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How to do a Labyrinth Walking?

Updated on March 11, 2015
Labyrinth at Boston University
Labyrinth at Boston University | Source

How to do a Labyrinth Walking

Labyrinth walking is one of the world’s oldest spiritual and metaphysical rituals. It’s when a person literally walks through a labyrinth, or a maze that is specially constructed along spiritual or metaphysical guidelines in order to represent a transformational journey.

Labyrinth walking has been used for meditation, contemplation, relaxation, religious practice, and numerous other purposes for centuries. The practice has roots in the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, a legend that told of a Greek hero who successfully navigated a labyrinth and slew a terrible, man-eating beast. These days, it is becoming more and more popular as a part of the growing New Age movement and culture of the last two decades focusing on spirituality.

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Tea light labyrinth at Holy Cross Church in Frankfurt
Tea light labyrinth at Holy Cross Church in Frankfurt | Source

Finding a Labyrinth

To walk a labyrinth, you have to first have a labyrinth.

These mazes are constructed out of anything from hedges, bushes, and other natural materials – like corn or wheat – to plywood, stone, and other materials. The mazes can be simple, complex, or something in between.

Usually, they are associated with a spiritual organization that has a labyrinth on site, but you can also use non-spiritual, secular mazes. You’ll often find ‘corn maze’ attractions in the autumn season when the grain is high, or you may find botanic gardens that feature these beautiful mazes made with hedges as walls, or stone patterns laid into the floor.

Note that these are not true labyrinths in the sense that it is possible to get lost. A labyrinth made specifically for prayer or meditation is created in such a way that starting at a point will take you through the entire maze in a certain order, including through the center – which often has symbolic meaning to represent enlightenment, success, or fulfillment.

VanDusen Botanical Garden Maze
VanDusen Botanical Garden Maze | Source

Making Your Own Labyrinth

When no labyrinths are locally available for you, consider making your own!

You can build a temporary labyrinth in your own back yard if you want. All you need to do is get a labyrinth pattern, and a lot of rocks, shells, sand, long rope or some other substance to mark out the trail on the ground.

Sometimes you don't even need markers-- in muddy fields, or snow-covered yards, on sandy beaches you can etch out a labyrinth to walk by making a trail through the mud, snow or sand. Live on concrete? No problem-- just get some sidewalk chalk and you're all set.

For something permanent, you can always lay flag stones, mark the way with a brick path, or plant some of your favorite flowers and herbs to act as path walls. If you're pouring concrete you can etch the design right into the substance. The options for making a permanent labyrinth on your property are endless.

If you want to take a labyrinth on the go for when you attend a camp out or spiritual nature retreat, get the biggest tarp that you can find, and draw the labyrinth pattern on it with a permanent marker. You can then simply roll it up and stick it in the trunk, spread it out for everyone to use (put some rocks on the edges to weigh it down and have people take off their shoes) and then fold it back up to save it for next time.

traditional labyrinth diagram
traditional labyrinth diagram | Source
Cretan square labyrinth model
Cretan square labyrinth model | Source
Frontier Park, Erie PA
Frontier Park, Erie PA | Source

Labyrinth Walking: The Process

So, how exactly do you do a walking? What are the steps and details involved in the process? The process is actually fairly simple for most people, although adherents of certain religions may have additional requirements. For example, while walking, some Christians also pray with a rosary. Buddhists frequently chant while navigating the labyrinth, Wiccans may chant a spiral dance song, and so on.

But, at the most basic, a labyrinth walking merely involves contemplating an issue, focusing on a particular topic or theme, or just clearing your mind and allowing yourself to relax as you walk through the maze. It is a form of meditation, and you should be mindful of the journey (both the literal one you're taking and the figurative one you're thinking about).

Again, in a prayer labyrinth it is not possible to get lost; indeed, many labyrinths, as explained above. It's not something you need to fear, though it can be fun getting lost in one of those Halloween harvest corn field mazes! But that's entirely your choice. Most spiritual labyrinths are simply patterns on the floor, and you can see the entire layout from start to finish.

In short, labyrinth walking is a way to experience peace and relaxation while meditating and enjoying yourself in tranquility.


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    • shai77 profile image

      Chen 4 years ago

      Loreli, so true! I didn't even think of it that way, what a beautiful way to put it.

      Aley Martin, lavender is amazing smelling, that's a great idea.

      Raisingme, that's really cool! Hope you enjoy, let us know if you do!

      Thanks for your input everyone, I appreciate your comments!

    • raisingme profile image

      raisingme 7 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      In the fall there are all kinds of corn mazes (maizes) near where we live - other than retrieve a lost child or two out of one of these, I have never walked through one on my own. After reading your hub I am looking forward to doing just that this fall! Thank you.

    • Aley Martin profile image

      Alice Lee Martin 7 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      I was contemplating a Hub on Labyrinths, and love this description. The history of the one at the Chartres Cathedral and also the book by Lauren Artress are wonderful reminders to drop your woes in the middle of the labyrinth and come back to the real world free of the added weight of your worry. I also love that pilgrims unable to go on a pilgrimage would use them as a way to pilgrimage. And on my 50th birthday I was able to walk inside a lavender labyrinth! As I walked along the path, I brushed the lavender with my legs and was gifted with the most wonderful was magic.

      Good hub!

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Since life is a complex path, I can really see this. Thoroughly fascinating, Shai!