& The Megaliths by John Michell
From the 1970s, research into the hidden properties of stone circles has produced some remarkable results which, though not yet conclusive, tend to support the ideas of J. Foster Forbes. The investigation of anomalous energies at the old sites has attracted dowsers, engineers, and scientists. Tom Grave's "Needles of Stone" gives a dowser's view of the connection between megalithic sites and magnetic earth currents. The use of Geiger counters and ultrasonic detectors has revealed abnormal patterns of pulsations within stone circles that vary throughout the year. One effect which has been widely recorded is that the levels of ultrasound and radiation inside the circles is significantly lower than outside; hence the title of Don Robins's book on megalithic energies, "Circles of Silence."
From the apparent fact that the megalith builders placed their circles and other stone monuments on sites with peculiar dynamic properties, it seems likely that they were aware of and made use of certain natural energies for practical purposes connected with their way of life. Early settled societies were concerned above all with the fertility of land and livestock and communication with the local and ancestral spirits who were presumed to be the cause of human prosperity. The megalithic science is certain, therefore, to have been spiritually based.
In simple nomadic times, communication with spirit was made naturally and spontaneously in the course of the annual journey; the science of early settled times was designed to make up for the loss of natural communication by a system of ritualized invocation. It was a form of magical technology. The power of the ancient shrines was augmented by the erection of stone monuments or temples, where the local spirit was induced to dwell and follow human example by becoming domestic. Where in the old wandering days the shrines had been active only during the short period when they were visited, their season of potency was now extended.
How this was done is told symbolically in the heroic legends of' the dragons or serpent killers. The serpent is an image of the mercurial earth currents by which the country is made fertile; transfixing the serpent's head with a stake or stone pillar is the traditional method of arresting and tapping its flow of energy. At Delphi, where in archaic times the Pythoness or earth serpent had dwelt and given oracles for a brief season in the year, the piercing of her head by Apollo's staff lengthened her period of efficacy by several months. The spot where her energies were centered was marked thereafter by the omphalos stone at the center of the shrine. Further information on the ancient sacred science and its perception of the nature and use of earth energies can be found in The Decline of Oracles, a work by Plutarch, who was a priest at Delphi in the first century A.D.
The religious-scientific works of the megalith builders, along with domestic building and agriculture, produced a dramatic change in the appearance of the landscape. Yet the new pattern of temples, roads, and settlements was firmly based on the sacred geography of nomadic times. Temples and oratories were built on the old nature shrines, and the paths between them were still trodden by pilgrims or used for religious processions. On their straight course between the sacred places, the people erected stones and other landmarks, and thus were created the straight alignments of ancient monuments, known as " leys," which have been the subject of' much modern research in the British landscape. These lines across the country were as sacred as the temples and shrines they linked, and evidently they played an essential part in the mystical megalithic science. Memories of the old times, preserved in the folklore record, identify the paths between the old shrines as ways of the dead and spirit paths, where at certain times of the year strange lights and phantom creatures are seen. Where the paths intersect, the old stone monuments have a variety of strange reputations, as the scenes of supernatural events or for powers of healing and fertility. The folklore of megalithic monuments forms a significant background to the modern scientific discoveries of abnormal energy patterns at the old sites.
In creating their sacred landscape, the Stone Age priests of settled times were careful to preserve the old pattern and the spiritual values attached to it. The temples and natural shrines about the country were seen as forming the body of one great temple, the native holy land. By a round of feasts and rituals throughout the year, the spirit of the earth was made content and bountiful, allowing the settled communities to grow and prosper. Archaeologists now reckon that the population of England in the second millennium B.C. was at least as large as the two to three million it was at the time of the Norman Conquest. Prehistoric standards of craftsmanship, science, and general culture were many degrees higher than those of medieval England.
Excerpted from "The Traveller's Guide to Sacred England" by John Michell (Gothic Image, 1996) with the kind permission of the author and publisher.