THE TIGH SHEE GARDEN LABYRINTH
In June of 2002, Jim and I celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary by building a garden labyrinth in our back yard. This was the culmination of two years of planning and dreaming.
The idea of building a labyrinth was originally conceived by Jim shortly after we purchased Tigh Shee, our home in rural Ontario. Jim received a message while we were on retreat in June of 2000 with friends Bill and Margaret Mills. In one of his meditations Jim realized that he was to build a labyrinth. The following winter Jim experimented with labyrinth designs by building the “Chartres Labyrinth” in the snow – a complex 11 circle design. While we liked this design, and enjoyed our winter walks in it, we realized that we needed something different for Tigh Shee, something that would complement the Healing Gardens already underway. Patience was required, time to simply sit with the ideas and allow the vision of what it was to be, to come to us.
In August of 2001 we decided to visit The Garden Studio in Lowville, Ontario, home of Walt Rickli and his amazing garden sculptures. During our visit to Walt’s garden studio Jim realized that he was to build a labyrinth of his own design, rather than one of the labyrinths commonly known. We also purchased a garden sculpture from Walt which would eventually become the focal point of the labyrinth.
In August of 2001 Betty began a yearlong sabbatical, a time to quiet her mind and dive deeper into the spiritual work that was calling her. She began with Julia Cameron’s course, The Artist’s Way, a daily discipline of journaling complemented by exercises. It was during this time that Betty was able to add her energy to Jim’s creative process. While sitting quietly one September morning an image came to her. She began to sketch this out on a drawing pad, and when she was finished Betty had a design for a labyrinth. She gave this to Jim as his birthday present, stating only that if this pattern was the one he was looking for, this was her gift to him.
During the winter of 2001-2002 Jim tested the pattern in the snow. We loved it – great energy, wonderful symbolism, yet simple in design. On New Year’s Eve 2001, a small group of us gathered in it at midnight, only candlelight, the moon and the stars to guide us, and with intention, walked the path to greet the New Year. We knew we had the right design. During Betty’s Authentically You® retreats, she began to use the labyrinth for walking meditation. Participants enjoyed it, finding its simple form pleasing and grounding.
The Tigh Shee Garden Labyrinth is a seven circle design. Like other labyrinth designs, there is only one way in and out; the path is designed to guide you not confuse you as in a maze. The path, made of river stone, leads you through a simple pattern ending at a 10.5 foot circle with a granite floor. In the middle of this floor is Walt’s beautiful creation, a garden sculpture with water trickling up through and over it, adding soothing sound of moving water.
On the granite floor, the four directions, North, East, South and West are marked by “keystones” representing the four directions as found in native medicine wheels. Each keystone has a symbol representing Courage (north), Authenticity (east), Love (south) and Grace (west). The medicine wheel serves a resting place for reflection and deeper work.
The labyrinth, located in our back yard is surrounded by gardens and at the outer periphery, trees. Benches and small garden rooms flow off the main area, places for reflection before or after one’s walking meditation. The final effect is to offer a sacred experience of one’s own design – the path itself, the elements of nature, and the medicine wheel.
Since its inception we have hosted quarterly community labyrinth walks at the change of each season. In June of 2012, forty friends gathered with us to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the labyrinth and the unveiling of our Tigh Shee Sign. Through both the labyrinth and our gardens, it has been our intention to create a sanctuary for others where they can feel safe and find peace within.
We have had a wonderful experience conceiving, dreaming and finally building the Garden Labyrinth. It has been a process of patience and trust. We are in gratitude to our friends who have assisted us along the way, holding the energy for us, for those who helped us in the actual construction, for Walt Rickli and his wonderful designs, and for time spent with our hands buried in the earth. I hope all of you have an opportunity to join us at Tigh Shee to experience our creation.
In Love, Light and Peace,
Betty and Jim
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