The Stronachie Labyrinth

Grahame Gardner

A garden labyrinth in Perthshire constructed in 2005.
Dedicated to the memory of Michael Buller, whose love and energy was woven into the labyrinth.


In 2004, I was commissioned by Jannette Kidd, a Reiki practitioner in Perthshire, to design a labyrinth for her front garden. The property is in a remote location high in the Ochil hills, with stunning views to the north. The location was to be on the site of a small flowerbed in the centre of the lawn with a slight slope.

When I visited her to investigate the site and talk further about her wishes, Janette expressed a strong affinity with the Classical 7-circuit labyrinth pattern and wasn’t interested in any new-fangled labyrinth designs. The size of the labyrinth was to be less than 20 feet diameter to minimise digging work (the existing flowerbed was about 14 feet across). Janette also has four dogs, so was keen for the construction to be dog-proof. We initially looked at a design using cobbles and crushed slate, but she felt that the dogs would make short work of anything that wasn’t completely solid, so it became clear that we were looking at a patio–type construction using bricks or pavers. This had obvious cost and size issues; I didn’t think it would be possible to get a 7-circuit design into less than a 25ft. diameter.
Janette had connections with a local building firm run by a friend, so we agreed that she would try and source the materials from them. She was also having an extension built on the house at the time, and arranged to keep the builders on site afterwards to prepare the ground and lay the labyrinth.

Meanwhile, I dowsed the area to see where the most energetic point would be to site the labyrinth. I found a strong water line flowing downhill under the flowerbed, and an energy ley crossing this within the flowerbed. This was clearly the spot, although I was somewhat troubled by the various bits of metal earthing wire and pipes that protruded from the ground. Possibly there was a fountain there at one time, or perhaps they were just remnants from previous uses of the house, which used to be distillery workers’ cottages.
Deciding on the orientation of the labyrinth was easy – the garden only had views to the North, so it was logical that you should be facing that direction when you reached the goal. This would mean that the entrance was facing towards the door of the house, and although we would have to cut some steps into the bank to accommodate this, it was still the only sensible choice.

A few weeks later, I returned on a clear, crisp November night to ceremonially ‘Draw Down the North’ by sighting on the North Star to establish a baseline axis, and formally consecrated the site, with the help of Janette and her husband Brian. I inserted pegs and string to mark the north-south axis, and established East and West cardinal directions using a druid’s cord and more pegs.

Winter came and went, and finally the builders were finished on the house and ready to work on the labyrinth. Janette had found some lovely pre-cast pavers in contrasting colours of white and purple-red to use. I drew up a plan using two rows of red stones laid lengthwise for the paths, and a single row of white stones laid sideways for the walls, with no space between. This was the smallest possible configuration that was possible to walk, but the diameter was a little over her figure of 20 feet. However, we asked the builders to excavate and level a 20 foot area and prepare it with a hardcore and sand base.
I re-dowsed the site to check if anything new had happened, but all seemed to be pretty much as it was. In the picture, the white line is the north-south axis, the yellow line is the water vein, and the pink is the energy ley.
The plan of the labyrinth has also been laid out in these shots, using Robert Ferré’s rope method. It was at this point that Janette finally realised that 20 feet just wasn’t enough; we were going to have to excavate another foot or so of the bank in a couple of places to accommodate the widest points.
In doing this, I encountered a real test of my dowsing ability. A steel pipe or bar appeared, running out of the bank at roughly a 45° angle and disappearing into what would be the outer path of the labyrinth. Work stopped as we tried to figure out what this could be. It was going to be a massive job if we had to really excavate deeply to reroute or rebury this pipe. I thought it most likely to be water or gas, but Janette assured us that all the house utilities were at the other side of the garden, and that this was probably just another bit of old stuff that had been left in the ground. In the absence of any better intelligence, I decided to dowse it. Finally, after much questioning, I concluded that it was an old water pipe that was no longer in use and disconnected at least at one end. I confidently declared that it was safe to cut, and handed the hacksaw to the builder..!
Fortunately, the pipe did turn out to be empty, and we soon had the offending ends bent and buried out of the way.

With the pipe sorted, construction started in earnest. The two builders very efficiently laid out the main circuits while the rest of us ferried bricks over to them and distibuted them in piles around the edge. This was my first build completely in pavers and it was an interesting learning experience. I was glad we had a couple of professional builders working on it who knew about such things as how to ensure there was a very slight slope radiating out from the centre to help drainage, and most importantly how to use a powered stonecutter saw without taking your foot off..!
The most difficult thing was cutting the stones for the tighter corners – I tried to think of several ways of marking out the stones for this accurately, but in the end it was plain old trial and error that won the day. The wedge-shaped ‘offcuts’ from this process were then used to fill in some of the not-quite-so-large gaps, and the rest filled in with builder’s sand. The finished result is very pleasing, and in thickening dusk we were able to walk the almost-complete labyrinth. The quantity of bricks that we had estimated, checked by dowsing, turned out to be fairly accurate; we were six white bricks short for the outer wall, and had half a pallet of red bricks remaining, which would be fine for doing the steps down to the entrance.

Over the next few weeks, the builders finished off the banked edge of the lawn with vertically planted logs, and cut the steps into the bank. I returned with a small standing stone (left over from a previous project), to install in the ‘node’ point created by the curved edges of the paths. I like having standing stones in a labyrinth as they reinforce the vertical connection and provide grounding for detrimental earth energies that otherwise escape [1]. It’s also good to touch it as you walk, and this nodal spot in the labyrinth is quite powerful. Normally the node is formed by the crossing of the two lines that make up the ‘walls’ of the labyrinth, but in this case I ‘rounded out’ the corners to give the rounded diamond-shaped node. There is obvious fertility symbolism present here too, with the diamond representing the feminine and the stone masculine. Normally I would have placed the stone in the goal of the labyrinth, but the dimensions of the path just wouldn’t allow for that, so the node was a natural choice. This position allows you to touch the stone several times as you pass it on the path, and is a convenient place to make offerings and affirmations.
At the top of the steps down to the entrance, a slab of sandstone was set into the lawn. This ‘pausing stone’ gives you a chance to collect your thoughts and set your intention for your walk. Together with the steps down, you really have a sense of descending into a different space as you enter the labyrinth.

The labyrinth was formally opened on 18 Dec. 2005, just a day or two after the highest full moon in 19 years, as we were at the major standstill in the lunar cycle. All the work was complete, and Janette had decorated the labyrinth and garden with flowers and candle lanterns on poles.
It drizzled with freezing rain as about twenty people held hands around the labyrinth and tried to raise some energy in the wintry air as I led a guided meditation to connect the labyrinth to other nearby sites in the ‘grid’ and activate it energetically. About three minutes into things it started to rain quite heavily, making concentration somewhat difficult, but we persevered and by the end of the ceremony the rain stopped long enough for all of us to walk the path in relative comfort. Perhaps due to the presence of several Reiki masters and other energy workers at the opening ceremony, the walk was a very lively experience. Several times on the outer circuits I felt myself being pulled towards the centre and ended up leaning in that direction.

Subsequent to the opening ceremony, a few odd things started to happen in the house and its inhabitants, leading me to suspect that the new energetic connections were affecting the balance of the house. To use an electrical analogy, it was as though we’d installed a power station in the garden without putting in a step-down transformer for the house. I had the opportunity to return with a student a few months later, and found that things had indeed moved on energetically – the labyrinth had developed its own weak blind spring, and a new water vein of pure water (purple on the Mager rosette) was flowing from it under the house. Interestingly, it passes underneath the fireplace but thankfully not under any beds.
I also found a brand-new energy ley flowing through the labyrinth from the east, and continuing on through the corner of the newly-built extension on the house. I had suspected some nature spirit trauma in this area, and here was a classic example of a building corner obstructing a ‘fairy path’ and causing a blockage.

Thankfully, things were fairly easy to fix; I did some earth acupuncture on the ley with wands and flower essences, made some offerings to the nature and tree spirits of the garden, and things settled down pretty quickly. But I feel that this is going to be a continuing relationship as the labyrinth grows stronger.

Owners: Janette & Brian Kidd
Designer: Grahame Gardner
Builders: CBT Landscapes

 

[1] In terms of earth energies, work done by the British Society of Dowsers’ Earth Energies Group shows that the labyrinth form will actually ‘ground’ detrimental energies. The standing stone in the node aids in this process and prevents anything leaking out of the entrance. In this case, the stone is placed on the edge line of a water vein and an energy ley. The stone height and orientation were all dowsed on site to ensure correct placement.
It doesn’t have to be a standing stone – anything above a certain mass and height will do, for example a sundial on a plinth.

The Stronachie Labyrinth is listed on the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator, but please remember that it is on private property and is not open to the public without prior arrangement.
If you would like to consult us about a labyrinth project please contact us.

meanbar

Watch Grahame’s labyrinth dance “Gardner’s Double Appleton”:

 

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