Introduction: Drawing the Nine-circuit Transition Labyrinth in the Sand.
How to draw the nine-circuit Transition Labyrinth--a modern, original, open source, seven circuit classical/eleven circuit medieval/Chartres hybrid. Please see the extra steps at the end for more information on labyrinths, labyrinth patterns, and the history of how/why this hybrid pattern was developed.
Preparation: Make a forked stick or other tool that can make/scratch two parallel lines about 20”-26” apart, ideally attached to a long pole. You will also find two large spikes will be handy to mark the pivot points.
Pace off the total area about eight or nine paces in all directions from a center point to make sure you have enough space. Mark this center point ("point A") with a spike or other object. You can also dowse the site to find the optimum overall location, center point, and/or entrance orientation.
Please see the subsequent steps for "The Draw" (please reference/print out the finished diagram for landmarks and location descriptions):
Step 1: The Center Circle and the Center Entrance Path
(0:00) From behind this center pivot point (the "point A", found previously), sight over the center point towards a reference point on the horizon in the direction of the opening/entry into the labyrinth and visualize "line B". This "line B" will line up with the entry into the center circle of the labyrinth. Center the drawing tool on the main center pivot point ("point A") about one and a half to two path widths away (reference "circle C") and make two parallel lines at least two path widths long straight out radially from the center. This will be the entry into the center circle and will delineate the stopping points on either side for the center circle circumference. The center circle ("circle 1") will be three path widths in radius (that's six path widths in diameter, or one fourth of the overall diameter) and the center entry path will extend into the center of the circle about one and a half path widths (halfway from the edge of the center concentric circle ["circle 1"] to the center pivot ["point A"]).
(0:08) Measure out along the length of the drawing pole three path widths from the digging tool end and place this point over the center pivot "point A". I previously measured my tool and the three path width distance comes to within a few inches from the end of the tool as well as marking the two path width distance along the handle. Starting at one of the parallel lines denoting the center entry path, circumscribe most of the center circle stopping at the other line of the center entry path.
Step 2: Drawing the Second Concentric Circle Line
(0:21) Then, to the right of the center entry path find a "pivot point D" one path width from both the center "circle 1" line and the right center entry path line. Make a 180* turn around that point, tangent to both the right center entry path line and the center "circle 1", starting and stopping on an imaginary "line E" extending radially from the main center pivot "point A" and passing through this new "pivot point D".
(0:35) Placing the tool in the first/center concentric circle "line 1" and the "pivot point D" you just found (which will start the second concentric circle "line 2"), draw the second concentric circle line around the center "circle 1" counterclockwise (anticlockwise/widdershins) to the opposite side of the center entry path, stopping at least one path width away from the left line of the center entry path. This will define the first of nine circuits or "path 1" (as counted out from the center).
Step 3: Drawing the Third Concentric Circle Line
(0:51) Along an imaginary radial "line F" extending out from the main center pivot "point A", find a new "pivot point G" one path width from the second concentric circle "line 2" you just drew and two path widths from the left line of the center entry path. Then draw a 180* turn around that "pivot point G" starting and finishing along the imaginary radial "line F" which extends out from the main center pivot "point A" and passes through the new "pivot point G".
(1:10) From this new "pivot point G" and using the second concentric circle "line 2" just drawn as a guide, trace the third concentric circle "line 3" clockwise (sunwise/deosil) back around the center stopping at the 180* turn on the other side of the center entry path (at imaginary "line E"). This defines the second circuit "path 2".
Step 4: Drawing the Fourth and Fifth Concentric Circle Lines
(1:34) Starting from the proximal end of the center entry path (closest to the center), retrace the first two parallel lines you made, but continue them around in a counterclockwise (anti-clockwise/widdershins) direction two path widths from "pivot point D". You will now be using the third concentric circle "line 3" as a guide to make the fourth concentric circle "line 4" and defining the third circuit "path 3". Stop at the previous 180* turn to the left of the center entry path at imaginary "line F".
(2:11) Place the tool in the first "line 1" and second "line 2" just to the left of the center entry path and trace around the outside of the previous 180* turn two path widths from and around "pivot point F" continuing concentrically around the center pivot "point A" making the fifth concentric circle "line 5" (and defining the fourth "path 4") stopping along an imaginary "line E" with the second line’s "pivot point D" just to the right of the center entry path.
NOTE: all the preceding steps are identical to drawing the first four of the seven circuit classical pattern (in a concentric style vs. using the seed pattern).
Step 5: Drawing the Two Stacked and Nested Turns to the Right of the Entrance
(2:45) Sight down the center entry path along "line B" from reference "point H" near the bottom of (what will become) the entry heart space (the lower star) and make a mark "point H" approximately centered on the center entry path, (or just to the left of the center line). This reference "point H" will be the outermost extent of the three path width radius turn to the right of the labyrinth entry path.
(2:56) Find a new "pivot point I" which is three path widths from both the reference "point H" (you just made) and the fourth concentric circle "line 4" at imaginary "line J". Make a three path width radius 180* turn around this new "pivot point I" starting and stopping along imaginary radial "line J" (which passes through both the main labyrinth center "point A" and this new "pivot point I") from the fourth concentric circle "line 4" to the tenth concentric circle "line 10" (the outermost concentric circle line, which will define the outermost, or ninth "path 9").
(3:38) Using this newest "pivot point I", now measure a two path width radius and make a 180* concentric line inside of the previous three path width line around this "pivot point I", starting and stopping along that same imaginary radial "line J". Alternatively, you could just use the first three path width radius you drew in the previous step as a guide for the tool and just draw another two path width radius arc inside of the first one and then subdivide the middle to make the two stacked turns in the next step.
(3:52) Find a new "pivot point K" on what will become the sixth concentric circle "line 6" midway between the fifth concentric circle "line 5" and the previous "pivot point I" (which will become the seventh concentric circle "line 7") and make a 180* turn around that pivot point connecting the fifth and seventh concentric circle lines. As in the other turns, this turn starts and stops along imaginary "line J".
(4:04) Now find another "pivot point L" on what will become the eighth concentric circle "line 8" and connect the seventh and the ninth concentric circle lines with a similar 180* turn to the previous one. This will create two “stacked” 180* turns surrounded by a three path width radius sweeping turn going from the outside ninth "path 9" to the inside fourth "path 4" of the labyrinth.
(4:34) You can clean up and/or extend these end points a bit to make it clear where to stop the larger concentric circle lines which you will draw next.
Step 6: Drawing the Nested Turns to the Left of the Entrance
(5:17) Find a "pivot point M" to the left bottom of what will become the center entry heart space. This will be a point which is three path widths from both the fifth concentric circle "line 5" (at the left of the lower heart space near the marker for imaginary "line N") and reference "point H" on the outside line of the previous three path width radius sweeping path which forms the lower right of the center heart space.
(5:35) Now make ONLY a 90* arc around this new "pivot point M" connecting those two previous reference points. This arc forms the right/inside of the entry path into the labyrinth (in the video, my radius length is off just a bit [too large] and I try to correct it in a following section).
(5:40) Now make a two path width radius 180* turn around this same "pivot point M" starting and stopping at imaginary "line N", which will connect (what will become) the tenth concentric circle "line 10" with (what will become) the sixth concentric circle "line 6". This forms the left/outside of the entry path into the labyrinth and will also connect the sixth circuit "path 6" to the outer ninth circuit "path 9".
(5:55) Here’s where you need to make sure that this newest pivot point is three path widths from the previous 90* arc tangent to the fifth concentric circle line.
(6:21) In the video I confirm the location of the last pivot point using the 90* arc and continue it around the 180* arc freehand to correct for the two radius path width arc which was too large and came too close to the 90* arc when measured from pivot "point M".
(6:48) Using the previous two path width radius 180* arc around pivot "point M", trace another arc inside of and concentric to it. This will form the left ends of the seventh and ninth concentric circle lines and the two “nested” turns to the left of the labyrinth entrance.
(7:00) Clean up and/or extend these turns as needed to mark the end points and turns of the remaining concentric circle lines.
Step 7: Drawing the Sixth Concentric Circle Line
(7:34) Starting with the inside end of this new two path width radius 180* turn end point beginning the sixth concentric circle "line 6" at imaginary "line N" and using the existing fifth concentric circle "line 5" as a guide, continue the sixth concentric circle "line 6" around the center point in a clockwise (sunwise/deosil) direction stopping at the end of the inner stacked turn to the right of the center heart space at pivot "point K".
Step 8: Drawing the Labrys at the Top
The heart space of the one labrys at the top of the labyrinth (at the upper star) breaks the seventh concentric circle line and causes the sixth and seventh paths to turn back 180* into the alternate path on either side. If you forget to stop this line when drawing, you'll have to erase it later, so depending on how permanent what you're using to draw with is . . . . ;-)
(8:00) Sight down along imaginary "line B" again through the lower point of the center heart space (reference "point H") through the main center pivot "point A" and through a point along that center line one path width distal to (further away from) the sixth concentric circle "line 6". Place a marker at this "point O" to use as a reference for the two 180* turns which will each end one path width away on either side of this center line.
(8:18) Draw two 180* turns one path width in radius around "pivot point P" and "pivot point Q" tangent to the sixth concentric circle "line 6" and one path width away from (and on either side of) the center "line B", and starting and stopping along imaginary "lines R and S" respectively. Extending these lines a bit now makes connecting them later on a bit easier.
(9:17) Find a reference point along the handle of the drawing pole which is two path widths from the drawing tool end and use this as a reference over "line 6" to continue drawing the eighth concentric circle "line 8" across the gap at the top (between imaginary "lines R and S") to complete the labrys.
Step 9: Drawing the Seventh, Eight, and Ninth Concentric Circle Lines on the Left
(9:43) Go back to the left of the entrance and place the tool in the sixth and seventh concentric circle lines near imaginary "line N" and connect them to the top labrys at imaginary "line R" in a clockwise (sunwise/deosil) direction.
(9:56) Continue back around the 180* turn at the upper labrys and complete the left side of the eighth concentric circle "line 8" in a counterclockwise (anticlockwise/widdershins) direction.
(10:16) Continue back around this 180* turn at the nested turns to the left of the entrance path and complete the left half of the ninth concentric circle "line 9" in a clockwise (sunwise/deosil) direction back to the labrys again.
Step 10: Drawing the Seventh, Eight, and Ninth Concentric Circle Lines on the Right
(10:46) Place the tool in the sixth and seventh concentric circle lines just to the right of the labrys at imaginary "line S" and continue drawing the right half of the seventh concentric circle "line 7" clockwise (sunwise/deosil) back to the right of the entrance.
(11:21) Place the tool in the seventh and eighth concentric circle lines just to the right of the entry and continue drawing the right half of the eighth concentric circle "line 8" counterclockwise (anticlockwise/widdershins) back to the right of the labrys again.
(11:43) Place the tool in the eighth and ninth concentric circle lines just to the right of the labrys and continue drawing the right half of the ninth concentric circle "line 9" clockwise (sunwise/deosil) back to the right of the entrance.
Step 11: Finishing the Labyrinth Paths, Drawing the Tenth Concentric Circle Line
(12:06) Place the tool in the fourth and fifth concentric circle lines just to the right of the bottom of the entry heart space near imaginary "line J" and sweep this around the three radius turn forming the right of the labyrinth entrance. This will then become the ninth and tenth concentric circle lines defining the ninth circuit "path 9". Continue drawing the tenth concentric circle "line 10" counterclockwise (anticlockwise/widdershins) all the way around back to the left of the labyrinth entrance.
This completes the nine labyrinth circuits/paths!
Continue to the next step to add the center petals which help to give the large, open center a sense of smaller, individual spaces which are more welcoming to group walkers and allow more people to share the space comfortably.
Step 12: Drawing the Five Center Petals
(13:17) Find a pivot point just over one path width away from the inside edge of the center circle and tangent to the proximal end of the labyrinth center entrance path’s right side line. Starting about one and a half path widths from the inside of the center circle (midway from the inside edge of the center circle and the labyrinth’s center pivot point) trace an arc almost 270* around this pivot point until tangent with the right side of the proximal end of the center entrance path. This forms the first petal.
(13:31) Repeat this same step on the left side of the center entrance path forming the second petal. Extend the two ends of the center entrance path further towards the center as needed to end one and a half path widths from the inside edge of the center circle.
(13:50) Repeat this same step to the left side of the left/second petal.
(14:04) Repeat this same step to the right side of the right/first petal.
(14:16) For the last/fifth center petal, find the center pivot point between the ends of the previous two petals and connect with the 270* petal arc. If the proportions of the center circle are correct (three path width radius, one quarter of the total diameter), these two ends should meet the tips of the petals on either side. Adjust ends and/or deepen any lines as needed, replace your divots, and clean up/decorate the finished labyrinth as desired!
Step 13: The Finished Transition Labyrinth Pattern!
Congratulations, you're finished! If you did everything right, it should look something like this diagram.
You can also print this pattern out on card stock or laminate it to make a convenient and portable finger labyrinth.
Manyfold Blessings to you and yours on your path!
Jamie and Leslie Edmonds Transition Labyrinth, San Diego, California June 2017
For way more information on this and other labyrinths than you ever thought you needed (but which is only a drop in the bucket of what there is available), continue to the next step! :-)
Step 14: Why Labyrinths and Why This Pattern?
Labyrinths have been found on all populated continents dating back many thousands of years and predating modern organized/revealed religion. They have been used for many different purposes from initiation rites to prayer, to other rituals lost to pre-history, but a form of the seven circuit "classical pattern" (first image) appears almost everywhere labyrinths are found (hence the name).
In the Middle Ages labyrinths became very popular in the European Christian church and many amazing cathedrals had labyrinths set into the floor for walking by pilgrims or in smaller forms set into walls to be traced with the finger or perhaps a stylus by congregants (the second image is the same seven circuit classical pattern drawn in the concentric, medieval style with an enlarged center). The most famous of these medieval cathedral labyrinths is unquestionably the eleven circuit labyrinth set into the tiled floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France (third image).
Today, labyrinths are enjoying a renaissance of popularity as more people discover their positive therapeutic impacts and scientists are also actively studying them to try to figure out how simple things like mindfulness, prayer, meditation, yoga, or simply meandering around in circles on a labyrinth can achieve these sometimes profound healing effects. They are now being installed in hospitals, churches, public parks, Veterans Centers (effective in treating PTSD and Depression), on private property, and many other labyrinths are popping up everywhere for public events, fundraisers, or temporary art installations. You can probably find a labyrinth near you on the World Wide Labyrinth Locator (courtesy of the global Labyrinth Society and Veriditas): www.labyrinthlocator.org
In the summer of 2015 my wife and I attended the Labyrinth Summer School held by Veriditas in Petaluma. This was a week long course that covered everything you ever wanted to know about labyrinths: history, use, facilitating group walks, design, and construction techniques, etc. If you're interested in learning more about labyrinths, I highly recommend Dr. Lauren Artress' books on the history and use of labyrinths, and Robert Ferré's books on design, construction, and installation of labyrinths.
One of the challenges I found to installing labyrinths to be walked was that there were basically two main labyrinths to choose from: the seven circuit classical (from either a seed pattern [first and fourth images] or in concentric style [second image]) and the eleven circuit Chartres pattern (third image). Each pattern and style had their pros and cons in different areas for different applications, but I was still wanting something else more flexible and perhaps even more universally appealing, so here's my thought process:
Personally, I find the 7-circuit classical pattern usually too short to really get into the walk (around four minutes to the center at best, it's over too soon). One can make the pattern bigger in overall size, but it doesn't really get any more interesting to walk. I also find that as the paths get wider I tend to lose the "meander” (an important feature and part of the healing "technology"), it lessens the EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) effect, and I feel more like I'm just walking down a sidewalk. In the most traditional form of the classical pattern (first image), I also find that the center is often too small to accommodate more than a few people comfortably. This is an important consideration for a public labyrinth group walk, as a waiting queue can form backing up into the path. The others are impatiently waiting their turn and the one person in the center feels like they can't stay as long as they'd like as they know other people are waiting. Taking as much time as is needed/desired in the center is another part of the healing "technology" of the receiving phase of the suggested "Release (on the way in), Receive (in the center), and Return/Reintegrate (on the way out)" model of usage. If the center is large enough to accommodate more than a few people at a time and especially if it has smaller, individual spaces, one is free to sit and meditate/pray at one's leisure and really let the mind quiet down and open up.
All of the turns in the classical labyrinth are at the bottom of the pattern near the entrance, so every circuit becomes almost a full circle circumference and as such, a bit predictable (unlike the Chartres pattern, one of the latter pattern’s advantages). One can add additional circuits to the classical seed pattern (as are often found historically in Scandinavia), to increase the number of circuits by two at a time (9, 11, 13, 15, etc.), but the complexity and predictability changes only slightly.
The advantages for the constructor are obvious: the classical pattern (drawn from a seed as shown in the fourth image) is surely the easiest and fastest to draw and it scales fairly well. Other disadvantages might be that some more fundamentalist religious types that would not have a problem with a Christian labyrinth might protest a pre-Christian "pagan" symbol/pattern, especially on public, or church land (well, in certain parts of the U.S., anyway).
My very informal survey reading the posts by the members of the Global Labyrinth Society Facebook page for a few years tells me that the eleven-circuit Chartres pattern is by far the most preferred pattern for more formal permanent public labyrinths (which might put this observation in the “advantage” column). The Chartres pattern does represent the height of medieval labyrinth pattern design/engineering and of applied sacred geometry, but that preference may also be attributed to the US-centric audience skewing the preference for the pattern that started the labyrinth renaissance here in the US, it being perceived as a Christian pattern (a topic of great debate), the more outgoing nature of some posters (read: vocal minority) or the ”labyrinth purists”, or perhaps just the active people who bother to respond to these sorts of threads on Facebook. ;-)
My take on the Chartres pattern is that it is VERY pleasing to walk in the original size and installation design (contrasting colors on a completely flat, level, hard surface). Cons/considerations: it doesn't scale down very well. Below 42 feet diameter with "walls" (the lines) that are not completely flush with the "path" (where you walk), the path becomes more difficult to navigate. With a completely flush wall/path it scales down to about 36 feet before the inside turns get too dizzying. If you're using raised pavers or large rocks to make the walls, that intrudes on the walkable path width, so be sure to take this into consideration or, not only could it become a safety issue/tripping concern, but the increased concentration on placing each step takes one out of the cerebellum (the part of your brain used to ride a bike without thinking about technique) and squarely into the cerebrum (aka, "the monkey mind" which you're trying to quiet down, the part used to analyze and figure things out--like where you're going to put each foot with each step).
The Chartres pattern scales up to about 70 feet, maybe even a bit more, but any labyrinth pattern that size or larger runs the risk of becoming ponderous and even boring. For instance, there is a 100-foot labyrinth here in San Diego County in a perfectly beautiful setting, but it's SO darned big that it's simply not a pleasant experience to walk. My wife and I got bored and frustrated and just walked straight out from the center . . . and that almost never happens.
Other “cons” might be the converse of the above mentioned problem with atheist/secular people protesting a perceived religious/Christian pattern on public property. But a more common "con" might be the difficulty of drawing the Chartres pattern accurately. It is very complicated and hard to draw quickly without the aid of an experienced labyrinth artist and specialized tools. If you've gotten this far and are in need of a professional install, Lars Howlett of "Discover Labyrinths" apprenticed with Robert Ferré for many years and has inherited his tools and business when Robert recently retired. I have assisted Lars with a few labyrinths and can attest to his competence and professionalism.
Another "con" for me re the Chartres pattern is that there are no circuits that ever traverse more than half of the circle of the pattern and that all the turns are either 180-degree one-path-radius turns (28 of them!) or ~90-degree (only six) turns.
To address these issues/challenges, my wife and I designed this nine-circuit hybrid pattern which we’ve dubbed the “Transition Labyrinth”. The name was partly inspired by the transition from the ancient pattern, through time to a modern one, and partly for the Transition Town movement. We deliberately placed this pattern in the public domain--as our gift--for anyone to use, share, adapt, improve upon, and spread around the world as a healing modality. There really is no such thing as "intellectual property" in "The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible" (how many millions of people contributed over many thousands of years to the development of the technology you're using to read this page right now?).
We had the intention of combining the best qualities of both of the two most popular patterns (the seven-circuit classical and eleven-circuit Chartres), while making it easy and fast to draw as well as pleasing to walk. Advantages: it scales very well from 24 feet up to about 60 feet (depending upon path/wall construction design/materials), it is long enough to be interesting and the paths can be made wide enough to accommodate public walks of many people (two-feet is ideal) without getting so big or long that it gets boring. The pattern is new and original so it carries no “spiritual or political baggage” from either pagan or Christian traditions (yet it is informed and inspired by both). It uses the same sacred geometrical proportions as the most popular Chartres pattern. It also has the enlarged center of the Chartres which accommodates groups comfortably with the Chartres' center petals, which create pleasing individual spaces within the common center where one may sit for as long as one likes. The innermost four circuits are identical to the seven circuit classical, so you preserve the pleasing and healing “meander” of the classical pattern. The one labrys at the top (from the double headed axe it resembles when viewed from the side) adds just the right amount of variation and “surprise”, whilst the variety of turn diameters lend a pleasing “feel” to the pattern while walking (some are the most common 180* about-face, while others are big, sweeping turns). Lastly, with a minimal investment in equipment, materials, and study it can be drawn quickly and accurately on a variety of surfaces for a variety of needs/events/applications.
Thanks for reading and find Transition Labyrinth on Facebook to stay connected.
1 Person Made This Project!
- Jamie Edmonds made it!