By Dianne Witte
Several years ago, an author from New York called me, out of the blue, saying she was interested in walking my labyrinth and visiting with me about it. Twylla Alexander was on a quest to visit labyrinths created by women in each of the fifty states. She found mine listed on the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator http://www.labyrinthlocator.com
Twylla arrived on a hot June afternoon after visiting a labyrinth in Garden Prairie, IL that morning. I admired the tenacity of a woman who would fly to Chicago, rent a car and travel alone into unknown territory. We visited and walked the labyrinth which, in full bloom, was barely discernible among the flowers. She took multitudes of pictures saying she hoped to compile the stories into a book. Then, she was off as quickly as she came.
A year passed, and still no word about a book, but an email arrived assuring all, that it was in process. Her last labyrinth visit was Maui, Hawaii in July 2014. Then, another email came saying she was inspired to build her own labyrinth at her new home in Greenbrier, Arkansas with an invitation to join her for the dedication. Another year and finally an email in late 2016 saying it would be published in 2017 as “Labyrinth Journeys: 50 States, 51 Stories.”
One day in February, the book arrived. Imagine my surprise to see a picture of me on the front cover! It was postage stamp size, but still, remarkable. I quickly turned to “my story” beginning on page 110. Twylla has a way with words. She referred to the colors, in my labyrinth, as so brilliant, “they would have inspired Monet to get out a paintbrush.” She shared, as I told her, the name of my labyrinth is “Transformation Labyrinth” because it reflects the changes in flowers each season of the year; a metaphor for the cycles of life and the journey in the labyrinth.
Eventually, I read all 51 stories and was surprised that so many creators had an experience similar to mine; an inexplicable compulsion to build it. Most were built with sand, gravel, rocks and grass. While there were many who used the Cretan or Classic style, or the Chartres design, there are lots of unique formations. Styles vary from perhaps the smallest, a three-circuit Trinity Labyrinth in Shawnee, Kansas to an octagon in Baltimore, Maryland and a Man in the Maze in Nashville, Tennessee.
In reading the book, I found it fascinating to learn new ideas related to each woman’s story. The stories speak to the labyrinth’s power to calm and to inspire, to strengthen and to clarify; to be whatever the walker needs in her life. It’s such a reassuring symbol because the same path will take you in, then back out. You can’t get lost and it’s OK to “cross the lines.” Twylla shared a stanza from a song wrote by Rebecca Foster sometime earlier.
I think we all can identify with the words:
“My life is a labyrinth and it’s full of surprises
Where turns to the left are rights in disguises.”
You might find it intriguing to visit the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator and search for a location of interest to you. There are twelve listed in Madison, WI and Janesville has one while Beloit has two. Is there one near you? When you find one, try clicking on the “view map” link. You’ll be taken to Google maps. If you click on the satellite view, you can zoom in to see the actual labyrinth. Some may be hidden by surrounding trees or greenery, or newer than the Google view, but seeing them stamped on the view from space, is very cool.
What is so enchanting about labyrinths? Why are we seeing so many appear? The World-Wide Labyrinth Locator has over 5400 of them registered in more than 80 countries. That’s only a sample of those that are out there. I see them as a kind of amulet or talisman on the landscape of Mother Earth. Their reappearance at this time might be the result of the new energies brought in by the Age of Aquarius or perhaps the energy of the female Buddha?
You can easily draw your own labyrinth on paper or in a pot or whatever space you have. Try making one with magnets on a cookie sheet with the kids in your life. It might be fun to do the project on World Labyrinth Day, the first Saturday in May each year.