Labyrinth

Handmade Labyrinth Maia Scott
by Maia Scott

“Throughout the long history of labyrinths whenever and wherever society is going through rapid change and development, the labyrinth has blossomed. Now, humanity is seeking the sure path of the labyrinth in an uncertain and confusing world.”

~ Jeff Saward, Labyrinth Historian

caerdroia_labyrinth_diagram

Definition

To make a labyrinth what it is, we have to fulfill the following elements:

  • one entrance
  • winding path or path with several turns
  • no crossroads
  • no dead end streets
  • one center
  • the same path leads to the exit
  • the exit is actually the entrance

If you think about these elements, you will quickly notice the fact that it is impossible to get lost in a labyrinth! The only thing that a person walking inside a labyrinth must do is just that – to walk! Unless you turn around and head back, you will reach the center. There you turn around and go back the same way that you came from.

evb_labyrinth

 

Cultural meanings

Prehistoric labyrinths are believed to have served as traps for malevolent spirits or as defined paths for ritual dances. In medieval times, the labyrinth symbolized a hard path to God with a clearly defined center (God) and one entrance (birth).

 

 

In their cross-cultural study of signs and symbols, Patterns that Connect, Carl Schuster and Edmund Carpenter present various forms of the labyrinth and suggest various possible meanings, including not only a sacred path to the home of a sacred ancestor, but also, perhaps, a representation of the ancestor him/herself: “…many [New World] Indians who make the labyrinth regard it as a sacred symbol, a beneficial ancestor, a deity. In this they may be preserving its original meaning: the ultimate ancestor, here evoked by two continuous lines joining its twelve primary joints.”

minotaurus
The Minotaur at the center of the Labyrinth depicted on a 16th-century gem.

In Greek mythology, the labyrinth (Greek: λαβύρινθος labyrinthos) was an elaborate, deliberately confusing structure designed and built by the legendary artificer Daedalus for King Minos of Crete at Knossos. Its function was to hold the Minotaur, the monster eventually killed by the hero Theseus. Daedalus had so cunningly made the labyrinth that he could barely escape it after he built it.

One can think of labyrinths as symbolic of pilgrimage; people can walk the path, ascending toward salvation or enlightenment. Many people could not afford to travel to holy sites and lands, so labyrinths and prayer substituted for such travel. Later, the religious significance of labyrinths faded, and they served primarily for entertainment, though recently their spiritual aspect has seen a resurgence.

In Greek mythology, the labyrinth (Greek: λαβύρινθος labyrinthos) was an elaborate, deliberately confusing structure designed and built by the legendary artificer Daedalus for King Minos of Crete at Knossos. Its function was to hold the Minotaur, the monster eventually killed by the hero Theseus. Daedalus had so cunningly made the labyrinth that he could barely escape it after he built it.

 

Spiritual Walks

In Greek mythology, the labyrinth (Greek: λαβύρινθος labyrinthos) was an elaborate, deliberately confusing structure designed and built by the legendary artificer Daedalus for King Minos of Crete at Knossos. Its function was to hold the Minotaur, the monster eventually killed by the hero Theseus. Daedalus had so cunningly made the labyrinth that he could barely escape it after he built it.

Spiritual Walks

To traverse the labyrinth is a journey into the center of our own being and the return to our divine source. Each single round of a labyrinth is called a circuit.

Among the meander labyrinths, there are 2 main designs, the seven-circuit type and the medieval design. The seven-circuit ones are also known as Cretan Labyrinths.

Before you enter, allow each part of your body to relax. Breathe slowly and deeply.  As you approach your walk, release your concerns, and be open to receiving. Consider bringing an issue or a question to your walk.  This allows you to focus the intention of your walk and receive guidance. To walk the path is to know and trust that guidance is available to you. Allow yourself to be who you are and to walk in whatever way is best for you. Your experience will be yours, and whatever you experience, know that it is right for you.

Among the meander labyrinths, there are 2 main designs, the seven-circuit type and the medieval design. The seven-circuit ones are also known as Cretan Labyrinths.

labyrinthchakras

Traveling the seven-circuit labyrinth is extremely powerful, as it correlates to the seven chakras:
1. Base chakra (Root). Your relationship to the universe
2. Sacral chakra (Navel). Your relationship to the community in which you exist
3. Solar plexus. Your perception of yourself
4. Heart. The point of oneness in the human body with the all; the balance between the lower and higher chakras
5. Throat. How you speak your truth
6. Third Eye. How you see the truth
7. Crown. Your spiritual relation to the universe

labyrinth

The labyrinth embodies a “unicursal” design: It has one continuous path. The path in is the path out. There is no wrong way to walk it. There are no dead ends. You can’t get lost.

If you work with the chakras, it indicates that you go through the heart (4) from the material world (1, 2, 3) to the spiritual world (5, 6, 7). The heart is in the centre. This strengthens the knowing that love is all there is. Love is the only truth, the only reality, the only power. Love is eternal.

If you walk a classical 7-circuit labyrinth, the following pattern emerges:
3-2-1-4-7-6-5-(8)

If you work with the chakras, it indicates that you go through the heart (4) from the material world (1, 2, 3) to the spiritual world (5, 6, 7). The heart is in the centre. This strengthens the knowing that love is all there is. Love is the only truth, the only reality, the only power. Love is eternal.

If you draw lines in the sequence that you walk the labyrinth; that is 3-2-1-4-7-6-5, it forms what looks like a cup. This cup, some say, relates to the Holy Grail and its secret knowledge. The wisdom lies within.

Your heart is known by the path you walk.

 

Labyrinth VS Maze

Labyrinth is indeed a complex and confusing structure, but it is not a maze! Unfortunately, only a few people know about this difference. Therefore, in general use, we have the Platonic function of the labyrinths as a synonym for confusion and disorientation.

Look at the picture of a simple maze.

As you can see, it has an entrance and an exit on two opposite sides. As soon as you enter, you face a dilemma: to head on straight or turn left. If you turn left you will find yourself in a dead end street and you will have to go back. In some places, there are crossroads where you can choose whether to go one way or the other. In this maze, there is only one correct path that leads to the exit. However, it is possible to construct a maze whose paths connect, meaning there can be alternative paths that lead to the exit. If this maze was more complex, one could spend hours in it before finding a way out.

The popular term ‘labyrinth’ is often wrongly used to describe these kinds of structures (in parks and similar). As I have pointed out, a maze significantly differs from the definition of a real labyrinth.

Here is how a labyrinth looks like.

This is also a complex and a confusing structure, at least when you first look at it. Still, if you examine it more closely you will discover it only has one entrance (which is also an exit), so there are no crossroads or dead-end paths. This means that after you reach the center you go back the same way to reach the exit.

 

As much fun and likable mazes can be, they are not labyrinths. While mazes symbolize the process of deciding and reaching decisions, stimulating the mind to get around (the body, also if they are the right size), labyrinths are true patterns of power that work on a much deeper level than pure logic and getting around.

 

Drawing a Labyrinth by Yourself

The 7-circuit labyrinth is drawn as shown. To draw an 11-circuit labyrinth, add an “L” in each corner and follow the same plan as for 7-circuit — see diagram, lower right.


Image Research

 

MEDIEVAL LABYRINTH, UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, MS TRINITY COLLEGE O. 2.45, FOL. 3R

 

 

Labyrinth of Jericho in a copy of the Taj Torah, Yemen c. 1400-1450

 

Reparitus (Algiers — 4th century )

 

Medieval Labyrinth

 

 

 

 

Minotaur in Labyrinth, Roman mosaic at Conímbriga, Portugal.

 

 

Silver coin from Knossos, 400 BC

 


 

Read More

Meditations on a Medieval Labyrinth by Sweenie

Into the Labyrinth: Excursions and Applications for Creative Process by Janice M. Francisco

The Labyrinth: A Path for Reflection and Transformative Learning Proposal for a Permanent Labyrinth on the The University of Central Oklahoma Campus.


Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labyrinth

http://wellfedspirit.org/labyrinth_pages/graphics.html

http://www.celestial-labyrinths.org/theory/labyrinths/

http://www.sage-thyme.com/world-labyrinth-day/

http://www.rainbow-labyrinths.co.za/chakra/index.html

http://www.reclaimingquarterly.org/web/labyrinth/labyrinth-solo.html

http://www.xinalaniretreat.com/labyrinths-as-meditation-tools/

https://sites.dartmouth.edu/library/2014/10/10/taj-torah/

http://sprightlyinnovations.com/leafandleisure/2013/05/10/meditations-on-a-medieval-labyrinth/

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