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  • Writer's pictureJ.P. Robinson

The Alvord Desert Mystery

Most of us are already familiar with crop circle formations mysteriously appearing overnight in many parts of the world, predominantly in the English countryside in the southern counties of Wiltshire and the surrounding areas. But the following article discusses the inexplicable appearance of a Hindu symbol on a dried up lake-bed in Oregon in the United States.

The Sri Yantra symbol on the dry lake bed in Mickey Basin in the Alvord Desert, Oregon as seen from 9,000 feet in the air


On the morning of August 10, 1990, Bill Miller, a pilot in the Idaho Air National Guard who regularly flew over the Alvord Desert in Oregon performing routine photo reconnaissance missions in an RF4 jet, first spotted the anomalous glyph below in Mickey Basin, southeast of Steens Mountains in the Alvord Desert in Oregon. According to Miller who immediately reported the unusual sighting to the National Guard, the etching had simply appeared that morning, as thirty minutes previous during his earlier round, there had been no sign of the bizarre formation.


The beautifully intricate design was carved through the hard sun-baked terrain of the dry lake bed using an incredible 13.3 miles of lines which span over an area of about a quarter of a mile in length and width. Created with absolute precision and clarity, the remarkable glyph was precisely oriented along a north-south axis. From point to point the design is exactly 11.5 degrees whilst the outer lines are accurately 23 degrees apart, and the actual lines are three inches in depth, which is no easy feat considering the toughness of the terrain.


After the initial sighting, the story was concealed from the public and media by the authorities for a whole month. Once the story finally broke on Boise TV station on September 12th, the glyph was quickly recognised as the Sri Yantra, an ancient Hindu mediation device, which impressively reveals the precisely intricate and identical proportions within the sacred geometry of the pictograph. As beautiful and awe inspiring as the Sri Yantra is when exhibited at such a large scale, the reason for its sudden appearance in the Oregonian desert remain unknown.


The Sri Yantra design has a degree of complexity and a level of symmetry that makes it difficult to recreate its design even on paper. Furrowing an enormous replication of it on a dry lake-bed is next to impossible. There was, therefore, a good deal of speculation that the glyph was not man-made.

By the time the story got picked up by The Oregonian newspaper mid-September, it was reported that some architects had been in touch with them claiming that a land survey would first have to be conducted before any project could be started, and they estimated the costs to reach up to $100,000. Such an expensive project surely rules out foul play. Not to mention the immense difficulty in preproducing the perfectly formed lines of this grandiose and complex Sri Yantra which is undecipherable whilst at ground level, and only can be viewed in its entirety from a height of a few thousand feet above.

The Sri Yantra glyph seen in context of the surrounding mountains for scale


The Sri Yantra is defined in Vedic texts as a device formed by nine interlocking triangles, four of which point upward to represent Shiva and overlap five downward-pointing triangles representing Shakti. The triangles radiate out from the Bindu point, which represents the junction between the physical and non-physical universe, or the point where all creation begins. These triangles are interlaced so that they create 43 similar triangles which symbolise the entire cosmos. An inner circle of lotus petals then surrounds the triangles, followed by an outer circle which serves as a protective layer. The devotee is then transported into a world of symbols and visualisations as he enters the Sri Yantra mandala, leaving behind worldly distractions and thoughts. It is also described as a visual representation of the sound 'Om'.


The Sri Yantra is a spiritual symbol that has been used in India for centuries. It is said to contain within it the entire universe and is therefore considered a powerful tool for meditation and enlightenment. With its powerful cosmic connection, it is said to grant wishes and bestow blessings.

As is often the case, the mysterious desert formation was later debunked when about forty days after the initial sighting, a group of four 'artists' led by Bill Witherspoon came forward taking credit for the astounding land art. They claimed to have etched the pictograph themselves over a period of ten days using nothing more than a plow-like garden cultivator to scratch the lines through the hard dirt, using rope to ensure the lines were straight and angles accurate. Witherspoon insisted that they simply followed the blueprint of the Sri Yantra mandala, then employed their artistry using crude tools to create the gouges in the lake bed. A shoddy video was then produced to show the team in action as they walk along the surface, scraping the lines as they go.


This cover story may have appease the general public, no doubt as it was intended to do, reminiscent of Jesse Marcel the day after Roswell with the weather balloon story, but many researchers of the time were far from convinced. Dr. James Deardorff, a Research Professor Emeritus at the Atmospheric Science Department of Oregon State University investigated the incident and found too many unexplainable elements which contradict the Witherspoon story.


For one, how could four men spend ten days making the Sri Yantra when the pilot insisted it appeared within a 30 minute window? The whole area is constantly patrolled by the National Guard, who would have spotted unusual activity such as that claimed by the four men over a ten day period.


Secondly, the lines were three inches deep and ten inches wide, and there neither footprints or tyre tracks anywhere in the vicinity. Witherspoon claims they walked three quarters of a mile everyday to reach the site, yet in another interview he contradicted himself by stating that they were camped 2 miles away. When the men were demonstrating how they did it on the video, they were retracing the actual lines which has been there for over a month, and only managed to gouge out untidy lines half an inch deep, whilst exerting themselves in the process. The idea that they successfully scraped out thirteen and a half miles of perfect lines at an even depth of three by ten inches is simply a lie.


Details of Deardoff's investigations which he undertook in collaboration with Don Newman and Alan Decker was forwarded the story to UFO Magazine, a British magazine devoted to the subject of UFOs and extraterrestrials. The magazine published the story in Volume 6, #3 in 1991 under the heading, A Symbol on the Oregon Desert.


Although over three decades ago, the beautiful and intricate design which was carved into the sun parched terrain of the Alvord Desert back in 1990 should not go unnoticed. Whoever created it in all its perfection and so swiftly, as is often the case with these things (see the Julia Set Formation crop circle near Stonehenge, England in 1996 which was formed during a similar time window), it was done with intent and to convey a message to us all. As with all of the amazing and mysterious messages in the fields that have appeared over the years, this isn't the work of an eccentric artist vying for fame and recognition, this is an ancient symbol which represents the entire universe within its geometric lines and curves.


This is a message to humanity.


We are not alone.


We never were.



For more on this subject read The Alien Enigma

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