One meandering path leads home, to the center of YOU.
Come explore the world of labyrinths with me.
A labyrinth is one meandering path that winds its way back and forth to the center. Using the same path, we meander our way back out into the world, greatly shifted with calmness and new perceptions to embrace.
This ancient tool represents the path into the innermost depths of ourselves where we can explore our own inner thoughts and nature. It is a centering tool of transformation. As we walk towards the center, we leave the outside world behind. Each step leads us closer to our center. We can only place one foot on the path at a time.
Once in the center of the labyrinth we can calm our mind, reflect, and release what is concerning us. Once we are ready, we wind our way back out into the world with new perspectives and understanding about ourselves.
The labyrinth’s path is like the path of life. There are twists and turns, feelings of being lost, feeling relieved to have found the center, meeting people on the path that you must work to go around and connect with, and inner insights.
The design of the labyrinth itself is meant to help us center, be present, and patient. We walk one step at a time on the winding pathway. The meandering path and one foot stepping at a time will quiet our ruminating mind and leaves us in a state of peacefulness.
By walking back and forth, one side to the other, from the outer to the interior of a labyrinth, we align the left and right hemispheres of our brain. Though we can feel disoriented and lost within a labyrinth walk, we are never lost, we can always get home.
History and Origin of the Labyrinth
The labyrinth is an ancient tool, thousands of years old originally from ancient Crete, and found all over the world.
I come from a culture where labyrinths have been around for thousands of years and not only used as a tool of contemplation and transformation but a tool of initiation as well.
The island of Gotland, Sweden hosts some 70+ labyrinths in varying ages from 4500 years old, to recent additions. Their patterns speak of tradition, culture, sacredness, wisdom, and wholeness.
Different Types of Labyrinths
Though serving a similar purpose, there are different styles of labyrinths. Today we will concentrate on three different styles and shapes.
The Classical Labyrinth
The classical labyrinth is also known as the Cretan labyrinth. The winding path of a labyrinth is called a meander. The number of rings of a labyrinth are called a course. Labyrinths can be any size with any number of meanders. A nice size is for a classical labyrinth is 7 courses. I have seen classical labyrinths with 4 courses and one with as many as 19 courses.
The Chartre Labyrinth
One of the most famous labyrinths in the world is the Chartre Labyrinth at Chartre Cathedral in France. This beautiful labyrinth is just a short train ride outside Paris.
This 11-course beauty was built during the Middle Ages and is divided into four quarters, with a six-petal rose shape at its center. Around the edge of the labyrinth are lunar markings.
It is thought that labyrinths placed inside cathedrals especially during the Middle Ages were a way for people to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It became too dangerous for people to travel and so they would do the pilgrimage by walking the labyrinth X amount to times. Many would do this on their knees.
To learn more about how to walk a labyrinth and gain the treasures of this contemplative tool, have a look at the blog post I wrote here.
The Finger Labyrinth
Though having access to an actual labyrinth is a marvelous thing. It allows us to embody our walking meditation, gives impeccable calming, and insights.
The same can happen wherever you are by simply using a finger labyrinth. Finger labyrinths also have an ancient history and equally as powerful.
I have included a couple of finger labyrinths with instructions on how to use them over at my blog post here.
Labyrinths are a powerful tool to help us turn our gaze inward to look for life’s deepest answers. To access our inner knowing and intuition. Our very modern and face pace lives ask us to look to the external world for our answers. Using a labyrinth is the tool of asking the internal world for answers and guidance. It allows us to still the mind and have an inner dialog with ourselves. As we walk out from the center, it is a present unwinding of the outside world and places and inner knowing in its stead.
To Find A Labyrinth Near You
Veritas and The Labyrinth Society have created the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator. It is an easy to use database of labyrinth all around the world. The site contains over 6000 labyrinths in 80 countries. Each listing has information about the exact location, photos, and contact details.