Chartes Labyrinth.jpgLABYRINTHS
First, the basics. A labyrinth is not a maze. A maze is like a puzzle to be solved. It has twists, turns, and blind alleys. It is a left brain task that requires logical, sequential, analytical activity to find the correct path into the maze and out. Labyrinths are unicursal. They have one well-defined path that leads us into the center and back out again. There are no tricks to it, no dead ends or cul-de-sacs, no intersecting paths. A labyrinth is a right brain task, involving intuition, creativity, and imagery. It can still seem confusing, but in the midst of that confusion, we jump back to the reality of only one path, and regain our composure.
Historically, the labyrinth form goes back to the dawn of civilization and has been found in pictograms and petroglyphs in the southwest of North America , images stamped in coins from the ancient Mediterranean, rock lined paths and earthen berms throughout Europe and the prime example on the floor of the Chartes cathedral in France. It was used as a connector of sorts, symbolically representing the inner journey, the mystery of life, bridging the
day to day experience with the mystical.
Walking the labyrinth is a metaphor for your life's journey. At each confusing turn in life, we question why? The path of the labyrinth is the path of life in miniature. A labyrinth is an archetype with which we can have a direct experience. It is a symbol that creates a sacred space and place and takes us out of our ego to a place where time and space blend / suspend, if only for a moment during the journey. At its most basic level, the labyrinth is a metaphor for the journey to the center of your deepest self and back out into the world with a broadened understanding of who you are.
When you walk a labyrinth, you meander back and forth, turning 180 degrees each time you enter a different circuit. As you shift your direction you also shift your awareness from right brain to left brain. To walk the labyrinth is to create balance within your Self as the spirit seeks to restore balance within the duality of its creation. Studies of labyrinth walkers measured with a dual electroencephalograph show a right brain activity shift toward the intuitive, and with successive walks, a noticeable cross hemisphere increase in brain wave involvement indicative of a more integrated and holistic mind. Dowsing measurements of the auric field often show a doubling of the field size. The labyrinth is an ancient symbol that exemplifies and induces the wholeness of the mind / body connection.
The labyrinth can be a tool for transition, unfolding us, dropping unwanted attachments and patterns of consciousness at each turn in the path. To emphasize this, we have suggested leaving your clothes at the entry when possible. Dropping our clothes is a symbolic shedding of the old self too often caught up in the materialistic world, and the beginning of new priorities that emphasize connection, compassion and simplicity. We are most connected to the natural world and the rest of humanity when we have dropped our pretenses with our clothes, exposing our most vulnerable nature and risking an open heart as we shed all our barriers to the world. The sacred geometry of the labyrinth allows us to open to the magic of finding ourselves by losing ourselves.
Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools. Walk the labyrinth alone or with your beloved. Attend to each breath. Synchronize your breath with your foot fall. Know you are walking a path that has been trod since the beginning of civilization. Bring into the labyrinth your flaming aspiration, your burning question, or your healing spark, expecting the unexpected.
Steve Bosbach 2006

Much of the information in this article is from Sig Lonegren and his Geomancy.org web site and Ellie Crystal and her Crystalinks.com web site, both with extensive information on geomancy and labyrinths

Construction of the Electric Labyrinth

Labyrinth Conference Presentation Outline

Idea Frame:
Available alternatives for night illumination:
-Candles in luminaria
-Flood lights
-Christmas lights on string
-Rope lighting - miniature incandescent or LED
-Electro-luminscent wire

Choice of EL wire was based on low power draw from a battery source, subtle lighting without an advertising feel, and safety (may be set up during a burn ban or where an open flame is impractical).

Design for the project:
-Anticipating rough ground and high grass, the design needed to be above the ground, possibly waist high
-Power may not be available from an ac source, plan for off grid operation using batteries and inverter, recharged via solar panel.
-Pathway needed to be as wide as practical to allow people to pass each other in opposite directions

Given the above criteria, some questions developed:
How big could I make the labyrinth and not break the bank?
What was the minimum path width that would accommodate passage easily in both directions?
How much EL wire would be needed for the complete labyrinth? What size driver or drivers would be needed?
What size and type of EL wire should be purchased and from where?
How could the wire be supported at waist height? What is the most practical way to do this?

Design Details:

EL wire basics:
-EL wire is driven with about 100 volts ac at high frequency (about 800 Hz)
-Experiments with the wire showed 100 volts at 60 Hz line frequency only produce a dull glow. Using the driver made for the wire boosted the frequency to around 800 Hz and made it quite bright in full darkness.
- El wire is a capacitor, so the core wire is not connected to the corona wires at the end of the wire. This end should be wrapped to prevent accidental shorting.
-EL wire draws about .002 amps per meter of length making it one of the lowest power consuming light emitters available. Life span varies with voltage and frequency, but averages about 10,000 hours, even at full brightness. It never completely wears out, but brightness will dim considerably after it's life span.
-The EL wire is difficult to connect to. A single center conductor (solid) is covered in a phosphor and then wrapped with two hair thin secondary conductors. These are very brittle and difficult to handle without breaking. Wrap the thin wires in a copper foil or bare wire, solder to the foil and then to your power supply wire.
-The Labyrinth wire is in two pieces, just as in the design, there are two separate path edges that have separate beginning and ending points. These pieces are slightly different lengths to match the pathways. Mark them accordingly, or they are sure to be interchanged when you get out in the field to set up!

I needed to determine the edge or line length for the labyrinth in order to purchase the correct amount of EL wire. This was estimated first by drawing out the labyrinth on graph paper and adding partial circumference arcs from parts of a circle. Everyone remembers Pi x D = cir. I just ran this formula for each arc and added them up. This actually came out fairly close, but was 37 feet short of the actual measured length. Since this was only an estimate and at a dollar per foot, I needed a bit closer number, I drew out an accurate 7 turn labyrinth on pavement and measured the lines with a measuring wheel. There are two separate lines that make up the labyrinth, and these came out to 279 and 258 feet each, for a total of 537 feet of EL wire.

Supports were found as electric stock fence supports (sold for pig corrals) along with the insulator supports for the wire. I estimated a support was needed approx. Every 2.5 to 3 feet of path length and figured we would need about 200 fiberglass supports, 4 feet long with insulators. The insulators used were simple plastic screw on type made for round support wands where wire is bent over and under to hold it in place. No threading of the wire is needed.

Now I needed a simple way to set up the supports. Pounding them in is out of the question in the Texas hill country! I experimented with drilling a pocket in the ground to take the wands. As long as I didn't hit solid rock, ½ inch holes could be drilled in hard baked clay soil to accept the supports. A half inch masonry drill bit makes a hole just a little tight for the wands to slip in. They will go in with a light hammer tap, however, and this allows for adjustment in height without redrilling. As long as the drilling is done plumb and to the same depth, the wands will be vertical and all the same height. This is one of the more difficult aspects of set up, and does take some time and care. Using a jig to align the drill to plumb would be useful. Be patient, there are 200 support wands! It helps to have several folks working on this, one drilling, one setting and one adjusting height. Two teams of these folks would be ideal. Set up time was approximately 2.5 - 3 hours for the labyrinth itself with four people working together. I'm sure it could be put up much quicker with more hands and two folks drilling holes in the ground.

With the supports in place, the wire needs to be strung. Start with the connector end at the end location closest to the entry of the labyrinth. This will allow you to bury the power supply wire, crossing only one or two pathways to the outside of the labyrinth. It worked well for two folks to work on each string of EL wire, one unreeling while the other placed it in the insulators.

Short trenches were dug across the pathways to the outside of the labyrinth, from the connector points and power connected. I used extension cord for my power leads, as it is strong enough to handle occasional trip overs' and is the cheapest insulated wire available in long lengths.
I also made up special adapters to go from the standard ac plug and socket to a connector on the wire and drivers. This was just a convenient connector that slip fit for a good connection. Any similar connector like automotive snap fit connectors would work. Polarity is not critical, since the wire is driven by ac current. I could then interchange the position of the drivers as needed, placing them close to the labyrinth or remotely at the other end of the 100' extension cords.
The other part of the electrical plan was to solar charge the batteries during the day when the labyrinth wasn't being powered. An 80 watt BP Solar panel was used for this, going through a small charge controller into two 60 amp hour gel cell batteries. This was enough to carry us through three days of nearly dusk to dawn lighting, with full sun each day. The solar module is on a moveable rack, so I could remote the module and take advantage of sun all day, even as shading shifted. With less sun and charging, I would have needed another battery to keep things going.

Operation:
The EL wire worked flawlessly for three nights, with hundreds of people walking the labyrinth. We tried to be around often to introduce folks to the proper attitude and approach to the labyrinth, but late at night we could still hear folks experimenting long after I had given up trying to stay awake!
As you can see in the photos, we made the site obvious by using a double arch of PVC, joined at the top for rigidity, as the entry to our camp. We then made a smaller arch to indicate the entry for the labyrinth. We also provided two signs, one for an explanation of the labyrinth when we weren't around, and another explaining our camp, Labyrinthia and the clothing optional nature of it. The signs were simply done on a word processor, cut and pasted to foam board and slid into an advertising sign frame. The print was then covered with a sheet of 1/8" clear plastic for those inevitable rain showers. The signs were lit at night with small, white, LED lights on a flexible stalk and clamp assembly.
It was gratifying to receive so many positive comments throughout the event, and even overhear conversation between others talking about their experience with the labyrinth. Flipside was a great venue to put up a labyrinth and it was well received by all.
A complete description of the Labyrinthia theme camp for Flipside can be found at www.burningflipside.com. My article on the labyrinth is in the Flipside Flame newsletter #6, available from the main page of the web site. There is also a description under Theme Camps, registered TC's. This lists and describes all the camps at Flipside, with Labyrinthia down towards the bottom of the list. I have also placed the print contents of this presentation on my Geoharmony web page at http://sbosbach.squarespace.com/labyrinths/.

Links for Building an Electric Labyrinth

Supplier of EL wire and instructions for use. This is where I got my EL wire and drivers.
http://www.coolneon.com/index.html

How to solder to EL wire - tricky, but it can be done by anyone with soldering experience
Http://burningman.rengeekcentral.com/elwire.html

Supplier of wire and drivers
Http://www.thatscoolwire.com/store/

Source for EL sheet stock and tape
Http://www.beingseen.com/qwikpics5.html

Source for EL wire and drivers, including sheet stock and LED bars
Http://www.glowire.com/new_products.htm

General Supplier of EL wire and drivers - not the best buy
Http://www.elbestbuy.com/imagegallery.html

EL wire basics - instructions for use from the Arizona Burners Group
Http://azburners.org/elwire.htm

EL wire built into commercial party items
Http://www.clubthings.com/toys_wire.html

Ideas for EL wire applications and supplier
Http://www.vibelights.com/index.html

Fiberglass wands and insulators - best price on insulators
Http://electric-deer-fence.com/electricdeerfences/electricfenceposts/

Electric fence supplies
Http://www.flemingoutdoors.com/catalog/insulators___accessories_279111_products.htm

Electric fence supplies - best price on fiberglass wands
Http://kencove.com/fiber.htm

Stephen Bosbach 2006

LABYRINTH LINKS:

A Web of Labyrinths - extensive resources about the labyrinth - South Mt. Community College
http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/smc/labyrinth/

The Labyrinth Society - excellent resouce for all aspects of the labyrinth
http://www.labyrinthsociety.org/

Labyrinth page within Grace Cathedral site
http://www.gracecom.org/

Mid-Atlantic Geomancy - Sig Lonegren's site - nice overview of the Labyrinth from the geomantic perspective
http://www.geomancy.org/labyrinths/index.html

List of labyrinth sites
http://www.uucharlottesville.org/labyrinth/pages_labyrinth/lablinks.html

Publishers of Caerdroia - the Journal of Mazes & Labyrinths - good resource site
http://www.labyrinthos.net/f_homepage.htm

Page from CrystaLinks webpage - emphasis on the spiritual aspect of the labyrinth
http://www.crystalinks.com/labyrinths.html

Basic info. and labyrinth art products
http://www.crystalinks.com/labyrinths.html

Labyrinth event and presentation coordination
http://www.labyrinths.org/