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Ley lines are alleged alignments of ancient sites or holy places, such as stone circles, standing stones, cairns, and churches. Interest in ley lines began with the publication in 1922 of Early British Trackways by Alfred Watkins (1855-1935), a self-taught amateur archaeologist and antiquarian. Based upon the fact that on a map of Blackwardine, near Leominster, England, he could link a number of ancient landmarks by a series of straight lines, he became convinced that he had discovered an ancient trade route. Interest in these alleged trade routes as sources of mystical energy has become very popular among New Agers in Great Britain.
Today, ley lines have been adopted by New Age occultists everywhere as sources of power or energy, attracting not only curious New Agers but aliens in their UFOs and locals with their dowsing rods. These New Age occultists believe that there are certain sites on the earth which are filled with special "energy." Stonehenge, Mt. Everest, Ayers Rock in Australia, Nazca in Peru, the Great Pyramid at Giza, Sedona (Arizona), Mutiny Bay, among other places, are believed to be places of special energy. There is no evidence for this belief save the usual subjective certainty based on uncontrolled observations by untutored devotees. Nevertheless, advocates claim that the alleged energy is connected to changes in magnetic fields. None of this has been scientifically verified. Maps have been produced, however, with lines on them which allegedly mark off special energy spots on earth. For example, the Seattle Arts Commission gave $5,000 to a group of New Age dowsers, the Geo Group, to do a ley line map of Seattle. Photographs of the result, which looks like a defaced satellite photo of the Seattle area, can be purchased for $7.00 from the group. It proudly proclaims that the "project made Seattle the first city on Earth to balance and tune its ley-line system." The Arts Commission has been criticized by skeptical citizens for funding a New Age, pagan sect, but the artwork continues to be displayed on a rotating basis in city-owned buildings within Seattle.
Citizens had every right to be skeptical. Here is what the Geo Group has to say about their project:
The vision of the Seattle Ley-Line Project is to heal the Earth energies within the Seattle city limits by identifying ley-line power centers in Seattle, neutralizing negative energies and then amplifying the positive potential of the ley-line power centers. We believe the result will be a decrease in disease and anxiety, an increased sense of wholeness and well-being and the achievement of Seattle's potential as a center of power for good on Spaceship Earth.
The Geo Group's vision is little more than a profession of faith. It is reminiscent of the claim of Transcendental Meditation that group meditation could reduce local crime rates. The Geo Group's methods have been just as effective.
The word ley is a variant of lea, meaning grassland, clearing, or pasture. English towns with these names are somewhat common, e.g., Cantley (Cant's clearing).