Tuesday, 12 June 2007


Our final labyrinthine adventure was truly an off-the-beaten track adventure, taking us to the small island of Oja in the southern end of the Stockholm archipelago. Bo and Anita Stjernstrom and John Kraft met us at our hotel in Nynashamn and accompanied us to Ankarudden where we caught a little passenger ferry out to the island, which is usually referred to as Landsort. By some fluke of nature, we had the most spectacular weather imaginable, with scarcely a cloud in the sky all day. John told me that he had dreamed of this day for years!

We were met by master pilot Bjorn Oberg, a lifelong resident of the island. His labyrinth connections began with his father's insistence that the historic labyrinth on the island not be destroyed when military operations occupied it during World War II. Barracks were built directly over the old labyrinth, but it remained intact beneath the foundations of the building, and the remnants remained when the buildings were finally torn down at the end of the Cold War, some decades later.

In the early 1980's John, Bo, Anita, and Bjorn worked together to research, document, and restore the labyrinth, which remains intact and beautiful to this day. Made of stones laid onto the grasses at the side of a track, some of the stones go up and over a rocky outcrop, with the stones just sitting on the bedrock, something I'd not seen before. I found it difficult to walk, feeling it would be easy to trip over a stone or twist an ankle, which makes it all the more interesting in light of what we learned about it later in the day...

As we were leaving on the evening ferry, the ticket-taker saw Bo's t-shirt, which of course sported a labyrinth, and asked if we had seen the labyrinth on the island. A fisherman in his off-duty hours, he told us he walks the labyrinth for luck with his fishing -- proof positive that the ancient tradition still survives! He also told us that if someone is ill, an "innocent child" can walk the labyrinth to bring a restoration of health.

Our day on Landsort was a delight, a journey out of the ordinary. Anita had prepared a picnic for us with potato salad, roast beef, and traditional Swedish kanelbulle (cardamom rolls). With no vehicles allowed on the island, we walked in peace, enjoying the birds, the wildflowers, and the glorious weather. There is a beautiful lighthouse on the southern tip of the island, which was made all the more spectacular by the appearance of a sundog around it while we were there.

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