Spiritually speaking, labyrinths are symbolic of the journey to the center of ourselves. Technically however, they are a single, non-branching path which leads to the center and can be retraced back. Mazes on the other hand are multi-branched and not easy to navigate – mazes get us lost!
Labyrinths have a long history. They were created at least as far back as the 3rd Century BC. Labyrinths were placed on ancient coins as well as on basketry and pottery. They have been etched on the walls of caves and churches. The Romans designed numerous labyrinths on walls and floors in tile or mosaic. Many indoor and outdoor labyrinths built on the ground are large enough to be walked.
The most famous labyrinth comes from Greek mythology. The labyrinth built for King Minos of Crete at Knossos was designed to hold the minotaur, a half-man, half-bull that was eventually killed by the hero Theseus. Many a child has had nightmares over that labyrinth!
Aside from the labyrinths of Europe, they have been found in many other cultures. These include the native people of North and South America, Australia, India, Nepal, and Java.
In modern times, labyrinths have become popular symbols of the spiritual journey towards our innermost selves, a journey towards enlightenment. While walking a labyrinth and following its turns and curves, we lose track of our direction and instead place our attention upon the immediate path and the placement of our next step. We slow down. Often without realizing it, our minds become quiet. We have let go of our worries for tomorrow and we cease replaying the events of yesterday. We are present.
If there is a labyrinth in your area, consider walking it. Find out whether it helps you become more present and calm. Many individuals walk labyrinths as part of a physical and/or emotional healing regimen. There are parks, churches, and even hospitals that have labyrinths.
If there isn’t a labyrinth near you consider making one. You can make a small one in your yard or you can draw or paint one creating a ‘finger labyrinth.’ You may be surprised to find that making a labyrinth using small pebbles or even drawing one will result in the same mindfulness as walking along a full-sized labyrinth. Remember, labyrinths symbolize the inner journey to your spiritual and sacred center. The real journey lies within you.
Peace to all
For more information on labyrinths go to: www.angelfire.com/tn/SacredLabyrinth/
For those of you in the Phoenix area check out these labyrinths:
Mariposa Gardens Memorial Park – 400 S. Power Rd., Mesa, AZ.
The Franciscan Renewal Center – 5802 E. Lincoln Dr., Scottsdale, AZ.
Foothills Christian Church – 3951 W. Happy Valley Rd., Glendale, AZ/
Spirit in the Desert Lutheran Retreat Center – 7415 E. Elbow Bend Rd., Carefree, AZ