Labyrinths are different from mazes. A maze has branches and dead ends, and is intended to confuse you and get you lost—a labyrinth, on the other hand is unicursal: it only has one path, though that path folds back on itself and winds around in a confusing way. You can’t get lost in a labyrinth (no matter what the minotaur might say about it).
Humans have been drawing labyrinths for thousands of years. The classical seven-circuit labyrinth has been found all over the world but is especially prevalent in certain European neolithic sites. During medieval times the Christian church incorporated labyrinths into the tile floors of cathedrals like Chartes, and congregants would walk them as a spiritual meditation.
Labyrinths are great. If you’ve never walked one, you might be surprised by how they can manipulate your emotions. You think you’re almost at the center, but no! The path doubles back and you find you’ve got another however many circuits. Then just as you think you’ll never get there, suddenly you find yourself at your goal. It’s a good metaphor for life.
Byrd Draw Labyrinth 2019 - 2023
In 2019 I got the inspiration to create a more permanent labyrinth than I’d done so far, and one that would be outside and visible from the air. My mother in law, Lillian McMath, has a spare acre of land to the north of her house in Dubois, Wyoming, and agreed to let us construct a labyrinth/geoglyph on it. See more pictures, and the history of its development here.
The world needs more art visible from space. The Lady Eight is a planned half mile long geoglyph, designed as roughly two miles of walkable and bikeable loop track with a separate labyrinth in her belly. She’ll also be an art walk—a venue for permanent outdoor sculpture placed along the track.
We are presently scouting a location to build her. Watch this space for more info. For the history and philosophy of Lady Eight’s development so far, click here.
Dragon Wyrm Forest at Dreamscapes 2019-2020
Part of Dreamscapes in downtown Salt Lake City. It was obvious that participants might need a little time to work up some courage to face this dragon—so it was natural to give them a labyrinth to walk first!
Salt Flats Labyrinth
In late October 2019 we wanted to find out how quickly we could draw out a 60 foot diameter classical seven-circuit labyrinth, so we went out to the flats near Saltair with marked measuring twine, pegs, and rakes. Turns out it takes about half an hour—not too shabby! However, we also discovered that it’s not a great idea to try to fly your drone in the path of a microwave cellphone repeater. The drone survived but none of our aerial shots did.
Element 11 2015 Twelvefold Temple of the Cosmos
At the Utah regional Burning Man event, Element 11, in summer 2015, we laid out a very simple double-spiral labyrinth around the Temple.
Element 11 2013 Goddess Effigy
Utah Builder Bobby Gittins designed and constructed a triangular castle effigy for the Element 11 festival in 2013. We put the Snake Goddess in the center of it and wrapped a rope light seven-circuit labyrinth around and inside it.