We have been inspired by the ancient builders and stoneworkers who have left a legacy on our Earth. The Ancients have created great temples, monuments, and pyramids, and many of these legacies have survived thousands of years. These builders were masters of symbolism, and every time a stone was placed, it was done with purpose and precision. These stones often related to the cosmos and great cycles, and their creations have brought immense wisdom into physical form.
When we created this stone pathway, we had the ancient builders in mind, and we invite you to join us on a symbolic journey that leads to the entrance of the Labyrinthine Food Forest, where the fruits are now ripening. As you enter the pathway through the gates beneath the shady maple tree, you will find yourself in a large open landing space. This space has been designed as a place to collect yourself, and listen to your guide or guides (whether physically present or not) before you begin your journey. There is a subtle stone spiral on the north side of the path, traditionally regarded as a place of ancestral wisdom. The spiral is one of the most important ancient symbols, and this is where our journey begins.
As you gaze down the meandering stone pathway, you will see five formations of stacked rocks. These formations represent the building blocks of creation, the five elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Spirit. The five elements also appear in Traditional Chinese Medicine as Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Along the Path of Life, amongst these elemental building block formations, there are thirteen large river stones. Many consider the number thirteen to be unlucky, and these large stones could represent the obstacles we encounter in life. Although the number thirteen is capable of generating superstitious fear, sometimes a shift in perspective brings us great rewards. The number thirteen is very special on our planet, and this has been understood by artists and builders for thousands of years. Anyone who has entered "the symbolism of thirteen" into Google's search bar may feel like Alice down the rabbit hole. To the Chinese it represents Completion and Perfection. Da Vinci's "Last Supper" features Jesus and his twelve disciples, and King Arthur had twelve nights at his Round Table, both adding creating a total of thirteen. The number thirteen also occurs thirteen times within the Great Pyramid of Giza. Mysterious symbolism aside, the truth remains: there are thirteen full moon cycles in one year, there are thirteen weeks between each equinoxes and solstice, and the Moon travels an average of 13 degrees through the sky each day. The truth is not always what it seems; as we look closer at these stone “obstacles”, we find them to be rounded and smooth. After all, they were once river stones. If we remember to flow with the feminine grace of water, and the cycles of the moon, each “obstacle” can transform into a beautiful milestone, and a reminder of life’s rhythmic ebb and flow. Each year holds within it thirteen Full Moons, thirteen New Moons, and thirteen weeks for each season. The number thirteen is to be celebrated, as a symbol of the feminine, lunar cycles, and the ever-present Goddess.
"The 13th letter of the English alphabet is M, which finds its roots in the 13th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, “mem” (meaning mother), which was the ancient Phoenician word for water. The ancient Egyptian word for water was “moo.” M is the most sacred of all the letters, for it symbolizes water, where all life began." ***
Further along, the path opens up, and a bench of stone looks out towards the labyrinth. It faces the North-East, a direction associated with self-cultivation and knowledge according to the traditional Chinese system of Feng Shui. Directly in front of the bench, there is a large stone with a hole in the middle; stones like these were highly valued by our ancestors. In their quest for greater understanding, ancient builders often aimed holes in stone skywards, using them much like we use telescopes today: to observe the stars and recognize cosmic patterns. In front of this bench, a point of reflection on this pathway, we pointed the stone “telescope” downwards, reminding us to look inwards, and to the Earth for answers. The stone bench reminds us that it is important to pause, and to take a break during our journey. When we are seated on the bench, and looking to the left, there are “tree roots” made of stone sprawling out from the trees trunk along the ground. These stone “roots” stretch outwards, much like the trees branches above, in tribute to the Hermetic maxim, “As above, so below”.
Continuing on our journey, the pathway bends as it turns towards the labyrinth, and we are presented with the remaining of the five “elemental building block” monuments, along with a standing trinity of face stones.
Our intention for these stones is to represent the masculine, feminine, and the unification of opposites. At this point in the journey however, we invite you to create your own meaning. Throughout time, the number three has been a powerful number. The Pythagoreans taught that the number three was the first true number. In the Christian Tradition, it represents the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It can also represent the Mother, Father, and Divine Child, as well as the Beginning, Middle, and End. Three can also represent the dimensions of physical space. Regardless the interpretation, the number three holds great power; there is a reason we count to three before we leap! What does the number mean to you? Maybe it is a countdown to the next phase of your journey, or perhaps it is simply three face stones, with no meaning beyond their presence alone. Regardless of how the symbols speak to you, know that you are a powerful creator, and the stories you tell are your own to choose. On behalf of Living Landscapes, may each step fill you with peace and understanding, and may you walk the Path of Life with grace.
(It is solved by walking)
- St. Augustine
Bird's Eye view of the Labyrinthine Food Forest. Food Forest Labyrinth (120 ft wide), designed and installed by Living Landscapes. Apples, pears, plums, figs, apricots, hazelnuts, mulberries, almonds, walnuts, sea buckthorn, autumn olives, honeyberry, goumi, huckleberries, currants (red, white & black), strawberries (alpine & everbearing), lavender, lupines, good king henry, sage, sweetgrass, nodding & welsh onion, rosemary, rainbow chard, daikon radish, garlic chives, and so much more... Beautiful and delicious! Drip irrigated with onsite pond water <3 Inspired by the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth in France.
Written in co-creation by Joshua Wagler, Nick Poeta, and Marc Demontigny
Design and Installation by Integrated Living Landscapes LTD
*** Source: XXPANTHAXX (Jan 9, 2009) The True Meaning of the Number 13 [Online Forum Post] Retrieved from http://www.assatashakur.org/forum/knowledge-self-astrology-numerology/36080-true-meaning-number-13-a.html [Accessed Nov 5, 2015]