Where does the practice of walking a labyrinth come from?
Labyrinths can be traced as far back as 3500 years. The first labyrinth dates back to the Cretan tale of Theseus battling the Minotaur in the labyrinth. As the story goes, Theseus was sent into the labyrinth to be a sacrifice to the Minotaur. Theseus used a ball of twine to mark his path through the labyrinth in hopes that he could find his way back out. Theseus worked his way to the center of the labyrinth where he battled and defeated the Minotaur and then he followed the exact same path to exit the labyrinth.
The connection between the mythological labyrinth and the common practice of walking a labyrinth
Secular promoters of the practice acknowledge the similarities between the myth and the modern spiritual practice of walking a labyrinth. Theseus started his journey inward, leaving the things of the world behind. He walked a specific path, taking him through the many twists and turns, leading him to the center. Upon arriving at the center of the labyrinth, Theseus had to commune with the Minotaur and face the inner monster. Theseus gained victory over that which challenged him, thus he received a sense of freedom from the problems he had when he entered into the labyrinth. Theseus then followed his exact route back out from the center. There are groups that actually reenact this story every year. Mystics who practice walking a labyrinth acknowledge and endorse the similarities between the modern practice and the myth.
Walking a labyrinth is a mystical, spiritual tool used to reach a divinity.
“The labyrinth is an archetype of transformation. Its transcendant nature knows no boundaries, crossing time and cultures with ease. The labyrinth serves as a bridge from the mundane to the divine…” Kimberly Lowelle, the President of The Labyrinth Society. Did you notice anything in that quote about Jesus or the God of the Bible?
“The labyrinth is an archetypal spiritual tool, found across many times and cultures. While a maze is a left-brain, rational puzzle, the labyrinth involves the right side of the brain, and helps us access our intuition, providing a portal to the Divine” The promotional website for the Breemie Labyrinth in the UK
New Agers walk labyrinths
New agers use labyrinths to reach altered states of consciousness where they can become one with the universe. “Centering” occurs in the middle of the labyrinth. Walking a labyrinth gives the New Ager a spiritual awakening that they can then bring forth to the world.
Wiccans walk labyrinths
Wiccans use labyrinths in there festivals as another form of mysticism. Wiccans will set up labyrinths with candles and will walk them at night. Some Wiccans claim the labyrinth “is a mystical journey to another realm and then back to earth”.
Not only do wiccans practice walking a labyrinth, but they use the labyrinth as a Wiccan symbol. The symbol is often used as an amulet that they will hang from jewelry.
Another Wiccan symbol that resembles a labyrinth is Hecate’s wheel. This symbol seems to originate from the Chaldeans. It was discovered by the Greeks in a Babylonian Oracle in the second century. This wheel is a symbol of the Goddess Hecate who, before becoming the Goddess of sorcery and magick, was the Goddess of the crossroads. Hecate’s wheel is a picture of a coiled serpent, as well as a symbol for the Triple Goddess (maiden, mother, crone).
Here’s the entire mp3 podcast series looking at Walking a Labyrinth, ready for download.
Here’s the entire mp3 podcast series on the topic of Wicca, ready for download.
Or check out the Youth Apologetics Training Podcast Archive.