A labyrinth is a symbol of wholeness that dates back thousands of years. The spiral and circle images combine to create a winding but purposeful journey. The Labyrinth indicates a road or trip to our own center and back out into the world.
Before You Continue...
Do you know what is your soul number? Take this quick quiz to find out! Get a personalized numerology report, and discover how you can unlock your fullest spiritual potential. Start the quiz now!
Labyrinths have been used for meditation and worship for thousands of years. When we walk one, it represents the path of life. It's a symbol that conjures up a sacred area and transports us from the ego to the spirit, to “That Which Is Within.” On our screen, we use the labyrinth in the upper right hand corner as a background.
What does labyrinth symbolize?
I despise getting lost. I'm not the only one that thinks this way. Separating from your tribe was extremely perilous before the invention of cities, suburbs, and GPS.
Professor Kenneth Hill was interviewed by Jim Mora on the RNZ Sunday morning radio show about the psychological effects of getting lost. Why do people worry out when they get lost, Jim wonders?
I'm not a big lover of mazes, which comes as no surprise. I've been in a hedge maze and leased a barn at a maize maze, but I've never gone through it. I was uninterested.
Mazes and labyrinths may appear identical at first glance, but once you're trapped inside one, it's a whole different experience. Here's the distinction: Mazes have numerous diverse paths that split off into dead ends, giving them a crossroads-like symbolism. If you ever find yourself trapped inside a maze, you'll have to choose which way to take.
However, once inside a labyrinth, you must trek along a single, immensely long pathway. The path will lead you around and around until you reach its center after taking the longest path imaginable. A terrifying part-bull, part-man lurks in the labyrinth of Knossos, according to Greek mythology. A prince named Theseus killed him because he was a chimerical monster. Theseus followed the length of string he'd untangled on his way in to find his way out. (This was actually the brainchild of Ariadne, Minos's daughter, who was madly in love with him.) Later, he abandoned her on a deserted island.)
In the fairytale Hansel and Gretel, a similar ploy is used, except the starving children's crumbs were eaten by birds.
Theseus's string length may appear ingenious, but it was a little excessive. Finding your way out of a labyrinth shouldn't be difficult. I haven't tried it, but allegedly you pick a hand and use it to contact the wall. Continue walking with that same hand against the wall until you reach the exit. A labyrinth is similar to a maze in that you must remember which decisions you made on your way in, but in reverse. Actually, this method works for mazes as well (with the only tricky bit being bits of wall not attached to anything). You won't get out the quickest way this way, but you'll get out alive.
The phrases maze and labyrinth are frequently interchanged in modern English, and they can serve as symbols in a variety of ways, as evidenced by ancient traditions:
- a path that the departed must travel on their way to the spirit realm (mazes as liminal spaces)
- Mazes separate the traveller from the familiarity of cardinal direction, removing all symbolism associated with compass points. A labyrinth/maze can assist you in finding your spiritual path in this way. The traveller has no choice but to gaze inward because he or she is no longer bound by the limits of linear time and the markers of ‘the actual world.' This is how you discover your life's ‘real path.'
- In more current dystopian fiction, the labyrinth can represent organizations where getting anything done is difficult paperwork, bureaucracy. The labyrinth is particularly effective in portraying this concept since it leads you on the longest possible route to the center, or truth.
- The maze/labyrinth is a contradictory emblem since it is a beautiful, symmetrical work of art when viewed from above or when designed by its designer. When you're confined inside one at ground level, however, you'll feel confused, frustrated, and eventually depressed.
- Because they both represent travels, the labyrinth and the knot are closely related as concepts. The difference is that knotwork design does not have a beginning or an end. (Knot theory is a branch of mathematics that examines knots with no origins or finishes.) A ring is the most basic mathematical knot.) Because the ending implies that our main character will be on the road indefinitely, a story like Andrea Arnold's film American Honey resembles a knot rather than a labyrinth.
- A rebirth is symbolized by entering a labyrinth and surviving it. As a result, the labyrinth may be considered a womb. Fairylands, or any land beyond the fantasy gate, work in a similar way. The hero's goal once inside is to make it out alive.
ABANDONMENT: The symbolism of abandonment is comparable to that of the ‘lost thing,' and they are both related to death and resurrection symbolism. To feel abandoned is to lose sight of the eternal light in the human spirit, which is to feel forsaken by the ‘god inside us.' This creates a sense of alienation in the individual's life, which is linked to the labyrinth idea.
THE GREEK LABYRINTH
Returning to Greek mythology, the term “labyrinth” refers to a “home of the double axe.” The labrys is a symbolic and ancient axe. What do axes and labyrinths have in common? In Minoan culture the Bronze Age people of Crete (c. 3000 BC 1100 BC), the labrys was a potent symbol. The Minoans were named after Minos, a legendary figure from Greek mythology, and the word ‘Minotaur' is derived from him. (Minotaur is a combination of Minos and bull.)
What does labyrinth mean biblically?
On the floor of their church, Christians built a labyrinth. Moving one's body and opening one's heart to Jesus are both required when using a labyrinth. All you have to do is keep walking until you reach the center. The labyrinth, unlike a maze, has no tricks.
Is a labyrinth spiritual?
A labyrinth is an old spiritual instrument that encourages introspection and spiritual growth. For millennia, contemplatives and laypeople alike have walked labyrinths, which are normally shaped as a circle with a single path going to a center and made of a variety of materials.
How do you walk in a spiritual labyrinth?
Do you want to see if walking a labyrinth may help you relax? To begin started, King recommends the following suggestions.
Before you go in. Before you enter the labyrinth and begin walking, think about a contemplative question, a prayer, or a favorite image to keep in mind.
While out on the town. Simply stick to the path. Everything else can fade away as you focus on your steps.
Are labyrinths evil?
Labyrinths are unusual in that they are a geometric shape that does not exist naturally, and as a result, they are a symbol of humanity's creative creativity. The labyrinth, whether imagined or actual, was a negative emblem in the Hellenic culture, connected with fear and an overwhelming sense of evil.
Where did the labyrinth come from?
The Labyrinth (Greek v labyrinthos, probably the architectural complex at Knossos) was an ornate edifice constructed and built for King Minos of Crete at Knossos by the legendary artificer Daedalus. The Minotaur, a fabled beast that was half man and half bull and was eventually killed by the Athenian hero Theseus, was held there. Daedalus had constructed the Labyrinth with such dexterity that he could scarcely leave it after completing it. Ariadne aided Theseus by providing him with a skein of thread, dubbed the “clew” or “clue,” which he used to find his way out.
A maze is a complex branching (multicursal) puzzle with choices of path and direction, whereas a single-path (unicursal) labyrinth has only one non-branching way leading to the center. In this sense, a labyrinth has a clear path to the center and back and is not intended to be difficult to travel.
Even though both logic and literary descriptions make it clear that the Minotaur was trapped in a complex branching maze, the unicursal seven-course “Classical” design became associated with the Labyrinth on coins as early as 430 BC and became widely used to represent the Labyrinth despite the fact that the Minotaur was trapped in a complex branching maze. From Roman times until the Renaissance, visual renderings of the Labyrinth were virtually always unicursal, despite the fact that the designs got more intricate. Garden mazes became fashionable in the Renaissance, and branching mazes were reintroduced.
Labyrinths occurred on pottery and basketry, as body art, and engraved on cave or church walls. The Romans created several ornamental labyrinth designs in tile or mosaic on walls and floors. Many labyrinths built into floors or on the ground are large enough to walk through from beginning to end. They've been used for both communal ceremonial and solitary meditation in the past.
The Cretan labyrinth, an Egyptian labyrinth, a Lemnian labyrinth, and an Italian labyrinth are all mentioned in Pliny's Natural History.
The Lydian labrys (“double-edged axe,” a symbol of royal power, which fits with the theory that the labyrinth was originally the royal Minoan palace on Crete and meant “palace of the double-axe”) is possibly related to the Lydian labrys (“double-edged axe,” a symbol of royal power, which fits with the theory that the labyrinth was originally the royal Minoan palace on Crete and meant “palace of the double-axe (as in Corinth). Many of these symbols were discovered in the Minoan palace, and they were frequently associated with feminine goddesses. It was most likely the arche's symbol (Mater-arche:matriarchy). The worship of Zeus Labraundos () at Caria, Anatolia, where there was also a sacred sanctuary named Labraunda, supports this notion. Zeus is shown wielding a two-edged axe. The priests of Delphi were known as Labryades () in ancient Greece, which meant “men of the double axe.” The magnificent palace of Knossos in Crete is often blamed, although the real dancing-ground, portrayed in frescoed patterns at Knossos, has yet to be discovered. In the 1st century AD, travelers visiting Knossos were shown something that looked like a labyrinth (Philostratos, De vita Apollonii Tyanei iv.34). A palace with a comparable complex structure was unearthed in Beycesultan, Anatolia, near the Meander River's headwaters.
The word labyrinthos (Mycenaean daburinthos) may have the same equivocation between start d- and l- as Tabarna / Labarna, a variant of the early Hittite royal name (where written t- may represent phonetic d-). If this is the case, the equivocation is analogous to the Vedic sandhi depiction of intervocalic retroflex as . It's likely that the name daburinthos is related to Mt. Tbôr, but this isn't widely recognized.
However, Greek mythology does not mention a Lady or mistress who presided over the Labyrinth in Crete, despite the fact that the goddess of mysteries in Arcadian cults was known as Despoine (miss). A gift “to all the gods honey; to the mistress of the labyrinth honey” is recorded on a Linear B tablet discovered at Knossos. All of the gods receive the same amount of honey as the Mistress of the Labyrinth. Potnia is a Mycenaean Greek word. Kerényi observes, “She must have been a Great Goddess.” It's likely that the Lady and the Cretan labyrinth were linked to a worship that was later passed down to the Eleusinian mysteries.
To give the “Greek key” its widespread modern name, the labyrinth is the referent in the known Greek patterns of the eternally looping meander. Coins from Knossos were still produced with the labyrinth symbol in the 3rd century BC. During this time, the classical labyrinth, a simple seven-circuit design, was the most popular labyrinth style.
The name labyrinth came to be used to describe any unicursal maze, whether it was round or square in shape. A decisive bend in the center drew one back out. Socrates discusses the labyrinthine course of a logical argument in Plato's dialogue Euthydemus:
“Then it felt like we were falling into a labyrinth: we thought we were at the end, but our path curved round and we found ourselves back at the start, just as distant from what we were looking for at the start.” As a result, the modern concept of a labyrinth as a location to lose one's way must be abandoned. It's a perplexing route to follow without a thread, but if it's not devoured in the middle, it will lead you back to the beginning, despite the twists and turns.
Since Classical times, Knossos has been thought to be the location of the labyrinth. When explorer Arthur Evans investigated the Bronze Age site of Knossos, he discovered a variety of bull themes, including an image of a man leaping over a bull's horns and carved renderings of a labrys on the walls. It has been suggested that the palace was the site of a dancing-ground built for Ariadne by the craftsman Daedalus, where young men and women of the age of those sent to Crete as Minotaur prey would dance together, based on a passage in The Illiad. As a result, the palace is linked to the Minotaur story in popular culture.
Archaeologists looked into other possible labyrinth sites in the 2000s. ‘Evans' hypothesis that the palace of Knossos is also the Labyrinth should be taken with caution, according to Oxford University geographer Nicholas Howarth. Howarth and his crew investigated the Skotino cave, a subterranean complex, but came to the conclusion that it was developed organically. A system of underground tunnels at Gortyn, entered through a minor fracture but growing into interconnected caverns, is another option. These caverns, unlike the Skotino cave, feature smooth walls and columns and look to be partially man-made. This site is based on an uncommon labyrinth symbol found on a 16th century map of Crete in a volume of maps at Christ Church, Oxford's library. In 1821, the French created a map of the caves themselves. During the Second World War, German soldiers utilized the site to store ammunition. Howarth's investigation was featured in a National Geographic Channel documentary.
Malevolent spirits are thought to have been trapped in prehistoric labyrinths, which also functioned as specified paths for ritual dances. The labyrinth represented a difficult path to God in medieval times, with a clearly defined center (God) and only one entry (birth). Carl Schuster and Edmund Carpenter present various forms of the labyrinth in their cross-cultural study of signs and symbols, Patterns that Connect, and suggest various possible meanings, including not only a sacred path to the home of a sacred ancestor, but also, perhaps, a representation of the ancestor himself: “…many Indians who construct the labyrinth see it as a sacred symbol, a helpful ancestor, or a deity. They might be keeping its original meaning in this way: the ultimate ancestor, evoked here by two continuous lines connecting its twelve fundamental joints “..
People might travel the road, ascending toward salvation or enlightenment, in labyrinths, which are symbolic forms of pilgrimage. Many people couldn't afford to go to holy sites and lands, so they relied on labyrinths and prayer instead. Later, labyrinths' religious significance waned, and they were mostly used for entertainment, however their spiritual significance has recently resurfaced.
Today, many newly constructed labyrinths may be seen in churches and parks. Modern mystics employ labyrinths to assist them achieve a contemplative state. Walking among the turnings causes one to lose track of time and the outside world, which helps to calm the mind. The Labyrinth Society maintains a global database of current labyrinths.
What is the purpose of praying with a labyrinth?
A labyrinth is not the same as a maze. There is an obvious path into and out of a labyrinth. The labyrinth will help students and visitors meditate and pray in a Christian manner. Labyrinths were employed in the Middle Ages as a way for people to participate in pilgrimages without having to spend the money or time to go to another location. On the floors of churches, labyrinths were built to help people meditate.
The labyrinth, like decking an evergreen tree with lights at Christmas or the emblem of the cross, is a pre-Christian symbol. Christians, like other symbols, have taken and welcomed the labyrinth emblem, effectively redeeming and baptizing it for Christian use. Like other symbols, it is the user's orientation, not the symbol itself, that determines whether it is employed for good or harm.
How do you pray in a labyrinth?
How to use a labyrinth to pray
- Give your intention a name. Invite God to walk with you throughout this prayer hour, as we begin a walking meditation in order to hear and respond to the Lord.
- Take a stroll down the trail. Enter the labyrinth and follow the route, knowing that God is with you.
How is a labyrinth used in meditation Catholic prayer?
A labyrinth is a symbolically guided, meditative “journey” into our “core.” Labyrinths can be “walked,” or the path can be traced with a finger, a colored pen, or even sand. It is also possible to travel mentally without moving your body.
What does labyrinth mean in Greek mythology?
The Labyrinth (Greek: o, Labrinthos) was an intricate, perplexing building constructed and erected for King Minos of Crete at Knossos by the legendary artificer Daedalus. Its purpose was to house the Minotaur, who was later killed by Theseus.