When you hear the word Labyrinth, what comes to mind? If you're like me, it conjures up vague notions of ancient societies, living in the time before recorded history, who made designs on cave walls and built monuments like Stonehenge. Or maybe you think of fanciful tales about mystical figures like Merlin the Magician or the adventures of fictional characters like Harry Potter. Well, if that's the case, there would be some truth to your perceptions, but there would also be some fundamental misunderstandings.
When and where the first labyrinth was created is a matter of speculation, as it was before recorded history - perhaps as long as 10,000 years ago. The oldest datable labyrinths, which are built in the classical, slightly-mushroom shaped design, first appeared about 3,500 years ago. This design is sometimes given the name "Cretan" because it was pictured on coins dated several centuries B.C.E. that were found on the island of Crete. However, there is no evidence that the labyrinth originated in Crete and, in fact, it can be found on virtually every continent in the world.
So why were diverse groups of people, from Scandinavia to Asia, Russia to South America, and even the South Pacific attracted to this design and for what purpose did they use the Labyrinth? For some cultures it seems to have symbolized the journey of the soul and the search for enlightenment. For others, it represented the path of life and the quest for inner peace. In medieval times, the labyrinth offered a symbolic journey to the Holy Lands for people who could not afford the actual pilgrimage. In modern times, however, the labyrinth has been used primarily as a quiet place for meditation and contemplation. Walking among the turns, one loses track of the chaos in the outside world and is able to quiet the mind.
So what does all this have to do with LaVelle Vineyards? Well, we want to make our winery a place where people can participate in a variety of experiences. We believe that people are drawn to vineyards, at least in part, because they symbolize the cycle of life and their symmetry has a universal appeal. We hope that the labyrinth, placed in a garden setting on a vineyard site will offer people a unique place for quiet reflection.
Our labyrinth was designed and constructed during the week of June 7th, 2009 by well-known labyrinth scholar and educator Moira Forsythe. On Saturday, June 13th we assembled a team of wine club volunteers to assist Moira with the actual construction. The day began with Moira giving us a briefing on labyrinths, their history and the significance of their design, followed by the actual construction of our labyrinth, which she had previously laid out. We started around 8:00 AM and, with the help of 25 club members finished the project in about an hour.
We are excited about this addition to the winery experience at LaVelle Vineyards and we appreciate everyone's help. On Sunday, June 14th we had a wine club party and dedication for the labyrinth.