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A Path of Peace Encircles the Globe on World Labyrinth Day

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(This article is part of a series on labyrinths. Additional information, especially about the history of labyrinths, is available in many of the previous articles listed below. Author, Meryl Ann Butler, is a founding member of The Labyrinth Society and has been building labyrinths since 1992.)

Dancing the maypole in the classic labyrinth at Whitewater Mesa Labyrinths, NM, 2012.
(Image by photo credit David Thornburg)
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Saturday, May 2, 2015 marks the seventh annual World Labyrinth Day (WLD). The global event is sponsored by the Labyrinth Society (TLS), an international organization of labyrinth enthusiasts. TLS invites people around the world to share in a symbolic walk designed to encircle the world with peace. Individuals or groups can participate by holding private walks or public events on a labyrinth.

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Labyrinths have been experiencing a public revival in schools, hospitals, libraries and places of worship, as well as in private spaces.

Labyrinths may be temporary or permanent, round or square, indoor or outdoor, and may be made of a wide variety of materials from canvas or carpet to rocks, sand, paving stones or masking tape. Many are wheelchair accessible. And labyrinths have even been built for horses!

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Labyrinths are walked for many reasons, including to enhance relaxation, to create ceremony, as prayerful/meditative movement, and to promote wellbeing, and their paths of comfort have found their way into hospice programs as well.

World Labyrinth Day logo
(Image by Lars Howlett)
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TLS says that walking a labyrinth is thought to enhance right brain activity, and uses include: problem solving, conflict resolution, walking meditations and modern day pilgrimages. The American Cancer Society states that labyrinths "may be helpful as a complementary method to decrease stress and create a state of relaxation."

Labyrinths and mazes have essential differences.

A maze offers several paths to choose from, and making one's way through a maze therefore engages logic and analytical processes, and is focused on achieving a particular outcome. Mazes often have walls designed to obscure the view of the correct path.

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A labyrinth has only one path. Therefore, there is no need for walls or hedges to obscure the view, and most labyrinths, unlike mazes, are flat, or relatively so. Walking the labyrinth is not done to achieve a goal, but in order to experience the journey. Most people report experiencing a feeling of peace, joy, or wellbeing as a result of walking the labyrinth's unicursal path.

Two of the primary labyrinth patterns include Chartres and Classical styles.

Two main styles of labyrinth designs
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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"As mindfulness and meditation have gone mainstream, people around the world have been turning to labyrinths as a spiritual exercise or for stress relief," says WLD coordinator, Lars Howlett. He noted on Thursday that at least "one hundred World Labyrinth Day walks for peace are now planned according to our online survey. We're now counting at least 30 US States and 12 countries."

WLD walk, labyrinth at Stillpoint at Beckside, Bellingham, WA. Constructed by Myra Ryneheart.
(Image by Stillpoint at Beckside)
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Howlett notes that informal statistics indicate that over 5,000 people from more than 44 states and 23 countries participated in WLD 2014. TLS encourages participants to be counted by taking a WLD Participation survey.

"While many use labyrinths for personal reflection, WLD is an opportunity to 'Walk as One at 1' in the afternoon (local time) in solidarity with others around the world to promote peace. It's heartwarming to think of hundreds of people walking in Australia, Poland, Scotland, and Colombia, among other countries where participants organized local events last year," notes Howlett. He added that the first person to register an event for 2015 was from Zambia.

Grace Cathedral in San Francisco is offering a WLD labyrinth walk on their outdoor labyirnth. It will be facilitated by Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress, author of Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Practice, along with the Labyrinth Guild at Grace Cathedral.

Indoor labyrinth with light reflections from stained glass windows at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
(Image by Grace Cathedral, San Francisco)
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Since people around the world walk their labyrinths at 1:00 pm local time, this creates a rolling wave of energy that encircles the globe.

The TLS website offers a page with information about WLD events to participate in. Additional information is available on the Labyrinth Society Facebook page. Or, you can participate in this wave of energy by using an online, virtual labyrinth or by letting your fingers do the walking on a printed paper labyrinth. To enhance brain integration, l use mirror images of three-circuit labyrinths, as shown below. You can download the printable pdf , "Fingerwalking Dual Labyrinths Pattern and Instructions," here.

Tape 2 paper labyrinths together and walk with fingers
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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Cordelia Rose is a yoga teacher and labyrinth builder and creatrix of Whitewater Mesa Labyrinths, "on a beautiful mesa in southwest New Mexico at the west entrance to the Gila Wilderness."

Meryl Ann Butler: Thanks for visiting with us, Cordelia. When did you get involved with labyrinths, and what inspired you?

Cordelia Rose: Inspired by a length of labyrinth ribbon designed by Laura Foster Nicholson, I started building Syzygy, my first labyrinth, in 2001. I now have five labyrinths and the plan of a maze.

Jacquard labyrinth ribbons by Laura Foster Nicholson
(Image by LFN Textiles)
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MAB: Can you share with us a little about about some of your WLD events?

CR: Last year part of my WLD celebration was to ride my little horse, Stretch, bareback in my Troy Ride equine labyrinth.

Cordelia Rose on Stretch in the Troy ride through labyrinth at Whitewater Mesa Labyrinths, 2014.
(Image by photo credit Mike Rose)
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This is a mirrored classic labyrinth designed by Jeff Saward in which to ride many horses without meeting on the same path. It is eighty-six feet in diameter with a thirty-foot diameter center circle. Each side has seven circuits. I made it out of horse manure, which my horses did not recognize as labyrinth paths to be carefully followed, so I added some white rocks and horseshoes.

Some World Labyrinth Days are warm and sunny, some are dark and cold, in previous years on sunny days we have danced the maypole in my classical labyrinth.

Walking the maypole labyrinth
(Image by Photo by Mike Rose)
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On chilly days we wrap up warm [for southwest New Mexico], walk faster than usual, and "Huddle as One" in the center. This is a medieval labyrinth designed by my brother Ben Nicholson. It was eleven circuits but I took out the middle one so that my big horse could fit inside the center circle.

Labyrinth walkers sharing a moment of peace on WLD in the center of Syzygy labyrinth at Whitewater Mesa Labyrinths
(Image by photo by Mike Rose)
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MAB: What can you tell us about your "shuffle" labyrinth?

CR: It is a 40-foot diameter circle of dug and raked clay dirt in which you can draw your own labyrinth, dream catcher or whatever you please by shuffling your feet. I use it to try out labyrinth designs I carry in my head.

Shuffle labyrinth
(Image by Photo credit David Thornburg)
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When I have a group of people following me, they shuffle their feet and usually look at the ground so they do not step out of line or step on the feet of the person in front of them. When they get to the middle in a huddle, they look outwards and see what they have created! Then the last person in leads out. Then you can "erase" it with a baseball mound rake or get your horse to roll in it!

Rose's horse Blake enjoys the shuffle labyrinth
(Image by Cordelia Rose)
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MAB: What are you planning for WLD this year?

CR: We have celebrated WLD every year at Whitewater Mesa Labyrinths, but this year I shall be away from home so will celebrate with my daughter on a road trip in Scotland.

MAB: Enjoy your trip, and thanks for visiting with us, Cordelia!

CR: Thank you!

Labyrinth repeat fabric from Spoonflower
(Image by Wiccked)
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A Labyrinth Scrapbook

The author and friends created a three-circuit labyrinth in the sand on the Chesapeake Bay for World Labyrinth Day, 2014, using a diagram and measuring strings.

The author walks a labyrinth she and friends made for WLD 2014
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler for
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The author's labyrinth she and friends made for WLD 2014
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler for
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Diagram of the paths and detail of the fun pinwheels! Inspired by Debi Kermeen's previous WLD Pinwheel labyrinth.
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler for
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This 2014 labyrinth blessing event at a private home in Bellingham, WA, was facilitated by Myra Ryneheart (in foreground, holding Koshi chimes) of The Laughing Flower Labyrinth Co.

Labyrinth created by Myra Ryneheart.
(Image by Used with kind permission of Myra Ryneheart, photo by Peter Corcorran)
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In 2014 George Onderdelinden and Maja van Houting built this double labyrinth in Nistelrode, the Netherlands, at Centrum Maia, a centre for spiritual education. They are offering a labyrinth walk on WLD, and they also hold Full Moon labyrinth walks.

Double labyrinth at Centrum Maia, the Netherlands.
(Image by Maja van Houting)
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Diagram of the double labyrinth at Centrum Maia, the Netherlands.
(Image by Maja van Houting)
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Kathy Ruyts experiences a meditative moment in a Genesa crystal in the center of a labyrinth made from canvas strips and solar lamps by Ansula Press during the TLS Gathering in 2009, in Oregon.

Kathy Ruyts in a Genesa crystal in the center of a labyrinth made by Ansula Press. The labyrinth is made from fabric strips and solar lights.
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler for
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Elizabeth (BJ) Mosher is a labyrinth facilitator, lecturer and ambassador. Her brother Tim Giarrosso made this wool labyrinth for her birthday some years ago, and she uses it at events for workshops and hands on training (photo by the Watertown Daily Times, used with permission.)

BJ Mosher with her wool labyrinth
(Image by BJ Mosher, photo by Watertown Daily Times)
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This approximately 25-foot diameter private labyrinth in the Charlottesville area of Virginia was made from over 550 repurposed bricks. A dusting of snow gives it a magical appearance. (Contact owners Nicolas and Elizabeth at (434) 979-7029, 10 am to 8 pm, to schedule a time when you may visit.)

Northern Virginia labyrinth dusted with snow. (Made from over 550 repurposed bricks.)
(Image by NIcolas)
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Northern Virginia labyrinth in summer. (Made from over 550 repurposed bricks.)
(Image by NIcolas)
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Detail, Northern Virginia labyrinth in summer.
(Image by Nicolas and Elizabeth)
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Research studies conducted in a variety of settings consistently have shown that walking a labyrinth reduces stress. In fact, over the past few years, this has been the most commonly reported finding related to the so-called "labyrinth effect,' according to John W. Rhodes, Ph.D. President of the Labyrinth Society and former Chair of The Labyrinth Society Research Committee.

Embroidered labyrinths from TrishsThreadsAndNeedles' Etsy shop
(Image by TrishsThreadsAndNeedles)
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To find WLD events check out the TLS events calendar and The Labyrinth Society's website.
The Labyrinth Society on Facebook - Events lists WLD events.
To find a labyrinth near you, check the World Wide Labyrinth Locator, or you can print out a labyrinth to "walk" with your finger:
Classical click here
Chartres click here


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Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing since she was a hippie. She began writing for OpEdNews in Feb, 2004. She became a Senior Editor in August 2012 and Managing Editor in January, (more...)

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