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The labyrinth pattern has been around for thousands of years, woven in baskets, planted in gardens, engraved on coins and on rock faces, and set in stonework in the floors of many of Europe’s Gothic cathedrals.
Nobody knows where the labyrinth originated but it has appeared around the world. It has been used for many purposes too. In recent times walking a labyrinth path has been taken up enthusiastically by many who seek a form of walking meditation, a space for reflection and healing, or just a “time-out” from busy lives. Walkers report everything from dramatic healing and transformation to a simple sense of peace.
How is a labyrinth different from a maze? It’s just this. In a maze you’ll bump up against dead ends, have to turn back and make a different choice at the crossroads. In a labyrinth there is only one path and while it sometimes makes hairpin turns, you never need to turn back. It leads eventually to the centre, where many people stop to rest, meditate, or listen to music. And then we return along the same path we used to come in.
Many find the labyrinth to be a metaphor for the path of life, and we storytellers often feel that it is similar to a hero’s journey — the path away from home, which oddly leads us to our inner selves, the centre which may be a point of greatest conflict or peace, and then the way home.
I have been involved with labyrinth walking since 2003, when I first played labyrinth music at Vancouver’s Sacred Music Festival with clarinetist Johanna Hauser. Later I began a longstanding relationship with the labyrinth of St. Paul’s Anglican Church in the west end (St. Paul’s Labyrinth). Pretty soon music led me to walking, and from there to volunteering during open hours and then to serving on the guild. Although this last purports to deal with administrative stuff, it has turned out to be a transformative experience in itself! Besides offering the delights of working with creative, energetic, and quirky people, the guild reaches decisions by consensus and goes on a wonderful annual retreat! In 2010 I took the Veriditas Labyrinth Facilitator’s Training, and I am now a Certified Labyrinth Facilitator.
To experience a sand labyrinth, check in with Les Blydo.
To find a labyrinth near you and for lots more information, check the labyrinth finder at The Labyrinth Society.
For British Columbia there’s a lovely book to take on your next road trip. Labyrinths of British Columbia by Aryana Rayne.
Please read on for the things I have to offer, both with my friends at St Paul’s and on my own.
Since 2002 Kira has been exploring ways to focus the mind and spirit through improvised cello and vocal music, aiding the process of going deeper while walking the labyrinth. Improvisation allows her to interact with the walkers, staying with the rise and fall of energy. She also includes some popular classical pieces.
"Kira's music on the labyrinth always speaks to the mood of the moment and of the soul. She and her cello come as one person." Alison Beaumont, St. Paul's Labyrinth, Vancouver
"Kira plays directly to the heart of the labyrinth rather than performing in a room that just happens to house one. Her music resonates with the labyrinth as though it were a living breathing soul. Which it is..." Naomi Belle, St. Paul's Labyrinth, Vancouver.
Here's a sample of the music.
A well-seasoned storyteller, Kira offers ancient tales that follow the labyrinth pattern — a journey that takes us into the unknown and ends in return home. Followed by a labyrinth walk, the stories can have a truly transformational effect.
Many listeners relate the stories to their own lives, and may also be inspired by the landscapes — like riding the labyrinth as if paddling over the Arctic seas with an Inuit hero (Audio clip of Beewoman).
Some stay to discuss the experience whereas others prefer to walk out into the night in silence.
Video clip of "The Birth of Hanuman" from the Ramanyana.
My workshops can be tailored to many situations, both indoor and outdoor. They always include an introduction to labyrinths, their history, potential, and the pleasures of walking them.
My favourite to date is Sounding Between Land and Sea. Using simple vocal play we find ways for our sounds to harmonize with the sounds and landscapes around us. While walking a labyrinth! No singing experience necessary — just bring the voice you have! At Spanish Banks we look to the mountains, the city, the forest and the sea for communication and inspiration. In other locations the focus can be different. Sounding is a great way to send healing to the world’s trouble spots, while giving to ourselves at the same time.
If you’d like to discuss having a workshop, please get in touch.