Last week I walked a labyrinth.

In Greek mythology, the Labyrinth was an elaborate structure designed and built by Daedalus for King Minos. Its function was to hold the Minotaur eventually killed by the hero Theseus. Daedalus had so cunningly made the Labyrinth that he could barely escape his own labyrinth after he built it.

There has been a resurgence of interest in the labyrinth as a symbol and a revival in labyrinth building. The labyrinth is a model or metaphor for life.

Ancient labyrinths are believed to have been built to trap malevolent spirits. In medieval times, the labyrinth symbolized the difficult path to God. The center represented God and the entrance symbolized birth.


I have heard many versions of what the labyrinth represents and also how to walk it.

It can be seen as a symbolic pilgrimage. You walk the path to salvation or enlightenment. For those who could not travel to holy sites and lands, the labyrinth was a substitute.

You can find them in parks and at churches, monasteries and places of worship. Most are not very large or elaborately built. The last one I walked was painted on a church parking lot. But even in a painted one, you can lose track of direction and of the outside world, and it can quiet your mind.

Labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral.JPGLabyrinth at Chartres Cathedral

Though there are many Christian uses for the labyrinth, it does not have to be a religious walk.
In the labyrinth, we don’t know where the path will take us. We don’t foresee the twists and turns ahead. There is one way in and one way out. (Though I have seen people get lost in them.) Eventually, if you continue, you will arrive at the center.

You meet others along the path. Sometimes you meet people face-to-face and step aside to let them pass. Some catch up to us and pass us, and we pass others along the way.

When you reach the center, you can rest, watch others, pray, stay a long time or leave quickly.

There are no rigid rules. At the church last week, I was told to ask God a question upon entering and then listen for an answer during the walk. When I walked a labyrinth in the woods a few years ago I was told to be open to a question emerging. Each time I came to the edge of the circle, I should pause and take note of the direction I was facing and focus on what question was in my mind at the moment, if any. The answer would come when I exited.

Though I have never found THE answer in a labyrinth, I have found answers there.

You may be able to locate one near you with this labyrinth locator website.