A labyrinth is not a maze or a puzzle to be solved but a path of meaning to be experienced… Naturally we were very intrigued when our customer Rev Ian Robinson told us he has used our aggregates to create a labyrinth garden.
Our minds immediately went to the 1986 film starring David Bowie with ‘interesting’ hair! However, for over 3000 years labyrinths were used by many different cultures and religions. They are found, for example on Greek pots and Spanish petroglyphs. Perhaps the most famous in the UK is the floor labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral. On which priests walked to celebrate Easter.
The Use of Labyrinths in Today’s Culture
Today labyrinths have been rediscovered as a spiritual resource. As a way to quiet the mind, encourage reflection, discover new ideas and to celebrate.
They may also play a part in stress reduction, as the body is integrated with the mind, and the mind with the spirit.
Rev Ian Robinson gives us in his own words some insights into his incredible labyrinth garden and how it came to exist.
The Labyrinth Garden Inspiration
“Our original concept was to create a space suitable for quiet contemplation, prayer, meditation and mindfulness. The purpose of walking a labyrinth is spiritual renewal. There is nothing mystical about it. Unlike a maze there are no dead ends or high hedges. There is only one way in and one way out.
Thankfully there’s no chance of getting lost! The only choice is whether to follow. As along its convoluted serpentine single pathway there are many turns, some of which seem to take you away from the middle. This journey to the centre and back reflects our spiritual journeys of twists and turns, life’s ups and downs that force us to slow down and reflect.
Walking the labyrinth is an intentional exercise of creating a space for reflection, prayer and meditation. Walking slowly slows the mind, allowing the walkers to listen to their breathing, still themselves and be open to God.
We looked at the wide range of existing spaces around the world, using the web site https://labyrinthos.net. Quite by chance we were discussing the plans with a guest over breakfast and discovered that he and his wife are the Jeff and Kimberley Saward responsible for the site.
Having talked about the overall scheme, Jeff offered to undertake the design for us. This would suit the space available once we gave him dimensions. Our brief for the design was to provide a central location. Where having walked the labyrinth, visitors could sit and find peace and quiet. Hence the central Gazebo and the 4 corner spaces where we could locate objects to spark meditation and/or prayer. This led Jeff to base our design on a Byzantine style labyrinth using a series of circles and curves.
Three Stages of the Labyrinth Garden
The process is often perceived as having three stages. Entering our labyrinth allows walkers to release what is on their minds and to ask questions. Sitting in the gazebo at the centre of the labyrinth gives opportunity to receive from God. Then finally returning along the path walkers may reflect on re-entering their lives given new insights received on the journey.
There is, however, no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. Walkers are encouraged to accept and honour the experience without over thinking or letting themselves get too distracted.
The Location for the Labyrinth
Initially we planned to use a grassed area, formerly a horse training paddock and building which would have used low hedgerow plants to create the separation. However, winter conditions dissuaded us from this course of action. Therefore, we re-located to a disused tennis court and this proved to be a much more suitable location for the labyrinth garden.
We selected the option of gravel laid into a gravel grid so that we could clearly delineate the walking zone and separate the spaces. Using the gravel grid gives greater stability to the gravel and limits migration between zones. Feeling the gravel underfoot certainly grounds the experience of walkers as they become more mindfully aware of their senses.
We selected different gravels to create the design for the labyrinth garden. This included Green Granite Gravel 14mm, Polar White Chippings 20mm and Black Basalt Gravel 14mm. We chose this size of stone as the chippings are large enough not to get stuck in shoe treads and moved around. However, they are also comfortable under foot.
The side wall of the court was originally green painted block-work which was not conducive to the atmosphere we hoped to generate. Therefore, we clad the wall with Siberian larch and a local artist, Stuart Short, used a wood stain to inscribe the wall “you shall go out with joy…. and the trees of the field shall clap their hands”. This is a Biblical quotation that we felt suited our location being in the heart of a forest, where labyrinth walkers reconnect with the natural world.
Stuart also designed and made for us a number of spheres to be located in the four prayer corners. In each corner there are inscriptions on the globes, e.g. faith, hope and charity, again as prompts for meditation.
A final ball is situated on the walk into the labyrinth inscribed with the word ‘humility’. Guests have pointed out that it is as we approach a labyrinth in a state of humility that we are able to receive guidance, prompts, answers, enlightenment or counsel. On the ceiling of the gazebo are the words, ‘Be still and know…’again a little guidance to encourage labyrinth walkers to take a time of stillness to listen to inner prompting.”
“Your life is a sacred journey. And it is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation. Continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul. Learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way.” Caroline Adams
We have certainly received some interesting garden designs over the years, however we do feel this one is the most eye-catching! It was fascinating to learn how this labyrinth developed and how it benefits the visitor, of which we are sure there are many!