World Labyrinth Day – 1st May 2010

World Labyrinth Day is on 1st May this year, so if you can arrange it, visit a labyrinth to walk it in person or virtually.  There are some arranged labyrinth walks happening on this date, the most publicised of which is the one happening in Glastonbury town centre at 1pm:

1:00 pm – Walk one at One – While there will be other labyrinths walks at 1:00 pm local time around our planet, Sig Lonegren will be leading a walk at the Glastonbury Tercentennial Labyrinth in St. John’s Churchyard on the High Street as part of Glastonbury’s Beltane Celebration.

If you happen to find yourself wondering what to do this coming Saturday, and just happen to have enough time and money to visit Glastonbury at Beltaine, well, it might just be awesome 🙂

A labyrinth differs from a maze in that it has a single path with no junctions, it is often circular in shape, with the path wandering in circuits through all of the sections (usually four) before reaching the centre, so one single path in, and a reversal of it to get out.  Nowadays, the labyrinth has even gone virtual, ensuring that you can walk one even if you can’t get to a physical one.  Useful sites include the Labyrinth Locator, (which is US-based) and the Labyrinth Society.  You can walk a labyrinth in prayer or as a meditation, or as if taking a walk and noticing everything in the immediate environment.  You can run or dance to the centre, play a drum or rattle with beats at every turn, or take each step in silence living in the now.

Labyrinths have been around a very long time – The earliest one that I know of is inscribed on a clay tablet from Pylos, a town and associated bay on the west coast of the Peloponnese in Greece.

Pylos Labyrinth Tablet

Pylos Labyrinth Tablet

The most famous is the one from the Greek legend which housed the Minotoar under/near the palace of Minos.  This has been investigated and archaeologically excavated, and sadly the labyrinth (As we understand a Cretan one would look – which probably means we don’t – Tiro) doesn’t exist underneath or near the palace.  Some scholars think that the labyrinth could be describing the palace itself with its complex lay-out of rooms and passageways, or that the legend of Theseus killing the minotaur is a metaphor for the ceasing of tribute sent by the Athenians to the Cretans.  Often called the City of Turns, labyrinths even show up in Bible illustrations of holy cities including this one of Jericho from the 14th century

14c Bible map of Jericho

14c Bible map of Jericho

Water Maze at Victoria Park

Water Maze at Victoria Park

Modern ones are built of stone walls or bricks,such as the water labyrinth at Victoria Park above, garden hedges or grass, painted or incised onto stone or brick, set into the floors of cathedrals such as Reims and Chartres .  They can be full-sized to physically walk into and out of, right down to small ones which can be walked with your fingers or a pen.  Labyrinths are found as far apart as the shopping complex in Tsuyama in Japan (which I would put a link to, save for all the sites I can find are in Japanese,), to Wales and can be permanent or temporary structures which allow us a little space and time to reflect and journey.  There’s a no-nonsense article here, from someone who writes for the Mensa Bulletin.  Hope you get chance to walk one in whatever way this coming Saturday, or in the near future.

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