Since retiring from High School Visual Arts teaching I have focused on teaching Yoga and Meditation in my local community. The labyrinth has called me and become a stronger part of my reality. Walking across the park near my home I saw in my minds eye a labyrinth in the grass. I had no idea that vision would lead to where it has now.
In July 2017 I found myself standing on a wild and windswept beach on the western coast of Islay, off the west coast of Scotland. I was there because the labyrinth locator said there is a labyrinth on this island. I was there because my great-great grandmother was born on this island. I was there because I’d set myself the task of walking a labyrinth a day across the UK during a two week visit. It was day four. I was at the beach that morning because the people who have the labyrinth on their land had been called to England on family business and I wasn’t able to visit them.
It was 9:30 am and raining, the wind was blowing. I could nearly distinguish the sky and sea. I stared out at the Atlantic seas – salt spray blurring my vision more. I had drawn my own labyrinth in the sand; a left turning, seven circuit classical labyrinth. The path marked, I stood at the threshold. Alone on this wild coastline, where the elements rage, home of my maternal ancestors, seat of the western edge of the ancient Viking Empire. I stood on that threshold took a breath and walked, oblivious of the weather. I followed my feet, shoes off, bare feet padding the sand, one step after the other- a lot like my entire labyrinth journey so far.
The labyrinth has become a journey, almost an obsession, an unfolding and reawakening. Since a friend and I made a labyrinth on my land in 2010, I have been following this thread. In Grace Cathedral, 2015, I stood in the center of the labyrinth, looked above and below, was washed by the sound of a bamboo flute-I felt it played for me – I cried tears of release and healing- I turned and returned to embrace my life. Each time I walk the labyrinth it is a pause, like the space between the in-breath and the out-breath and then returning from the center is a setting forth in to the future.
Finding the labyrinth in Sydney’s Centennial Park led to Emily Simpson when I was seeking support to create that labyrinth in my own community. Through Emily I found Veriditas. Completing my training at the summer school last year, Jan 2017, solidified my understanding and intentional use of the labyrinth. Which led to my accreditation as a labyrinth facilitator.
So, then I was in Scotland, walking to the center of a hand-drawn classical labyrinth on a wind swept beach next to the Atlantic Ocean. In the center I greeted the four directions and heard the word _ home! You are home.
And I was home: home on this island and more significantly home in the center of the labyrinth. This labyrinth and all labyrinths – the labyrinth is my home – the labyrinth is my work. Although I already knew the labyrinth was home, this experience has been profound and I know that I will continue to work with labyrinths. From this point I felt renewed, returning again as in all labyrinth walks – I stepped out into my life.
My journey through the UK was a solo modern day pilgrimage. Each labyrinth showed me something about myself and taught me some history and use of labyrinths. In Spain I built a labyrinth with my friend on her property and visited labyrinths in the north. By the time I left Europe I’d walked 19 labyrinths in 3 weeks. The journey ended at Chartres Cathedral – totally unplanned in the beginning, but it became stronger and stronger that I should complete the journey there – and it just worked out.
An inspiring day spent alone among strangers. I reveled in being there, the history- this is the one! I walked the labyrinth three times and the lunations – I sat and watched how others interacted with the labyrinth – I took tours of the cathedral and chatted with strangers about their experience. The day I spent in Chartres has imbued me with a deep and gentle confidence about this work and how I can bring the labyrinth to others.
As a meditation teacher I have used the labyrinth as a tool on retreats. There has been wonderful and encouraging feedback from participants about their experience.
Facilitation brings me great inner joy as I introduce and hold space for others meeting the labyrinth for the first or maybe 100th time. It is humbling and I always learn more. I love that the labyrinth is accessible for all people, from all walks of life, cultures, religious backgrounds and ages. I have found peace in the labyrinth- each walk offering a deeper understanding of the path and to myself. I find confidence in working with the labyrinth alone and in groups. I am natively shy and working the facilitation process has given me greater confidence in all aspects of my life.
I love facilitating walks I especially love that the labyrinth is spiritual and not religious. This is important to me and in my work since 80% of the Australian community identify as non-religious. Labyrinth walks provides a spiritually connected experience so deeply craved in our community. I have learned it is a powerful, ancient and profound wisdom that works both strongly and subtly. Labyrinth brings peace and balance though personal and group reflection. As a facilitator I have learned to hold the energy of the walk and been amazed at how much love flows through me towards my walkers even if I don’t know them. I have been privileged to share some profound moments with strangers and continue to do so.
In negation with Campbelltown Council who built a labyrinth on Dharawal Land. I raised $8,000 and spoke to community groups. I ran workshops to create 108 tiles to ring the labyrinth. Facilitating labyrinth walks, at the university, in Campbelltown community, at the Sydney labyrinth or on retreats has deepened my sense of connection with community and the earth.
In my role at the Western Sydney University Multi-faith Center Chaplaincy, as a pagan Chaplin, we created a temporary labyrinth and worked a ritual for the autumn equinox as students headed into their studies.
I have also made several other temporary labyrinths in my garden, at retreats, an orphanage in Kenya and a friends pace in Spain. I love how they make themselves and how excited everyone is to participate. That they flow that children run them – everywhere!
My journey with the labyrinth has changed me – it has brought me into the public eye, into local media. It has provided me with a tool to connect with community that is inclusive, non-threatening and healing. It has given me confidence and taken me to places I never would have dreamed of. It has connected me to people all over the world. Most importantly it has provided me with a deepening sense of the divine. Of truth in ways that as yet I cannot articulate. At times I think –“am I crazy?” then it seems not. In many ways it challenges who I think and know myself to be – in a kind and gentle way that is making me feel more myself, stronger and connected.
I am in awe of the power and the mystery of the labyrinth and deeply moved that it has called to me. I know that I will continue to work it’s mysteries. Labyrinth work can bring deep, deep healing experiences, it is a tool for peace: internal and community. In my journey with the labyrinth I have sung and chanted, made offerings to the land, listened to the wisdom of my grandmothers and I have been silent. Always, always I know more and more, I have learned that Iife, every life in all its forms is sacred. Walking the labyrinth can, in its most profound manner connect to that knowing, create a connection to the divine.
Now living in Broken Hill (Wilyakali Land) one of the first things I have done was to create a labyrinth. Each evening in the lengthening shadows of the hot summer days I layed stones to create a desert labyrinth. It has helped introduce me and anchor myself to this land. I am grateful for its wisdom.