A Labyrinth in a Jackdaw grove

It wasn’t a well-planned thing. We’d intended to go out to the jackdaw grove for the full moon, and, with my labyrinth obsession well under way, the larger space seemed like a place to try and build one. There were four of us working on it, and we’d allowed an hour. In that time, we managed to forage and lay out enough material for nine concentric circles, with enough space between them for a person to comfortably walk. We needed 12 to make it work, and then there’s the dividing of circles to make the winding path.

As the light dwindled, foraging for twigs and pine cones became more difficult. All the while, the jackdaws were coming into the trees around us, and a pipistrelle bat had come out to feed. It was a wonderful atmosphere to be working in, even though for much of the time we all knew that we weren’t going to make a labyrinth we could walk. I’d not gone in expecting success, just hoping to learn from the process – and I did. We’d found a perfect, welcoming space. We would need more people, and at least a two hour working period. We might be able to give ourselves a head start. Another labyrinth exploring session would be required.

In terms of making a walkable labyrinth, it was a total failure. In terms of being a beautiful, encouraging experience, it was nothing but win. Which strikes me as being consistent with the entire notion of a labyrinth. You don’t go anywhere when you set out to walk one. You just end up back where you started. It’s not about drama, it’s about the process.

By the time the light faded, it was obvious we’d struggle to make a labyrinth to the design I love, with less than a 12 foot radius. Or about Four meters, middle to edge, if you prefer. That rules out doing it in most indoor settings. I had been toying with the idea of doing an indoors one with scarves, but considering the circles in the fading light, I could see that just wouldn’t work.

I have an opportunity next year to get people walking a labyrinth in an indoors setting. I think that’s still possible, and I think (this may seem outrageous) that it can be done without building a physical labyrinth at all. This is something I will need to test, results will be posted here as they come in.

We retreated to the pub, and I drew the labyrinth, and talked about it, and we plotted.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

8 responses to “A Labyrinth in a Jackdaw grove

  • Haloquin

    I adore labyrinths, specifically the seven circuit one, which I successfully managed to fit in walkable form onto a double-bed sheet. I’ve been working on a song-concept that you could sing and follow the words/rhythm to walk a labyrinth without a labyrinth, the words are easy enough with a three circuit, whose pattern is basically a spiral dance… but a seven circuit one is proving trickier. Looking forward to hearing about your continued journey!

  • Yvonne Ryves

    I’d love to know too Haloquin 🙂

  • Haloquin

    Aw, thanks! It is very much a work in progress, feel free to play!

    For the three ring labyrinth the words I’m working with are…

    Inwards, I turn, (Step into the “labyrinth” and turn L)
    Weaving through life, (Walking slowly 1/3 round the outside)
    Dancing through life, (Second third of outside)
    Stepping through life, I turn, (Final third, then turning R into mid ring)
    Deeper I ride, (walking around 1/2, just inside first lap)
    Sacred I seek, and turn, (Second half, turn L)
    Into the heart, I turn. (just inside mid-ring, turn R to end in centre)

    When you turn you basically do a u-turn and then walk alongside where you just walked. I did this in a space which is delineated by furniture/other objects so I know where the outside is. You can then reverse the pattern to walk outwards, altering the words slightly. (I turn, out from the heart… etc) You could also use “we” instead of I for a group, alter the words for different focii, etc, etc… I do have a basic tune but we’ll see what that turns into.

    This is the basic idea which I need to put some time in to building up into the seven circuit version, and you could use a similar concept for the twelve ring one, but much much more complicated. I’m thinking that you’d need to start with a 1-2-3 pattern of words to take you onto the first path of the seven circuit, (which runs around the middle of the labyrinth) and then the same to take you to the outer ring at the appropriate moment… So maybe…

    *silent pause* (gather thoughts, set intent, stand at entrance)
    I enter the labyrinth, Turning left, (Three steps forwards, turn left)

    then five short sentences to carry you round, u-turn L, 6 sentences, u-turn right, 7 sentences, u-turn right, then a pattern to carry you three steps inwards again…. and so on.

    Effectively the length of the lines carry you for the correct distance if you walk/sing/chant at a consistent pace except for the first “Inwards” which declares your direction/entrance. In more complex patterns something to indicate left or right would need to be included as it isn’t just alternate directions.

    (BTW; I’m also not worried if you want to use the concept with different words if the idea sounds like fun to you, the words are more-or-less placeholders! You could potentially use musical phrases or drum beats, with different rhythms for turning L/R or walking round… many possibilities!!!)

  • 12 circles and Labyrinth success | Druid Life

    […] latest Labyrinth experiment took me back to the jackdaw grove, better prepared. I’d spent a while cutting strips of fabric to use for markers, and large […]

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