Who first used the term 'ley line'? (history question)

Leys, Alignments, Energy leys, ley lines... what do you call them?
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Grahame
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Who first used the term 'ley line'? (history question)

Post by Grahame » Mon Oct 15, 2018 10:40 am

A pet project at the moment is trying to track down the origin of the term 'ley line'. Now before you call chorus 'Alfred Watkins', let me inform you that Watkins himself never used the term to describe the alignments of ancient sites that he found; he only ever referred to them as 'leys', so-called because he found a preponderance of place names along the alignments containing the word. Later, Watkins even stopped using the term 'ley', preferring the term 'archaic track' instead.

'Ley' is an archaic English word meaning a cleared strip of land, so to use the term 'ley line' is really a bit of a tautology as you are basically saying 'straight straight'. It's also confusing in dowsing terms, as not all visual 'Watkinsian' leys have much dowsable energy, and then there are dowsable energy leys that don't have a visual component.

So when did the term 'ley line' come in to common usage? The earliest reference I've found to date is from a 1974 article in the ASD digest by former ASD president Terry Ross, who talks about dowsing ‘ley lines’ in Vermont. He says that they are lines of energy 4.5 – 6.5 feet in width, that they are marked in similar fashion to European leys, come from a depth of 265 feet, flow at great speed, and water domes appear along the paths. This sounds very similar to the 'energy leys' that Sig Lonegren describes. I spoke to Sig about this, as he was (to my knowledge) the first person to start using the term 'energy ley' - this at the advice of John Michell (who also AFAIK only ever talked about 'leys'), to distinguish the dowsable straight lines of energy that he was finding from Watkinsian visual leys. Sig says that he was working with Terry Ross at that time, but that he himself has never called them 'ley lines'.

So is it possible the the term originated in the US? It is still commonly used in ASD circles - certainly more so than we do over this side of the pond.

The earliest example I can find of it being used in the UK comes from Colin Bloy and the Fountain International group. Colin talks about 'ley lines' in a 1981 Fountain article that I came across in their archive. Was this the first? Or can anyone recollect anything earlier?

The term is so ubiquitous these days that it may be impossible to definitively say who first used it. But if you have any insights, I'd love to hear them.
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Re: Who first used the term 'ley line'? (history question)

Post by Grahame » Sat Apr 27, 2019 9:06 am

I have just found an earlier UK reference for use of the term 'ley-line' in 'The Occult Diaries of R. Ogilvie Crombie' by Gordon Lindsay (which is highly recommended if you are interested in Findhorn lore and the world of nature spirits).

In a diary entry dated 2 November 1972, ROC (as he was known) relates a 'conversation' that he had with the Great God Pan the day before in Edinburgh Botanic Gardens, where Pan says, "...at that time, you knew nothing about power points and what some people call ley lines".

I'm sure there will probably be an earlier reference still to be found, but wouldn't it be delightful if this is the first use of the term, and it came from Pan himself?
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Re: Who first used the term 'ley line'? (history question)

Post by Geoff Stuttaford » Sat Apr 27, 2019 7:02 pm

If you enter “”Ley Line origin” on Goggle ,it gives Alfred Watkins as the originator of the term.
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Re: Who first used the term 'ley line'? (history question)

Post by Grahame » Sat Apr 27, 2019 10:55 pm

Geoff Stuttaford wrote:
Sat Apr 27, 2019 7:02 pm
If you enter “”Ley Line origin” on Goggle ,it gives Alfred Watkins as the originator of the term.
Which only goes to demonstrate how reliable Wikipedia is as a source. Watkins never used the term 'ley line' - he only ever referred to them as 'leys', as I pointed out in the first post.
Grahame
The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it - Terry Pratchett.

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