Tuesday, 25 March 2014
In a dimly candlelit room fragrant with sage, we walked the labyrinth one by one. Six women, each preparing by silently meditating on those things she wishes to shed from her life, then focussing them into a thread of yarn, to be carried into the labyrinth with her.
When the first was ready she stood by the entrance and was smudged with sage as a cleansing. She began to walk the coiling paths slowly, mindfully, reverently. There is only one way in, and one way out of a labyrinth (unlike the trickster-ish maze with its false leads and dead ends) and yet as the winding paths take you closer in to the centre then further away, then closer, further... you lose track of where you are, where you've been, and relinquish control of the journey to the labyrinth, focussing on the simple magic of one foot in front of another. Then suddenly - and it is always a surprise - you are There. At the centre of the labyrinth, the knife's edge, the place of transformation, mystery, paradox, where inward journey becomes outward journey.
At the centre of our labyrinth was a cauldron, in which to dispose of the 'things we wish to shed' yarn, which would later be burned. There was also a gorgeous Goddess altar with a beautiful Phillipa Bowers statue holding in Her lap an array of gifts for us. These were pretty little sparkly eggs in a rainbow of colours, each mounted on a stick, tied to which was a piece of card with a few words of wisdom from Her.
A few moments to be well and truly rid of the yarn and what it symbolises, some time communing with the Goddess and receiving your gift. And then back retracing your steps around and about the twists and turns, this time focussing on what you would like to draw into your life, what you are thankful for.
One by one we took our turn, and for once I had plenty to put into the cauldron. Money worries, fear, self-doubt, anxiety, dead-end job - I twisted it all almost savagely into my piece of yarn. I was eager to start, sure of myself and what I wanted. But the labyrinth has a strange way of... not so much taking over, but showing you, giving you, what you need. To start with, I was certain that I wanted drumming to accompany my journey, but I forgot to ask for it before I began, and strangely knew almost immediately that actually this was right for me. I needed to make this journey in silence.
I have walked many labyrinths, but on this occasion I found myself stumbling, even though the paths were smooth and easy to walk. My hips were stiff, my ankles felt weak, my back ached, my balance was off. What was wrong? I wanted to make this journey, I wanted to dump this stuff in the cauldron... didn't I?
And that was it, I realised. A part of me was very, very resistant to letting some of this stuff go. I slowed my pace, breathed, focussed. One foot in front of the other. Concentrate on what you're doing.
It came to me that my fear and self-doubt have been there so long, are so deep-rooted that they were not going to leave without a struggle. And some part of me was invested in keeping them there because they give me an excuse to hide, to not try too hard, to not take risks. It may not be a comfortable place to be but it's not as scary as putting yourself out there. I had a mental vision of a big root being pulled out of the soil by great effort and persistence, a root so big and solid that it leaves a hollow imprint of itself in the ground when it is gone. I was determined to grub that root out.
I felt it coming. I felt that plug of fear and self-doubt being pulled out of me, out of the top of my head from all the way down to the soles of my feet. I felt strangely empty, strangely clean. And a little queasy.
But then I could walk OK again. And suddenly I was there, at the centre of the labyrinth. I twisted the yarn in my fingers again, concentrated on focussing all those negatives into it once and for all. Goodbye self-doubt. Goodbye fear. Goodbye money worries, dead-end job, goodbye anxiety. I lifted the yarn to my mouth and blew it all in there. And then I let it drop into the cauldron, gone.
I knelt before the Goddess. At the start of the evening, I had been sure that at this point I would collapse in a weeping heap at Her feet. But the tears in my eyes were of fierce joy, and they did not fall. I thanked Her from my very heart. And took the egg that called to me.
As I walked back out my steps were sure, and I smiled. I kept repeating to myself a new mantra: "I am strong. I am resourceful. I am capable. I will start my own business. I can DO this!". And I knew it was true. As I left the labyrinth I was beaming.
As the others completed their own journeys, I held the space and helped drum for those who wanted it. When we were all done, we looked at each other in wonder. It had been a powerful and moving experience for everyone.
With the lights turned back on and the kettle put to boil for some much needed tea and coffee, we read our messages from the Goddess to each other. Every one was completely right for the woman who had taken it. Mine read, "Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try". And of course, every decision to try starts with overcoming fear and self-doubt. I have shed a long-carried burden. I have been given instructions for the next part of the journey. And it's OK, because "I am strong. I am resourceful. I am capable. I will start my own business. I can DO this!".
(Thank you to the ladies of the Carmarthen Moonlodge for their facilitation and sharing of this journey.)
Post script: The very next day I went down with an absolutely horrendous cold which has completely knocked me for six. I suspect this may be a physical manifestation of rooting out those negative emotions. That was a very powerful labyrinth!
There is just about everything you could want to know about labyrinths on Sig Lonegren's geomancy.org page. His books are also excellent, and I recommend going to hear him speak if you get the chance.