A talk by Dr Patrick MacManaway is always a timely reminder not to give up on the human project just yet. Delivered, as ever, in his homely-but-wise Anglo-American style, this presentation managed to be both academically interesting and practically stimulating. A real heart-warmer for a chilly winter evening.
It is all too easy, after decades of dowsing, to take the enigmatic stone circle for granted - something that has always just silently existed, at least in our timeframe. Yet, there are so many layers, and so many angles, from which these petrified landscape features can be understood.
Patrick has been an agriculturalist all his adult life, and he approaches both his dowsing and the subjects of his craft from the perspective of farming and growing. As he pointed out in his introduction, stone circles seem to have been predominantly erected by farming communities, and we therefore have to assume that they were for the benefit of communities who relied on the fertility and the productiveness of the land. His own work in siting and constructing stone circles is a series of ongoing practical demonstrations of how this phenomena could have come into being - and it continues to deliver demonstrable benefits, even in a world with a much more materialist outlook.
The stone circle may be the signature megalith of the Celtic heartlands, but it is actually a global phenomenon. PM presented a showreel of images depicting circles from around the world - from Africa to the Americas, and from Australia to the Middle East and Scandinavia. The building materials may vary to accommodate the local geology, and the construction may be influenced by the local architectural vernacular, but in essence the concept remains the same the world over.
Stones are placed at significant energetic sites in such a manner as to enhance the natural energies of the planet. Using underground water may be at the core of the enterprise, as it is the most effective embedded medium for the distribution of concentrated electromagnetic energy to where it can have the most beneficial impact. Emerging work also indicates that it might be a highly potent transmitter of information too but, from a specifically farming perspective, the important elements of the process are that the input is the physical construction of the circle, and the beneficial output is a huge and measurable increase in seed germination and the health of the subsequent crop.
Patrick cites the seminal work Stone of Knowledge, Seed of Plenty by Kai Halberg and John Burke, where the researchers (who weren’t dowsers) analysed the impact of placing bags of seed in South American pyramids and subsequently examining the fertility and yield of those, in comparison with identical bags of seed stored conventionally. The difference in the output was so great that it sparked a whole new way of thinking about at least one of the purposes of building structures on sites that were - and/or became - regarded as sacred.
Why this knowledge has taken so long to come to the attention of the agricultural community is a mystery in itself - but, to quote the physicist Max Planck, ‘Science progresses one funeral at a time.’ It takes a while to replace one worldview with another, even when the evident evidence points in another direction.
Patrick’s own work has carried this concept forward and he, too, has had similarly striking success with agricultural experiments, describing a particularly pronounced example in a semi-arid part of Australia.
PM proceeded to explain some of the pertinent aspects of the evolution, siting, and astronomical aspects of the stone circle. He noted how circular henges appeared to predate the stones themselves, and that animals, both livestock and those from the wild, are often attracted to the sites.
Geometry seems to be a significant component of the design and effectiveness of any circle, with most ancient constructions actually ‘egg-shaped’, rather than precisely circular. He feels this shape helps to maximise the resonance of the formation, and it sets up an enchantment with other sensitive structures in the vicinity, be they etheric, mineral or biological. Harmonising resonance in this manner leads to improved biological health. QED.
In terms of astronomy, while there are doubtless numerous planetary and stellar alignments in circular structures around the globe, the most significant from his farming perspective are those that track the movement and interaction of the celestial bodies The Moon, Venus and Mercury.
The talk concluded with an extended examination of two stone-circle-building projects in the US that he has been instrumental in bringing to fruition.
Firstly, the Burlington Earth Clock (right), closer to his home in Vermont, was a powerful community-based project to create a circle on public land for the energetic benefit of local people.
The second, near Boulder in Colorado, was inspired by Tim and Kerry Francis, who joined us on the zoom with their own recollections of how the circle on their land evolved from a concept to being a fully-functional sacred space.
In both cases, Patrick’s involvement resulted in an appropriate site being found, even given the limited scope to choose the location. There were images of stones being chosen from quarries, erected in the designated spots and of being ‘animated’ by acknowledgement and dedication.
One of the key components of both projects was the enthusiastic involvement of members of the local community. Patrick is great believer that the ‘old stones’ should not just be protected as interesting antiquities, but should be actively used to regenerate the beneficial energy of the land. The new circles, erected both by himself and others working in the field, are intended to be fully operation working spaces from the outset. He has clearly been delighted that they are being used not only for purposeful meditation and the raising of energising ambience, but for weddings, celebrations and community events.
He also noted the seemingly deliberate involvement of forces and energies in the etheric realms in the enablement and encouragement of such projects. Totem wildlife seems to take an active interest in the construction, and beneficial synchronicities have abounded throughout the development and the manifestation of the sites.
It would be difficult not to be inspired by a presentation such as this. While the news and the weather can seem gloomy, and the shafts of light in the workaday are hard to discern, Partick’s approach - and its practical application - remind us that just above the clouds, the sun is shining all the time.
Many thanks to Dr Patrick MacManaway for another enjoyable canter through the remarkable archives of his life and his ongoing work, to Jill Moss for organising the event and, as so often, to Gwynn for being the genial ghost in the geomancer’s machine.