All right, class, who can tell me what this is?

That is correct, it is a right triangle made of rope. Each of the three corners is actually a metal ring to which the ropes are tied. Stake it out and the ropes will automatically form a right triangle. The Egyptians used something like this to measure acreage.

The right angle, though is not the angle we care about. It’s the angle nearest us, which contains the arc between the short radius of an octagon and the long radius. This is what we will use to lay out the octagonal labyrinth that is at the center of the 3 Old Men ritual. You can’t see it in this photo, but the short radius is marked off every two feet with a little piece of blue duct tape, and the long radius is marked similarly with red tape.

So we’ll use our staves to form an 8-foot square, stake out the center, and position the triangle with the short radius along one of the directions of the compass. From there, we have ropes with stakes already threaded through—we use the tape marks to determine where to place the stakes. Flip the triangle, repeat. Move the short radius to the next compass point. Repeat.

This is theory. Practice may turn out to be something else altogether.

Here’s what 144 (give or take today’s shipment of the final 16) tent stakes look like:

There were two additional boxes already downstairs. Apparently there is not a warehouse anywhere in these United States that is capable of storing a gross of 16″ tent stakes, so they came from everywhere. That’s fine—they were delivered in two days and for free.

Unpacked and counted:

Notice the two spools of rope, not pictured in the second photo.

I’m getting very excited about this project.

Celebratory. Essential.