Albion, Art

Walking the labyrinth

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As the afternoon drew to a close we were ready to return to the hotel and rest before dinner. First, however, there was one thing left to do. At the foot of the moor is a garden in which a labyrinth has been created from an ancient symbol. The Ilkley fylfot is an archaic form of the swastika that long predates, and differs from, the most infamous adoption of the symbol by the Third Reich. High on the moors here is one of the rare depictions, carved in stone. It is not unique, similar symbols are found the world over and date back some 12,000 years or more as a symbol of Light and Life. The fylfot has been used to design a labyrinth of interlocking shapes that lead from a stone that echoes ancient symbols of life to one that is a modern depiction of light.

Swastika Stone

On these two stones that mark the beginning and end of the journey are inscriptions;

“Follow humbly to whatever and wherever abyss Nature leads you”. Thomas Henry Huxley (continues, “…or you shall learn nothing.”)

“Strait the gate and narrow the way that leadeth unto life.” Evangelion Demepharreshe (“…and few are they which find it!”)


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It seemed an appropriate end to the day to walk the thousand steps of the maze, taking the path from past to present, accepting the journey to understanding. The pathway leads to the back of the final symbol, a modern interpretation of the ancient Saxon crosses with which our day had begun. At eye level is a central space through which you look back, from beyond the journey to its beginning and you, yourself, discovering the inscription, become the centre of light.


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As the evening drew in our companions departed, leaving just two of us to linger awhile by the maze, watching a newcomer walk it with, it seemed, real reverence. The great, black bird appeared, to our eyes, to know where it stood and showed no fear of us in the peace of evening.


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A squirrel scampered from tree to tree, then set about its business of foraging for its supper. The little creature seemed to know it was safe and we watched for a long time as it busily built up its winter hoard before we too returned to the hotel.

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It had been another of those days when, although we had progressed through the hours in leisurely fashion we seemed to have seen and learned a great deal. Perhaps it is working with symbols that can directly access levels of mind and understanding that allows us to bypass the time spent on conscious consideration, perhaps it is the alchemy created by such companionship that allows a deeper understanding to be born from simple things… whatever the cause it had been a day rich in experience where the ethereal had reached out and placed a hand between the shoulder blades, making its presence felt.

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For me the moors still called, pulling like a child who still wants to play, and after dinner, I wandered back into the heather in the darkness. Tonight, though, the peace was shattered by the bass from teenage radios and the noise of cars driving across the track-ways. The moors to me are a place of living sanctity and I could no more accept that disrespect of a sacred space here than I would in church or temple and I felt it keenly. Returning to the garden I sat and watched the stars veil themselves in cloud and the tears coursed in silence, perhaps for a beauty lost to many and the sadness of souls whose eyes are blind to what they desecrate. Yet even in the darkness of the garden of night there is light, and one by one my companions joined me and I was surrounded by laughter and love.

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