Why Walking a Labyrinth is Cool

Years ago, in the mid 1990’s, I attended a women’s retreat where a canvas labyrinth was spread out over the floor. The room was softly lit with candles and I remember Carlos Nakai’s Canyon Trilogy playing softly in the background. His Native American flute added a magical flavor to the air.

I was enchanted and beguiled by the process of wandering this path. Here’s what I’ve learned about them and why I think walking one is so cool.

Labyrinths are really old. The first form of this circular layered symbol has been traced back 3500 years but the origins remain a mystery. They’ve been found all over the world, from Peru to Scandinavia, from Crete and Egypt to India and Sumatra. How could it have transferred from hemisphere to hemisphere that long ago? Are they even older than that? A mystery.

When you look at a labyrinth from a distance, it looks like a maze. A maze, by design, gets you lost and it can take a long time to return. This is why I really don’t like walking the popular Halloween corn mazes.  Too frustrating!

With a labyrinth, the path is winding, but you never get lost. You can’t judge where you are by looking around; just keep your eyes on the path and it directs you to where you need to go. You walk in trust.

The path winds back and forth and around till you end up in the center. If you choose, you can spend time in reflection there, then return the exact same way.

What I think is so cool about a labyrinth is

  1. You can be either outdoors or inside. My preference is outside so I can be in the natural elements. My favorite one has a tree planted in each direction. When I stand in the middle to express my gratitude for my life, I face North, South, East and West and am greeted by a living masterpiece, a tree.
  2. I love that I’m participating in a ritual that is more ancient than our current male-dominated religions. It ties me to the essence of humanity in a way that’s hard to express. I love the ancient-ness of it all.
  3. It takes me about 20 minutes to walk to the center of the classic Chartres 11-circle labyrinth, then 20 minutes out. That’s a 40-minute walk, people! What better way to get some exercise?
  4. Walking a labyrinth is like walking your Unmarked Path. The path is laid out before you, but you can only see what’s directly in front of you. It’s easy to feel lost when you can’t tell when the next turn will send you off in a new direction, but you aren’t lost. It’s all for your ultimate benefit.

I hope you have a chance to experience this for yourself. You can find labyrinths near you through this labyrinth finder:   https://labyrinthlocator.com/locate-a-labyrinth

Please comment below on your experiences with labyrinths. What was it like?  What was important about that for you? I’d love to hear your perspective!

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