Archive for the ‘Labyrinth’ Category

Following the Labyrinth…A journey to the center and back

July 31st, 2015 by valerieosborne


Knossos Crete Labyrinth

Coin From Knossos, Greece ~ 100BCE

Found in nearly every culture and continent in the world, labyrinths are a shape or pattern which create a single path from the outside edge to the center.  Unlike mazes, there are no wrong turns.  Labyrinths are one of the earliest symbols that Man inscribed on rocks, in caves, and later on coins, in mosaics and churches.  Intertwined in its curves is the pattern of this mysterious human journey we call life, and our relationship to the source of life itself.  Wherever the labyrinth is found, a reverence for this deep human symbol is expressed, as if there is an important knowledge inherent in it.  Look at the labyrinth images here.  What do you feel as you gaze upon them?  Also, notice the striking similarities in labyrinth style despite disparate cultures and era of creation.

Hohokam Labyrinth


Superstition Mtns, Arizona ~ Hohokam Time Period






Burt Ireland Labyrinth


Burt, Ireland ~ 15th Century



Pylos Greece Labyrinth

Pylos, Greece ~ 1200BCE  



Anasazi Labyrinth


Arizona ~ Anasazi







Even though I know there are no wrong turns in a labyrinth, no dead ends, and I have walked them dozens of times, a funny phenomenon often happens to me as I walk. Along the path I encounter doubt.  I catch myself thinking, “this will never get me to the center.  I am totally lost and turned around!”  Yet, eventually, if I trust and continue upon this mysterious path, it delivers me to the center.  What relief!  As I return from the center, sure I will return to the perimeter, this experience gives me the gift of the insight: in my life I am always on the right path.  If I trust and continue, I cannot get lost.  A powerful gift indeed.

13 Circuit Flower of Life Labyrinth


Labyrinth ~ Modern

There are studies that have been done at Harvard Medical School among others which show that walking a labyrinth creates a “relaxation effect.”  It is highly effective at increasing relaxation and reducing anxiety.  Believe it or not, simply being relaxed results in tremendous long term health benefits!

brain labyrinth

Scientifically it is also interesting that the labyrinth patterns of repeating left and right turns are thought to stimulate the left and right sides of the brain.  We may actually be creating new neural pathways in our brain as we move our bodies through these twists and turns.  Do you see similarities between a brain and a labyrinth?  What if our brain is a complex, 3-dimensional labyrinth?

Rancho Merlita Labyrinth Man in the Maze

Tucson, Arizona ~ 2010

At the Inns at El Rancho Merlita, owner Diana Osborne poured her heart into creating a labyrinth for our guests and our community.  She chose the Tohono O’odham labyrinth design because it is of this Sonoran Desert land.   Known to the O’odham as “I’itoi ki:k,” meaning I’itoi’s house (I’itoi is name of a Creator God), this design is often referred to as the “Man in the Maze”.

Man in the Maze Labyrinth Basket



Southern Arizona, Pima & Tohono O’dham Tribes ~basket c. 1900




For the Tohono O’odham, the path is our life with our goals and dreams at the center surrounded by the turns and challenges along the way.  You can read a little more in detail from our labyrinth handout here.

Chartes Cathedral Labyrinth


Chartes Cathedral, France ~ 17th Century

Labyrinths speak to a deep part of us which transcends time, culture, and language, perhaps that is unconscious much of the time.  Carl Jung said that, “the unconscious fulfills a positive role…showing the conscious mind what needs to be done to get rid of unease and unhappiness and achieve fuller satisfaction in life.” Walking the labyrinth allows us to re-enter the deep, innate wisdom that lives within each of us.

As always, we’d love to have you come visit us at the Inns at Rancho Merlita.  Come experience a desert-born labyrinth on this desert soil.  If by chance you can’t make it here, you may find it interesting that finger labyrinths have long been used in the same way as walking labyrinths.  In Lucca, Italy, there is a small labyrinth on the wall before entering a cathedral dating back to the 1200s.  Worshipers would trace the lines before entering, creating a separation from ordinary life to the inner cathedral of sacredness contained within us all.

Lucca Italy Labyrinth

Lucca, Italy ~ 1200s

So wherever you are, you can take a minute to zoom into your favorite labyrinth in this blog and take the journey deep into this timeless human experience.  Write us and let us know what you find!

With love,

The ERM Family

Celtic Labyrinth

Celtic Labyrinth ~ 14th Century

Why we love Summer in Tucson!

June 5th, 2014 by pattiebell

83 degree Salt Water!

83 degree Salt Water!

We love Summer in Tucson because everything in general is calmer and more relaxed.

Less traffic ~ The absence of our winter tourists, who of course we love, quiets the byways of our town considerably.

No crowds to fight at our favorite restaurants  ~  For the same reason.  All businesses  are happy to see customers during the summer months in Tucson. It’s a perfect time to experience the many new eateries calling Downtown Tucson home.

Mount Lemmon ~ At 92,000 feet, the highest peak in the Catalina Mountains.  The beginning of the Catalina Highway which takes you there is just a 15 minute drive from El Rancho Merlita.  Hike in the tall cool pines. Enjoy lunch in the village of Summerhaven.  Ride the lift at Ski Valley.  Gaze at the stars from The University of Az’s Sky Center.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum’s Cool Summer Nights program.

The Ranch House front porch is the perfect place to watch the Monsoon storms roll in. The Monsoon is our summer rainy season. Typically it begins in early July and can last until mid-September, bringing the possibility of rain every day. The storms usually occur in the afternoons or early evening  and are accompanied by plenty of wind, thunder and lightning. They move around the valley swiftly and don’t last very long. Once a monsoon rain has fallen around you the air is cooled and refreshed.

Our salt water swimming pool temperature is PERFECT ~  83 degrees.

Taking advantage of our seriously discounted rates means you can splurge on a massage.  Mention you have read this Blog post and receive $10 off One Hour, and $15 off a Ninety minute massage.,_Arizona


Farmers Market inspired Salad Nicoise and Tucson’s Own Barrio Bread ~

August 7th, 2013 by pattiebell

nicoise best croppedMy trip this past weekend to one of Tucson’s many Farmers Markets was most fruitful! Well, mostly it was vegetableful – perfect green beans, fresh new potatoes and salad greens, all locally grown. Today I combined them with some other on-hand ingredients to create one of my favorite composed saladsSalad Niçoise

I boiled the green beans in plenty of salted water until tender. This method cooks the beans faster and more evenly than steaming. The potatoes were cubed and tossed in olive oil with salt, pepper and some red bell pepper that needed to be consumed, and roasted in a hot oven until crisp on the edges.  My preferred approach to boiling eggs – place eggs in a pan, cover with cool water, and bring to boil uncovered. Once boiling, remove from heat, cover and allow to sit for 30 minutes before rinsing in cool water.

I can certainly appreciate a fancy restaurant Nicoise with a chunk of seared Ahi Tuna on top, but I also really like the canned stuff. I found a nice variety of pole and troll caught Wild Albacore at Wild Planet Foods

I also had some young homegrown garlic on hand so it went into a simple LemonGarlic Vinaigrette

The beans, potatoes, and tuna are marinated generously and separately in the vinaigrette  (the beans and potatoes while still warm). Place a bed of greens on your plate and arrange sections of each ingredient on top, thus composing the salad as you go. I like them at room temperature but you may want to chill everything first. Either way it is a lovely and satisfying summer meal.

Especially if you have a big chunk of beautifully baked fresh bread, which is what got me to the Farmers Market in the first place. Here in Tucson we are blessed with a unique bread baking venture –Barrio Bread

Barrio Bread is not your traditional bakery! Their business model is a CSB, Community Supported Baker. There is  no retail store, instead the bread is offered at different locations in the community. Don carefully crafts every loaf of Barrio Bread and has a small and dedicated team to assist in the distribution and sales. Production is driven by a pre-order system or a Bread Share at the Tucson CSA. This maximizes the use of resources and minimizes waste and spoilage, thus creating a smaller carbon footprint. The CSB model also ensures the freshest and healthiest bread for the bread lovers of our community. I tried the Cranberry Walnut and Pain au Levain – both wonderful. Can’t wait to try the other varieties, and incorporate them into some of my breakfast recipes for our guests!

Shopping at the Farmers Market gives me a warm glow – both because I am supporting these vital food producing efforts and because it truly inspires me to take better care of myself. And you know, a well nourished innkeeper is a happy innkeeper!



Building the Rancho Merlita Labyrinth – Day 8

April 18th, 2010 by pattiebell

Day 8 – The final rock is placed and the labyrinth is watered one final time.

A beautiful sight!

Desert broom is cleared between the labyrinth and the entry area under the large mesquite.

Building the Rancho Merlita Labyrinth – Days 6 – 7

April 13th, 2010 by pattiebell

Beginning at the center.

Day 6 – Stakes are set to locate the center and 16 radial points.  String connects the center and a stake (used for scoring a line) at the radius for the center and the first path.  Next, the radials are tied off to locate each change in direction.

Rock is collected from the site in various sizes with one dimension approximately 3 inches wide.  The scored lines are deepened using each unique rock so that they set securely into the earth.  Water compacts the soil at the end of the day.

ERM RH Bed and Breakfast Inn Labyrinth Tucson

More lines drawn, more rocks laid

El Rancho Merlita Bed and Breakfast Inn Labyrinth

After work is done for the day, water and compact.

Day 7 – Scoring, laying rock and watering continues.

El Rancho Merlita Bed and Breakfast Inn Labyrinth

Same process, another days work

Future home for a modern petroglyph

A pictograph on this rock will indicate the entrance to another alcove leading to the labyrinth.   The landscape light will illuminate the sloped surface at night.

Building the Rancho Merlita Labyrinth – Days 1-5

April 8th, 2010 by pattiebell

Labyrinth at El Rancho Merlita Bed and Breakfast Inn Tucson Az

Phew! That was a lot of work!

Designing maze puzzles for my sisters was a favorite childhood pastime.  Now I have the chance to build a labyrinth and have chosen the respected Tohono O’odham Man in the Maze pattern.

The desert gardens south of the Ranch House are extensive.  A fire pit, horseshoes, bocce ball, stargazing patio and a profusion of wildflowers are playfully encountered along the meandering paths.  The desert landscape, like the Ranch House, seems to absorb activities without feeling crowded.

There is a very special place bordered by mesquites to the east and south, the path to the north, and creosote to the west.  The area is a natural 32-foot arena.  Two creosote, some weeds and a few wildflowers lived here.  This area will be the future home of the El Rancho Merlita labyrinth.

Day 1 – My daughter, Valerie, and I dug up the creosote for transplanting.  2 hr.

Day 2 – My husband, John, and I dug up all the weeds.  We staked the center and marked the circle with the radial points.  4 hr.

Day 3 & 4 – Decomposed granite was spread about 1” thick to create a clean smooth level surface and watered to begin compaction.  5 hr.

Day 5 – More watering.

**Next step: Lay out the path.

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