This book originally was published 1990, but I read the 2nd edition, published and updated for 1999. It's a truly factual account of a twenty + year ongoing project to study the electro-magnetic/radioactive nature of standing stones, and various other prehistoric British ruins. Headed by Paul Devereau, the Dragon Project is an independent, private research group of volunteers and interested parties who have studied numerous sites since 1977. What they found is nothing less than incredible. Let me simply quote from the Introduction to the 2nd edition:
"Magnetic anomalies at megalithis sites are facts, but whether they are meaningful facts is a matter of interpretation. The magnetic stones could simply be fortuitous, or they could have been deliberately employed as "spirit stones" by the megalithic builders. We may never know for sure, although it is likely that ancient peoples knew they subtleties of their geophysical surroundings, in the same way we now know they they their botanical environment (see in particular Chapter 7). Nowadays our magnetic sensitivities may have been dulled because of the maelstrom of electromagnetic fields that surround us, but our ancestors may have been sharply attuned to these fields."
Realizing that "may have been" is only conjecture, I still find it a very credible theory. Consider this: the rise of mental illness and severe psychosis during the early years of the Electrical Age, starting around 1890. If exposure to these intense, previously unknown, fields of energy caused the more sensitive of the population to become severely schizophrenic, they would be far less likely to produce children. While 114 years is hardly enough to scoop a pail out of the gene pool, it might be enough to spot a statistical change.
"In the first edition of Places of Power, it remained unresolved as to whether or not magnetic effects at the megaliths could in practice really effect the brain, and therefore cause altered or visionary states of consciousness. This was one of the questions on the writer mind when he visited Professor Michael Persinger at Laurentian University, Ontario in April 1998. Persinger has become famous for, among other things, his "magnetic helmet" in which a subject has computer-controlled patterns of magnetic waves directed to magnetically sensitive areas of the brain. Some subjects have reported the sense of "presences," vivid imagery from childhood, hallucinatory or visionary states, and the appearance of otherworldly beings."
Note that these are all considered symptoms of schizophrenia.
Euphoric states could also be generated. However, Persinger's work requires modern technology. Could magnetism in megaliths create similar mental effects? Persinger felt that it could. He explained his technology used far less powerful magnetic fields and had the advantage of perfect computer controlled application. This allowed direct stimulation of specific brain regions. But in the case of a megalith, a person could effectively "bathe" in the alternative magnetic field provided by the anomaly at the site. This could very likely cause an altered state of consciousness in some people.
"Persinger also noted that there were other factors such as diet that may have made prehistoric users of the sites particularly sensitive to the ambient magnetic fields. In particular, lack of certain nutrients could affect foetal developement, resulting in people who had slight changes in their brain structure, rendering them more liable to visionary and mediumistic experiences."
The book has laid all of the Dragon Project's experiments, tests and results out in a delightfully well-written fashion. In Part One, we delve into the past traditions of various forms of geomancy- from feng shui to Uluru to the Iroquoi. Then, we return to the present to discuss current folklore, sightings of unusual phenomenon, and the origin of the Dragon Project, its techniques and methods. Part Two is nothing less than a catalog of all the sites the Project has surveyed, what tests were performed, what results they found, if any.
The conclusion, Part Three, goes into detail on the theories and conclusions the members of the Project have drawn from their research. The chapter refered to above, Chapter 7: The Physics of Shamanism, discusses the effects radiation can have on people, from the three reliable reports from Dragon Project members of ghostly encounters on one short road, to strong magnetic fields' effects on people and animals in various studies. It also suggests the possibility of magnetism causing temporal effects in the brain, making the subject relive the past and/or experience the future.
Overall, the book is a wonderful look at many magical possibilities, and a record of a much needed study of the anomalies at these ancient megaliths. I highly recommend it to those interested in this subject.