It isn’t advertised on a map or in tourist brochures. Our guides knew about this labyrinth constructed in recent years. Getting there was a walking pilgrimage of sorts. Over an hour each way across the island through lanes, fields and even part of a small golf course.
It is constructed of stones and the grass walkway is full of tiny daisies. You can’t see it well in the photo, but if you look closely towards the sea, there is another smaller labyrinth.
This is the beach where Columba, the famous Catholic priest and missionary self-exiled himself from Ireland and founded a monastery that flourished during the dark ages and where many people from all over Europe were sent to study. All of this can be easily researched on the internet if you want to learn more.
I can talk about the feeling. The location is on the southwest part of the island – cliffs on one side and to the right of this photo is the landing place of Columba and his twelve companions. Pilgrims over many years have brought stones to leave on that portion of the beach, several mounds. On this day the weather was overcast and there was a slight breeze. It is a sheltered area and very inviting and unpretentious. The builders of this labyrinth took great care in the location and also the variety of stones marking the labyrinth could be a book in itself – probably a poetry book as they convey imagery and metaphor.
It is a huge contrast to the Chartres labyrinth, but equally splendid. I started humming a little tune walking the labyrinth at Chartres and found myself humming it again at Iona.
I first walked the smaller and newer one. In the middle I was inspired to do the movement pattern for the elements I recently learned while at Findhorn. Then I went and explored the beach. There was activity on the next door beach with the mounds of stones and we found out later that Neil Oliver who did the BBC Scotland Series (find it if you can) was filming a piece about coast lines.
Never mind. When I walked the larger labyrinth the experience was one of integration. There is the current pilgrimage, but also family and friends came to mind and locations that have meaning in my life. I thought about the elements and the creatures. I also felt a strong connection with the new Eagle Nest Labyrinth in Surrey.
Then thoughts related to relationship, lineage, life story came to mind. Three threads emerged – one is the ancestry of my family history, one is my current relationships and story and the third is that other story line, the archetypal one where I might imagine or remember living in other times and cultures other than those into which I was born.
All three threads are resources worthy of exploration. Perhaps there are more threads I will find along the way.