Welcome to
Ros Briagha's website

Ros Briagha is a community leader
who ran OakDragon,
an outdoor educational organization that brings people back to Nature. She is a Wiccan teacher and ceremonialist who is also adept at divination.

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Labyrinths

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Who is Ros Briagha?

E-mail:ros@rosbriagha.org

 

Labyrinths.
I have been intrigued by labyrinths for many years now, since seeing one made by Sig Lonegren in 1987, which seemed both powerful and mysterious. Since then, I have experienced walking many labyrinths, and started making them myself, again guided by Sig, and his method of laying them out, which is a useful and efficient template for the 7 and 13 ring cretan style labyrinth.

One point to make is that you cannot get lost in a labyrinth, whilst this is only too easy in its cousin, the maze. Labyrinths are uni -cursal, i.e. they are one long path, that winds into the centre and back out again, while the maze has various paths that wind about in all sorts of patterns. I have never been that attracted to mazes, perhaps because I do not seek a physical challenge, of finding my way through the maze, but instead prefer the more inward meditation of the winding path of the labyrinth.

I have probably used the cretan style labyrinth the most over the years, making them for sharing with groups, from all sorts of substances. These have included tennis court paint, to lay a white line on grass, compost, which gives a brown wall of earth,and which can have night lights put on it at intervals to give a lighted path, and , perhaps the most spectacular, walls of sawdust mixed with paraffin, that can be set alight and then walked between, giving a most amazing experience, if a bit smoky!


It is possible to either make “walls” to walk between, or to mark the actual path and walk on the trail. If I am preparing in advance, and can get the right materials, I usually make the walls, but impromptu labyrinths, such as the snow one shown here, can be simply walked, creating the path as you go. This is not as easy as it looks, as you have to hold the format clearly in your head AND allow the right amount of room to fit in all the paths as they spiral in to the centre. In the snow one, I have not quite got it right, in that I have started off with a right hand labyrinth and halfway through switched to a left hand one! It still works, but looks a bit different........


As you can see, I look a little puzzled, not sure what has gone wrong, but knowing that there has been some kind of shift somewhere along the line. I have also done some experimenting with the Chartres -style labyrinth, the original of which is in the cathedral at Chartres, in France, and which was used as a pilgrimage route, traversed on ones’ knees, a long and arduous journey. The original has 13 rings, and one day as I was playing with this image I noticed that it was possible to carry on round on row 6, and not turn onto row 7, and thus create a 7 ring version. I have since found out that others have made the same discovery, and made these new style labyrinths too. My one I made over a 2 week time span, starting when there was a New Moon eclipse and finishing at the Full Moon, and using the rocks from the stream than ran beside the field where I made this labyrinth.

I started it on an eclipse because one of the ways I have used labyrinths is as a way of finding answers to difficult questions, something I learnt from Sig, so I see
them as gateways into my higher self, and contact with the infinite. I also see eclipses as gateways, when there is a gap in time that can allow new energies through, or old ones out, so it seemed appropriate to link one gateway with another.


It immediately became very popular with the children, who spent mant a happy hour running round its winding path, quite a long journey even with only 7 rings. I
marked the end of each wall with lumps of white quartz, which is plentiful around here, and served two functions. One is to enhance the energy of the lines, adding the powerful pulse of quartz to the limestone rocks, the other is so that the paths stand out more at night, especially in the moon light, when the quartz glows and shows the turning points clearly.


I definitely prefer to use local materials for my labyrinths, and one of the sweetest I ever saw was made at a camp site I visited in Belgium, where a yound lad of 12 had made one from big pinecones, having been inspired by Sigs’ book. He was thrilled when I stopped to talk and revealed that I knew Sig! Labyrinths seem to invite this sort of cosmic coincidence.

Having made several 3 ring cretan -style little temporary labyrinths, I realised that if I used the usual template for a 7 ring, but with less tracks, I in fact ended up with a simple spiral into the centre, as in this pebble labyrinth done on a beach covered with white quartz pebbles. It looks good, but does not have the true labyrinthine feel of winding almost to the centre, then out again before coming finally to the still centre. Once again the white quartz is quite spectacular, seeming to shine in the sand, and set off well by the darker background.

Beaches are great places to make labyrinths, as there are often lots of pebbles to use, or it is relatively easy to mark the walls by dragging ones foot along to make a gouge in the sand, so that the “walls” become troughs instead. This is when it is so handy to have the template to work from, giving you the correct starting point and path widths. A big beach with plenty of sandy area allows you to create huge labyrinths, and other beach users can enjoy them too, until the tide comes in and wipes the sand clean again. [point I want to make a 3 ring labyrinth here on my land, and it was in preparing for this that I realised that I was not happy with this set up and wanted to find a pattern that gave a “proper” labyrinth. So first I drew the path, following the mantra of 3,2,1,4,

 


this being the number of each path and the order in which to tread them. In a 7 ring it goes 3,2,1,4,7,6,5,8, with 8 being the centre, and 1 being the outermost ring. Once I had the path, I could draw the walls, and find the template to construct them. This is quite important to get properly, so that you can set the right distance between each path. I have not yet made this one, but feel sure that it will happen soon now that I have got this bit right.


One of my favourite labyrinths is this one I marked out on a frosty lawn, up in Aberdeenshire one Samhain, when I was staying with a bunch of fellow
geomancers, preparing to go out for the day and look around some of the many stone circles in this area. Some members of the group were not ready to go out, and we were waiting by the lawn when someone said “Hey, can you mark out a labyrinth in this frost?” I set off, with the others following, and sailed round, really enjoying seeing the path emerge from the frost. It was possible to go up several floors in the castle we were staying in, so these photos are a real “birds eye view”

One of the useful things about the 7 ring cretan labyrinth is that it can be linked with other systems based on 7, such as the visible planets in astrology, or the chakras. It is possible to use the fact that each ring goes in a different direction as you walk it, first clockwise then anticlockwise, to experiment with, say, looking outwards and looking inwards, to answer questions or resolve difficulties. There are many ways to play with all this, depending on whether you are in a large or small group, or alone, and what the situation is.

One of my favourite was when 7 people, each masked and dressed as a planet, stood at the end of each ring, and asked the folk walking the paths a question relating to the energy of that planet and ring. They could then walk round musing
on this till they reached the next "planet".

If you would like to experience the power of the labyrinth for yourself, I run Labyrinth workshop days, when we get together in a suitable location and play with them in various ways. This gives you the opportunity to both learn how to make one yourself, and also how to use it once it’s there. Please contact me to find out more information on the timing and whereabouts of these workshops.

For further information, please contact Ros Briagha ros@rosbriagha.org

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