We ADF Druids all have an interest in ancient artifacts, as part of our study of the ancient cultures that we seek to emulate. Most of us don’t own any ancient artifacts, of course, so we have to make do with museum visits and reading books. But there’s still a lot we can learn from these objects of the past. (Knowing that the ancient Greeks actually wrote curse tablets to hinder the abilities of athletes they didn’t like gives me a perspective on their life that reading their myths could never quite do!) I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be on an archaeological dig and make some incredible discovery. (And then maybe grab it and escape from a bunch of Nazis using my bullwhip, but now I’m just getting my fantasies muddled.)
ADF has only been around for twenty five years now, and while the 1980s may seem like an eternity ago, our own artifacts can’t be called “ancient” just yet. Still, being Senior Druid of a Grove that’s nearly fifteen years old, I can sometimes make a mini-expedition of my own to find one of our old ritual objects. This was the case today when I got our old canvas labyrinth out of storage so we can use it this weekend at our Lughnasadh festival.
Back in February of 2000, when I went to ConVocation (our local area’s metaphysical convention), I attended a workshop on labyrinths where the folks running it had put together a portable labyrinth using a large blue tarpaulin and masking tape. I was so impressed that I told Gen Stoyak I wanted to do something similar, and she suggested using a large canvas sheet instead of a tarp so it would be more durable. She, being far better at working with fabrics than I will ever be, sewed together several pieces of canvas to make a single 20 foot by 19 foot piece. (She somehow managed to do this in the hallway of her condo, which was long enough but nowhere near wide enough. Another mystery of the Producer Caste that I will never understand!) Meanwhile, I took an image file of a simple seven-circuit labyrinth on my PC and overlaid a 20 by 19 grid onto it. We took the canvas out to my parent’s farm where we could stretch it out properly, and Gen installed several grommets around the edge so we could drive tent stakes through to keep the wind from blowing it out of place. Then I laid out a 20 by 19 grid with masking tape, and I used my handy little blueprint to paint the image on the canvas.
We took the labyrinth to Wellspring, a local Pagan picnic, and a few of our Lughnasadh festivals, but we haven’t used it in several years. (With my work schedule I haven’t been able to travel to a lot of non-Grove events, and I didn’t want to overuse it at our own events.) When Jude Howison told me she wanted to do a workshop on labyrinths at this year’s Lughnasadh, I knew it was time to get the old labyrinth out again. This afternoon, I stretched it out in my back yard. It was like taking a trip in a time machine – well, a time machine that can only go back five years, but still impressive. The cloth is still in good shape, there are a few stains but we can probably get those out, and the little drawing of a slug I did in the corner with “5-14-00” was still there. I walked it once again, and despite the wind trying to blow the pattern out from under me, it felt good. (Yes, I still have the tent stakes and we’ll be using them next weekend. >8)
I’m glad I had a chance to rediscover something from my Grove’s past, and if it proves popular at our festival, maybe we can make it a regular part of our Grove practices one again. If not, well, I can always put it back into storage an look forward to rediscovering it again.
Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF
The Labyrinth Society: http://www.labyrinthsociety.org/