The Labyrinth Renaissance

When Paul McCartney wrote "The long and winding road…” he could have been describing a labyrinth.

Unlike a maze, which has dead ends and wrong turns, a labyrinth has a single, winding path from the outside to the centre. It has many twists and curves but you can’t get lost. There are no mistakes, no wrong turns. If you stay on the path you’ll eventually arrive at the centre. It’s often seen as a metaphor for our "life journey.” In other words, life is really just putting one foot in front of the other, and we always have the opportunity to make another choice in life or another turn in the labyrinth.

Labyrinths have been in existence for centuries and today they’re experiencing a renaissance. They’re being built at universities, hospitals, churches, community parks, and in people’s yards. Believed to have first been constructed about A.D. 500, they have continued to offer a connection to a Universal energy. Robert Ferré, director of the St. Louis Labyrinth Project, says, "Walking a labyrinth is another way of tapping into forces beyond our normal conscious mind. It takes us to some ancient part of ourselves, as old as the turning of the planets and stars, as old as the goddess and earth energies, back when night was dark, when people knew the sky and nature was a part of us and we of it. This is something lost in our modern world, and the imbalance that it causes cries out for resolution. That’s why the labyrinth touches so many people so forcefully.”

People around the world are again being drawn to the labyrinth and exploring it as a healing tool. Walking a labyrinth helps your mind and body relax. It’s a place to clear the mind, and a place to receive answers to life’s troubling questions. It’s a place to feel grounded in the present, and a place to walk into the future.

People are also being drawn to the labyrinth as a spiritual tool. Those who have difficulty sitting to meditate find the labyrinth a perfect outlet for a moving meditation where they can release the busyness of the day and listen to the still, small voice within.

For centuries, labyrinths have been part of the rituals of many cultures and religions. Today they’re being used as venues for celebrations from the religious to the secular, from rites of passage (birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, renewing of vows, memorials, to celebrations of Earth Day, the Spring and Summer Equinoxes and Valentine’s Day. In fact, the labyrinth can be part of any event that deserves special acknowledgment.

To walk a labyrinth is to explore your connection with Mother Nature, with the Universe, and with your Self.

Linda Magnuson is owner of Kairos Guest Suite in Comox.