The labyrinth is a spiritual tool that has many applications in various settings. It reduces stress, quiets the mind and opens the heart. It is a walking meditation, a path of prayer and a blue print where psyche meets Spirit."
The Reverend Dr. Lauren Artress ~ Creator of The Labyrinth Project ~President of Veriditas The Worldwide Labyrinth Project Canon for Special Ministries at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco
What is a Labyrinth?
A labyrinth is a spiritual tool - a path of prayer – a walking meditation. Be aware that your expectations of what will happen can get in the way of your actual experience. Try to be open. Each walk is a different experience for each person.
A labyrinth is not the same as a maze. With a labyrinth there are no decisions to be made, no tricks, no dead ends, and its whole is always visible. A maze, on the other hand, is a puzzle with many possible routes. Mazes are meant to disorient the seeker, and are often made with high shrubbery or walls so that a person who enters a maze can get lost, run into dead ends or miss the exit. A labyrinth has only one path that leads the seeker into the center and back out again.
Suggestions for Walking the Labyrinth
Some will walk seeking to search deeper into the self, or to take the measure of one’s own soul. Others will carry into the center a question, hoping for guidance or resolution. Or one can simply be seeking an avenue for quiet meditation and the presence of the Holy Spirit.
There is no "right" way to walk the labyrinth, but here are a few suggestions that may be helpful:
A Path of Prayer
· Walk. Quiet your mind. Let your body find your pace.
A Simple Journey
· Walk using a centering prayer. Think of the journey in three parts: the way in, the center, and the way out.
A Pattern in Classical Christian Spirituality
· Emptying: on the way in, let your mind quiet. Let go of all that burdens you.
· llumination: in the center, spend some time open to what God may want you to hear or feel.
· Union: on the way out, be open to integrating this experience into your life.
· Take a question into the labyrinth, and be open for guidance. This may come in the form of a feeling, an image, a word, or a phrase.
· With a Mantra. Use a repeated phrase as you walk, or you may begin with one, such as "Come, Holy Spirit" or "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me." Journal using "snapshot journaling before your walk:"
· Record the date and time, and a short description of your life at the moment.
· What do you see? What do you seek?
· After the walk, spend some time recording your experience
Seek and you shall find. Ask and you shall receive. Knock and it shall be opened unto you.
It is important to honor each person’s space and mutual time for prayer and meditation. Walking a labyrinth may take anywhere from a few minutes to more than an hour, depending on the pace of the walker and the size of the labyrinth. You are free to walk the labyrinth at your own pace. You may pass another walker, or you may allow another walker to pass you.
You may stay as long as your like in the center, unless there is a need to make room for those who come into the center later than you, and have the same need for space.
The Parts of the Labyrinth
· The circular shape of the labyrinth is an archetype for unity and wholeness. The circle is composed of eleven concentric circles and the center. The diameter of the labyrinth at Pass-A-Grille Beach Community Church is approximately thirty-seven feet.
· The entrance of the path opens to the outside of the circle. The path overall represents creation.
· The path to the center is approximately 825 feet long.
· The center is composed of six petals called the rosette. The rose universally symbolizes enlightenment. In the Catholic tradition, the rose represents the Virgin Mary. For mystics the rose is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Christians speak of being "centered in Christ." The six petals represent the six days of creation. Also the six petals can represent one of the six stages of planetary evolution: (in clockwise order) 1. Mineral kingdom and Mother earth, 2. Plants, 3. Animals, 4. Humans, 5. Angels, 6. Unknown—Divine.
· The lunations (cusps and foils) are the outer ring of partial circles that complete the outside circle of the labyrinth. The lunations consist of 112 foils (partial circles) and 113 cusps (points). Some believe that the church used the labyrinth as a calendar to determine the date of the lunar feast of Easter. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon that occurs on or after March 21.
· There are ten labyrs in the classic eleven-circuit labyrinth. They are the double-ax symbol visible at the turns. Labyrs is believed to be the root word of the word labyrinth. They are traditionally seen as women’s power and creativity. When you look at the pattern as a whole from above, they form a large cross.
As with any metaphor, the labyrinth and its parts, as a metaphor for life’s journey has layers of meanings. Each walker will find personal meanings.