This article is part of a series on labyrinths. Additional information is available in the previous articles listed in the series, below. Author, Meryl Ann Butler, is a founding member of The Labyrinth Society and has been building labyrinths since 1992.
Saturday, May 4th is the 11th annual World Labyrinth Day (WLD) and you are invited to celebrate with thousands of people around the world!
A labyrinth is an ancient, geometric pattern that has a single, meandering path that leads into the center and out again. Its design is based on a circle, the ancient symbol for healing, unity and wholeness.
The Labyrinth Society (TLS) extends an invitation to anyone to "Walk as One at 1"(pm), joining other participants around the globe in creating a wave of peaceful energy washing across local 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.
During the 10th WLD in 2018, more than 35 countries were represented. Over 5,000 registered participants are expected in 2019.
The Labyrinth Society suggests that you can find a labyrinth to walk in your area using the World Wide Labyrinth Locator or you can learn to draw or build a simple labyrinth with links in their resources section. And yes, there's an ap for that!
This year the Australian Labyrinth Network (ALN) has initiated the first annual "World Labyrinth Day in Schools," planned for Friday, May 3. ALN offers an exceptional resource page for teachers or others who want to participate or find out more about labyrinths.
The American Cancer Society states that walking labyrinths "may be helpful as a complementary method to decrease stress and create a state of relaxation."
Research conducted by Dr. Herbert Benson at Harvard Medical School's Mind/Body Medical Institute has found that focused walking meditations are highly effective at reducing anxiety and eliciting what Dr. Benson refers to as the relaxation response, which can:
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower breathing rates
- Reduce incidents of chronic pain
- Reduce insomnia
Labyrinths in History
Labyrinths have been around for thousands of years. This labyrinth petroglyph in Galicia, NW Spain is believed to date to around 2000 BCE. It is probably one of the oldest known labyrinth images in the world, according to labyrinth expert, Jeff Saward, of the labyrinth and maze resource, photo library and archive site, Labyrinthos.
The map of Jericho in a 14th Century Farhi Bible depicts the city as a labyrinth.
This 16th Century portrait by Bartolomeo Veneto in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England, shows a labyrinth on the front of the gentleman's garment.
This labyrinth garden pattern, a detail from La Nouvelle Maison rustique, Paris, 1735, shows two figures and tables in the center, indicating that the garden is, to put it genteelly, a 'theatre of romance.'
Hedge labyrinths or mazes were useful for secrecy, as the foliage provided visual protection. In addition, a glance at the layout above shows that a couple in the center of the labyrinth would be able to tell if someone entered, but would have enough advance notice in order to right themselves by the time their discoverer could make it through the winding path to the center.
Rosamund's Bower, a legendary hedge maze in England, was a trysting place for King Henry II, and his mistress, Rosamund.
Fair Rosamund in her Bower by William Bell Scott (1811 1890)
(Image by Wikipedia (commons.wikimedia.org)) Details DMCA
Alex Champion, is a founding member of The Labyrinth Society and builder of labyrinthine installations created from an assortment of materials, including earth mounds, chalk and paint. He built this 50-foot diameter, chalk unicursal hexagram (six-pointed star with a single path connecting the 6 points) at the 2018 West Coast Dowser's conference. He notes: "The design is based on a crop circle that I found in my collection of the yearly crop circle book put out by Steve and Karen Alexander in August of 2014. I used 22 pieces of circular sidewalk chalk, one inch diameter and four inches long. Didn't have much left over at the end!"
Mary Louise Tucker, of Orcas Island in the Pacific Northwest, makes finger labyrinths out of felted wool.
Here, the author's granddaughter, age 6, is making her own finger labyrinth.
On World Labyrinth Day, 2018, a whimsical pinwheel labyrinth was built on the beach on the Chesapeake Bay, by the author (L) and friends, including Anna Ebell (R).
The author (L) and Anna Ebell (R) celebrate construction of the beach labyrinth.
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler) Details DMCA
By walking a labyrinth, you are participating in an activity that has been significant to people all over the world for at least 3,000 years. Instead of just reading about archetypes and mythology, you can experience them.
May the Fourth be with you!
For more information about Caerdroia:
The new issue of Caerdroia (#48), an independent, annual journal for the study of mazes and labyrinths has just been published. Founded in 1980 by Jeff Saward, Caerdroia is the journal for the study of labyrinths and mazes; from the earliest rock carvings and artefacts through to modern installations of ever increasing ingenuity. Each edition contains illustrated papers, notes, news, and views on the latest discoveries, theories, and ideas from researchers and enthusiasts worldwide. Of particular interest, in this new edition, are articles covering new discoveries in Italy and Sweden, stone labyrinths in Sweden and Russia, the connections between Sir Gawain and the labyrinth, and a curious labyrinthine print published in the Netherlands around 300 years ago.