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"My thoughts require no reading. Let the
rock that protects them be but a stage for singing crickets." --note found at the Labyrinth
Created by Helena Mazzariello, a Montclair sculptor and psychic, as "a gift to the world…" the Mazzariello
Labyrinth, commonly known as "Mazzariello's Maze," was originally laid out in the form of a classical labyrinth.
Located in Sibley Volcanic
Regional Preserve, in the East Bay Regional Park District, in the hills above Oakland, California,
the Mazzariello Labyrinth (also dubbed the "Volcanic Witch Project") is in a remote location, ideally suited as
a place of serenity and contemplation. Those who take the time to trek the extra distance to reach the site, enter and walk
the Labyrinth, pray, meditate, or simply examine the messages and talismans left in the center are rewarded with an experience
that is profoundly spiritual. A total absence of clergy and congregation, the sensation is quiet and humble, yet up front
For some, the Labyrinth is
the catalyst for a true spiritual awakening. It embodies man’s unending religious quest and represents the frontier
of the very limits of our present knowledge of the mystical world.
Loosely defined under a much
broader term: “a circle of stones,” labyrinths have been built since ancient times by almost every religion in
the world for healing and guidance. Being “a circle of stones,” a set of stones ceremonially placed on the ground
to magnify spiritual energy, the Mazzariello Labyrinth takes its rightful place along with sites such as Stonehenge, in England,
and the ancient Medicine Wheels built by the native American Indians of North and South America.
But the Mazzariello Labyrinth
is unique. Try a web search of the word “labyrinth” and discover for yourself that no other labyrinth across the
North American continent has anywhere near the untamed, aesthetic beauty and rugged surroundings of the Mazzariello Labyrinth.
Literally born of volcanic fire and brimstone, the Mazzariello Labyrinth is positioned at a geologic and spiritual crossroads,
where the orient meets the American west.
The Mazzariello Labyrinth
serves a diverse group of visitors for a range of purposes. Although no more than several people can be usually found at the
Labyrinth at any given time, the site receives visitors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Labyrinth plays a small yet essential
part in the lives of many.
And the Friends of the Labyrinth desire to keep it that way.
The purpose for the Friends
of the Labyrinth is to help maintain and preserve a clean, welcome, and quality spiritual experience at the Labyrinth. While
important, this is actually accomplished with a minimum of effort. But it is a fact of life that good things just sometimes
don’t last, and future situations may require that more specific efforts and skills come into play from those who truly
value the Labyrinth.
It’s no secret that the
continued existence of the Labyrinth is not a given. One would do well to recall the fate of another unofficial sacred site,
located behind the Japanese Tea Garden, in Golden GatePark, San
Francisco. Similar in many ways to the Labyrinth, it was a striking assembly of loosely organized rubble
with a central cairn, replete with interfaith offerings and incense.
Slightly smaller than the Labyrinth,
no defined path inside, but the magic was there. Known and visited by an eclectic assortment of worshippers who made pilgrimages
there from around the world, the site was quietly dismantled and unceremoniously disposed of by park staffs.
Legality: The mere presence of the Mazzariello Labyrinth violates
laws and codes of the East Bay Regional Park District. Although warmly embraced by some park officials, their sanctions of
the Labyrinth are unofficial. As a fairly recent feature to the area, the Labyrinth has not yet passed the test of time.
Perceived Fire Hazard: Some homeowners in the region feel
that the Labyrinth is a potential fire hazard, pointing out the candles and incense often found in the cairn at its center.
The Friends of the Labyrinth also feel that the fire danger conditions at the Labyrinth should be regarded as extremely high,
especially during the dry season that extends from May to November. But the burning of candles and incense seems to be an
unenforceable feature at any remote site.
Recently, someone has
come up with and implemented a simple, if not elegant, solution by crafting and placing a rustic, solar powered light that
warms the central cairn with a dim glow in the darkness. Also, the interior of the central cairn has been rearranged to include
a separate, deep and narrow pit to isolate and contain items that glow or smolder. Loose candles, matches, lighters and scrap
papers found at the Labyrinth are regularly disposed of by the Friends of the Labyrinth (as well as park employees) to
discourage the casual visitor from lighting things and simply walking away. As a result, the open burning of candles and incense
at the Labyrinth has dropped off to nil.
Environmental: Although the Labyrinth is in an abandoned quarry,
a totally man made canyon, nature has re-asserted itself and a seasonal pond has formed at the Labyrinth's north end.
This feature is a unique biological and ecological site and as such could come under the jurisdiction of a conservation group
or some other environmental entity. Such a move, while laudable, could ultimately bar public entry into the tiny watershed
of the Labyrinth.
The East Bay Municipal Utility District and the East Bay Regional Park District have recently completed a landfill in a quarried
area of the north end of Sibley Volcanic Regional Park, bordering the Stone Property. The project was given the expressed
mission of "... recontouring and seeding the project area to create a more park-like setting" and deposited 100,000
cubic yards of clean fill in the area.
Likewise, the Labyrinth could
be threatened by a similar project. In 2003, a hiker fell down a cliff face at the Labyrinth, requireing an emergency medical litter.
Admittedly, parts of the canyon of the Labyrinth can be steep and dangerous. And this is the age of the lawsuit.
One local municipality is seriously contemplating the absurd: the removal of all trees from the city's sidewalks,
just to stem the trend of frivilous lawsuits that are causing massive hemmoraging of the city's coffers.
The Friends of the Labyrinth affectionately
call the abandoned quarry of the Labyrinth a "canyon." An opportunistic plaintiff could declare the abandoned quarry
of the Labyrinth "an open mine."
Summary: In the event any of the above scenarios escalate to
a clear and present level, the Friends of the Labyrinth intend to serve as a grass roots forum, to collectively remind park
officials, and alert the public that these are public lands, open to all. The East Bay Regional Park District has been specifically
entrusted with the preservation and maintenance of all natural, as well as cultural, resources within its boundaries,
and managing these public treasures wisely.
Our existence is known
to visitors of the Labyrinth and others via the internet. The Friends of the Labyrinth, being in communication with each other,
are naturally positioned to actively lobby for the Labyrinth if it, or public access to the Labyrinth, seems threatened.
Outreach and Fellowship: While the main features of the Labyrinth
are contemplation and solitude, it is a fact that small groups of people sometimes do visit the site. The Friends of the Labyrinth
feel that there is a genuine interest among some visitors to participate in, or simply observe with fascination, ritual ceremonies
and mystical events at the Labyrinth. Those who already practice rituals at the Labyrinth, now in a very private way, are
considering posting open invitations at this webspace, to provide an occasional introduction of just some of the wonderful
things that are possible at the Labyrinth.
The Friends of the Labyrinth
have no intentions of “booking up” the Labyrinth, only to get others to feel a part of it and adopt it as their
YOU are a Friend of the Labyrinth: It
makes no difference whether you visit the Labyrinth frequently, or only occasionally, it’s yours if you simply feel
that you have a stake in it. Careful to not succumb to the burdens and trappings of congregation,
the Friends of the Labyrinth have no meetings and rely solely in the internet for communication, with warm, chance encounters
at the Labyrinth. Consider this webspace as a voice for your thoughts and feelings about the Labyrinth.
Everything you always wanted to know about the Labyrinth *
Okay... 65 feet (20 meters) below Post #4, in the quarry pit, described in
the interpretive trail guide, in Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, in the East Bay Regional Park District, located in the
hills above Oakland,
California. Not quite a ¾ mile, gentle hill-and-dell walk from an easily accessible trailhead,
one will encounter no more than about a 200 foot (61 meters) change in vertical in getting there. The Labyrinth is about 1,575
feet (480 meters) above sea level.
From Post #4, take the short, narrow dirt road that leads south (to your right,
when facing the Labyrinth from above), then loops back north and down into the quarry pit, ending at the Labyrinth. Avoid
scrambling down any trails directly to the Labyrinth as the slopes at the quarry (actually a gravel quarry) are steep, unstable
and quite dangerous. It’s not uncommon for visitors to experience at least one minor landslide at some time during their
short visit. It’s just a reminder of nature reclaiming itself, taking on a more natural, stable configuration to the
The Labyrinth was built, during the spring equinox in 1990, by Helena
Mazzariello (b.c.1960- ), in an area that she routinely took her goats
to graze. She originally layed out the Labyrinth as a classical (or 7-circuit), left-handed, earthen labyrinth.
But her labyrinth quickly took on a life of its own as hikers, now attracted to the site, began to build it
up as a rock labyrinth before Helena could finish it.
Labyrinths are described by how many concentric circuits or paths they
contain, and the first turn in this labyrinth is to the left. Unlike a maze (and even some labyrinths), a classical labyrinth has a single, well-defined path that leads to the center with no dead ends, no loops and no
forks. All classical labyrinths share the basic features of an entrance, a single circuitous path and a center (aka cairn,
altar, eye, fire pit, or shrine).
Some of the earliest forms of the labyrinth are found in Crete,
dating back to 1500 BC. The legend of Theseus and the Minotaur generally comes to mind at the mention of the word ‘labyrinth,’
but few today know and recognize the labyrinth symbol. So important was the labyrinth in ancient Crete
that it was minted on coins and inscribed on pottery of the time.
An amazing aspect of the classical labyrinth is that historical variations
of its 7-circuit structure can be found throughout Europe, as well as the orient, and even pre-columbian North and South
An additional rogue path was later added to the Mazzariello Labyrinth by someone,
obviously on a lark, that extended the original entrance from the south, around to the now familiar northwest entrance. The
Friends of the Labyrinth feel this addition adds a funky, yet special California
twist to the experience. The Mazzariello Labyrinth was the first of five labyrinths built throughout the Sibley
Volcanic Regional Preserve and is, by far, the largest and most visited.
Urban legends persist, of other labyrinths having been built in the
area of present day Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, prior to 1990 -and even during the 1930's and 1940's. Unfortunately, thorough
studies of high resolution black and white aerial photo archives of the era only prove a void of such activities.
Aerial View of the Labyrinth
In traditional fashion, the
Labyrinth was carefully laid out to a north-south and east-west orientation. Measuring 55 feet (16.76 meters) across, north
to south, and spanning 57 feet 5 inches (17.5 meters), east to west. Walking the Labyrinth, from the opening to the center
and back out again, one will cover a total distance of 1,352 feet (412 meters). That's the equivalent length of 4 ½ football
fields, carefully laid out in a very small place.
Aerial View of Labyrinth Canyon
Due to its location, at the
bottom of a small but steep canyon, the length of a typical day at the Labyrinth (or the time the sun's direct rays warm its
center) is shortened by about 4 hours, 42 minutes. While not important to the casual visitor, the actual moment of sunrise
and sunset is crucial in some rituals. It's also a concern to those who desire to plan a visit that avoids the unpleasant
extremes in temperature that are so common with the summer and winter seasons.
In the summer, actual sunrise
at the Labyrinth, the moment when the sun's rays strike the central cairn, will be about 2 hours, 9 minutes (more or less)
later than the daily sunrise posted in local weather forecasts.
In the fall and spring, actual
sunrise at the Labyrinth will be about 1 hour, 54 minutes (more or less) later than the daily sunrise posted in local
In the winter, actual sunrise
at the Labyrinth will be about 1 hour, 19 minutes (more or less) later than the daily sunrise posted in local weather forecasts.
The sun's rays will sweep in
from the west, across the floor of the canyon, toward the central cairn at an average rate (ever slowing) of 1.24 feet
(.38 meters) per minute.
In the summer, actual sunset
at the Labyrinth, the moment when the sun's rays cease to strike the central cairn, will be about 2 hours, 40 minutes (more
or less) before the daily sunset posted in local weather forecasts.
In the fall and spring, actual sunset
at the Labyrinth, the moment when the sun's rays cease to strike the central cairn, will be about 3 hours, 9 minutes (more
or less) before the daily sunset posted in local weather forecasts.
In the winter, actual sunset
at the Labyrinth, the moment when the sun's rays cease to strike the central cairn, will be about 3 hours, 24 minutes (more
or less) before the daily sunset posted in local weather forecasts.
The shadow of the canyon wall will
sweep in from the west, across the floor of the canyon, toward the central cairn at an average rate (ever accelerating)
of almost 1 foot (.29 meters) per minute.
While protected from the high winds
that frequent the nearby ridges, the Labyrinth does have a prevailing draft, from the east. The prevailing wind in the surrounding
area is a constant Pacific breeze from the west. But when it passes over the canyon of the Labyrinth, a highly localized,
low-pressure system is created. The net effect is that the Pacific winds, from
the west, are pulled down over the Labyrinth, going into a horizontal roll that gently blows back, to the west, across the ground level of the Labyrinth.
Heavy fog, rolling in from the Pacific Ocean, is a common evening
and early morning feature at the Labyrinth, giving it an eerie, mystical feeling. The fog bank rarely advances much farther
eastward than the Labyrinth and the east bay hills and usually dissipates by midmorning.
The Labyrinth experiences about one
earthquake a year, 2.8 average magnitude, originating within a 3.1 mile (5 kilometer) radius of the Labyrinth, from
an average depth of 5 miles (8 kilometers) below the canyon floor.
Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve
(click image to view at full size)
Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve
(click anywhere in image to go directly to Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve's informative website)
It’s not uncommon for
Sibley Regional Preserve (as well as other regional parks) to be temporarily closed due to dry weather conditions that could
cause an extreme fire hazard, putting hikers at risk (it’s impossible to outrun a western wildfire).
Before your visit, it’s
a good idea to phone the East Bay Regional Park Office and Trail Closure Hotline for a recorded message as to specific park
Their toll-free number is:
1-888-327-2757 Select option 4 on the voice message menu, and then select option 2 on the submenu, for the latest info
on any trail closures.
The Labyrinth is located in mountain lion country, which
means that when you disembark from your car at the trailhead, you become a part of the food chain. Actually, while mountain
lion sightings are not uncommon in the hills of the East Bay, there has been no record of a mountain lion ever
having attacked a person in the area of the Labyrinth. But, in 2004, a mountain lion was killed in the
county, for public safety reasons. Mountain lion attacks on humans are on the increase and the Park District encourages
caution when hiking or biking in open spaces in the East Bay.
Rattlesnakes, scorpions, and tarantulas are also native
to the area of the Labyrinth. And, like the mountain lion, are just a few of the many realities that give the Labyrinth a special,
Mountain lions are generally elusive and wary of people,
but, like any wildlife, they can be potentially dangerous. Here are some guidelines in dealing with the mountain lion threat:
Do not hike alone. A mountain
lion will usually only stalk solitary people. Go in groups, with adults supervising children.
Keep children close to you. Mountain lions seem especially drawn to
children. Keep children within your sight at all times.
Do not approach a mountain lion. Most mountain lions will try to avoid
a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
Do not run from a mountain lion. A mountain lion can out-sprint
a race horse. Running may also stimulate a mountain lion's instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make
eye contact. If there are small children there, pick them up if possible so they don't panic and run. Although it may be awkward,
pick them up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion.
Do not crouch or bend over. A human standing up is just not the right
shape for a cat's prey. On the other hand, a person squatting or bending over looks a lot like a four-legged prey animal.
When in mountain lion country, avoid squatting, crouching or bending over, even when picking up children.
Appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing
one. Again, pick up small children. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back.
Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and
that you may be a danger to it.
Fight back if attacked. Although a 160 pound mountain lion is fully
capable of downing an 800 pound elk, many potential victims have fought back successfully with rocks, sticks, caps, jackets,
garden tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and
face the attacking animal.
If you see a mountain lion in a Regional Park, remember the date, time, location, and exact
circumstances. Report it to the Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve park office: 1-888-327-2757), select option 3 from
the voice menu, and then select extension 4554 to talk directly to a park staff.
In the case of threatening behavior, immediately call 9-1-1,
or 510-881-1121, from a cell phone, 24 hours a day.
Rattlesnakes at the Labyrinth: The Northern
Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotelus viridis)
Rattlesnakes are out and about in the area of the Labyrinth, becoming
more active as the weather gets warmer. If you hear a rattlesnake shaking its rattle, back away. The snake is issuing a warning,
and if the warning is ignored, it may bite. There are many factors (temperature being the most important) that determine how
a snake will react when confronted by a human. Rattlesnakes should always be observed from a safe distance and are never
safe to handle. Even dead ones can retain some neurological reflexes, and "road kills" have been known to bite.
Dogs, too, are occasionally bitten by rattlesnakes, because
dogs are curious by nature and explore with their noses. They tend to run right up to rattlesnakes, barking and sniffing.
So keep your dog under control at all times.
The loud buzzing rattler sound coupled with a high rising and very threatening
coil is usually ample identification information for those in the field. Rattlesnakes have a triangular head that's noticeably
larger than their neck, a thick, non-glossy body, and a blunt tail with the rattles on the end. When alarmed or threatened,
they hiss and rattle, creating a sound like sizzling bacon. And rattlesnakes simply look mean-spirited.
Gopher snakes, a non-venomous (harmless) species also common to
the area of the Labyrinth are, at first glance, quite often confused with rattlesnakes. But gopher snakes have a
head only slightly larger than their neck. And their bodies are slender and glossy, their tails are pointed, and they have
no rattles. However, when threatened, they sometimes hiss and thrash their tails around in dry grass and leaves, creating
a rattlesnake-like sound.
Rather than relying on your skill at differentiating, it's best not to
disturb any snake or for that matter any other wildlife in the regional parks. Just observe from a distance and enjoy the
experience. If you find a rattlesnake by a picnic table or other developed area, don't attempt to deal with it yourself. Notify
park staff immediately. Park staff generally do not kill rattlesnakes but relocate them to areas less visited by humans.
Rattlesnakes found in the area of the Labyrinth
are the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake, a subspecies of the Western Rattlesnake. These are not aggressive creatures. They do
not initiate attacks, and they certainly won't chase people down the trails. But they are largely defensive and tend to stand
their ground if provoked.
Rattlesnakes should be considered armed and dangerous with well-developed
fangs and poison delivery system. A rattlesnake is classified as having hemotoxic venom that attacks the blood system of its
prey. The venom is a complex mixture of proteins that acts primarily on a victim's blood tissue. While not as potent
as, say, a cobra, the rattlesnake is far better equipped than a cobra to deliver its venom, elevating the rattlesnake's
status as one of the world's most dangerous snakes.
Rattlesnakes belong to a group of snakes known as pit vipers. These
dangerous snakes have a heat-sensitive sensory organ on each side of the head that enables them to locate warm-blooded prey
and strike accurately, even in the dark. The curved, hollow fangs are normally folded back along the jaw. When a rattlesnake
strikes, the fangs rapidly swing forward and fill with venom as the mouth opens.
Rattlesnake young, which have a blunt horny button at the tip of the
tail, are born alive and are equally deadly. They have only one poison fang, but, unlike the adult rattlesnake, release
all of their venom in one strike. The problem is that rattlesnake young, unlike adult rattlesnakes, are quite cute and
are more likely to be picked up and handled.
Symptoms of a rattlesnake bite include swelling, pain, weakness, giddiness,
breathing difficulty, hemorrhage, weak pulse, heart failure, nausea, vomiting, secondary gangrene infection, ecchymosis, paralysis,
unconsciousness, nervousness, and excitability. The bite is extremely
painful, and the toxins in the venom can cause tissue damage.
How To Treat A Rattlesnake Bite:
The best course of action is to keep the snakebite victim still and get
medical care as soon as possible. Cut-and-suck first aid techniques have long been discredited as doing more harm than good.
Cell phone reception is generally good in the Sibley Volcanic Regional Park. Simply dial 9-1-1 and inform the emergency
dispatcher. They are trained to lead you through the essential questions and they may also make an attempt to alert park staff.
And, if life threatening, a determined ambulance driver should be able to force his way through the gate and
negotiate the rough, narrow road to the Labyrinth. As a secondary measure, notify the regional park staff, yourself, so
that they open gates and also provide emergency assistance.
If you are alone and without a cell phone, and at or near the Labyrinth,
calmly(?) walk directly to the trailhead that is located at the Sibley Volcanic Regional Park Interpretative Center (and
rest rooms). This route is actually a rough, narrow road and not a trail, and is one of the more traveled routes in the
park, where you will be more likely to be found by others who can render assistance. This direct route back
will prove especially important if you become incapacitated or lose consciousness.
Keep the snakebite victim still, as movement helps the venom spread through
Keep the injured body part motionless and just below heart level.
Keep the victim warm, calm, and at rest, and transport him or her immediately
to medical care.
Do not allow the victim to eat or drink anything.
If medical care is more than half an hour away, wrap a bandage a few inches
above the bite, keeping it loose enough to enable blood flow (you should be able to fit a finger beneath it). Do not cut off
blood flow with a tight tourniquet. Leave the bandage in place until reaching medical care.
If you have a snakebite kit, wash the bite, and place the kit's suction
device over the bite. (Do not suck the poison out with your mouth.) Do not remove the suction device until you reach a medical
Venomous snakebites are rare, and they are rarely fatal to humans. Of
the 8,000 snakebite victims in the United States each year, only about 10 to 15 die... but don't forget that 8,000 people
are bitten each year.
A final word of reassurance. Visitors to the regional parks are very
seldom bitten by rattlesnakes. And in virtually every snakebite case, the victim was attempting to pick up, harass, or in
some way handle the creature.
at the Labyrinth and the law:
We feel it necessary to
include this information because a simple (but authentic) ritual at the Labyrinth can easily rack up a considerable number
of charges, or at least a good scolding, against the hapless visitor. Read on.
Federal and State Law: All birds of prey are federally protected. It is a violation of
federal law to have eagle, hawk, owl, and falcon claws, or even a feather of such in your possession without express permission
from the federal government. Legal possession of these items is only granted to certain American Indians for use
in ritual ceremony, and museums for public display. If you have illegal possession of such, you are encouraged, by law, to
contact the appropriate authorities and/or return them to the land with reverence and gratitude.
Now, the Friends of the Labyrinth
(and even most park rangers) know that illegal talons, feathers, etc used in clandestine rituals are more than likely the
result of road kill. And one may argue that it would be a crime of conscience to allow such a magnificent bird to simply become
a grease spot in the asphalt. But that doesn't change things. But take heart in the fact that the numerous hawks and owls
(and occasional eagle sightings) found in the vicinity of the Labyrinth are living testimony of the success of this uncompromising
The fact remains that
most of us don't have a legal "right" to possess these items. Do as you must, but be discreet. Read on.
The Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve: The
Park District's Ordinance 38, as it pertains to possible Labyrinth activities, is summarized below. Violators will be subject
to citation or arrest. Park visitors are responsible for knowing and following rules. For further information, ask a Park
Ranger, Volunteer Trail Patrol member, or contact the Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve park office.
Ceremonial pyrotechnics and
fireworks are not permitted at the Labyrinth, or in any regional park.
Fires (and flames) are not
permitted at the Labyrinth. It is also illegal to place hot coals on the ground. Being a fire critical area, smoking (incense,
ceremonial peace pipes, calumets, etc) is also illegal. Do as you must, but be careful and discreet.
It is illegal to disturb,
collect, or impede in the movements of natural creatures within District parklands. For example, gently picking up a snake
found in a chance encounter and incorporating it in a primitive or spiritual ritual, then returning it, unharmed, back to
the place it was found is a violation park rules. It may also soften the edge of that creature's sharp instinct for survival.
A park curfew is in effect
between the hours of and , unless a permit is obtained to remain on
parklands. The trailhead parking lot is subject to closure , November through
March. Again, do as you must, but be discreet.
special events or similar gatherings require a permit. Use your discretion here.
Gathering of flowers, ferns, berries, and other plants found at the Sibley
Volcanic Regional Preserve is prohibited. If you intend to place flowers in the central cairn of the Labyrinth, you are encouraged
to bring your own domestic grown flora.
Overnight camping is not
permitted within District parklands without a permit.
Beer and wine are permitted
at the Labyrinth. But use discretion.
Bows and arrows are not permitted
on regional parklands except at established ranges.
Spears, swords, crossbows and
other dangerous weapons are prohibited anywhere on regional parklands.
A permit is required for
amplification of voice, music, or other sounds.
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