Personal thoughts of the labyrinth.
My family has a bit of a history with drugs and given that my dad was most likely off his face when he fucked my mother and consummated me, I suspect there is something in my genes that totally screws me over when I take mind altering drugs. I’d have experimented with some, but they usually have ill effects on my brain in the long run. For example past experiences with pot have led me into months of post delusional paranoia and near insanity. Anyway, a drug I took last year was then a legal drug derived from Turnera Diffusa (damiana), sold in sex stores here as a aphrodisiac. While it does have aphrodisiac properties it is also a slight hallucinogen.
After multiple orgasms and some fantastic sex, what I experienced was a sense of patterns in things. I started seeing swastikas in brick walls, double helixes in light and ultimately an inward spiralling of the labyrinth. I learnt it is a path that leads on to a point but always forces oneself back to the outside in order to enter the inside. I became fixated at this idea and has since been using it as a personal meditative symbol.
I’m a very visual person, words, sounds, smells have a lower priority over my senses compared to imagery. I doubt I’m tone deaf but music has taken me a long time to grasp an understanding. Maybe this is the result of my dyslexia or just that I’m so fixated on the visual realm that certain things that are commonly understood by most are difficult for me to comprehend. However, the labyrinth is something I could understand right away. After my experience with damiana I started drawing labyrinths as a form of meditation that often led to trance like states.
What I like the most about the labyrinth is that drawing it forces the brain to “switch sides”. This is difficult to explain , but when you are engaged in art your brain actually goes through what is called ‘cognitive shifting’ where one side of the brain is more dominant over the other. While creating art it’s not unusual for artists to claim that they lost track of time, have problems speaking, cannot do math. This is because their artistic side has dominance over their logical side. While taking psychoactive drugs you basically hotwire certain areas of the brain and make both sides active at the same time causing confusion that sometimes results in effects like hallucination or euphoria etc.
In terms of left side of the brain, the labyrinth starts off pretty logically, you start with a cross.
Then you place dots between each of the corners of the cross.
Then you start arching between the cross and the dots.
By free hand drawing the arches I notice my brain moving from one side to another. This starts the meditative period where I totally zone out and begin thinking about the pathways of the labyrinth. When the drawing is complete I follow the path to the centre of the labyrinth. The inverted path is a major aid in seeing an alternative world.
I remember at art school a training technique for new students was to see negative space. The teacher arranged some sticks in front of a white background in the centre of the room, we were not to draw the sticks but the space between the sticks, the negative space. After an hour and half of this lesson I was blinded and could only see things in negative space (without the aid of drugs). My point is, that is how easy it is to change the way our brains perceive reality. Looking at the negative space of sticks can fuck with your mind. The same thing happens with the labyrinth.
In art learning to look at negative space can be a massive aid. Our minds are trained to look at the world in a certain way, we see things by what we think is real, but actually they are not. A simple example of this is looking at yourself in the mirror, you think you look this way, but take a photo of yourself and you might appear totally different from the face in the mirror. Our egos and our brains manipulate our understanding of reality to help us deal with it. A similar thing happens with artists, they look at a form and think that a form looks like this, they draw it in a way that they understand, only to realise that the form is wrong. By looking at negative space the artist can actually get a different perspective of the form and adjust it so it is more correct.
Another interesting thought game I have done with the labyrinth is drawing it in different moods. Most often I start drawing the arches towards the right direction. But when angry or fixated on something I draw from the left. Again this can be illustrated in other artistic subjects, for example when an artist is asked to draw a profile from the mind the facing of the head is usually made depending on the handiness of the artist. Left handed artists point to the left, right handed artists point to the right. But under some circumstances psychologists have noticed that artists might go in different directions depending on mood.
When drawing the labyrinth and meditating on it we are constructing space around a sacred centre. The walls define the labyrinth but it is the negative space that creates the path we must follow. It brings us so close to enlightenment only to throw us back out towards the same place we started. By drawing we begin with the centre, but entering we begin with the outside, we are entwined in a mental dance that shifts the brain back and forth between the two hemispheres.