Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth, France

We had the privilege of visiting the crypt at night under the guidance of a local man who led us through by the light of single candles that we each held. He had a deep and resonant singing voice which brought to life the echoes from the ancient stones.
The following night we journeyed down in to the crypt again, this time with our path lit all the way by tealight candles and haunting music provided by the voices and instruments of some medieval musicians. We had a blessing ritual in the depths of the crypt then proceeded up a candlelit path in to the cathedral and on to the labyrinth. Just as I had envisaged that night in North Shore hospital I knelt and placed my forehead upon that ancient stone path. Photos of the labyrinth are often taken from way above so that the entire pattern is visible. What they don’t prepare you for is the richness in that stone that was set in place in 1201. It’s incredible to walk that path and wonder who else has done the same in the last 800 years!
One of the themes of our workshop was The Holy Fool of the tarot deck as an archetype who steps off the cliff trusting that the ground will appear underneath. I could relate strongly.
Chartres cathedral is an awe inspiring Gothic place of pilgrimage built on the site of a holy well and pre-existing churches. The day I arrived  there was an official gathering of bikies from all over the country which added an unexpected flavour!
Being in the cathedral and the town ignited in me a deep interest in French history, particularly during medieval times.The cathedral has an ambivalent relationship with the labyrinth and people who come to walk it. It is covered in chairs and cannot be walked the majority of the time (apart from certain hours on a Friday at particular times of the year). This was one reason why I wanted to attend a Veriditas workshop conducted by Lauren Artress because I knew we’d have times of freer access. Being there with people who had been to Chartres many times and had an intimate relationship with the cathedral and the town added so many layers of richness that I could not possibly have derived if I had gone there on my own.