On Tuesday, June 21, the Innisfil ideaLAB and Library, Cookstown branch, celebrated the summer solstice with a guided meditation led by Rosa Crispo at noon, and the opening of the Tree of Life Labyrinth, a living art installation created by local artist Denis Bolohan.
Fourteen people joined together in the shade of a maple tree to connect with the earth and their own creativity through meditation.
When asked of the significance of the solstice, Crispo said, “Every day is significant, but there is a certain energy, a certain vibe that happens on the solstice, or on the equinox, depending on what we’re celebrating. It’s an honour, honestly, to be with the community in this capacity.”
After the closing of the meditation, participants were invited to walk the Tree of Life Labyrinth on the property to officially open it to the public.
Susan Baues, deputy chief librarian, explained the labyrinth was originally commissioned to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Town of Innisfil and first installed in 2021.
Baues said, “It was good timing because it coincided with COVID and it was an opportunity for people to have an outdoor experience safely distanced and yet still have a novel experience. It was very successful.”
Because it’s such an interesting way to experience culture in the community, the library is continuing it beyond the anniversary date.
Cookstown resident Sabine Cox, who was present for the meditation, said, “I walk the labyrinth quite frequently and it’s been quite a special place for me. It’s made a big difference that always brings a result of some kind. There’s a lot of peace in there.”
Bolohan, of Cookstown, incorporated Celtic knotwork and the Tree of Life based on Irish design as an acknowledgement of the heritage of early settlers in the area. The knotwork represents the roots of the tree. The Celtic Tree of Life is a symbol of balance and harmony in the natural world: Its roots grow far down into the earth, while its branches reach up into the sky, as explained through the library website.
Walking a labyrinth is an ancient spiritual practice present in many cultures and traditions. It is meant to be walked in contemplation while trusting the flow. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has one route through with no wrong turns.
The integral pattern of the Innisfil labyrinth is not visually apparent as the natural grasses have grown high, some up to four feet. Bolohan has created labyrinths in crop fields such as corn and wheat, and more recently in grasses on people’s home properties and elsewhere.
He said, “This one was interesting because of the wildflowers. Most of the grass labyrinths I do, the grass is only, at the most, eight inches tall. All the wildflowers are starting to bloom and the colours are coming up, so it’s more environmental than some of the other ones.”
When walking the labyrinth, this writer enjoyed the company of the nodding grasses in the breeze, and occasional brush against my skin. It adds to the sensation of being grounded and integrated within the space.
Bolohan said he’s not sure why he created his first labyrinth on a property he owned in the 1990s near Windsor. Previously, he created light and mirror installations in art galleries, “but they’re still installations that put people within a physical framework.”
Besides large-scale labyrinths, Bolohan creates labyrinths on stones that may be in a garden setting but can be traced using a finger.
Bolohan designed, installed and maintains the Innisfil labyrinth. He said he walks it four times every time he mows, about every two weeks.
For more information, visit www.innisfilidealab.ca/tree-of-life-labyrinth.
Rosaleen Egan is a freelance journalist, storyteller, and playwright. She blogs on her website: rosiewrites.com.