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Archive for the ‘Labyrinth’ Category

Good News in New Orleans

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

copyright 2010 The Bettina Network, inc.
sent by a guest

There are many catastrophes in the Gulf these days. Most of the news emanating therefrom is dismal and seems as though the place is falling apart. This news, however, is good and may help the light to shine through and the creation of a new and better day for New Orleans. New Orleans has a new Labyrinth. It is beautiful; well sited; and wonderful to walk.

check out: www.labyrinthataudubonpark.org

Purpose of the labyrinth
The Labyrinth at Audubon Park has been waiting for its own timing and purpose and that purpose has now become clear, particularly as New Orleans is consumed by the gutting of homes, the rebuilding of levees and the removing of debris from many neighborhoods. The labyrinth stands as a symbol of hope and will offer the New Orleans community a place to heal, to walk together, and to celebrate new life.

Who did this?
The labyrinth has been a five-year collaborative effort of the Audubon Nature Institute and The Friends of The Labyrinth at Audubon Park. One of America’s most well-known creators of labyrinths, Marty Kermeen of Labyrinths in Stone, was commissioned to construct it in Audubon Park.

Where
The permanent labyrinth is located among the oak and sycamore trees on Audubon Park’s East Drive where Laurel Street meets Audubon Park near the Tree of Life. View map

Walking the Labyrinth
The labyrinth’s archetypal symbol of the spiral is the universal representation of transformation. The labyrinth is a tool that provides a sacred place for meditation, centering, and healing. A labyrinth is a walking meditation. All people and all cultures are invited to journey along the labyrinth. As in life, you will encounter many turns. Trust the path. There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. There are no tricks or decisions, just follow the single path, one foot in front of the other, until you reach the center. Return along that same path.

Our thanks for this bit of heaven on earth goes to: The Friends of The Labyrinth at Audubon Park
They are a non-profit organization whose mission is to build and support the first permanent labyrinth for the New Orleans community. The Friends are also active in projects to educate the public about the history of the ancient labyrinth and to raise awareness about the resurgence of the labyrinth as a meditative and spiritual tool.”

(Ed. Note) Most of the above in quotes was taken directly from the New Orleans Labyrinth’s web site.

Our thanks for letting us know about this new Labyrinth goes to Anne Gordon, whose book – “Numina” will soon be followed by another on Trees. We hope you have purchased a copy and have read through. When you have finished reading “Numina” you know you have been changed, but you aren’t sure what happened. It is a very good life experience.

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An Interesting New Book by a Bettina Guest

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

NUMINA ~ Power, Spirit Place

by Anne Gordon
What follows is an interview of Anne Gordon by Anne Allanketner about the process that went into the writing of “NUMINA”.
“Anne discovered labyrinths in 1997 and became a Veriditas Labyrinth Facilitator in 2002. She lives in Eugene, Oregon, is married, and has a 20 year-old son. She is a bookkeeper and in addition to presenting lectures on the history of the labyrinth, she has been on staff at Sacred Heart Medical Center as a Labyrinth Facilitator for six years. She is self-publishing “Numina” through LuLu.com. Anne Gordon’s novel is available from LuLu.com or by contacting Anne at greeneden@comcast.net.
Your novel is called “Numina ~ Power, Spirit, Place”. I understand this is your first book. What does Numina mean and what happened along your path that brought you to writing a novel?
 
“Numina” is a Jungian term referring to a spiritual force or influence present in an object, phenomenon or place. It is the product of a lifetime of musings. I think we all carry with us deeply felt emotions and ideas. I did not set out to write a book, but I found that when our only child left for college, I had the opportunity to transfer this tapestry of thoughts and reflections to paper. These reflections came out as short stories and ultimately as the story line of “Numina.”
This is a work of fiction. Are there labyrinths or labyrinth experiences in the novel?
 
There is a labyrinth and a labyrinth experience in “Numina.” In the literal sense, one of the main characters who resides in a different time period, makes an annual pilgrimage to a Gothic cathedral. At the end of her visit there, she walks the labyrinth. In the symbolic sense, the flow of the book is very labyrinthine. As I mentioned, there are short stories and these are interwoven with the main narrative. The main narrative takes place in present time and also several hundred years ago. While I take great liberties with linear time in the novel, the characters, whether those of the main plot or those of the short stories, are all traversing a path much like that of the labyrinth. They are in different places on the path. The characters are held by the container of the book as we are held by the container of the labyrinth when we walk. What might appear to be a detour or backtracking from the plot is actually a necessary meandering. As the reader enters the book, softening his or her focus, it is evident that the characters are all moving towards a common center. This is very similar to watching people walk the labyrinth. The order and interrelatedness of things is apparent only over time.
What are some of the themes in the book?
 
Women’s History, religion, politics, evolving consciousness. When I began writing “Numina,” I thought the book was going to be an examination of the Burning Times, a time in our history when many women (and men) were executed for being different. These people were driven to the margins of society. They were ostracized and condemned for worshpping differently, for being healers, or simply being eccentric. As I followed the story in my mind’s eye, watching it unfold through the main characters, I was led to the topic of our creation story. The characters in “Numina” spoke to this damaging portrayal of women and how it may have played a role in allowing atrocities to be committed against women and against many people who revered the feminine face of God. The result was that “Numina” became a story about the betrayal of the feminine and of our relation to the Divine Feminine as she is present in Nature.
Is this a book for men as well as women?
 
Absolutely. Men and women were cast out of the Garden, and we have been dealing with the repercussions ever since. “Numina” is about healing our stories and ourselves.
Some people think this book is very radical. What do you think about this? Are there radical elements in this story?
 
Well, if taking a break from thousands of years of acceptance of a story that demonizes half of humanity is radical…then I guess it might be considered radical. If on the other hand, you feel comfortable examining long-held assumptions in a different light, it would be a story about just that.
You have taken on enormous historical topics in “Numina.” Why is it a work of fiction?
 
Many wonderful and informative non-fiction books have been written on these topics. I am not claiming to be a historian, but I was able to weave a large amount of historical fact in with an ineresting human story. in writing “Numina,” I realized there was a lot going on in the world that did not suit me, so I created the world I wanted. This book contains a great deal of history and no small amount of political thought, but it is not about pointing fingers or ranting against the patriarchy. It is about posing questions instead of prescribing answers. It is about healing, rather than judgment. “Numina” considers the possibility of restoring a Partnership Paradigm.
You mentioned following the story in your mind’s eye. What do you mean by that?
 
When the storyline of “Numina” first appeared to me, it was in the form of a movie. I imagined being in a small, darkened theater. The screen was black and the sounds of the opening scene came first. Then, I could see in my mind’s eye what was happening. When I was able to quiet my mind, often as I walked the labyrinth, I could re-enter the world of “Numina” and gradually more and more of the book was revealed. Eventually I stopped listening to the radio when I was driving, I wanted to be available if ideas for the book entered my imagination. Gardening was a place of inspiration, so I kept a notepad handy when I worked in the yard. Many ideas and conversations from the novel’s characters came to me as I walked the labyrinth. Since I didn’t really want to interrupt by walks, I found it became necessary to walk with paper and pen in hand.
How did you know the book was complete?
 
The characters stopped talking. At first it seemed as if they had moved away. Then I realized they had not moved away, they had simply finished telling me their story.”
To the readers – Anne Gordon introduced the Bettina Network to labyrinths. We learned about them over several breakfasts with Anne and have introduced them to other homes in the Network and to other people we have met. Anne wrote an article for the Bettina’s Blog about her experiences with labyrinths and we are very grateful to her for the introduction. We take the opportunity to look for and walk labyrinths wherever we travel. You will find the location of several labyrinths in Bettina’s Blog and we will probably add more as we find them. Click on the label “labyrinth” and enjoy another great read.
 
We hope you will buy and enjoy reading “Numina”.
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Harvard University’s Labyrinth

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

copyright Bettina Network, inc. 2008

Labyrinth’s have arrived.  Harvard University introduced its new labyrinth and, of course, we had to go and see.
Oh my! What a disappointment.  It looks as though someone from the Harvard Divinity School pushed and pushed at the administration until they acquiesced and did a – too small, just barely adequate labyrinth.  Its a shame, because just across the way is an elaborate grass and granite “design thing” which must have cost a small fortune and is nothing except an ode to the designer and not a very good one at that.
When you approach the Labyrinth a sign says it is handicap accessible. Well that gives you a hearty belly laugh.  If you show up in a wheel chair you probably cover three or four rows and really can’t navigate to get the full effect of the meditation, which you could get if Harvard had invested more in the labyrinth and less in its “design thing” across the way.
But, a Labyrinth is a Labyrinth and I guess its better than nothing. – —-On second thought, not really because if they hadn’t done that half-way job, there would still be hope for Harvard producing a really first class, carefully thought through and large enough Labyrinth for the generations-to-come to enjoy.
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Ed. Note: Members of the Bettina Network Lifestyle Community can contribute to the Bettina Network Blog whenever they have anything they want to say and be heard by this fantastic group of people. Send your blog to bettinanetwork@comcast.net or mail it to us at P. O. Box 380585 Cambridge, MA. 02238 or call us on the telephone at 617-497-9166 to tell us what you want to say and we will write it for you.

Volunteer with Bettina Network Foundation, inc. to work estate sales; to help move items from one home to another; to contribute your ideas on how we can better use our resources in this effort to relieve and eliminate homelessness and poverty. We also need photographers; designers; and more. However much or little time you have, we are grateful.

Send your event information to be included in Bettina Network’s Menu of Events to: bettina-network@comcast.net

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The Labyrinth

Monday, February 11th, 2008
copyright 2008 Anne Gordon**

Before leaving to accompany our son on a trip to settle him at his first year at Harvard, we picked an angel card from the little bowl on our altar.  We received “trust.”

Embarking on a journey involves trust.  Plans are made, as are assumptions and hopes for outcomes.  But then we start and the journey unfolds under our feet.  The unexpected becomes our traveling partner.  Is the unforeseen a gift in disguise or simply a hassle, yet another puzzle to work out and consume precious time?
When a walker is first introduced to a labyrinth, he or she often hears the anxiety-inducing word “maze” instead.  The two words must be next-door neighbors in the canyons of our brains, lodged side-by-side, the result of centuries of interchangeable usage.  When a walker approaches the labyrinth for the first time it may LOOK like a maze, but it is in truth, a single path.
I first walked a labyrinth ten years ago at a Body and Soul Conference in Seattle.  I had considered myself to be a pilgrim for most of my life.  Like many, I had tasted a variety of spiritual fruits, likening these samplings to a feast for the soul.  In particular I felt drawn to the divine mystery, that personal connection to the sacred that cannot be defined or contained in dogma and doctrine.  The labyrinth, a complex but pleasing pattern painted on thick canvas, was set up in a candlelit ballroom.  Ethereal music added to the transcendent quality of the experience.  I was astounded and quite amazed that my wanderings had not led me to the labyrinth until that time.  I stepped onto, and into this sacred space and was deeply moved. Long after the words of the conference presenters had faded, the singular meandering path of the labyrinth held a place in my heart and the imagery it evoked continued to resonate for days and months.
Over the next years I sought out labyrinth walks, on permanent installations and on portable canvas.  I created a labyrinth in our yard at home and studied with Lauren Artress at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and became certified as a labyrinth facilitator.  Grace Cathedral is the home to two labyrinths, one outdoors made of terrazzo stone, another of limestone in the sanctuary.  Artress is credited with being the driving force behind the resurgence of interest in labyrinths in the late twentieth century.  Author Jean Houston had been using labyrinths for some time in her workshops, but it was Lauren who visited Chartres Cathedral in France, and with a group of friends, boldly removed the folding chairs from atop the 13th century labyrinth, walked it, measured it and brought the energy of this esoteric spiritual tool to the United States.  Credit must also be given to author and dowser Sig Lonegren and to geomancer Richard Feather Anderson for their contemporaneous installations of labyrinths.
Chartres Cathedral is an exquisitely beautiful Gothic cathedral.  It is one of the best maintained cathedrals in all of Europe and is a Unesco World Heritage site.  Famed for its architecture grounded in sacred geometry and for its unparalleled stained glass windows, Chartres has been drawing visitors for over 800 years.  It was built on a site of ancient pilgrimage, the place itself having been revered by Druids and Celts.  Work on the present cathedral was begun in 1194 and the labyrinth was laid in the floor around the year 1200.  At that early date, interest in the labyrinth was experiencing its own revival, putting its antiquity in context.  In time it fell out of favor, possibly because its use competed with the sermons.  Other labyrinths in European cathedrals were unceremoniously removed during the Age of Reason, their enigmatic, mystical quality evidently incompatible with the elevation of reason and logic.  Chartres was spared.  As a 19 year old girl I joined the millions of pilgrims and tourists who visit this gem completely unaware of the labyrinth beneath our feet.  Happily, this descent into obscurity has ended and the labyrinth is now available to visitors every Friday.  Private groups are also granted access to the labyrinth on a regular basis for study and contemplation.
The single path of the labyrinth is described as unicursal.  Its use predates the Christian era by thousands of years.  It is one of the oldest contemplative and transformational tools known to humankind and has been used for centuries for prayer, ritual, initiation and personal and spiritual growth.  Its presence and use dates back at least 4,500 years.
Labyrinths have been found on every inhabited continent.  They have been separated by vast distances and by thousands of  years, but they are connected by their enduring presence and use.
In ancient Greece the coin of the realm bore the imprint of the labyrinth.
In India, labyrinths are drawn at the threshold of homes as a protective blessing.
In Scandinavia over 500 labyrinths are located near the sea.  Folklore tells of fishermen walking them before sailing to ensure good fortune and a bountiful catch.  Anxious relatives walked them to propitiate the forces of weather when seas were rough.  During springtime rituals, young men raced one another in the labyrinth to be the first to dance with a maiden at its center.
There are more labyrinths per square kilometer in Sweden than any other place on earth. Labyrinths similar to those in Scandinavian countries have been found in Russia, Iceland and Baltic countries.
Turf labyrinths are common in Great Britain.  Many remain to this day, some continuously and lovingly maintained for over 400 years.
In the 21st Century, the beauty and mystery of the labyrinth exerts a powerful draw, calling to people the world over as it has for millenia.  A search online produces endless pages of information about and locations of labyrinths.  They are now present in dozens of hospitals, clinics, schools, retreat centers and churches.  Over 2,000 labyrinths are registered with veriditas.org in the United States alone.
The single, meandering path of the labyrinth provides the walker with the opportunity to step beyond the chaos and confusion of the modern world, into the land of the soul.  Each visit to the labyrinth is unique as is every walker.  This profoundly simple experience provides calm, centering, stress reduction, some even say healing.  it is said that a maze, with its cul-de-sacs, dead-ends and blind alleys is designed to make you LOSE your way, while a labyrinth is designed to help you FIND your way.
Because there is a single path, the only decision to be made is whether or not to walk.  Once that decision is made and the journey is begun, one is then led gently and surely, meandering to the center.  The Circuitous path captures our attention and the controlling mind takes a breather.  The symbolism of going deep into our own interiors is clear.  There is a sense of safety and security provided by the container that is the labyrinth.
People often walk the labyrinth with a prayer or an intention.  Some enter the labyrinth with a burden to release or a problem to solve.  In trusting the process of the journey, it is common for walkers to receive answers to questions they did not even ask.  The gifts are there, but often in an unanticipated guise.
Walking the labyrinth provides a time out of time.  The outer world takes a holiday.  The simple yet symbolic act of placing one foot in front of the other overlays the scattered energy and fragmented thoughts of our busy lives.  On this single path we don’t have to decide WHERE we are in the world and instead can become aware of HOW we are in the world.
The labyrinth has been called a blueprint for transformation.  The person who enters the labyrinth and the person who leaves are never the same.  A change happens in the process of the journey.  Insights and clarity are gained, calm is restored.  Healing occurs.  And often, the simple act of retreating from the din of the outer world provides the break we need to refresh ourselves, find our center and return to the world with a new outlook.
Our son now resides across the continent and our family continues to adjust and grow, drawing  to ourselves the calm that comes from trust in the journey.  Like walkers on the Labyrinth, we are sometimes near one another, though mos of the time we are apart, but we always meet at the center.
_____________________________________
**Anne Gordon is a Labyrinth Facilitator and bookkeeper in Eugene, Oregon.  She is on staff at Sacred Heart Medical Center as a labyrinth facilitator, providing monthly labyrinth walks for staff, patients and visitors.  She also offers workshops, talks on the history of the labyrinth and conducts private walks using her three portable labyrinths.  She may be reached at greeneden@comcast.net
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2/17/2008
from Sybil in Riverside, CA.
“Thank you for the article.  I wanted you to know about a labyrinth I sometimes walk.  It is behind the University of Redlands Memorial Chapel and has been there since about 2004-2005.  It is a replica of the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth in France.  Since I live in Riverside I don’t get there often, but when I do the peace from the meditation is a feeling I look forward to. Also wanted to say that – the labyrinth is the longest distance between two points while a straight line is the shortest.  Got that from someplace, don’t remember where.”
3/1/08
from Robert in Cambridge, MA.
“The other weekend my son and daughter were in town.  I thought they might like to see a discovery my wife and I made several weeks earlier – the recently opened labyrinth on the campus of Boston College in Newton (Chestnut Hill), Massachusetts.  This labyrinth is dedicated in memory of Boston College alums who lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York.
 
On an earlier visit to the B.C. Labyrinth, it was buried in snow, but even then the outline of its circular paths were visible to us.  Now on this later visit, the snow was gone and the still wet stone pavers of the foot path glistened in the late afternoon sun.
 
The Boston College Labyrinth is just inside the main entrance to the campus to the right of an avenue lined with impressive Gothic-styled buildings.  It isn’t visible from the roadway, but from the walkway a lovely sunken garden comes into view right next to the first building on the right at the entrance gate.
 
At the center of tree-lined green expanse is this labyrinth flanked to its left by the stone wall of that first building and just beyond it an imposing oval shaped shrub which seemed to me to mimic the circular labyrinth in front of us.  Two squat square marble pillars, topped with bronze plaques mark the entrance and exit walkways of the labyrinth.  The plaques give the dedication and walking information.  Individual plaques give the name and class of those memorialized and they surround the outer edge of the labyrinth.  It gives you goose bumps just looking at the path.
 
This was my first labyrinth walk and I felt this as a significant new experience.  Something else seemed to come over me as I took my first tentative steps along the stone pavers laid out there.  It struck me that I was setting out on a journey and one that required my close attention both to the immediate path before me and to the surroundings before and beside me.  
 
This trek is not a simple following a circling path, but one with numerous twists and turns.  In retrospect, I feel each start of this kind of journey always holds something new and unexpected along the way.  This first time, I felt intimidated by the path since I didn’t really know where the pavers were taking me, especially since periodically I was walking not toward the center of the labyrinth, but actually away from it.  Though circular, this journey was not simply going in circles.  I had always to be attentive along this serpentine journey of many sudden twists and turns.
 
The attentiveness demanded by this path had the affect of forcing all other thoughts and concerns from my consciousness.  And as a consequence of this, I can better understand why the labyrinth walk sets the stage for meditation or at least can foster an openness in our consciousness for new thoughts and perspectives which the usual busyness of daily life obscures or even prevents us from experiencing.  The winding, even meandering path of the labyrinth is not a distraction, but actually a gift which can refresh both mind and body.
 
There is also a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction upon reaching, not the end, but the center, the heart or destination of the labyrinth.  I took time there to relax, to savor as well the new perspective of the lawn, trees, that great oval bush, even the near-by Gothic building that stood hard by the labyrinth.
 
The return journey, exiting along a new, but parallel path of pavers, required the same concentration as the entry. Upon completing the labyrinth walk there was that double satisfaction of having gone both into (up) and out of (down) the circular trek which did not take me in circles, but led me both on an inbound (internal) and an outbound (external) pilgrimage-like journey.  
 
Like the mountain climbers, I felt a sense both of exhilaration and of repose at my safe return. I think my children enjoyed their experience as well.”
 
4/17/2008
from a guest who sings in the Duke University Chapel Choir
 
Duke University’s Chapel has a labyrinth they put down in the Chapel once a year – usually during April.  You can walk the labyrinth in the chapel from 8am-5pm, but only on that day.  To find out when the next labyrinth walk takes place you may go to the Duke Chapel web site and put your name on the list serve or you can call the Duke University Chapel Coordinator at 919-684-8111.
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Want to join us? Have a home that you want to open to become one of Bettina Network’s Hedge Schools? Call us and lets talk – or email us.

Ed. Note: Members of the Bettina Network Lifestyle Community can contribute to the Bettina Network Blog whenever they have anything they want to say and be heard by this fantastic group of people. Send your blog to bettinanetwork@comcast.net or mail it to us at P. O. Box 380585 Cambridge, MA. 02238 or call us on the telephone at 617-497-9166 to tell us what you want to say and we will write it for you.

Volunteer with Bettina Network Foundation, inc. to work estate sales; to help move items from one home to another; to contribute your ideas on how we can better use our resources in this effort to relieve and eliminate homelessness and poverty. We also need photographers; designers; and more. However much or little time you have, we are grateful.

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