Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Labyrinth Walk

Last night I walked a labyrinth for the first time. A labyrinth is a path laid out with, in last night's case, tiny Christmas lights wrapped with bits of evergreen. It was sponsored by the Walpole Unitarian Church and was laid out inside a church building. It will be disassembled after the holiday.

A labyrinth is similar to a maze. However, a maze has a complex branching pattern with a choice of path and direction. The Victorians built shrubbery mazes in their gardens. In Greek mythology Daedalus created a maze in which to entrap the Minotaur.

(photo taken by B. with her ipod. This is the labyrinth I walked)

A labyrinth differs from a maze in that there is just a single, non-branching path to the center. No choices need be made as to direction. At the center of the labyrinth I walked was a large candle with sand around it. I was given a lit candle to carry as I walked. I then set it in the sand next to the larger candle.

To walk a maze requires left-brained effort, making choices, willingness to get lost.

To walk a labyrinth is a right brained task, as there are no choices to be made. Very meditative.

Walking a labyrinth can be a metaphor for life's journey, moving to the center of the self and then back out into the world.

I imagined my old self unwinding as I walked, then when I placed my candle I wished for love and community in the coming year. As I came back into the world, I imagined my new self arising. Often the labyrinth is set up outdoors and becomes a permanent installation.

Afterwards I went with my two new friends to Burdicks for hot cocoa and a chat. They were so kind and patient with the floods of words that came out of me, since I so rarely talk to people nowadays. Or was it the influence of the labyrinth? I loved to hear bits of their life stories too. I'm so lucky to have met them.

Above us hung one of maybe twenty amazing chandeliers made out of small branches laced together then entwined with tiny lights and with crystal clear snowflakes and other shapes dangling down. They will sell them after the holiday for $200 each. Oh and what a hoot. I actually ran into someone I knew in Burdicks. I just love it when that happens. A lovely way to celebrate the Solstice, the holiday and the coming of the light and new year.

You can read more about labyrinths here. Scroll down the page and find a link which takes you to a printable labyrinth you can keep on your desk. You trace the path with your finger for a short meditation.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for that explanation. I thought mazes and labyrinths were the same thing.

Robin said...

Suki, what a wonderful evening you had! I love walking labyrinths.....if you can lose yourself in them, it is a truly uplifting experience. There is a large one here in SF at Grace Cathedral - I have walked it many times. I also found a few in some of the places I lived close to in Santa Fe - and was always thrilled to come across one. happy you met friends and had hot cocoa together! It's always special to do these things in Winter!


♥ Robin ♥

sukipoet said...

chewy I thought the same thing until I did a bit of research on it to write this post

soulbrush said...

Popped in to wish you a very very Merry Xmas and healthy happy 2011. Been a good 4 months for me, just being ME with no blogging, may be back in the new year,not sure yet. Lotsa big hugs xxxx

Lynn said...

So glad you had a lovely time with new friends, seeing another friend, good eats, nice ambiance (I went to the resturaunt site) and had fun at the labyrinth! What an adventure! Love places like that with real art on the walls.
Continue to enjoy this holiday season Suki!!! May the friendships take you on more adventures into the new year.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I have always wanted to make a labyrinth. I don't have the room to do so now. I love the meditative value of them. It sounds like you had a great evening.

patti said...

The labyrinth sounds amazing! I like the idea of taking a candle to light your way along the path - very symbolic!

Marion said...

Labyrinths are becoming more popular than mazes here because of the meditative and peaceful way about them. Logic and practicality are of no use in a labyrinth...only deep meditation and rejuvenation.

It sounds like you had a really great time, Suki! I'm so glad for you. I hope you continue to have a very happy holiday season.

Aoife.Troxel said...

The first time I walked a labyrinth was about a year and a half ago. It is made of paving stones and is a permanant outdoor installation at a church near us. I found it was very mediative and calming.
I always thought labyrinth and maze could be used interchangeably, although I was aware of the meditative qualities of religious/spiritual labyrinths and that they were not mazes.
Informative post and best wishes for the holidays Suki :)

Mim said...

I'm afraid to walk a maze, but would love a labyrinth.

looks like a lovely evening suki - and good for you

...louciao... said...

That sounds delightful--and 2 new friends, what a treat! I walked a labyrinth once and enjoyed the experience, whereas that of having walked a maze was one I wouldn't care to repeat. You did such an excellent job here of describing each and the difference between them. The lit labyrinth with the candle at its centre seems like it would have been almost hypnotic, certainly a lovely way to become centred, as you say, and then return outward keeping this stillness at one's core.

~Babs said...

That must have felt glorious, walking that labyrinth with lights, and carrying the candle.
I've never done that, and I'd love to.

Wonderful that you've made some friends near-by, Suki. It's just plain good for the soul. I'm sure they'll help to warm your long winter, and I'm glad!

Anonymous said...

I find walking a labyrinth very moving. Well, each time is different depending on what you're going through. Did you find it to be a powerful experience?

I'm glad you had time to chat with friends.

sukipoet said...

Re: maze vs labyrinth. I'd like to try a maze too as long as I had a string to help me find the way out.

Yes, I found the labyrinth walk very powerful and found that it resonates in my thoughts now several days afterwards.

studio lolo said...

I'm so glad the walk was enlightening and healing for you, Suki. It's funny that I had forgotten my own experience until we talked for a while!

I'm also among those who are glad you have some nearby friends. I do hope they help ease the lonliness of the long winter up there. It sounds like you have so much in common.

Have fun going through those boxes of art supplies and files. Our talk had me writing down the same task so I don't forget!

I hope the glow of the labyrinth remains for a long while.


Katiejane said...

I walked a labyrinth years ago and found it very restorative. It was outdoors in a meditation retreat. I feel like I could use another walk these days as I am worn to a frazzle. I like the video you found to go with this.
After the holidays I hope to get back on track.

m. heart said...

What a fantastic way to celebrate, I love labyrinths. Merry Christmas!

Leslie Avon Miller said...

Beautiful Suki. Glad you are connecting with like minded folks. I would have loved to walk the labyrinth with you. Happy New Year!