For years I’ve been fascinated by labyrinths. Maybe it’s because the myth of the minotaur sends shivers down this Taurean’s spine. Maybe it’s because they’re one of the oldest forms of self-coaching or meditation – a ritualistic way of approaching problems and finding solutions. Or maybe it’s just because they’re fun.
7 x 7 x 7
This one is based on a medieval labyrinth pattern, a grid of forty-nine by forty-nine squares, originally in the abbey of St. Bertin, Pas-de-Calais in France and recently recreated in the parish church of Batheaston. According to John Martineau, author of ‘Mazes and Labyrinths’ “forty-nine is of course the square of seven and the magic square of seven is traditionally associated with Venus, it rows, columns and two primary diagonals adding up to 175 (5×5×7). This means that the sub grid here is a Venus square of Venus squares… this design hides many other number games and secrets”.
I didn’t know all this when I chose it for the first in a series of labyrinth mixed media pieces – I was simply drawn to the pattern, especially the cruciform shape at the top, but it seems apt now, as the book I chose to deconstruct in order to create this labyrinth is ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey – a book full of the power of 7s and full of games in many ways too.
According to Wikipedia, Stephen’s book has sold more than 25 million copies in 38 languages worldwide, and the audio version has sold 15 million copies (I listened to the audio whilst laying down the labyrinth). “Covey presents an approach to being effective in attaining goals by aligning oneself to what he calls “true north” principles of a character ethic that he presents as universal and timeless.”
7 Steps, Everlasting Impact
I’ve always found this book and the idea of it both hugely appealing and also slightly unnerving. To think there’s a 7-step formula that, when followed, will help you become ‘highly effective’, to think it’s so simple, and also to consider it’s one of the bestselling non-fiction books ever – to consider the extent of its influence and all the people in the world it’s had an impact on… I mused on all this as I took my copy to pieces (with a smile – what an amazing book I have in my hands).
Now it’s in the form of a labyrinth, I wonder what games can now be played with it, what secrets might it reveal… and what power does it still have, if any?