Labyrinths

Over the years I have been able to visit and walk various labyrinths. I think the first ones were with a friend Coifi who has long been passed over and enjoying life in the otherworld. He used to draw them in the sand and then we walked them several times. I learned how to draw simple ones this way too.

Then I visited Wing Maze in Rutland. This is a turf-cut maze situated on the edge of the Rutland village of Wing. It is better seen as a labyrinth rather than a maze. It is around 14 metres in diameter and consists of a single grass path that winds and backtracks around in a circle before finally leading to the centre. The age of this particular maze is not known but it may only date from the medieval period .

On a visit to Launde Abbey in Leicestershire, I saw that they had built a labyrinth of some kind in a glade in the woods. This was built using stones. There was a notice at the start about how to use the labyrinth and you could choose a stone from a large pile. You walked with the stone in your hand around the labyrinth putting all your worries and sad thoughts into the stone. When you reached the centre you could leave the stone there and walk back unencumbered. Since then the Abbey has laid out a new one in the wildflower meadow so when you walk it in the summer you are surrounded by wild flowers.

Recently I was able to visit a labyrinth set out on private land. It was a beautiful day and walking this labyrinth was very special. So what do I mean by walking a labyrinth? Labyrinth walking is an ancient practice used by many different faiths for spiritual contemplation, and prayer. Entering the winding path of a labyrinth, you walk slowly while quieting your mind and focusing on a spiritual question or prayer. One local vicar told me that each corner or turn was a turn in your life and when you reached the centre you had reached God. Whether you believe in God or not, it can be a very profound experience and also an experience of joy. On my last visit I felt a very deep connection to the earth and found myself chanting ‘Mother I feel you under my feet, Mother I feel your heartbeat’. So walk a labyrinth if you get the chance or draw one in the sand and walk it.

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