Twenty years on since his co-written book Quest For Contact was published, recounting the real-life attempts of a group of researchers to interact with the crop circle phenomenon using psychic techniques, Andy Thomas looks back on the ambitious project, his part in it and the very intriguing results it produced…
Two Decades On
2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Quest For Contact: A True Story of Crop Circles, UFOs and Psychics, which I co-wrote with the late Paul Bura in 1997. It vividly recounts our Sussex-based research group’s attempts to interact with the crop circle phenomenon in the 1990s, and the very interesting results we received. Although the book is long out of print (a PDF version may be made available in future) second-hand copies can still be found on Amazon.
Those involved with this project were touched deeply by it, and it inspired a number of other groups to attempt similar experiments. Two decades on from the book, and 25 years since our work began, with crop circles still flourishing today I felt it worth recalling our tale for those new to the concept of what is sometimes called ‘psychic questing’. The experiences we had raise profound questions about the real nature of the circle mystery, the ultimate answer to which remains elusive no matter what sceptics might say.
The Group Gathers
In the autumn of 1991, a group of enthusiasts gathered to inaugurate the Sussex branch of the recently-formed Centre for Crop Circle Studies. Its purpose was to monitor the then numerous crop formations of East and West Sussex (in south-east England) and provide a framework from which to conduct investigations. A core inner group quickly developed, led principally by Barry Reynolds, Martin Noakes and myself, Andy Thomas. Our branch and its soon internationally-read monthly booklet, the Sussex Circular (of which I was editor), rapidly became a leading presence in the circle world. To avoid infiltration from debunkers we would sometimes carry out work we did not announce at the well-attended CCCS Sussex public meetings we now held each month at Burgess Hill (later known as Southern Circular Research and today as Changing Times, our lecture evenings still continue in the same venue – see www.changingtimes.org.uk).
At the suggestion of the charismatic medium and psychic Paul Bura (pictured here in his older years), who began attending in 1992, a series of interactive experiments were set up by the core group to see if it were possible to uncover the source of the crop circles using mediumship and psychic intuition. Unbiased in our views and happy to give anything a go in the face of mystery, a series of ‘channellings’ began to come through Paul and, eventually, two other psychics, Carole Coren and Diana Summer. From this information we were told that a combination of earth energies, nature spirits and extra-terrestrial influences were involved in the making of the circles, created as ‘wake-up calls’ for humanity. We decided, for the sake of the adventure, to take this at face value and pursue work based on this hypothesis.
The Project Begins
When Michael Green, archaeologist, CCCS chairman and something of a mystic himself, learnt of the Sussex project, he came down to meet Paul at his house in Lancing, West Sussex, and to receive some channellings (pictured). These were often spoken through the flamboyant character of ‘Joeb’, who was Paul’s main spirit guide, but more grave personalities such as ‘Emun’ would also come through in time. Through a series of sessions, Michael became convinced that Paul was the ideal conduit with whom to conduct an experiment he had been considering for a while: to try to arrange, with the mysterious circlemakers, the creation of a crop formation that could be witnessed – and videoed – in the making. Chance eye-witnesses to circles appearing within seconds were relatively rife, but knowing in advance where and when this might take place seemed impossible. However, if it could be pre-agreed with the forces behind them, why could one not be filmed as well as witnessed? Such a piece of evidence would, it was hoped, offset some of the vicious scepticism then being levelled at the circle phenomenon.
It was decided to include a few more people in the project who might bring valuable input, including Ted Richards, a scientist with a keen interest in the circles. All were sworn to secrecy about their involvement. A first full gathering of the key players was quietly arranged at Paul’s house for 6th June 1993. Remarkably, on that very morning, the first Sussex crop formation of the year – a circle orbited by three smaller circles (pictured) – appeared in a field as close to Paul’s home as any pattern could get. The incredible coincidence of this seemed like a very good omen that we were in touch with something that was tuning into our work – or that we were tuning into it.
This began a series of exploits and happenings too detailed to relate in full here, but which are recorded in Quest For Contact. The more we worked towards our goals, the more we received increased crop circle activity in the Sompting/Lancing area of West Sussex we were working in. A number of us, including me, began to witness glowing balls of light and other strange aerial phenomena in a number of environments – in the case of Barry and his wife Linda, objects literally hovered over their house on more than one occasion. Other inexplicable experiences began to occur, including a strong and eerie earthquake-like shuddering that rattled through my house one night like a power-drill coming through the wall, although no other neighbours heard or felt a thing. It was almost as if we had tapped into some raw source of paranormal strangeness that was responding accordingly.
We conducted our first attempt to manifest (or receive) a crop formation under the gaze of cameras on 27th June 1993. Through weeks of divination, map dowsing and channelling, we had found our spot – a hillside at Saddlescombe, north of Brighton in East Sussex, overlooking a set of wheat fields. It was the perfect place to film. The ‘moment’ was planned for dawn, but certain conditions had been set by the circlemakers. All ten of us had to be of “one mind”, calm and meditative, and follow other detailed instructions (to wear at least one white item, for instance). No technology other than video cameras would be allowed (which dismayed Ted), as any disruption, spiritual or electronic, might dissuade the forces we were dealing with and prevent their cooperation.
In the very early hours we headed for Saddlescombe and began the arduous task of setting up on the hill – difficult because Paul was partially disabled (from polio as a child) and needed stretchering up the hill! But the weather was kind and we finally settled, set our cameras, meditated and waited. At around 5.15am excitement mounted as several members of the team thought they saw a ring of lights appearing over the field – but then nothing further happened and there was a feeling of a moment passing. We waited until full light, but eventually gave up, dejected.
Further channellings said we had not been ‘ready’ for our experience and that we had not all been of one mind; which was probably true with such a diverse group of people (while we were meditating, Ted had produced a Tupperware box of cereal and started having breakfast!). This, on top of the exhaustion of carrying Paul up the hill and over stiles – not the best state for energetic calmness – might have played against us. Yet we found later that day that an already existing formation at Lancing (pictured) had morphed itself from a thin cross into a new fully circular configuration that very night, which gave us the message that activity was going on in our area well enough but that we might not yet be deserving of witnessing it.
We discreetly pared down our group (by simply not re-inviting some of those, like Ted, who were clearly not in tune with our approach) and tried the same experiment in the same location on 3rd July – but once again to no avail. This time Diana had just undergone an operation and she also needed stretchering up the hill… This madness, and an extra dash down to our cars at the foot of the hill when police turned up to inspect our convoy (they departed before we got down there) left us unwisely debilitated, and with two of our party arguing with each other we were in no condition to expect any success.
Another arranged experiment, on 24th July, when an even smaller group of us sat inside an existing crop formation at Sompting with cameras aimed at a nearby spot (with Paul tuning into us from his home, to avoid stretchering), was calm and centred but also came to nothing. It was time to rethink our strategy.
Paul, depressed that his channellings had apparently failed us (or maybe we had failed the communicators), decided that a higher level of communication beyond his usual guides might be needed to help move the project forward. Although a little disenchanted, we saw no reason not to pursue things further. After all, we were attempting something very ambitious so maybe perseverance was required.
New friends now joined the group: Karen Douglas (now Alexander), then of the East Midlands CCCS branch, and David Russell, veteran Sussex dowser and pilot. With a new team in place, the autumn of 1993 and early months of 1994 were spent seeking out, on channelled instructions, the spirit ‘Guardians’ of the Sompting/Lancing area to gain their advice – and to receive energetic consent for the project. Drives around local sacred sites and ancient churches, conducting channellings-on-the-spot, soon made it clear that the central hub of the Guardians’ operations was the ancient Iron Age hillfort of Cissbury Ring (pictured), near Worthing. Paul divined that one certain spot (the ‘navel’ of Cissbury’s belly-like curve, where Paul perceived that a stone once stood) was the key. Team recces identified the exact spot, and by divinatory means a date was set for when we should gather there to receive the next important instructions – 28th June 1994, just a year and a day from our first experiment.
The Cissbury Message
The day of our Cissbury rendezvous was scorching hot. The morning had been spent investigating some curious crop circles at Birling Gap near Eastbourne (laid from halfway up the stems), reminding us that the phenomenon was fully active in Sussex. So, full of expectation and hope for the “higher communication” that would enhance our understanding, we splashed on the sun lotion, set up around the navel spot (pictured) and placed a crystal-adorned stake at the centre. We worried that seven people gathered around a wheelchair-bound figure clutching a wooden stake might draw unwanted attention, yet not a single soul came by for the entire duration of our vigil. At 2.15pm, at the directed time, we quietly turned on the video cameras as Paul invoked the Guardians, and we waited.
Soon after, Paul visibly changed his demeanour and a powerful, authoritative voice spoke through him. The voice announced himself as a being called ‘Jeuz’ (apparently a lion-like being from a planet somewhere near Sirius, we would learn later). Jeuz spoke eloquently about the mission of the circles to awaken humanity, advising us to “keep the love of God, whatever you conceive that energy to be, in your heart, and keep it alive”. Then he gave us the higher knowledge we had been waiting for – but not the knowledge we had expected. Instead of guidance that would help us successfully film a manifesting crop circle, we were in fact warned not to get too caught up in a desperate scrabble for proof:
“DO NOT PLACE SUCH IMPORTANCE ON THE PROOF! You are expanding. All those who are associated with these circles are expanding now and this is only the beginning. You will have proof with the corn but who will really believe you? You can turn the world upside down and they will not believe you … Continue with your work, but do not be bogged down by trying to prove this and that because in the end IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE – none!”
As Jeuz left us, the surge of energy that had animated Paul left too and he collapsed, sobbing, just through the sheer release that came with it. With Paul recovered, we collected our things and made our way back down the hill in the afternoon sunshine (pictured – L to R: Martin, Barry, Linda, Paul, Michael, Karen and David; I am taking the photo). Perhaps we all felt some sense of release too. There was a little disappointment that we had not received what we had imagined, but this was mixed with a lifting feeling that we could maybe relax a little and take a different approach in future, with the pressure of gaining immediate proof removed. It was clearly not going to work that way with the forces we were dealing with.
A Fresh Approach
Interactive responses to our work were, however, seeming to manifest with all the crop formations, sightings and experiences that had occurred so far during the project. So we relaxed the primary intention of catching a circle in the act and decided to see if we could capitalise on that interactivity and simply influence one instead. Over the winter of 1994-95, Paul formulated the idea that perhaps the circle patterns were already ‘etherically’ present even before they physically manifested. Therefore, could we find one such spot and “light the blue touch paper” to trigger the arrival of a formation ourselves?
Through his usual methods Paul identified one possible circle trigger-point at, curiously, Saddlescombe again, but this time in a wheat field quarter of a mile further north. With the help of David Russell and new recruit Jason Porthouse, already a friend of the group and another dowser, it was soon realised that an earth energy line ran southwards from the ancient hillfort of Wolstonbury Hill (pictured) and to the new target area. Realising that the field’s power was being fed from Wolstonbury – indeed Barry had witnessed a ball of light fly across the carriageway of the A27 road from the lower slopes of this very hill in 1993 – it was decided that this was where we should conduct our next experiment. We would leave a camera trained on our target field, but would reduce the anxiety factor by not actually being there ourselves, sitting at the Wolstonbury source point instead. Our desire was simply to see if we could proactively nudge a formation into being at the site weeks, months or even years after our experiment; we had no expectation of instantaneous results.
It seemed wise to consult the Guardian of Wolstonbury, a character named ‘Damus’. Communications with Damus instructed us that we should perform our planned ritual at “the last New Moon in June – at sunset”. With the perfect synchronicity that we were now becoming used to, this would be 28th June 1995 – exactly a year since the Cissbury message! We were also instructed to play notes of music, which Paul dowsed out as A, B flat, C sharp, D, F and G sharp. Martin (a professional musician) used a synthesiser to record the notes as sine waves, a very pure form of sound. A continuous drone, it sounded like a dischordant fax machine.
At a planning meeting, Barry instinctively felt that the notes of music might result in a crop formation of “six circular elements”, each one a different size. He sketched it on a pad of paper: a double-ringed circle, a single ringed circle and a single circle in a line. No-one thought much about it at the time.
Jason and I roamed Wolstonbury Hill to find a spot we could reach easily with Paul’s wheelchair, and one that would also be on the energy line. The most ideal location, a flowery meadow, was denied to us when the farmer wouldn’t give us permission to use it. From our recce, subsequent map dowsing and an unprompted channelled message from Jason’s psychic uncle, Paul pinpointed another place we could be, on public land to the side of the main footpath, which we would be able to wheel him along. It wasn’t ideal, but it was on the energy line and there were some promising ancient tumuli nearby.
The Wolstonbury Experiment
28th June 1995 arrived, blowy but clear. Nine of us made our way to the top of Wolstonbury in the early evening as instructed and David dowsed precisely where we should be (pictured). We had been told the line was split into nine parts, and each of us was given a particular crystal to hold and allocated our own division of the line to sit on. Paul, Jason and I had been pre-selected by Damus to make a personal visit to the tumuli with an iron stone and purified water as a precursor ceremony, which we carried out while the others set up. As we did this, David noticed an upsurge in energy travelling along the nine parts of the line – which also seemed to be flowing in alternate directions, something unexpected which would become significant later.
We finally settled and all sat facing the direction of our target field (Karen’s new partner, Steve Alexander, was stationed there with a camera – if anything did happen then and there, he would be the lucky one!). As the sun descended – wonderfully visible in a clear sky – Paul performed an invocation and we began our meditation. We were not so fortunate with privacy this time: passing walkers and horse riders grinned to watch this cross-legged (or wheelchaired) motley crew holding crystals to synthesised notes whining from a ghetto-blaster. But we didn’t care too much. We believed in what we were doing and a little embarrassment was a price worth paying.
As the sun touched the horizon (pictured, and as seen on the cover of Quest For Contact), we settled into our vigil, visualising golden energy flowing into the line and onwards to our field. It was peaceful and calm, despite the cold wind blowing. We had been told that twenty minutes was all that would be required, and by the end, now shivering, we were happy we had done what we came to do and could now retire to the nearby pub. A final dowse from David showed, interestingly, that the energy line had now split into 72 parts… He believed that something tangible had been achieved and that results might follow.
Nothing had happened at our field during the meditation, but later, when the revelries were done and the others had gone home, Jason and I kept vigil there for a while just in case, accompanied by the magical green lights of glow-worms in the nearby long grass.
Two days later, on 30th June, Barry received a phone call. A new crop formation had appeared at Felbridge, near East Grinstead in West Sussex (pictured). It had arrived the very night of our experiment. It soon became clear that it was identical to the sketch Barry had made at our meeting some weeks before! – six circular elements.
On arrival at the site, it was clear that this was our formation. Perfectly laid, crisp and geometric, it was a beautiful example of the circle phenomenon. Although isolated, invisible from anywhere but the air, with the cooperation of the happily understanding farmer (who was intrigued by our tale) it was even possible to drive a car into the field itself, near enough for us to then carry Paul into the formation – a rare treat for him.
Just one thing, though – what was this doing so far north, and not in our intended field..? It was soon apparent that if one took a map and followed the straight line that ran from Saddlescombe to Wolstonbury and extended it northwards… the same line went through the very spot where the new Felbridge formation lay! Dowsing confirmed its earth energy properties. At this, we remembered David’s comments about energy flowing in both directions on the night of the 28th. Perhaps our field was not ready to be triggered, so the energy had flowed northwards instead to a site that was ready-primed, as the same Felbridge field had already hosted a formation back in 1993. To our minds, this could not be chance.
We all felt strongly that we had done what we set out to do. By various means we had apparently divined a shape, a time, and a place to gather, and something alchemical had combined to give us this final result in the field. It was not where we expected it to be, true, but it was on the same energy line and appeared the very night of our meditation. This was good enough for us. We knew that sceptics would dismiss our story, or accuse us of making the formation (we didn’t), but we had learnt enough from Jeuz not to worry too much about what others thought anymore. We had satisfied ourselves that there was something that could be interacted with and influenced when it came to the crop circles, something beyond normal comprehension. Even if people had made the Felbridge formation, as some critics inevitably argued later (with no evidence), how could the artists have known what we had visualised, with everything kept secret? Psychic interaction had apparently taken place either way. We were happy.
The validation did not stop there. On 15th July 1995, a huge multi-ringed elliptical crop formation (pictured, as photographed by Mike Hubbard) arrived directly at the foot of Cissbury Ring, the site of our pivotal message a year before the Wolstonbury experiment. Other shapes subsequently appeared next to it. This stunning new design felt like a reward, a quiet acknowledgement that we had heeded the message and done well. There was even an outbreak of UFO sightings around Wolstonbury that same summer, reported in the local media, as if something had been released from the hill by our work. Too presumptuous? Perhaps. But these events left us with a sense of satisfaction that three years of work had definitively come to something.
With this climax, it soon became clear that our overtly interactive work had come to the end of its natural life. There were a few small gatherings and channellings afterwards, but there was a feeling of completion and of something having moved on, soon emphasised by the fact that Paul and his family suddenly had to move to Wales for reasons beyond his control. We had lost our main psychic contact. The Sussex crop circles seemed to recede in number and quality for a while almost in response, and a chapter had closed.
[Soon after this upheaval, Paul was diagnosed with a huge brain tumour and found himself out of action for some time. He would slowly recover over the years and would eventually return to his original home at Herne Bay in Kent before his sad passing in 2013, aged 69. David Russell passed away in the mid-2000s, having piloted his last flight only hours before – aged 88!]
Appositely, in 1996, and with no connection to our group, a very clear video of a crop circle appearing within seconds under flying lights (at Oliver’s Castle in Wiltshire, pictured) was finally forthcoming – the original goal of our work. It was curious to observe, just as Jeuz had warned us, that all it met was controversy and denial. Some believed it was real, others said it was a clever computer hoax. The arguments rumble on even now. This made us think. Had we been successful on our first attempts, we might have fared slightly better – several separate videos from a number of different cameras might have made accusations of fraud harder – but even then we would probably have been attacked and disbelieved.
Instead of pursuing this path of probable persecution, perhaps wisely we heeded the Cissbury message and satisfied ourselves with something slightly different – an experience of personal evidence that gave some of us the strength to press on with campaigning for truth in a number of realms in the years after, but without the stressful need to justify ourselves or force a belief on anyone.
Where are we all today, two decades on? I personally give many lectures and have written a number of books on various unexplained phenomena and global cover-ups, and still enjoy sharing the crop circle phenomenon with audiences, making my case but leaving people free to make up their own minds. Martin writes truth songs and creates much-watched music videos on conspiracies and freedom issues; Karen and Steve still produce annual crop circle books and organise events; Jason leads meditations at the Glastonbury Symposium and gives inspirational talks; and Barry retains his sharp eye for analysis and assessment and has nice holidays in India. All of us have, in our own ways, gone forward and expanded immeasurably from the experiences we had. It was an important time when we learned many useful things about ourselves, explored the merits of open-mindedness and came to appreciate more deeply the wonderful strangeness of the world around us, while coming to terms with the difficult balance to be struck between belief and evidence.
Some years after the publication of Quest For Contact, at one of my talks, a lady took me aside to share a story. Her son had been killed in a car accident some years before. At the time she was devastated and not sure that she could go on living without him. She had contemplated taking her own life. On the eve of her son’s funeral, the lady was staying with friends, and on the shelf in her bedroom was a copy of Quest For Contact. Needing distraction, she picked it up and, unable to sleep, read the whole thing through her long dark night of the soul. Stunningly, the lady told me that she felt the book had saved her life. The tale of our dedication and sheer determination to push on through all the setbacks and dilemmas we encountered gave her the inspiration she needed to get through the funeral and decide to keep on living. She thanked me for this.
I was left reeling by this simple but profound sharing. I have always thought, ever since, that if all our work ever achieved was just to save one person’s life then everything was surely very much worth the effort.
Thanks are due to everyone that helped this journey happen. Only some of the players are directly named above, but here they all are, alphabetically:
Steve Alexander, Quenton Cole, John Cole, Carole Coren, Adam Cotton, Karen Douglas (now Alexander), Michael Green, Martin Noakes, Jason Porthouse, Barry Reynolds, Linda Reynolds, Ted Richards, David Russell and Diana Summer… and others who helped us along the way, all named in the book.
… But, most of all, thanks to dearest Paul Bura, hopefully somewhere beaming at all this now and happily wheelchair-free.
A video taken during our channelling sessions with Paul at his home in 1993 (along with some other videos of Paul) can be watched here.
Originally published by S B Publications in 1997, Quest For Contact’s Amazon page can be found here for second-hand copies.
Thanks to www.cropcirclecenter.com for the circle diagrams