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
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.
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:
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 watch the video below.
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’.
Grahame Gardner is a professional dowser and geomancer specialising in house-healing work involving geopathic and technopathic stress, and the creation of sacred spaces. He is listed on the Professional Register of the British Society of Dowsers, and served as President of the Society from 2008-2014. He is also a founder member of The Geomancy Group. This article is from his personal blog Western Geomancy.
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