Amongst the Standing Stones

In the scheme of things, wonder as it turns out, is more significant than mere knowledge.

Years ago, I embarked on a journey to Scotland with a specialized tour company that delved into my family’s rich and ancient Scottish lore. One small intriguing aspect was that the tour agency shared the same surname as mine, which gave me hope for an extraordinary and personalized experience. Little did I know that this tour would lead me to a profound and unsettling encounter – an event which perplexes me to this very day.

On the third day of our itinerary, the group set out to explore Nine Stanes, a 4,000-year-old standing stone circle near Aberdeenshire. As we neared the circle during the final leg of our drive, a peculiar sensation stirred within me. It started as a slight discomfort in my gut, but soon developed into a mix of nausea and heightened awareness, unlike anything I had experienced before while exploring ancient brochs and Pictish hieroglyph stelae. The discomfort intensified as we approached the unmarked parking spot, barely room for our two vehicles in reality. By the time I stumbled out of the car door, an unseen force seemed to compel me into the nearby pine forest. I found myself running sideways, in a struggle to stay on my feet.

Slightly bemused, our guide asked if the group had retired to a late-night pub crawl the previous evening, to which I quickly issued protest. For me at least, the entire itinerary had been marked by a serious and contemplative quest, devoid of alcohol or late night frivolity. Distressed but nonetheless intrigued, I doubled over, placing my hands on my knees and breathed deeply in an effort to ease the nausea. After a moment’s regaining composure, I pointed in the direction I felt irreconcilably drawn, and through stulted breath asked the guide, “Is the stone circle right over there?”

Surprised, the guide nodded. “Yes, it is. But how did you know?”

“Because I can feel it,” I replied, my voice carrying a mix of surprise and uncertainty.

The unseen factor still tugging madly at me, I mustered the gumption to approach the stone circle with the rest of the group, eventually only finding ease at the very center of the monument. No matter how many times I tested this peculiar phenomenon, the result remained consistent—a mere dozen or so steps away from the circle’s center, and the discomfort returned with overwhelming force. Desperate for respite from this, I found myself continually having to step back into the circle’s heart. There, inside the eye of this vortex, the reputed burial pit of ancient kings, was the only place I could escape its distressing sensations.

As our group gathered back into the vehicles, I could feel the unseen factor compelling me back again towards the ancient monument – subsiding, fading away as we drove further from its remote location. The once-compelling force gradually diminished into a faint pull, seemingly leading me back in the direction from which we had departed the circle. The experience had been unwelcome, yet at the same time extraordinary.

Puzzled and introspective, I couldn’t shake the profound experience. What was it about this ancient stone circle that had such a powerful effect on me? What was the significance of my surname aligning with the tour agency’s name? Why all this inside my own western North Carolina family’s ancestral lands? These questions lingered in my mind as we left the stone circle behind, venturing towards our next destination, with Scotland’s rich and enigmatic history unraveling before my eyes. Little did I know that this encounter was only the beginning of a journey that would test the limits of belief, unravel the extraordinary secrets of my particular ancient genome – yet only recently established as a novel human haplo group by means of my very own Y-DNA results1 – and delve into the depths of my ancestral connection to this mystical land.

In the scheme of things, wonder as it turns out, is more significant than mere knowledge.

The days fast approach wherein erudition will only be discernible through an author’s logic, deductive critical path, novel evidence, and forbidden heterodox thought – setting them apart from the ChatGPT zombie and its flawless grammar, punctuation, and pre-packaged information.

One will observe that to the Large Language Model parrot, all discovery is confined to the past and not of your privy, leaving little room for the serendipity of anything truly novel. Every unknown will be framed as merely an insignificant linear gap within the intolerance and awesome insistence of its science identity.

This evolution will place the über-correct science communicator and academic skeptic permanently out of a job.

Value will reside in one’s ability to think independently, heed the whispers in one’s soul, discern the salient challenge or question at hand, stratify evidence by its probative strength first, and hone skill in devising a pathway to its successful resolution.

Such will be known as Ethical Skepticism.

The Ethical Skeptic, “Amongst the Standing Stones”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 16 Jun 2023; Web,

  1. The administrator of the genome project actually approached me and asked to pay for my DNA analysis, saying “I find it remarkable to encounter such an ancient DNA, as a novel haplo group, and finally with a population of only 1 person in it to date.” The general principle being that, the more ancient a human haplo group, the more people to which it is typically related.
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Your article reminded me of another event I’ve heard with similar physical responses. Strange rabbit hole that one.


You were in a place steeped in sprituality and myth. You were fascinated by your heritage. I don’t mean this as a criticism. The mind and body are one in the same. This sounds something like an anxiety attack.

Or, perhaps there are supernatural forces not yet scientifially discovered.


Please tell us more as you learn more about this experience. And also, as more people are added to your “unique” DNA profile. I have a feeling that there are many who share your novel haplo group but have not yet been DNA tested.


The concepts I’d draw on were I attempting to explain this to myself I first encountered in the Bible, but found more thoroughly analysed for implication in ‘The Holographic Universe’, by Michael Talbot, ‘The Implicate Order of the Universe’, by David Bohm, and Rupert Sheldrake’s talks on morphic resonance. However, I suspect none of these will fully satisfy you if, as seems to me, you had an interaction with the spiritual, one that might have demonstrated to you that there is overlap between power and place.


While reading the description of your experience among the Standing Stones brought to mind the tale about the Tomb of the King in Jersey, UK that was discovered, and excavated, in 1912, written as an appendix in R.J. Stewart’s The UnderWorld Initiation, and the energy that some, to this day, unwittingly can tap into.

John Day

“Value” as you address in closing may not be abstract, at all. “Value” may be measured in survival. It occurred to me this morning that all of our human group and inndividual capabilities, which brought us to this point (offacingdeath-by-sucess) are being rapidly supplanted to provide for us more easily, and give us liesure.
In this case youmayhave tocarryoutthe research, and Iseeitasbeing inherently dangeroustodo so. Follow the spirit of truth, and only proceed when you clearly see the task and the reason and the adversarial threat. (Ha, such general advice, I offer!)


Dr Who episode The Lodger features a specific mechanism (in the show, a time-and-space craft) which seeks out someone who’s both configured and willing to pilot it. It creates a localised vortex which has the effect of attracting similar crafts which come too close, and once a potential pilot has disembarked, it forces the other crafts away again. It also engages in rational strategies to find a potential pilot from among the local population (sadly with harmful results, since they’re not up to the task). Can’t get this out my mind since I read your post. Something entailed (in the… Read more »