Adventures in Dowsing

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ASD 2017 convention feedback:

Informative, Instructive, User-friendly!
Grahame demonstrates mastery of this subject. It has been a privilege to hear him speak!
Liked the lecture followed by practice, more lecture/more practice. Really enforced the information.
This was an excellent class! I am so glad I took it!
Grahame is always such a great speaker!
Funny, interesting, interactive. Awesome!
Good presentation – fun, interesting – interactive! I would love to learn more from him.
Excellent presentation. PowerPoint was well done and he gave us great tools too!
Can’t wait for your next book. This was a Blessing.
Grahame is a lot of fun, his enthusiasm is contagious. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
F***ing brilliant and then some! Content, delivery, group interaction. Best of the conference.
Exceeded my expectations. Very helpful and useful, adding tools and ideas which I will incorporate into my shaman work.
Wonderful workshop, tons of information.

Grahame Gardner & Susan Collins live webcast

To promote the forthcoming conference of the Canadian Society of Dowsers in Hamilton, Ontario on 25-27 May, Susan Collins and I shall be appearing live on ‘Liquid Lunch’ with Hugh Reilly on Friday 18 May at 5pm UK time (12 noon EST). Don’t miss this chance to see the current President of the British Society of Dowsers and Past President of the Canadian Society of Dowsers chatting live on web TV!

If you missed us live, you can watch it here: Liquid Lunch 18 May 2012

Grahame & Susan at Clava Cairns Sept. 2011

Grahame & Susan at Clava Cairns Sept. 2011

International Dowsing Day May 5

The British Society of Dowsers has proposed that 5 May (birthday of the late dowser Hamish Miller) be declared ‘International Dowsing Day’ as an annual event, with the aim of promoting dowsing to the public. Several local affiliated groups are planning events or site visits around the UK, and the idea has also been picked up enthusiastically by several international groups, including the Canadian Society of Dowsers, The American Society of Dowsers, and the Australian Society of Dowsers.

In the UK, the Earth Singers group are planning to visit as many nodes of the Michael & Mary lines as possible and will be working to energise them through chant and ceremony at 3pm UK time (GMT +1). Dowsers are invited to work with them to record changes in the lines before and after the ceremonies.

I shall be presenting at the Canadian Society of Questers’ Conference in Harrison Hot Springs, BC, that weekend; so I’m looking forward to a few days of concentrated dowsing awareness.

This year only, the date coincides with World Labyrinth Day (always the first Saturday in May), so I am doubly blessed as I shall be constructing a temporary labyrinth for one of my workshops with the Questers.

There is a Facebook page for International Dowsing Day, or you can find out more information on the BSD site by clicking on the banner below:

International Dowsing Day logo

‘Adventures in Dowsing’ is a Top Ten podcast!

My podcast, ‘Adventures in Dowsing’, that I produce for The British Society of Dowsers, has been ranked 8th place in the UK non-profit category of the 2011 European Podcast Award. I am delighted that we were placed in the top ten; my thanks to all our listeners and to everyone who voted for us. You can see our listing at about 8m 5s into the video:

Springing Forward

Gosh, it’s been a while since I updated this blog, and here we are racing towards the equinox. Although I haven’t found time to update the blog regularly, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy!

It’s been an interesting start to the year, and I’ve been busy implementing new projects and preparing material for my forthcoming dowsing courses. I can now confirm that I will be presenting at both the Canadian Society of Questers’ Conference in Harrison Hot Springs, BC; and the Canadian Society of Dowsers’ Conference in Hamilton, ON, Canada during the month of May. At both events I shall be featuring a new full-day seminar ‘From the Mundane to the Arcane – the Geomancer’s Journey’, which will cover the modalities of working in both secular and sacred space. From the causes and treatment of geopathic stress right through to circular models of consciousness and shamanic cosmogony, with a touch of celestial mechanics and sacred geometry thrown in, this will be a very practical overview of the geomancer’s world-view and a great introduction to the subject.

At the Canadian Society of Questers’ Conference, I am also presenting a second full-day workshop on labyrinths, ‘Walking the Path’. This will feature construction of a temporary Classical 7-circuit labyrinth using dowsing and geomantic principles of alignment, which we can then use to explore ways of working with the transformational tool that is the labyrinth, culminating in a celebratory dance with ‘Gardner’s Double Appleton’. A great way to finish off the conference!

For the Canadian Society of Dowsers’ Conference, I shall be presenting the same full-day seminar ‘From the Mundane to the Arcane’, this time with a special emphasis on geomancy applications in agriculture to enhance crop yields. During the main Conference, I am presenting a talk on ‘Geomantic Paradigms and Spirit of Place’, which will explore the fundamental principles of geomancy with plenty of examples from my practice and sites around the world. May is going to be an exciting month, and of course I have plenty of time between the two conferences to explore and have adventures in Canada, which is a country I have not previously visited.

The other big news at the moment is that my new book ‘Dowsing Magic’ is due to be published in April by Penwith Press, who are best known for publishing the late Hamish Miller’s books and are now specialising in dowsing and related subjects. The book is the first in a series of short books that will build into a complete dowsing tutorial system. Needless to say, I’m very excited about the whole idea, and I’m delighted that it is being produced by such a prestigious name in the world of dowsing literature.

Solstice Blessings

Whatever your faith, religious, spiritual or cultural beliefs; the turning of the wheel at the dark of the year will carry some significance for you.

This year has been particularly turbulent for many people around the globe, and it’s always good to reflect on those less fortunate than ourselves at this time of year. War, natural disasters, famine and other upheavals continue to remind us what a fragile jewel our planet Earth is. It is easy to get depressed about the state of things, but it is harder to acknowledge that the best approach is for us to keep on doing what we can in our own small way to make the world a better place.

I am encouraged to have made several new friends this year who are all working towards that goal; we have shared learning experiences along the way and it is good to know that the light continues to spread.

Next year I shall be tutoring a Foundation Course in southern Scotland for The British Society of Dowsers, plus the BSD Earth Energy courses levels 1 – 3. I am also presenting at the Canadian Society of Questers’ Conference in Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia; and at the Canadian Society of Dowsers’ Conference in Hamilton Ontario. More details of these events can be found on the Workshops & Talks page.

I would like to thank all my clients and friends out there for their support; may we all find peace and happiness in 2012.

Happy Holidays!

Principles of Earth Acupuncture

Here is a video filmed during one of my recent courses, demonstrating the principles of temporary earth acupuncture on a geopathically-stressed water line. Details of my 2012 courses are now available.

Gardner’s Double Appleton

Labyrinthine revelations… a gift from Troy Farm.

A version of this article was published in The Labyrinth Society’s publication ‘Labyrinth Pathways’ no. 5, Sept. 2011

The 15-circuit Classical at Troy Farm

I have long been a fan of the Appleton labyrinth dance ‘discovered’ by Jon Appleton and popularised ever since at almost every meeting of labyrinth aficionados (if you don’t know what an ‘Appleton’ is, click here for instructions).

Recently I had the privilege of having the 15-circuit Classical Troy Farm labyrinth near Somerton to play in for the weekend with a group of students on a course I was teaching for the British Society of Dowsers. This is one of the eight remaining historic turf labyrinths of the UK, and the only 15-circuit one (although these are quite popular in Scandanavia). I was curious to see whether the Appleton would work as well on the 15-circuit layout (it does).

But the Appleton only really engages with the outer circuits of the labyrinth. As the students were walking the Appleton, it struck me as a shame that you had to walk the inner circuits on your own, both going in and coming out. This was particularly noticeable on such a large labyrinth because of the length of time that it took to traverse the additional circuits, and even the students were spontaneously breaking into a run to get that bit over with quickly so that they could get back to having a partner to walk with.

Troy Farm Appleton walkers

Troy Farm Appleton walkers

As I watched the dance, I was struck by the symmetry of the labyrinth seed pattern, particularly the rotational symmetry that can be applied to the entrance/ innermost circuit and goal/ outermost circuit. If the Appleton starts when somebody comes round the innermost circuit walking out and is joined by someone walking in from the entrance, I reasoned, then surely the same rule could apply to someone walking round the outermost circuit walking in, and someone walking out from the goal? We immediately put this into effect, and came up with a beautiful, self-perpetuating movement that I could only describe as a ‘double Appleton’. It allows the Appleton movement to be applied to both outer and inner circuits of the labyrinth, and means that somebody walking in can be guided along the entire path all the way to the goal – this is particularly powerful if the walker is blindfolded in the ‘meditational’ version.

To start the sequence, we need to seed two people in the goal. Let’s call them Guide One and Guide Two.  Guide One begins their walk out, and when they come round the innermost circuit, they are joined by somebody walking in from the entrance. Let’s call that person The Seeker. So far, this is the same as the normal Appleton.

The two walkers process around the outer circuits, remembering the ‘do-si-do’ crossover when they reach the ‘corner’, until the Seeker, walking inwards, is about to transition from the outermost path onto the inner circuits. Here they are walking directly towards the goal and our patiently waiting second seed person, Guide Two.

Now Guide Two leaves the goal, joining up with the two coming towards them. We now have three people walking side by side. This continues for one circuit only, when our original Guide One has to leave the labyrinth. But, unlike the normal Appleton at this point, our Seeker is not cast into the darkness of the Underworld to find his own way to the Goal – he still has Guide Two to help him navigate the Inner Realms of the labyrinth. They can continue to walk side by side as the Seeker rounds the innermost circuit, remembering the ‘do-si-do’ at the corner. This puts Guide Two on the innermost path, so when they have rounded the Goal once more, Guide Two can pick up the next Seeker coming in from the entrance. So we now have two Seekers with one Guide in between them. On the 7-circuit labyrinth, this all happens rather quickly so you need to pay attention; on the 15-circuit there are more inner circuits to negotiate and it was a little more timely and elegant. In fact, had it not been for the additional circuits of this particular labyrinth, I doubt that I would have discovered this extended movement.

After one more circuit, our original Seeker has reached the Goal and has to part company with his Guide and the second Seeker. Our Guide Two now finds himself as a guide to the outer realms of the labyrinth as he guides our second Seeker inwards whilst he is walking out. But after only a couple of circuits, the pair will find themselves coming round the outer paths and facing our original Seeker, now enlightened and initiated by his sojourn in the Goal and ready to join with them as a Guide in his own right… and so the sequence continues.

The symmetry of the walk is delightful, with the traverse of the inner circuits being like a mirror-image reflection of the outer ones. It brings completion to the standard Appleton and can be kept going indefinitely as there is always somebody feeding in and somebody feeding out.

The following animation will hopefully explain it visually better than words can:

Gardner's Double Appleton

If you can’t see the animation, or if you’d prefer a hard copy to print out, you can click here to download a PDF diagram, or you can click here to see it on YouTube.

My thanks to all my students on the course who provided a source of enthusiastic walkers to help me work this out, and to Ruth Powers, indefatigable curator of the labyrinth, for her wonderful support of our group over the weekend and her excellent home baking. Troy Farm is a wonderful B&B and I can wholeheartedly recommend it for a peaceful getaway. Thanks also to Sig Lonegren for his helpful insights; and to Jon Appleton, who gracefully suggested the name ‘Gardner’s Double Appleton’.

Dowsing Belinus

The Belinus Line is a long-distance alignment, similar to the Michael Line, running the length of the UK from the Isle of Wight up to Inverhope on the north coast of Scotland, passing through Winchester, Birmingham, Manchester, Carlisle, Dunfermline, Pitlochry and Lairg on the way. Like the Michael Line, it has twin male and female serpentine energy currents weaving around the straight line and connecting many ancient sites.

Gary Biltcliffe has been researching this alignment for around 20 years now, and his book documenting his odyssey is almost completed. Have a look at his website for more information. Gary and Caroline were recently visiting Scotland to do some final checks on some of the sites, and were graceful enough to invite me along for the day to dowse some of the sites on the male current.

At the annual Conference of the British Society of Dowsers in 2010, Gary gave a presentation about his research to date. A podcast of that talk is available – click here.

I met up with them on a windy Monday morning at Huly Hill at Newbridge to the west of Edinburgh, right beside a busy roundabout at the start of the M9 motorway. This is an interesting site that was ‘restored’ when the adjacent motorway interchange was constructed about 20 years ago. At that time a spectacular chariot burial, now in the National Museum of Scotland, was found under the site of the interchange, so it was clearly an area of some great significance. Prior to its restoration it was a very unremarkable overgrown grassy hillock and no standing stones were visible. Now, the central cairn boasts a new kerb wall that was constructed during the restoration, and although only three standing stones were found and re-erected, it is thought that it was once a complete circle, probably even a double-circle of stones. Across the busy motorway to the east, a large outlying menhir now graces the entrance to a modern glass-walled office building.

Huly Hill north stone

Gary dowses the current through the North stone

I’ve been interested in this site for about 30 years now, yet astonishingly this was the first time I’d actually visited it instead of just passing it on the motorway. It lies on a ley running from Cairnpapple Hill to Edinburgh Castle first reported by Harry Bell in his 1977 book ‘Forgotten Footsteps’. See my post The De’il’s Plantin Reloaded‘ for a Google Earth map of that network.

The site has suffered a lot of abuse over the years. The stones are liberally covered in graffiti, and I have even heard tales of locals driving quad bikes over the central mound; yet the grass had been very recently cut on our visit and it felt tidy and welcoming, despite the high winds making dowsing a little challenging.

The male current of Belinus was quite easy to pick up as it came in from the direction of Ratho church to the the south-east, and it seemed to be around 16 paces wide as it crossed over the cairn, narrowing a little as it hit the one remaining stone on the northern edge of the site. Curiously, this stone seemed to be set at an unusual angle, neither edge-on or face-on to the central cairn, and this had the effect of deflecting the current northwards towards the next site, Kirkliston. Whether the stone had been that way originally or had been re-erected in the wrong position, we were unable to determine. Archaeologists normally use the position of the packing stones in the holes to establish the correct orientation of a stone for re-erection, but we only had our dowsing to go by, which suggested the former option.

Kirkliston church

Spectacular Norman arch at Kirkliston church

Harry Bell’s ley, entering the site from a westerly direction, was about 6 paces across as it entered the central cairn. I clambered onto the mound to see if there was any interaction between the two currents, but they seemed to pass over each other without any interference. Gary said that he had found this with other ley crossings on the current, e.g. the Michael and Mary currents; it appears that Belinus is on a completely different frequency to these other leys.

Our fingers frozen by the wind, it was back to the car and onwards to our next stop at Kirkliston church. Supposedly the church has connections with the Knights Templar, although you would never know from the very Presbyterian interior, which was in total contrast with the exterior. The spectacular Norman doorway arch on the south wall lies directly behind the more modern post-reformation pulpit, and the male current flowed through the arch, centred on the left-hand side, and although the centre of the flow missed the actual pulpit inside, it did manage to flow through a small lectern positioned at the front of the pulpit rostrum. Whether that placement is by accident or design remains to be established. Sadly, we could see no visible evidence of the original structure inside the church, which had been extensively modernised.

Abercorn culdee chapel

Side chapel at Abercorn church. Note stone flags on roof and ‘Templar’ tomb in wall.

Our next stop was an absolute gem of a church, at Abercorn on the shores of the Forth. Gary had found this on a previous trip by following his dowsing rod tracking the current; it’s in a pretty remote location at the end of a small lane to the rear of Hopetoun House  and you wouldn’t know it was there in passing, but it’s a very interesting building. There is a small museum at the gate with a collection of interesting Pictish and early Christian stones including a couple of Viking ‘hogback’ gravestones.This is a religious site of great antiquity, dating back to the earliest days of Christianity in Scotland, and was probably a sacred place even before that.

It is obvious from the outside that this building also has a very ancient past. The side chapel, now closed off from the main building, built in 1603 according to the gable inscription, has a formidable stone-fletted roof and an interior barrel-vaulted ceiling. A tomb set into the east wall bears the superimposed skull-and-crossbones that, according to Gary, represents a Templar grave ( as opposed to the more common grave symbol representing death where the skull and bones are not superimposed). The male current enters the building along the axis of this little chapel.

Farther along the south wall towards the west, there is the outline of a much older Norman arch. Not quite as spectacular as the one at Kirkliston, but still impressive to see here nonetheless. More recent restorations of the church have tried to retain the Norman influence, and there is a fantastic collection of grotesques dotted around the eaves and roof corbels of the building dating from the 1893 restoration.

Abercorn restored Norman doorway

The restored Norman door at Abercorn

Inside, the church is dominated by the magnificently-decorated Hopetoun Loft behind the altar; the family had their own private entrance to this at the end of a drive leading from Hopetoun House. One can imagine how nervous the priest felt during services with the Laird glowering at his back throughout the proceedings!

Dowsing inside the church, I noticed that there was no Hartmann grid present. I’ve noticed this before in very old churches, particularly pre-Reformation ones; it seems this grid was deliberately excluded from the structure for some reason; perhaps it brought undesirable energies into the space? The art of doing this, like so many other finer aspects of geomancy, seems to have been lost these days.

The Belinus current leaps across the Forth at this point, but not before crossing another one of Harry Bell’s alignments, this one running from Ben Lomond to Arthur’s Seat. In ‘Forgotten Footsteps’, Harry mentions the site of Abercorn Castle and Hopetoun House on this ley, but surely the monastery or monks’ cell that used to be situated north of the church (and directly on the alignment) would be a more suitable marker?

Tullibole churchyard

A swift hop across the Forth road bridge and we were soon heading for our next site, the old Tullibole churchyard near Crook of Devon. Abandoned in 1729, this desolate site is dominated by four large yew trees that completely obscure the Montcrieff memorial obelisk on its little hillock to the south of the church. Only low ruined walls remain of the church and the site is overgrown and uneven, yet it appears to be of great antiquity judging by the egg-shaped enclosure walls containing some positively cyclopean stonework. A laminated interpretation board by the obelisk gives some details about the surviving gravestones and also documents the trials here of local witches in the17th Century, when all 13 members of a local coven at Crook of Devon were sentenced to strangulation and burning. Witchcraft seems to have been widespread in this area, and also on the other side of the Ochil Hills at Dunning, where a coven of 7 witches was recorded and a local witch’s memorial to Maggie Wall still has its inscription repainted by persons unknown every year or so.

The current traverses a remote stretch of the Ochils that is not easily accessible by car, so our next stop was on the other side in Strathearn, at another of St. Serf’s churches at Dunning, where he is reputed to have slain a great dragon. I’ve visited and dowsed this church several times now and Dunning is a fascinating place to visit. On this occasion, we found that the church was closed for renovation apart from the tower. This houses the famous Dupplin Cross, a Pictish memorial stone that once stood on the north side of the River Earn overlooking Forteviot and Dunning. It has a  rather nice dragon carving on the side.

Dragon on the Dupplin Cross

The male current, which of course is the ‘great dragon’ slain by St. Serf’s act of foundation here, flows through the square in Dunning, passing through the water fountain outside the churchyard, and then into the tower on a diagonal to run through the Cross and out the north side of the church, where it runs more or less northwards to a standing stone in a field on the edge of town, before swinging eastwards again on its way to Forteviot and Scone, where it is reunited with the female flow. But the weather had closed in by now and it was getting a bit late in the day, so reluctantly I bade farewell to Gary and Caroline and headed back to Glasgow.


My thanks to Gary and Caroline for allowing me to spend the day with them and hopefully contribute in some small way to their research. Gary’s book ‘The Spine of Albion’ is due to be published by the end of 2011.

“Is it like Feng-Shui?”

An article published in the Spring 2011 issue of the WHG magazine.

That’s probably the most common question I get asked when trying to explain what geomancy is. It’s also the easiest explanation for most people to grasp.  I can say, “Geomancy is the art of placing structures upon the Earth so that they are in harmony with the telluric energies”; or perhaps, “Geomancy is the art of designing and constructing spaces that enhance our connection to spirit”; but few people can understand what it’s about until you mention that it’s ‘like Western Feng-Shui’.

Western geomancy is based on three main disciplines; dowsing, sacred geometry, and astronomy/astrology. Dowsing lets us detect and analyse the flow of subtle energies within and underneath a building. Almost all of our sacred structures, from the megalithic to the Gothic, are sited over confluences of underground water flows and lines of subtle energy – rising vortices of earth energy called ‘power centres’. These natural telluric hotspots can be harnessed by the geomancer and used to power the space. The geomantic act of foundation – ‘pinning the dragon’ – captures the meandering dragon lines of telluric energy and channels them into the straight flows of yang energy that we nowadays call ley lines. These emanate out across the landscape, connecting spiritual sites into an invisible network of subtle energy that can be detected through dowsing.

But that’s just the start of the story. A suitable container needs to be constructed to shape and tune the energies, and the form and proportion of the final edifice can have a dramatic effect on the ‘feel’ and use of the space. Gothic cathedrals are designed to resonate on a subconscious level in such a way that the possibility of a spiritual connection is maximised. Specific numbers and geometric ratios are employed to impart a subtle, yet palpable, resonance to the structure. These ratios are not simply human-made mathematical constructs designed to solve a particular problem; rather they are universal principles and natural constants, the very building blocks of creation that can be found by anyone who cares to look for them. Early philosophers discovering these numbers and ratios in nature believed they were seeing evidence of a divine hand in action; hence the study and utilisation of these archetypal patterns became known as sacred geometry.

Temple of Ramses IIIt is also important that a space is fully anchored in time and space, and this is where the astronomy/astrology comes in. By designing significant astronomical alignments into the space, we energetically connect it with the celestial energies and create ties with the surrounding landscape. For instance, it is well known that the passage of Newgrange is aligned to the winter solstice sunrise, and Stonehenge has several alignments, in particular the rising summer solstice sun that it is most famous for.  The Great Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel in Egypt, rescued from the rising waters of Lake Nasser after the building of the Aswan dam, was originally aligned with such precision that the rising sun would shine down the passage and illuminate Ramses’ statue on October 21 and February 21, the dates of his birthday and coronation. After the temple was dismantled and relocated, they could not match this level of precision despite the best efforts of several astronomers, so the solar alignment is now a day out.

Many churches and cathedrals are aligned to a specific direction, often the sunrise at equinox, or on the feast day of the patron saint. Planetary influences may also be incorporated in the design, and ceremonies and dedication rituals can be planned so that they take place at the most propitious conjunction of heavenly bodies, infusing the space with the desired energies.

Geomancy is a powerful tool, and can have a significant effect on the larger landscape and populace. When Japan invaded Korea in 1910, they symbolically imposed their Imperial power on the country by modifying the geomancy of Gyeongbokgung palace in Seoul. The palace is situated at the foot of two mountains, one a craggy granite peak, the other slightly more rounded (tiger and dragon in Feng-Shui terms). In direct southerly alignment from this is the palace complex, a warren of wooden buildings and passages through which it is easy to imagine black-clad ninjas intent on assassination prowling in the dead of night. The north-south alignment continues out of the palace gates where a wide avenue runs through the town centre to City Hall, thus linking the two centres of royal and administrative power. It is immediately clear that this is the major geomantic axis in the city, and so the Japanese agreed, for they demolished ten palace buildings including the royal throne hall and erected their government building athwart this axis of power. It was constructed in the shape of the Kanji character for ‘Japan’, thus geomantically emphasising the Japanese control over the Korean nation. So effective was this tactic that it took the Koreans until 1995 to finally demolish the hated building.

Much of the geomantic knowledge of sacred construction was lost in the West following the Reformation, and it is rare to find a geomancer involved in the construction of any European building these days, except in some parts of Austria where a dowsing survey is required as part of the sale process of any property.  We are gradually rediscovering the Art through the work of modern researchers like Robin Heath, Nigel Pennick, Paul Devereux, Peter Dawkins and the like; but there is still a long way to go.  Consequently much of the day-to-day work of the modern geomancer involves transforming the energies of existing ‘sick’ buildings to create a more beneficial environment for the inhabitants. Primarily this involves dowsing the subtle earth energies to identify areas of geopathic stress, but it will also include space-clearing techniques akin to Feng-Shui, and even a spot of ghost-busting if there are any psychic disturbances. Some practitioners also work to minimise exposure to microwaves and electromagnetic radiation, as this technopathic stress is a growing problem resulting from our modern, gadget-rich lifestyles. Groups like The Geomancy Group and the British Society of Dowsers are at the forefront of research in the UK, and the BSD’s Earth Energies training courses are consistently the most popular courses on their curriculum.

Walk away winter blues with a snow labyrinth

If you’re suffering from the heavy snow plaguing the country just now and are feeling a bit depressed about the weather, or if your kids are bored with building snowmen and you’re looking for something else to entertain them, why not make a snow labyrinth? They look great, give you a real sense of achievement when you’ve made one; and then of course you have a labyrinth that you can walk again and again – at least until the snow melts.

Constructing a snow labyrinth is a little trickier than normal. Usually when drawing a labyrinth, you construct it from an initial ‘seed pattern’ like this:
7-circuit Classical labyrinth

But that approach draws the walls of the labyrinth – and that’s not what we want in snow. We’ll be shuffling out the path in the snow with our wellies or boots, so we need to draw just the path on its own – a pattern known as ‘Ariadne’s thread’ after the clew of golden thread given by Ariadne to Theseus as he entered the Cretan labyrinth in search of the Minotaur. To do this, we need to know the order of the different circuits in the labyrinth and the sequence in which they are walked.

If we call the outermost circuit 1 and the goal of the labyrinth 8, the order that the circuits are walked in is, 3-2-1-4, 7-6-5-8. The first part draws the outer section of the labyrinth, the second part the inner. It’s not that difficult to do as long as you remember to leave enough space for the sections that come after. For this example, we’ll work with a left-handed labyrinth, but the instructions apply equally well to a right-handed one (although obviously the directions would be reversed). Let’s take it step by step:

The first circuit you walk is number 3. You need to make the circle diameter a wide enough to accommodate all the inner circuits. For simplicity, let’s assume that the width of the path and the space between each circuit is the same size. So if we say that each section of path or ‘wall’ is one unit wide, that means that dimension a needs to be at least 19 units across (8 path widths, goal area, and 10 walls). It doesn’t matter too much if it’s larger than that as it just means that the goal area will be larger than normal; however if it’s any smaller than that you will have trouble fitting in the rest of the circuits.

The next bit you need to pay attention to is the turn onto circuit number 2. Here you need to leave enough space between the entrance path and this turn to allow another circuit between them – so dimension b needs to be 3 units.

The next section is straightforward; walk circuit number 2 anticlockwise back round the outside until you get to the entrance path again, then turn round and walk circuit number 1 clockwise. This is the outermost circuit.

You can see how the gap we left at b allows the path to pass from the outer to the inner circuits. Now you can walk circuit 4 around anticlockwise, just inside of path 3.

When you get round opposite the entrance path and turn onto circuit 7, you need to assess how much room is left, which will determine the size of the central goal. Circuit number 7 is the one that delineates the goal area, but you need to leave 5 units at dimension c, to accommodate circuits 5 and 6. This is the trickiest bit to get right, but don’t worry if you leave too much space – it’s better to leave too much than not enough.

You might have enough left in the centre to expand the goal area into a circle, or you may choose just to leave it as a line – it’s up to you. If you have a really large space, perhaps you could build a snowman in the centre! It’s also possible to walk this around a central feature like a tree or bench if you plan it correctly.

If you’ve done everything properly, your finished labyrinth should look like the diagram on the right. Here you can see all the numbered circuits – to make it easier to see the sequence, the numbers are placed at the start of each circuit. To reinforce the path in the snow, you can ‘shuffle’ your way back out of the labyrinth and perhaps make the route a little wider on the way.

Why not decorate your labyrinth with some snow sculptures or other offerings – some berry-laden branches, some holly, Christmas decorations, or perhaps candle lanterns so that you can walk it in the dark? You could also make offerings to the genius loci in the goal or, if you are walking it with children, place some goodies like chocolates in the goal for them. Another good place to decorate the labyrinth is at the nodal point where circuits 3,4, 7 and 8 meet. You will pass this four times as you walk the labyrinth, so it’s good to have something here that you can touch as you pass – maybe a pole or sign, or a plinth with some goodies on.

Here’s one I made in my back garden – this is a right-hander:

garden snow labyrinth

Walking a labyrinth with intention is a sure-fire way to lift you out of any winter blues and make you feel better. If you have an issue that needs resolving, just think about the various aspects of the problem as you walk the different circuits of the labyrinth. Usually a resolution will come to you as you walk. If you are just feeling down for no particular reason, just let your mind drift as you walk the labyrinth. If nothing else, you will most likely feel much calmer about things after your walk; and after making a snow labyrinth you’ll definitely feel warmer! That’s the magic of the labyrinth, and that’s why they are such wonderful transformational tools.

frost rime labyrinth

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