New Year’s Eve Labyrinth Walk
Dovercourt Recreation Centre
Dec. 31, 2008
Twelve rolls of tape, 200 candles, a map from the past, many helping hands and together we created a most beautiful labyrinth to bring in the new year and say good bye to 2008. For this inaugural event the 11 circuit Chartres labyrinth pattern was used. This is a more complex pattern than the 7 circuit classical labyrinth that I usually use to create the candlelight labyrinth in McKellar Park. The path of the Chartres Labyrinth is a considerable length which allows time for the mind to settle.
Many friends and collaborators came out to help along with my two teenagers and my very helpful partner Dan. Vanessa Compton, local labyrinth expert provided essential assistance both in the planning and publicizing of the event as well as in laying out the labyrinth and greeting and orienting guest through out the evening.
From the centre of the room we laid 12 concentric circles of tape on the floor, taking almost the entire surface of the room. Then the cardinal lines of North, South, East and West were laid in. With map in hand we went back into the circles and cut the pattern that creates the path to the centre. We could have stopped there as this was to be a temporary labyrinth, just for one evening, but we went on and added the labryses which are the round shapes at the hair pin turns that for me bring a sense of the feminine and softens the overall design. As we finished lighting the last few candles people came; friends, neighbours and families with their children.
In the centre of the labyrinth was a large basin of water with floating candles surrounded by evergreen boughs and seeded with evocative words. Just before we began I invited my collaborators to join me for a picture at the centre of the labyrinth and we all gathered around for a photograph together.
Several people had begun to walk and some had settled in the centre of the labyrinth when I spoke to everyone to thank them for coming and to thank and recognize the sponsors and collaborators who had helped to make the evening possible. Many people stayed in the centre of the labyrinth sitting around the fire for a very long time. They were mesmerized and stilled by the flames of a few candles and the quieting journey to the center of the labyrinth. People chatted, had tea and brought cookies to contribute to the table. In one corner others were busy colouring mandalas, quietly absorbed in their work.
As people walked the labyrinth I noticed they would look up at the slides of Chartres Cathedral and the town site of Chartres and then back down at the floor as if making the assimilation of many centuries in recognition of our connection to the past.
The atmosphere was congenial without an overt agenda. The whole evening was a warm and gentle time of pause to gather together in community and recognize our connectivity to one another and to our shared history. The labyrinth is an ancient tool that has come to us without an instruction manual but we know and respond intuitively. It holds us and supports our journey in this life.
At the end of the evening we gathered around the centerpiece in the middle of the labyrinth for a few final words before blowing out the candles on our most amazing evening together.
A few people have already responded with a request to make the event an institution and do it again next year and others have already offered to help. The one element that is needed is a sponsor to cover the costs. I’ll be looking for a local connection in the community, someone who would be interested in helping out in this way.
I encourage those who participated in the New Year’s Eve Labyrinth Walk to contribute their reflections on the evening. Let the rest of us know how you found the experience and what you think of walking the labyrinth.
Photos: John Duimovich
Many thanks to John Duimovich for spending his New Year’s Eve taking pictures. Much appreciated.