The Labyrinth
A Tool for Spiritual Transformation 

November 14, 2009
John Stuart Leslie 

A labyrinth is a circular ancient symbol that relates to the wholeness of one. The circular shape and its pathways combine to form a metaphor for life’s journey -- a path of life on a single continuum.

 

Prehistoric labyrinths are believed to have been traps for evil spirits or a pattern for ritual dances. In the middle ages, the labyrinth symbolized a path to God (the center) and a single entrance (entering your life's path at birth).

In earlier times, many people devoted to practicing their religions, could not afford to travel to Mecca, Mount Sinai, or other sacred and holy sites and lands, so labyrinths and prayer acted as a substitute form of pilgrimage. Today, a labyrinth is used not so much as a form of pilgrimage to a symbolic place of worship found in the center of the labyrinth, but as a personal spiritual journey. I like to consider them as a kind of oracle because of the perceived power that a labyrinth possesses.

 A Labyrinth is a perfect component for a sacred garden, as it is interactive. We can walk it. We meander along its circuitous path. Changing directions back and forth, spiraling towards the center. As we walk, contemplating our life, our thoughts go within, just as the path is leading to the center. 

The Labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world hopefully having experiencing profound insights, truths or simple reflections about our lives. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools.

Labyrinths and mazes have often been confused. People often think the terms are interchangeable. A maze is a puzzle, designed to disorient and confuse the people trying to get in and find their way back out.

A Labyrinth’s paths are not chaotic with choices to make as to which direction to walk. Rather, the path of a Labyrinth is a simple direct, one way path. From the entry point, it leads to the center and back out and at the entry in one continuous path. labyrinth ani

A maze is designed to have twists, turns, and blind alleys. Sometimes life can be seen as having twists, turns and dead ends as well. But a maze is not designed to create introspection so that you can find meaning in your life. That is the magic of a labyrinth.

Its an ancient tool that can assist you in solving problems, getting insight, find meaning and endless experiences as long as you allow the feelings to arise. To be open to whatever experience you have is key.

Found in many religious traditions and cultures around the world, the labyrinth is an archetype for life itself. It is an ancient pattern that has been found as far back as 4000 years, represented usually in some form of circular, or spiral design on pottery, petroglyphs, tablets or other media.

A Labyrinth is a great feature to have in your spiritual garden. Depending on how much space you have, you may end up calling your only available space your “Labyrinth Garden” because it takes up the entire area. Or you may have a large enough yard to put in a secluded spot, or perhaps design around it as the focal point.

Related Articles: How to Use a Labyrinth

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