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Ilse M. Seifried
for caerdroia 2005
where you will find some more details than here

About the Labyrinth - in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy -
some puzzle pieces of the labyrinth reality

Talking about labyrinths and their specific aspects within the German speaking countries, I would like to point out that, first of all, the labyrinth itself does not consist of a linear structure. Secondly, a linear history about labyrinths does not exist either. It is impossible for me to report about a labyrinth related kind of movement, but I can tell you about colourful and manifold impulses and initiatives that yield a lively picture. These pictures represent a net, or the "Ariadne-thread" respectively, where many threads join in some places, and single threads join in other places.

Although I have been working with many people and in many labyrinth specific fields during the last eight years (directly or indirectly), there is still a lot to discover. I am going to describe a few stones of the labyrinth puzzle.

The German speaking countries´s intensive interest about the labyrinth arose around 1970, partly influenced by artists, geomants and spiritual people from England and the USA.

This part of the text came into being through a row of endless, exciting and supporting talks on the telephone with Silke Wolf .

The scientific research regards the labyrinth is mainly based on the extensive work of Hermann Kern. It was him who, for the first time, defined words like meander, spirals, mazes and labyrinths, which finally made a distinction and a systematic research possible. His work on the labyrinth was and still is the basis of each research in this field. To date, there are hardly any books written by other scientists about the labyrinth, it seems as if Kern´s emphasis on this topic did not encourage other to a further research on the labyrinth.

For many artists this book was both basis and provocation. As Kern puts it, when it comes to this complete form, artists can only fail because there is no way of improving the labyrinth.
Since Kern´s ongoing and worldwide correspondence and research already lasts for more than 10 years now, he can be seen as the essential initiator of the scientific networking.
Examples that show his initiative are his exhibition in Milan in 1981 (which was the first labyrinth specific exhibition within Europe) as well as his book that was published in German in 1982 (it based on the Italian exhibition catalogue). Due to his sudden death in 1985, his wish to present this exhibition Europe-wide could unfortunately not come true.
In Prussia, Germany, there are parts that belonged to the crusaders and there are so- called "lawn-labyrinths" from the 17th century: Steigra, Graitschen and Eilenriede (Hannover). Kaufbeuren - 19th century was renewed in 2002.). In Munich, at the inner courtyard of the town hall, there is a mosaic-floor showing a labyrinth, made by Georg von Hauberrisser around 1900. There are indications of 16 so-called "hills of Jerusalem". Approximately 20 other former "lawn-labyrinths" root out the names of several villages.

Kurt Krüger concerns himself with the historic labyrinths in Germany. He focuses on the mathematic aspects of mazes. Jorgen Thordrup from Denmark supported many German-speaking people who were interested in labyrinths (he negotiated caerdroia).

Many labyrinths were created where one could walk through. The first ones developed because of ecclesiastical connection, these were in Köln (1973), Heersum (1985), Münsterschwarzach (1988), Augsburg (1990), Zazenhausen (1992). Others were built through female initiatives in Würzburg (1990), Ingolstadt (1992), Ostfildern-Nellingen (1992) and many more. Today, there are at least 116 labyrinths to walk through in Germany. 18 new labyrinths were created only in the year 2004.

These labyrinths were and still are either built by individual people (like Gundula Friedman , Rafaela Schmakowski , Peter Pintatis, Sigrid und Klaus Kirdorf, Anke Peters, Angelika Koraus), by ecclesiastical initiatives from the catholic or protestant church or by people with some kind of spiritual intention, outside of any institution (like Beatrice Grimm, Gundula Friedmann, …) . Some of the labyrinths came into life during workshops and seminars (Dörnberg-Helfensteine, Schloss Altenburg), during a women´s project that supported a labyrinthine place in Zurich (Nürnberg, Dresden,…), in an anthroposophic context (Ahrensberg, Schloss Freudenberg), in cooperation with some schools (Darmstadt, Rechtenbach), by architects that specialise on gardening (Haae & Sömisch) and the by geomantie (Kassel, Dörenberg-Hohlestein,...).
When it comes to the artistic field, we have to mention Voré. He studied at the academy of arts in Karlsruhe. He has been working on sculptural and multi-medial projects about the labyrinth since 1985. Under the heading of the labyrinth he invited artists to take part in a city-project , which has not yet been realised. Voré now possesses the widest documentation of the current works in this field. Talking about his labyrinths, he himself calls them a construction work.
In the year 2004 an exhibition with the topic "labyrinths and mazes" took place at the castle Honhardt , featuring 50 artists .

There are many temporary labyrinths, I would just like to mention Anke Trümmler (Greiz, sunflower-labyrinths ) and LiShaLima (Schöbendorf, corn-labyrinth).
There are a few private gardens that grant access on prior registration. (Weismain, Wetzlar).

In the year 2000 Dagmar von Garnier organised the Party of 2000 women in Frankfurt /Main, Germany. The party´s idea based on a women-memorial-labyrinth that ever since has been travelling from town to town. Every stone is dedicated to an important woman.

The theatre company Eisingen works with handicapped people. Like the masquerade-play that deals with the myth of a labyrinth, each play is developed in cooperation with its actors. The masks were made of different materials from several places. "Like the labyrinth, the mask is a phenomenon of mankind. The mask is a mirror of our soul. During the making of the mask, hidden inner layers are brought to the surface. The labyrinth is a mirror as well, a picture, a symbol for the veil way of the human life between our inside and outside."

Labyrinths are also used as psychotherapeutic methods (Hannelore Eibach , Rosemarie Strunk , Franz Miller , ...) in combination with contemplation, body-prayers, dance (Beatrice Grimm , Susanne Bischoff, Birgit Wehnert ,), Gi Gong (Rafaela Schmakovski ) and in some subjects in school (religion: Hubertus Halbfas, Theo Tröndle, Peter Hofacker, Martin Autschbach andere Fächer: F. Steinauer,)

They are published (Helmut Jaskolski, Uwe Wolff, Peter Hofacker und Mathias Wolf, Hrg.: Jürgen Hohmuth, Marion und Werner Küstenmacher, and many more), used as earth-healing-options, art-objects (Martin Gebhardt), intercultural objects (Germany-Southafrica, Schorndorf), activity camps (Tennenlohe) and set up as a public place for women (Nürnberg).

Helge Burggrabe produces permanent und transportable labyrinths at Tuchstoff.
Lothar Bracht does labyrinths made of wood with balls rolling through - with different kinds of labyrinths, that vary in seize and colour.
Freya and Graueule are two labyrinth experts who have been travelling all over the world. They follow the oral tradition and draw up a map of walk-through labyrinths in Germany.

In 2000, Silke Wolf and Werner Kaufmann set up the homepage, the homepage has always been updated since. It shows a list of all the walk-through labyrinths in Germany that are known by them, including details and information about labyrinth-activities. Since 2004 a labyrinth-tracking-network exists which is regularly updated by Sigrid and Klaus Kirdorf. What is more, there is a forum for the whole German-speaking countries that has hardly been used so far.

Erwin Reißmann set up the site in the year 2002. On this creative and multi-functional homepage you will find historic labyrinths, many pictures of labyrinth-events, information about books on labyrinths and much more. Moreover, there is information about the labyrinths he (co-)built himself (Holzkirchen, Würzburg, Altenkirchen, Eisingen).

The third congress about labyrinths within the German speaking countries is going to take place in Wetzlar in July 2005.


My first contact regarding labyrinths in Switzerland was the psychotherapist Monica Monico. Her article "labyrinth and psychotherapy" - which is an examination with the labyrinth from a female point of view - made publicity in 1989.
During my preparations for my exhibition on labyrinths in St. Pölten / Austria in 1999 I met Rosemarie Schmid and Agnes Barmettler, founder of a politic-artistic women-project that was completely unknown in Austria by that time. Susanne Kramer , collaborator of the union, is going to describe this project.

Agnes Barmettler works as a freelance artist who focuses on drawing, painting, film and interior- and outdoor-decoration (labyrinths) since 1970. In 1997, together with Anka Schmid, she produced a film called labyrinth-projections and presented it at the exhibition in St. Pölten.
I was also very much interested in staying in contact with the Swiss musician Paul Giger . He assimilated the labyrinth with his musical style and produced the CD Chartres in 1988.

The oldest Labyrinth in Switzerland is in Orbe und shows a roman mosaiclabyrinth, dated 200 a.c.. There is a house-sign in Zürich dated with 16.ct, showing the ur-typ with 11 circuits. The house beneath is documented since 1637 Zum Irrgarten (means to the maze)

Many new labyrinths were made: St. Gallen (Schulhaus, abgewandelter Ur-Typ, 1990), in Antoniushaus, Mattli (Typ Chartres, 1991), in Flüeli-Ranft (Ur-Typ, 1992), in Wurmsbach SG (Kloster Wurmsbach, Typ Chartres, 1992) in Verborga-Pischasee GR (Mönchalptal, 2550m seelevel, Ur-Typ, 1993) in Rüti ZH (similar to the urtyp 1992) in Hitzkirch LU (church, Typ Chartres, 1993), in Hölstein BL (urtyp, 1995), Männedorf ZH (Baltic typ, 1995) und Bubikon ZH, Typ Chartres, 1995).

I disc overed that - in comparison to Germany and Austria - both the Chartres typ and the "Baltic Wheel " are very popular here.

In the year 2003, the second labyrinth-congress for the German speaking countries (approximately 80 participants) was held in Zurich. Due to intensive talks, personal contacts and high appreciation, out of the many motivated Swiss labyrinth-experts I would like to mention especially Ursula Knecht, Katharina Zaugg (Basel) and Heidi Gisler-Brun (she builds labyrinths in the mountains and offers painting workshops).

After experiencing the foundation of TLS in St. Louis / USA in 1998, I organised the first professional congress for the German speaking countries 2001 in Dornbirn / Austria. Its labyrinthine character, the further organisation and content was realised by the 36 participants themselves. There was no lecturer - all participants were equivalent in their responsibility and in their own initiative. The dynamic of a lively process was the most important thing; this could be realised due the communicative skills and the quality of the participant´s conflict management.

In 1999 I was the curator of the first labyrinth exhibition within the German speaking countries. It took place at the Shedhalle in St. Pölten, instructed by the provincial government of Lower Austria. An exhibition catalogue was published in German and English, according to the exhibitions title The Art of Wandering - The Labyrinth - Myth and Reality. The interdisciplinary exhibition was characterised by physical experience (a walk-through labyrinth and a maze), contemporary pieces of European artists, literary and musical elements and the presentation of a few objects of art history (like the container of Tel Rifa´at from Syria for example, which was presented outside its country for the first time). Alex Champion and Marty Cain´s videos and Jeff Saward´s slideshow were very popular with the visitors.

The Viennese association the labyrinth was founded in December 2001. Its purpose was to explore the history, the effect and the phenomenon of the labyrinth on the one hand and promote further artistic examination in this field on the other hand. A labyrinth-centre is planned that will offer fields of experience and exploration. The presentation of the art work should invite others to further impulses. Other aims are to support the labyrinthine research regards interdisciplinary cooperation and to find practical usage for their results. In addition to that, a distinctive networking should provide information and make communication easier, so that new ideas can come into life. A labyrinthine meeting is organised twice a year in Vienna.

Austria only has a few considerable historic labyrinth aspects:
The roman mosaic labyrinth in Salzburg is considered the oldest finding. It was made in the year 280 and is now exhibited at the historic art museum in Vienna.
The book-labyrinth (typ Chartres) from Admont dates back to the 12th century. The book-labyrinth (typ Otfried) from the 9th century was imported from Weißenburg. It is now - together with two other labyrinths from Venice (typ Chartres, 16th century) - exhibited in the Austrian National Library.
The one regarded as typ Chartres was made around the 12th or 13th century, it was probably created in St. Gallen, nowadays it is located at the convent in Zwettel.
The Viennese Mechitarists possess a Byzantine labyrinth from the 14th century that consists of seven corridors.
The maze near by the castle Schönbrunn was built in 1698 and stayed there until 1892, it was revitalised in 1999. There are no documents about a lawn-labyrinth in Austria.

During the 70ies and 80ies many artists and geomantics worked with the labyrinth.

Erich Strasky (geomancer) created the first labyrinth (ur-type) in Austria in 1985. It is situated at the recreation resort Loipersdorf and was recreated in 2002.
In 1994 the artist Marianne Ewaldt built a labyrinth in Salzburg (Doppler clinic) that was distinguished by five corridors. The church community of Freistadt also produced a labyrinth (ur-type). In 1995 vice-mayor Pöllaus Heribert Hirschegger built a labyrinth (ur-type) in the castle park.

In 1997 other labyrinths were created: in Pöllau by Jörg Purner (individual construction), by the church community Heiligenkreuz (Chartres), by Marianne Ewaldt in Obdach (ur-type), by a group of religious professions in the catholic congress house in Vienna (individual construction).
In 1998 in the church garden in Hard (ur-type)
In 1999 labyrinths were built by: Christa Moises in Bad Mitterndorf (ur-type), by the church community in Obereis (individual construction), in Bad Tatzmannsdorf (ur-type), by Gernot Candolini in the city park of Innsbruck (ur-type), by Kantili at the Viennese central cemetery (not to walk-through Hopi-type).
In 2000 labyrinths were made by the church Südstadt near Vienna (Chartres), by Kinast in the park of Unterpremstätten (ur-type) and near the church of Gleisdorf (individual construction).
In 2001 Herman Friedel built a labyrinth in Krumbach (ur-type), Willie Engelmayer built one in Schweiggers (ur-type) and Ewaldt built one at the lake Mondsee (ur-type).
In 2002 labyrinths were created during the provincial exhibition in Prägarten / Waldhausen (type Meander), in St. Georgen (individual construction by the catholic educational institution), in St. Johann / Herberstein (ur-type by the catholic women house), on St. Gerold, Propstei von Friedl (ur-type), in Haag (ur-type) in the park called "world of senses" and at the Franz Josefs Höhe (ur-type) in Luedeling.

In 2003 they were created: by Candolini in Schreibersdorf (ur-type), in the church Maria Alm (individual construction), from others in Kufstein (ur-type), at the cathedral of Gurk (gothic type) and at the church of St. Christoph in Dornbirn (ur-type).
In 2004 labyrinths were built by Friedl in Buchboden (ur-type), at the church of St. Lambrecht (Chartres), by Candolini at the cathedral of the Kreuzschwestern (Sorority of the Cross / five corridors), by Komuczky at the protestant rectory (gothic type), by Candolini near the church of Söll (type Ravenna), at the congress house Loschberg (ur-type) and by Candolini at the Franciscan cathedral in Telfs (ur-type).
In 2005 Ewaldt produced a labyrinth at the church St. Elisabeth (ur-type) and in the garden of the cathedral Seitenstetten (ur-type).

Since 2005 there are 41 walk-through labyrinths in Austria, 23 of them represent a ur-type, 3 the Chartres type.

There are uncountable temporary labyrinths and I would like to mention some of their creators: Gonschorowksi, Josef Volsa, Marianne Ewaldt, Gernot Candolin, Brigitta Mathes, Eveline Weiss and Veronika Hopfner.

Artists: Some of them still work with the labyrinthine theme, the others occupied themselves with the labyrinth only for a short term.
The most popular and well-known piece of art is probably Rudolf Hausner´s painting titled The Labyrinth that had been finished in 1987.
Other artists are (a chronological selection):
Horst Mundschitz, Herman Friedel, Hans Tupal, Hans-Rudolf Koch, Ingrid Mantschef, Rosemarie Sternagl, Siegfried Holzbauer , Editha Taferner, Yvette Heller, Gabriele Ulmer Harald Metzler .

For a better understanding of the labyrinthine mind of the artists, theres are some notes from them::

Martha Theresa Kerschhofer
Her first examination with the labyrinth was in 1965, at the cathedrals of Chartres and Reims in France. In 1967 she happened to see stone-labyrinths and Troja castles in Sweden and Finland. This was when her first sketches and outlines were done. She stayed in Crete for a long time and began with her cyclic work "paths towards the centre" that consisted of labyrinths, dance and mother Eileithia.
Due to meeting many people from different cultures and religions she started her quest for the paths towards the centre, created permanent labyrinth pictures that were filled with symbols and texts. Wood engravings, monotypes, paper works, sewings, Chinese ink, sand and oil paintings followed shortly after.
For me as an artist, the labyrinth (in comparison to the maze) represents having confidence in the way, it is like an archaic swing, carried by a huge power and a mother that guide us to the centre.

Ernst Steiner
The secret of the Labyrinth -
There is the question why exactly in our recent time the labyrinth - which is a very special ancient symbol - is winning back its meaning. The true longing for the labyrinth which shows the spiritual hunger and spirit emergency is not realized by the church and if so often ignored. That is the reason for esoteric groups and businessmen to take the labyrinth and give it an event character of fun.
This is one reason the rebirth of the labyrinth has lost its ethic and spirit value. Another reason is the social phenomenon of disorientation and an unconnected civil community. That leads to arbitrary and indifference. We are not able to choose something special but we are able to select from an indifferent offer. People are longing for structure and a living that makes sense to them. The labyrinth has a healing power, but it can also be frightening to start walking in it. Being able to walk into it depends on your faith and maturity. Walking the path of the labyrinths and finding the centre (after over-coming irritation and other emotions) means coming home. This kind of home bases on the infinity. We loose our middle a million times, that is the reason for us to walk this way again and again. Reaching the centre provides harmony and a transcendent feeling, the pilgrim knowledge that he or she is more than their ego. This is an existential approach that believes in death and rebirth. Everybody experiences many deaths in his or her life. We have to come out of the dark ways of the labyrinth - similar to a corn, growing towards the sunlight and later becoming a fruit. Walking out of the labyrinths gives a feeling of rebirth and maturity. The labyrinth is an archetype, but everybody gives it another personal meaning. For me, a clear conscience is like calling myself, a compass which leads us to our goal - our own truth. The conscience is like the voice of our kismet and guides us to the real purpose of our life. Our inner world is connected with the outer world, comparable to our breathing - in and out. If our inner experiences make sense, our world outside will become clearer and easier to orientate ourselves.

Marianne Ewaldt

works as a freelance artist since 1976. She has her own studio in Salzburg and does a lot of individual and cooperative exhibitions in her country and abroad. Since 1994 she does "country-art" (bases on geomancy) with the focus on labyrinths and their construction (temporary and permanent - with different materials: meadows, bricks, stones, mirrors).
"In my whole work it is all about the essential, the basis, the release and liberation from distraction. It is my political duty to create a conscious awareness of how important it is not only to transport negative, but positive things through art. In times of terror and multiple violence and destruction it is necessary to stimulate positive vibration and harmony. With my work I would like to create a balance between the existence of too much violence in this world and my subjective feelings.
A third thing that could connect the contrary aspects of our dual world is the structure of the labyrinth. As I see it, it represents the rational thinking on the one hand and the mystery and the art to wander around and let your self go on the other hand.

Commenting on her labyrinth-ball she said: I took the structure of the ball to focus on the completeness and unity that has no beginning and no end. I see the ball as a symbol for our fragile threatened world. The labyrinth-ball stands for our thoughts because the whole world is actually a labyrinth. The completed ball consists of an invisible empty space that could be interpreted as the unconsciousness. The way of the labyrinth experiences further dimensions through its impermeable surface which make the achieving of our goals and life-centres still possible.

In spring 2005 the Association of Artists in Visual Arts of Styria organised an exhibition in Graz (Künstlerhaus) that was dedicated to the labyrinth. A Jury selected 29 artists in order to public their works for the first time.

Brigitte Hoger and Ursula Baatz set up series on the radio (ö1) about the labyrinth.

2005 there is a stamp published with the "Austria is a labyrinth where everybody finds their way!" from Helmut Qualtinger, a famouse kabaretist.

The labyrinth was also focused on in other fields of study:
The Austrian musicians Karl Heinz Essl and Alex Seidelmann examined the labyrinth through their music.
Literary works on the labyrinth were done by Marie Luisa Kaschnitz (lyric), Christoph Ransmayr (novel: Der Weg nach Surabaya), Ilse M. Seifried (libretto: Im Labyrinth) and Gerhard Roth (novel: the labyrinth) and many more.
Ruth Lasser specialised on labyrinthine work with animals.
The psychologist Eva Scala and the German linguist professor Birkhan also include the labyrinth in their studies.
Eveline Weiss wrote her dissertation at the theological faculty about the labyrinth.
Getraud Ladner from the catholic-theological faculty in Innsbruck, Ulrike Amann, Barbara Gunz, Monika Wohlgenannt, Marlies Zumtobel from the church of St. Christoph in Dornbirn and Elisabeth Hämmerle deal with the labyrinth in the ecclesiastical field: The labyrinth and the bible-drama;
Angelika Gassner (in Feldkirch: Labyrinth at Lichtmess, Advent, Sonnwende, Johannisnacht, full moon, labyrinth-seminares, ORF, labyrinth-day-excursiones, labyrinth poems)

Eveline Weiss, Veronika Hopfner, Gernot Candolini, Ilse M. Seifried, the pedagogical action of Upper Austria, Veronika Komuczky and many more (who have not been connected yet) work within the pedagogical field of the labyrinth.

Let me finally mention those labyrinth-specialists who work trans-regionally:

Gernot Candolini, teacher
His approach to the labyrinth began in 1997 when he travelled from labyrinth to labyrinth (Great Britain, France, Germany). He held slide shows, seminars and wrote five books . He quickly reached a wide audience throughout all the German speaking countries and was one of the essential people that spread this topic. His books have been translated into English, French, Italian, Spanish and Dutch. He thinks that the revitalisation of the labyrinth has to do with the human desire to find out the meaning of each of our own ways. He wonders how long this tendency is going to be trendy and if the labyrinthine spirit is going to spread towards the USA, Great Britain, Switzerland and Austria. He built 15 permanent and 30 temporary labyrinths in Austria and Germany so far.

And at least myself Ilse M. Seifried, speech therapist
I began working constantly on the labyrinth in 1997. I do not focus to construct labyrinths, but on the sources and origins as well as the healing power of it. How does the labyrinth affect us (ourselves, children, grown-ups, people with special needs)? In the year 2002 I organised the first international scientific workshop in Vienna and still invite to a labyrinthine meeting twice a year. I am responsible for the Austrian webpage and lead seminars and talks regarding the labyrinth. I published a book called The art of wandering around - the labyrinth and exchange international experiences with the labyrinth. I am fascinated by the manifoldness of the labyrinth-resonances that are a lively personal and socio-political mirror.

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