Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Day of Renewal and Inspiration

It was so inspiring to participate in the Renewal Day for Labyrinth Facilitators and Laybrinth walkers that was hosted by the Verditias (Labyrinth) Council on Saturday April 30th, 2016. I originally did my facilitator training right here in Ottawa with Rev. Lauren Artress in May 2010.  The Renewal Day was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with old and new friends who all share a common interest - a love of all things labyrinth!
St. Luke's Ottawa - Healing in the Heart of the City
It was fun to head into Ottawa - knowing that I was getting away for a mini-retreat.  I even parked a distance away - so I could take my time and walk to the venue - St. Luke's Church at 760 Somerset St. W.  Some highlights and links to handouts from the day follow.
Write your intention on a river stone and carry it with you on your labyrinth walk.
The first speakers - Chris Farrow-Noble and Linda Mikell - spoke from deep personal experience about creative ideas to enhance regular and special occasion labyrinth walks. Of particular interest to me were these examples of setting an intention. And the suggestion of writing down your intention on an index card or on a river stone - and carrying it with you while you walk.
  • Find peace/inner peace/feel strong
  • Gratitude walk
  • Walk through a problem or a decision
  • Examine a relationship in all dimensions
  • Send good thoughts to someone who needs it
  • Ask for help going through a transition
  • Grieving - help feel closer to the person you have lost
  • Ask a question, find purpose, find heartsong
  • Let go of stress
  • OR no intention - simply out for a walk - that is OK too!
We then had great fun with the "hands on activity" learning how to create our very own art journaling paper. Grace Amirault shared stories and examples of her own artistic journals she has created to capture visual and written travel memories.
We created our very own art journaling paper.
It was really interesting to notice that I felt fully present and "in the moment" 
and that the day unfolded slowly - it seemed as if "we had all the time in the world"!

Other presentations of the day included hearing from Linda Mikell, author of "Little Miracles on the Path" and how she began her journey of collecting stories about labyrinth experiences.  This process eventually culminated in the publication of a collection of the stories in honour of the 20th anniversary of Veriditas.
A portable finger labyrinth and bells used to signal the start and completion of our walk.
And then the focus turned to the topics of Spiritual Practise and Pilgrimage - with a story from Chris Farrow-Noble about "Walking and Journaling a Labyrinth Walk Every Day" and a presentation about the "Six Steps of Pilgrimage" given by Gracie Amirault.

Two spots of light seemed to glow on the labyrinth path.
And then as a grand finale - the tables were cleared and the labyrinth was revealed. The room was suddenly transformed - and a great feeling of calm and peace filled the space.  Musicians and choir members from St. Luke's appeared and music started to fill the air as we walked the labyrinth.  As I reached the centre and paused to reflect - the choir began to sing "Dona Nobis Pacum" (a song I have been learning with my community choir)! I silently gave thanks for the day and this gathering and left the labyrinth feeling renewed and reassured that I am definitely on the right path!

All of us on the labyrinth!  Photo: G. Amirault
This feeling was further reinforced by this email that came in - just as I was heading back home to Almonte...

Re: Almonte Canadian Gazette Article

Dear Christine,

I just read the article in the April 27th Almonte Canadian Gazette article that not only describes the Carleton Place Community Labyrinth and the different ways labyrinths can be used…it invites the people of Ottawa to come walk the labyrinth on May 7th for World Labyrinth Day.  As a Veriditas Board member and a certified labyrinth facilitator, I wanted to congratulate you on your labyrinth work and let you know how exciting it is for me to see our facilitators at work in the world, bringing the spiritual practice of labyrinth walking to their communities.  The work you are doing in your community is inspiring and I want to thank you for participating in this important event.

Blessings on the path!

Kathleen Pilus
Veriditas Board Member

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Drum Making Workshop - A Special Experience

By: Debby Lytle, Lanark Drum Circle; Photos: Robert McDonald

I was so happy to participate in the Drum Making Workshop held on Saturday April 2nd at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum,  sponsored by Lanark Drum Circle. I found it amazing to create another drum under the teaching of Pinock - a master at not only drum making - but birch baskets, rattles, snow shoes and canoes as well. His humble and easy manner, and practised hand put us all at ease and encouraged us all to create our beautiful drums.  
Hoops (frames) for the drums, each one unique, hand steamed and bent,
secured with hide lacing.
In all 18 drums were made, the hoops constructed of bent ash and secured with lacing.   Deer hide was used for 16 of the drums and 2 were moose hide.  Seemingly yards and yards of lacing were used to secure the hide to the frame and create the impressive crossed pattern at the back of the hoop.
Lacing the drums under the watchful eye of master craftsman Pinock.
We also feasted that day, morning with a juice punch made in part with cranberry juice from the Iroquois Cranberry Growers, Wahta Mohawks in Bala Ontario.  Fresh fruit, cornbread muffins and banana bread rounded out the breakfast buffet.  At lunch we were treated to a delicious Three Sisters Soup, two types of Bannock, one plain and one cheese and some really tasty blueberry sauce all made by Francine (aka Sunflower) Desjardins' loving hand.   Debby's husband Dave smoked some trout as a special treat and surprise to those attending.
Pinock's helper Conrad cuts one end of the lacing to a sharp point
Photographer Robert (Bob) McDonald attended and snapped some great shots of participants working intently at their drums.  It was a full day where the creative energy and gratitude for the sharing of culture and teachings was plentiful.
Pinock demonstrates the lacing technique
Francine summed it up very nicely when she presented Pinock with a sketch of a small bird, a gift she said that reminded her of the sharing Pinock is doing... spreading the seeds of his culture while teaching his craft.
Pinock lacing the drum
After the drum is created it should not be played until its spirit has been awakened.  The drum is awakened on the 7th day.   An exercise in discipline and self-control.  It is very tempting to play my drum and hear her voice but I will wait for an appropriate ceremony.  This is the hard part.
One of the moose hide drums, note thicker hide and lacing.
It is believed that the voice of the drum is awakened during this ceremony, "the animal and tree from which it was made have their own unique medicine and their spirits are part of the drum", giving each drum its own unique voice and vibration.   Sometimes the drum is given a name, which is generally a female name, and its rhythm is said to be the heartbeat of mother earth or in some cultures, the heartbeat of all life.
Beautiful pattern halfway through be repeated on
remaining 2 groups of 4.
Slowly some of the cultural traditions, languages are re-sprouting. When we sing and drum, we can let our spirit soar. All part of Healing and Reconciliation.
Comments from participants:
"Oh my goodness.  It was such a wonderful day.  The people, the positive energy.  Just lovely!!"
"I am so blessed to learn the teachings."
"Thank you again for the lovely fish that you and your husband provided it was so yummy."
"I enjoyed the workshop yesterday and meeting all the new people."

Lanark Drum Circle  gathers on the 2nd Sunday of the month at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum. All are welcome!  Call Debby, 613-257-1014, for more information.

Monday, April 25, 2016

World Labyrinth Day Walk - Saturday May 7th at 1 p.m.

Join us at the Carleton Place Community Labyrinth on Saturday May 7th for our first public event of 2016  as we "Walk as One at 1" in celebration of World Labyrinth Day.  If you are new to the labyrinth experience, this Saturday walk will be a perfect introduction for you. Information about the history, benefits and unique aspects of the labyrinth will be available onsite.

World Labyrinth Day, declared in 1998 by The Labyrinth Society, brings people together globally to recognize the labyrinth as a symbol and tool for healing and peace.  This will be the 8th annual World Labyrinth Day, as we join individuals or groups from around the globe who will walk their local labyrinths at 1:00 pm. in their local time zones.  This world-wide event included walks in over 20 countries last year, and it is estimated that more than 5,000 people participated.

By walking a labyrinth, we are rediscovering an ancient tradition, which is still relevant today. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth is designed as a single path. There are no dead-ends or tricks. The path on which you enter is the same path on which you exit. A walker is free to focus on a thought or a prayer, or to simply enjoy the energy of the walk itself. Many walkers find that the circular pattern holds them in a type of walking meditation long enough to let their problems and worries fall away. In a busy world, walking a labyrinth can provide an opportunity to foster connection, support healing, and promote well-being.
Carleton Place Community Labyrinth - a peaceful and welcoming space
Labyrinths exist in many forms, in places as diverse as Peru, Iceland, Egypt, France, and the United Kingdom. There are more than 4,000 labyrinths active today. Some labyrinths have been built on private lands, while others, like the Carleton Place Community Labyrinth, have been created as a public space for all to enjoy. 

The Community Labyrinth is located at the corner of George and Baines Streets, beside the Carleton Place & Beckwith Heritage Museum. The stone-bordered grassy path is the focal point for Labyrinth Park, a peaceful garden filled with ornamental grasses, native trees, benches for sitting, and a wheelchair-accessible contemplation ring that encircles the labyrinth. The labyrinth was built starting in 2010, and construction was made possible by the Town of Carleton Place, individual, business  & community sponsors, and a Trillium Foundation grant.

For more information contact Debby: 613-257-1014

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Opening the Labyrinth

 The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month. —Henry Van Dyke
"Listen to your heart" Octagonal Labyrinth Mosaic (detail) by C. Hume
My heart filled with joy the other day - to see the paths of the Carleton Place Community Labyrinth finally revealed as the snow has melted away and Spring is upon us. (I am choosing to ignore the fact that we may have another 15 cm of snow tomorrow!)

We have a series of events planned throughout 2016 - and hope that you will be able to join in.

And if you prefer to experience discovering and walking the labyrinth on your own - feel free to come and do a meditative walk any time. There is an informational sign that will guide you on your way! And you can also find some labyrinth walking tips here.

Earth Day Sunrise Walk -  at sunrise 6:00 a.m., Friday, April 22.

Saturday, May 7th - World Labyrinth Day - join us at 1:00 p.m. Annual global event celebrated each year on the first Saturday in May. You are invited to “Walk as One at 1” to effect a rolling wave of peaceful energy as the world turns.

Biweekly Walks - the 1st and 3rd Tuesday mornings, June through September,  from 9:00 am to 10:00 am. Labyrinth keeper on site.

Thursday, June 16th -  “Finding Inner Peace on the Labyrinth” Join us at 7:00 p.m.  at the Carleton Place Community Labyrinth for an evening labyrinth walk, gather afterwards to collaboratively create a large collage mandala. You are welcome to picnic in the garden beforehand.

Tuesday, July 19th  - full moon walk at 8:00 p.m.

Friday, September 9th - "Light up the Labyrinth" Gather at 6:30 p.m. to prepare and place luminaries, walk at 7:30 p.m. Bring or wear your lantern/light creations and be part of the fun!

Sunday, October 16th - full moon walk at 8:00 p,m,

Carleton Place Community Labyrinth is located at 267 Edmund Street, on the property behind the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.

For more information contact

Debby Lytle 613-257-1014

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Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Labyrinth was all Aglow!

We want to thank everyone that came out to our recent "Light up the Labyrinth" event. It was definitely a case of many hands helping to create a magical space and a wonderful community gathering! Photos of the evening, taken by local photographer Robert McDonald, and comments from participants and our labyrinth committee members help to tell the story.

Here are some of the pictures I took at the event. The children were a great help in providing the 'painting with light' effect in some of the photos.

It takes many hands to help light up the labyrinth
I wanted to congratulate & thank you and members of the Labyrinth committee on another successful Light up the Labyrinth Walk! Great evening and turn out of people and children, fun had by one and all—I am sure wakening up this morning  you are so grateful the weather cooperated !
Kerron Lamb, local musician, opens the labyrinth walk playing the didgeridoo.
I love Kerron Lamb and her music!!  Yes: I found myself singing or whistling along to her songs while walking in the labyrinth.
The labyrinth was all aglow and "painted with light".
Saw the pics of Light Up in the EMC- looks like it was just beautiful!!
"Glow in the dark" jugglers added a special dimension.
It was just wonderful.....I'm still feeling the glow! 
The laughter of children filled the air, as they joyfully danced on the labyrinth.
With thanks to the Carleton Place Labyrinth Committee for sharing ways to have a lighted labyrinth walk. 
A beautiful energy on the labyrinth tonight.
And finally, thanks again, to Jeff Mitchell, owner of CP Independent Grocer for the kind donation of 640 paper bags for the luminaries!

See you next year!

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Feeling of Accomplishment

I first took my Veriditas Facilitator Training with Lauren Artress at the Sacred Pattern, Sacred Path Workshop - May 2010 – Ottawa, ON.  After taking the facilitator training, we had two years to gain more experience in working with the labyrinth, and to then prepare a report and apply to become fully certified.
Leading a walk at the Carleton Place Community Labyrinth.
I was fully immersed in being a volunteer with the Carleton Place Community Labyrinth and definitely was gaining the experience that I needed to become certified. BUT I just did not take the next step of preparing the report and the deadline came and went.

Fast forward to late 2014 and an auspicious email arrived in my inbox from Veriditas.  In honour of the 20th anniversary of the organization - they were offering a "Certification Amnesty Program" to anyone who had been trained and not yet completed the certification process.  I realized that this was a great opportunity - and I took it! I now had 8 months to prepare my report. What a good feeling it was to take that first step to get started.
I take the first step towards becoming certified!

The preparation of this Certification Report was a wonderful process. I actually started working on it in December – and spent many hours pulling all of my labyrinth files together, sorting through photos, reminding myself and reflecting on all of the interconnected events and activities that I have felt drawn to participate in since the early stirrings of my interest in the labyrinth. I was also very thankful that Gracie Amirault, a Veriditas Council Member checked in with me from time to time to see how I was progressing.

And how rewarding to eventually receive this email (& certificate) notifying me of my certification!

Hello, Christine
I have had the privilege to read your certification app. I'm glad you decided to fulfill this process. Your passion for and commitment to the labyrinth certainly come through in your extensive materials presented for your application. You went above and beyond providing materials, but certainly gave much insight into your work and heart, and the development of the community project.

I enjoyed visiting the Carleton Place Community Labyrinth website! An exciting project, for sure. There may be ways you can share  your organizational and planning templates for others.

I appreciated your aha! insight of holding and developing your creative expressions. We often can ignore that for all the other factors in our lives. As well as your recognition of your own growth since you began the work. May that continue.

The office will be officially informing you of your certification.

Best wishes in your work. I hope to visit your area at some point, and would enjoy visiting the site. I will be in Nova Scotia for a retreat/training in September, hosted by Gracie Amirault, your regional rep.

Continued blessings on your work,
Kay Mutert
Veriditas Master Teacher
Tuscaloosa AL

What an amazing journey this has been so far - I will be continuing to "trust the path".

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Light up the Carleton Place Community Labyrinth

Let's "Light up the Labyrinth" together - from 6:30 – 9:00 PM on September 11th, 2015.
On Friday September 11th, the warm glow of more than 600 candlelit luminaries will flicker along the path of Carleton Place's Community Labyrinth for this year's "Light up the Labyrinth" event. The labyrinth is located at the corner of George and Baines Streets beside the Carleton Place & Beckwith Heritage Museum, 267 Edmund Street in Carleton Place.

To make this event more collaborative - organizers are asking participants to gather at 6:30 PM at the labyrinth to prepare and place luminaries for a 7:30 PM candlelit walk.
Bring out your lanterns, glow sticks or flashlights and join our evening walk.
Debby Lytle, Chairperson for the Labyrinth Committee, explains: "We are a very small committee and really need some extra hands to make this event happen.  Join us at the labyrinth at 6:30 PM to help assemble and place the luminaries, then everyone will have a chance to be part of lighting up the labyrinth at 7:30 PM before the walk begins.  If you have a BBQ lighter bring it along and if people are able to stay and assist with the dismantling of the luminaries at the end of the night, that would be a great help as well!"

The Labyrinth Committee of Carleton Place invites you to bring out your lanterns, glow sticks or flashlights and join our evening walk. This year, we are fortunate to once again have live guitar and didgeridoo music by local musician Kerron Lamb.
Walk accompanied by live Guitar and Didgeridoo music by local musician Kerron Lamb.
Our candlelit labyrinth walks have become a popular fall event, as individuals and families from across the region bring along their festive lanterns, and enjoy an evening labyrinth walk. "Children love this particular night-time event. It's a chance to bring along one of their own lantern creations." says Julia Heathcote, a volunteer labyrinth keeper.  To add to the after-dark fun, Carleton Place jugglers Michael and Kayla McNeely will be doing a “glow in the dark” juggling demonstration.

For those who wish to relax and watch the candlelight, garden benches and a wheelchair-accessible contemplation ring encircle the labyrinth. If you would like to sit for a while and take in the candlelight glow, bring along a lawn chair too.
Thanks to support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Town of Carleton Place and individuals and businesses within our community, this permanent labyrinth exists for people to use at any time.

For more information or if you would like to help prepare the luminaries,
please contact Debby Lytle: 613-257-1014 or
Facebook: /CarletonPlaceCommunityLabyrinth