(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.)
Labyrinths have been experiencing a public revival in schools, hospitals, libraries and places of worship, as well as in private spaces, as virtual labyrinths online, or as small, printed patterns to walk with a finger.
Labyrinths are walked for many reasons, including to lower stress, 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.
Labyrinths are different from mazes, although the terms are often used interchangeably. To labyrinthophiles, the two differ greatly in definition, design and function:
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.
World Labyrinth Day
The Labyrinth Society (TLS) invites everyone around the world to share a symbolic walk for peace in celebration of the 10th Annual World Labyrinth Day (WLD) on May 5 at 1 pm in local time zones. Annually held on the first Saturday in May, individuals or groups can participate by holding private walks or public events on the labyrinth.
TLS is a nonprofit, international group of labyrinth enthusiasts whose mission is to support all those who create, maintain and use labyrinths, and to serve the global community by providing education, networking and opportunities to experience transformation.