Let Sleeping Lines Ley

Something I’ve seen mention of occasionally but didn’t really know a lot about was the concept of ley lines, which are basically invisible lines that connect significant places. Alfred Watkins, a businessman who dabbled in antiquity, came up with the idea in 1921, when he figured that holy sites lay within certain alignments, publishing a book about it in 1925. While looking down from a hill, he noticed that there were straight paths between significant sites, and proposed that these were the routes people took back in the day.

He called them ley lines after the Old English for a cleared space, noting that a lot of the places the lines ran through had names ending with “ley.”

I’m sure the people in Neolithic times realized a line was the shortest distance between two points and at least TRIED to make roads straight, but as Watkins’ contemporaries pointed out, that’s a little difficult when there’s a mountain or a deep river in the way. Also, the sites that were connected had often been built in very different time periods, making it unlikely that they were all arranged along the same plan. There was nothing magical about Watkins’ proposed lines, but the New Age movement would later give the term mystical significance, and expand the idea well beyond England. The place I generally associate with ley lines is Sedona, Arizona; and it’s not like I’ve ever been there or anything. Believers drew lines on maps between places like Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid, although since the world isn’t flat, I guess they’d more accurately be ley arcs.

I’ve seen other concepts related to these. One is that of fairy paths, with which Watkins might have been familiar. In Celtic folklore, routes between fairy mounds were supposed to be kept clean of obstructions for fear of angering the fairies.

This could result in bad luck or sickness, especially if you interrupted a procession.

You’d think the fairies would mark their parade routes more clearly, but I get the impression they WANT mortals to screw up. Houses were even built to avoid these paths. John Michell wrote about the Chinese lung mei, or “dragon current,” a system of making sure building was done in harmony with the environment, along the same lines as Feng Shui. The lines have also been linked with UFOs, because apparently aliens used really bizarre navigational methods. They’re able to cross galaxies, but need invisible energy lines to get around on this one planet. (Okay, maybe there are ley lines in space, too.) I’m sure plenty of cultures built things in particular alignments, but I think it’s unlikely that there was a system of doing so that was known in widely disparate parts of the world and over a vast period of time, apparently just being able to intuit the existence of such lines. Then again, people say dogs are able to sense magnetic fields when they relieve themselves, so some level of intuition might be possible. And new holy sites were often built on top of old ones, since locals were already used to worshipping there. Ley lines show up from time to time in fantasy, with magic-workers obtaining power by tapping into the lines or the nodes where they intersect. Magic using the natural energy of the environment seems pretty common, with what comes to mind for me being the Geomancers in the Final Fantasy series.

The subject also makes me think of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Straight Road, the only way to reach Valinor after Arda was changed from flat from spherical during the Second Age. It’s not really the same as a ley line, but that could be where the name comes from.

This entry was posted in Authors, Celtic, Conspiracy Theories, Final Fantasy, History, J.R.R. Tolkien, Language, Magic, Maps, Mythology, Video Games and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Let Sleeping Lines Ley

  1. markrhunter says:

    You get extra points just for the title.

  2. Oh, so that’s why they’re called “ley” lines. I wondered. 😄

    That’s an interesting point about the lines technically being arcs due to the spherical nature of our planet. I’ve read that the lines we see on maps are often distorted compared to reality because accurately representing 3-dimensional space in a 2-dimensional drawing is almost impossible. It makes me wonder if ley lines plotted from a map would actually seem straight from an on-the-ground perspective.

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