From FATE Magazine, October 2000

East Is West And North Is South

by Ann Druffel






Various types of UFO close encounter cases, Southern California Native
American sacred sites, and "flipped areas" plotted on geodetic survey maps.

"East is east and west is west," the old song goes, but this perception of the world, whether applied to cultural differences or compass directions, does not always hold true. There seems to exist a subjectively experienced phenomenon about which very little has been written. It can be described as shifting of subjective direction in susceptible people. It occurs often to individuals who are, for the most part, totally unprepared to experience it.

Evidence suggests that this phenomenon occurs near what are known as "leys," an English word describing places found on every continent which prehistoric inhabitants considered sacred and which they used for various rituals. In the United States, such places are known as power spots or sacred sites. The basic cause of the direction flip phenomenon might be linked with as-yet-undefined earth energies associated with these sacred sites.

There are two common types of subjective direction flip. Go into a movie theater, for instance, situated on a northeast corner in your home town. Emerging a couple of hours later, you might discover that the theater now seems to be situated on the southwest corner, exactly opposite to where it was when you entered. The direction anomaly in this instance is not lasting, for the environs "flip back" while you walk to your car or wait on the corner for a bus. If you discuss the incident with friends, no one offers an explanation except to say, "Yes, that happens sometimes."

Getting Turned Around

Another example: a school-age youngster lags behind his parents while hiking in a forest. Deep in the woods, the child protests that he's tired and asks to go back alone to camp, along a well-marked trail. The parents, thinking the child can find the way back unaided, give permission. But the child does not make it back to camp, and a massive search effort is started. After an anxious time, the child is found, in an area which is exactly opposite to the direction of the camp. What happened?

Adults who are familiar with the forest will tell you that at times their subjective directions do get turned around. They have learned to verify north by observing the moss on trees, or to tell west by the setting sun. The child, on the other hand, had apparently experienced a 180-degree direction flip without realizing what had happened.

It is common for many people to lose their directions, whether in the forest or a city. I have friends who can't tell north from south anywhere, but in their home cities they memorize which directions various streets run, or they use landmarks to get around. It is apparent from the examples above that most people do not have a built-in sense of direction. Most people's sense of direction is acquired early in childhood. But put people in unfamiliar surroundings, and their sense of direction vanishes until they acquaint themselves with new landmarks.

Some people, however, do seem to have an in-built directional sense that does not depend upon reference to geographical landmarks. These people are most likely to notice subjective direction flips. They obtain their directional sense in several ways. Some are born with it. Others have an interest in astronomy and learn east, west, south, and north in relationship to the movement of the sun, moon, and other heavenly bodies. Many develop a sense of living on a planetary body in space. To them, north is "up," toward the top of the world, south is "down" toward the bottom of the planet, and east and west are where the sun rises and sets on their spinning earth.

It also helps to grow up in a town where directions are precise; that is, where most streets run precisely north and south, east and west. Many New World cities, especially modern ones, are built in this way. The rare exceptions of five- or six-point intersections only serve to reinforce a sense of the four cardinal points of the compass. In contrast, the streets of many Old World cities are curved and crooked; the streets in Dublin, Ireland, for instance, were originally cow paths. (The Irish are noted for being unable to give precise directions. The old joke about Irish telling visitors. "You can't get there from here" is an actual fact which I've experienced myself.)

My Own Experiences

My own perception of direction flips began in childhood with flipping movie theaters in Long Beach, California. In 1956, our family moved to a hillside home on the western edge of Pasadena. Having grown up in Long Beach, which has precisely laid-out streets, I had a definite "feel" for north, south, east, and west. An early interest in amateur astronomy also helped.

I did most of our shopping in the adjoining town of South Pasadena, which was reached by traveling southeast. For the first six weeks, I invariably got lost driving home because the directions never seemed right. It was not a temporary situation like flipping movie theaters; this was something permanent. By rote, I learned a couple of dependable routes between South Pasadena and our home, and the problem faded.

Later, when our children started school in central Pasadena, I ran errands in the larger city and consistently get lost again. In large sections of central Pasadena, north seemed to be east, south seemed west, and so forth. The 90-degree skewing began in the middle of Pasadena and continued south.

Ninety-degree Shifts

Ninety-degree skewing of subjective directions is common but seems largely unrecognized. Ask friends and acquaintances if it happens to them. Some will look at you blankly, and then, suddenly realizing, excitedly describe difficulties they experience finding their way around certain sections where they live. A member of our square-dancing club lived in La Crescenta, north of Pasadena proper. For him, the whole line of hillside cities above Pasadena, from Montrose to Sierra Madre, are subjectively skewed 90 degrees. Since these cities adjoin that part of Pasadena where, for me, north seems east, and since all of those hillside towns are skewed 90-degrees for me as well, I share his plight. Other friends I've asked about this situation aren't concerned or puzzled. They reply, "The mountains are to the north in Pasadena. What's the problem?" These are people with no inherent sense of direction.

Louise Ludwig, Ph.D., is a psychologist and a retired Los Angeles university professor. She experiences a recurring problem whenever she visits Victorville, a town in the Mohave Desert in eastern California. When she was 16, she and her family moved from Colorado to California, traveling southwest by car. As they drove through Victorville she felt as though the car was taking an abrupt 90-degree turn toward the northwest, even though the highway was perfectly straight. In subsequent years, she vacationed rather frequently in Victorville, and invariably, while proceeding northeasterly and approaching town center, she abruptly feels she is going 90 degrees opposite from where she was headed. After initial disorientation. Dr. Ludwig accepted the phenomenon but never lost her curiosity about it.

More unusual than the 90-degree direction skewing is the unsettling 180-degree flip. These unforeseen occurrences are apparently of two types: First, the temporary flip such as occurs with movie theaters and other buildings described above; and secondly, abrupt 180-degree flips which do not entail entering and leaving buildings but which seem built into the terrain. Unlike the 90-degree type (which also seem permanently "built into" the terrain and extend for many miles) subjective 180-degree flips seem associated with small areas. In my experience, the terrain involved is never more than a couple of hundred yards in diameter and often much less. When one leaves the affected area, subjective directions just as abruptly flip back to normal.

For example, in 1968 our family joined the Gerrish Swim Club in Pasadena, several miles northeast of our home. We settled down to enjoy the summer, grateful that our five small daughters had an outlet for their energy. Soaking up the sun one day, I realized that the mountains seemed to be due south from the swim club. This astonished me. I knew logically that in Pasadena the mountains lay to the north as so many of my fellow Pasadenans constantly reminded me.

At Gerrish Swim Club, however, the sun and moon set in what was, to me, the east. When we stayed late in the evening, the North Star was in the south and Scorpio sprawled along the northern horizon! Being curious by nature, this was quite unsettling to me, but no one else seemed bothered by it. I tried repeatedly to make Gerrish Swim Club flip back into place, but it wouldn't. Through experimentation, I found that the "flip" occurred in the street and parking lot in the front of the club. To this day, the Swim Club is subjectively but permanently skewed 180 degrees.

Ley Lines

Many readers are no doubt familiar with what are called leys in Great Britain, Native American sacred sites in the United States, and by other terms in various other countries. The English term is applied to megalithic stones and other ritual sites which lie along straight lines, to which the common term "ley line" is assigned. If the straight lines that connect prehistoric sacred sites are longer than about 80 miles they are no longer true straight lines as drawn on a map, but "great-circle" segments due to the curvature of the earth. Researchers who have studied the ley-line phenomenon hypothesize that it might be linked with undefined earth energies associated with prehistoric ritual sites.

The only mention of subjective direction flip associated with leys that I have come across is in John Michell's SECRETS OF THE STONES. It describes how a group of researchers were camped by an English megalith, conducting experiments in an attempt to monitor geomagnetic energies. At a late hour, one of the team headed north back toward his home. Within a few minutes, he was seen walking back toward the site. His amazement matched that of his colleagues. His only explanation was that somehow he had become "turned around." The only difference between this researcher and anyone else who gets turned around is that his experience was possibly related to the megalithic site on which experiments were being conducted. But what possible connection could there be?

I knew nothing about ley research when I had my own 180-degree flip experience. But in 1983, during a three-month concentrated study of possible patterns in UFO close encounters, a few hints began to emerge that might eventually serve to clarify the mysteries of UFO flight patterns, ley sites, and subjective direction flips. In this study, I hoped to discover whether Southern California UFO close encounters might fall in straight line patterns, such as had been found in earlier studies by Aime Michel in France, Dr. David Saunders, Dr. Jacques Vallee, and other UFO researchers in various countries. In preparing a paper on this subject for the 1983 Annual MUFON Symposium, I selected several dozen UFO close encounters where the location was documented within 500 feet, and plotted these locations on a U. S. Geological Survey map. Because of the apparent relationship between sacred sites of Native Americans and their legends relating to UFOs, I also plotted several sacred sites which are situated in and around Los Angeles.

The study confirmed the earlier work of Vallee, Saunders, James and Carol Lorenzen, and others. Southern California close-encounter UFO cases, including reported landings and occupant sightings, did fall into straight line patterns, ruler-straight across the map, with each line connecting four or more events. All of the Southern California sacred sites I plotted fell along the same straight lines. This fact might indicate a possible link between UFO close encounters and Native American legends about sky visitors, as well as legends of "sky roads" along which the sky visitors reportedly traveled in the distant past. UFO encounters, of course, have nothing to do with the subject at hand here, that is, subjective direction shifts, but the sacred sites certainly seem to, as explained below.

Eagle Rock

One of the sacred sites plotted was Eagle Rock, a pudding-stone formation about 60 feet tall situated on the western border of Pasadena. I often walked there for exercise and found that just being in the vicinity of this so-called power spot gave me a feeling of great tranquility. Sitting close to the caves in the northwest side of the rock, I found it easy to slip into meditative states where answers to troubling problems came spontaneously. This all began before I even knew what a sacred site was.

Situated several hundred feet to the north from the rock itself is a pudding-stone water reservoir. In 1984, the first time I walked up the winding road that leads to Eagle Rock Reservoir, I was surprised to see that a certain golf course, which I knew was situated a couple of blocks east of the reservoir, seemed to lie to the west. I realized that, near the reservoir, my subjective directions became abruptly skewed 180 degrees. The flip occurred in the process of walking up the curved road and was permanent; it happened every time I walked to the reservoir. I wondered if there was any significance to the fact that a sacred site was within a few hundred feet of another place where subjective directions, at least for me, did a sudden 180-degree flip.

With a few hiking buddies who understood the value of research, I began to explore other Native American sites around Los Angeles that lay along the straight lines, as well as other sacred sites which came to our attention after the 1983 study. Hiking toward the sacred sites, subjective directions were sometimes skewed 90 degrees, but as we neared the sites, directions turned true. At every sacred site, subjective directions were true, a constant factor. Another determinant was the presence of peaceful, tranquil emanations in the immediate vicinity of the site. Most of my research companions were sensitive to these tranquil feelings as well; this served as confirmation, and as a precaution against imagination coming into play. Among the four or five hiking buddies who participated in this research, however, most appeared not to experience the abrupt direction flips.

Underground Water

The fact that underground water sources exist within a couple of hundred feet of some sacred sites led me to explore the possibility of a sacred site near Gerrish Swim Club. Immediately east of the club is a hill on which are built clusters of fashionable homes. As I hiked through these estates toward a private, dead-end street, my subjective directions slowly adjusted. By the time I arrived at the end of this street, which opened into a broad mesa hundreds of feet square, north was again true north. Now, Gerrish Swim Club seemed to be in the opposite direction from where I had started; the 180-degree flip was completely cured!

Could this very private piece of property be the location of a sacred site? Research in the Pasadena main library revealed all that is publicly known about ancient Indian dwelling sites in the Pasadena area, but this fenced-off mesa is not among those listed. Native Americans typically used their sacred sites for rituals only and did not speak about them publicly. Before the population of the country grew to such great proportions, most of them were far from Indian encampments or the dwelling sites of the whites. However, as on other continents, a well or spring was invariably nearby. Likewise, abundant underground sources of water exist in this area near the swim club. They were first tapped in 1880 by Abbot Kinney, who established a 500-acre ranch in the area. It is quite probable that underground water exists under the swim club itself.

Another example of a 180-degree shift occurred at a convalescent home in which our Aunt Jean resided in Pasadena. We frequently wheeled Jean out into the sunny atrium, in the center of the convalarium. To me, the atrium seemed east of Jean's room. Yet we always turned left (west) from the hall to enter her room, so why did the atrium, which was in the center of the building, seem to be east of her room? I soon realized that Jean's room was the site of another 180-degree flip. It also affected the rooms adjacent to hers, but straightened out as one continued through the atrium to the front door of the building. Although I never mentioned this to Aunt Jean, she had independently noticed a switch in subjective direction in her room; it seemed to her to be a 90-degree difference, not 180-degrees.

Even though a stroke had affected her speech, she told me, with considerable effort, that her room was strange because "north was not where it should be." To her, it seemed to be east instead. Jean had always possessed a lively curiosity. I asked her why she thought directions seemed different in her room. She looked at me with wise, blue eyes and said carefully, "I have a feeling there is underground water here." None of the nurses or staff had told her this, to my knowledge. She seemed to be speaking from intuitive knowledge. Although I showed interest in her perceptions, she did not discuss the subject further. Her illness prevented long conversations.

A pattern seemed to be forming: within a few hundred yards of sacred sites where subjective compass directions were invariably true, there are sources of underground water, and at these sites 180-degree subjective direction flips occur. Much of the above data is anecdotal, but many accounts from reliable and careful observers describe 90-degree subjective direction shifts. When widely separated sources describe similar phenomena, anecdotal material takes on a certain objectivity. Most of the other material presented here is necessarily subjective, but in the author's experience, several examples of abrupt 180-degree subjective direction shifts occur where underground water exists near sacred sites or suspected sacred sites.

One might logically ask: Is the presence of underground water itself, associated with sacred sites, responsible for such shifts? Or is there some other explanation, perhaps having to do with geomagnetic energies? The "Dragon Project," coordinated by Paul Devereux in England, researched connections between ley sites and geomagnetic energies. Could the 180-degree subjective direction flip somehow be associated with geomagnetic energies, interacting with magnetite in the human brain? Magnetite is a substance found in the brains of birds and other migratory animals. Some research scientists suspect that it enables these species to find their way over hundreds of miles of untracked territory. It has also been detected in human brains.

Remote Viewing

A common phenomenon which occurs during "remote viewing" might also be related to subjective 180-degree direction shifts. Remote viewing is the perception of events, objects, and scenes not discernible by the five ordinary senses. It is, in essence, a scientific technique by which the intuitive ability of ordinary individuals can be demonstrated in the laboratory; it has been extensively replicated in parapsychological labs worldwide.

Remote-viewing (RV) subjects commonly report a phenomenon which is called right-left reversal; that is, scenes perceived and sketched by RV participants on their right are, in actuality, on the observer's left when verified on-site, and vice versa. Parapsychologists have no explanation for these occurrences. Whether or not a relationship exists between right-left reversal and subjective direction shifts should be a matter for further research. The phenomenon of these direction shifts, meanwhile, remains a puzzling mystery.

Some FATE readers may have noted the phenomenon themselves, or better still, may have come across references to it in the course of their studies. The suspected sacred site/underground water link, associated with subjective direction flips, combines frustration and tranquility, consternation and delight a puzzling mixture that cries out for explanation.

Readers who can offer additional data or previously published scientific findings about the described phenomena are invited to email her at

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