In the past, we’ve written about the mystifying “crop circle” phenomenon. By now, everyone is probably familiar with the strange occurrence of designs woven through standing grain crops in farmers’ fields the world over. Usually, they are simple circles of swirled plants. Sometimes, however, they assume amazingly complex geometric or pictorial patterns. The most complex of them seem to appear in southern England’s Wiltshire Country.
They are sworn to be real and authentic, laid down in a few minutes by supernatural, invisible forces. Sometimes, witnesses have seen (and even photographed) strange flying lights in fields where crop circles appeared at the light of the next dawn. Certainly, hoaxers have concocted some of these patterns. Years ago, the infamous “Dave and Doug” claimed to have made practically all the British crop circles with ropes, boards and sights attached to their baseball caps— working overnight! Yet some of the circles range from three to six hundred feet in diameter, in open terrain beside high-traffic roads. Typically, no one sees them under construction.
The debate over the supernatural versus natural explanation continues to rumble along, as it does in virtually every mysterious phenomenon of this world. But from the biblical point of view, there is a good reason to examine the supernatural veracity of the phenomenon. Both now and in recorded history, they are places where the dark world of demonic power opens from time to time. The Bible marks them as places of dark and occultic worship. It even has a name for them.
For those who watch, they are always popping up where least expected. Recently, the world of the paranormal was preoccupied for a few weeks by the appearance of a complex “crop circle” that appeared yet again, in Wiltshire County. Speculation about the supernatural and the extraterrestrial became intense for a while.
The circle was about 330 feet in diameter, and featured a three-leaf center surrounded by a complex design, and a circle of strange letters from some exotic alphabet that at first, was said to be either an ancient Middle-Eastern alphabet or an occultic epigram. The thrill that this event might be of extraterrestrial origin rose to high levels for a few days. It was said to have appeared during a four-hour period between midnight and dawn. But the story fell through. It was merely a fraud—a hoax.
The witnesses had lied to publicize the event. The design had actually been put in place from mid-July to early August, 2016. About eight workers had been paid to produce the hoax in silence with a purpose—the “ancient” design turned out to be a modified logo for Mothership Glass of Bellingham, Washington, (see top right). It was simply a commercial for an art-glass factory, widely known for making expensive paraphernalia, used in the smoking of marijuana and other drugs. Apparently, a very large amount of money was paid for this ruse, meant to appear as an “actual” crop circle, concocted by supernatural aliens of some sort, thus connecting the manufacturer with the mystical world of the occult and the extraterrestrial.
This strange event raises an important question: Why perpetrate this hoax? Why would a company making equipment dedicated to “getting high” pay to portray themselves in the appearance of the supernatural? The answer is self-evident, and the Bible makes the connection clear.
In Revelation 9, the society alive during the Tribulation is described as practicing the constant pursuit of evil:
“Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts” (Rev. 9:21).
They kill, steal, commit sins of the flesh and practice “sorceries.” Here, we find that this word is translated from the Greek, “pharmakeia,” (think of the word pharmacy) clearly denoting the use of drugs. Among other things, these substances open doors into the dark world of the demonological and supernatural. It is quite easy to see why a company dedicated to drug use would amalgamate its name with a phenomenon—crop circles—known for its connection with the supernatural unknown. Its design evoked a connection with dark powers from beyond.
In the modern era, crop circles go back to a famous and often-quoted story printed in 1678, in a pamphlet dedicated to “Strange News out of Hartford-shire.” It tells of a farmer who was outraged by the high price charged by a laborer to mow his grain field. He loudly declared that he would rather have the devil mow it. That night, accompanied by strange flames, the field was mowed in a way “that no mortal man was able to do the like.
Thus was born the story of the “mowing devil.” In the centuries that followed, locals always attributed the appearance of strange circles in their grain crops as “mowing devils.” To this day, that description seems quite appropriate. Some see them as signs of a coming revelation.
“SIGNS” AND THE BIBLE
Motion pictures have become this generation’s bellwether. They are the predictor of future reality worth watching. Increasingly, they are preoccupied with the demonic—the supernatural masquerading as science fiction.
Popular entertainment almost always reflects deep, dark, subliminal truth. These days, prophetic warnings of the end times are becoming ever more visible in the popular media. Aliens and demons (two aspects of the same, dark world) populate the mass media in profusion.
To those who understand the full spiritual depth of the Bible, their presence foreshadows the days of judgment, when the underworld will be unleashed upon a defenseless world. Today’s paganism is allowing the dark world to reassert itself.
A few years ago, a popular motion picture called, “Signs,” suggested that “they” (extraterrestrials) are coming in force … whoever “they” are. The “signs” that it used to build a narrative were crop circles in a cornfield. Its dramatic fiction featured dark and evil invaders, demonic in nature, whose crop circles were only a foreshadowing of their intention to take over the world.
In actuality, the primary feature of this movie—crop circles—are more in line with the lying power of ancient pagan idolatry.
When reading the Bible, there is a tendency for us to look at man’s early behaviors, and think of them as having been extinguished forever. Actually, it is a truism that history repeats itself. The old becomes the new, over and over again. It has been said that individuals may grow old and wise; society grows neither old nor wise, but always remains in its infancy.
This is particularly true of society’s level of spiritual maturity. Again and again, with each passing generation, a recycled version of the ancient idolatries emerges to plague humanity all over again.
Today’s “modern” man thinks of himself as far too civilized to allow himself to fall into the obsolete pagan practices of archaic man. The worship of pagan gods who once demanded the sacrifice of infants is regarded as hopelessly old-fashioned. But today, the worldwide infant death toll from the “abortion machine” eclipses the numbers of Canaanite infant sacrifices.
Pagan idolatry is at an all-time high. It includes shamanism, divination, and clairvoyance through “spirit masters,” who are sending mankind mysterious messages through crystals, mediums and designs laid down in cereal crops. The latter are thought to be centers of great force.
The visible presence of such spiritist “power centers” evokes the memory of a phenomenon commonly evoked in the Old Testament as the basis of God’s judgment. In the language of the New Age, it would be termed paying homage to a place of spiritual command. Today, there are many such locations, literally numbering in the thousands. They may be an awe-inspiring location like the mountains around Boulder, Colorado, or Mount Fuji in Japan. They may be places of surpassing, mystical beauty, like the rocky canyons around Sedona, Arizona. They may be silent grottos or ancient monuments like Stonehenge, in England. The Druids there believe that it is a place of incredible energy and spiritual intensity.
In terms of geography, there is something in the heart of man that tends to link the craggy, windswept heights with a sense of religious significance. Although true worship may focus upon such places—like Mt. Sinai or the New Testament Mount of Transfiguration—paganism is often seen to appropriate such places for its rituals. The attainment of height meant separation from the commonplace of everyday life. As one drew nearer to the sky, there was the feeling of proximity to the dwelling places of the gods.
More than that, certain elevated places whether natural or manmade, were deemed “power points”—places where the presence of the gods was especially favorable. In the ancient days, they were points of contact for the spiritually impoverished, who sought favor and blessing.
In the Old Testament, there are many references to pagan worship and its association with so-called “high places.” When castigating his people for their pagan degradation, Ezekiel described their odious form of worship:
“20 Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter, 21 That thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them?” (Ezek. 16:20, 21).
His scathing denunciation of their behavior is linked to the detestable high places, which scar the spiritual landscape of the early Israelites.
In the same chapter of his prophecy, Ezekiel describes the form that their worship took. It was a place that gave forth a spiritual aura, chosen not by the Lord, but by the fleshly worship of the Canaanite tribes. Had the Lord’s will been followed, it would have been wiped out in the days of Joshua.
The Israelites illicit adoration of Ashtoreth, Molech, Baal and others, took the form that had earlier been established by the pagan societies in the region. In the same chapter, Ezekiel describes the common practice:
“23 And it came to pass after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee! saith the Lord GOD;) 24 That thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place, and hast made thee an high place in every street. 25 Thou hast built thy high place at every head of the way, and hast made thy beauty to be abhorred, and hast opened thy feet to every one that passed by, and multiplied thy whoredoms” (Ezek. 16:23-25).
The troubled prophet also mentions how remarkably common and pervasive the practice had become. His people had totally embraced the false forms of worship formerly reserved only for those who didn’t know the Lord:
“In that thou buildest thine eminent place in the head of every way, and makest thine high place in every street; and hast not been as an harlot, in that thou scornest hire” (Ezek. 16:31).
The result of their debauchery would come in the severe judgments of the Babylonian captivity:
“38 And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy. 39 And I will also give thee into their hand, and they shall throw down thine eminent place, and shall break down thy high places: they shall strip thee also of thy clothes, and shall take thy fair jewels, and leave thee naked and bare” (Ezek. 16:38, 39).
In the above passages, Ezekiel uses the Hebrew word, ramah, [to be high] to describe the pagan practice of finding natural elevations for shrines and idols. But there was far more than physical elevation in their worship. In fact, the concept of height was more of a spiritual expression than anything else. In these high places, the people felt that they were drawing near the gods. To be “high” was their way of expressing closeness to the world of the gods.
In modern language, we would more likely say that they were attempting to penetrate the veil between this world and the world of the spirits.
The apostasy of ancient Israel was simply breathtaking in its brazen practices. Idolatry of all kinds was common. Ritual sexual practices were virtually universal. Child sacrifice was considered perfectly acceptable. In all these practices, it was common to call upon the names of many, many other gods. To make matters worse, they know the opening words of the ten commandments, the first two of which expressly forbid appealing to any false god:
1 And God spake all these words, saying, 2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments” (Ex. 20:1-6).
In spite of this warning, Israel had eagerly adopted the practices that they were charged to eliminate. In the centuries between Joshua’s entrance into the Promised Land and the foundation of David’s kingdom, the practice of building landscaped shrines on high ground became thoroughly established.
The books of I & II Kings refer to the high places with the word bamah, meaning “elevation” or “ridge.” Of this word, the Hebrew dictionary states, “… high places, as places of worship, at first on hills and mountains, later on artificial mounds or platforms, under green trees, and in cities; still later for the chapels erected thereon, and once apparently for a portable sanctuary … the ancient worship of Israel was conducted on these high places. In the times of Samuel and David they ascended to them, descended from them and offered sacrifices on them.” [Hebrew and English Lexicon, Brown, Driver, Briggs, p. 119]
THE HEIGHTS BECOME THE DEPTHS
Sometimes, bamah may simply refer to a topographical height; sometimes it refers to a mountain or hill, upon which a site of religious veneration is located. Occasionally, it is a location used in the legitimate worship of the Lord. Of course, the ultimate mount of worship is Mount Zion, the Holy Temple Mount, itself. In the prophecy of Ezekiel, Israel’s latter-day enemies refer to it, and other locations, as they plan their victory:
“1 Also, thou son of man, prophesy unto the mountains of Israel, and say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the LORD: 2 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because the enemy hath said against you, Aha, even the ancient high places are ours in possession” (Ezek. 36:1,2).
In its original sense, Mt. Moriah is a location chosen by the Lord as the most revered location on the face of the Earth. Had Israel remained faithful to Him, it would be the only “High Place” in existence. Ezekiel darkly states that the sinners of the latter days would turn it into a pagan high place.
Israel did not remain faithful; instead they fell into apostasy. Even their kings began to wander away from the true faith, bringing their offerings before the false gods of Babylon, Egypt and Assyria. Solomon himself, fell into this evil practice:
“And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places” (1 Ki. 3:3).
As difficult as it is to believe, Solomon—the wisest man in the world—began to honor the ancient gods of wood, clay, stone and bronze. The practices of their worshippers were debased in the extreme. They involved ritual prostitution, infant sacrifice and vicious, brutal and sadistic perversions:
4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. 7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon” (I Ki. 11:4-7).
Ultimately, Solomon turned Israel’s best side into a mockery of its former grandeur. Throughout the days of the Davidic monarchy, Israel repeatedly cycled through a series of cleansings, each followed by yet another descent into abomination. He even turned the priesthood of Levi into a shadow of its former holiness:
“And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi” (I Ki. 12:31).
In the days following Solomon’s reign, the term “high place” came to refer to a man-made platform, dedicated to one or another false gods. Formerly, the term bamah meant a natural height; now it described a place of spiritual abomination. In height, it was perhaps three or four feet above the surrounding terrain. Its prominence was judged by its perceived spiritual power.
THE GROVES OF ASHERAH
Solomon’s enormous power and wealth translated into debauchery on a grand—and international—scale. He formed political alliances among the surrounding pagan tribes by marrying the daughters of their high leaders. In the process, he imported their idolatrous religions. The practice accelerated after his death, as can be seen in the following brief account:
“21 And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. And his mother’s name was Naamah an Ammonitess. 22 And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done. 23 For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree” (I Ki. 14:21-23).
In the concluding verse of this report, we get a glimpse of the scope and size of the merger of various pagan idolatries into one great idea: the worship of the fertility goddess and her consort: the lord Baal.
And here we encounter a term that evokes the most severe revulsion in the study of biblical history. It is the Hebrew word asherah, usually translated as “grove” in the King James Bible. A study of grove worship brings the pagan practices of the Israelites into full focus. Their high places were exalted meeting places, where one could interact with the gods.
Actually, the word “grove” is more of a physical description of the worship site than a description of the religious tradition it evokes. These were places, as we would say in our present parlance, landscaped and preened to produce the feeling of oneness with nature.
Beautiful locations were chosen, then elevated stone altars were built to receive ritual productions and sacrifices. Trees and ornamental shrubbery were planted. Often, water gardens or fountains were featured. The effect, when completed, was that of a beautiful shrine, dedicated to the fertility goddess.
She was Asherah, a pagan Canaanite deity. In the formal practices of her adherents, she was the close consort of Baal. It is known that the grove was built around a wooden totem, or “sacred pole,” which was a personal representation of the goddess. Little is known of its actual appearance, but it was a manufactured item, as can be seen from the following Scripture:
“For the LORD shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to anger” (I Ki. 14:15).
In her purest form, Asherah was a tree, worshipped at the center of a grove of trees. Historically, she came from the false worship of Babylon. Various historical sources identify her as a sea goddess.
Asherah and Baal correspond to the god and goddess image first seen in Ishtar and Tammuz. They were the husband and wife who, after the death and resurrection of the husband (Tammuz), became the mother and child. Throughout the ancient Middle East, they were seen again and again in the cultures of various countries.
In Egypt, they were Isis and Osiris. In Rome, Fortuna and Jupiter the child. In Greece, she was the mother goddess Ceres, with child.
JEZEBEL, PRIESTESS OF BAAL
When the corrupted King Ahab became ruler of Israel, he brought the combined worship of Baal and Asherah to its highest level. His wife, Jezebel came from the house of the king of Tyre, where she had been raised from childhood as a priestess of Baal. Their kingdom was based upon the premise that the spiritual influence of Baal and Asherah would give them unassailable power.
But the Lord raised up the prophet Elijah, who went forth in the authority of the Lord. He challenged the evil king and queen, and they responded in the famous incident on Mt. Carmel, then a high place for the combined priesthood of the evil god-couple, Baal and Asherah:
“17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? 18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim. 19 Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table” (I Ki. 18:17-19).
Note the huge numbers of false priests. These corrupted men ate at the king’s table, and were the recipients of his protection. In turn, Ahab felt that they would provide the spiritual cover for his kingdom. But Elijah, giving them a dose of their own medicine, invited them to their own high place, Mount Carmel. This beautiful spot had become befouled as a meeting place for false gods.
As the narrative of this historic meeting runs its well-known course, Elijah publicly humiliates them. In fact, they are rounded up and executed. The rains, which had been withheld from the land, now came in profusion. Jezebel swore that her servants would kill Elijah, but in the end, she was the victim of her own devices.
THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN
The Babylonian fertility goddess, Ishtar, became know as the Sumerian Astarte. Among the Canaanites, she was known as Ashtoreth, and was closely associated with Asherah. In fact, some sources say that the identities of the two became intertwined.
Ashtoreth, the companion of Baal, and Asherah the sea goddess of mythology who was Baal’s progenitoress, were worshipped in a composite religion. Its chief attribute was the blessing of fertility in people, animals and crops.
For literally hundreds of years, Israel and Judah placed their faith in these false idols. Occasionally, a king would arise and condemn their false practices. But in a few years, they would arise again.
The ten northern tribes of Israel fell to the Assyrians in 722 B.C. A little over a hundred years later, in 606 B.C., the prophet Jeremiah warned Judah that God’s judgment was imminent. Even at this later hour, Jeremiah encouraged them to mend their ways. But he cautioned that if they didn’t give up the worship of strange gods, they would be crushed as a people. Through him, the voice of the Lord gave a specific warning about the source of His disfavor:
“17 Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger” (Jer. 7:17,18).
The “queen of heaven” mentioned here is none other than the Ishtar/Astarte/ Ashtoreth who had for centuries been worshipped in the groves. She is the fertility goddess and lady of the consort-god Baal. Together, they were the lord and lady of every local culture.
From the days of the ancient Canaanites through the monarchies of David and Solomon and centuries later, in the time of Jeremiah, the obscene worship continued. The Jews were continually tempted to promote the ritual worship, in ways that are too crude to mention.
The baking of cakes in the above passage may, in fact, refer to the clay figurines made as ritual fertility totems. They were primitive representations of the female body, displaying exaggerated feminine features. To this day, Israeli archaeologists dig them up by the hundreds. They were used in worship, along with the other ritual practices that were in full form a thousand years before Jeremiah’s denunciation.
But even as Jeremiah reasoned with them, they rebuffed him. He continued to tell them that the Lord had come to the end of His patience, but they wouldn’t listen. In fact, they even argued that the blessings of the “queen of heaven” were superior to those that came from the lord Jehovah of their fathers:
“15 Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying, 16 As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee. 17 But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. 18 But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine” (Jer. 44:15-18).
The incense and drink offerings that were poured out were identical to those of the grove worship in the days of Solomon. And here, the multitude were adamant in the face of Jeremiah’s condemnation. They were absolutely convinced that the fertility goddess would continue to bless them.
WHY DESTROY A PERFECTLY GOOD RELATIONSHIP?
And here, we ask a pressing question: After experiencing the blessing of the Most High God, why would Israel and Judah leave Him and go to other gods? The answer is obvious. They felt that the new gods could bestow power upon them. They had the power of fertility. The goddess queen gave them the false appearance of providing food and protection.
But most of all, they had the ritual sense of the supernatural. In the groves and high places, they felt the presence of the gods. Ancient historical texts speak volumes about the power and deceptive phenomena experienced by ancient pagans. Trances, clairvoyance, false visions and “magic” were only a few of the effects that were seen in demonic rituals. Grove worship was animistic at its heart. That is, it was believed that all nature was represented by gods … of the forest, the trees, the streams, the atmosphere, the clouds … even plants and stones. Spirits that the bible would clearly identify as demons were perceived to live in caves, rivers and the seashore.
The Gentile world had always worshipped such spirits, seeking their blessing and divine providence. It is indisputable that their psychic force was convincing to Israelites who gave up the worship of Jehovah, which required faith; the false gods apparently gave immediate gratification—satisfaction of the flesh.
As time passed, and Gentile rule over Israel shifted to the Persians, Greeks and Romans, grove worship mutated into the cult of the goddess Ashtoreth. She became personified as protector and provider. She is the fertility goddess whom Jeremiah called “the queen of heaven.”
Even during the height of pharisaical Judaism in the days of Herod’s Temple, her cult continued to be an influence among the Jews. In fact, before finally being covered in the dust of history, it survived well into the first centuries of the Christian Era.
Centuries passed, and the Church passed through wave after wave of cultic error, denominational feuding and the excesses of the Holy Roman Empire. Under the medieval papacy, the church ruled the world with an iron hand. Its powers were finally focused into a burgeoning, inclusive ecumenism. Within the last two centuries, the doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception became institutionalized, worshiping her birth, not Jesus’. Then she began to be worshipped as the “queen of the nations,” and finally as she is today, “the queen of heaven.”
GROVES AND GROTTOS: MODERN HIGH PLACES
And now, we come to the present day. The worship of the goddess has been set aside for about the past eighteen hundred years. Or has it? In the contemporary world, we discover a modern phenomenon that bears a remarkable resemblance to the paranormal phenomena experienced at the ancient high places.
The first significant modern appearance of the long-suppressed “queen” took place in 1858, as a young girl named Bernadette Soubirous experienced eighteen trance-visions of the “Blessed Virgin Mary.” Her experiences shook France, then Europe and finally, the whole world.
They took place in the secluded and evocative Grotto of Massabielle, near the town of Lourdes. Bernadette reported that a divine lady appeared to her eighteen times. Each appearance, or “apparition,” as it came to be called, was accompanied by a supernatural prophetic message. When combined, the messages purported to tell the story of the end of the world.
Furthermore, pilgrims to the site discovered that, on occasion, they would experience miraculous healings and personal blessings. The bishop of Lourdes headed a commission of enquiry. His convocation ruled that the lady was ordained of God: “There is thus a direct link between the cures and the Apparitions, the Apparitions are of divine origin, since the cures carry a divine stamp. As a result, the Apparition that Bernadette saw and heard, calling herself the Immaculate Conception, is the Most Holy Virgin Mary! Thus we write: the finger of God is here.”
The lady of Lourdes paved the way for other apparitions. Some were minor and little noted; others were spectacular.
Perhaps the most noteworthy of them all took place at Fatima, Portugal in 1917. In another secluded grotto called Charneca de Fatima, three children— Lucia, 10, Francisco, 9, and Jacinta, 7— began to be visited by the divine lady.
Like Bernadette, they began to receive prophetic messages, which the lady urged them to carry to the leaders of their city. But no one else saw the apparition, and they were accused of concocting a fantastic story. The lady told them not to worry, that she would show proof of her reality to all who came on a certain date.
That date, September 13th, brought the miracle of the midday, dancing Sun. It had rained all day, and the thousands who came to see the sign were soaked to the skin. At three in the afternoon, the Sun began to spin and change color while lowering itself toward the crowd. Wet clothing was said to have suddenly become dry. It became a shining disc that came down to the ground. Might one speculate that witnesses identified this place as a circular site of power?
The crowd of thousands fell into ecstatic shock. The masses, both at the site and in the countries beyond, became instant believers in the virgin “queen of the nations.” Little Lucia received a lengthy set of messages from her. Purportedly, they told of the end of the world in specific detail.
These “prophecies” eventually made their way to the Vatican, where they were sealed. There have been promises to reveal them all at the proper time, but apparently, that time has never come.
In countries all over the world, such apparitions appear, usually to small children, although adult men and woman also report them. It is common for supplicants in the thousands to flock to the latest reported sites, possibly to receive their own personal miracles.
But in every case, the effect of these apparitions is to strengthen the cult of “the queen of heaven.” Those who have studied the phenomenon say that over the last century, the number of such appearances is approaching five hundred!
A couple of decades ago, before the war with Bosnia in the territory of Yugoslavia, it is estimated that over 30 million people visited the little town of Medjugorje to witness the phenomenon of the miraculous lady. There, three young children (this time, Yugoslavian) would regularly fall into a trance state, staring into open space, at what they said was the divine virgin. She gave them prophetic messages, which they relayed to the waiting crowds. The locations of these apparitions are frequently turned into instant shrines, where the faithful report divine manifestations, sightings, healings and revelations. Offerings are left in profusion. Sacrificial gifts of worship are common.
Though they have not yet achieved the full acceptance of ancient high places, they resemble them in virtually every way. The precedents have been set.
All that remains is the formalization of worship. But the groves of the ancient world are presently being reborn in the grottos of the modern era. It is as though the leaders of the dark world sense the arrival of the end of days. They know that their time is coming, and that evil is rising on a grand scale for only a very short time.
SEATS OF SUPERNATURAL POWER
All over the ancient world, there are circular mazes, altars and mounds. In the Golan Heights, there is an ancient stone circle that archeologists say must be at least four thousand years old. In Hebrew, It is called Gilgal Rephaim, “the Circle of the Giants.” The circle is huge— over five-hundred feet in diameter, and formed of four concentric rings of stones. (see diagram below)
These rings surround a circular stone altar. Originally, it must have been elevated at some height above ground level. It is estimated that over 37,000 tons of stones went into its construction! Why would the ancients have gone to the enormous lengths required to build such a center? Archaeologists haven’t a clue as to its use. The only conceivable answer is that they were paying homage to a god or gods, whom they deemed powerful and worthy.
In the Americas, mounds, stone circles and even pyramids were the high places of pagan worship. American Indians built hundreds of “medicine wheels,” stone circles associated with the zodiac, deemed as places where one could commune with the great spirit.
All over the world, we see hundreds of examples that show the length to which ancient men would go, in order to build shrines to their gods. Were they motivated by mere superstition, or did they receive visible proof that these gods were present?
The answer to this question is central to understanding the nature of idolatry. The bottom line is this: Men will do anything to cultivate power. And power is exactly the lure behind the mystique of the high place.
Proof of this simple fact can be found at today’s most active “power center.” It is the Avebury Neolithic Complex, which lies in the Wiltshire district of southern England. Its ancient high places are legendary. More than that, they are the focus of a phenomenon that has captured the world’s imagination.
The Avebury Circle is really a complex association of circles. The largest is made of standing stones. Its diameter is slightly over fourteen-hundred feet! Outside this large circle is a continuous ditch about twenty feet deep! In its construction, over 40 tons of stones were moved, along with millions of cubic feet of earth.
Inside the outer circle are two smaller circles, situated side by side. Not far from the Avebury Circle is Windmill Hill, site of a smaller worship circle. All of these are the remains of ancient high places in Britain. They predate history, but are known to be centers of veneration.
Not far away from Avebury is the intriguing monument, well-known as Stonehenge. It, too, is in Wiltshire. Its outer earthwork is a circle of about 330 feet in diameter. Another smaller circle of chalk-filled holes is concentric with the outer one. Near the center is another circle of blue stones.
But it is at the very center that one finds the famous Sarsen Circle. About 108 feet in diameter, it consists of vertical stones, capped by stone lintels that are 13 feet above the ground. In its original condition, it was a complete, paved, circular wall of massive stones. Though archaeologists have tried to depict it as ancient man’s astronomical observatory, it is really a worship center. In fact, it was the ultimate classic high place.
To emphasize this fact, England’s modern pagans, the Druids, have appropriated Stonehenge and its nearby ancient monuments, in the belief that they are centers of mystical power. On their so-called “holy” days, they flock to these spots to enact the centuries-old rituals of their pre-Christian forefathers.
For the last two-and-a-half centuries, various pagan groups, including the Druids, have risen to prominence in England, even as Christianity has waned. Some time ago, even the leader of the Church of England has been inducted into their ranks!
Dr. Rowan Williams, (above) the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, is regarded as radical and notoriously liberal, even by other liberals. With full knowledge of the facts, he ordained a homosexual priest. He openly challenged the historical restraints that the church has placed upon various practices deemed immoral. In the first week of August, 2002, he was inducted as a Druid in the “Gorsedd of the Bards.” He comes from Wales, not far from the site of numerous ancient monuments.
Much in the manner of the ancient Israelites, modern man systematically departs from the worship of the Lord, drifting slowly into another zone of power—the gods of forest and fen, brook and mountain.
Near Stonehenge is another circle. It is called Woodhenge, and seems to have served the same religious function as its larger neighbor. But in today’s post-Christian England, all the sites are receiving a new energy.
CIRCLES OF POWER
It is important to note that the circles, altars, and mounds in the Wiltshire region are closely connected with a phenomenon that has gained international attention since the mid- 1990s. Crop circles by the hundreds appear in grain fields that lie between Avebury and Silbury in the north, and Stonehenge and Woodhenge in the south. There is hardly a human being alive who isn’t aware of the crop circle debate. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, motion picture producers regard the phenomenon as genuine.
Farmers began to notice the circles in the early 1990s. Near harvest time, stalks of grain were bent to the ground without being broken. Evidence of heating was seen at the bends in the stalks. But even though flattened, the crops continued to grow. Witnesses marveled at the sweeping vortices of grain within the circles.
Some hoaxers, like Dave and Doug, constantly claim that they’ve done the mischievous work. Others said that the beautiful and geometrically-perfect designs were beyond human capability.
The famous “Windmill Hill” formation was a miracle of art and engineering. Examination and inquiries established that it must have been executed within about a two-hour period. It was over 900 feet in diameter!
In 1997, a mathematical and geometric marvel of overlaid triangles appeared in a field at the foot of Silbury Hill. It was 350 feet in diameter, outlined by a border of 126 small, perfect circles. Silbury has been the site of many formations … complicated combinations of circles and glyphs that many interpret as an arcane communication from aliens. Of course, they think of “space aliens.” But biblical aliens—the fallen angels—are capable of this work, and of posing as demigods.
Still, men reason that aliens from an outer-somewhere-else in the galaxy are now visiting Earth. Rather than create global hysteria by suddenly revealing themselves, they are slowly acclimatizing mankind to their presence. They are doing this by gradually increasing the size and complexity of their bizarre circular constructions.
We would urge a single question: Are these “space aliens,” or are they the old gods who, in the absence of the Lord’s blessing are reasserting themselves? Fallen angels and demons offer the best explanation of the current crop of paranormal phenomena. Lights in the sky, abductions, energy fields and psychological distortions are all symptomatic of the dark world.
For decades, cults of “believers” congregate at new crop formations. Crop circle analysts, terming themselves “cerealologists,” regularly study the phenomenon, documenting the newest developments, and reporting them to the faithful.
Visitors to freshly-made sites report feelings of electricity, tingling, strange noises, ringing—even the sound of a distant choir! Some claim to have experienced visions while standing at the center of the circles.
One might argue that it is too much to make a connection between the ancient stone circles and the new crop circles. Quite the contrary, it is easy to see the ancients, memorializing sites of frequent crop activity by setting them in stone.
The ways of the demonic world have a remarkably consistent appearance. Their contemporary ways are the same as their ancient ones. The only thing they change is the external appearance they use to fool the gullible.
To the ancients, they took the acceptable form of the old gods: Baal, Ashtoreth, Diana, Isis and others. To the modern “scientific” thinkers, they present themselves as super-scientific aliens, able to travel from one star system to another.
To the religious, they may present themselves as the virgin “queen of heaven.” To neopagans, they are the ascended masters of a higher dimension.
In any case, they invite the worship of the faithful, some of whom are convinced that the world is about to be destroyed by an environmental crisis, a nuclear war or a wayward asteroid.
But to Christians, the mysterious entities are the enemy, a distraction from the true faith. Through study and spiritual preparedness, we know that regardless of their appearance, they are always the same:
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).
With a few cosmetic alterations, the new high places are the same as the old. The real truth is this: They tell us that judgment is near at hand.