ABOUT THE LABYRINTH

A labyrinth is a pattern with a purpose, an ancient tool that speaks to a long forgotten part of us. Lying dormant for centuries, labyrinths are undergoing a revival of use and interest. They offer a chance to take "time out" from our busy lives, to leave schedules and stress behind. Walking a labyrinth is a gift we give to ourselves that leads up past our intellect to a deeper place within. Among the results some people have reported from walking labyrinths are insight and creative ideas, relaxation and stress release, happiness (and sometimes tears), connectedness, balance and well-being.


SYMBOL

The labyrinth represents our passage through time and experience. Its many turns reflect the journey of life, which involves changes of direction, transition, some uncertainty but also discovery and achievement. Different from a maze (which has dead ends and false passages), the labyrinth has a single path that leads unerringly to the center. It shows us that no time or effort is ever wasted; if we stay the course, every step, however circuitous, however many turns, however distant it seems, takes us closer to our goal.


USE

Thinking is not required to walk a labyrinth. At the same time, one must remain alert to stay on the path. This combination of reduced mental activity and heightened awareness makes the labyrinth ideal for walking meditation or prayer. Some walk or dance the labyrinth just for the fun of it, or to express a certain intent or wish. There is a strong connection between the labyrinth and earth energies, reestablishing a long-lost rapport with nature and with the feminine. The turns of the labyrinth are thought to balance the two hemispheres of the brain, resulting in physical and emotional healing. Labyrinths have been used for weddings and other ceremonial purposes. As reaching the center is assured, walking the labyrinth is more about the journey than the destination, about being rather than doing, integrating body and mind, psyche and spirit into one harmonious whole.


CLASSICAL LABYRINTH

In general, labyrinth designs fall into two categories. To the right is a pattern known as the classical 7-circuit labyrinth. It is sometimes referred to as the Cretan labyrinth, referring to its ancient and mythological association with the island of Crete. It is called the 7-circuit labyrinth with regards to the number of concentric paths. Classical patterns also exist in 11-circuit and even 15- and 19-circuit versions. According to the book Labyrinths: Ancient Myths and Modern Uses by Sig Lonegren, the Cretan pattern depicts the orbit of the planet Mercury as seen from planet Earth.

Drawing of the classical 7-circuit labyrinth.

 


CHARTRES LABYRINTH

During the Middle Ages, many Gothic cathedrals inlaid labyrinth patterns into their stone floors. Based on principles of sacred geometry and proportion, the following pattern still remains in Chartres Cathedral, France, where it was built in the year 1201. This pattern has been undergoing a popular revival, led by the activities at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and the organization Veriditas: The Worldwide Labyrinth Project, headed by Dr. Lauren Artress. (Website: www.gracecathedral.org)

 

Drawing of the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth.

However, to define a labyrinth as a pattern on the ground or floor is like saying a master painting is a canvas with oil paint on it. That's true, but both are much more than that. It's like confusing the menu with the dinner. In each case, the visible form leads to a deep, inner experience. Thus, the labyrinth is really a tool, the gateway or physical entry point to the energy and truth that lie beyond the visible.


LOCATION

Labyrinths may be placed almost anywhere, including parks, churches, playgrounds, prisons, gardens, parking lots, backyards, and other locations both public and private. Outdoor labyrinths may be laid out in the traditional way by placing rocks in a pattern. In other cases, labyrinths are dug into the ground or painted on pavement. For indoor use, a labyrinth pattern may be painted on a canvas floor covering. Temporary labyrinths may be "drawn" with rope, tape, cornmeal, paint, or by mowing the grass into a pattern. Small tabletop labyrinths (used increasingly by psychotherapists with their clients) made of paper, wood, or other materials may be traced visually or with the fingers. Children enjoy drawing or painting labyrinths in school or Sunday School.


Labyrinth Enterprises

We offer a full range of services from sale and rental of labyrinths to consulting, design, lectures, and more. For details, see our website at www.labyrinthproject.com or contact us at the phone number or address shown below.

Labyrinth Enterprises, LLC, 128 Slocum Ave., St. Louis, MO 63119.
Tel: (314) 968-5557 or (800) 873-9873

Email: robert@labyrinth-enterprises.com

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