I give you the end of the golden string
Only wind it into a ball
It will lead you into Heaven's Gate
Built in Jerusalem's wall.



PERHAPS MORE ANCIENT THAN THE MEGALITHS, more ancient than the pyramids, more ancient than the concept of Platonic solids, is the concept of the labyrinth. Reputedly built for the first time by Daedalus, the first architect, it is inexorably tied by the thread of Ariadne to the long line of archetypal memory that is itself the memory of civilization, and to the primordial myths that have shaped the western imagination. Image of creation, path of the spiritual seeker, image of chaos and of order, of process and of construct, the labyrinth is also an image of the self. It is both prison and way of liberation. If the rhythm of its dance marks the cycles of time, the unraveling of the thread marks time's irreversibility.

The design of the labyrinth is also based on the same basic numbers 1, 2, 3 and 7 characteristic of the Platonic solids. Its concept, therefore, integrates it with the design of The Millennium Sphere and that of the rite within the cathedral architecture.

In the last decade or so, the ancient practice of labyrinth-walking has enjoyed a revival, and is now often a feature of retreats, making its inclusion in the proposed rite natural and easy.

 The interior labyrinth would be located in the axis of the nave, closer to the narthex, following the tradition of medieval cathedrals such as Chartres and Amiens. At St. John the Divine, the ideal location is across the sacred geometry bay, i.e., the 4th bay in the nave.

The labyrinth would be inlaid in the floor and made of slate of contrasting colors matching those of the existing floor. Its outer diameter would be 45', its path distributing itself along seven rings centered on the fifth medallion, that of Samaria on the existing Pilgrim's Pavement of the cathedral floor. Being the 5th in position in the succession of eight within this the nave proper, it stands for the dominant of the octave, and therefore for the optimism and hope of the pilgrim who has reached his goal.

This medallion is a representation of water and a well evoking the words spoken by Jesus to the Samaritan woman: "Whosoever drinketh of the water I shall give shall never thirst." It is a fitting symbol of the spiritual knowledge that all pilgrims thirst for, particularly those undertaking the labyrinth walk. It also symbolizes the refreshment at the end of the journey and an invitation to look upward towards the "heavenly Jerusalem" and its symbol, The Millennium Sphere.

The entrance to the labyrinth would take place on the 4th medallion, the Cana medallion. Again, that fourth position is significant, for in the notes of the octave it corresponds to fa, a note of hesitation and slight sadness, indicative of the minor key, and appropriate to describe the apprehension of the pilgrims at the outset of their journey. The medallion shows a cup of grapes surrounded by water pots, recalling the miracle at the wedding feast at Cana, marking the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. The text indicates: "The beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee." It would also therefore indicate the beginning of the way of the pilgrim.

Outside, right across, in the axis of the bay, in the south side garden along the wall of the cathedral, would be laid the garden labyrinth marking the site of the buried capsule.

The external path would be square to indicate its relation to Earth. In sacred geometry the square stands for the Earth and the circle for the Heavens. A small rose garden at the center with a small water fountain/bird bath surrounded by benches accommodating 6 to 8 people, would echo the center medallion of the well of Samaria in the nave labyrinth. A small arbor at the entrance, to "defend" the entrance, would add a touch of awe and apprehension to be induced on approaching the labyrinth and be a counterpart to the "fa" note of the interior labyrinth at the "Cana" medallion. The flowers would be chosen to change colors with the seasons of the liturgical year. The four colors marking the 8 seasons of the Proper of the Seasons are white, red, green and violet. To them would be added the popular colors of the seasons such as green and red for Christmas in addition to liturgical white.

Copyright © 1999 The Cooper Union