THE MYSTERIES OF THE LABYRINTH

by Suzanne Ingleton.

Labyrinth. Just looking at this word can make one's inner being flutter just a little. In our mind comes an image of what? A maze, an ancient terror, an entrapment, a minotaur waiting around a dark corner, mysterious twists within one's mind? All of these. And yet the deep truth of the labyrinth's purpose is hidden beneath this surface of foreboding. We need not ask why it has come to this because, as with most ancient forms of connections to the Inner Self, the Goddess within, the forms have been demonised, neutralised or taken over through the passing centuries. But the Labyrinth's time has come again and now more and more people, working in groups or individually have begun to access the power of this amazing(a/mazing!) tool of divination and release.

We cannot place its origins but they go back to pre-historic times, pre 4000 BC into the times of the Matrilineal Age. The meander pattern from which it evolved goes back at least fifteen thousand years before Theseus slew the Minotaur! Labyrinths have been found in Egypt, Sweden, Africa, Iceland - all over the planet. Perhaps the most famous, and the most abused, is the labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral. Abused because no one can ever walk it- it's intricate stonework pattern lies on the floor of the Cathedral and is usually covered in chairs, ignored by a Catholic Church that really wishes it would go away. Little realising that it is the individual's pathway to God - whichever God that may be, the priests discourage access. Access to the Goddess within is the key to the labyrinth's purpose. This does not sit easily with a church that promotes access to God via a priest without. The ;labyrinth remains the most overt practical way of achieving connectedness to the Mother. Its paradigm is a journey within to find the self. Patriarchal silencing of this concept resulted in the veiling of the true nature of the labyrinth by turning it into a maze, a paradigm that signals to the journier that they risk being lost not found.

My first experience of walking the labyrinth came in England many summers ago at Saffron Walden where there is a turf labyrinth. Even now it is still called the Saffron Walden Maze. It was a glorious, sunny day and as many young couples were walking the path, calmly and deeply involved in their own journeys, children were gaily running it, casuing havoc. It didint matter. Walking the labyrinth is like walking life. You pass people really closely then you notice that they are now so far away and then suddenly the same person is right beside you again, breathing in your ear.

I have taken my labyrinth to many rituals. The last time was a full moon ritual in Brisbane where I watched enchanted as men, women and children silently honoured the journey within. All women wear veils and men wear cowls. This is something that I had a vision of many years ago when I was conducting a moon ritual for a women's healing workshop. I suddenly had this vision of all the women wearing veils- it was as if it just came across time to me. From that time on I always encourage women to veil-up and wear long flowing skirts or dresses, it's so much fun! Men wear cowls or hoods. We always smudge ourselves before entering the labyrinth and there is always a gatekeeper who watches them on the path to make sure they do not stray and to welcome them back when they return.

Look at the diagram please. A labyrinth is not a maze. You can get lost in a maze. You can never get lost in a labyrinth. The Greek mythology of the Minotaur at the centre (instead of the goddess) is an evidence of the takeover by the Greeks of the Minoan matrilineal culture and the destruction of its magic. Ariadne was originally one of the immortals, a daughter of the Moon Goddess, Pasiphae . It is her presence as the Potent One, the Mistress of the Labyrinth, that we meet in the centre, not the debased monster Minotaur.

The basic form of the labyrinth is the classical seven circuit-see the diagram. The energy, as is usual with the ancient forms, is spiral and feminine. As you look at the diagram those of you who are knowledgeable with chakra energies will immediately start to click into a deeper feeling. When one begins working with ancient tools of divination one develops one's gnowing principle. So with this.

The circuit is numbered from the outside, seven pathways take you to the centre, to number eight. These pathways also correspond to the properties of the chakras. You can also play the music of the labyrinth, the numbers corresponding to the tonic scale, also the colours of the rainbow.

Hidden deeper are the mathematical mysteries of the labrys and its further connections to the magic squares and mathematical progressions of the solar system

walking into the labyrinth one visualises also that one is descending deep into the earth. This is easy to do. Veiled and in candlelight with gentle music playing, your body turning and realigning at every pathway brings the effects of a walking meditation into your body. Walking meditation is a trance form practiced in many cultures, the Amer-indians do it, the shaman practitioners in Asia do it.

Walking the labyrinth with a purpose, with a question in your heart is an extraordinary experience. You can even just trace your finger through the pathways and still receive answers to your questions.

Take a minute to consider this. Quite simply the labyrinth can be used as a problem solving device. The pattern of walking the labyrinth path is thus : 3, 2, 1, 4, 7, 6, 5, 8. Then you return from 8, 5, 6, 7, 4, 1, 2, 3. At every turn you change direction 180 degrees- like churning the water to make 500 in biodynamic farming! Like the moon pulling the tides.

The pathways correspond to levels in the body thus:

.3. Mental- Solar

.2. Emotional- Sacral

.1. Physical- Root

.4. Personal Spiritual- Heart

.7. God/dess- Crown

.6. Vision- Brow

.5. Manifestation- Throat

.8. Goal- Divine Consciousness.

GOING IN

Stand/be at the mouth of the labyrinth. Think of a problem. Begin.

.3. Mental. What do I think of this problem?- left brain will take over. Just think about it

.2. Emotional. What do I feel about it? Emotions are at issue here. Does it make me feel sad? Scared? Weak?

.1. Physical. How will it affect me on the physical level? What's the cost? Where will it put me?

The Critical Turn

.4. Personal/Spiritual. Is this about my spiritual growth? Is this about honouring my Beloved, myself?

.7. God/dess Now make an invocation to one who holds that power for you: Isis, Jesus, Great Spirit- whatever. Ask for help.

.6. Vision. Answers on the next two paths come from your intuition rather than the analytical mind. They come from the Higher Self, the Deity that you have invoked. Trust and surrender, let go and let god. Go with the first picture, the first thought. Perhaps at this point your problem has revealed itself as your opportunity. Get a vision.

.5. Manifestation. What is the first step? You have received a possible solution. So what is the first physical step to achieving that?

.8. Goal. Take time now. Breathe. Let the vision sit in the centre of your head. When you are ready you will walk the process backwards. This will be your evaluation.

GOING OUT relies on you being non-judgemental about the information that you have received

.5. Manifestation The first step is? Look at that specific first step you got. Don't judge.

.6. Vision. See the answer that you received on the way in. Again do not judge. Re-vision it.

.7. God/dess. Give thanks for your new awareness.

Now you can get critical and judgemental

.4. Personal spiritual. How, if I act now on this new vision, will this affect my spiritual life?

.1. Physical How will this affect my physical life? What will I have, will it be enough? Is this what I really need?

.2. Emotional What is my gut feeling? Relaxed? Sick? Is there a twinge of fear?

.3. Mental. What do I think now? Remember that the left brain is in control again and you must understand that both sides need to reach a balance. It has to work on all levels for you. The battle between heart and mind is the last one.

You must also be careful to remember that sometimes energy can flip over and bite you on the bum! It gets interfered with. I always make sacred space around whatever I am attempting to do when dialoguing with Higher Self energies. It's easily done. Just visualise a protective circle of white light around yourself, or visualise roses around your aura.

In my life and from my workshops I have received such great power from and been deeply affected by the mysteries of the labyrinth. I have watched many others, including an Anglican priest allow themselves to be transformed by its energy.

I learnt the hard way that one should never enter the labyrinth and leave it without completing the due process of going in/coming out. About ten years ago I was involved in a theatrically based labyrinth workshop in Sydney and because I was rushing to catch a plane to Melbourne to see my daughter graduate from school I left the labyrinth from the centre without walking out, thereby not completing the energy- breaking the mystery.

In this actors workshop angels dragged us blindfolded lower beings, against our wills, screaming, protesting and cursing, into the centre. It was an improvisation that we had done the day before but hadn't videoed. This day we had to repeat it for the camera but something untoward was happening to me. I found that my whole body went into a strange weakness and I couldn't stop crying, I couldn't protest and the savage noises of the others made me feel violently sick. My fellow actors watched uncomfortably as great wet patches appeared on my blindfold. The tears wouldn't stop and yet all the time I was saying to myself- why is this happening?

The director then yelled 'that's enough, we've got enough. Sue, you'd better go- your plane leaves at 4pm.'

Oh yes. I ripped off the blindfold, ran out from the centre right across the labyrinth, told them I was OK, grabbed my bag, flew to Melbourne, grabbed a cab to the school, got in there late at the back of the hall, watched my daughter (having strange visions that she was me, it was my old school, she wore the uniform) and then found myself in a total flip-out regarding the play I was writing at the time- The Passion and its deep connection to lemon delicious pudding All of a sudden I got this weird idea that the main character's mother was not her mother at all and that her real mother was the aunt figure in the play! Instead of watching my daughter I sat scribbling madly on the back of the valedictory program, re-writing parts of the play!

It took another two years to work out what had happened to me that night. On an esoteric level the character in the play (who was really me) so resented the energy of her mother that she was glad to be told there was another option! Secondly the energy of the aunt was wild and untamed, much more preferable to the seemingly weak and subdued mother.

My director and collaborator, Kerry Dwyer refused to believe this extraordinary new twist in the plot. Finally she said to me how did you ever get this idea? I sat and thought. Then a strange feeling entered my gut. Oh, my god, that night in Sydney when I ran out of the labyrinth! Aha. The next night we ventured to the beach at Elwood and drew a labyrinth in the sand and, blindfolded, Kerry led me in again. In the centre I received an image of the true mother, Ellie. She said these words. 'I am the Emerald Lady'- the meaning of which was so clear in the script. It not only gave power to the real mother but explained to me the judgement that I had long held about my own mother's strength.

Stories of healing work abound with the labyrinth. I use it continually in my life and work.

Further reading: Sig Lonegren Labyrinths, Neville Drury Labyrinths.