History of the Labyrinth
The labyrinth is an ancient design that dates back almost 4000 years. It is found in many cultures and most probably has always been used in some spiritual manner. It is a symbol that relates to wholeness and is a basic metaphor for the journey of life. A labyrinth combines the imagery of a circle with that of a spiral and represents the journey into our own center and back out again. It symbolizes the spiritual journey into one’s deepest self and then the journey back into the world with a renewed sense of personal meaning and a broader vision.
The oldest existing Christian labyrinth is probably the one in the fourth-century basilica of Reparatus, Algeria. While Christians used labyrinths on pre-Christian sites and modeled their own after ones used by earlier cultures, the development of the high medieval Christian seven circuit labyrinth was a breakthrough in design. Its path of seven circles was cruciform (shaped like the Cross)and thus incorporated the central Christian symbol. Use of these labyrinths flourished in Europe throughout the eleventh and twelfth centuries and beyond, especially in the French cathedrals of Chartres, Sens, Poitiers, Bayeaux and in the Italian cathedrals at Lucca and San Maria-di-Trastavera in Rome.
Walk mindful of your life and attentive to
all that you experience as you walk.
Mary Lou Buser, CSJ
You may have noticed, as I have, that more and more interest is being given to the practice of walking the labyrinth path. People are seeking ways to quiet themselves, become more aware, look for clarity in their lives or search their inner being. The practice of walking the labyrinth is one method through which some of these things may be achieved.
You may have noticed also, that we Sisters of St. Joseph, have a newly designed labyrinth on our Brentwood grounds, opposite the Renewal Center. Our labyrinth is a Classic Seven Circuit Labyrinth. Some of you may have walked it, others of you may be wondering, “How do I walk a labyrinth?” The answer is simple; however you choose to. The labyrinth is merely a path that allows one to take a relaxed journey, step by step, from the beginning to the center; spend some time in the center and then take a return journey, step by step, out from the center to the awaiting world.
Some who walk the labyrinth on a regular basis repeat the phrase, “I am a pilgrim seeking…” Others repeat a word, a mantra, as they walk. Still others concentrate on their desire to realize more the center of their being as they reach the center of the labyrinth. There is no limit to the ways in which a labyrinth can be used. And no one way is better than another. You may want to just “take a walk.”
Much has been and is being written about the labyrinth. It has a rich history, dating back thousands of years. Interesting theories are being proposed as to what happens in our brains as we make the right and left turns of the labyrinth path.
Please visit our Brentwood grounds, discover the
Labyrinth and take your own meditative and enlightening inner journey.
Finger labyrinths will be available for those who are unable to actually do the walk. All are welcome.
For further information contact S. Mary Lou Buser at 631.265.9331 or email@example.com
a labyrinth walk
Focus: At the entrance pause and quiet yourself. Try to become more centered.
A symbolic gesture or bow may help you begin the walk reverently.
Experience: Be attentive to the process of your walk. When you reach the center remain there and refocus yourself. Leave only when you feel it is time.
Remain attentive as you prepare for the return walk.
Exit: Turn and face the entrance. When you reach it turn toward the center and mark the end of the walk by a gesture or sacred word such as Amen.
Reflect: Consider what you have experienced. Write it in a journal or symbolize it in a drawing.
Repeat the walk often. The more you use the labyrinth, the more powerful a symbol of transformation it can become for you. There is one path in the labyrinth, but the experience is different for everyone.
Walking A Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth As a Spiritual Tool, Lauren Artress, Riverhead Books, New York, June 1966.
Exploring the Labyrinth : A Guide for Healing and Spiritual Growth, Melissa Gayle West,
Broadway Books, New York, February 2000.
The Healing Labyrinth: Finding Your Path to Inner Peace, Helen Raphael Sands, Robert Ferre, Barons Educational Series, 2000.