I built a labyrinth in my front yard as pandemic lockdowns swept the globe, and it has brought solace and meditation, connection and creativity into my life. Walking it daily has become an enriching ritual that centers and balances me. This radical ritual is a reminder: I am always calling myselves back to myself.
My neighbors find joy and release here too, and my heart soars to catch a flash of movement outside my office window as someone traces its meanders.
Photo credit, left and top right: Kristin Watkins
The Patterns We Practice
Sometimes, lost in life’s chaotic maze, a revelation will illuminate the pattern as clearly as if it were a labyrinth, with one way in and only one way out. Despite disorientation, following the labyrinth’s threaded path will guide me to my destination. This perspective on the patterns I practice emerged from watching drone footage captured by another neighbor as I dug through my lawn to edge the labyrinth’s pathway.
Labyrinths can be pretty designs, detours, meditations, or quests. Global variations of unicursal paths date back to Neolithic times, each with rich cultural significance and ritual.
The pattern inscribed into my yard is a Classical, left-handed, seven-circuit labyrinth. It’s thought to be 4,000-5,000 years old, appears on Cretan coins, and evokes tales of the Minotaur. The Mahabharata tells of the warrior Abhimanyu assailing a defensive Chakravyuha labyrinth. In Southern Peru, the Nazca Lines incised onto the desert floor include giant double spirals and monkey tails. Medieval labyrinths in gothic cathedrals like Chartres in northern France multiply meanders in paving stones.
I have lit my yard up with solar-powered LED lights, which makes it feel more modern and accessible even to the ICU nurse who lives nearby and likes to walk it when she comes home after an intense night shift.
Walking a Labyrinth
Each encounter with a labyrinth is supremely personal. They invite inspiration, connection, play, introspection, release, and so much more. Even a David Bowie dance party!
To walk a labyrinth, simply place one foot in front of the other, and the path you follow will take care of the rest. For a more intentional experience, become the listener and not the thinker of your own thoughts with four Rs, adapted from Veriditas, that align to preparing, beginning, pausing, and exiting a labyrinth:
- Reflect – remember, relive, walk a problem, a history, a dream; play the record backward
- Release – stress, grief, shadow, anxiety, anger, what holds you back; breathe into what’s stuck, frozen, and afraid
- Receive – explore any thoughts or images that emerge, witness, meditate, observe
- Return – resolve, reclaim, rejuvenate, reflect, reconcile, rejoin
Ephemeral Enrituals – Temporary Labyrinths
I’ve become a veritable little Johnny labyrinth-seed, scattering temporary labyrinth installations on camping trips, in parks, along the Atlanta BeltLine, at the ocean’s edge…
Building and appreciating them creates community, fosters healing, and spreads peace. Laughing through the pathways of a heart-shaped labyrinth as the tide came in, I remember wondering whether remaining in the center as the water washed away all traces of an exit meant that I could stay there, dwelling in my heart.
Ephemeral Enrituals – Temporary Labyrinths in Stone and Dirt
Ephemeral Enritual on the Atlanta BeltLine – Temporary Labyrinth in Bark Mulch and Rose Petals
Ephemeral Enrituals – Beach Labyrinths
Please contact me if you are interested in a temporary installation or in consulting toward a more permanent installation. Let’s co-create an enriching ritual.