Labyrinth Essence - created during the Covid19 Lockdown at Pickering Road Community Orchard 2020.
Key Qualities - Return to Self, Balance, Prayer, Embodied Earth Connection, Focus, Trust and Timing, Integrity of Intention.
Log of events and thoughts during the making Essence, Thursday May 7th 2020
10.45am - Arrived at the Orchard just as the current Full Moon in Taurus was reaching its peak. Meeting Yvette on the path, we had not seen each other for several months and there was a genuine sense of warmth between us, I was glad to be back.
Between the harvesting season in 2018 and the Autumn Equinox 2019 we had been creating a permanent Labyrinth. It had been a lot of work including community events and celebrations woven into the seasons and cycle of events at the Orchard. The Orchard offers a haven in the city where the trees are the kings and the bees thrive. It is a place of sanctuary and inclusivity which is treasured by some, known by more but still unknown to most. Today was yet another glorious day of heat, sunshine, clear skies and radiant birdsong which has become one of the positive features of Lockdown. I had been longing to see the apple trees in full blossom and revisit the Labyrinth, the last time I saw it half was under water from the winter's flooding and I was curious to know how it had fared.
I spent the first hour reacquainting myself with the spirit of the place walking mindfully amongst the trees and then quietly into the centre of the labyrinth, impressed and delighted at how well it looked and felt and how carefully it had been maintained and looked after. The grass was vibrant and dense and the pattern made by the paths looked really well established and felt strong and clear.
As soon as I stepped onto the labyrinth I heard my phone ping twice and wondered who had messaged me at this particular moment in time. For me there are no coincidences, synchronicity plays a key role in offering confirmation or otherwise of my flow. As I walked round I noticed grass clippings from the edges which now lay brown, dead and dreary on the top of the white chalk tracks.
Enjoying a brief moment of reflection in the centre on my hands and knees to get down to Earth as I often do, I heard a voice piping up 'Oy can you say one for me too !', one of the volunteers walking past called out
'Yes sure' I replied in a light hearted way.
During Lockdown I have massively increased my own meditation and prayer practise, unattached to any specific religion or formalised structure.
I noted this apparent random comment and also remembered that in times gone by crawling around the labyrinth on your knees was considered a legitimate form of repentance and absolution from sins. As another volunteer walked by he pointed out that although the labyrinth did look great someone needed to clear the grass clippings out of the tracks, I was well up for that.
I had thought I would be making an Apple Blossom Essence today knowing it would probably be my only chance of the year but although I had enjoyed being back amongst the trees I didn't have any compulsion to make an essence, however the Labyrinth was definitely calling.
What then followed was 2 hours of a surprising mixture of being interrupted and alone on the Labyrinth which raised thoughts about our need to be both alone and with others and what was a healthy balance, all very much issues of the moment. I crawled around the entire track clearing out the dead grass clippings, acting out my own form of repentance !
12.00pm Noon - I placed the bowl of water in the centre of the Labyrinth, the sky was clear and deep blue. Two hours is good amount of time in this sunshine to potentise the essence I thought, it felt important to catch the moment, getting the essence completed today, unlike other essences which sometimes take days to make. I started clearing the paths and was almost immediately called to join the other volunteers for a cuppa. After a brief conversation with myself I decided to go to join them and be sociable. I was interested to be leaving the labyrinth so soon. I also noted how good I felt coming off the Labyrinth and had a relaxed, enjoyable and very normal tea break followed by a walk around the Wild Life garden with Yvette discussing the Labyrinth and how pleased we were that it survived both flood and now drought, how well the turf and pattern had established itself. We also talked about climate change. The need for more Balance was noted.
12.30 Back in the Labyrinth, I started clearing the paths in earnest only to once again interrupted this time by Dave arriving to mow the Labyrinth,which had been left totally undisturbed all morning, in fact probably all week . After Dave finished mowing I continued to work and then Yvette arrived to say goodbye before she and Dave left at 1.20 leaving the final 40 mins by myself to complete the task alone and in quiet focus.
At 2.00pm I collected the water from the centre , giving thanks for all as I walked out of the Labyrinth and made up the Mother tincture all completed by just after 2 .
Surrounding Energies and other thoughts
When making the essence I simply followed my instinctual flow, as I started writing up my notes I began pondering on the whole 'repentance thing', here is one definition;
'Repentance is the activity of reviewing one's actions and feeling contrition or regret for past wrongs, which is accompanied by commitment to and actual actions that show and prove a change for the better. In Judaism and Christianity it is often defined as an action, turning away from self-serving activities and turning to God, to walk in His ways.'
I also found this:
'Letting go of all ideas in zazen releases us from the opposition of subject and object, of doer and deed. Formless repentance is the practice of zazen, in its pure sense. And by letting go of thought, we repent activity that has a self-centred focus or egocentric motivation, whether the activity itself is good or bad'.
It would certainly seem that as a human race we much to repent for at this time, our collective actions and choices dictated to by greed, selfishness and violation of Life in so many ways resulting in the ensuing chaos , disease and climate emergency we are now having to face.
Whilst writing up these notes, this poem that was written by New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern to her people as they went into Lockdown dropped through my inbox, I include the following pertinent excerpt :
To Mother Earth (Papatūānuku ) for what we have done
Rest now, e Papatūānuku
It’s right. It’s time.
Time to return
Time to remember
Time to listen and forgive
Time to withhold judgement
Time to cry
Time to think
Remove our shoes
Press hands to soil
Sift grains between fingers
Time to plant
Time to wait
Time to notice
To whom we belong
For now it’s just you
And the wind
And the forests and the oceans and the sky full of rain......
This is the message of this particular moment, shades of it will be held within the cellular memory of the water of this essence, the need for a return, a new humility and understanding , an embodied connection and love with Mother Nature and a balancing out of extremes, there is also great beauty held within the water, as there was at the Orchard on the that particular day of glorious May weather, blossom and birdsong along.
At every stage of building the Labyrinth last summer we invoked these twelve positive qualities;
Patience, Tenacity, Peace, Generosity, Bravery, Humility, Forgiveness, Self Awareness, Honesty, Humour, Acceptance, Inclusivity.
It is also my belief is that these qualities will also be enhanced and strengthened in each of us by the taking this essence.