Home Essays Symbols & Shapes: 11-circuit Chartres-style Labyrinth

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Discovering an 11-circuit Chartres-style Labyrinth

Symbols, Shapes, Natural Wonders

A few days ago I found Womanspace in Rockford, Illinois. It's situated on a 7-acre campus surrounded by nature and includes walking trails, meditative gardens, and an 11-circuit Chartres-style labyrinth made of stones.

Anticipating the Labyrinth

I walked through a small forest of evergreen trees before coming out into an open area displaying the labyrinth with a winged sculpture in its center. Except for a few homes peppering the landscape off in the distance, the labyrinth seemed to present itself as a wonder of an ancient world. You know those images you see of ancient ruins in biblical lands? That's what I saw. I felt as if I were transformed into another space in time.

11-circuit Chartres-style Labyrinth

I stood before the labyrinth for a few minutes trying to decide what to do. Is this a maze? Will I get stuck? Should I go in?

Although I didn't get instruction on how to 'properly use' the labyrinth, I knew it was for meditative, contemplative purposes. It was not a game, and finding the center quickly like a newspaper puzzle wasn't its goal. I quietly entered and began my walk.

My experience:

As I walked, I listened to the chirping of the birds. The buzzing of the bees. And felt the morning sun mix with wetness in the grass from last night's rain.

I walked slowly towards the center, and when I arrived I saw offerings of stones at the base of the sculpture. I looked around and found a fragmented piece from the labyrinth itself and humbly put it forth. I don't know if I did the right thing, but I had to say, "I'm here." And the pain from the previous week became known. Tears welled in my eyes, and pressure from my heart rose. I wanted to sit down and tell the sculpture with the stone offerings everything I carried to it.

After a few moments, I turned around and followed the labyrinth path outward. Nobody told me how to walk the path, or what to think about. I just followed my instincts and hope I didn't offend.

I knew this labyrinth held the delicate journeys of a thousand women before me. It was beautiful.


After allowing my labyrinth experience to settle in for a day, I realized that the center of the labyrinth featured the same rosetta symbol discussed in Panchyk's folk art book. In addition, it had a sculpture in the center of the rosetta reminiscent of a winged creature.

It's cool when things synchronicitly coincide in life: here I was discussing folk art symbols in Panchyk's book, and on the very same day witnessed application of a rosetta symbol used in a modern day "ancient" labyrinth. AMAZEing, isn't it?

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