Open Buddha

Open Source Buddhism, Technology, and Geekery
Bay Area, California

Mazzariello Labyrinth

This last weekend, R and I were looking for something to do together. I recalled that there is a labyrinth locally in a state park and suggested that we hike out to it. One thing that isn’t readily apparent when you live in the Bay Area is how close some fairly large parks are to the urban areas. R has been making a point of hiking these during the last couple of years but I haven’t seen most of them.

The labyrinth is in the Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, a large park in the hills behind Oakland about fifteen minutes away from my house. It spans the tops of the hills that separate the coast from the more arid inland areas. The labyrinth is in an old quarry (looking like a small canyon) about twenty or so minutes hike in if you know where you are going. If you don’t know where you are going, as was the case with us, it can take you about an hour to find. You can see the labyrinth clearly on Google Maps if you zoom in on the park and know where to look.

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The Labyrinth from the Overlook

The Labyrinth was created by by Helena Mazzariello during the spring equinox of 1990. It is a classical (or 7-circuit), left-handed, earthen labyrinth with the lines set out in pieces of local rock. The term, “labyrinth,” dates from Greek legends of Crete and the labyrinth there with its minotaur at the center. As has been pointed out by some, a labyrinth is not a maze (even though the one in the legend is…) in that there is a single, clearly defined path within a labyrinth that leads in winding fashion from the center of the labyrinth to the center. They are seen by many to be sacral constructions that one walks as a form of meditation or pilgrimage. I’ve known many people that made a practice of labyrinth walking, at least on occasion. They have been used by both non-Christian traditions in Europe and the Middle East (and, separately, in pre-contact North America). Grace Cathedral in San Francisco has a well-known labyrinth that I’ve still never visited:

Grace Cathedral Labyrinth

Given my pagan and esoteric background, I’m quite at home with the idea of labyrinth walking.

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When we arrived, the location was overcast, with fog nearby. R and I were alone in the space so, after a few photos, we took the opportunity to walk the labyrinth (and its tiny neighbor) while listening to the frogs. It was a bit water logged in places but it is clear that we were far from the only recent visitors, given the objects left in shrine-like fashion at the center of the main labyrinth.

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I’ve put a very small photo set online. There is a page devoted to the “Friends of the Labyrinth” as well, who attempt to keep it maintained and protected.