The labyrinth is an archetypal pattern, a “divine imprint,” found in religious traditions in various forms around the world. Perhaps the best known is the Labyrinth which was inlaid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral, near Paris, France, around 1200 AD.
Several European cathedrals had labyrinths which were walked by thousands of faithful Christians as a symbolic way of making a pilgrimage to the Holy City, Jerusalem. An even older labyrinth, known as the “Cretan” labyrinth, has been found in settings dating as far back as 2500 BC.
In recent years, walking the Labyrinth has been rediscovered as a way to connect with a depth spirituality which integrates body, mind, and spirit.
Why are people walking the Labyrinth today?
The Labyrinth can be an important spiritual tool during times of transition and personal change. It is also an “active” way of praying: the path winds throughout and becomes a mirror for where we are in our own lives, a metaphor for our journey with God.
How can the Labyrinth be used as a spiritual tool?
a path of prayer
a place of release and renewal
for quieting the mind
to evoke images, dreams, memories
asking an important life question
Walking the Labyrinth can be like a mini-retreat. For 20 to 30 minutes, you are in a place apart from the stress and strain of daily life.
Is the Labyrinth a maze?
Labyrinths and mazes are frequently confused with one another. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has only one path; there are no tricks and no dead ends. It is designed to quiet the mind and lead the walker by a winding route to the center, and then, by the same route, to return to the exit.
Who is using the Labyrinth?
People of all ages are attracted to the Labyrinth. Churches are using portable canvas labyrinths or installing the pattern in courtyards or meditation gardens. Retreats and workshops are built around themes which incorporate the Labyrinth.
A large medical center in California placed a labyrinth on its grounds for use by staff, patients, and their families. Persons with chronic illness or recovering from addictions find it a helpful tool and counselors recommend it to those dealing with grief or difficult life transitions.
Labyrinth at Oak Hill UMC, 7815 Highway 290 West, Austin, TX
To Learn More About the Labyrinth
Local accessible labrinths are st St. David’s Episcopal Church, 304 E. 7th St, tel. 472 1196, and at Unity Center, 9603 Dessau Rd., tel. 836 -6372.
New Life Institute has a 40 ft. x 40 ft, heavy, portable canvas which is identical with the one at Chartres Cathedral in France and is available for rent. Call NLI offices (512-469-9447).
Other Related Labyrinth Links:
labyrinthproject.com (St. Louis, MO)
Grace Cathedral (San Francisco, CA)
Labyrinth Society (New Canaan, CT)
Labyrinth at St. David's Episcopal Church