Crop circles are some of the most beautiful, mysterious and controversial landscape phenomena in the contemporary world. They are found around the globe, appearing in countries with large areas of agricultural land. They are also central to a shift in culture with investigative approaches that mimic science and increasingly make the paranormal mainstream.
Unlike UFOs, ghosts and sasquatches, crop circles are tangible — people can touch and walk into them. At least 30 appeared in England last summer. In British Columbia, crop circle formations appeared in Vanderhoof, about 100 kilometres west of Prince George, in 1998 and 2001.
Crop circles and what people do with them represent one aspect of my ongoing four-year research project, which explores the recent growth of beliefs, practices and experiences related to the paranormal. My fieldwork studies investigative paranormal groups in the Vancouver area and paranormal conferences across North America and England.
Recent literature in the social sciences on paranormal cultures argues that despite the rise of a secular, post-religious society, paranormal discourses are becoming increasingly significant in people’s lives in the West.
Because the paranormal refers to “events or phenomena… that are beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding,” researchers have long acknowledged that the paranormal intersects with “normal” everyday life.
Recently, however, as a result of a paranormal influence in popular culture, the rise of new spiritualities and commodities associated with them — such as cauldrons, healing crystals and online psychic services — researchers have begun to question describing interest in the paranormal as subcultural or countercultural, rather than mainstream.
Read More: The Conversation