walking a 7 circuitLabyrinths have fascinated me from the first time I saw one. They feel familiar to me, as if I have known them before.

The first thing to know about labyrinths is the difference between a maze and a labyrinth. Labyrinths are unicursal, which means that they have one well-defined path that leads us into the center and back out again. There are no dead ends or paths that divide.  A maze on the other hand is a puzzle to be solved: a left brain task that requires an active mind, logic, analytical skills, and problem solving abilities.  A labyrinth is a right brain task involving intuition imagery and creativity.  With a labyrinth there is only one choice: the choice to enter or not.

 I see the labyrinth as a symbol for a guided journey into the centre of yourself, into your inner world. It has been used as a tool for meditation, contemplation and pilgrimage. During the medieval times when it became too dangerous to actually take the journey to the Holy Land, people would use the labyrinth as a symbolic journey, often crawling the whole way on their knees.

A labyrinth is an ancient, sacred, archetypal pattern that has been found throughout the world in many forms and sizes. Labyrinths are one of the few archetypal patterns that we can physically interact with.  Labyrinths are enjoying a resurgence in popularity as tools for meditation and healing.  The process of walking the labyrinth helps many people become more centered and balanced.

“Labyrinths belong to the family of “Mandalas” (Sanskrit for “circle that contain the Essence”). They guard, activate & amplify the spiritual energies of a place so that people who walk it can experience a feeling of grace, peace or holiness in their heart, soul & spirit.” according to Aya. 

 

History of Labyrinths

Labyrinths have been found in almost every part of the world and used in many cultures over the past 5,000 years.  Their origin is a mystery.  The oldest labyrinths in the world are difficult to date because they are carved into rocks mainly around the Mediterranean area and in particular Gallicia in Northern Spain and Val Camonica in Italy.  One of the oldest dateable labyrinth, found inscribed on a clay tablet from Pylos, Greece, dates back to 1200 BCE.

 

The 2 main designs that I have worked with are the Seven Circuit or Classic design 

seven circuit

and the Medieval Labyrinth also known as the Chartres Design.

 The Classical Labyrinth

These are the classical labyrinths or 7 Circuit Labyrinths. They are also known as Cretan Labyrinths. It is an ancient design and is found in many cultures around the world.  This design was found on Cretan coins, on Hopi Indian sacred places and on the Hollywood Stone in Ireland.  It has seven circuits, which can correspond to our seven chakras, the seven colours of the rainbow, and the seven musical notes.  Even when seen for the first time, it seems to have a familiarity for many people. 

Labyrinths can be referred to as ‘right-handed’ or ‘left-handed’ depending on which way the first turn in the path goes. 

                                                               

                          Left-handed labyrinth                          Right-handed labyrinth

 

 

How to draw your own 7 Circuit Labyrinth.

drawing a labyrinth

 

Just begin at the first diagram and progressively move onto the next one as you have completed each of the aspects.

This will eventually lead you to a complete drawing of a labyrinth that you have draw all by yourself!

It might take a couple of goes to fit it on your piece of paper as it is deceptively bigger than it looks. It is also better to start the first part of the drawing about two thirds down your page so that you will be able to fit all the circuits in.

Good luck and have fun!

 

 

The other most common labyrinth is the Chartres Labyrinth

chartres labyrinth lit up

The Chartres labyrinth is found in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Chartres about 80 km south west of Paris, France.  It was installed in the cathedral around 1205 AD.  It is circular in shape with eleven circuits.  It is approximately 12.5 meters across.  It is constructed of contrasting black and yellowish white stone.  The whitish stones form the path about 15″ wide.  There is much symbolism associated with the Chartres labyrinth. 

Walking the Labyrinth:

People walk the labyrinth for many different reasons: For balance; to centre themselves; to increase their awareness; to connect to their higher selves; to balance their chakras, for grounding, and to bring peace.  It is usually helpful to have an intention before you walk the labyrinth.  Your intention can be looking for an answer to a question, or just seeking a way to find balance or improvement in some area of your life.  The experience of walking the labyrinth is different for everyone and different each time you walk one.

There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth.  Do whatever feels right for you.  Children love to run the labyrinth.  Try it – it can be very liberating!!  Many people divide the walk into three parts, or the three ‘R’s: Releasing, Receiving, and Returning.  On the walk in focus on releasing whatever is on your mind: your tensions and worries or whatever is occupying your thoughts.  When you reach the centre rest and allow whatever thoughts or answers come to you.  On the walk out, focus on returning to your everyday life with the wisdom that you have received.  My own preference is to start the walk with an intention, hold that intention during the walk, and then be aware of whatever insights that might come to me.

Why use a Labyrinth:
There is no doubt that many people find walking a labyrinth of benefit.  Many labyrinths seem to have been specifically built to be used in a spiritual manner.  In walking a labyrinth you are experiencing an ancient archetype symbolic of wholeness and life’s journey.  Labyrinths can bring a heightened awareness that leads to psychological and spiritual growth.  A labyrinth walk is a walking meditation that promotes relaxation and release of stress; it is a way to get in touch with your inner self, and gives you the opportunity to seek answers to your questions.

Much of what you gain from a labyrinth depends on the setting and location of the labyrinth allied to how you prepare for your labyrinth walk.  In building a labyrinth you are creating a sacred space, so the location and setting for your labyrinth can enhance the benefits of the labyrinth.  Walking a labyrinth empowers that space.  Your intention while walking the labyrinth and your openess to insights can all contribute to your labyrinth experience.