A labyrinth is, to my understanding, a symbol a bit like a maze that various cultures over the world have used as a kind of meditative or problem-solving tool. You walk into it, follow the path around to the centre and the experience of doing so is a bit of a mental and/or spiritual journey.
Every year I get the beautiful Earth Pathways Diary,full of amazing artwork, poems and anecdotes. The featured piece for the week of my birthday was someone telling her experience of making and walking a labyrinth. I immediately felt so drawn to do it on my birthday – especially as it was my 30th – I just knew that this is what I had to do on the day. Yet despite this realisation occurring a few weeks before my birthday, I did no preparation (other than asking my husband to take a day annual leave!) until two days before. Late into the night, I drew the design with help from the marvellous internet, then coloured or stuck fabric over the lines, then cut around that (so that I would be walking on the ground. Most of the cutting I did in situ in the woods so that it was less fragile to transport there). The making process was all part of the journey in terms of the creative challenge, the time it took, the memories of where bits of fabric had come from, running out of glue at midnight…!
Once I’d found my spot in the woods, the challenge was how the wind wanted to lay out my labyrinth versus how I wanted to. I reminded myself that I can’t go out into nature and expect her not to be in charge! Fortunately the pine beside the spot I’d picked had dropped scores of pine cones and small branches that I could weigh the labyrinth down with. And it was sunny. After a long time bending down to cut the paper and collect pine cones, I felt drawn to doing a few stretches before I entered it. Feeling nice and centred after this, I stood before my labyrinth for a contemplative, grateful couple of minutes greeting the peace that was in the woods and in my heart, Then I started to walk.
All the way round, each foot was placed directly in front the other so its heel touched the toes of the one behind. It was quite tricky to balance where there was a corner! To me that was part of the symbolism of the challenges I’ve worked through in my life so far. At some points, ground’s dips and camber likewise made it not so easy and I had to really focus. At other times, I had several easy footsteps and I felt my breathing relax. I felt so much beautiful peace when i reached the centre. I rested there a while, my head bowed.
I entered the labyrinth with just socks on my feet but early on had the urge to take them off. I did so and was aware the whole way around of the softness of the forest floor beneath me. During my journey, little memories, thoughts and single words popped up in my mind. I welcomed them, then took my attention back to my breath – although it was the soles of my feet that would then clamour for my attention.
A few paces in, the words “The Land” surfaced in my mind. The sensation of the land that I walked on was delicious: pine needles, moss, a little lead litter, the odd emerging bluebell that I carefully stepped around. My heart swelled with my love for the land and, in a split second, I did some equivalent of marriage vow renewal as I reaffirmed my relationship with the earth and desire to live harmoniously to it. To be a caretaker of it, even if I don’t quite know how.
Thinking about these words on the way home, I figured that, through the journey of my late teens and my twenties, my emotions have really steered the boat. There’s been a lot of emotional turmoil, emotional healing, then some emotional pain to go back and do some more healing all over again. As I’ve found and explored my spirituality, it’s been the lunar depictions of Goddess that I’ve been drawn to and connected with more; the queen of dreams, healing and emotions. I guess “dreams, healing and emotions” is where I’ve been, so this has been the guidance I’ve needed. I know that my connection with the moon’s cycle is still important but I feel that the labyrinth invited me to deepen my connection with the earth mama, the fertility goddess of the land, At this time in my life where I’m learning about how to grow food, about permaculture, about homesteading; at this time where my soulmate and I see our journey for the next few years as one that brings us to living closer to the land – at this time I’m perhaps being called to deepen my relationship with the queen of the seasons and the crops. Perhaps my thirties is a time for me to focus on my hands a little more than my head and my heart. A time to do and create. I hope so. ♥