The Santa Rosa Labyrinth©
by Lea Goode-Harris, Ph.D.
The Santa Rosa design is but one in the lineage of the many labyrinths created over the past three to five thousand years in all parts of the world. It was the first of a wave of neo-medieval designs, created since the mid-nineties in the United States by diverse labyrinthers for different needs and styles. These contemporary designs meld together the seven circuits of the classical labyrinth and the quarter and half turns of the ancient medieval labyrinths. Some of these newer designs are actually not so old, but rediscoveries and re-makes of older designs that may be found in ancient and current manuscripts. And, some of these newer labyrinths hold bits and pieces found in the older labyrinths, such as the Siweard’s Labyrinth, from the 11th century, or the Italian, Beccaria Labyrinth from the 16th century. Each of these newer designs has a unique story of how they came to be.
The Santa Rosa Labyrinth Story
On a March morning in 1997, I was immersed in labyrinth research. Along with my friend and mentor, Richard Feather Anderson, we were each searching for a labyrinth to replace the existing courtyard labyrinth at the Angela Center in Santa Rosa, California. Looking through my reference books, I suddenly realized that these labyrinths of the past two thousand years were first laid out on paper by using a compass (The idea of the Labyrinth: From Classical Antiquity through the Middle Ages, by Penelope Reed Doob, p. 49). I became aware of a small dot in the center of the twelve concentric rings that made a pre-Chartres labyrinth. Because I had recently been taught by Feather to make "Flower of the Heart Mandalas" with a compass, I suddenly realized that whomever had drawn this labyrinth had used a compass to make the concentric circles. I wondered if I could make a labyrinth in this way? I immediately felt a creative up welling that was so strong I could not ignore it. Bringing out my compass, black-papered note pad, and white pencil, I began to draw eight concentric rings for a seven-path labyrinth.
I was amazed to find its shape emerging from the paper. I experienced getting out of the way, allowing the design to come through my hands, pencil and paper. It was the most visceral experience I have ever had of my masculine, thinking mind, working equally with my creative, non-verbal feminine. Quickly, all was complete; except for a small portion of rings in the lower left/central area. Instead of forcing the design, I let it be for the rest of the day. Later, as I sat in my living room in front of the evening fire with family and friends, I again felt the urge to finish the labyrinth. Picking up the paper and pencils, I went back to that particular area where I had originally been stuck. Everyone and everything in the room faded far into the background. With a few erasures and repositioning of turns, the labyrinth was complete.
I wrote to Jeff Saward of Labyrinthos, Labyrinth Historian and editor of Caerdroia, the Journal of Mazes and Labyrinths, to inquire if he had ever seen this particular design before. He graciously wrote back and informed me, that it was indeed a design that he had not encountered before. He did say that there were elements of the Santa Rosa design that could be found in older designs, such as the six-circuit 11th century Siweard's labyrinth, found in a manuscript. If only that ancient scribe had added a seventh ring, the Santa Rosa Labyrinth could have been one thousand years old, rather than its current birth of 1997!
The making of the Santa Rosa Labyrinth continues to blossom into many other experiences. Its name came to me the day Marilyn Larson and I first met, Memorial Day Weekend in May of 1997. A mutual friend said we two women should meet and share our interest in labyrinths. Without knowing each other, we traveled to the Salmon Creek beach in Northern California. We drew the design as if we were giant pencils in the sand, using our entire bodies with our toes and hearts as the guide. This was the first time I had taken the design from paper to the ground. This particular labyrinth in the sand became as offering to the ocean, consumed in the middle of the night. And the Santa Rosa Labyrinth at Salmon Creek became an initiation for our friendship and collaboration on labyrinths to come.
The original design did not have the small open space, which is found on the fourth path. Some time in June of 1997, I wondered what would happen if I lined up the entrance path with the path into the goal. Laying the design out on my front lawn, I noticed the space emerge on the fourth path, the heart path. I was curious about its significance, if any. Almost a year later, I joined together with Marilyn Larson, Alyssa Hall, Kimberly Saward, and Sue Anne Foster on Mother's Day weekend in May of 1998, to create the first Santa Rosa Labyrinth on canvas. All five of us once again noticed the empty space on the fourth path. What if we placed a bowl of fruit there, or a candle? We recognized that this space allows for a focus of the heart, experienced and viewed from all four directions. Sue Anne Foster was further inspired to paint her Santa Rosa Labyrinth with ivy lines.
Over the years there have been many others who have brought their creativity to the Santa Rosa Labyrinth. I am forever grateful to Richard Feather Anderson (who taught me how to make Flower of the Heart mandalas with the compass at the 1996 Labyrinth Conference at the Omega Center in New York), Marilyn Larson, and the three other women who came together with me that 1998 Memorial weekend, Sue Anne Foster, Kimberly Lowelle Saward, and Alyssa Hall. To Laura Lopez for all our labyrinth journeys together with Kimberly, and to Robert Ferré for helping to bring the Santa Rosa Labyrinth out into the world in a larger way through his beautiful work. To Marty and Debi Kermeen with their art of stone installations, Ispiritual with their finger labyrinths, and many other individuals and organizations, both private and public, have brought beauty into the world through their inspired work with the Santa Rosa design. The Santa Rosa Labyrinth has now been made throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, Australia, and travels through Wales on canvas. Major installations with the Santa Rosa design include a reclaimed hazardous waste site at Standing Bear Native American Park, in Ponca City, OK (Installation by Marty Kermeen), Minitab Statistical Software Company in State College, PA, and the American Psycholigical Association eco-friendly green roof top garden in Washington, DC.
I am filled with gratitude as this labyrinth continues to grace my life with creativity, connections, and with beauty. It is my hope that this Creative Life Force will be an inspiration for others as they search for their own centers in the twists and turns of the Santa Rosa Labyrinth.
This elegant rendition of the Santa Rosa Labyrinth
was done by Robert Ferré of Labyrinth Enterprises
Copyright and Royalties
Currently, with the exceptions noted in paragraph 2, below, there is no use fee for persons wanting to make a single copy of the Santa Rosa Labyrinth for personal use. All I ask is that the integrity of the design not be changed, that the name, “Santa Rosa Labyrinth©” and my name as the original designer, be displayed (eg., any signage, brochures, or publications), and a website link be provided to the Santa Rosa Labyrinth Foundation if possible.
There is a use fee required to use the design if: 1) you are paid a fee to make or oversee the installation of a Santa Rosa Labyrinth in a private or commercial venture, or 2) you permanently install the Santa Rosa Labyrinth in a private or public place (including non-profit organizations) with a gross installation budget of $1,500.00 and over, or 3) you want to use the Santa Rosa Labyrinth for commercial use, i.e.: to install permanent installations, jewelry, wall hangings, art work, etc.
The Santa Rosa Labyrinth Use Fee is as follows (fees are determined by the cost of the installation, including materials, professional fees, & labor).
- Under $1,499.00: No Use Fee
- $1500.00 to $4,999.00: $200.00
- $5,000 to $ 9,999.00: $500.00
- $10,000.00 to $19,999.00: $1,000.00
- $20,000.00 to $24,999.00: $2,500.00
- $25,000 to $99,999: $5,000.00
- Above $100,000.00: $10,000.00
For commercial use, I ask that the artist send me a prototype and work out a license and royalty use fee with me prior to installation or sales. Please note that portable canvas labyrinths and finger labyrinths with the Santa Rosa design are currently being created by Labyrinth Enterprises and Ispiritual, who hold exclusive contracts. For any questions, I can be contacted via e-mail or by phone.
Santa Rosa Labyrinth Makers
Besides myself, there are several labyrinth makers who are contracted with me to create and install permanent installations of the Santa Rosa Labyrinth: Robert Ferré & Judy Hopen of Labyrinth Enterprises, St. Louis, MO, Marty & Debi Kermeen of Labyrinths In Stone, Yorkville, IL, Marilyn Larson (612-227-1891) who is usually based between Minnesota and California.
For those of you interested in other seven-path labyrinths, there are numerous contemporary and ancient designs to be found that are designed and created by labyrinth makers worldwide. The Circle of Peace™ by Lisa Moriarty and the Petite Chartres by Robert Ferré of Labyrinth Enterprises are excellent examples of smaller contemporary neo-medieval designs.