To the north side of our house, on a large, flat area between the house and where we park our cars, we have a labyrinth.  We constructed it in the spring of 2006.  I say constructed although really, we simply uncovered and marked a structure that I think was already there.

Rachel chose the design (the Goddess Labyrinth, appropriately; also known as the Baltic Labyrinth), we decided on the path width (about three feet) and I sketched it up (it is essentially a set of concentric circles, offset along a diameter by one ring spacing).  When we took the sketch and a tape measure to the proposed site and started to lay it out, we found that the labyrinth fit perfectly between the surrounding trees, wall and path and that an existing rock outcropping fell exactly at its center!  Like Michelangelo and his sculptures, we had merely to remove the superfluous material to reveal the labyrinth beneath it.

That material—leaves and fallen branches—was excellent mulch and after removing it, we found that the exposed soil was relatively free of weeds and other growth.  All we had to do was gather rocks from around our property (a physically strenuous task, I assure you) to mark out the pathways.  When it was completed, we made our first traverse of the labyrinth and truly felt a sense of cosmic serenity at its center.  In the intervening years, we have returned to the labyrinth often to regain our calm; it is literally a process of centering ourselves.  We have noticed that walking the labyrinth has a similar effect on others although not everyone realizes it.

Of course, the harmonious powers of the labyrinth are not limited to humans.  Plant life also seems to be responsive and weed growth has been considerable.  I have undertaken weeding sessions each spring or summer but last year, never got around to it.  I never got around to raking the leaves last fall, either, and as a result, the labyrinth was starting to disappear into the earth again (a cosmic case of “use it or lose it”).  So today, I started what will be a multi-day project of pulling weeds and raking leaves.

The work is hard on the lower back but very satisfying.  We had rain yesterday and the ground was relatively soft, which made pulling the weeds out by the roots much easier.  I noticed, however, that there was something else making the ground loose:  earthworms.  Apparently they, too, feel the spiritual emanations of the labyrinth and in some areas, the soil was literally writhing with them.  It is good to have them; they are very beneficial in the garden.  Their tunneling loosens and aerates the soil—tills it, in essence—and they have a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen fixing bacteria.  Their castings are extremely fertile and can be an excellent soil component.

We have a high density of them throughout our property and evidence of their presence—their castings—is everywhere.  Earthworms appeared in the vegetable garden almost instantaneously (and spontaneously?) and so are already helping to prepare the soil for next year.  We have plans to build a compost pile (after we build the second planter) and any earthworms that inhabit it will speed up the decomposition of whatever we put into it.  We plan to locate the compost pile near the labyrinth so we are confident that its earthworm population will be both large and at peace.