Labyrinths in Britain Gathering 9 June 2018

What a pleasure it was to meet with friends old and new at the Labyrinths in Britain gathering in Wanstead near London yesterday. We heard from some excellent speakers: Lea Goode-Harris explained how the Santa Rosa Labyrinth design came to be, and her pleasure at seeing it spread around the world; Mark Willenbruch spoke about his journey to the labyrinth via his work with healing plants, and encouraged us all to use our heart and gut centres to help tune in to the wisdom of the plant world. He had brought copies of his lovely hand written and illustrated book for signing. Sally Welch then explained and demonstrated the intriguing art of making and using ‘labyrinth beads’, which enable the user to walk a virtual Chartres-style labyrinth on any piece of open ground. I had long looked forward to this and with a bit of help soon got the hang of it. After lunch and labyrinth walking indoors and out, Kimberly Saward read a message from the President of The Labyrinth Society, Kay Whipple, and spoke about the role of the TLS and Veriditas in furthering knowledge and experience of labyrinths around the world. Jim Buchanan delighted us with his artistic perspective on labyrinths large and small, with much discussion of the interplay between light and shadow in his beautiful projected ‘labyrinths of light’. I particularly enjoyed holding the tactile ceramic labyrinth balls, which feature a raised labyrinth overlaid on the surface, where the centre leads you through a hole in the centre of the ball and back to the start. Brilliant! I was too involved in soaking up the experience of the day to take many photos, but I did find a peaceful moment towards the end to take a photo of the grassy mown labyrinth in the garden of the meeting house. It was such a pleasure to walk it with bare feet on a warm and sunny afternoon. Thank you to Jan Sellers for hosting us at this lovely venue, her own Quaker Meeting House, and to Andy Wiggins and Jeff and Kimberly for all their excellent organisation. I hope to see some of the participants again at the Veriditas Summer Intensive in August, and we will certainly organise another gathering next summer – probably in Saffron Walden, to coincide with the Maze Festival, which we hope will run again next year.

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Addenbrooke’s Mental Health Resilience Labyrinth

Addenbrooke's Mental Health Resilience Labyrinth

Kay and a team of helpers made this temporary labyrinth out of poured sand and LED tea lights for Addenbrooke’s Mental Health Resilience Week. People of all ages and backgrounds came to walk it. This magical photo was taken at nightfall from the top of the staff car park by Jan Sellers. Find out more by reading the Addenbrooke’s Mental Health Resilience Week page on this blog.

Labyrinth of Light

In February, I was fortunate to be in Edinburgh for the launch of a new labyrinth book and to experience a wonderful labyrinth light projection made by labyrinth enthusiast and artist Jim Buchanan.

The venue was Old Saint Paul’s church, magnificently dark and dim, with just a few sparsely placed candles twinkling in the gloom. The book to be launched was Working with the Labyrinth, edited by Di Williams, Jan Sellers and Ruth Sewell, and published by Wild Goose Press. The light artist Jim Buchanan has contributed a chapter on his work with labyrinths, and there are stories to inform and inspire from many other contributors.

Walking in a labyrinth of light and shadow

Walking in a labyrinth of light and shadow

Next morning I went with Jan to visit the beautiful Chartres style labyrinth in George Square. As I paused in each of the six petals of the centre I reflected on peace of heart, calm in the storm, and the pilgrim journey of life.

February sunshine on George Square labyrinth Edinburgh

February sunshine on George Square labyrinth Edinburgh

I was also happy to see an old friend, a robin, hopping around in the surrounding yew hedge near the labyrinth entrance. Whenever I encounter a robin, I remember one morning a couple of years ago when a robin flew into my bedroom through an open window. This robin stayed a while, looking most unconcerned, hopping from dressing table to bookshelf and back. I’d woken that morning feeling distressed by confrontations going on in my life. Intrigued by my visitor, I looked up the traditional symbolism of the robin, in our own and North American indigenous culture. Just as I guessed, I found what I needed to hear that day. The robin teaches us to disarm our adversaries and mark our boundaries, not with fights and disagreements, but with the supremely positive forces of creativity and song.

Last stop on my labyrinth tour of Edinburgh was the Emmaus House Community, who gave us a wonderfully warm welcome. Jan and I visited their lovely backyard labyrinth made of round stepping stones on gravel chips, interspersed with alpine herbs. After our labyrinth walk we enjoyed some peaceful time in the garden chapel and then joined the community in their midday service. We were then made very welcome at a lunch table loaded with good and wholesome things to eat.

Emmaus House stepping stone labyrinth, Edinburgh

Emmaus House stepping stone labyrinth, Edinburgh

It was a beautiful labyrinth interlude, perfect for brightening the cold days of February. Thanks to Jan for encouraging me to go and to Dave and the family for taking care of things at home. I felt I had slipped into a parallel dimension for a couple of days… Lovely.