(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.)
Sat., May 7 is the eighth annual World Labyrinth Day (WLD) and you can celebrate with thousands of your closest friends around the world!
The Labyrinth Society (TLS) invites you to 'Walk as One at 1"(pm), joining other participants around the globe in creating a wave of peaceful energy washing across the time zones. Individuals or groups can get involved in private or public walks on a full-sized labyrinth, or let their fingers do the walking on a finger labyrinth.
"What do you call the journey of a thousand footsteps that winds up exactly where it began? The answer lies in the labyrinth: an ancient archetype recently rediscovered as a path of prayer and walking meditation."
-The Labyrinth Society- Advertisement -
Walking a labyrinth can have measurable health benefits. WLD Co-ordinator, Lars Howlett notes, "As mindfulness and meditation have gone mainstream, people around the world have been turning to labyrinths as a spiritual exercise or for stress relief. Based on an informal event survey in 2014, over 5,000 people participated in WLD from more than 44 states and 23 countries."
Howlett said that there are WLD 2016 events planned in at least 35 states in the US so far, as well as in Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway and South Africa. New venues are being added to the list daily.
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.
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 (sometimes called "Cretan") styles. Labyrinths may be temporary or permanent, round or square, indoor or outdoor, and those made for walking may be made of a wide variety of materials from canvas or carpet to rocks, sand, paving stones or even masking tape.
TLS notes, "Labyrinths are also found in diverse environments, from schools, parks and prisons to corporate campuses in Silicon Valley (Google offers two for employees in Mountain View and a golden snail greets visitors at the center of the walking path at Electronic Arts in Redwood City). Churches are also building labyrinths as an alternative way to engage their community and facilitate spiritual practice. Celebrations of World Labyrinth Day can be posted and found via the events calendar of the Labyrinth Society. The World Wide Labyrinth Locator is another resource for finding labyrinths in your local community or while traveling throughout the world."
Howlett continues, "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."
He also suggests that participants can share their photos and stories on the Labyrinth Society's Events Facebook page. "As governments and armies seem to further polarize world peoples, the labyrinth has been a bridge between cultures throughout history," notes Howlett. "World Labyrinth Day is for everyone and, like the labyrinth itself, is an opportunity to develop tolerance and compassion for others from different walks of life." Get more information and view photos here.
Many public spaces such as schools, churches and museums have labyrinths open for walking, and these can be found on the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator.
I unexpectedly discovered one recently on a visit to the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington. That labyrinth was built in a former reservoir by volunteers ages 2-72 who positioned hundreds of Delaware River stones to form the design. The museum is hosting a free labyrinth walk on World Labyrinth Day from 1-2 pm. (And you can see some GREAT art in the museum before or after your walk!)
On the plaque: This circular space, once a reservoir, now contains a labyrinth, an ancient one-way path that invites contemplative walking. You follow the path's twists and turns into the center and then retrace your steps to exit. Slow, intentional walking has a calming effect, while brisker walking concentrates the mind. The labyrinth was constructed by volunteers, age 2 to 72, who laid out the path with Delaware River stones.
Many artists have been intrigued with the labyrinthine form. Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges shared his interest in labyrinths on the Martha Stewart show on August 8, 2006. He demonstrated how to draw the symbol on paper, and showed examples of his own pottery with the labyrinth designs he'd inscribed on them.
Ansula Press of Portland, OR, built her Genesa Labyrinth for the Burning Man festival in 2003. She has since installed it at music festivals, World Labyrinth Day events, two international labyrinth gatherings, and several Earth Day events.
The 39-foot diameter labyrinth features a 7-foot diameter Genesa Crystal structure in the center which is lit with electroluminescent wire that glows blue. The labyrinth is lit with 70 solar lights for walking at night.
Ansula notes, "The Genesa is a cuboctahedron which is considered to be a geometric shape that can amplify the intentions of those near it by attracting, cleansing, balancing, and finally releasing the amplified energies. The Genesa Crystal was developed by Dr. Derald Langham, an agricultural geneticist. He designed the Crystal to mirror the cellular pattern of an embryonic living organism after the third cell division. At this eight-cell stage the cellular structure of all life forms is identical. From this point, life can expand in any direction. Langham believed that the Crystal holds infinite potentiality because of its perfect balance with nature. Labyrinth walkers are invited into the Crystal with an intention and open to see what unfolds."
I've personally walked it, and I concur that it feels pretty magical!
Austin TX, artist Marcia Raff celebrated WLD last year with an exhibit of her labyrinth-themed artwork in Malaga, Spain, which was held in one of the oldest buildings in Consititution Square.
This year, WLD is the opening day for her exhibit at the Performing Arts Center in Modiin, Israel, in a dual-exhibition with her daughter, photographer Cathy Raff. The opening reception is May 7, 20:00. The exhibit will be held from May 7 - June 6, 2016 in the Art Gallery at the Heichel HaTarbute in Modiin Maccabim Reut, Rechov Emek Dotan 49, Modiin (free.)
Marcia will exhibit seven labyrinths including a new piece, The Mandela Lion Labyrinth, in addition to canvas labyrinths and plexiglass wall labyrinths for people to walk with their fingers. Her work will also be on exhibit from July 3-9 in Chartres, France.
Artist and labyrinth builder Elizabeth (BJ) Mosher of Alexandra Bay, NY, will facilitate a "Walk as One at 1" WLD event at Ten Bay Beach, Eleuthera, Bahamas on Saturday.
Mosher created a mosaic featuring two labyrinths which can be "walked" with the fingers - use both hands and walk both at the same time!
If you'd like to try this yourself, you can use 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.
Everyone is invited to participate in the waves of energy rolling around the planet on World Labyrinth Day. Even if you cannot locate an actual World Labyrinth Day event close by, you can still participate by walking at a local labyrinth, by using an online, virtual labyrinth or by letting your fingers do the walking on a printed paper labyrinth.
TLS: 10 Ways to Celebrate World Labyrinth Day
* Walk as One at 1 (or as time permits)
* Trace or draw a finger labyrinth on paper or using a smartphone or tablet app
* Facilitate or join a group walk
* Host or join a lecture, workshop, art exhibition or tour
* Build a temporary or permanent labyrinth
* Find a new labyrinth or submit an unlisted site to the Labyrinth Locator
* Write a blog post, newsletter submission, letter to the editor, or article for print or the internet
* Share and view WLD stories, photos, videos on Social Media using the hashtag #LabyrinthDay
* Read labyrinth books, watch movies, or sing songs (for instance, the lyrics to Enya's "Anywhere Is" are perfect! )
* Create a labyrinth art project, exhibition, or drawing class
For more information on World Labyrinth Day see previous articles in this series listed below, and the TLS info page.
If you participate, you can be counted (anonymously is ok!) by filling out the WLD Google Form.
Resources and additional info:
Kathy Ruyts is the founder of the Eighth Street Center for Peace, Buhl, ID.
Author Meryl Ann Butler is a founding member of The Labyrinth Society and has been building labyrinths since 1992.
Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, DE, houses 12000 works of art and focuses on American Art of the 19th through the 21st centuries, including Brandywine school illustrators (featuring Howard Pyle, NC Wyeth and others) and English Pre-Raphaelite art of the mid-19th century.