What is the Georgia Guidestones? You may know of the granite structure as the “American Stonehenge”, located in Elbert County, Georgia, USA and carrying a message that has been interpreted as both a sensible warning against overpopulation, as well as the devious work of a secret society ushering in a secular, new world order. It was erected on March 22, 1980.
Before moving into interpretation, it’s worth considering just what exactly the Georgia Guidestones are – physically. The monument reaches 5.87 meters in height, made from six granite slabs that are 107,840 kg kg in weight. One slab stands in the centre of the structure, with four surrounding it in an astronomical alignment and a capstone positioned on top. The stones are engraved with one, ten-step message delivered in eight languages, while a less elaborate message in four ancient languages adorning the capstone at the top. At the centre of each tablet’s edge is a circle with a letter representing the compass direction it points towards. There is an informational stone tablet on the ground to the west of the structure. The modern languages used are Arabic, Chinese, English, Hebrew, Hindi, Russian, Spanish and Swahili, while the ancient language scripts are Babylonian, Classical Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and Sanskrit.
The message in the modern languages is presented in ten commandments and is as follows:
1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
2. Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
3. Unite humanity with a living new language.
4. Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
8. Balance personal rights with social duties.
9. Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
10. Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.
The informational tablet is level with the ground and explains, to some degree, the Guidestones: their function (“Let these be guidestones to an Age of Reason”), the date it was created, who was responsible, facts about its physical features, the languages used on it, and even the astronomical features of the stones. The “channel through stone indicates celestial pole” (the north star), the “horizontal slot indicates the annual travel of sun” (solstices/equinoxes) and the “sunbeam through capstone marks noontime throughout the year”.
The tablet tantalizingly references one mystery: the presence of a time capsule. There should be dates explaining when the time capsule was buried and when it should be retrieved and opened, but they are absent. Instead, it simple reads: “Time Capsule / Placed six feet below this spot / On [empty space] / To Be Opened on [empty space]”. If this seemingly relevant and even necessary component of the concept is, in fact, missing, then perhaps the power of the stones and those in question has been made out to be much more than is actually true. On the other hand, perhaps this points to creating a curiosity and activeness in those who see the Guidestones – to pursue points of interest beyond what they immediately see and to fill in the metaphorical gaps in the information presented to them.
Who created the structure? This is a difficult question that we will consider at a later date, but the structure itself is signed by R.C. Christian, who commissioned Elberton Granite Finishing Company to create the Guidestones in June of 1979. Joe H. Friendly, Sr. lead the team and even recorded the entire event in a booklet sold to the public, which does not hide its shared sentiment, the foreword ending with this statement: “This publication about these unique stones will serve to help all inhabitants of this planet reflect more earnestly — hopefully in a ‘reasonable‘ fashion — about these “guides” to mankind’s ultimate survival.”
The stone itself says R.C. Christian is a pseudonym – or ‘pseudonyn’ as it is misspelled on the stone – which like the missing information for the time capsule conveys to the viewer that they do not hold all the information… to question what they initially read. Furthermore, the tablet reads that the stone is ‘sponsored’ by a “small group of Americans who seek the Age of Reason”. Whether this means the group is deliberately limited, as in a secret society, or simply small in the sense that they feel it is a cause not reaching as many people as it should – and hence the erection of the Guidestones – is deliberately left vague.
One thing worth emphasizing is that the bottom centre of the informational tablet instructs the viewer that “Additional information [is] available at Elberton Granite Museum & Exhibit, College Avenue, Elberton, Georgia”, which raises questions to the degree of complicity that exists with those who fabricated the stones and the county itself. Could the function of these stones be so radical if so many disparate branches are happy with the stones, or is the allure of an ‘attraction’ so strong that county and Elberton Granite Finishing Company are willing to turn a blind eye to their function.
One implicit message, which seems to go without much mention, is that Elberton is the self-advertised ‘Granite Capital of the World’ where more monuments are produced than any other place in the world. Granite is, of course, a natural by-product, while the monuments and their messages are the product of man – usually to honour man, rather than nature. At the very least, the monument can be seen as a true intersection of man and nature, the message one that simply acknowledges this relationship and honours it.
All photos taken by Thom Smalley.