Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Halls Hill Labyrinth, The 6th Circuit, The rings of Saturn

This is the last of 6 essays about the work I have been doing on the Halls Hill Labyrinth on Bainbridge Island.  Its a good idea to read the others first.

"Nature is a labyrinth in which the very haste you move with will make you lose your way."
Francis Bacon Sr."
A natural color photograph of Saturn taking by the spacecraft Cassini in 2004
The 6th circuit of the Labyrinth is dedicated to the 6th Planet in the Solar System, Saturn.  This is the second largest of the planets, after Jupiter.  Known best for its rings which are made up mostly of ice crystals, this gaseous planet is 95 times larger than Earth.  The pale yellow color of the surface is caused by a layer of ammonia crystals.  Saturn has 62 known moons orbiting it, the largest of which is greater in size than the planet Mercury.    It was the most distant of the 5 known planets besides Earth in ancient times, and takes about 29 1/2 years to orbit the sun.

Astrologically, the Saturn return is a significant event that occurs when the planet returns to the point in its orbit where it was located at the moment of one's birth.  This period signifies the crossing of a major threshold in life's development.  The first return at the age of 28 signifies the passage from youth to adulthood.  The second is passage in to maturity.  That is coming up for me.  I will finally be mature!  The third return represents the passage in to old age and hopefully wisdom, and is usually the last to occur in one's lifespan.

Saturn was named after the Roman God Saturnus, the God of Agriculture, who was derived from the Greek God Cronos.  The day Saturday is named after this deity as well.  It is the planet of Capricorns.  Saturn is an ancient deity with connections to the early Vedic Gods of the Indus region of Pakistan and India.  He is the God of generation (Brahma), dissolution (Shiva) and plenty (Lakshmi), wealth, agriculture (the main source of wealth at the time), and periodic renewal and liberation.  He also represents Time.  He is often depicted as a mature man with a flowing beard and a scythe, used for reaping grain.  This became the prototype for Father Time.
Cronus, or Saturn
Saturn devouring his children
In Greek mythology, Cronus, or Kronos, castrated his father at the request of his Mother, Gaia, Goddess of the Earth to put an end to her having to sire more terrible children.  It was prophesied that he too would be deposed by one of his own children and therefore ate them all at birth.  Being a God is not all lounging around on clouds...  This was famously depicted in one of the 'Black Paintings' by the Spanish painter Francisco Goya, believed to be an allegory for the strife that was occurring in Spain at that time.  The painting, which hangs in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, is disturbing and impressionable.

Saturn's wife, Os, or Rhea eventually deceived him by handing him a stone swaddled in cloth, thus sparing the life of Zeus, who's Roman incarnation is Jupiter after which the 5th Planet is named.  As the prophesy implied, Zeus overthrew his Father to become the King of Gods.

As a God of Plenty, Saturn's rule was depicted as a Golden Age of prosperity.  The Roman treasury in the Forum in Rome was located in the prominently placed Temple of Saturn.  Tall columns mark a remnant of its former glory.  Saturnalia was the most important of Roman holidays and was celebrated for a week around the Winter Solstice in December with wild, decadent abandon.  In the 4th century, in order to entice people to convert to Christianity, the birth of Jesus was celebrated on December 25 to supplant Saturnalia.
The Temple of Saturn in the Foro Romano
Saturn was later considered the God of Time as well.  For some reason that stuck in my mind and I started to research Mayan calendars.  But I couldn't visualize a way to convey the ideas in the mosaic work.  The calendar itself is breathtaking to behold and is worth researching on your own to learn more.  There is a lot of simple math involved, and marvelous cosmology, and with its concentric rings and radiating lines has many aspects of a Labyrinth.

The Mayan Calendar
So I looked at clocks.  They are much more familiar to me and it seems like I could mark the numbers with lance shaped stones.  So that is what I started doing, but that pattern was eventually abandoned as it didn't read well.  I also wanted to incorporate symbols of prosperity and agriculture with the goal that it be compatible with the health of the planet.

So basically I went to work with no idea of what I was about to create.  Before I left that morning I heard that my friends Sia and Kurt became the proud parents of a twins, a boy and a girl.  So the first thing I did was commemorate this beautiful event by making two little interlocking starfish in the section of the yellow stone path that parallels the entry that will connect to the 6th circuit when I reach the other end.

This part of the path is centered on the East-West axis parallel to the entrance path, in line with the Budding Trees Moon and the Ducks Fly Moon.  This is between the points where Spring and Autumnal equinoxes of the yearly calendar cycle occur in the Medicine Wheel of the design.  Joy's memorial stone, that I would like to dedicate to all Mothers lies in the West and the flat granite slab that is the threshold for the entrance lies in the East.  The two little starfish lie intertwined where this yellow stone path crosses the arc of the 8th Neptune circuit, and passes the 7th circuit to turn in to the 6th.  It will loop up to the North, then turn back to the East-West axis and turn West to run to the center of the Labyrinth, the Sun.  I'll build that part next year.  Best to look at the plan in the first essay to figure out what I am talking about.

It was Veterans day with marvelous unseasonal warm autumn weather, so a steady stream of people came by.  Most of them were told they had to come see the project by others who've visited.  They all wanted to talk so I didn't get very much mosaic work done.  I spread some gravel in the gaps between the paths where I am working so I wont have to fall in the holes anymore or have to tell people what is going in there.  I moved the forms and bent 2-20 foot pieces of rebar to shape.  I'm glad nobody was here for that part as it is a ridiculous thing to do by yourself, but I manage to get it to fit in an irregular way.  There are always two strips in the path and I think I've gone through about 600 feet so far.

Niel and Hilaria
It was hard to decide on a way to start the mosaic so I just did it, framing the edges with larger stones and then filling in the interior like I always do.  I marked where 7 o'clock would be if the entrance was 6 o'clock, using a lance shaped stone.  I also made a little compass like flower which I dedicated to a girl named Eassen who came with her Dad and watched me work for some time.
Eassen and her Dad
Eassen's Clock Flower
My cousin Libby came to help me pick stone on South Beach as It will soon be time to do another pink/red/purple arc, Rockaway Beach is pretty picked over now for those colors.  So we drove over Toe Jam Road (ewe, that name) and parked on one of the precarious little lawn strips at the top of tall bulkhead walls above the beach.  I've only been here once before.  Its a beautiful setting and Mt. Rainier was visible across the water.  Libby barked expertly at the three sea lions that swam by as we scoured the rubbly beach for red rocks.  A lot of them are weathered bricks, but I am desperate for material in that color range so I am including brick pieces that have character.  My desire for a good selection led to the heaping of 6 buckets that I had to lug up to the road.  I'm guessing they weighed up to 100 pounds each.
My cousin Libby walks amongst giant pebbles on South Beach
The street is very narrow and some of the older houses are special along this stretch of coastline, and the precarious water front terraces are sometimes nicely appointed with artifacts from the beach.

It was dark by the time we got back to the park.  I unloaded the rock, cleaned up and ate dinner, and went to get a much needed hour and half massage.

It was much quieter at the site the next day, and the weather was nice, so I made good progress on the 6th circuit, building the two loops connecting to the 7th circuit in the direction of the Southern Cardinal Point.  I'm back to making flowers that are in a way like little clocks or compasses.  It will be good to take a break from the project as I am getting weary of going round and round through the color wheel.  Pink and red are hard because they don't come abundantly in great shapes and the mosaics are not as well composed as I would like, although the colors are beautiful to the eye.

Building the loops from the 7th circuit to the 6th at the Southern Cardinal Point
When it got dark I hauled buckets of gravel down the slope in my trusty, squeaky old wheelbarrow, to fill in more of the spaces between the paths.  Having them filled makes it much easier to walk on the Labyrinth without stumbling in to the gaps.  Safety first...eventually.

I'm sleeping better again and made it to the site an hour earlier than normal the next day, so I was able to move the forms and set enough stone to make my way around to the Western Cardinal Point, passing through red and purple and in to the brown area of the color wheel.  Early on I had a number of visitors who were entranced with the project and stayed for a long time.

Morning visitors
I made clock flowers for them all.  The weather continues to be mild and dry, unusual for this time of year.  Global warming is definitely happening.  This must be the warmest and driest Autumn in history for this region.
Three Clock Flowers for three Labyrinth Lovers
Then I drove over to Manitou Beach and collected 4 buckets of stone, mostly black, white and silver colors for those sections.

Manitou Beach
After that I drove to the building materials store and bought enough rebar and mortar to supplement what I have to finish the 6th circuit by the coming weekend.  After that I got another massage.  I made a nice Flower-Clock for Mishabae, the excellent masseuse who has been counteracting the abuse I have been inflicting on my body during this project.  It is in line with the Western axis and the Stone dedicated to Mothers.  She has 3 daughters.

Mishabae's Flower-Clock
It was raining lightly in the morning.  I've been so lucky with the weather but it is mid November so I'll bear with it.  I left the frame for my shelter up so I can clamp a big tarp on it.  I knew if I took it down it would start raining again so I left it in place out of superstition.  Its getting pretty cold out so took a bucket of hot water to the site with me to dip my waterproof gloves in to warm up my hands.  Winter is coming.

The Terry's came to visit again and shoot some more video but light rain shortened our visit.  It gets dark so early so we bade farewell for the year.  I'll be visiting their beloved Crete this winter!  I worked my way in to the white stones of the north where I left a gap for the loops that will happen there to that connect to 5th circuit that I'll build in the Spring.  I made flowers for my good Eric and his Mother Marion, and brother Colin who passed away one year ago today.  The clouds of Heaven are filled with Angels.
Flowers for Colin, Marion, and Eric
A beautiful Baroque marble Angel in a church in Rome
Barb's Flower-Clock

The next day I finished the circuit using up the very last of the mortar with just enough to make the turn in to the path that runs parallel to the entrance.    A visitor stepped in the wet mosaic after I repeatedly said not to walk in that area.  The fresh work looks so solid to the eye and there seems to be something so irresistible about it.  She seemed bewildered by what happened so I made her a flower clock after I fixed the squished section.  I hope she doesn't feel bad!  I'm done setting stone for the year!

In the morning I removed the forms and used a pick to rough up the space between the paths to improve the drainage and filled it with gravel.  Then I separated the loose stones in the center to give a rough idea of what the rest of the labyrinth will look like.  Then I washed the mosaic work in the outer 5 rings with Muriatic Acid to remove the mortar film so that the colors shine through.  Then I walked the path to make sure it works.  Most of the beginning of the walk happens in the inner circuits that I haven't built yet.  Its quite a journey, walking over all the stories and special moments that have come with building this.

Dividing the loose stones to create the form of the path for the inner 5 circuits
I washed the mosaic work in the outer 5 rings with Muriatic Acid to remove the mortar film so that the colors shine through.
View of the Labyrinth from the East at the entrance
I rolled up the hose and loaded all of my tools in to the truck and visited with some people who have become friends who came by to see me before I left the island.  If the Gods are willing I'll be back again next year just before the Spring equinox to finish the project.  Blessed be.  It has been an amazing experience to create this rather daunting project.  My body has held up remarkably well for its age with hopefully no irreparable damage.  The work has been an act of penance and I am deeply moved by it.
6 completed circuits
Before I left a went around and captured images of some of the more memorable parts.  The path is so rich with special moments and implied meaning, a stone painting of time and space.  Now its time to go home.  Thanks for reading, Jeffrey

The Ducks Fly Moon, dedicated to my Mother

Blue Green stones in the Northeastern part of the Neptune circuit

The flower dedicated to Suzinne Weiss's Mother

Circuits transitioning from black to white in the North

The Clouds of Heaven and the Earth Renewal Moon
Orange stones in the direction of the Freeze up Moon in the Northwest

An orange flower sprinkled with Douglas Fir Needles


  1. Wow, this is really beautiful, Jeffrey.

  2. It's a masterpiece. I love the way moments are marked in stone with the clocks or a particular design dedicated to someone.