IMG_4627   A labyrinth is a unicursal path, usually drawn on a floor or on the ground.  That means there is only one way in to the center of the Labyrinth and the same way back out.  That’s what makes it different from a maze.

Many people confuse the two.  They see a geometric design and think immediately that it is a Labyrinth.  Nope.  There are famous mazes.  Like the one at Hampton Court in England.  And corn mazes in the fall on farms.  These are fun to get lost in and spend sometimes hours trying to find the way out.  You can come upon dead ends or choices to make as you wander.

Not so in a Labyrinth.  Just one way in and the same way out.

Why are they confused?  Well, it’s that dang Minos guy in Crete who had a “labyrinth” built to keep in the Minotaur.  Ya. It was a MAZE.  But I don’t think I can fight that legend.  We will just move along.

Labyrinths are predominatntly in two styles

– classical and Chartres.

The Chartres labyrinth was put in the floor of the nave  2015-04-17 13.51.32when it was built in 1190s.  No one is exactly sure why and what it was used for.  There is some research that the clergy played a “game” on it during Easter – of the priest walking to the center and then tossing a ball of yarn out to others standing on the outside…  back and forth… to somehow symbolize Christ’s resurrection.  Others say it was used as a way for people to make a symbolic pilgrimage when they were not able to make a real journey to the Holy Land.  Records were lost in WWII.  And there is also speculation about the classical labyrinth.  Some say that Swedish fishermen would walk the labyrinth before a fishing expedition to “trap” the evil trolls in the labyrinth so they wouldn’t jinx the trip.

IMG_5917All I know is that the labyrinth is a magical mediation tool.  When you walk a labyrinth, there is no right or wrong way.  Only the way you walk it that day.  You can go slowly.  You can go quickly. You can go barefoot.  You can wear boots or high heels.

What most do is use the path to the center as a time to consider the concerns you are having – or be free to see what comes up in your mind as you walk to the center.  In the center, you can take a moment or longer, to receive.  To receive guidance, ideas, messages… whatever fits for your beliefs. IMG_5963 And the journey back out, covering the same path, is a time to reflect on how to integrate whatever you have received or learned into your daily life.  Or just relax back into the world.

Labyrinth experiences vary.  Some people laugh, others cry.  Some just walk.

I personally have had profound experiences. And no experience.  Depends on what I apparently needed that day.  The labyrinth walk on a Chartres design is truly a walk into another state.  As many times as I have walked this design, while walking, I have no clue as to where I am in the labyrinth.  You turn back and forth so many times, you lose yourself.  And that is the point.

Another spiritual experience at Chartres.  (And if you are interested, you can find labyrinths near you by using the worldwide labyrinth locator.  And if you are near the Bay Area – there are two at Grace Cathedral.)

Food and miscellany

Several photos of markets and other interesting subjects…IMG_4682 IMG_4681 2015-04-18 16.07.23 Asparagus for my Dutch friends.

And Guest picking out veggies…  2015-04-18 16.15.552015-04-18 16.13.14 And look – I even eat hamburgers now.  2015-04-18 15.22.55Awfully rare hamburgers for me…

The trashmen who fortunately did NOT pick up trashIMG_5905 the day I lost my keys!


2015-04-18 17.39.01And a quick visit to L’Orangerie.  Love this Matisse. 2015-04-18 17.43.36 And this Picasso



2015-04-18 16.12.48
And don’t I look happy?  No surprise!

Healing Powers of Chartres

I do believe in the miracles of Chartres.  So when Guest went from feeling miserable on Friday morning to feeling fairly well after a Labyrinth walk… no surprise to me. IMG_4627 And glad all around.  How sad to come all the way to Paris and get sick.  She stayed in bed all Wednesday and Thursday which took great discipline but paid off.  And I took it easy on Thursday also – only venturing out for a baguette and train tickets.IMG_5911

But something is happening at Chartres and I am not sure I like it.  For those that don’t know, I have been traveling to IMG_5982Chartres since 2007 quite regularly to walk the labyrinth.  I will do a separate post about Labyrinths to move this one along.  Last time I did notice that they have been cleaning up the interior significantly.  I just thought it was much brighter and wasn’t sure if I liked this cleaned up version even if that’s what it looked like when they first built it.  Did you know that most medieval churches were painted inside?  And the statutes too – even to having blue or brown eyes?  This visit I read more about he restoration.  It’s apparently a controversial issue.  IMG_5978They are not just “cleaning it up” like I thought – no, they are actually painting it.  And making some columns look like faux marble.  I kept thinking something was off as I looked down the choir and saw these marble columns.  Then I came across this section – I guess they are starting to paint here. IMG_5965 Some experts say this is the right thing to do, that it was painted in the 1190s and whitewashed again in 1290… others feel it a desecration.  IMG_4631And apparently they are also doing something that is supposed to be protective of the stained glass.  This is some of the most beautiful stained glass in the world.  So some say that the protective layer – which I don’t think is actually applied to the glass but layered on it (I don’t know the details) – IMG_5936that the layer now diffuses the light so that the beautiful crisp reflections on the walls and floor of the cathedral are now gone.  I did not notice that.  But overall, I don’t like it.  The whiteness of the walls does detract from the stained glass and it has lost that je ne sais quoi feeling of antiquity.

And don’t start me on the Black Madonna which they have made white.  This Madonna is from the 1500s. It was beautiful.  Now it is “restored” and looks… well, I like the comment an art critic made – “like a kewpie doll.” 2015-04-17 13.36.58

While Guest took an afternoon rest, I walked the Labyrinth a second time and then headed off for St Pierre.  This is an old church – was a monastery I believe – that has been locked every time I have visited Chartres.  Finally I had success.  Open and with the added benefit of a lady playing the organ.  A concert in a lovely church.  The stained glass is from the 13th century but certainly not as beautiful as that at Notre Dame de Chartres.

Notre Dame – yes, Chartres is an Our Lady cathedral.  And like so many of them she is built on the site of a sacred well.  One of those things the Catholics did well – take a pagan rite and adopt it as a catholic one – Solstice – Christmas…..  Sacred well .. church site.  I think they are doing it again with the Labyrinth but more on that in the labyrinth post.

After a lovely dinner, we took the Chartres tram/Train for a ride around the city to see the lights.  I have heard of the “light” shows for years.  Even went to a simple one at Warwick castle in the 70s.  But, my have they advanced!  See the next blog for photos.

Then a nice sleep in the Hotel Jehan de Beauce by the train station so we could catch the train mid morning easily.  Of course, I didn’t “catch” my glasses.  While packing, I tossed my glasses on the bed – but they bounced off to the other side.  And of course, I forgot them and so today, while Guest spends the day in the D’Orsay, I went down to Chartres and back for the “lunettes.

I did catch a 2015-04-19 11.24.11-3glimpse of Versailles though. 2015-04-19 13.34.04

This morning, as Guest and I walked to the D’Orsay, we came upon the Color Run sponsored by Sephora. 2015-04-19 14.15.53 Runners who run… and get sprayed with color.  We saw the yellow spray and the blue spray locations.  And for my running friends, here’s what some runners looked liked on the Metro home.2015-04-19 14.16.12

And now to pack.  Avignon tomorrow for two nights, three days.