Reflections on the Wunderkreis, 2

As we have seen (in part 1), the most different variants of the Wunderkreis can be created. Depending on which part is emphasized more or less, they then look like.
When creating a new labyrinth, of course, it also depends on the size of the available space and the purpose the labyrinth is to serve.

Type 5 a-c
Type 5 a-c

The path sequence, if we go first to the left: 0-3-2-1-4-a1-b2-c1-c2-b1-a2-5-0. To the right we have: 0-5-a2-b1-c2-c1-b2-a1-4-1-2-3-0.
With the digits we have the sequence with odd and even numbers, as we know it from a classical labyrinth.
With the letters, which designate the elements of the double spiral, we can also see a certain systematic: The letters come alternately one after the other. If two identical letters follow each other, we have reached the center of the spiral and the basic change of direction. The additions “1” designate the lower part and the addition “2” the upper part of a transition.
If we take a closer look at the circuit sequences, we can see that the second one (to the right) is opposite to the first one.
So we can say that here two different but related labyrinths of a group are united in one. Depending on which path we choose first.

How many circuits does this Wunderkreis actually have?
That is a little difficult to count. To do this, we divide the figure into three parts, the lower left quarter, the upper half, and the lower right quarter. Let’s start at the bottom left: There are the 3 “labyrinthine” circuits and 3 of the double spiral. At the top we have 4 “labyrinthine” circuits and the 3 of the double spiral. Bottom right: 5 “labyrinthine” circuits and the 3 of the double spiral. So, depending on the angle of view, we have 6, 7 or 8 circuits.
The type designation is the maximum number of “labyrinthine” turns plus the letter sequence for the turns of the double spiral. Adding both gives the number of total circuits. In this example “5 a-c” so 8 in total.
In the file name for the drawings I have tried to express this as well, additionally provided with the indication of the entrance and the exit of the labyrinth.

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Reflections on the Wunderkreis, 1

The Wunderkreis has often been the subject of this blog. Today I would like to bring some basic remarks to it.

As is known, the Wunderkreis consists of labyrinthine windings and a double spiral in the center. Thus, there is no center to reach as usually in the labyrinth and, in addition, an extra exit, but it can also be formed together with the entrance in a branching.

This makes it more difficult to represent all this in a pattern. Also the usual path sequence (or circuit sequence) with the alternating odd and even numbers does not work properly anymore.

Therefore, I suggest to designate the spiral-shaped circuits with letters. This also gives the possibility to better describe the different types.

Here is the smallest Wunderkreis in my opinion:

Wunderkreis Type 3 a
Wunderkreis Type 3 a

A 3 circuit (normal) labyrinth with a double spiral. The path sequence, starting to the left, would be: 0-1-2-a1-a2-3-0. If I move to the right first, the result is: 0-3-a2-a1-2-1-0.

General note on “0”. This always means the area outside the labyrinth. Even if “0” does not appear on the drawings.

Now I can either increase the outer circuits or only the double spiral or both.

Type 3 a-b
Type 3 a-b

This is one more course for the double spiral. The path sequence to the left: 0-1-2-a1-b2-b1-a2-3-0. To the right: 0-3-a2-b1-b2-a1-2-1-0.

And now:

Type 5 a
Type 5 a

The double spiral as in the first example, the outer circuits increased by two. This creates a path sequence with (to the left): 0-3-2-1-4-a1-a2-5-0. Or to the right: 0-5-a2-a1-4-1-2-3-0.

Now follows:

Type 5 a-b
Type 5 a-b

In addition to the previous example, the double spiral is also enlarged. This results in: 0-3-2-1-4-a1-b2-b1-a2-5-0. And: 0-5-a2-b1-b2-a1-4-1-2-3-0.

In the circuit sequences I recognize the regularities as they occur also in the already known classical corresponding labyrinths. And if I omit the double spiral, I also end up with these labyrinths.

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Pseudo Single Barrier

As was the case with double-barriers, we can also distinguish real from pseudo single-barriers (see: related posts, below). Here I want to show this first with the examples of two non-labyrinthine figures. I start with the figure „Luan“ (fig. 1).

Figure 1. Figure Luan
Figure 1. Figure “Luan” 

Source: Kern, fig 604, p. 285

This is a recent sand drawing of the Stone Age culture on Melanesian island Malekula (Vanatu). Kern writes, that this figure is not a labyrinth and cannot not even with any sound justification be considered misinterpreted labyrinth (Kern, p. 285). It is made-up of a uninterrupted line without entrance or center. However, it has 4 axes and 5 circuits. 

In fig. 2, left image, I show a simpler version of it with only 3 circuits. This better illustrates the principle of its design. This figure clearly can be read as an uninterrupted Ariadne’s Thread, and therefore I have drawn it in red. Of course, we can also add the representation with the walls delimiting the pathway (right image, blue). As can be seen, this figure has a certain similarity with a labyrinth. The axes are formed by the same turns of the pathway that typically appear in the labyrinth of Chartres and many other types of labyrinths. 

Figure 2. Figure Luan, Reduced to 3 Circuits
Figure 2. Figure “Luan”, Reduced to 3 Circuits

In figure 3, I have redrawn the figure from fig. 2 and reduced it to 2 axes. The left (red) image shows the representation with the Ariadne’s Thread, the right (blue) shows the representation with the walls delimiting the pathway. Still, the Ariadne’s Thread is a uninterrupted line without entrance or center. Here we can see the special course of the pathway at the side axis. The two turns of the path are shifted one circuit against each other. In between, an axial piece of the pathway is inserted where the path changes from the first to the third circuit without changing direction. Analogically with the double barriers we can term these courses single barriers. The course of the pathway in figure 2 is a real, the one in fig. 4 a pseudo single barrier (see related posts, below). 

Figure 3. Redrawing with 2 Axes and Pseudo Single Barriers
Figure 3. Redrawing with 2 Axes and Pseudo Single Barriers 

This figure can easily be transformed to a labyrinth with 2 axes and 3 circuits, as shown in fig. 4. The left (red) image shows the representation of the labyrinth with the Ariadne’s Thread, the right (blue) shows the representation with the walls delimiting the pathway. 

Figure 4. Labyrinth with 2 Axes and 3 Circuits
Figure 4. Labyrinth with 2 Axes and 3 Circuits

As far as I know, the pseudo single-barrier has appeared in two historical labyrinths (fig. 5). The left image shows the pavement labyrinth in Ely Cathedral with 5 axes and 5 circuits. The pseudo single-barrier is situated at the second axis where the path changes from the fourth to the second circuit without changing direction. The right image shows the third out of 8 labyrinth drafts by the clergyman Dom Nicolas Rély. This labyrinth, that I called Rély 3, has 9 axes and 5 circuits. The axes are designed as real (axes 1, 2, 4, 6, 8) and pseudo (axes 3, 5, 7) single-barriers.

Figure 5. Historical Labyrinths with Pseudo Single Barriers
Figure 5. Historical Labyrinths with Pseudo Single Barriers

Sources: Ely – Saward, p. 115; Rély 3 – Kern, fig. 457a, p. 241.

References:

  • Kern H. Through the Labyrinth: Designs and Meanings over 5000 years. London: Prestel 2000. 
  • Saward J. Labyrinths & Mazes: The Definitive Guide to Ancient & Modern Traditions. London: Gaia 2003.

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How to repair the Mistakes in Historical Scandinavian Labyrinths, Part 4

Originally, I didn’t want to suggest any changes to this particular Icelandic labyrinth. But since I have learned more about the Dritvík Labyrinth through the article by Daniel C. Browing, Jr. (Ancient Dan) on his website, I dare to approach it.

I studied the labyrinth and its appearance intensively. In order to better understand how it could have come about, I tried to reconstruct it with my means, especially geometrically precise.

The oldest representation known to us is from 1900. It is particularly noticeable that the beginning and the end of the line are in the middle of the stone setting. The stones themselves then form an uninterrupted line, they are Ariadne’s thread. And not the way in between, as it should be in a “real” labyrinth. The twists and turns form dead ends and inaccessible sections. Whether this was intentional has already been discussed sufficiently in this blog. Mainly by Richard Myers Shelton in his guest post. But also through Ancient Dan.
The center is formed by a small pile of stones that looks like a molehill made of stones. But it could also be seen as the entrance to the underworld for the guardian spirit. And the stone settings as hints for his way on our upper world. Or do we see the whole thing as a monument to the protective spirit and its activity?

The Dritvík Labyrinth about 1900
The Dritvík Labyrinth about 1900

Between 1900 and up to our time, some of the original labyrinth was rebuilt, probably before 1997, when Jeff Saward (Caerdroia 29 from 1998) visited it. Above all, the lower right part has been changed a lot. The two loops with the two dead ends became only one. And the middle took on roughly the shape of a double spiral. So there was only one entrance with a branch. But it was still not a “real” labyrinth.
I still can’t imagine that the labyrinth was so intentional. Because all other known labyrinths from this time, this culture and this region are walkable. Mostly there are walk-through labyrinths that belong to the so-called classical Baltic type. The entry and exit can run separately from one another, but they can also be formed by a single entry with a branch. They usually do not have a pronounced and empty center. It is formed by a more or less distinct double spiral. For me this is a Wunderkreis.


How do we get there now? What changes would have to be made?

The entire upper part can remain unchanged. The number of circuits and the total outer circumference can also remain.

The center part is also partially correct. Only the lower left and lower right parts need to be rebuilt. The stones must be moved so that there are no more dead ends. This can be done towards the center or away from the center. So the double spiral is reduced or enlarged.

The Dritvík Labyrinth nowadays
The Dritvík Labyrinth nowadays

In the first suggestion for the Wunderkreis 1, I go inward on both sides, the center part gets one less circuit. The left lower turning point is then on the 4th line counted from the outside. The right lower turning point is on the 5th line.

The Dritvík Wunderkreis 1
The Dritvík Wunderkreis 1

In the second suggestion, I go to the outside. The middle part gets one more turn, so the double spiral becomes bigger. The left turning point is on the 3rd line, the right on the 5th line.

The Dritvík Wunderkreis 2
The Dritvík Wunderkreis 2

The middle part with the double spiral is thus more emphasized and the outer circuits are arranged like in the Classical labyrinth.

The overall dimensions have remained, as well as the total number of circuits.

With both variants, it makes sense to first turn to the left and follow the outer circuits.

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