The Circle Labyrinth at Brescia
In the spring of 2001, a group of women from The Circle Women’s Centre constructed a stone labyrinth on the Brescia University College campus, on a hilltop overlooking the city of London. A perfect setting – an open space surrounded by trees, a panoramic view of the city with the healthy intrusion of the sounds of nature and the bustling traffic. The design chosen is the Santa Rosa Labyrinth which was created by Lea Goode-Harris in 1997. In Lea’s own words, “the creation was a direct result of my doctoral dissertation research and being touched by the Creative Force of Life”.
Labyrinths are sacred and powerful places. They are found in many ancient cultures and were widely used in the Middle Ages (the most famous one being in the cathedral in Chartres). Some believe that the labyrinth represented an acceptable intersection of Pre-Christian and Christian traditions and walking it, today, is a recognized spiritual practice for people of many beliefs.
Unlike a maze, a labyrinth is a winding path leading to the centre and out again. Each person’s walk is a deeply personal experience and what we might receive differs with each walk. When we walk a labyrinth, we meander back and forth, turning 180 degrees each time we enter a different circuit. As we shift our direction, we also shift our awareness from right brain to left brain, which is one of reasons the labyrinth can induce a receptive state of consciousness. We can enter with a question or concern, or with a simple desire to discover our own sacred inner space.
In the case of The Circle’s labyrinth, one of the features that makes it unique and adds to the mystical experience of walking it, is the presence of a beautiful sycamore tree in its centre. As mystic and artist Meinrad Craighead remarked upon seeing it: ” it’s as if the sycamore tree was there, ready and waiting for this labyrinth.” Tied upon the sycamore tree’s branches, you will also see ribbons or strips of fabric.These ribbons are a mirroring of a Celtic tradition where people would tie a piece of fabric onto tree within a sacred or mystical space (often by a holy well) in the hope of healing or good fortune or as an offering. Variations of this tradition can be found throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia. You are welcome to bring your own piece of fabric to tie upon one of the lower hanging branches.
This project was generously funded by the Finders Keepers Conference (2000) Committee, The Circle membership and a “toonie” drive (as well as stones from women’s own gardens and “sacred places”).