Labyrinth Making

My latest outdoor art installation is a classical 3 circuit Cretan labyrinth.  I chose the 3 circuit vs. 7 circuit (path), because I have a small suburban city sized lot and an 11′ circumference was the maximum size I could aesthetically accommodate into the backyard without dominating it.

My last house was in the country with plenty of elbow room where I built a large 33′ wide Baltic labyrinth using a turf and trench design and it showed up on google earth from the sky.  The turf and trench design is ideal when you have a lot of grass to deal with and it is far easier to create the circuits by cutting them into the grass vs. removing all of the grass.  The trench is created by cutting a sharp “V” into the ground and then laying rocks or bricks in the trench to form the lines.

The story of the Labyrinth is an ancient one.  It is a circular path found in many cultures.  It is not a maze – it has a way in and a way out.  It is used for meditation and prayer the most famous being at the Chartres Cathedral in France.  A labyrinth is used as a walking meditation for personal introspection healing and growth.  Its is a way to release the old and welcome the new.   Release ~ Receive ~ Return… is the premise of letting go and setting intentions while you are walking the labyrinth.

The how to’s are pretty simple you just need a shovel, wheelbarrow, a good pair of boots, a pile of rocks or bricks and some good energy.

  1. Get your coffee, a pen and paper and choose a design.  Theres some math involved here so have a calculator handy and figure out your sizes.  You should decide how big you want it to be and how wide the circuits are.  2′ circuits are good, 1.5 are OK and 1′ circuits are a little tight for walking the labyrinth.  Also include the calculations for the width of your lines, where the trenches or rocks will be placed.
  2. After you have made your calculations, its time to sketch it out on the ground.  I use a stake and rope to find the centre and a few rocks to lay out the quadrants North South, West and East.  If you are satisfied with the layout, you can proceed to mark out the circuits using the rope, a measuring tape or stick cut to the width of your circuits as a guide.  If it looks wonky you can always make adjustments.
  3. Start cutting in the circuits (allowing 3″- 4″ for each trench or line of rocks), then lay down your rocks or bricks.
  4. The circuits or paths can be filled with crushed stone or pebbles, or planted with any low ground cover plant such as clover or creeping thyme.
  5. Decorate it with any sculptures, objects, painted stones or solar lights as you see fit to personalize it ~ or just leave it plain, zen like, and meditative…

Here is the 33′ Baltic turf and trench design.



Labyrith from space

This is the 11″ 3 circuit classical design, planted with white clover seed.

(footnote: ~ the white clover grew tall, took over the labyrinth and covered up the rocks.  Creeping thyme is much better: it grows & lays flat, makes little purple flowers and smells lovely when you walk on it…)




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