We had the great pleasure of sitting down to chat with Christiana Brinton from The Labyrinth Society about the fascinating world of labyrinths. Why labyrinths of all things, you ask? You will see in just a moment.
Difference Between A Labyrinth and a Maze
The first thing to clarify (which actually came as a surprise to us as well), is that labyrinths are inherently different from mazes. Mazes are typically what comes to mind first for most people. They are the tricky, intricate puzzles that we are all familiar with. They have many entrances, pathways, and dead ends. Mazes also have tall walls and do not have a defined centre. Most importantly of all, the purpose of a maze is that you have to escape it (and a properly designed maze will do it’s best to prevent you from doing that).
Labyrinths, on the other hand, are not quite like that. They are actually a lot friendlier, even welcoming. In terms of the design, labyrinths distinguish themselves first by not necessarily having tall walls, they can simply be a path on the ground. They also typically have one entrance and one pathway, as opposed to mazes which have numerous branching paths you have to choose from. This path, much unlike mazes, is designed to take you to the centre of the labyrinth, after which, the way out is found by backtracking down the original path. It is also possible to have labyrinths with multiple entrances and even multiple centres, however, the key point is that a labyrinth is not meant to be a puzzle that confuses you. The purpose of a labyrinth is to create a journey for you. The ideas is that you simply enter, follow the path, and reach the centre.
While fundamentally different from mazes, labyrinths do have one thing in common with them. They are both designed to stimulate your brain and to get your neurons going, just in different ways. A maze can be described as a puzzle, whereas a labyrinth is more of a meditation. The purpose of a labyrinth is that you follow the path to the centre, which gives you the freedom to ground yourself, meditate, and ponder.
The Perfect Meditation Tool
So hold on, what do you have to ponder? Anything…..Wait, anything? Yes, anything! A labyrinth is a tool you can use to meditate and ponder on things that are most important to you. The labyrinth offers you an environment where you can detune and, as you follow the path, you can allow your mind to wander freely and focus on the things you need to focus on. It’s a surprisingly simple concept, but definitely a powerful one. According to Christiana, way back in medieval times, they used to have labyrinths in cathedrals to supposedly create the experience of a religious pilgrimage. By that definition, a labyrinth is your own personal pilgrimage which you can take on for reasons large or small. Don’t be fooled by their history though, because the meditation does not have to be religious in nature. As mentioned before, it can be anything you wish, whether it’s something personal, or something existential, or if you just want to unwind and tune out the world.
Expanding on that, the meditative journey of the labyrinth isn’t just about walking the path. The entire project itself, from planning, to designing, and all the way to the final build, is part of the journey. You can connect with your labyrinth from the very first day and the very first design you draw on paper before it’s even built. Once it’s completed you can also share it with other people and have them walk the path that you created. These are all part of the fascinating and fun experiences a labyrinth can provide. This lends itself to a myriad of uses for individuals, families, or even entire communities. It’s a very useful tool for collecting one’s thoughts or for bringing people together, which is why we see them popping up in various shapes and sizes worldwide.
Given all of the above, it’s no surprise that there is an entire organization dedicated to the wonderfully wide world of labyrinths. The Labyrinth Society strives to be the ultimate resource when it comes to labyrinths. Whether it’s the culture itself, or technical specifics on how to design and build a labyrinth, they have the information you need. Their history as an organization is quite rich, having been founded by people from a wide variety of backgrounds which have all been brought together by their fascination and love of labyrinths.
The Labyrinth Society has grown into a vibrant organization, providing information and connecting labyrinth lovers all over the globe. Their goal is to be an abundant information source for anyone out there that wants to learn about labyrinths. They pride themselves in being very rigorous and well-documented.
There is a lot of information out there, some of which can be quite technical, so having an accurate and properly compiled source of information is essential to the process. They also do a great deal of networking. Aside from their ever-expanding social and internet presence, they also hold a conference for labyrinth enthusiasts every year.
Last but not least, in partnership with another organization called Veriditas, they have put together the World Wide Labyrinth Locator, which is a website that allows people to register and locate labyrinths around the globe. This goes a long way in bringing people together as it allows anyone to either search up a labyrinth, or to create and register one anywhere on the planet. The labyrinth locator can be found here: https://labyrinthlocator.com/.
You can’t help but admire the passion of the great folks from The Labyrinth Society for providing such a thorough resource on quite a fascinating topic. As I mentioned in the interview, looking through their site it felt very welcoming and intriguing. I felt as if I could just start building my own labyrinth and be part of the movement right then and there. In fact, we’ve actually done an article on how to built a labyrinth in your own back yard.
Be sure to check out the full interview below with Christiana Brinton. As well, we encourage you to check out their Facebook page or their podcast for more exciting info on the world of labyrinths. Until next time!