A labyrinth is a form of walking meditation. Every time you walk a particular labyrinth, the experience will be different. Sometimes the walk will trigger insight or solutions, sometimes it will being up memories. Sometimes it is about being very present, sometimes your thoughts will be drawn to your dreams. It is an archetype with which we can have a direct experience. We can walk it. It is a metaphor for life's journey. It is a symbol that creates a sacred space which leads us into its heart, then back out again along the same path. Although one is able to cross the lines at any time, we are compelled to follow the meandering path to the center and back again.
The difference between a labyrinth and a maze is that a maze will activate the conscious brain - it has stops and starts, and you have to solve it. A labyrinth has only one pathway, which takes you in and back out again. It activates the subconscious mind, transporting the walked into a trance-like state, and allowing them to shut off their conscious mind. This distinction is enhanced by the direction of the first turn -- if you are turned left, it helps to activate the subconscious mind, and if you are turned right, it helps to activate the conscious mind.
There is no getting lost in a Labyrinth. Rather, one is offered a path that weaves back and forth, in and out, until it ends in a central circular area. Here, walkers pause to reflect before departing as they came, carrying back wisdom gained on the inbound journey. Labyrinth walkers say the certitude of the path—knowing all decisions about direction have been made—frees them to focus on contemplation instead of navigation. Some call this prayer; others, deep reflection. Whatever the name, the practice has been used to nourish the soul around the world for several thousand of years.
Labyrinths predate Christianity, although they were used as part of one's regional religious pilgrimage, in Europe during the Crusades, when people could no longer journey to the Holy Lands. The oldest example of a labyrinth carving is in a Neolithic chambered tomb in Sardinia dating from 2500-2000BC. One can find 12th century labyrinths on the Hopi reservations of the American SouthWest.
The labyrinth features prominently in the Greek myth of Minos, Ariadne, and Thesus. The tale is believed to have been a metaphor for the mystery school and the process of initiation, in which one is brought face to face with the dark side of one's own self in order to understand and overcome its selfish, hungry, all-devouring tendencies.
A Labyrinth Walk has three main phases:
- Walking in - the energy is that of releasing
- At the center - the energy is that of contemplation
- Walking out - the energy is that of receiving
There are many different types of labyrinths, although most of them incorporate sacred geometry. The most common are:
- Eleven Circuit Labyrinth, also known as Chartres style.
- Seven Circuit Labyrinth, also known as Classic, Cretan, or Greek style. This is the form of all the very early labyrinths.
- Three Circuit Labyrinth, sometimes known as a wedding labyrinth.
The design of our labyrinth is a triple spiral, a form seen only in the British isles. You can see the basic design of it in our logo.