How long have you been making labyrinths?
Nine years, well actually it started way back in 2000 with a kids group, and we created a labyrinth at a university as part of a summer gardening program. It was there for two years, and then the university decided they wanted to build a library on top of it. While I was bust traveling around the world, a group of volunteers dug up all the plants and moved them to the other side of the university. Now it is a perennial flower garden labyrinth.
A man , Henry Shultz, contacted the May Day (HOTB) people in 2005 and suggested there should be a labyrinth at the May Day festival. I have been creating a labyrinth there every year since. Depending on the weather we get between a thousand and two thousand who go through it. About half of them are under fifteen. The thing I have learned about labyrinth rules from the kids is, they have their own way to work the magic of it. They don’t necessarily follow the ‘rules’ that adults do. I have just learned to trust that all people make their own connection to the labyrinth in the way spirit calls to them.
My favorite thing is to make snow labyrinths. We started doing them at Witch camp in 2003. Donald Engstrom suggested we try one. We just walked a trail, but then we lined the path with icicles. Then as years passed I just started making ice. I’d go to ‘Savers’ and by heart-shaped, animal shaped molds for ice. Then came water balloons frozen with food colored water. In 2002 we had a winter solstice celebration at Cold Water Spring. There was no snow cover that year and so did it with pine boughs. We figured the Winter wind would just take the labyrinth away. I came back in the spring and the labyrinth was still there. I figured it wanted to be there. I started collecting rocks and things from the woods with a wheelbarrow to add to it, so there is one at Cold Water Spring. The interesting thing is about that one is labyrinths have the capacity to draw water to them. Part of the whole issue there is that the highway was going to impede the flow of the spring. For a while it seemed like the spring was being tended by that labyrinth for about four years. Susu Jeffrey who is very involved there told me more people walked that labyrinth than actually visited the spring. Once the Park Service got involved they determined the labyrinth did not belong there, since there is no historical record. In the fall of 2007 they hired a crew to remove it. I always knew it could happen.
The other reason I do labyrinths is that they are really fun to make. In the world of ‘ Reclaiming’ there is what we call a joyful obligation. Labyrinths are a lot of work, but joyful work in service to community.
Most of what you do is transitory, they are not permanent?
No, most are not permanent. I have three labyrinths that I have worked on that are permanent. One in my backyard, one in my mom’s yard ( Given to her as a birthday present, she says the best one she has ever gotten!) , and there is the one I mentioned at Concordia University in St.Paul.
How are people effected by labyrinths?
People seem moved by them. Even the different people who have come through here today. He was riding a bicycle by with his wife. They stopped and looked here. He stared at it for five to ten minutes. Finally he said, “Can I walk this?” I said “yes, you may.” He said, “I am really supposed to be somewhere now but I feel like I really need to walk this now. “ His wife wandered off to wait for him. He was just called to walk it. People are genuinely moved by the experience.
Is this part of the reward for you?
It is not important for them to come tell me this is beautiful, or lovely, or ‘this’ is what I learned. I understand people just by their body language and facial expressions. By what they are doing within the labyrinth. I am an observant kind of guy. It is just plain fun.
What should we know about labyrinths?
Labyrinths create lay lines, that then connect with other labyrinths. Simply by walking one, our prayers, spells, or things you want out into the world can be sent. You can essentially connect to the whole world by walking a labyrinth.
I really like snow labyrinths. There is something about working with the snow and ice. I have learned to work with my hands with the ice. After the experience here today, I am tempted to just appear randomly at any park and just set this up. It is so fun to just sit here and see what happens!
Paul’s Labyrinths have many ‘Shrines’ (see photos above). Each visitor walks the labyrinth and finds their own meaning. Find Paul at May Day next spring and walk one for yourself!