Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Halls Hill Labyrinth, The Sun

An incredible solar flare arcs far from the surface of the Sun
The Sun is the star around which the planets in our solar system orbit.  It's made of "hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields" that formed when when a large molecular cloud collapsed more than 4 1/2 billion years ago.  The majority of the matter in that cloud gathered in to the Sun while the rest spread as a giant orbiting disk that would eventually become the planets and asteroid belts we know today.  Its diameter is 109 times that of Earth.  3/4's of its mass is made up of hydrogen, and most of the rest is helium, with less than 2% being heavier elements like oxygen, carbon, and iron.  This fiery ball generates enormous amounts of heat that warm the surface of the orbiting planets on the side that faces it determining planetary day and night cycles.

The Sun flaring
The Sun's name comes from the old Anglo Saxon word Sunne, which was derived from a Germanic word, Sunno.  Sunna was a  Goddess in Germanic mythology.  Sunno came from the older Indo European word sóh₂wl̥,.  For the Egyptians, the God of the Sun was Ra.  The Greeks worshipped Helios, who later became associated with Light to make room for Apollo.  Helios was considered a Titan, while Apollo resided on Olympus, a loftier abode.  It was in Latin myth that Apollo drove the chariot of the Sun while the Greeks always attributed this task to Helios.  In mythology, Apollo was born on the Greek Island of Delos.  Delos is said to have the most sunny days of any other place in the Greek empire.  A city of temples was built on Delos over the years there by the various Greek states wanting to gain the favor of the Gods through displays of devotion.  In Roman mythology, the Sun diety was named Sol Invictus.
All that remains of the Temples to Apollo on the Island of Delos, Greece
The Hindu God of the Sun is Surya, who also drives a horse drawn chariot.  The 13th Century Temple at Konark in the Indian state of Orissa is a monumental chariot like structure with stone wheels that is drawn by majestic horses with Surya at the helm.

A stone wheel on the Temple of Konark, a monumental chariot guided by the Hindu God Surya
The Halls Hill Labyrinth is literally a path leading to the Sun, which you reach by walking in and out of circuits dedicated to the planets in the solar system.  It has been a long haul building the hundreds of feet of path that leads from the eastern entrance of the Labyrinth to the center.  I've gone around and around 11 times and now I am ready to build the center, the star that dominates our very existence.  I started the center by arranging the steel form strips in to a circle merging with the straight path that leads in to it.

The forms set for making the center of the Labyrinth
A lot of people came by on Friday and Saturday, to the point where I was having a hard time getting my work done.  I've been at it for 12 days straight and I probably need a day off.  But that will come after I'm finished.  People are showing up with last minute stones, beach glass, and found objects for me to incorporate last minute in to mortar.  Boxes of heart shaped rocks, barely tumbled broken bottles, and broken dishes have been offered up but much of it can't be properly set in to the mosaic with lasting results.  But the things that will work will find their way in to the center of the Labyrinth.

Judy brought me a bag of beach glass.  She came on her bicycle, bravo!
What I need for the sun mosaic are lots of slender and wedge shape stones, so I went to Pleasant Beach and picked about 50 good thin little pebbles to mix in.  This is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island.

Looking for slender pebbles on Pleasant Beach
I spent much of two days collecting the loose unused stones from the site that have been spread out over the mosaics.  I picked out all the linear, rather hot dog and wedge shaped stones to use in the center disk, where I want to make a bursting design radiating from a hole in the center.  The hole will be the same size as the white stone mosaic moons on the outer 11th ring of the Labyrinth.  This hole will represent Blue Moons, which occur when there are 13 full moons in a year.  It will also represent solar and lunar eclipses when the Earth, Sun and Moon are aligned.  I'm hoping people will come and walk the Labyrinth on full moons when the forest is bathed in moonlight.

Deborah Cheadle, who took me to visit the Country Club area on Easter Sunday came by and then went home and retrieved a stack of nursery pots that I can store unused rock in for future mosaics.  Her father Andrew Price came by later in the evening and gave me a copy of his book about the history of the Port Blakely area where I am working.  I look forward to reading about it.  He told me the first tennis courts in Washington used to be near where the Labyrinth is now, built by the Halls brothers after which the hill and park are named.

I mixed a couple of bags of mortar and set the first third of the Sunburst and think it looks very pretty, like multi colored hot dogs mixed with other linear pieces in rich colors.  So I'm roasting hot dogs on the Sun.  I added a mixture of colored stones in with the twelve seasonal colors that expand out from it to depict the bursting force of the Sun.

Beginning the circle of rays that emanate from the center of the Sun disk
Having the center open makes a kind of turn around leading in and out.  Later as people began to walk it I noticed that people tend to enter to the right, probably conditioned from driving on the right, but for me the energy flows in a sun wise direction.

The first section of the Sun
I had so many visitors yesterday that I was mentally exhausted.  The weather forecast was for rain the day I finished and it was cold out.  And it was Sunday and I really felt like I needed a day off, but I set goals for myself and push to meet them sometimes.   It is a lot of work to build a path that is almost 1,000 feet long out of beach pebbles and stones.  Because the weather was chilly, I didn't get a lot of visitors, but rather just the right amount.  It was a special day and I had good heartfelt connections with most of the people who came by.

Joe and his daughter Kailin (I'm hoping I'm remembering these names properly) came first with some pieces of beach glass for me to slip in to narrow gaps between the linear stones I am using.  They loved the idea of having something in there that is personal to them.

Joe and Kailin
Judy, who came by yesterday just as I was swearing a string of foul curses when I accidentally dumped my lunch salad on the floor of my truck, brought me a bag of healthy treats in a labeled bag and some nice big nursery tubs for storing the left over stones.  Thank you Judy.

Delicious things in a humble paper bag
I mixed the two bags of mortar that I had left and set the south side of the sunburst.  Gregory went to the building supply place and picked up two more bags and delivered those so I would have enough to finish.  A photographer named Joel Sackett came and took stills from the top of a ladder while I worked.  As he was leaving Terry Moyement arrived and he videotaped the last section of work I needed to do to complete the project.  We hugged after I placed the last stone.  I told him I thought the Sun looked like an alien Cyclops from the entrance or  one of those weird water towers you see on the tops of hills.

I had to finish the Labyrinth more than anything else in my life and had worried along the way that something could happen that might prevent me from completing it.  I'm so glad I made it to the end, and I thank my body for tolerating the hard labor necessary to create a project of this scale and intensity of meaning.  I found myself crying from time to time later that day, probably a combination of relief and exhaustion.

The next day I removed the forms and filled the gaps with gravel.  The Eagle Feather has been at the center of the project almost the entire time.  It survived the winter, and I think I will leave it in there.  Please don't step on it.

The Eagle Feather and a memorial stone left for someone named Monty
I spent a couple of hours cleaning up the site and then went for a walk down the slope to Blakely Harbor.  The houses down there range from funky little old places to American dream homes.  The old Victorians have been renovated and their original character is unrecognizable.  Beyond them is Port Blakely park, with rotted pilings and a heavily graffitied old concrete mill building where island kids gather to party.  It hardly seems real that this place was once the largest supplier and shipper of timber in the world.  The pilings covered in seaweed are all that remain of the once bustling port.

Blakely Harbor, once the site of the largest lumber mill in the world
Once all of the loose stones were picked up I cleaned the stonework with muriatic acid to remove the mortar film that dulls the surface.  Then the Labyrinth shows its true colors.  The work was a kind of penance and I did all of the physical labor from start to finish except for the site preparation, which was masterfully installed by Savage Landscapes.  Seeing it glowing there in this magical glade in the forest I have gotten to know so intimately is rather overwhelming.

The completed Labyrinth
And then people began to arrive and walk it.  Helen brought her daughter, who walked it 3 times.  Another woman I had not met before arrived and half way through burst in to tears.  Nancy and Dave came.  I hadn't seen them this year and was so happy that they came.  Dave is blind and Nancy walked him through it.  At the center, they embraced the woman who had been crying, who I learned had suffered the terrible loss of her son.  Then I started to cry.  It just seemed so impossibly beautiful and powerful and full of everything I intended it to be all at once, kind of overwhelming, like the cosmos itself.

I'd like to thank the people who's vision made it possible for this project to happen, and all of the amazingly diverse people I have met during the process of its construction.  Its been an incredible journey.  We may publish a guide to understanding the meaning incorporated in to the circuits so that people can better understand what they are walking on, and work will be done to improve the entrances, so I will be back to this beautiful island in the not too distant future.  When you come to the bend to the 3rd circuit in the pink stone area of the south, and you see the Red Tara, a Bodhisattva surrounded by radiating stones, try not to step on her.  She connects Heaven and Earth and deserves great reverence.  There will be a formal dedication at 4:00 on Sunday, June 29th, 2014.

Red Tara
Thanks for following this winding path from the outside to the center, Jeffrey


  1. Thank you for your hard work, you are making this amazing little planet even greater! Love and light, Petra

  2. Thanks for such a moving entry, Jeffrey...I feel that it will help people coming to the labyrinth to focus ,

  3. very good post..congrats..the center is amazing

  4. so beautiful it made me cry to see it finished. thank you so much for chronicling the process.

  5. So beautifully rendered. A tribute to it's creator.

  6. I just found your blog Jeffrey and wanted to tell you how powerful your description of building and completing this labyrinth is. It is so beautiful! Your work is amazing. You've left something very significant for all who are able to visit and walk the labyrinth.

  7. oh my, this is exquisite! I love the design, the rocks you used, the meaning and the connections with the people. Again, Exquisite!

  8. I am sharing your wonderful work with a link to your post on my FB page, Heaven is a Garden

  9. Your work is exquisite Jeffrey. Bravo!