Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Labyrinth Versus Maze

Kabala Tree of Life - Catherine Meyers

 Do you listen to late night radio? Yes? No? I have listened for many years now, and I hear the most interesting items that often aren't broadcast on daytime radio. Last night I heard about a labyrinth built for a park in Sydney Australia. Seems like a whole lot of money went toward this project, $500,000 grand, which one could question. That said, the final project was pretty remarkable and beautiful.

Most think the meaning of labyrinth and maze are interchangeable. I never really thought so much about it until now, and I now realize they are not the same thing, and I find it really interesting to understand  why they are not the same.
There in a plethora of information about the difference between a labyrinth and a maze. What I have generally concluded, is that mazes are meant to confuse and frustrate, whereas labyrinths are made to provide rest, and a serenity to the visitors.

I've always been very drawn to Sacred Geometry.   Mandelas and labyrinths are similar in their spiritual connection to sacred space, or to the path to the Divine and the balance between our natural environment. The circle is seen as being a symbol of wholeness and spiritual quest, or journey.

The spiritual principles behind the idea of the labyrinth are ancient, and compelling. The site Labyrinthina gives a detailed, mythical, and a historical overview of the meanings.

History of The Labyrinth - Sisters of Providence or Saint-Mary-Of-The-Woods

People from ancient and modern times have long looked to the labyrinth as an archetypal symbol of journey and spiritual renewal. Evidence of this dates to 4500 B.C. A figurine from the Ukraine, with a labyrinthine pattern, dating 15000 to 18000 B.C., was discovered by the archeologist Marja Gimbutas, who concluded the pattern may have predated the actual labyrinth.
Certainly, labyrinths are found in Greek mythology, Peruvian symbolism, Native American artifacts, and in Sweden, Finland and Estonian cultures. Legend says fishermen walked them slowly in order to entrap ill-intentioned trolls. Ancients believed the intestine was the uterus or womb or birth canal; therefore, the labyrinth symbolized the death that will come and the death that preceded birth, both naturally and spiritually. The labyrinth at Crete contained 272 stones, the same as the average number of days in the human gestation cycle.
Christian labyrinths (the earliest of which may be in the Church of Reparatus in Algeria, 400 A.D.) may have come to be used as a substitute for making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land for those who could not go to Jerusalem. People imitated the journey in a faux pilgrimage, but they were also engaged in a journey understood to be both spiritual and real. The Cathedrals at Rheims (1240), Amiens (1288) and Chartres had labyrinths, all situated in the nave. Moving out of the labyrinth has traditionally been understood as symbolic of the process of rebirth or resurrection. From the day of our birth — we journey.
Adapted from “Labyrinths from the Outside In,” Schaper, Camp; Skylight Publishers, VT

Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth

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