The Maze Garden as a Symbol
The Maze garden at Haye Mill is an adaptation of the mosaic maze in the nave of Chartres Cathedral. For hundreds of years the maze, or labyrinth, has been a religious symbol rather than a fun thing, only really becoming a place to while the time away in pleasant confusion since the time of the Reformation with a ‘keeping up with the Jones’ for nobility in their grand garden designs or the modest village green fete fundraising features. Of course it has been used for other things, particularly as a means to protect treasure or Truth, but as a religious symbol it is without par.
A true maze has no false paths. There are only two possible designs that will suffice, the Troy Town maze, such as found carved into the stone at Tintagel, Cornwall, or the Chartres type maze in the nave of the French cathedral. The Maze at the Mill is of the second type.
With all its doubling back and circular pathways it is a perfect symbol of the Journey of Life. There are no false paths to life’s experiences. The individual may feel that they have turned down a blind alley but every experience adds up to make the individual who and what they are. There are times that an individual looks back on in shame, embarrassment or in horror. There are times that we would all like to forget or bury the past. Unfortunately everything that has happened to us has contributed to our character and personality. There can be no disowning of any of it. In fact when we sometimes try to block out the past we inevitably end up with emotional problems or a cancer of the soul that can develop into a twisted outlook on Life or even into physical illness that includes a cancer of the body. Thus it is a symbol for the counsellor or individual who wants that inner awareness and personal growth, for we have to embrace all aspects of our personality and past to begin to actualise our potential and individuality – or as Jung put it – to accomplish Individuation.
The sequence of turns to the centre of the maze is the exact sequence of the turns taken from the centre to the outside. So is symbolised, the journey inside to self is the same journey as outside to others. Or in other words, how a person relates to self – or is at one with self, helps us to understand how to relate to others – or to be at one with others. Or again in Christian terms, the atonement with God through Christ within oneself, reveals the Spirit of Christ in His Body the Church. In the counselling process, when a person begins to accept the motivation, fears, vision and behaviour of oneself, then that person begins to see that potential in others – and vice versa – so understanding for that person dawns which in turn can lead to a widening of relationship in every direction. That is growth.
The symbol is also the medieval way the cosmos was sometimes drawn. It was the natal chart of the Astrologer of the day! The circles represent the planets, Moon, Sun and fixed stars and would be marked accordingly. As a symbol of the universe it was also a symbol of the individual with the Earth or individual at the centre of their cosmos. That was the way people understood the World worked, but although our cosmological understanding has radically changed over the years and space flight has become an actuality, individuals still tend to view their own microcosmic world in that same self centred way with everyone else and all circumstances revolving around their unique place in the scheme of things. To understand that place with all its challenges, strengths, dreams and weaknesses, for the Astrologer, was – and is – the beginning of wisdom and accomplishment.
So the innermost circle represents the individual or Earth, the next is the Moon, then the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. With the discovery of the outer planets the past interpretation of Fixed Stars, Mind [Soul] and other medieval labels have been pushed further from the centre. Nowadays the following circles would represent Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. There is even space for two of the largest asteroids. The placing would be some kind of marker within the relevant circle and arc. It is really a pictorial representation, as close as possible, within a two dimensional diagram.
The Maze garden at the Mill is a meditative exercise to follow as well as being a profound symbol in its own right. Its diameter is 91 foot, being comprised of 13 concentric circles where each circle expands its diameter by 7 foot a time. Here is an echo of sacred geometry as a focus for earth energies.