Earth mysteries

Earth mysteries

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Encyclopedia
The term Earth mysteries describes an interest in a wide range of spiritual, quasi-religious and pseudo-scientific ideas focusing on cultural and religious beliefs about the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

, generally with regard to particular geographical locations of historical significance.

The study of ley line
Ley line
Ley lines are alleged alignments of a number of places of geographical and historical interest, such as ancient monuments and megaliths, natural ridge-tops and water-fords...

s originates in the 1920s with Alfred Watkins
Alfred Watkins
Alfred Watkins was a businessman, self-taught amateur archaeologist and antiquarian who, while standing on a hillside in Herefordshire, England, in 1921 experienced a revelation and noticed on the British landscape the apparent arrangement of straight lines positioned along ancient features, and...

. The term "Earth mysteries" for this field of interest was coined about 1970 in The Ley Hunter journal. and the associated concepts have been embraced and reinvented by movements such as the New Age Movement and modern paganism
Neopaganism
Neopaganism is an umbrella term used to identify a wide variety of modern religious movements, particularly those influenced by or claiming to be derived from the various pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe...

 during the 1970s to 1980s.

Believers in Earth mysteries generally consider certain locations to be "sacred", or that certain spiritual "energies" may be active at those locations. The term "alternative archaeology" has also been used to describe the study of Earth mystery beliefs. Some New Age believers engage in travel to locations they consider important according to their beliefs; for example, Stonehenge
Stonehenge
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about west of Amesbury and north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of a circular setting of large standing stones set within earthworks...

 is a popular destination among New Age seekers.

History


The concept of earth mysteries can be traced back to two antiquarians during the 17th century John Aubrey
John Aubrey
John Aubrey FRS, was an English antiquary, natural philosopher and writer. He is perhaps best known as the author of the collection of short biographical pieces usually referred to as Brief Lives...

 and William Stukeley
William Stukeley
William Stukeley FRS, FRCP, FSA was an English antiquarian who pioneered the archaeological investigation of the prehistoric monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury, work for which he has been remembered as "probably... the most important of the early forerunners of the discipline of archaeology"...

 who both believed that stonehenge
Stonehenge
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about west of Amesbury and north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of a circular setting of large standing stones set within earthworks...

 was associated with the druids. Stukeley mixed together ancient monuments and mythology
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

 towards an "idealized vision" of nature.

"Ley lines" were postulated by Alfred Watkins
Alfred Watkins
Alfred Watkins was a businessman, self-taught amateur archaeologist and antiquarian who, while standing on a hillside in Herefordshire, England, in 1921 experienced a revelation and noticed on the British landscape the apparent arrangement of straight lines positioned along ancient features, and...

 in 1921 at a presentation at the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club
Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club
The Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club is a local society devoted to the natural history, geology, archaeology, and history of Herefordshire, England...

, later published in Early British Trackways (1922) and The Old Straight Track (1925). Watkins formed the Old Straight Track Club in 1927, which was active until 1935 but became defunct during the World War II period.

A revival of interest in the topic began in the 1960s, now associated with neopagan currents like Wicca
Wicca
Wicca , is a modern Pagan religious movement. Developing in England in the first half of the 20th century, Wicca was popularised in the 1950s and early 1960s by a Wiccan High Priest named Gerald Gardner, who at the time called it the "witch cult" and "witchcraft," and its adherents "the Wica."...

, and with UFOlogy
Ufology
Ufology is a neologism coined to describe the collective efforts of those who study reports and associated evidence of unidentified flying objects . UFOs have been subject to various investigations over the years by governments, independent groups, and scientists...

.
The "Ley Hunters' Club" was formed in 1962 by Philip Heselton
Philip Heselton
Philip Heselton is a retired British Conservation Officer, a Wiccan initiate, and a writer on the subjects of Wicca, Paganism and Earth mysteries...

 and others as a revival of Watkins' Straight Track Club. The club's journal The Ley Hunter appeared from 1965 to 1970 subtitled the Magazine of Earth Mysteries.

The New Age boom of the 1980s expands the scope of the "Earth mysteries" field beyond British landscape
and Earth mysteries as a "New Age invented tradition" by the 1990s could include the study of ancient sites and landscapes (including archaeology
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

, archaeoastronomy
Archaeoastronomy
Archaeoastronomy is the study of how people in the past "have understood the phenomena in the sky how they used phenomena in the sky and what role the sky played in their cultures." Clive Ruggles argues it is misleading to consider archaeoastronomy to be the study of ancient astronomy, as modern...

, and ley lines), Chinese geomancy
Geomancy
Geomancy is a method of divination that interprets markings on the ground or the patterns formed by tossed handfuls of soil, rocks, or sand...

 or feng shui
Feng shui
Feng shui ' is a Chinese system of geomancy believed to use the laws of both Heaven and Earth to help one improve life by receiving positive qi. The original designation for the discipline is Kan Yu ....

, western magical concepts of gematria
Gematria
Gematria or gimatria is a system of assigning numerical value to a word or phrase, in the belief that words or phrases with identical numerical values bear some relation to each other, or bear some relation to the number itself as it may apply to a person's age, the calendar year, or the like...

, and dowsing
Dowsing
Dowsing is a type of divination employed in attempts to locate ground water, buried metals or ores, gemstones, oil, gravesites, and many other objects and materials, as well as so-called currents of earth radiation , without the use of scientific apparatus...

.
An important writer combining these fields during the 1970s to 2000s was John Michell
John Michell (writer)
John Frederick Carden Michell was an English writer whose key sources of inspiration were Plato and Charles Fort...

. Michell's book The View Over Atlantis mixed ley lines with folklore
Folklore
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

 and archeology these ideas became known as "earth mysteries".

A British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 writer on earth mysteries John Ivimy wrote a book in 1975 called The Sphinx and the megaliths in which he linked the Egyptian Sphinx
Sphinx
A sphinx is a mythical creature with a lion's body and a human head or a cat head.The sphinx, in Greek tradition, has the haunches of a lion, the wings of a great bird, and the face of a woman. She is mythicised as treacherous and merciless...

 to the British Stonehenge
Stonehenge
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about west of Amesbury and north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of a circular setting of large standing stones set within earthworks...

 and other megaliths claiming they were all built by a group of "elite trained" people.

Authors who wrote on earth mysteries in the 1980's include Paul Devereux
Paul Devereux
Paul Devereux is an author, researcher, lecturer, broadcaster, artist and photographer based in the Cotswolds, England. Devereux is a Research Fellow with the International Consciousness Research Laboratories group at Princeton University....

 and Nigel Pennick
Nigel Pennick
Nigel Campbell Pennick, born 1946 in Guildford, Surrey, England in the United Kingdom, an author publishing on occultism, magic, natural magic, divination, subterranea, rural folk customs, traditional performance and celtic art as well as runosophy....

.

Related ideas include the "landscape archaeology
Landscape archaeology
Landscape archaeology is the study of the ways in which people in the past constructed and used the environment around them. Landscape archaeology is inherently multidisciplinary in its approach to the study of culture, and is used by both pre-historical, classic, and historic archaeologists...

 advocated by German author Kurt Derungs from about 1990, and
the wider field of "Forteana", a term taken to include paranormal
Paranormal
Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure...

 phenomena more generally.

Publication history


Books on Earth mysteries first appeared in the 1970's, discussing topics such as ley lines, earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 energies, astro-archaeology, sacred
Sacred
Holiness, or sanctity, is in general the state of being holy or sacred...

 landscapes, megalithic monuments, shamanism
Shamanism
Shamanism is an anthropological term referencing a range of beliefs and practices regarding communication with the spiritual world. To quote Eliade: "A first definition of this complex phenomenon, and perhaps the least hazardous, will be: shamanism = technique of ecstasy." Shamanism encompasses the...

, paganism
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

, dowsing
Dowsing
Dowsing is a type of divination employed in attempts to locate ground water, buried metals or ores, gemstones, oil, gravesites, and many other objects and materials, as well as so-called currents of earth radiation , without the use of scientific apparatus...

 and folklore
Folklore
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

.

Timeline of publications:
  • 1973 – John Michell
    John Michell
    John Michell was an English natural philosopher and geologist whose work spanned a wide range of subjects from astronomy to geology, optics, and gravitation. He was both a theorist and an experimenter....

     (book, The View Over Atlantis)
  • 1975 – Anthony Roberts (book, Atlantean traditions in ancient Britain)
  • 1977 – Geoffrey Ashe
    Geoffrey Ashe
    Geoffrey Ashe is a British cultural historian, a writer of non-fiction books and novels.-Early life:Born in London, Ashe spent several years in Canada growing up, graduating from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, before continuing at Cambridge.-Work:Many of his historical books are...

     (book, The Ancient Wisdom)
  • 1977 – Paul Screeton (book, Quicksilver Heritage
  • 1978 – Francis Hitching
    Francis Hitching
    Francis Hitching is a British author, journalist and filmmaker; he is also a parapsychologist and a dowser.-Biography:Hitching has written on earth mysteries, dowsing, paranormal and ley lines...

     (book, Earth Magic)
  • 1986 – Richard Grossinger (book, Planetary Mysteries)
  • 1990 – Philip Whitfield (book, Atlas of Earth Mysteries)
  • 1995 – Philip Heselton
    Philip Heselton
    Philip Heselton is a retired British Conservation Officer, a Wiccan initiate, and a writer on the subjects of Wicca, Paganism and Earth mysteries...

     (book, Earth Mysteries)
  • 2000 – Paul Devereux
    Paul Devereux
    Paul Devereux is an author, researcher, lecturer, broadcaster, artist and photographer based in the Cotswolds, England. Devereux is a Research Fellow with the International Consciousness Research Laboratories group at Princeton University....

     (book, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Ancient Earth Mysteries)
  • 2003 – John Michael Greer
    John Michael Greer
    John Michael Greer is an American author, independent scholar, historian of ideas, cultural critic, Neo-druid leader, Hermeticist, environmentalist/conservationist, blogger, novelist, and occultist/esotericist who currently resides in Cumberland, Maryland after living in Ashland, Oregon for a...

     (book, The New Encyclopedia of the Occult)
  • 2003 – David R. Cowan and Chris Arnold (book, Ley Lines and Earth Energies)
  • 2005 – Danny Sullivan (book, Ley Lines)

Reception


Proponents consider the Earth mysteries to be "sacred" and "mythopoeic" rather than scientific. The ley lines idea has been generally ignored by the academic establishment in the field of archaeology. The work of researchers who support the paranormal aspects of Earth mysteries have been extensively criticized by "professional debunkers" such as James Randi
James Randi
James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation...

, Martin Gardner
Martin Gardner
Martin Gardner was an American mathematics and science writer specializing in recreational mathematics, but with interests encompassing micromagic, stage magic, literature , philosophy, scientific skepticism, and religion...

, and the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP).

The Earth mysteries movement in Great Britain embraced the term "ritual landscapes" that was used in British archaeology starting in the 1980s, with regards to "sacred" locations apparently used for mainly ceremonial purposes in the Neolithic and early Bronze Age; the concept has been both adopted and criticized in the field of academic archaeology. Tourism associated with the Earth mysteries movement in this regard is known as the "landscape heritage" segment of the market.

External links