Happy World Labyrinth Day

Chartres Labyrinth Necklace, by Feral Strumpet. For more labyrinth-inspired designs, go to my shop.
Chartres Labyrinth Necklace, by Feral Strumpet. For more labyrinth-inspired designs, go to my shop.

Tomorrow, May 3rd is the 6th annual Labyrinth Day. Organizers of the day are encouraging people to walk as one at 1– walk a labyrinth at 1pm together.

City of Troy Turf Maze
City of Troy Turf Maze near Dalby, North Yorkshire

There are several labyrinths around Yorkshire, some temporary, others maintained for hundreds of years.  All are sacred to me, offering a wonderful multi faith symbol of faith and the complexities of life.

Julien's Bower, Lincolnshire
Julien’s Bower, Lincolnshire

Celebrating the spiral journey– these beautifully detailed earrings depict the Chartres cathedral maze Crowned by amethyst toned Swarovski crystals, these earrings are a beautiful reminder that there are no wrong turns in life, and though the path may twist and double back, we walk it in love and trust.

labyrinth_earrings-4

The Chartres labyrinth dates from the 13th century and is the best preserved example of a medieval labyrinth, but it is no doubt an echo of an earlier pagan symbol. Many years ago I had the luck of being in Chartres when the labyrinth was open to pilgrims. Walking it like so many had for hundreds of years before me (some on their knees!) I was filled with wonder. I hope a tiny fraction of that is captured in this necklace.

– See more at: http://feralstrumpet.indiemade.com/product/labyrinth-earrings-chartres-everyday-meditation-earrings-amethyst-swarovski-crystals-and-ste#sthash.1g2qApsp.dpuf

Me walking the temporary labyrinth at Rievaulx Abbey
Me walking the temporary labyrinth at Rievaulx Abbey

An antiquarian for the people

On the island of South Ronaldsay, Orkney, there is a passage mound called the Tomb of the Eagles. It’s called this because several sea eagle talons were found inside along with the remains of over 300 people.

What makes this site distinct is the fact that it was excavated by a farmer who had waited 18 years for the officials to do it, and, after finding a passage in the law that allowed him to legally do it himself, he took matters into his own hands, seeking the advice of archaeologists who were excavating a nearby site.

What this means is that the visitors center is staffed with people who are personally involved with education, actively reading the newest research on Mesolithic people and sites. It is a labor of love for the farmer, Ronnie Simison and the guides in the center. They have done their best to make the cairn accessible– even providing wellies and waterproof coats and trousers if the weather is proving to be dismal, which it was when we visited. Also at the site of the tomb itself a skateboard and rope are provided for those who can’t or won’t crawl in.

tomb of the eagles

What I liked most about this place wasn’t just the ‘tomb’ itself, which was as breathtaking in its construction as the others we’d seen, but the trust put into the visitors to value and respect the site.

Me in the ‘tomb’ in rain gear provided (free) by the visitor centre.

While we were at the tomb there were a handful of other visitors, but no official tour guides. You get to experience the place without any official narrative, and you must make your way inside on your own terms. There were a few people who refused to go in (women who were dressed in high-heeled boots and expensive coats). When I crawled in I heard others behind me say, “She’s just crawling in there!” and not long after, others followed. There was something humbling and empowering about the site– situated on the wild, windy cliffs of the island– I felt a little of the eagle-character of those ancients rub off on me.

Most of the people crawling into the tomb that day were grey-haired women, and a few men they’d brought with them. How alien these women would have seemed to the people that built this place, most of whom would have been teenagers. I had this warm feeling for these hardy women who were willing to go into the darkness, and also for this archeological center, the vision of one generous farmer, where everyone is treated as a potential antiquarian.