Random Stuff I Learned Today: Ley Lines

I think I first encountered the concept of ley lines in one of the role-playing games by Palladium Books, though I couldn’t tell you whether it was Beyond the Supernatural or RIFTS. It’s now a fairly common plot device in fiction, especially urban fantasy or paranormal investigator stories set more or less in the present day. Ley lines appear in The Dresden Files, which was what inspired me to look them up this afternoon.

The basic concept is lines of mystical energy that crisscross the globe. Sometimes they are like magnetic lines of force, strong places in a more or less static field, other times they flow like rivers or arc like electrical currents. In RIFTS they have been supercharged so that they visibly glow, but in every other case I can think of they aren’t easily detected, at least not by regular people.

If you’d asked me to guess, I’d have probably thought the idea emerged during the spiritualism fad in the late 19th century. I would have been very wrong, the term “ley line” was coined in 1921 by an amateur archaeologist named Alfred Watkins. Watkins noticed that many ancient British sites such as Stonehenge lined up with landmarks in the local geography. He speculated that prehistoric people built them that way to make navigation easy. Sort of like sight-based rhumb lines for people walking overland without maps.

You’ll notice that’s nothing like the lines in fiction that I mentioned above. Not even a little.

The idea of ley lines as spiritually significant is less than ten years older than I am, it apparently came about in 1969 when a writer named John Michell combined Watkins’ lines with feng shui. It’s about a hundred years newer than I expected.

So that’s something I learned today, ley lines aren’t an old idea. Now you know, too!

About Leo Tarvi

Mostly fictional.

Posted on July 9, 2012, in Daily Post and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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