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The Labyrinth Garden is located in the Gallery of Gardens. It is a garden for personal contemplation and renewal.
At the centre of the garden is an 18.2m, eleven circuit labyrinth based on the medieval labyrinth found in the Chartres Cathedral, France. The National Arboretum labyrinth was constructed from concrete impregnated with local aggregate and through sandblasting of the concrete, the medieval pattern has been exposed.
To do this, the pattern was cut from steel sheets and laid as a template for sandblasting. Great efforts were made to keep the ancient and sacred geometry of the medieval pattern while also making the labyrinth accessible for all.
The National Arboretum labyrinth is embedded in a larger garden surrounded by ground covers, shrubs and deciduous trees including the Australian bluebell. All plants chosen are frost hardy and able to survive well in Canberra conditions.
The Labyrinth Garden offers everyone the opportunity to walk the labyrinth. The garden also has quiet spaces to sit and reflect prior to, or after, walking the labyrinth.
The concept for the Labyrinth Garden was imagined by Amelda Keys and designed by Neil Hobbs of Harris Hobbs Landscapes. Construction of the labyrinth was undertaken by Brindabella Contractors and landscaping was undertaken by Able Landscaping. Opened 2nd April 2017.
The labyrinth is an ancient pattern found in cultures and traditions around the world. It can be found in many forms and designs. The most ancient design is the Classical Seven Circuit Labyrinth first appearing in Spain around 2000 BCE as rock carvings.
The Classical Labyrinth was later found in different forms in Crete, Northern Europe, Indonesia and Southwest America.
The most well-known labyrinth is the Medieval Eleven Circuit Labyrinth found in the nave of the Chartres Cathedral in France. This pavement labyrinth dates back to the early 13th century and was reputedly walked by pilgrims on their knees as a form of pilgrimage.
Of the eighty Gothic cathedrals built during the Middle Ages, twenty two of them had labyrinths. Only the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth remains in its original form.
Labyrinths are inclusive, non-denominational and cross cultural. Today, they are used universally for reflection and renewal. They are often seen as a tool for peace and guidance.
Labyrinths are now found in new and creative forms in many different places such as hospitals, parks, schools, churches, prisons and private gardens.
Unlike a maze, the labyrinth has one continuous, well-defined path that leads into the centre and out again. Its winding path with twists and turns becomes a metaphor for life's journey.
Begin by quietening the mind, become aware of your breath and use soft eyes. Enter the labyrinth and walk at your own natural pace. Listen to your body.
The path is two way, so respectfully pass others when the need arises or let others step around you. The turns are a good place to pass. When you arrive at the centre circle stay as long as you like before following the same path back out.
Releasing - Walk into the labyrinth and let go of thoughts and distractions. Open your heart and quieten your mind.
Receiving - In the centre, sit or stand there as long as you want. This is the place to reflect, meditate or pray; allowing yourself to receive what there is for you to receive.
Artress, L. Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Practice (2006)