The artistic spirit of Marc Chagall and Prayer Labyrinth: As soon as we entered the churchyard and building in the bright May evening sunshine we were all pleasantly surprised by the gentle dancing energies that weaved and spiralled everywhere. It was a refreshing and invigorating experience.
All Saints, Tudeley-cum-Capel is located in pretty countryside near the hamlet of Tudeley, near Tonbridge. The original church dates back over a thousand years and is mentioned in the Book of Domesday. However, there is evidence to suggest that it may have been a sacred site even before the Roman occupation.
Today the church is known worldwide for its stained glass windows by the renowned Russian emigré artist Marc Chagall.
Chagall created the windows in memory of Sarah d’Avigdor-Goldsmid who died in 1963 at the tragically early age of 21, in a sailing accident.
The church is also the home of the Tudeley Festival, which specialises in performance of early music.
Apparently Sarah and her mother had been enthralled by Chagall’s stained glass work at an exhibition at Musée du Louvre in Paris in 1961. Following her death, Sir Henry and Lady d’Avigdor-Goldsmid commissioned Marc Chagall to design the magnificent east window, which was installed in 1967. Chagall who spoke of Christ as “the radiant young man in whom young people delight”, was an inspired choice of artist to remember the daughter of a Jewish father and an Anglican mother.
Over the following 15 years, Chagall designed the remaining windows, which were made in collaboration with the glassworker Charles Marq in his workshop at Rheims in northern France.
The chancel windows were finally installed in 1985, the year of Chagall’s death at the age of 98 (replacing Victorian glass, now cunningly backlit by specially designed light boxes installed in the vestry, at the suggestion of Sir Hugh Casson).
The energy lines running through All Saints are more tranquil than at other churches we have studied such as Boxley Church, north of Maidstone. The most significant energy we noticed first was one running from the west to the east through the western entrance.
The line travelled east, up the knave, through the altar and out of the great eastern stained glass window. While we tracked the west-east energy line through the church we were delighted to notice it dancing and intermingling with other more mild bands of energy running from the north and south. They formed lovely vortices of energy-the first filling the entire knave and bathing the congregation in wellbeing and a second smaller one around the altar. The overall sense of the energy was that of joy and hope.
In the churchyard, just north of the church there is also a lovely Prayer Labyrinth on the lawn.
It is undoubtedly all of these factors: The sacred activities of the church, the spirit of Chagall’s art, live music festivals and visitors from around the world which contribute to the positive bubbling energies that surround this church.
THE PRAYER LABYRINTH IN THE CHURCHYARD
People used labyrinths as a method of prayer and listening to God long before the birth of Christ.
They were adopted by the church to be used as shortened pilgrimages, probably because of their cross-like symmetry. Pilgrims who could not afford a pilgrimage to Jerusalem could make a virtual one in the labyrinth.
Labyrinths were a feature of many medieval churches, most famously Cathédrale de Chartres in France. Unfortunately many were destroyed during the 17th and 18th centuries because of the church’s fear of their pagan origin.
The labyrinth has no walls and only one path. The pathway leads to the centre and then continues outwards. There are no dead ends.
The labyrinth here at All Saints is based on a design found in a fountain in Damascus. This Prayer Labyrinth is made by cutting the grass very short. The edges either side of the path are produced by allowing the grass to grow a little longer.
There is a wooden cross in the centre, with various numbered turning points along the way.
Prayer journeys can be made walking around the labyrinth and there are several prayers and meditations to guide you: These can be found in the porch at the entrance of the church.
Dowsing the labyrinth, we discovered that the energy line travelled precisely along the indicated path. All one had to do was to tune into the spiritual ambiance of the location and our dowsing rods were instantly guided along the route of the pilgrims. In the middle was a small wooden cross and spiral of energy caused by a blind spring.
Later, speaking to the people who designed and created the labyrinth we learned that it was only about three and a half years old. However, people from all over the world that come to admire Chagall’s work also pray and meditate in the labyrinth. We concluded that although the location of the labyrinth in the church yard has been sacred for a long time, it was the spiritual intent of the users who created such a powerful and exact flow of energy along the tracks. This may be a message from God too, that meditation and prayer for peace and love can actually create physical changes to the energy in the environment, which in turn affects others around them. A high level flow diagram of this would look as follows:
- All Saints Church Tudeley-cum-Capel Historical Notes
- The History of All Saints Church Tudeley In the County of Kent