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A Midsummer Labyrinth Walk…Winding the Way Back Home
Article ID: 14624
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,003
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Author: Bronwynn Torgerson
Posted: June 12th. 2011
Times Viewed: 2,419
How will you honor the turning of the Year, from the fullest blaze of the summer sun, to gradually waxing darkness, rest and repose?
I plan to make my annual pilgrimage out to the labyrinth at the Franciscan Renewal Center (about 56th street and Lincoln Drive) . Details are listed on Witchvox under Events. Perhaps you will join me there.
Every time I have enter the center of the web, magick has been waiting there. Last year, I joined 2 friends for an early Midsummer morning walk. Wild hares were munching the grass in pairs under trees and bounding across the grounds.
Each of us three, a maiden/mother/crone trio if ever there was one, carried a question or symbol of our quest with us. In the pocket of my jeans was Othila, a ceramic rune of family and clan. I wanted a better sense of who my family was, as I sometimes feel orphaned (both of my parents are deceased, and how I'd love to have a grandmother...) As an empty nester, whose kids have grown and flown, and whose blood kin are states and countries away, I get lonesome. I was the mother mid-point of our trio that day.
The youngest among us carried small smooth white stones from the desert, to anchor her here until her work/learning was done. She came here from Oklahoma, found herself and good employment. Still the call of home and seasons was strong. She had found relationships both here and home and Libra-like, was weighing them for worth.
The eldest brought in her hands a tiny Buddha. She wished to teach others, however that came about. She had spent hours in college, gone deep in debt only to feel that those across the interview table saw her years of knowledge as only ‘age’ from her. An accomplished writer and philosopher, where could she give her gifts?
The stones and the Buddha were left as a gift to the labyrinth; my rune went home with me.
Did I learn about family? Holy Crow! As the year went on, I beheld the good, the bad, the hideous, the best. Family dramas and anguish balanced with hugs and validations from unexpected places. Some who were never of my blood declared me kin and adopted me into their hearts. “Family” is anyone who loves you and treats you well.
The witch with the Buddha icon wound up mentoring lesbigaytrans youth. Beautiful blessings have come from that fork in the road, and she is exploring ways to bring a bit of Buddhism into her own life.
Did the stones serve to tether the maiden to the Valley? I am still waiting to hear.
Labyrinths are as ancient as Crete, built to contain the mythological Minotaur. Did you know a goddess in human form also presided there? We only read of the hero Theseus, aided through the winding way by Ariadne’s thread. However, to the Mistress of the Labyrinth, known as Despoine, were given offerings of honey. The guardian of that shrine was worthy of worship, equal to that of the gods.
The Romans were fascinated with mazes and featured them in artwork and on coins. The Italian general Lars Porsena had an underground labyrinth build and incorporated into his tomb. Labyrinthine designs were found in numerous countries of the ancient world.
How did they come to the Americas? Partly through immigrants and explorers who carried their myths and culture with them. But among some indigenous peoples, the Tohono O’odham and Pima Indians, the motif of a man in a maze appears frequently on petroglyphs, basketry and other native art. Who is this seeker and what is the journey that seems to stretch out before him. The figure is I’itoi, a creator god credited with forming all the earth. The spiraling pattern before him is though to be the blueprint of his sacred home and the directions leading his people back to him.
Churches, hospitals and even mortuaries here in the Valley have discovered the benefits of building a labyrinth on their grounds for those who need to find centering or solace through a walking meditation. Thoughts of a loved one may accompany you as your footsteps tread the serpentine rows. A question may be pondered and carried in one’s soul.
What makes a labyrinth sacred space, and imbues it with living energy? Perhaps the answer lies in the spiraling design. Spirit travels in a circle, as do the seasons, the winds and the passages of our own lives. I believe the construction of a labyrinth makes a container, empty but filled with possibility, slumbering but sparked to awareness by the soft sound of footsteps passing by. If a maze is visited frequently by many in search of contemplation, it becomes a living thing, much in the same fashion as a sacred spring or ancient grove. The very stones themselves watch, remember and reply. A labyrinth untraveled, however, is merely unique landscaping, rocks laid out in pretty patterns on the ground. Visit several and you will readily perceive the difference.
Although many Valley mazes are located on church grounds, several are open to the public. Here is a partial listing. Hopefully you will find one close to you.
Church of the Holy Spirit
2501 E. Cactus Road, Phoenix, Arizona
This small labyrinth is behind the Church and Columbarium, and is open to the public at all times.
Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
100 W. Roosevelt St., Phoenix, Arizona
This brick labyrinth is in the courtyard that faces Roosevelt St, and is open to the public during daylight hours.
Mariposa Gardens Memorial Park
400 S. Power Rd., Mesa, Arizona
This large and intricate labyrinth is immediately south of the southernmost of the two entrance driveways on Power Road. The labyrinth is only accessible to the public during the hours that the memorial park is open.
Mercy Gilbert Medical Center
3555 S. Val Vista Dr., Gilbert, Arizona
This unique labyrinth is in the form of a descending walkway that is accessible to wheelchairs. In the center is a metal sculpture called Tree of Life. Located in the Gila River Indian Community Healing Garden, immediately east of the main hospital building. Always open.
Unity Church of Sun City
10101 W. Coggins Dr, Sun City, Arizona
This labyrinth is in a small walled courtyard on the north end of the church, and is open to the public at all times.
Triangle T Texas Canyon Harmony Labyrinth
Dragoon, Arizona 85609
Just 500 yards from the exit ramp for Dragoon Rd off of I10 in the famous Texas Canyon area of southeastern Arizona, between Willcox and Benson. Labyrinth is always open.
Are you going on vacation soon or making a retreat? Longing for answers or time alone?
Consider including a labyrinth walk into the pace and the peace of the day. State by state listings and directions can be found on the following websites:
Many walkers report that time seems lost when picking ones way through the circuitous rows. There is no traffic noise. One hears the birds and the steady beat of ones own heart, is enfolded by the stillness of innermost thoughts and awareness.
The groundskeeper of a large, central-city church once told me of this occurrence:
“Our labyrinth lies next to the cobblestone street. This bunch of skateboarders, all teenagers, came rolling and laughing by. Then as they neared the labyrinth, they did the darndest thing. They stopped, picked up their skateboards and carrying them past the maze, walking slowly. It was if they felt like they were in a holy place…”
Midsummer is the perfect time to align with the coiling design of the year. I hope you will walk a labyrinth as the light begins to wane. In the heart of darkness, there is tranquility.
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
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