Posted on May 4th, 2011 by Sue Watling
I was first initiated into the labyrinth when I attended a week-end workshop facilitated for the first time in the UK by Lauren Atress herself. It took place at Winford Manor just outside Bristol in the summer of 2001. Lauren Artress, from Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, is generally credited with being one of the first to rediscover this long-forgotten spiritual tool in the early 1990’s. It was the 11-circuit labyrinth at the medieval cathedral at Chartres in France which She became so committed to opening up the experience of walking a labyrinth for as many people as possible that she set out to ‘pepper the planet’ with them – and she has been very successful in dong so, through such workshops as the one I attended at Winsford, which couldn’t be succeed in enthusing the many participants who went out to ‘spread the word’.
I returned to Lincoln, and enthused about the experience to my colleague, senior student counsellor, Eunice Mather. Together we formed a pact to make our own canvas following the instruction pack available from Grace Cathedral.
The rest of Les’s account of how the Ermine Labyrinth came into being can be found under the Labyrinth Projects link at the top of this page.
Posted on May 4th, 2011 by Sue Watling
Some 40 or so members of local Melton Mowbray churches attended the third session of a Lent course which was exploring different approaches to prayer. In one sense these were ‘new’ ways, but really they were all revivals of age-old traditions, largely overlooked and unused since the Age of Rationalism cast doubt on anything that wasn’t cerebral.
This 3rd session re-introduced the labyrinth, a feature of many medieval churches, particularly the cathedrals of France and northern Italy, but which fell out of use, and was only recently re-discovered in the 1990’s. By walking a labyrinth we are re-discovering a long-forgotten mystical tradition that many find surprisingly potent.
St Mary’s Church, Melton Mowbray had 20 x 20 foot space in a chapel on the south side which allowed for a 7-circuit Petit Chartres labyrinth. Using a labyrinthograph (!), the 7 circles on which this particular design is based, were traced on to the flag-stones in carpenter’s pencil which then enabled the final outline to be marked out with masking tape.
After a brief introduction, the ‘pilgrims’ were invited to walk. There was an enthusiastic but attentive response. Equally important is the reflection afterwards, in this case, shared reflection which deepened the experience and provided food for on-going meditation in the days ahead.
Although the outline on the floor had always intended to be short-lived –‘ for one night only’ , such was the collective experience that a decision was made to leave it in place for several more days to allow for, second walks, perhaps when fewer people were present, and for others who had not participated in the evening to have an opportunity to share in the experience.
Posted on March 3rd, 2011 by Sue Watling
Healthy Campus Week gave students and staff at Riseholme and Brayford the experience of walking the labyrinth.
This opportunity to take time out is welcome. University chaplain Les Acklam offered a chunk of quiet relaxing time to focus on the path beneath your feet as it meanders into the centre of the Ermine Labyrinth and back out again. Unlike a maze, you can’t get lost in a labyrinth, you can only reach the centre and then work your way back to the beginning. Many people say this is a metaphor for life – but the true value of walking the labyrinth is it can represent whatever you want it too.
“Actually more effective than I thought it would be, I felt confused when finding myself drifting away from the centre, but accomplished when I got there.”
“Gets annoying that you feel like you don’t get anywhere. But it’s something different to try.”
“I enjoyed the experience very much the music did help my mind felt empty and it enabled me to release a lot of negative energy. The reach to the middle simbolized achieving my goal.”
“Dizzy but more concentrated.”
“I liked the music and the green lights and also the way it was all curved lines and no straight ones made it easier to walk through it.”
“Not at all what I expected, finally a chance for some peace amongst this busy life. It gave me chance to think about plans and problems. Give it a chance and you’ll get out of it what you put in.”
Posted on September 30th, 2010 by Sue Watling
The Lincoln ‘Ermine Street’ Labyrinth was set out in the dramatic setting of Lincoln Cathedral on 29th September by Lincoln University Chaplain Les Acklam. This was part of an activity day for pupils from special needs schools from across the county. Two workshops were held for two groups of a dozen pupils who enjoyed the experience of walking the labyrinth and were intrigued by its design and history.