A mystical atmosphere surrounds the Labyrinth full moon nights, when the fire pit is lit. Cayman Brac’s Labyrinth, built with beach rocks.
By Simone Tatum
Labyrinths are centuries old and can be found in almost every ancient culture of the world. Archeologists have discovered ancient labyrinth ruins in Italy, India, Tibet, Nepal, Egypt, Greece, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, Gibraltar, Australia, New Zealand, North and South America and many other places as well. Thanks to Kathleen Bodden-Harris, the Cayman Islands are now part of this notable list.
Mrs Bodden-Harris recently designed and built the only labyrinth in the Cayman Islands by herself, on Cayman Brac, using beach rocks. She built it in the aftermath of Hurricane Paloma as she sought to recover from its devastation. It is constructed in the classical circuit form with a fire pit at its core to receive personal written prayers, concerns or aspirations.
A second labyrinth is currently in construction phase directly adjacent to the existing one. This five-circuit spiral design will accommodate wheelchairs for handicap accessibility. The completed labyrinth is located behind her house on Cayman Brac’s Southside. It’s open to the public and admission is free of charge.
Its builder got her inspiration for the idea from the landscape itself and her own personal labyrinth experience. According to Mrs Bodden-Harris, Cayman Brac is a natural magnetic field that boasts all the healing properties associated with magnetism. Yet these healing properties remain largely unknown and unappreciated.
“The main industries on our Island are diving and tourism,” Mrs Bodden-Harris explains. “Our Caribbean waters are pristine; however, I don’t feel our government has tapped the true beauty and healing resources that comprise this Island.”
She explains that these healing properties are directly related to geological forces and specifically the fact that Cayman Brac is one of six magnetic centers on earth. “Caymanite and Larimar are two semiprecious stones found in the Caribbean that are considered sacred. Larimar is found only in the Dominican Republic and Caymanite only on Cayman Brac and the eastern coast of Grand Cayman,” Mrs. Bodden-Harris explained.
She said Caymanite was formed by volcanic ash which settled on the dolomite rockbed. The ash containing iron from the earth’s core was spewed upon the rock to settle and create colorful layers from the iron and minerals’ deposits as they cured in the rocks’ sediments. These combinations create magnetic anomaleas that affect compasses and emit healing sensations to the human body. A handful of Swiss scientists have made studies and documented these unusual phenomena in books written in Germany and Switzerland. These documents and findings were passed on orally to locals many years ago.
Labyrinths are rich in mystery and history. Labyrinth drawings found in prehistoric caves seem to suggest that they were once used for a myriad of ancient customs, including: depicting a rite of passage, capturing a menacing spirit to ensure a successful hunt, or developing a ritual dance pattern.
In the 14th century, the Catholic Church recognised the labyrinth for its significant spiritual power in use with prayer and meditation. Medieval churches incorporated them in their building designs. Modern uses for labyrinths include churches, health facilities, prisons, resorts and other places of retreat.
Although linked with the natural phenomena – the movement of sun, moon, earth, and stars – the labyrinth holds deep spiritual significance. The path to the centre of the labyrinth represents each individual life’s journey. As the individual makes their way through the labyrinth they may, at times feel disoriented but as they continue, they will find the centre. In this way, the labyrinth represents each individual’s life path. The path through the labyrinth is a meditative journey that must be completed in silence and deep reflection and prayer.
At the centre of Cayman Brac’s Labyrinth is a fire pit, into which visitors may choose to drop a written prayer or song. During Full Moon the fire will be lit and the papers will be burned up as a sacred form of sacrifice. This ancient form of meditation is designed to promote peace, healing, and serenity.
The property also boasts a small bat cave and a short nature trail containing endemic trees, native orchids, exotic birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. Visitors may be startled by the wildlife within the labyrinth itself, which is protected by three native rock iguanas: Sebastian, Isabel and Hattie. These three “Labyrinth Guardians” should not be treated as pets, but as wild animals.
Anyone wishing to participate in a Full Moon Ceremony or visit the grounds is requested to call ahead for an escorted tour.
“My life and my property on this island is a special gift of love. As with any gift; unless it can be shared, it is never truly appreciated. My joy is when others, as well, appreciate and share the ‘wonderment’ of this island and this life,” Mrs Bodden-Harris explains.
The labyrinth’s inauguration on October 3rd was a sight to behold. A rich harvest moon cast its light on the labyrinth as individuals dressed in white made their journey through it.
“If you missed that event, all are welcome to attend future Full Moon Labyrinth Walks and the official Inauguration Ceremony for both labyrinths which is to take place on December 31st during the Blue Moon,” Mrs Bodden-Harris noted.
She added that a Blue Moon Labyrinth Walk will commence at 6:30 pm with a short social to follow on the observation deck of the Bluff. “The social ending at 8:30 pm will allow participants to continue their other New Year’s Eve plans or obligations,” Mrs Bodden-Harris explains. Reservations are highly recommended and deadline to confirm will be Monday, 28 December. Sensible shoes are recommended and since it’s a Blue Moon, casual dress is requested in blue.