Music and the Labyrinth

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To walk the labyrinth is to enter sacred space that calls out for the intercession of sound and music to reveal its power.

In a way fundamentally different from the concert experience, the musical labyrinth renders us open and receptive, unencumbered by expectations of entertainment or elitist diversion. It extends an invitation for inner work while providing a template by which to realize it. It is both a metaphor and a praxis for the reconnection of music and spirit.

The musician at the labyrinth is in the unique position to speak directly to the subconscious minds of the participants, without recourse to persuasion or artifice. Such a musician is attending to nothing less than the alchemical marriage of anima and animus, the coniunctio, the process of individuationwhat C. G. Jung called the circumambulation of the Selfof which the labyrinth and its counterpart the mandala are ritual simulacra. This alchemy, Jung reminds us, rests upon an integrative embrace of the Minotaur, the Shadow.

The path we take in walking the labyrinth is symbolic of the journey of life, and is a virtual enactment of the archetype of personal transformation that mythologist Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey. Through this pilgrimage, this rite of passage, we answer the call to leave the world of common day, to undergo the ordeal of initiation, and to return with the boon of the adventure for the benefit of others.

Since its inception, Western art music has been the quintessential vision quest. Its first flowering in the 12th century was synchronous with the laying down of the stone labyrinths in the great Gothic cathedrals of Europe. Plainchant, possessed of a healing potential that we are now beginning to recognize, was its progenitor. To the classical musician, the labyrinth offers a crucible in which to renew and refine music’s high calling
to bring to fruition . . . to bring full circle . . . the long walk that began with a single step a millennium ago.

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