Questions about building a Chartres labyrinth.

Your manual and Walking a Sacred Path, by Lauren Artress, give different measurements for the labyrinth. Which is correct? Robert wrote that there are 114 lunations with 1 removed for the entry. Artress wrote that there are 113 lunations with 1 removed for the entry. Would you please clear up this question for me?

We're actually saying the same thing. Lauren is saying 113 with (plus) the one that was removed. Hence, 114. I am saying that it started with 114 with (minus) one removed for the entrance. There is no debate about the number of lunations. We express ourselves differently in other ways, as well. For example, she says there are 28 and 1/2 lunations per quadrant. That is, in fact, the average if you divide 114 by 4. As a labyrinth maker, I am more technically oriented and note that no quadrant actually has exactly 28 1/2 lunations. Because the entrance is offset to the left, it affects the two lower quadrants especially. Nor are the lunations all the same size. They are smaller on the left side than the right side. I know Lauren very well, and she is a master at working with groups and using labyrinths. When people want technical advice about the labyrinth, she generally sends them to me, for my left-brain analysis.

Here's an interesting fact. The Qur'an (Koran) has 114 chapters, called suras. The first one, the introductory chapter, is called "The entry." Hm-m-m-m-m, the entrance plus 113 more suras. Sounds familiar. Could there be a connection? Probably. By the end of the 12th century, learning was pouring into France from the Moslem world, via Spain. Chartres was one of the leading schools, and very likely aware of the newest developments.

Is the Chartres pattern based on an invisible 13-pointed star, as I have read?

No. This was a theory put forth by Keith Critchlow in the 1970's. It has been repeated in a number of books, including the Veriditas seed kit (see question below). It has also been espoused by Richard Feather Anderson, who studied with Critchlow. Well, I have studied with him, too, and asked him about it. I have measured the labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral many times, and the 13-pointed star is off by almost six percent, which is a huge error. Keith responded, "Well, true, it doesn't measure out, but the symbolism of 13, being the disciples plus Christ, is magnificent."

I said, "Wait, let's go back to that part about not measuring out." Besides, the symbolism of the labyrinth is Mary and Christ, not the disciples. After all, the cathedral is dedicated to Mary. Another reason the 13-pointed star is unlikely is that a circle cannot be so divided by using a compass and straight edge, without going to extreme measures. The geometry at Chartres is profound, but also simple.

I bought the Seed Kit from Veriditas, but I'm still having difficulty. Can you help?

Purchasing the seed kit is a form of suporting the work of Veriditas, which I think is important and worthy of assistance. The kit is not intended to be a full construction manual. To make it even more confusing, some of the instructions are actually erroneous. For example ,it uses the 13-pointed star (see question above). That's because Richard Feather Anderson helped Grace Cathedral build their first canvas labyrith, before the days of Veriditas. As I said above, he supports the 13-pointed star, and so it is in the Seed Kit and probably also the book written by Lauren Artress. We sell a complete step-by-step manual, Constructinig the Chartres Labyrinth, which gives allof the details. (See: Products)

Can you help me with the lunations around the perimeter?

There are 113 "teeth" in the lunations, with he114th one missing for the entrance. Counting from the left of the entrance, clockwise, tooth number 56 is exactly on the top of the labyrinth, on the vertical axis. The first time you measure, estimate the spacing at 1/36th of the diameter of the labyrinth. That is, divide the diameter by 36. Mark out the lunations and see how far you are off. Adjust your measurement accordingly and mark again. Counting from the entrance going to the right, counter-clockwise, the top tooth will be number 58. The hint is this: the lunations on the left side are slightly smaller than the ones on the right side. When you are multiplying a measurement 58 times, even 1/8 inch makes a huge difference. See our instruction manual, Constructing the Chartres Labyrinth, for instructions on how to make a template for the lunations. (See: Products) For free instructions, see: Instructions.

What is the meaning of the lunations?

The general wisdom is that the lunations symbolize a lunar calendar. There are 112 of the partical circles, which is four times 28. The number 28 is also important in that there are 28 180-degree turns in the labyrinth. A lunar calendar is important because the date for Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox.

There are those, however, who question this meaning. Jeff Saward, for example (see: http://www.labyrinthos.net), includes this matter in his list of "myths" about the labyrinth, meaning erroneous interpretations. Jeff and others, such as Jacques Hebert in Canada, point out that the lunar month is actually 29.5 days. Jeff won't even concede that 28 could be a symbolic number, pointing out that he can find no other instances of such symbolic use. (If I were to investigate this further, I would look into such lunar events as menstrual cycles, tides, etc.)

I believe, however, that the lunations do represent the moon. The cathedral is full of sun and moon symbolism, as a metaphor for Jesus and Mary. The entire labyrinth looks like a sun, after all. John James, in his three-volume detailed study on Chartres Cathedral, indicates that using the particular foot measure of the mason who laid out the cathedral, the length is a very interesting number: 365 1/4 feet. A solar calendar (year). I believe this is countered by the labyrinth and its lunar calendar for symbolic reasons. There are many other sun and moon symbols, including the weather vanes on top of the two towers. The taller one (north) has a sun and the lower one, a moon. The difference in height, I have read, is 28 feet.

While there are 112 circles, there are 113 teeth. The size of the lunations is equal to one of those same foot measures mentioned above. The labyrinth is 36 of those feet wide (not counting the lunations). If you divide 113 by 36, you get 3.139. The modern value for pi is 3.142. That's a difference of only .003. Hm-m-m-m-m. As always, there are many levels of meaning.

I'm having trouble getting the labyrinth into CAD, especially the lunations. Can you help?

You will find advice about the lunations here in the FAQ section. You could save yourself the trouble, however, and buy our CAD version for $50. (See: Products)

What do the six petals mean?

I have read a number of interpretations of the six petals. In fact, the geometry of the center of the labyrinth is based on seven, not six. The seventh is the center circle. The number seven has very unique properties. Within the first ten numbers, one through ten, seven is the only number that neither generates nor is generated by another number. For that reason, it has always been known as "the virgin." In a cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary, this makes sense.

What is the sacred geometry of the labyrinth?

The most mystical and sacred of all numbers, throughout history, have been seven and twelve. These are formed by adding or multiplying the numbers three and four. If you look at the labyrinth, the numbers three, four, seven, and twelve are found in abundance. Three represents the soul, or spirit, and four the body, or the world. Hence, seven and twelve represent the full integration of both of our natures. We sell an audio tape on sacred geometry that describes all of this in more detail. (See: Products) We also have some great links to geometry sites at the bottom of our links section. (See: Links)

Would the rose window "hinge down" onto the labyrinth, covering it exactly?

No. This is another popular idea that doesn't measure out. I have studied with Keith Critchlow, who is a wonderful man and knows more about sacred geometry in his little finger than I will ever know. However, he continues to give lectures on Chartres Cathedral in which he says three things: The labyrinth is based on a 13-pointed star, the petals represent six realms, and the rose window would hinge down onto the labyrinth. None of these are exactly accurate. The rose window misses the center of the labyrinth by five feet. Until I knew that, I also loved that symbolism. The window and the labyrinth were both, I believe, designed by the same man, the great mason who laid out the cathedral. The center of the rose window is exactly 100 of the mason's foot measures from the floor. That is more likely the rationale for its placement, and not the hinging. The geometries also have some relation to each other. The labyrinth represents our spiritual journey. And the rose window? The Last Judgment.

Can you tell me the exact measurements of the Chartres labyrinth?

I have measured the labyrinth several times. In reading the books of John James, who has studied the cathedral in great detail, I find that our measurements coincide quite well. For some reason, in the literature about Chartres, there are a number of measurements that are not accurate. I can't explain why. In more than one instance people have said that the labyrinth is oval shaped and not round, but that is probably due to looking at the photo that was taken from above, but at a slight angle. Here are the measurements that I use. These are all averages, as there is some variation within the labyrinth itself. There is also the matter of mortar between the stones. What do we do with that? For the most part, we have averaged it out.

Diameter from tip of lunation to tip of lunation: 42' 3 3/8" -- 12.885 meters
Diameter to outside of 12th circle (no lunation): 40' 4 5/8" -- 12.455 meters
Diameter of center circle (to the outside of the line): 10' 1 1/4" -- 3,144 mm
Diameter of the petal (to outside of the line): 40 1/8" -- 1,038 mm
Path width: 13 5/8" to 13 3/4" -- 353.4 mm in theory, 347 mm actual
Line width: Varies from 3" to 3 1/4" -- 77 mm
Lunation circles (inside diameter): 11"to- 11 1/4"
Lunation total width: 13 3/4" -- 353.4 in theory, 351 actual
Height of the tooth, including the 12th circle: 11 1/8" to 11 1/4"
Length of path: 858' -- 261.55 meters

These measurements can also be closely rounded to form proportions that are good for any size labyrinth. Note that the center is almost exactly one-fourth the diameter of the labyrinth, for example, and the petals are one-third the diameter of the center. If the measurements aren't exact, please realize that the mortar measures from 1/4" to 1/2" in most places, but as much as 3/4" to 1" in a few instances. Adjusting for the mortar one could subtract a little from one number and add more to the corresponding number. Hence, there is quite a bit of leeway possible. For more details, see: Proportions.

 

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