by Maria Hayden
Labyrinths are much loved by geomancers as they make ideal sacred spaces for personal or group use. This is Maria’s construction account of the Breemie labyrinth in Aberdeenshire, built on 17/18 June 2005 as part of the Breemie Festival. Maria and Barry Hoon had been invited to host a labyrinth workshop including the building of a temporary labyrinth; however it soon be came clear that something more permanent was indicated!
Early in 2005, I was approached by Jason Schroeder, builder of the Breemie Stone Circle in Aberdeenshire, regarding a vision that he had of creating a new Mind, Body, Spirit Festival at Breemie. Jason felt that a labyrinth workshop should be a key part of the festival, due to take place at Summer Solstice, 2005. In the discussions that followed, I agreed to present a workshop and lay out a temporary labyrinth for the event. However, somewhere along the way, that mysteriously evolved into a permanent labyrinth instead.
As the time for the festival drew near, I invited my colleague Barry Hoon, recently returned to the Dundee area, to join me on the project. We had both previously visited Breemie and had met with Jason and Alan Brownie, the landowner, so we had a pre-existing energetic connection with the site itself, and with its human guardians. Thus, when a possible site was suggested to us, we both recognised that this was not where they labyrinth was energetically required, individually identifying a site directly in front of the stone circle, with the entrance to the South-West. For those unfamiliar with Aberdeenshire stone circles, the South-West is generally the site of the recumbent – a feature specific to this part of Scotland – where a very large megalith is placed on its side with an upright flanking each end. The new Breemie Stone Circle has continued this tradition.
Although we had both map dowsed the site, we felt that it was important to carry out an on-site survey, particularly to evaluate the quality of the proposed building material – stone, once more. Given Barry’s proximity, he made a trip up to Breemie to conduct our research by dowsing and generally reading the energies present. Over the course of five hours, he sat at each stone in the big Breemie circle, tuned in and worked on a psyche art drawing, providing much information about the site energetics and dynamics. Once Jason had seen this and heard our perceptions, he realised how positioning the labyrinth to the front of the circle might provide people with a useful clearing and centring tool for preparing themselves to undertake any ceremonial work in the circle. Before Barry left the site that evening, he had marked out the boundaries of the area in which we would work, although the precise site and scale were not yet established.
At this point in the process, I set to work on preparing a design. All parties recognised that we needed a site-specific design, rather than just laying out a standard Classical 7 Circuit, or a Chartres-type, labyrinth. I was also drawn to include a spiral in the design, initially working with the spiral as a design in its own right. However I felt that it was important to reflect the local rings, both the new one in the same field, and others in the wider landscape, in the design too, to produce a labyrinth that would be in harmony and balance with the landscape in which it was to lie.
The final design was a derivation of the Classical 7 Circuit, Hecate (or Chakra Vyuha) style labyrinth, featuring a three-circuit spiral at the goal and the more traditional, labyrinthine pattern for the four outer circuits. The goal itself is four path widths in diameter, allowing the space to be used for both personal and group work or ceremony, and contains a perfect circle, though this is not fully marked out in the physical plane by the walls, and nor should it be. (Neither should the spiral continue all the way in to The Frog Stone. When some of those who helped in the construction inadvertently connected the spiral to the stone, the energies became completely blocked). In terms of sacred geometry, the circle is considered to be shape that most closely represents the “One”, or “Monad”, or Spirit, and contains within it the sacred proportion Pi Π (3.1416 :1), a transcendental number (i.e. a number that cannot be expressed in algebraic form) that can never be completely expressed, just like the Divine. The circle has no beginning and no end, and is ideally suited to group ceremonial work, as it is an inherently protective space. The labyrinth perimeter is also circular in form.
Although we worked to a great extend with proportion in the creation of this space, we did not establish a pre-determined circumference, diameter etc; the layout was purely based on the proportional relationships of path width to goal size and circumference. (In fact, the first time that we even thought of taking a measurement was when we had the entire design marked out).
Barry and I arrived on site a couple of days in advance of the Summer Solstice festival, to find a hive of activity on the hillside, with a stage and a tent and marquee village being installed. Towards the back of the field, to the right of the stone ring was a newly-installed spiral, with a sister-stone to most of the megaliths in the ring, at its centre. Before our arrival, we had known nothing of the wonderful Fire Spiral, for this is what it was to become at the close of the festival, but we realised that we were not the only human helpers who had picked up on the importance of the spiral to the Spirit of Place.
Our chosen space was just inside the entrance to the festival perimeter, where we found 11 tons of hand-picked, head-sized stones deposited in a horseshoe, some 100 feet across. The markers that Barry had put in situ had all been removed, to allow the area to be mowed, so we were faced with a beautiful, green, circular, blank canvas.
We spent a day and night just tuning into Breemie, to the Spirit of Place, to the landscape devas and to the Spirit of the Labyrinth before we even considered engaging on a physical level. Finally, on Friday morning, the day before the festival, we began preparing an energetic map of the installation site. Although we had both expected to find ley energy flowing through, our dowsing did not corroborate this. We identified a water line, with a strong energetic component, coming in from the WNW, that made a sudden dogleg across in front of the energetic centre, previously pinpointed by dowsing, before doglegging again to emerge in the south of our patch. We further found a couple of spirals and a positive energy fountain, as well as one other vein that just barely penetrated the circumference, on the eastern side. Following on from some of the work that we have done with Billy Gawn, we checked for any planetary energies that we needed to work with in the space, and found a strong connection to the Venus grid.
Mapping completed, we ceremonially opened the space with a blessing and invocation of the Four Directions, and of Spirit. We then set to work to dowse the precise location and scale of the labyrinth. Starting at the energetic centre in the goal, we proceeded dowsing outwards. By now, the energetic imprint of this labyrinth was so strong that we could barely be said to have used deviceless dowsing to mark out the walls – we could actually see it pre-marked on the land for us!
As always in the labyrinth-creation process, there was a moment of confusion, and skipped heartbeats, when we thought that we had completely misread the situation and managed to end up with eight circuits instead of seven. However, on further investigation, we discovered that the outermost circuit was, in fact, a complete circle, casting a protective mantle around the space. Heaving a sigh of relief, we armed ourselves with spray paint, marking this circle in with the very first line that we drew on the physical plane.
Using a slight variation on Robert Ferré’s construction method, to allow for the Hecate-style spiral at the centre of the design, we marked the entire labyrinth out in little more than 1 ½ hours – not bad when one considers that the labyrinth finally revealed itself as having a diameter of 86 feet!
Over the previous few weeks, Jason had enquired if we could incorporate two more of the ring’s sister-stones into the labyrinth. While this connection certainly felt appropriate to us, the stones themselves simply did not fit within the confines of the space; nor did they seem to have the right shape to be node markers. We eventually all felt happy to have these two stones on the circular perimeter line, providing an entrance to the labyrinth on one hand, while providing an energetic bridge to Jason’s ring on the other. However, by now, it had become clear to Barry and me that we needed a stone at the centre of the goal, as well as stones marking the node points on the main turns, within the labyrinth.
We found two ideal candidates by carefully dowsing the large stones that marked the festival boundary, and arranged with some of the site crew to have them brought over by tractor – perhaps not the most elegant or gentle way of working with stone, but the best we could manage in the timeframe. The two node stones were negotiated into place first, with the centre stone finally settling into place over some offerings that we had prepared.
While we had been setting the intention for the space – that it would clear, balance and harmonise the energies, both in the landscape around it and from any people who might need to discard their psychic or emotional junk there, we had been very aware of frog energy, as well as the Venus energy previously mentioned. With one of those synchronicities that become almost commonplace in the creation of sacred space, we realised that the centre stone actually had a strong frog-like resemblance, giving rise to its name, The Frog Stone. (If anyone is curious about a Venus stone, well, we were equally curious. However, we looked in vain at the two nodal stones. There is, nonetheless, a much smaller, red stone, some 10-12 inches in height, with a strong imprint of goddess-like features, in the triangular space below the spiral. To us, this is the Venus Stone.)
Our final task for the evening was to position a set of chakra flags, similar to a series placed above the stage. It seemed most appropriate to us that these form a bowl supporting the labyrinth site, towards the bottom of the hillside, balancing those at the top of the hill. We had wanted to draw down the North (Star) that night, to link the celestial and earthly energies, but unfortunately the Aberdeenshire skies proved too cloudy for us to get a visual fix, so it was left to Barry to return and do this on another occasion.
I had an early start the following morning (Saturday), to get visual confirmation of the Summer Solstice Sunrise alignment, which was due to be marked by an outlying stone. (Although this was only the 18th June, the sun moves so slowly as it approaches Solstice that I expected the sighting would prove quite accurate). The site has an elevated horizon to the North-East, having a high tree-line, but I saw the first rays at 4.06am, with the sunbeams lighting up the Frog Stone, through the billowing heart chakra flag, some six minutes later (4.12am). Given the South-Westerly position of the recumbent, this too was ablaze – a wonderful moment in the quiet and stillness of the morning, further enriched by a flight of six swans flying overhead.
In terms of the labyrinth’s orientation, when standing at the Frog Stone in the goal and looking out in a straight line along the right hand wall, the eye is taken directly through the energetic gateway, across the stone ring, to the recumbent behind it, and further on to Barmekin Hill on the South-Western horizon, effectively keying the viewer straight into the landscape. (As with many recumbents, its profile mimics the shape of Barmekin). Looking over to the West, or to the right as one faces the mouth from the goal, the eye is immediately arrested by the sight of Mither Tap of Bennachie. This peak’s interesting shape is reflected within the labyrinth by the small cairn in the triangle below the spiral.
Some hours later, having led the opening workshop of the festival, Barry and I made our way along to the site. As Barry had strained his back during the previous day’s layout, I set to work laying the stones in the walls, ceremonially walking the first stone in to the beginning/end of the spiral in the goal, while Barry encouraged newly-arriving visitors to come and participate in the creation of a new sacred space.
We suggested that anyone who wanted to release something in their lives might like to place their intention in whatever stone they were drawn to, and place this at an appropriate place in the labyrinth wall on the walk into the goal, finally walking back out again feeling renewed and free. We were delighted that many people seemed to experience very significant shifts as a result of this process, moving on from painful divorces, abuse, physical pain and addictions (including a crew member who felt no interest whatsoever in smoking, having been a chain smoker for some forty years). But there were also others who walked the labyrinth, for the pure joy of it, or used it as a meditation tool, as we had also suggested in our workshop.
We had those who walked the path in arm in arm, or hand in hand; we had children run through it; we had babies take the labyrinthine journey by buggy, and were especially delighted that a wheelchair user was able to enjoy it. Some made the journey just once; others came back anything up to seven or eight times. Throughout the day, I worked closely with Colin Sherriffs, who had attended our morning workshop, and who seemed to be a natural dowser and energy worker. Despite the long summer evening, dusk had settled before Colin, his wife, Toni, and I finally laid the last of the stones that had been set aside for us.
Alan seemed delighted and privileged to have the labyrinth on his land, and truly felt that he wanted to share the gift of the Breemie Labyrinth with everyone else who was drawn to use it. Therefore, he has arranged to have a box of stones placed near the mouth, so that anyone visiting the site may be able to contribute to the on-going development of this sacred space, and perhaps find their own particular healing there.
The Breemie Labyrinth is open to all, with paths wide enough to accommodate buggy and wheelchair access. It is situated behind B.A. Country Store, Broomhill Farm, Lyne of Skene, Dunecht AB32 7DA.
OS Grid Ref: NJ 769110. Parking spaces are available behind the store.
The labyrinth is listed on The Worldwide Labyrinth Locator.
We would very much welcome any stories of your own experiences of the labyrinth or any updates in the energetic picture that your dowsing or intuition may produce, and may be contacted via our contact form.
Barry has been back on a few occasions with Colin to check on the energies, and found that while there was some shift after the labyrinth was finished, the picture seems to have stabilised somewhat. Our colleague, Grahame Gardner, has also had the opportunity to return to Breemie for a spot of dowsing, and has detected an energy ley going through to Bennachie in the West, as well as a second one linking up to the Breemie Stone Circle, in addition to the other features previously discovered.
We give special thanks to Alan Brownie, the landowner, who has been so open to the labyrinth and its possibilities, and has been so generous in welcoming all to visit and use this site, to Jason Schroeder who invited us to come and play at Breemie, and especially to Spirit for guiding us throughout this process.
We are indebted to Simon Harboard for the beautiful overhead shot of the emerging labyrinth, with the chakra flags, taken on Saturday afternoon, and to Jason, for the aerial site shot taken at Winter Solstice, 2005.