Midwinter Dreaming

 

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Dear blog visitor, Christmas blessings of joy and peace to you!

May 2013 herald a new era of compassion, justice and truth,

starting right here, right now.

 

Some words from the 16th Century mystic, Theresa of Avila:

Christ has no body but yours,


No hands, no feet on earth but yours,


Yours are the eyes with which he looks 
compassion on this world,


Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,


Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.


Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,


Yours are the eyes, you are his body.


Christ has no body now but yours,


No hands, no feet on earth but yours,


Yours are the eyes with which he looks 
compassion on this world.


Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Teresa of Avila

1515 – 1582

This snowy holly photo was taken a couple of years ago on a very cold, wintry visit to the Chelmsford Diosecan retreat house, which stands in the ancient moated village of Pleshey.

I remember in  the chapel there was a kneeler decorated with a labyrinth…

an early signpost on my labyrinth trail.

Another memory: one night, I headed out of my room to go to the bathroom and was surprised to see a large bat flying around in the stairwell. At Pleshey bats are often sighted in summer, but they normally hibernate in winter. Further investigation revealed that in the Native American tradition the bat is symbolic of intuition, dreaming and vision.

Appropriate themes for midwinter… Time for rest, renewal and dreams of new beginnings.

 

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Listening the Labyrinth

Cambridge University Botanic Garden, August 15th 2012. This film documents the making and walking of a temporary corn labyrinth – part of a day of reflection for members of Cambridge’s homeless community, organised by Kay Barrett, Judy Fox, and Cambridge Link-Up. Thanks to Richard Wright of Moon Safari for making the film.

Making a temporary ‘corn’ labyrinth on grass

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Here are some photos of the process of making an outdoor ‘corn’ labyrinth on grass. The pictures were taken at Mill Road Winter Fair and the ‘aerial view’ one is from the Quiet Waters Christian Retreat House in Suffolk. This method is for making a seven circuit classical (or Cretan) labyrinth. The corn is the kind of ‘mixed corn’ you feed to chickens, and one large sack is just sufficient, providing you are not too generous at the start.

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The stake and swivel are the corkscrew-type dog owners use to tether their dog when at the beach or on a picnic. The rope we used is a 6 meter long dog-tether. The path widths are 80cm and the diameter of the labyrinth at the widest point is 12 meters.

 Note, it is necessary to mark the four corners of the initial ‘seed diagram’ with tent pegs. As the rope is drawn round, it snags on the pegs, thus producing a mushroom shape rather than a circle.

 Please check the Labyrinthos site for full instructions – I can confirm they work!

 For the candlelit version of the labyrinth we used tea lights in jam jars. For a different effect, it is also possible to buy brown paper ‘candle bags’ and put some sand and a tea light in each one.

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For our labyrinth, 12 meters in diameter, we used 180 jam jars and tea lights, with a spacing of 80cm.

 Finally, to calculate the length of the ‘walls’ of your labyrinth (more correctly known as the ‘fields’) the rule of thumb is to take the diameter and multiply it by 13.33. 

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Making a classical labyrinth – animation

Making a classical labyrinth – animation

Please follow this link to see a funky animation of the process of making a seven-circuit classical labyrinth, using a rope attached to a central swivel. The rope is first marked with the path widths, using knots or tape. Note that the first mark on the rope is only half a path width. It only remains for the labyrinth making ‘team’ to follow the marks with corn, sand, masking tape etc. Thank you to Jo Edkins for making and sharing this excellent animation. Also thanks to Jeff Saward and the Labyrinthos site for providing instructions for this method of making a labyrinth. Hours of fun! If you decide to make a corn labyrinth yourself, you will need one sack of mixed corn and seven lemonade bottles cut into scoops… also a willing team of helpers, including a ‘runner’ to keep topping up the corn.

Mill Road Winter Fair Candlelit Labyrinth

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Despite a misty and drizzly start, Saturday 1st December turned into a beautiful cold, clear day, perfect for wrapping up warm and joining the wonderfully varied throng in Mill Road for the annual Mill Road Winter Fair.

 This year saw the first ever labyrinth at the fair, and, as the day went on, it proved to be very popular with visitors of all ages, sizes and backgrounds.

 The idea for the labyrinth began on a summer day when I was passing Petersfield on my way to a meeting at Jimmy’s Night Shelter. I noticed the large green space… the benches round about… the encircling mature trees… I thought, how wonderful to make a labyrinth here, which could be walked by Jimmy’s guests and local residents alike, as a symbol of community. Afterwards I remembered the Winter Fair, which seemed the perfect opportunity to put my idea into practice.

 Mill Road Winter Fair committee liked the idea, especially the plan to light the labyrinth pathways with tea lights in jam jars. Jimmy’s and Cambridge Link Up were very pleased for me to raise awareness of their work through making the labyrinth.

 On the day the labyrinth looked truly magical as dusk descended. Gradually more and more people came to walk it. Quite a few were intrigued by the ancient pattern of its circuits and wanted to know more.  Many clearly experienced the meditative quality of the labyrinth for themselves. Youngsters and small children were particularly drawn to it and had a great time racing round it. Darkness fell at 4.00pm, and soon after the arrival of wonderful local Samba Band Arco Iris announced the rousing grand finale of the Fair. 

After all the jars and candles were cleared away, the print of the labyrinth, edged with corn and marked by the tracks of people’s feet, could still be clearly seen… It was, finally, too tempting for me to simply climb into the car and leave behind… I couldn’t resist one last sprint around the paths. It seemed as if the energy all the people who had walked it was focussed there, and I felt my spirit fly…

 Many thanks to all those who helped make the labyrinth, also those who saved up their used jam jars and those who helped put them out and light them on the day. Thanks too to Paul Edwards who took these lovely photos. All being well, we’ll be back again next year!

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