Walking a Labyrinth
The Rythmn, Solace and Power of a Labyrinth
My teen granddaughter and I walked a labyrinth about a year ago anticipating about 30 minutes but remaining within the path for 2 hours. The circuit, which is really one continuous winding path, was lined with beads, rocks, figurines, candles, all of which created stopping points for thinking and praying – whatever we each individually wanted to do while within the labyrinth. When we entered the labyrinth, outside distractions seemed to fade away. We realized this small geometric journey was one for solace, prayer, meditation and a quietness of mind, a time for each of us to be in touch with our soul. I had somewhat expected my granddaughter to enter, leave, re-enter…being both prayerful and playful, but she was very sensitive, empathic to me, and very meditative. She was and is remarkable.
We knew there was no proper way to wander through, so we could not make a mistake during our walk. A labyrinth guides you to enter, to reach the center, and to exit. We could go straight to the labyrinth’s heart or meander its simple path. We were not heavy of heart; we had no great questions. We were simply on a quest to experience something new that we believed would be energizing, uplifting and self-reflective – a celebration of life itself. When we stepped out of the walk, we both paused, finding it difficult to leave the serenity. "The labyrinth is like an invisible thread that connects us to the sacred." (Author unknown). Amen.
What is a Labyrinth?
A labyrinth is a visual metaphor for our journey through life, one that focuses us, opens us for insights and awareness. It is not a maze that causes confusion, but instead it brings clarity. Some use their own meditation beads to focus their minds while labyrinth walking. We did not do this, but the many trinkets along the path we walked focused us similarly. As we entered we relaxed in thought. At the center we reached for inspiration. As we exited, we integrated the clarity of new inspiration within ourselves. For us, we did not have to yield to others as we were blessed to have the labyrinth to ourselves on that first experience.
Where did it all begin?
Ancient labyrinths found in most goddess cultures
5000 B.C.E.: The 7 Circuit Celtic Labyrinth is the “classic labyrinth” designed to honor Ancient Mesopotamia’s Great Goddess Inanna who descended from Heaven as Queen of Earth and Heaven to rule in Sumer (Sumerians; located today in the Southern half of Iraq) and then her descent through the seven gates of the underworld where she meets her dark side, dies, is reborn, and regains her earthly role and identity. The 7 Circuit Celtic Labyrinth has seven circuits or paths representing a journey within your deepest self with inspired awareness of self upon exiting.
Middle Ages and Gothic cathedral inlaid stone patterns
Christians used the labyrinth formations as early as 350. In the Middle Ages a renewed interest in labyrinths arose, as is exemplified in France’s Notre-Dame de Chartres Cathedral where in the year 1201 a sacred geometrical design was inlaid as the “physical entry point to the energy and truth that lie beyond the visible.” These types are more intricate, having eleven circuits divided into four quadrants. In olden days it was walked as a pilgrimage; and crawled as a repentance. The walker roams the four quadrants several times and then reaches the center rosette, symbolic of enlightenment. San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral and an organization called Veriditas: The Worldwide Labyrinth Project has rejuvenated interest in this Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth.
Chalice Labyrinth Design:
Unitarian Universalists claim the flaming chalice as one of their symbols. In a Christian setting, a Chalice Labyrinth takes on a different meaning and might even be adapted to the Stations of the Cross. Many denominations use these spiritual journey pathways on a cross-denominational basis.
Native American and Roman Labyrinths
These may be square or circular or even polygonal and follow classic designs as floor mosaics. Here are two types of Hopi Labyrinths:
The Wonders of Labyrinths for YOU today!!
So what can you do now?
Visit the virtual labyrinth NOW: http://labyrinthsociety.org/flash/labyrinth.htm
Still got the eye for stereograms? Find the labyrinth in this one NOW: http://www.lessons4living.com/labyrinth_stereogram2.htm
Want to walk a physical labyrinth soon. Find one NOW in your area: http://labyrinthlocator.com/home
Want to Build a Labyrinth: You can make a inspired path by using tape, stones, ribbon and wooden stakes, luminaries, and on and on. Here are a couple of websites on how to build your own special space. Remember, a labyrinth is presumed to be a right-brain undertaking so be creative! Possible sites are:
Build a labyrinth in the snow!
Mow a labyrinth in your yard!