I had the thought to walk the labyrinth three times in succession today. I walked in with a headache that had started several hours before. The birds were loud, but not raucous. The spirals are not flooded, but definitely muddy. As I walk through, the youngest of our cats, Sugar, shows up. She’s dainty and lithe – leaping across my path multiple times, scampering just out of reach.

I continue walking, monkey mind chattering away about what I’m going to write when I get back. I gently suggest to myself that those thoughts weren’t likely to be what gets written, and in fact I can’t remember the “profound” thoughts I was having in that moment. (I’m grinning broadly as I realize this now.) I continue walking, noticing the pain in my head and the “catch” in my right knee as I work the turns. I notice that the pace feels faster than I want, so I slow down. I head into the crone wheel, appreciating the contrast of the dry, grey stones on the dark earth as I work my way to the middle. I break into a big grin as I pass the stone that Bez placed. It’s just on the last circuit before I enter the “unknown” area at the center of the whole shebang. Her stone stands out because it’s much lighter and because there is a hole in the stone, worn there by some other stone that was there while it rested in a moving body of water of some sort. I’m assuming that Bez picked it up on the beach somewhere, but I don’t actually know this.

I sit on the log, knowing that my bottom will be damp when I get back up, and not caring in the moment. I stay there for a while, listening to the birds and feeling the pulsing sensation in my head. Then I head out. As I’m walking through the mother spiral I think, “I don’t want to walk this again, let alone a third time.” Ok, I give myself permission to change the plans and I continue walking. As I enter the last/first spiral (depending on whether you’re heading in or out), Chocolate, my son’s black cat appears. He’s slower moving. His coat is radiantly silky and shiny in the overcast light. He moves with purpose. I spiral out of the labyrinth and stop to watch the dog digging another hole. In a moment, I find myself heading back into the labyrinth.

This time Chocolate accompanies me. His way is different from Sugar’s. He stops in the middle of the mother pathway and waits for me to reach down and pet him. This time through my mind is quieter and my headache has eased. The crone form feels easy and quiet. I rest for a bit at the center and head back out. Again I think, “I don’t want to walk this a third time.” And again, I give myself permission to choose that. As I’m in the maiden form, I notice that Sugar is crouched in the hole that Cinders (the dog) dug a few days ago, peeing. It seems an odd place to pee. By the time I cycle all the way out, she’s been replaced by Chocolate who is peeing in the same spot. I stop and look around, thinking about how I’m not going to walk the spirals a third time, when all of a sudden, I realize that I’m back in. Walking. I’m walking faster this time. The pace feels right, I feel a little dizzy as I move inward and then back outward on the spirals.

Then I notice that Isabelle, the oldest and most feral of our cats has come to join me. She is a beautiful, long-haired black cat with white ruff and boots. Aloof and stunningly beautiful. She watches from a distance, sitting in the branches of the tree that has partially fallen.

As I am in the middle of the mother spiral I realize that I don’t know if I’m coming or going. Have I gone all the way through and am heading out? This feels very disorienting not to know, but I like the dizzy feeling. Then, I’m shot out onto the crone spiral, and clearly I’m headed into it.

I laugh to myself, thinking that was very silly that I couldn’t remember which way I was headed. And then it happens again. I can’t figure out if I’m coming or going. This time it lasts longer, almost two whole revolutions on that third spiral before I see Bez’s stone and realize that I’m headed into the “unknown.”

I reach the “unknown” and spin around, heading back out. I have always stopped there before, but it’s as if the spiral is calling me back out into the swirling, spiraling energy. I notice as I’m unwinding that the disorientation doesn’t happen on the way out.