What is a Labyrinth?
A labyrinth is a spiral path that will lead you to the centre and then back out again. One of the oldest contemplative and transformative tools known to humankind, labyrinths have been used for centuries for prayer, ritual, and personal and spiritual growth. They pick up a “sacred geometry” that seems to be encoded in the universe in patterns of water flow, flowers, pine cones, and the winding code of DNA. In the middle ages, labyrinths came to be incorporated into churches as a place of pilgrimage for those who were unable to make longer pilgrimages.
In contrast to mazes, there are no tricks or dead ends in a labyrinth. Among the many varieties of labyrinths is the eleven-circuit labyrinth built into the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France in the thirteenth century. All Saints’ labyrinth is the most common, the classical or Cretan design with seven circuits and seven turns. Notice the cross and the circle in the centre.
A revival of this ancient tool of meditation has been recently recovered by Christians of all denominations. Coming as it does from the early Church, the practice of walking is being shared ecumenically and joyfully.
Everyone is invited to walk the outdoor 7-circuit labyrinth in the All Saints’ Courtyard, or the 11-circuit indoor labyrinth located in Steacy Hall.
How to walk the walk?
There is no “right or wrong” way to walk a labyrinth. Journey in and out. Expect to have different experiences each time you do it. Undertake to discover your way for today.
Once you set your foot on the path, you are gently led to the centre. Like any journey in life, you encounter twists and turns. At points you are drawn farther away from the centre. By keeping the path, you reach the centre; then you are led back to where you started.
Set your own pace. Pay attention to the rhythms of your own breath and gait. Receive the “body wisdom” that can come from this experience. Then maybe, invite yourself to find new movement. If you meet someone going the other way, do what feels natural. Walking with others can enrich the experience.
Suggestions to try as you walk
From Jill Kimberly Hartwell Geoffrion,
Living the Labyrinth: 101 Paths to Deeper Connections with the Sacred (Cleveland, Pilgrim Press, 2000)