cosmic gravity - that are a product of the interaction between the Earth and our celestial neighbours.
Whether these sets of lines are of importance
to mankind is unknown, but the presence of their intersections at many of the sacred sites mentioned above does imply that some cultures, at least, found them to be worth acknowledging and encouraging.
Alan Neal, founder of the Tamar Dowsers, working in the 1990’s, became convinced that leys were man made. Very little in the natural world is straight, at least in the textbook sense of the word, and his take at the time was that ‘we’ thought or envisioned them into place - deliberately or otherwise. A generation of his students (myself included) took his worldview on board and, in so doing, probably inadvertently discovered a completely new, complex and incredibly widespread, network of LSLs, which we could term Lines of Consciousness.
Perhaps a little surprisingly, given the above, Alan was later also the first to suggest in the public domain that Watkins-type leys almost invariably overlie significant geological faults.
To this growing miscellany of LSLs, we could add barely tangible, linear features such as spirit lines, ways of the dead, beneficial or detrimental lines of human intent, astronomical and calendrical lines often found at stone rows and circles - and even some of the trackways of Watkins fame, which pass over bogs, escarpments and watercourses with such gay abandon.
The extent to which LSLs are created by, or can be affected by, humans is highly contentious. Clearly, those of a cosmic and/or geological nature have a decidedly stable geophysical source. Lines of human intent or construction, however, are essentially more recent and more temporary in essence - and, conceptually, could be modified by anyone with the appropriate ‘password’. Between these two extremes lies a no-mans-land of philosophical and spiritual interaction, where the LSL affects the sensing being, and the perpetrator might just be able to influence the current.
It is tempting to treat all LSLs as just vibrational variations on a titanic theme. Yet, some are almost solid enough to be measured with meters, while others are so transient as to barely exist at all. It is apparent that we are not just looking at the same enigma at different wavelengths (although that may also be the case), we are investigating a veritable zoo of line types, with different sources and widely different interactive possibilities.
Some LSLs appear to be the dowsable output of earth energy, gravity or electro- magnetism, while others seem to derive from deep in the psychic or the spiritual domain. Even more confusingly, some even seem to have elements of both.
When out in the field, various types of LSL can overwrite one another in this space-time, and the dowser has to be very aware of which type of current is being sensed at any given time.
The fact that so many of the remaining ancient sacred sites display such a vibrantly-patterned mixture of LSLs implies that they have been around for a very long time - and, by extrapolation, that they could still be profoundly relevant to us, today. Even during the historical period, successive cultures appear to have worked with different combinations of them, possibly attempting to achieve a greater sense of harmony, benevolence and enlightenment.
We would do well to take note of the potential of LSLs to assist us in such challenging environmental and philosophical times.