Health & Harmony

with Joanna Castle

Seamount Labyrinth Workshop

Seamount Labyrinth is a beautiful 20X20 labyrinth on my property in Kalkbay that is open to the public free of charge at Clovelly Beach in Kalk Bay.

What is a labyrinth?
One of the most frequently asked questions. Many confuse it with a maze. A maze has many entrances with cul-de sacs and dead ends intended to confuse you. A labyrinth has one path into the center and back out again. It brings order to chaos.

What does it symbolize?
It is a metaphor for the journey through life.

Do labyrinths heal people?
The labyrinth is a great tool for healing, but you heal yourself.

How do you walk a labyrinth?
There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. With or without shoes, fast, slow, in contemplation, or not. You need no particular beliefs to benefit from walking a labyrinth. However you feel at the moment you enter the labyrinth is the right way. Some people will laugh, some cry and others sing while they walk the labyrinth. When you enter the center you may turn and leave immediately or you may stay awhile, sit, stand or kneel in the center. Whatever feels right is the right way.

Where did they come from?
They go as far back as 4000 years. Many can be labeled Paegan because of their age. They have been found on coins, cave walls, pieces of stone and old church floors. The oldest on record is the Cretian labyrinth, also called the classical 7 circuit labyrinth. There are remains of one on Mt. Knossos on the isle of Crete. The oldest surviving labyrinth is found in a rock carving in Sardinia and dates 2500BC. One of the most famous is the one in Chartres Cathedral in France. It was build in 1220 and is an 11 circuit medieval labyrinth. There are many through out France and England, many in churches and church grounds.

The most famous in the United States is the one in San Francisco, California at Grace Cathedral built by Lauren Artress. There is one outdoors and one inside the Cathedral, both are 11 circuit medieval labyrinths.

They can be large or small, simple or elaborate. They can be made of stones, bricks, planted or not. They can be permanent or portable or marked on the ground with paint. They can be 5-11 circuits. A circuit is the circular path you walk. They can be left or right turning. The center has a variety of shapes, the traditional being a rose. The rose is the symbol for the Virgin Mary. It is a symbol for enlightenment, in the east it would be the Lotus. It has 6 petals and each represents a kingdom…Plant, Mineral, Animal, Human, Angelic, The Unknown Luminations around the outside circle. Look like ½ moons. Possibly a calendar. They are always present in a medieval 11 circuit. There are fine examples of these at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town which has an 11 circuit medieval labyrinth.

Seamount has 9 circles, but 4 are planted so you walk only 5 of them. So it is a 5 circuit left turning contemporary labyrinth.

Chartres is an 11 circuit left turning traditional labyrinth. There are also labyrinths in Amiens and Reims Cathedrals in France.

How does it work?
A labyrinth encourages meditation. While walking your focus shifts and your mind clears. It works very well for those who are anxious or hyperactive. It enhances right brain activity. It has been found to relieve symtoms of many diseases.

How can it be used?
A labyrinth can be used for individual or group meditation. Before entering you may ask for guidance, ask a question, say a prayer.

It can be used as a walking meditation, a place of prayer, it helps reduce stress and tension and helps create focus and clarity. It is a healing tool. It can be used for a ritual, a right of passage or a blessing.

Prayer- it is you who is speaking
Meditation-it is you who is listening

Chant a mantra
No intention is needed

Recommended Books:
Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool
By Lauren Artress (Riverhead Books, New York, 1995)

Labyrinths, Ancient Myths and Modern Uses
By Sig Lonegren(Glastonbury, Somerset)

Labyrinths,Ancient Paths of Wisdom and Peace
By Virginia Westbury, Sidney Australia

Sacred Geometry
By Keith Critchlow

There are 3 stages of the walk… The 3 R’s:

Releasing…letting go, Receiving… guidance, sense of peace, Return

Release: On the inward walk you may feel a sense of release, of letting go of the details of your life. It quiets and empties the mind.

Illumination: When you reach the center, stay there as long as you like. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you, guidance or a sense of peace Union: As you return to the world you may feel your higher power, your connection to god, or your healing forces at work in the world. Each time you walk the labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work you feel your soul is searching for.

Guidelines for walking:
Go in open and curious. Watch expectations. Release the ego…. Clear your mind and become aware of your breath. Allow yourself to find your own pace, the pace your body wants to go.

You may pass people or let others step around you. The path goes in 2 ways so you will meet those exiting. Do what feels natural.

For Journaling…Sit quietly bring in your senses of seeing, smelling and hearing. Be in the present moment. Look inwards at your life and and make notations. When you are ready begin the walk, when you are finished come back to your journal and capture your thoughts. Warmings… All of them hold hands around the outside as far out as possible with your numbers. This is done before the walking begins.

For details on upcoming Labyrinth workshops please contact me.