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The Labyrinth: Walking a Sacred Path

Each of us, at some point in life, embarks on a journey. A quest for solace, for truth, for inner peace, for the real meaning of it all. A pilgrimage to find one's soul. Landmarks are hard to come by, and we can easily become disoriented. The labyrinth, a metaphor for one's life journey, can help show the way. The very act of walking the labyrinth encourages focus, assists in opening up the self, in creating a place deep inside where new insights and awareness can germinate, take root and grow. Each journey is unique. People who like labyrinth tend to cross denominational and religious lines to explore them.

7-Circuit Celtic Labyrinth

Labyrinths are a potent symbol in many cultures, and have been for thousands of years. One traditional story tells us that the Labyrinth evolved from observations of the recursive swings of the planet Mercury. In one solar year, Mercury backwards three times and forward four. Seven-circuit labyrinths have been discovered within the ruins of cities of ancient Turkey dating back to 5,000 B.C.E. The Classic seven circuit labyrinth is round. The square versions are either Celtic or Roman. Other styles have been found in classical Greece, New Zealand, North America, and Southeast Asia. The earliest versions are found in pictographs, drawings upon stones.

7-Circuit Celtic Labyrinth

The Great Goddess Inanna of Mesopotamia (5,000 B.C.E.) surrendered her seven symbols of identity as she entered the Underworld were, she encountered her Shadow Side, her Dark Sister Ereskigal. Inanna dies, is reborn, and returns empowered reclaiming her seven symbols. (Later, Ereskigal became the model for Lillith, the first wife of Adam.)

With Greek legend when Theseus killed the Minotaur, he defeated the beast at the heart of darkness - and created a myth that is still vibrant and evolving. Roman mosaics often depicted labyrinths as fortified cities. Romans placed symbols of the square labyrinth above doorways for protection.

Christian churches used the labyrinth for prayer and meditation as early as 350. In medieval Europe, the eleven-circuit labyrinth appeared. They served as alternate paths for pilgrimage after Jerusalem fell to the Muslims, and they symbolized the one true path to Christian salvation.

The design most popular within Christendom comes from Notre-Dame de Chartres Cathedral at Chartres, France. It contains four 7-circuit labyrinth, making for a longer journey. Centuries before, this was a site very sacred to the Goddess and to the Druids.

Labyrinths have been used as ceremonial pathways, protective sigils, traps for unwelcome spirits and for games and dancing. Puzzle mazes have been exercising our feet and entertaining our minds for hundreds of years - and have become a symbol of confusion.

11-Circuit Chartres Labyrinth

11-Circuit Chartres Labyrinth

Chalice Labyrinth Design People who like labyrinths tend to cross religious lines. Bob Peach of Atlanta, Georgia, has produced a 6-circuit design based on the Classic 7-Circuit but incorporated the switchback labrys of the Chartres design.

The result is a Chalice Labyrinth Design.

Unitarian Universalists claim the flaming chalice as one of their symbols. In a Christian setting, a Chalice Labyrinth takes on a different meaning and might even be adapted to the Stations of the Cross.

We now have a permanent outdoor Celtic labyrinth at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Lauderdale. Our church is located at 3970 Northwest 21st Ave., Oakland Park, Florida 33309. Our 7-Circuit Labyrinth is at the north side of our building. It is open to the public for walking and meditation. We plan to enhance this area for meditation in the near future. Contact us at (954) 484-6734 or by e-mail to . For directions, we provide an online MAP. Donations for the upkeep of the Labyrinth Project are gratefully accepted in the church office.

"The labyrinth is like an invisible thread that connects us to the sacred."

Today, mazes and labyrinths are more popular than ever before. Their imagery is used in games, films and advertising, while hundreds of new and innovative puzzle mazes have been built to entertain us. There is also a resurgence in their spiritual use by Christians, neo-pagans and the New Age culture. And of course the Web is often seen as a tangled labyrinth of links that ensnare the unwary!

Our Local Guide:

Sophia is a solitary practitioner who connected with the UU Church and CUUPS in 1997. She has been drawn to this inward journey and completed our permanent seven-circuit labyrinth. Sophia constructs temporary labyrinths from wood stakes and ribbon tape, and occasionally includes Christmas, otherwise known as Yule, lights. In summer, we take our temporary Labyrinth to Virginia and set it up for SUUSI.

Exercises that we lead:

  • Sophia and friends construct a seven-circuit labyrinth. Come help and see how this is done. We conclude with a dedication of our newly created sacred space.
  • Sophia and friends host an occasion for meditation. We present a guided tour of the labyrinth with historical notes. Then everyone is invited to enter the labyrinth with a question, let go as they spiral inward, ground at the center, and then reclaim as they exit. Each of us, at some point in life, embarks on such a journey.
A Blessing of the Labyrinth:

Enter into Labyrinth Time,
Ponder on your life's design.
Spiral down into the core,
Determine what your life is for.
Stand here now in sacred space,
Goddess Spirit in this place.
Spiral out back to your world,
Be not seduced by maddening swirl.

Optional closes for differing times of the day and month:
Waxing Moon in the sky bright,
New beginnings start tonight.

Waning Moon in the sky bright,
All negativity ends tonight.

Waxing moon in light of day,
New beginnings start this way.

Waning Moon hid by the day,
Banish doubt, it must not stay.

A variation upon this Blessing:
With open heart and quiet mind.
Approach this place and you will find
That shifting into Labyrinth Time
Reveals anew your life's design.

Bow to Spirit at the start
with reverence in your heart.
Enter now this sacred place,
Goddess Spirit in this space.

Spiral around into the core,
Determine what your life is for.
Then spiral out again and see
The mysteries revealed to thee.

-- A Spiral Blessing from Janis Strope of Ithaca, NY.

Labyrinth Links:

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Labyrinth Locator Banner

 

A search by zipcode works best.

Other Local Labyrinths (moving from North to South):

  • There is a Labyrinth at the Unity Church of Vero Beach, FL at 950 43rd Avenue.
  • There is a canvass eleven-circuit labyrinth at St Luke's Episcopal Church, 5150 SE Railway Ave., Port Salerno, FL 34992. Email StLukes@gate.net or phone (561) 286-5455 for availability.

  • There is an Eleven-Circuit Labyrinth at The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 400 Seabrook Rd., Tequesta, FL.

  • There is an eleven-circuit outdoor brick labyrinth at the Episcopal Duncan Center, 15820 S. Military Trail in Delray Beach, FL, west of the Linton Blvd exit from I-95. There is a second labyrinth made of granite on the floor of their new Schofield Chapel. Phone 561-496-4130 for availability.

  • There is an eleven-circuit labyrinth in an outdoor split egg sculpture at NABI Biopharmaceuticals, 5800 Park of Commerce within a gated commercial park just west of I-95 and north of Yamato Road. The black granite sculpture looks like halves of an egg and is in front of their World Headquarters Building. At two-feet in diameter, it is too small to walk.

  • There is an eleven-circuit outdoor brick labyrinth near the Middle School at St Andrew Episcopal School, 3900 Jog Rd, Boca Raton, FL 33434 561/210-2127. It is named for Mary Ellen Cassini and is located at the north west end of the campus near NE 37 Street.

  • There is a seven-circuit labyrinth at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, inside the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing (NU-84.) Visit during 9-4 business hours. See http://nursing.fau.edu/

  • There is a canvass eleven-circuit labyrinth at St Gregory's Episcopal Church, 100 NE Mizner Blvd., Boca Raton, FL 33432. Email stgreg@bellsouth.net or phone (561) 395-8285 for availability.

  • There is an eleven-circuit concrete labyrinth at the North Campus of Broward Community College, 1000 Coconut Creek Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33066. It's outdoors just west of OMNI Auditorium, Bldg. 60.

  • Outdoor Celtic Labyrinth at the UU Church of Fort Lauderdale, 3970 NW 21 Ave, Fort Lauderdale on the north (left) side of the building.

  • There is a friendship, or mirrored, 5-circuit outdoor labyrinth at Virginia S. Young Elementary School, 101 NE 11th Ave., Fort Lauderdale.

  • There is a three-circuit outdoor labyrinth at HospiceCare of Southeast Florida, Inc., 309 SE 18 Street, Fort Lauderdale, 33316 in the Meditation Garden on the West side of the building.

  • There is a outdoor seven-circuit labyrinth at Unity Church at 2750 Van Buren St., Hollywood, FL.

  • There is an outdoor 3-circuit contemporary labyrinth at the Center for Human Development, 5809 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, FL

  • There is an outdoor 5-circuit mini-Chartres labyrinth at Trinity Lutheran Church, 7150 Pines Blvd, Pembroke Pines, FL

  • There is an outdoor eleven-circuit medieval labyrinth at the Miami Lakes Methodist Church, 14800 NW 67 Ave, Miami Lakes, FL 33014 (South down 67th Avenue inside the Bend of the Palmetto Expressway), Phone 305/759-4451. (No website).

  • There is an eleven-circuit labyrinth at Unity by the Bay Church, 411 NE 21 St, Miami. See http://www.unityonthebay.org/

  • There is an outdoor medieval labyrinth outdoors at Christ Congregational Church, 14920 SW 67 St., Palmetto Bay, FL.

  • The Seven-Circuit Classic Labyrinth at the UU Congregation of Miami, 7701 SW 76 Ave., Miami.

  • There is an outdoor eleven-circuit labyrinth at the Big Pine United Methodist Church, Key Deer Boulevard, Big Pine Key, FL 33043 (305) 872-4444.

  • If you know of any more labyrinths in Southeast Florida, please e-mail .

The folks at the UU Church of Arlington, Virginia, are planning to coordinate a world-wide UU Labyrinth Network.

And there is a new 7-circuit medieval labyrinth near Fort Myers, FL, in the Leigh Acres area. See http://sacred-space-labyrinth.webs.com/


Last Updated: 02-Apr-2014

 

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