(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.)
Kastellaun Labyrinth, lavender labyrinth in Germany
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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, 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.
Coming Home to the Soul
Columnist Ray Waddle, a former Tennessean religion editor says, "I took a stroll the other day on the edge of eternity. The labyrinth is no miracle cure, but across the centuries it still invites everyone to reclaim a lightness of spirit, to turn away from vile impulses and fear. It points the way to a homecoming."
Labyrinths are not the same as mazes, although the terms are usually used interchangeably by most people. 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.
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 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 to walk, also!
Lars Howlett, World Labyrinth Day Coordinator, has been working closely with the event's founder, Stephanie Blackton, in spreading the word via social media. He notes, "the Labyrinth Society Facebook group has grown in leaps and bounds with people from all over the world sharing their plans to build, walk, and lead workshops. We encourage people to "Walk as One at 1" (o'clock in the afternoon), on World Labyrinth Day, to promote peace the world over."
World Labyrinth Day is a creative, artistic and heartfelt yet loosely structured event, and often information is, well, "artistically" disseminated. I'm an artist, too, so I understand that my brotha and sistah artists are often so immersed in the passion for the project that promotion is often only given a second thought - or third! But these intentions got a creative boost this year when Lars created an online survey to gauge the interest and locations of participants.
Within the first two weeks, 185 people from 38 states and 17 countries responded, estimating over 2500 people at their events in the US, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, Holland, Mexico, Canada, Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Poland, Costa Rica, Argentina, Singapore and South Africa. The types of events include walks, workshops, picnics, finger labyrinths, and more.
He notes that in recognition of the approach of World Labyrinth Day, San Francisco's Grace Cathedral dedicated their new outdoor labyrinth after service on Sunday, April 27th. Lars will be facilitating a public walk on that labyrinth on Sat., May 3, at 1 pm. This is the second outdoor labyrinth to be built at Grace Cathedral, replacing a previous one. The outdoor labyrinth is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The cathedral also offers a serene, indoor labyrinth made of limestone and marble. Lars notes that the cathedral "is probably the site of more contemporary labyrinth walks than any place else in the world!"
For more information, Lars invites anyone interested to join over 2300 fans on the The Labyrinth Society on Facebook - Events.
Guests prepare for the Solstice walk on the Lanser Labyrinth, 2013.
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler) Details DMCA
Some labyrinths are opened especially for equinox and solstice walks, such as the June, 2013 Summer Solstice walk at the private Lanser Labyrinth in Carefree, AZ, a multi-generational and multi-arts event that included prayers, invocation, inspirational readings, ceremonial gongs and live music.
A magical summer Solstice walk at the Lanser Labyrinth, June 2013.
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Judith Joyce, Taffy Lanser & Meryl Ann Butler, Lanser Labyrinth, June 2013.
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Three TLS founders were happily reunited at the Lanser Labyrinth Summer Solstice event in 2013, 15 years after the founding of the organization.
World Labyrinth Day
World Labyrinth Day is an annual global event celebrated on the first Saturday in May. It was founded by The Labyrinth Society, which invites the world to "Walk As One at 1" as a way to co-create a wave of peaceful energy moving around the planet.
Events in past years have been held at over 100 locations worldwide, including the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., public parks, churches, a maximum-security women's prison, and many private labyrinths. Countries joining the celebration include: the United States, Canada, England, the Bahamas, France, Spain, New Zealand, China, South Africa, and Australia, and the list grows every year. Additional information is available on the TLS Facebook Events page.
Mary Shapiro & Jeff Wolf marry in their labyrinth, 05.05.12 (with Dug the Dog)
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"His" and "Hers" LabyrinthsMary Shapiro and Jeff Wolf were married on World Labyrinth Day in 2012. Mary says, "I confess I didn't know it was World Labyrinth Day when we picked the date! We were just looking for a Saturday in May that would work for my parents. Not only was it World Labyrinth Day, but we were under a "super-full" moon! We exchanged our vows in a labyrinth designed by Meryl Ann Butler, located on our property in Northern Virginia. Prior to the wedding date, Meryl Ann came to our home/business, Stillwaters Studios, walked the land with us, and intuitively chose the space for TWO labyrinths - a masculine one, and a feminine one. And she created the original designs specifically for our magical space."
Shapiro and Wolf's B&B retreat/event center and state of the art recording studio, along with their labyrinths, are located in Marshall, VA. Mary notes, "People are always welcome to visit Stillwaters and walk the labyrinths. There are two ways to do this: 1) during our monthly community concerts (various Saturdays - see our website for the calendar). 2) You may make an appointment by calling Mary at 540-364-1739."
Labyrinths Benefit Veterans
Two organizations, Living Labyrinths for Peace(founded in 2005 by Sandra Wasko-Flood) and Peaceful Endeavours Labyrinths (founded in 1988 by Virginia Lonesky, ThD) have brought labyrinth walks to the military and veterans, both separately and in joint ventures.
Labyrinths at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, Wash. DC
(Image by S.Wasko-Flood, Living Labyrinths For Peace) Details DMCA
In 2013, Sandra facilitated a WLD walk on the green near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D. C., hosting Ac Tah and his ancestral "Mirror Of Orion" original labyrinth for the World Labyrinth Day event.
Last year Virginia facilitated a walk on Waikiki beach, where she drew a 3-path labyrinth in the sand for the use of military "shore leave" personnel for WLD.
Memorial Day labyrinth walk at Angel Fire, NM
(Image by V. LoneSky ThD., Peaceful Endeavours Labyrinths) Details DMCA
Then Sandra and Virginia unified their efforts, offering a workshop together -- and they sponsored labyrinth walks at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Angel Fire, N.M., on Memorial Day, 2013.
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Labyrinth
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On Sat., May 3, 2014, Sandra and Virginia will cooperatively offer a labyrinth walk at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center for World Labyrinth Day, from 12 noon - 2pm. (For more info contact Sandra at (office) 410-243-1189, (cell) 703-217-6706)
Labyrinth at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
(Image by Labyrinths in Stone) Details DMCA
And these two are already working on their 2015 WLD event which will be held at the Walter Reed National Medical Military Center's "Wounded Warrior Care Center," using the outdoor Chartres-style labyrinth created by Marty and Debi Kermeen of Labyrinths in Stone.
Marty notes that shortly after he completed the project, a combat veteran who was the sole survivor of his unit shared that he was able to begin to find some desperately needed peace as a result of walking this labyrinth.
More World Labyrinth Day 2014 Events Sat May 3
Kripalu Yoga and Wellness Center (Adam Center, N.Y) is offering a full day of activities on WLD with an open house from 11 am - 4 pm, and light refreshments throughout the day. Elizabeth (BJ) Mosher will offer a lecture on labyrinths at 12:30. Then a blessing with Steve Williams will be followed by the "Walk as One At 1" event. The annual releasing "primal scream" with BJ and Nancy Pfeil's singing crystal bowl will happen immediately after the walk. In addition, plein air artists from throughout the North Country will be painting on-site throughout the day, 3 local authors will be doing book signings and readings, and other offerings include a demo of a hoop dance, and meet and greet the teachers. For more info contact the Yoga Center at 315.583.5500 or Elizabeth at 315.382.2199.
The Scarritt-Bennett Center in Nashville, TN, is offering a WLD event from 1 pm - 2:15 pm.
In Kastellaun Germany, at the location of the lovely lavender labyrinth, yoga and ritual will be offered at 1700 hours with yoga teacher Anita Händel.
For your left brain (the detail-oriented side): This video shows how this lavender labyrinth was built:
For your right brain (the creative side): This video gives a taste of the experience of what it's like to walk this lavender labyrinth. Breathe deeply!
The online Labyrinth Locator can help you find a labyrinth near you to walk on World Labyrinth Day or at any other time. Indoor and outdoor labyrinths can be found at schools, universities, churches, parks, retreat/conference centers, spas, and many other places.
Here are a few examples:
The stone labyrinth at Land's End park in San Francisco's Golden Gate National Recreation Area offers a view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Labyrinths can be found in hospitals like the one at at the Holzer Medical Center Cancer Research Labyrinth, Gallipolis, OH, created by Labyrinths in Stone.
Labyrinths have even been stars of urban renewal projects, such as the overgrown lot in Venice, CA that sculptor, Robin Murez revitalized with beautification of the grounds and installation of a 30' diameter labyrinth. Unveiled on World Labyrinth Day in 2010, it is open to walk at 6th and San Juan Street.
Museums with labyrinths include Kansas City's Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art which is currently installing a triangular-shaped, glass-walled labyrinth in their Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park. Glass Labyrinth was designed by acclaimed artist and Kansas City native Robert Morris.
The 62-foot by 62-foot by 62-foot, seven-foot-tall labyrinth weighs more than 400 tons. This dynamic sculpture will provide visitors with an intimate experience, enticing them to interact with the art by winding through the glass maze.
The construction of Glass Labyrinth began last fall. A crew of more than 80 worked on the physical construction of the sculpture, with an additional crew of local and national companies involved in the planning and development. A public celebration will be held for the grand opening on May 22.
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. 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.
Enjoy your journey!
The 2014 Labyrinth Society Online Auction continues through May 10, 2014. Auction items range from exotic vacation getaways to handcrafted art.
The Labyrinth Locator is a cooperative project by Veriditas, TLS and Jeff Saward, co-director with Kimberly Saward of Labyrinthos.
Veriditas is dedicated to inspiring personal and planetary change and renewal through the labyrinth experience. We accomplish our mission by training and supporting labyrinth facilitators around the world, and offering meaningful events that promote further understanding of the labyrinth as a tool for personal and community transformation. Our vision is that the labyrinth experience guides us in developing the higher level of human awareness we need to thrive in the 21st century.
The Labyrinth Society is oriented toward bringing labyrinth enthusiasts together in order to share their interest, energy, and expertise. Its mission is to support those who create, maintain and use labyrinths, and to serve the global community by providing education, networking, and opportunities for experiencing transformation. The Labyrinth Society maintains an extensive website with information about labyrinths, regional and national events, and forums for connecting with other enthusiasts. The Labyrinth Society also stages an annual Conference and Gathering, sponsors a global World Labyrinth Day, and other international events.
Jeff Saward is the administrator and researcher of the WWLL. He was first captivated by the labyrinth in 1976 and is a world authority on the history and development of labyrinths and mazes and the author of Magical Paths (Mitchell Beazley, 2002) a pictorial essay on the modern revival and Labyrinths & Mazes (Gaia/Lark, 2003) a comprehensive illustrated history of labyrinths and mazes worldwide. Founding editor of Caerdroia -- the Journal of Mazes and Labyrinths, first published in 1980, and co-founder and director of Labyrinthos, the Labyrinth Resource Centre, Photo Library and Archive, Jeff is based in Thundersley, Southeast England, and travels widely to lecture and research. He has an unrivalled collection of labyrinth photos taken on his travels and research trips around the world.