The Labyrinth is an extension of man's desire to co-create with nature. Labyrinths are known as sacred gateways which have been found at the entrance of ancient sites around the world. Ancient historians such as Herodotus and Pliny the Elder spoke of grand labyrinths attached to burial sites of rulers (such as “Hawara” built for Amenemhat III, (about 1855-1808 BC) near present day Cairo.
A labyrinth has only one path leading to the center and back out again. There are no dead-ends or trick turns which one encounters in a maze. A distinct difference between the two.
The spiral is the most generative form of subtle energy. When its coil is unwound the stored energy is released. The areas where straight ley lines cross, or where underground water run are places to build sacred temples, labyrinths. When you walk a labyrinth, you meander back and forth, turning 180 degrees each time you enter a different circuit. As you shift your direction you also shift your awareness from right brain to left-brain. This is one of the reasons the labyrinth can induce receptive states of consciousness. These places are rich in both yin and yang (yin underground water crossing yang energy lines). The labyrinth resonates to this numinous spiral, the Phi ratio known as the 'Golden Mean' found in all of nature. Perhaps this also bears a suggestion to the axis mundi of a site—another cosmic centering device which takes into consideration an awareness of the three vertical strata: above, below and a terrestrial middle plane – suggestive of heaven, earth and the underworld.
photo Wikimedia Commons
Noted historian Elizabeth Barlow Rogers writes - “People have sought at certain times and places a correspondence between abstract, philosophical notions of space and designed manifestations of space. The builders of the cities of Ur, Knossos and Teotihuacán centered their constructions in landscape space according to a cosmological diagram. At Vaux-le-Vicomte and Versailles there is a firm relationship between Cartesian cosmology and experiential space.”
In medieval and earlier times these were created as a religious path toward salvation or enlightenment. “Le chemin du paradis” literally means the road to paradise -- a pilgrimage. And so it is written at the
This desire for a correspondence between philosophical and scientific concepts of space and landscape can be seen in present day. Modern labyrinths, those created in the present are typically used to create a contemplative state such as the
and at Boston College (below).
Boston College Labyrinth. photo Wikimedia Commons
Two weeks ago I wrote of
. Perhaps images within that book inspired this post.
photo by Allan Pollok-Morris