The making of a Labyrinth.

These are some pictures of making the labyrinth on Saturday April 7th at Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa. The Candlelight Labyrinth Liturgy was the first event marking the 175th Anniversary for the Church.

Dan and I started at noon by sweeping and washing the floor. It all seemed part of the ritual and would help the tape stick better, besides, we were about to spend the afternoon on our hands and knees.

What often strikes me about Labyrinths is the degree of metaphor that is involved. How humbling to crawl around on the floor in order to create a space for something special to take place, dare I say, something sacred.

Drawing concentric lines with blue painter’s tape.

Having borrowed Ruth Richardson’s handy tape machine we began by locating the center of the Labyrinth. Last minute adjustments to the design had been made the day before and I had pre-measured a string with the radius of the Labyrinth center and a knot marking each path width. My collaborator this day and always was my partner Daniel Sharp. He is a most meticulous worker and often comes up with improvements on my methods. We laid out the first ten foot circle and things did not go very well. The tape was curling and tearing. Things did not look good. I was not overly concerned, as I had packed several rolls of hockey tape to be used if the blue painter’s tape was not going to work. Eventually we figured it out and in next to no time had made eight concentric circles that almost filled the room.
Creating the Labrys.

Once all the circles were drawn we followed the scale drawing and figured out where all the turns were. We started to lay out the Labrys and decided to fill in the beautiful shape with blue tape. My dear friend Margaret made us a welcomed pot of tea and then made a quick trip to the hardware store for more tape. When the choir practice was over the kids started to drop by and try out the Labyrinth. I am always amazed at how energized the children become in the Labyrinth . In no time there were a few kids running in the paths.

Creating the Labrys.
Creating the Labrys with tape. Some of the Choir boys assisted in placing candles. Adding candles on the Labrys accentuates the cruciform shape of the Labyrinth pattern. The Labry is the shape found between the hairpin turns throughout the pattern. They are traditionally seen as a symbol of women’s power and creativity.

Help from the choir.

The older children including my own took on th task of placing 50 candles around each quadrant, equally spaced.


Testing the Labyrinth. The pattern is a 38′ Petite Chartres.

This was the first time I created a Labyrinth with tape. I was completely enchanced by the beauty that it is possible to create with 8 rolls of tape and a pile of good intentions. I am sure to be found in the future creating more Labyrinths be they made of snow, sand, tape or  paper bags the Labyrinth is a powerful container for contemporary experience.

Barbara Brown
Labyrinth Maker


One thought on “The making of a Labyrinth.

  1. What a beautiful initiative . I love using the arts to bring the spiritual present and resonant. As you expressed, there are so many levels of metaphor,entry and opportunity for anyone who ventures in. Your faith community must have been thrilled by your willingness to create this opportunity in this space. I can sense how rich it was you to share your love of this ancient tradition. I’m smiling.

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