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"lays" are thought to be patterns of invisible tracks or lines
having a complex power in the ground which seem to link sacred places and
natural magical sites. It is theorized in modern witchcraft and neo-paganism
that these patterns or alignments are vital for their apparent connection
to the forces of the elements, the basis of natural magic.
The original leys theory was put forth in 1925 by Alfred Watkins (b. 1855)
in his book The Old Straight Track published in London in 1925. Originally
the term leys was thought by philologists to mean only a pasture or an enclosed
field. However, Watkins challenged this meaning in his work.
Watkins described the various place-named forms of the term occurring in
the world, "lay," "lee." "lea," or "leigh."
From these different word forms he concluded the term leys predates
the terms pasture and enclosed field. Furthermore, Watkins observed that
man-made sacred places such as burial gerounds, megliths, churches, and
pagan worshipping sites, as well as natural peaks, magical springs and wells,
and other earthworks seem to align with one and another.
The leys, as Watkins named theses alignments, had been "old
straight tracks" discovered by prehistoric ley hunters, or Dodman surveyors,
who scouted and mapped the countryside seeking to find power spots for sacred
constructions, trading routes, and astronomical sites. Watkins' listings
of such sites for alignment is controversial because he not only included
sites of prehistoric societies, but also those of pre-Reformation churches.
Three years after the publication of The Old Straight Track in which
he documented his investigations which tended to show a vast network of
traks across Britain, aligned with either the sun or a star path, he claimed
evidence of the existence of similar tracks in various parts of the world.
Although most scientists reject the concept, the leys idea enjoyed popularity
until the 1940s and the decreased. It was not until the 1960s and 1970s
that it revived. Speculation is that the latter was mainly due to the increase
in psychic and occult interests. Some use the term ley lines when
referring to leys which many feel is inappropriate.
Not all alignments signify genuine leys. Modern ley-hunters who map leys
have established some requirements: there is a straight line within a certain
distance extending between two or more aligned sites, such as a standing
stone, a church site, a pagan sacred site, a burial mound, or a mountain,
etc. Some alignments are astronomical, such as where the sun rises at Beltane,
the solstices or equinoxes. Some ley-hunters say at least five alignments
within ten miles are required, while other say five within 25 miles. In
require the energy line be dowsable.
Points of leys, or leys centers, are places which radiate energy from at
least seven lines over magnetic fields or blind springs, a primary spiral
of converging primary geodetic lines (the shortest lines between two points
on a curved surface). There is speculation that ancient pagan people sensed
these points of energy radiation and situated their sacred worshipping places
atop or around them.
The vital force of the energy charge is classed as either male or female
depending on its rate of vibration, and it is believed to be present in all living material.
This charge may be natural or artificial. In centers the artificial charge
can be introduced by handling of stones or metals. Whether natural or artificial
charges dissipate over time unless they are fixed by hammering, heating,
or a magnetic field is presence.
Stones themselves can be charged and fixed with a certain magnitude of charge
or power. This has been stated by J. Havelock Fidler, a British agricultural
scientist and dowser. The stone employed in constructing megalithic monuments,
churches, holy wells and temples are charged by handling, and then fixed
by being shaped and fitted in place by blows from axes and chisels. Fidler
said the stone's charge was increased according to the number of blows it
Therefore, the charge in megaliths was considered to be very great. Also,
helping to increase the megalithic charge, Fidler speculated, was the raising
of the cone of power
by witches and pagans. During his experiments Fidler discovered he could
impact greater charges to stones during the full moon, the time of greatest
magical and psychic power.
According to British folklore, the ground itself can be charged and fixed.
There was an ancient custom known as "beating the parish bounds."
The priest and choirboys of a church would go around the parish perimeter
using rods with which they would beat the ground. Presumably this procedure
was believed to erect a protective barrier around the parish.
It is thought fire also fixes a charge. Charges were found at cremation
pits, burials (such as those at Stonehenge), sacrificial pits, and the burning of wood.
Also, Fidler discovered that while the geomagnetic forces surrounding the
ley centers emit beneficial energy, the stones themselves seem to emit a
type of energy detrimental to animate objects. This latter energy is apparently
counteracted by the leys themselves, which redirect the energy to other
centers where it can be neutralized.
Charges at one time may have been deliberately masked. Certain types of
wood, such as elm and elderberry; metals such as iron; and mineral substances
such as salt, quartz crystals, amethysis, jasper and flint have been shown
to mask charged stones. (It is interesting to note that iron, salt, elm,
and elderberry are all revered in folklore for their protective properties
against bewitchment, illness, demons and bad fortune.)
Leys, or straight path systems, are speculated to exist in the United Kingdom,
perhaps in France and the United States. There is also speculation of their
existence in Peru and Bolivia. In Peru, from the Sun Temple at the center
of the city of Cuzco, 41 lines called ceques spread out into the
country, marked by various shrines, hills, bridges, and other sites, some
of them being astronomical sight lines. In Bolivia holy tracks have been
shown to coverage on Indian shrines at top of holy hills. A.G.H.
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