Friday, April 4, 2014

The Halls Hill Labyrinth, Jupiter

A beautifully enhanced image of the planet Jupiter showing a swirling cloud layer of ammonia crystals
It is Spring and I am back on Bainbridge Island to resume work on the Halls Hill Labyrinth.  Last fall I completed 6 of the 11 circuits.  I started with the outer rings, and they make up the majority of the project since the circuits get smaller as I work my way towards the center.  The outer circuit, the 11th is dedicated to the full moons of the year, and I call it the Lunar circuit.  The 10th circuit has 108 stones arranged like a Tibetan prayer bead necklace, so I call it the Mala circuit.  The 9 rings leading to the center are dedicated to the 9 planets, starting with Pluto (yes, I know Pluto was downgraded from planet status).  The planets are named after Roman Gods, except for Uranus.  Roman worship borrowed heavily from Greek religious traditions, so there is usually a Greek equivalent to every Roman deity.  Pluto was first Hades.  Neptune was Poseidon.  Uranus is the only planet named after a Greek God, the Roman name being Caelus.  Saturn was Cronos, Jupiter was Zeus, and Mars was Ares. Earth was Gaia in Greece and Terra Mater (Mother Earth) in Rome.   Venus was Aphrodite, and Mercury was Hermes, and the sun was Helios and Apollo.

A magnificent bronze statue believed to be Zeus hurling a lightning bolt dating from 460 BC at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens
The 5th circuit, which I am building now, is dedicated to the planet and God Jupiter.  Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, being approximately 1,400 times the size of our planet Earth.  It is the third brightest object in the night sky after our Moon and Venus, and at its brightest can even cast a subtle shadow on the ground. The Romans named the planet after the King of their Gods.  The majority of the planet is made up of layers of hydrogen and helium gases.  The cloud layer that we see on the surface of the planet is a relatively thin (about 50 kilometers deep) layer of ammonia crystals, and may contain a layer of water, as powerful lightning activity has been observed that would most likely be caused by water's polarity.  The intensity of these lightning storms is estimated to be 10 time greater than anything ever recorded on Earth.  As water vapor rises to the outer layers of the atmosphere it freezes, and the ice crystals rub against each other creating an electrical charge that is discharged through lightning.

Lightning captured on Jupiter by the NASA spacecraft New Horizons

Jupiter is the Roman incarnation of the Greek God Zeus.  He is a God of the sky, lightning, thunder, and justice.  He is often depicted clutching a lightning bolt ready to hurl it Earthward.  Lightning is a phenomenon that could easily inspire divine explanation.

Jupiter depicted in a ceiling painting I photographed in the Louvre in Paris

The Eagle is associated with Zeus, and Bald Eagles land here in the tallest trees from time to time.  I love hearing their distinctive cry and have seen them soaring overhead while I work on the labyrinth.  I have heard that with the building of new homes on the island that trees traditionally used as nesting sites by eagles year after year have recently been cut down.  There is great wealth on Bainbridge and lots with views of the water are increasingly more rare, so the impact of new building on less accessible sites tends to be greater.  Our natural systems are being impacted at an alarming rate.

200 AD Roman floor mosaic depicting Zeus as an Eagle, snatching Ganymedes.  Museum of Archaeology, Thessaloniki

This winter I visited several islands in Greece, including Crete and Naxos.  Both islands are mountainous, and I climbed up to caves on each that are related in mythology to the life of Zeus.  The cave of Ideon Andron on Mt. Ida, south of the city of Rethymno on the island of Crete, is according to legend one of two possible birthplaces of the baby Zeus.

The Ideon Andron Cave, one of the mythical birthplaces of Zeus, on Mt. Ida, Crete
Sired by Cronus (Saturn), and birthed by the Goddess Rhea,  Zeus was destined to be eaten by his father, like his siblings were before him.  Being Gods, the family role call of Cronus' offspring is significant, including Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades and Poseidon.  Cronus had heard in prophesy that he would be deposed by one of his own, like his father Uranus, who'm he castrated and dethroned.  But Rhea wasn't going to have it this time so she wrapped a stone in swaddling and offered it up, and it seemed to pass the culinary needs of a distracted God.  Zeus was squirreled off to be raised in a secret cave on either Crete or Naxos.  Though the myths vary, he was said to have been raised by the Nymph named Adamanthea, and fed by a goat named Amalthea, who nursed him from his magical cornucopia horn.  To mask the divine baby's cries and avoid discovery, a band of Demigods called Kouretes clashed their spears against their shields to drown them out.  Excavations at the Ideon Andron Cave on the flanks of Mt. Ida yielded a treasure trove of offerings related to the cult of Zeus, including a bronze drum depicting winged Kouretes beating their shields while a triumphant Zeus flings a lion over his head and straddles a bull in the center.

8th Century BC Bronze drum depicting Zeus and Kouretes, from the Ideon Andron, Museum of Archaeology, Herakion, Crete
After his birth, some versions of the Zeus myth say that he was taken to the island of Naxos to be raised in a cave on the flanks of Mt. Zas.  Zas is the tallest mountain on the island and bears a form of his name.  I was the only one on the mountain the day I hiked it and it was a magical afternoon spent spelunking without a flashlight and and looking for stones to make little lightning bolts with.

Zeus, in retribution for his father having eaten his siblings, dethroned Cronus and caused him to vomit up the family.  Afterwards he became the supreme deity to whom all others worshiped.  

Zeus was a ladies man, and had a jealous wife, the Goddess Hera.  He sired many children with Goddesses and mortal women, many of whom were cursed and put to great tests by Hera.  The list is stellar.  Athena was born when Zeus's skull was split to relieve the worst of headaches after he had swallowed Athena's Mother, Metis.  The twins Apollo and Artemis (Diana), were birthed by Leto on the island of Delos after a curse from Hera that made it impossible for her to give birth in any other terrestrial place.  A tryst with Maia produced Hermes.  Hera had six children with Zeus, including Ares (Mars), Hephaestus, and Hebe.  Mnemosyn, the Goddess of Memory gave birth to the 12 Muses.  One of Jupiter's Moons is named for the Muse Aoide.  Dionysos fetus was stitched up in Zeus leg after his Mother, Semele was incinerated when she made Zeus promise her a boon, and she asked to see him in his divine form.  He attempted in vain to minimize his appearance to spare her, but he had promised with an oath made on the River Styx and was committed to fulfill it.  All in all he sired more than 40 divine offspring and a large number of mortals, including the mighty Heracles (Hercules).

Lighting bolts I made and left outside the entrance to Zas Cave, Naxos, Greece

Zeus had many rolls and aspects as a God.  He was the King of the divine pantheon that resided on Mount Olympus.  He continued to be the King of Gods in Rome as Jupiter, and the most important oaths of honor were made in his temple.  The Jupiter Temple at Baalbak in Lebanon was the largest temple in the entire Roman empire, with some of the largest known blocks of stone ever hewn, weighing 60 tons and more.

The Jupiter Temple at Baalbek, Lebanon, the largest in the Roman Empire
Me standing on the World's 2nd largest known hewn stone at Baalbek, Lebanon
The Roman Emperor Hadrian completed what would become the largest temple in Athens, the Temple of the Olympian Zeus.  Begun in the 6th Century BC, it was envisioned to become the greatest temple in the ancient world.  The King of Gods and Man was given the highest level of respect by the ancient Greeks and later the Romans.  By honoring Jupiter more than any other empire, Rome could claim divine supremacy over it's realm.

What remains of the great Temple of the Olympian Zeus, Athens, Greece
With all that in mind, I packed up my tools and returned to Bainbridge Island on March 23rd, the 3rd day of Spring.  I had hoped to be there earlier to mark the Vernal Equinox but the lovely apartment that I stay in wasn't available at that time.  It was a beautiful day with ample sunshine for the drive up.  I stopped at the beach in Purdy and the tide was out in the late afternoon so I collected a couple of 5 gallon buckets of stones.  When I arrived at the site I went immediately to work clearing loose stones from the area where I would resume building the path that leads to the center.  Because the 5th circuit turns and runs to the center I started at the bend from the 6th circuit in the northern Cardinal point.

The Labyrinth as it looked on my return on March 23rd
The next morning a pallet of mortar was delivered along with 10-20 foot sticks of 3/8 inch rebar.  And so the toil of building the Labyrinth resumed.  I built the bend and made my way from white stones in to silver stones.  This is the next set of turns inward from the 'Clouds of Heaven' that I built last fall between the 9th and 8th circuits.  Finding white stones is becoming more difficult in the right shapes as I have picked up most of what is available on the beaches that are close by.  Winter waves have turned the beaches and revealed new stones but I have to work harder to go further down the beaches to find the colors I need.

Today I had a visit from a lovely woman named Angie, for whom I dedicated the first of a series of simple 'lightning bolts', that I am incorporating in to this circuit as a symbol of Zeus, the God of lightning and thunder and storms.  In return I asked her to go and turn the prayer wheel and send an intention out in to the World.

Angie visits the Labyrinth
Angie's Lightning bolt (they tend to be very subtle when made of beach rock)
The next visitors were a family out enjoying the beautiful weather.  When people ask about the project I tell stories about the meaning of the various colors and circuits and what a Labyrinth is used for.  It will be so interesting when people actually start to walk it.  I find Americans to usually be very impatient, and walking this will require a fair amount of patience and time.  Some people just walk by and don't say a word, others come on a regular basis to show friends and to see the progress.  Some tell me they have been coming on a regular basis all winter just to gaze upon it.

My good friends Trish and Thane from Portland came by on their way back from Anacortes to see the project.  I love that friends find their way to this rather remote location in their travels to see what I am up to.  I made a special lightning bolt to commemorate their visit.

Friends from Portland visiting the project

Turning from the 6th circuit to the 5th at the Northern cardinal point
From my bag of select stones that I brought back from Greece I made a lightning bolt using the small slivers of stone I had collected at Zas Cave on the island of Naxos.  The link between the sacred places I visited in Greece this winter and the Labyrinth form a physical link between the Labyrinth and Greek Mythology, which I have been studying a great deal lately.
A lightning bolt made from stone shards I collected on Mt. Zas on the island of Naxos, Greece

I worked my way around to where the 5th circuit turns and runs straight to the center of the Labyrinth.  A section of the path in line with the entrance path parallels the one leading to the center, which represents the sun.  These straight paths are made of yellow stones since they are aligned with the east, and yellow is the color for the east in Native American medicine wheel diagrams.

The paths turn towards the center in the East
These paths bisect the Mars, Earth, and Venus circuits, and then the one centered on the east west axis connects to where the Sun disk will be at the center.  The path next to it connects to the Mercury circuit, and turns and goes part of the way around the Sun.  Once you reach the center it is traditional to walk back out following the reverse route.  If done with intention, this walk should be consciousness altering, if only for having exercised the patience needed to do so, but hopefully with so much more.

The next day was epic for its rainbows.  They lasted for at least an hour, arching across the sound while I gathered another 400 pounds or so of rock.  The tide is out in the afternoon so I am gathering what I need to make my way through each band of color during that time.

A brilliant full spectrum rainbow 
It is a constant search to find the right shapes and sizes of stones in 12 colors I'm using, and the graduations in between.  I will have collected more than a ton by the time I finish the 5th and 4th circuits.

The day's pickings
Later, a very fashionable girl named Ava brought her parents, Lori and Farrell to see the project.  I told them about the community circuit that I will be building, the 3rd from the center where the Earth would orbit the Sun, and how people were bringing stones they had collected to contribute to it.  Enthused by the idea, they returned the next day with 3 buckets of beach rock, most of which had well chosen shapes I could use.  This doubled the amount of stones that have been left by people on a boulder by the Labyrinth over the winter.  I will build that circuit when I return in the middle of April.  Now that I am back on the site, more stones for the Community circuit have been showing up every day.

Ava, Lori, and Farrell
Later in the evening, Barb, who lives below the park came by with her two dogs.  We talked about the Labyrinth as a place of contemplation and soul searching, and the idea of it being a portal or link between realms of existence.   The is solace to be had here.

Barb and her sweet dogs
I worked my way around from Spring in to Summer, using up most of the pink and red stones that I had on hand.  I am always looking for these colors as they are not so plentiful.  I've incorporated a number of wave tumbled red bricks in to the red areas due to the rarity of flat red stones.  I left a gap at the Western cardinal point for turns that will connect to the 4th circuit, where brown then transitions to orange.  This is the direction of the Autumnal equinox.

The Jupiter Circuit, the 5th
On March 29th, I worked my way from orange in to black, mixing in stones where both colors are blended.  Then I transitioned in to white, and completed the loop in the North across from where I started when I returned to the island a week ago.  It rained all morning so I had to put my tarp up over the frame I have set up for shelter.  I'm able to walk the frame around like a spider to keep the areas I am working on dry.  Fortunately I haven't had to work under the tarp a lot because it is darker and kind of moody when it is up.  If it looks like it won't rain for a while I take the tarp down.  But it was up for the completion of this circuit as the rain came and went, and the sky grew dark.

Subtle zig zags of stone honor the God of Lightning and Thunder
Just as I was setting the last stones in the bend from the 5th to the 6th circuit, a dramatic bolt of lightning struck the water out on the Sound.  I could see the flash through the trees and thunder rumbled past a few seconds later, so it was very close.  Zeus had spoken!  I let out a whoop.  About 5 feet away from where I was sitting is the lightning bolt made from the slivers of limestone I brought from the Zas Cave on Naxos.  The electric connection between Heaven and Earth is buzzing through the Labyrinth now in the Jupiter circuit, and there is great magic in the World.

Thanks for reading, Jeffrey

With the Jupiter circuit complete, there are four circuits and the center remaining to be built
Jupiter seen from one of its poles, taken by the Juno Spacecraft in July, 2016

1 comment:

  1. I am so loving this! I am going to visit as soon as I can, but it will be awhile as I live in the Midwest. Thank you so much for what you do. I am inspired to make some mosaics, but mostly to clean up our Earth.