History of Labyrinths
The earliest-known labyrinths are more than 4000 years old. They have different forms but can be found throughout the world. How and why the labyrinth was used and what it symbolised varied from one era and culture to another. A threefold theme of death > transformation > rebirth* seems to be recurrent.
Common to all labyrinths is the invitation to deviate from the course of everyday life in order to follow the labyrinthine path to its heart and back. Voluntary surrender to a confining fixed and circuitous track involves trust in the process and confidence in oneâ€™s ability to complete it.
The Sure Path of the Labyrinth
What prevailing conditions might inspire one to renounce freedom and submit to such constraints? A playful desire for exploration? Overwhelming curiosity? A quest for the absolute? Desperation in the face of uncertainty and chaos? Although todayâ€™s revival of interest in the labyrinth appears to be centred on amusement and amazement, the challenge of abandonment and the need for appeasement should not be ignored.
“Throughout the long history of labyrinths whenever and wherever society is going through rapid change and development the labyrinth has blossomed. Now, humanity is seeking the sure path of the labyrinth in an uncertain and confusing world.” Jeff Saward, Labyrinth Historian
This sure path of the labyrinth offers both physical and spiritual respite. Paradoxically, abandonment to a physically confining corridor frees the mind and spirit to focus on the essential.
As feet or fingers trace the labyrinthine path, ordinary sense of time and orientation is temporarily suspended and extraordinary powers may be heightened. Many labyrinth travellers return with accounts of a spiritual experience involving subtle or even illuminating transformation.
Labyrinth Quest – The Game
Although religion is associated, ever so regrettably, as much with spiritual peace and transformation as with hate and conflict, it would be rash to reject it out-of-hand for that reason. Each spiritual tradition offers keys to Truth. Disciplined practice of a tradition yields indescribable fruit.
In an effort to stimulate the threefold process of questioning > understanding > accepting, the AnamCara Project proposes exploration of world religions through a new game with many labyrinths.
It is our hope that the labyrinth wanderer may find peace within, peace with others and peace with the world.
Labyrinth Quest is a game based on 9 labyrinths inspired by 9 different spiritual traditions.
Quotes about Labyrinths
Solvitur ambulando (latin: It is solved by walking)Â attributed to Saint Augustine (354-430)
â€œAnd why wander in these labyrinths? Once more, for aesthetic reasons; because ofÂ the tragic beauty of the infinite present and these ‘vertiginous symmetries’. The form is more important than the content.â€Â AndrÃ© Maurois, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
â€œShow not what has been done, but what can be. How beautiful the world would be if there were a procedure for moving through labyrinths.â€Â Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
â€œA labyrinth is a symbolic journey . . . but it is a map we can really walk on, blurring the difference between map and world.â€Â Rebecca Solnit (1961- ), Wanderlust: A History of Walking
â€œYour ego diminishes and your consciousness expands to an experience of bliss as though the veil of time is lifted and our minds are opened to eternity.â€Â Joseph CampbellÂ (1904-1987)
* Entering the mythological labyrinth built by King Minos to hold the dreadful Minotaur, Theseus, aided by Ariadne who provided him with a skein of thread, killed the beast and found his way out again.
Our favourite links to sites about labyrinths
The Labyrinth Society
Veriditas – dedicated to inspiring personal and planetary change and renewal through the labyrinth experience
Jeff Saward, labyrinth historian
Labyrinth International – Switzerland
Labyrinth Platz â€“ Zurich, Switzerland
Labyrint Werk – Netherlands
The Maize Maze Association â€“ United Kingdom
Rainbow Labyrinths â€“ South Africa
and the list of labyrinth fans grows with each passing day…