Romainmotier has been a working church for over a thousand years. It was founded by Romanus of Condat(saint of the 5th century) and is situated on one of the pilgrimage routes (Via Francigena) going from Canterbury in England to Rome in Italy. Many changes have taken place during its existence its size and importance growing and waning according to who owned the site, which order it belonged to (Benedictine and Cluny) and the general political atmosphere.
Though the monastery was only created over the 9th and 10th centuries there is evidence of habitation far older than that(including a 7th century foundry).Romainmotier is sited in a valley with water, clay and abundant fish and animal life which would have attracted settlers even without the religious intent of the church.
Now the building exists as a church having been stripped of its monastic role with the coming of the Protestant reform movement in the 16th century. You can see evidence of the cloister area and some of the decoration in the church that predates the reformation.
They have a small museum which displays pieces from its past and we viewed a film that created and recreated the site in 3D as the changes occurred through the centuries.
Towards the labyrinth
From the church site we walked towards the house where the labyrinth was sited. Romainmoitier is now a village of only 412 souls but attracts pilgrims from all over the world for the peace and calm it has collected from its life of prayer and worship. The labyrinth is on the property of Domaine de Prael which sits on the edge of the village.
Within the church had been an atmosphere of calm but I felt nothing other than that. Still in the church grounds we passed an ancient tree and that’s where I experienced my first input of energy. Some people went to hug the tree or stand with their backs to it but I didn’t feel drawn to do that. However I received an immediate image of the tree standing proud and tall in the middle of a lightning storm.
I interpreted that as needing to stand for what I believe in despite any storms that might come to me. Later I wondered if it also could be related to the Tarot card The Lightning Struck Tower which always shows up at a time of major upheaval and change.
We continued on our way out of the village and along a back road with views of the surrounding mountains. Summer alpine flowers, people walking andagain a sense of peace
Domaine de Prael
The labyrinth has been created by Alison and Michael Anobile in a property that has a history stretching back to the 12th century. It has variously served as a forge, a tile factory and most recently a fish farm. The name Domaine de Prael reflects its origins as belonging to the monastery (Prael being a corruption of the Latin pratulum or little meadow). I’ve included the link to their website to give you more of an idea of how extensive the property was.
Walking the labyrinth
Before we walked the labyrinth Alison conducted a sacred circle ritual and explained how we should approach the walk. She also called in the energies of the directions and Archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel. And we passed energy round the circle through our linked hands.
One of the party had taught us some circle dances the previous evening so sheshowed us a rocking step that we could use as a meditative aid while walking. Because we were a group of about twenty Alison advised us that if we felt we needed to go faster, then being at the front would work best for us. That’s because everyone would have their own speed for them and their own way of experiencing the energies.
Many of the group walked barefoot but my instinct was to keep my shoes on. From a purely practical point that my feet were sensitive in the heat and I felt more comfortable in shoes. I couldn’t tell you how long it took us all to walk the path. It was taking place in a site of great beauty, peace and energy and nobody wanted to miss any of the experience. There was music playing during our walk, from folk songs to Louis Armstrong ‘What a wonderful world.’
What did I experience?
To begin with nothing. And I have to confess a feeling of disappointment. I’d tried to approach the activity with an open heart and sacred intent but of course the human part of me was thinking ‘oh is that it?’
Well that wasn’t it and I received an answer almost immediately. I reached a part of the path, couldn’t even tell you which circuit I was on, when I felt a jolt of energy. Having carried out healing work over a number of years, I know that energy comes to me as cold. And that’s what I got, and continued receiving through my hands till I was almost two thirds of the way to the centre. Then as fast as it had come to me, it switched off. I’d been holding my hands raised in the receiving position and then at the moment of switch off I folded them across my heart area.
At the centre of the labyrinth Alison had placed a bowl of clear quartz and rose quartz crystals for us to take one. The one that came to my hand was a thin clear quartz, jagged and rugged on side and smoother on the other. I thanked the crystal then had the instinct that I need to be outside the labyrinth as fast as possible. I was trying to simply go with my instincts and not put any interpretation on them at the point they occurred. Alison had asked that as we left the labyrinth we stand around it and hold energy for the people still walking.
It was interesting to see how different people were in their walking. Some very deliberate, some almost skipping, especially as they moved to the entrance again.
When everyone was out again, Alison thanked the spirits and angels for their energy and asked us each to speak a word that came to us. I said courage.
After the walk
It was very clear that everyone had been affected in some way. Alison had invited us to walk around the garden which had some very ancient fruit trees and also some areas of energy including around another tree where she said elementals had been experienced.
We took time out by ourselves, some walking up the river at the back of the house (the property generated its own electricity.), some sitting writing. Later we were treated to a raw food feast before we left the place.
The day following our visit was the fourth anniversary of the creation of the labyrinth and they were holding a special ceremony. Alison said all our combined energies and intentions would certainly strengthen what other people would experience.
Final touch to the day
Before we left Alison showed us some photographs that had been taken around the tree with the elemental energy. In one it was very clearly showing orbs. The other looked like a blob of light until the next two photos enlarged showed very clearly the outline of a fairy. The husband of one of our group offered the thought that such a photo could be produced in photo shop but he was outvoted.
It takes a long time to process what happens in these sacred ceremonies. Having walked a smaller labyrinth in England about two months ago where I felt nothing other than receiving an image of monks walking a cloister I really hadn’t known what to expect. That I received the picture that turned into the visit to Romainmotier should have felt more significant than it did at the time but I interpreted it in a different way. I didn’t hear about the trip to Romainmotier until several weeks after my English labyrinth walk.
So what about my receiving energy?
I’ve interpreted that as a sign that I need to start offering healing work again in some form, whether one on one or with a group. Before I visited the labyrinth I’d enjoyed a session, (enjoyed being tongue in cheek), being prodded by August Gold about being more visible!
Should you walk a labyrinth?
I’d say a resounding YES if you get the chance. Whatever your beliefs, whatever your current situation you will receive something. It’s combination of the ritual that takes place, being open to the energies not only of the place but of the people you walk with and trusting to your higher self, intuition or creativity.
You may receive something uncomfortable like I did, but it will be what you need.