Newsletter #11

Goodness me, here we are at the shortest day! At 4:49 this afternoon the sun will have reached the farthest extent of its annual dip to the south and from that point onward will gradually (very gradually for the first 3 weeks!) be flying higher in our northern sky.

I have mixed feelings about this “dark” time of the year. On the one hand, I feel called to the introspection and quiet pursuits that it invites. (And… must be my Danish genes… I love using candles to bring light to my indoor world.) On the other hand, the short and often grey days take a toll on both my soul and my off-grid solar system. So it’s encouraging to make it around the Cape Horn of seasons 🙂

Last night, the Men’s Circle I am a member of gathered for our recurring get-together and sharing. This month we met in the yurt beside the labyrinth and then, seeing as it was the eve of Winter Solstice occurring, we did a labyrinth walk. The forest labyrinth was lit with lanterns of changing colours to help us follow the path tramped out in the snow. At centre, a light shone down from the wind chimes to illuminate the orb.

And up in the skies there was an awesome rich bounty of stars to be seen when we gathered around the fire bowl at the conclusion of the walk. As we stood there, we remarked how the lanterns, depending which colour they happened to by cycling through, made the path more or less obvious. Some of us found ourselves, for instance, slowing down and treading more tentatively when the dim red light was on while proceeding more readily when bright blue illuminated the way. But no matter what the colour or brightness, in the labyrinth you know there is only one path and you move forward along it to centre, perhaps altering your speed and sureness as conditions dictate.

We each walked with our own intention. I will share with you that, for me, I was looking for guidance on how to navigate the coming days of the “festive” season… from the perspective of someone for whom there are challenging aspects to the feelings and the family dynamics this season and its happenings bring, and from the perspective of the uncertain weather forecast for the days ahead which may impact and further complicate those happenings.

As a Labyrinth Facilitator, I often encourage people to consider everything they experience during a labyrinth walk as metaphor. Those observations about the lanterns and their effect on moving along the path when it is otherwise dark, as well as occasionally glimpsing a few bright stars through the basket weave of tree branches within the forest labyrinth helped answer my call for counsel to navigate the festive season. Whatever clarity you seek, or questions you have, try putting them to a labyrinth walk. With eyes open, there is good chance some useful insight will arise.

It feels like ages ago we joined together at the labyrinth for a drum circle on Summer Solstice. There’s been a few private visits, but otherwise things have been pretty quiet at the Forest Labyrinth since I was last in touch around Labour Day. With intention, I drastically dialed back airbnb availability here in the autumn so I could get away and take advantage of the opportunity to do some travel and touring.

Pulling my tiny teardrop trailer, and with Luna—the cheery and wrinkly canine being you may have met on a forest labyrinth visit—as my sole (soul?) accomplice, I spent a couple weeks in the spiritual lands of Lake Superior’s east and north shore in September. And in October did a round-Lake-Ontario excursion through the Finger Lakes region of New York and the unique Frontenac zone (where the Canadian Shield and Adirondacks meet) of eastern Ontario..

In Thunder Bay there is a delightful labyrinth at St Paul’s Anglican Church (a few pics from my visit above). Set amidst a quiet neighbourhood, they have set a full 11-circuit Chartres pattern labyrinth into the grounds. The path is delineated by bricks, many of which are inscribed with messages of love, peace, caring and remembrance.

On the topic of caring, I recently forwarded all the donations received this year from forest labyrinth visitors to Chapman House Hospice and to M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre, both in Owen Sound. With thanks for your kindness, $380 was sent to these two places which offer valued care.

Lastly (and please excuse the brief semi-commercial message) but as I sat with the Men’s Circle last night in a cozy, warm yurt, heated by wood stove, surrounded by comforting sounds of the forest, and just steps away from the labyrinth, I thought to myself, hey, this could make a wonderful gift for the right person, or people. If you prefer to give an experience than a thing, have a look at the SoulTrail Day Retreat I offer here. Starting in January, there will also be a Sound Bath option, bringing the menu to a total of 14 experiences to choose from.

Best wishes of the season, and for personal peace and a kinder world in 2023.

One thought on “Newsletter #11

  1. Hi Neil
    Loved reading this and thoroughly enjoyed the photos. You have created a peaceful healing space!
    Hope you enjoy the upcoming festive season.

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