About the Labyrinth

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"The labyrinth provides the space where the thinking mind and the imaginative heart can flow together." Dr. Lauren Artress

The labyrinth is an ancient pattern found in many cultures around the world. Labyrinth designs have appeared on pottery, tablets, tiles, inlaid pavements and petroglyphs dating back at least 4000 years. Its geometries have often been inspired by spirals occurring in nature.

The labyrinth is famously associated with the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur and the Minoan civilization of Crete. It was an important symbol in the mythology of a number of early tribal groups in Northern Mexico, New Mexico and Arizona. Labyrinths have figured prominently in the Celtic and Scandinavian traditions, and appear in Indian manuscripts and Tantric texts from the 17th century onwards. The feature they all share is that they are unicursal: they have a single path that winds circuitously to the centre.

Labyrinths are currently being used worldwide as a means to quiet the mind, find balance, and to encourage meditation, insight and celebration. They are readily accessible as a nondenominational, cross-cultural tool for well being. They can be found in medical centres, churches, schools, prisons, parks and retreat centres, as well as in domestic spaces.

The labyrinth is not a maze. No misdirection is involved and there are no dead ends. In the walking, the path on the way in is retraced on the way out, the entrance becoming the exit. The entire path is in full view, fostering a sense of quietude and internal focus. Generally there are three stages to the walk: releasing upon entering, receiving in the centre, and upon returning bringing back into the world that which has been received. There is no right or wrong way to walk the labyrinth. It can be used in whatever way speaks to the whole person.

There are many ways to regard the labyrinth: a path of prayer, a walking meditation, a crucible of change, a watering hole for the spirit and a mirror of the soul.

May you be nourished in challenging ways.

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Pictured above: The labyrinth at St. Hilda's Church in Sechelt, BC, Canada

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