During the period when the spiritual path opened up to me, I quickly found one of its most useful tools: the labyrinth, a path to your inner center. I first found one in an Evangelical Centre near Zurich, near the place where Carl Jung once lived. Two weeks later I walked two labyrinths in San Francisco, one outside and one inside Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. On my way back to the Netherlands I felt that I had found my symbol and my path. I travelled to Chartres to get my self acquainted with the extraordinary labyrinth in the Cathedral there. And I returned to San Francisco to get qualified as a labyrinth facilitator, certified by Veriditas, the California-based organization that was important for in bringing this ancient symbol back to the modern world.
Working with the labyrinth
It was the start of a long practice of ‘Working with the Labyrinth’, in the Netherlands and in other places of the world, like South Africa, Switzerland, Rumania, Taiwan, France, the United States, Peru, Germany and Italy. In 2005 I designed a peace labyrinth at the occasion of the celebration in Amsterdam of 60 years liberation of the second world war. As part of a multicultural festival I painted several reconciliation labyrinths on the streets of Amsterdam. My next project was the making of a portable Santa Rosa labyrinth printed on flag tissue. It served as a space for many labyrinth workshops in the Dominicus Church in Amsterdam, which I facilitated together with a group of friends in this church. We traveled around with this labyrinth through many churches and spiritual centers in the Netherlands. I guided groups to Chartres, until in a dream I was called to go to Italy to investigate the Etruscan labyrinth.
Teaching the labyrinth
After some years of labyrinth practice, I was invited to start a three-day training ‘Working with the Labyrinth’ at the Jungian Institute in Nijmegen. It enabled me to share the tricks of the trade with my students, so that they could integrate labyrinth walking in their spiritual practice. In the fourteen years that I provided this training about 120 students finished it, with great success. I learned as much from the creativity of my students as I gave them in terms of teaching. And it embedded my work more in a Jungian approach of the spiritual path.
The heart labyrinth
A new turn in my work with the labyrinth took place in Italy. In the valleys near Pitigliano the heart labyrinth was born, made with branches, flowers and stones. Later I introduced the heart labyrinth in Canossa, under the castle of Matilda. We called it ‘Il cuore di Matilde’, Matilde’s heart. It grew out into a place of many spiritual activities in Canossa, and set the example of several heart labyrinths elsewhere in Italy, for example in Barga and in Tivoli. The design also made furore in the Netherlands, where many people adopted heart labyrinths at special occasions. The beauty of the design is that it doesn’t need many words to explain its meaning: the labyrinth is a path towards the wisdom of the heart.
The network of labyrinth workers, plus its book
The most important change in my work with the labyrinth took place however when I decided to transform my practice into a Dutch network for labyrinth workers under the same name as my earlier practice: LabyrintWerk. The network has a website, two FB pages and a newsletter, and organizes meetings twice a year about topics that elaborate the expertise of its members. And for seven years we have worked with a group on the collectively authored book ‘Wegwijs in het Labyrint. Een reisgids om thuis te komen’. It’s the crown on the work of our network.
In 2021, I decided to rest on my laurels with my work with the labyrinth. I handed over the training to experienced labyrinth worker Carin Wennink of Dutch spiritual center the Schaapshoeve. And I decided to reduce my work with the labyrinth to rare occasions.