There is a labyrinth at our Sanctuary in Northern California and it is shaped like an Ankh. The Lady Hathor Shrine is at the top of the Ankh.
In Ancient Egypt by the time of the Old Kingdom (c. 2613 – 2181 BCE) the Ankh was well-established as a powerful symbol of eternal life.
Egyptologist E.A. Wallis Budge wrote that the Ankh originated from the Tyet, the belt buckle of Aset (Isis). Not everyone agrees with him, however the Tyet is a ceremonial symbol which represents the feminine and fertility. This theory, of the Ankh’s origin stemming from a fertility symbol to create and protect life, is in keeping with its meaning throughout ancient Egyptian history and beyond to the present day. One can see the resemblance of the Ankh and Tyet:
Obviously, the symbols are quite similar in how they look as well as the meaning of both symbols, dating from an early time in Egypt’s history. The Ankh has always been associated with life, the promise of eternal life, the sun, fertility, and light. It is for this reason that Ankh figures so prominently in tomb paintings and inscriptions.
Many of the Egyptian Gods and Goddesses are depicted holding the Ankh, however Aset/Isis is shown holding the Ankh more often than most. Over time in Ancient Egypt and through the various Kingdoms, Isis became the most popular goddess in Egypt and all the other gods were seen as mere aspects of this most powerful and all-encompassing deity, the Mother Goddess. The association of the Ankh with such a powerful goddess imbued it with greater meaning as it was linked specifically with the Great Goddess who could create and protect life, as well as save one’s soul and provide for one in the afterlife.
The Ankh represents all life and eternal life. Our Sanctuaries are about protecting and caring for the lives of all creatures; the Ankh is a sacred symbol for the Iseum Sanctuaries.
The other day we added some enhancements to our labyrinth – I call it Lighting up the Labyrinth. It now has solar lights and the effect is quite wondrous. To step onto the pathway of the Ankh, one feels as if you’ve been transported to a different realm. It is very quiet and light within the labyrinth. And the cats love it!
Since we are somewhat deep in the woods and there isn’t a way to be above the labyrinth unless you climb a big tree (which I may attempt soon!) it is difficult to take a photograph of it. However, here are a few partial shots of the Ankh Labyrinth.