I’ve a longstanding fascination with labyrinths. It started as a purely visual interest, and then a few years ago, I started having opportunities to walk them. Gloucester cathedral, on a number of occasions, put vast canvas labyrinths down for people to explore. I was able to walk a number of them over about a year.
The process of slowly and deliberately walking a labyrinth does something to the mind and body. I’m still not sure how to best put that into words, but as you walk yourself into the centre of it, you walk the shape of it into your mind. I rapidly discovered that any labyrinth which takes you straight out once you’ve finished it, is not as good for me as one that requires a journey in and out. I found the experience of walking it soothing, and settling, and it is one of my favourite meditative practices.
The trouble with it is, I don’t have a big garden, or a vast living room, or any means to keep the cathedral making these experiences available. They don’t do them anymore. I went so far as to research giant canvas labyrinths, but they start around the thousand pound mark, I certainly can’t afford one, and even if I did, I have nowhere to roll it out.
This summer, the yearning for a labyrinth became a call I could no longer ignore, and I started thinking in earnest about how to make it possible. As I was banner making for a local event, I wondered if we could paint one onto fabric, but the scale it takes to make a complicated one work, is clearly beyond me.
A day of being too ill to do much gave me a window of opportunity, and I sat down with the internet and looked at labyrinths, until I tracked down the one I wanted. One I had walked, and that I knew I would fine especially effective. All I had to do was make sense of it, and so I stared at it, and counted, and looked for patters than I could remember.
Apparently the one I’m obsessed with is a medieval labyrinth. This is Sebastián Asegurado’s version, taken from Wikipedia:
12 concentric circles. Patterns of negative space that define the turns. The placing of the crossroads at the entrance. By the end of that day, I could reliably draw a version of the above labyrinth from memory. I found the process of drawing it echoed the experience of walking it, but was not an entirely satisfying substitute.
I had to take it forward…
What happened next, will be tomorrow’s blog post, as I keep exploring the labyrinth, I’ll post my experiences. It’s a project I am incredibly excited about.