Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's not a maze, but it is amazing!

It is not usually the purview of this blog to give advice to its (limited) readership, but I hope you have all had a chance to experience the wonder of a labyrinth and that if you have not you will go out and experiment with them immediately.

A labyrinth is an ancient symbol, a unicursal design used for prayer and meditation. Though many sources associate a labyrinth with a maze (a misconception not helped by the 1986 film Labyrinth starring David Bowie*), there is a distinct difference: a labyrinth has a single path in and out. Whereas a maze is a complicated series of paths in which it is easy to become lost, a labyrinth requires no choices and involves no confusion. One must simply journey in and out.

The pattern can be quite simple:

Or quite complicated:

The most well-known pattern is this one

which is the same pattern of the 13th century labyrinth inlaid into the floor of the cathedral in Chartes, France, perhaps one of the beautiful and most famous:

I had loved labyrinths for a long while and have appreciated their metaphorical and spiritual significance. But I was prompted to remind you about them when I had an opportunity recently to participate in a guided labyrinth walk accompanied by an incredibly talented music thanatologist or harpist who accompanies patients at the end of life. (If you have never heard this type of harp music, I suggest you do! It is the most soothing, peaceful, and beautiful sound you could imagine. In fact, if I am ever near death, I hope my loved ones will call just such a person.)

Anyhow, just a suggestion for your journey, something I've found quite helpful. Enjoy!

p.s. For those of you in the Cambridge, MA area, there is a beautiful outdoor labyrinth on the campus of Harvard Divinity School. Check it out!

p.p.s. Some people get so into labyrinths that they get tattoos of them! Can you believe that?

* Did anyone know that Labyrinth the movie was directed by Jim Henson? Strange...



  2. i knew that people did get tattoos of them - i don't know who told me that though...hmm...
    also, labyrinth is my favorite movie. i own it if you ever want to borrow it.