How to Create a Personal Labyrinth
Labyrinths continue to gain acceptance as a valuable tool for healing, meditation and personal growth. They are found adjacent to hospitals and churches, they are being constructed in local parks and backyards, and are even used in schools. Virtual Labyrinths provide respite on the computer, and there are even Labyrinth apps for smartphones. As more and more people familiarize themselves with Labyrinths, they are able to reconnect to the Divine Feminine that embodies this sacred spiral.
Walking prefabricated Labyrinths is easy to do, but you may want to create your own Labyrinth and make it more personally meaningful. Exploring the concept of Sacred Geometry and drawing Labyrinths by hand, will allow you to gain greater insights into these ancient symbols and develop a deeper appreciation of the Labyrinth.
Sacred geometry is the art of studying archetypal patterns and proportions in Nature and applying that knowledge to create meaningful structures. Many people may not know or understand sacred geometry, but they certainly recognize or resonate with the pattern.
One example of sacred geometry is the Golden Ratio (Phi) pictured above. We recognize this spiral shape in the form sea shells, unfurling plants and the Universe itself, ever spiralling as it expands outward. As the spiral unwinds, stored energy is released.
The Labyrinth is created using Sacred Geometry. The center of the Labyrinth acts as a vortex, surrounded by swirling energies. Walking the Labyrinth builds on these subtle energies and unleashes them. The walker becomes part of the sacred pattern as her energy field is woven into the Labyrinth’s.
Sacred geometry, however, does not have to involve complex mathematical equations. Geomancer, Sig Lonegren suggests that people learn how to create their own Labyrinth. This involves both the analytical left brain and the intuitive right brain. As you practice drawing the Labyrinth, an amazing thing happens. You stop thinking about the next step, your hand knows exactly what to do. Not only are you engaging the whole brain, but the mind-body connection as well. When this knowing (or as Lonegren prefers “gnowing” ) occurs, you have reached the place where geometry becomes sacred.
The best way to achieve this gnowing is to practice, practice, practice. The more you practice, the more ingrained the pattern becomes. You gain a deeper awareness, expanding your knowledge of Labyrinths, but you also become more aware of how it feels intuitively. We learn by doing, and even more important, the act of doing can make the learning personally meaningful.
Practice learning how to draw a labyrinth using the seed patterns provided. Start with the simple 3-circuit labyrinth before moving on to the more complex 7- circuit. You may discover that, initially, the left brain is doing most of the work, guiding the hand, figuring out where the dots and lines connect.
As you are drawing, pay attention to how your body feels. Keep drawing until it feels comfortable and natural. At some point, you will notice that you don’t have to think about it any more, your hand knows exactly what to do. This is gnowing. This is sacred geometry in action, and, as the creator, you are a vital part of the equation.
As you become more adept, you can move on from drawings on paper to working with other materials. Creating Labyrinths can be a form of Sacred Play, let your inner child out and have some fun! Labyrinths can be made from just about any type of materials, clay, play doh, stones, beads, yarn, fabrics. If you’re at the beach, you can easily draw one in the sand or build one in the snow. You can use crayons, paints or even make a collage and include meaningful images or affirmations. You are only as limited as your imagination!
Artress, Lauren Walking a Sacred Path
Artress, Lauren The Sacred Path Companion
Lonegren, Sig. Labyrinths: Ancient Myths and Modern Uses
Seed pattern courtesy of Mid-Atlantic Geomancy http://www.geomancy.org/index.php/labyrinths/construction-and-terms
The Dark Moon in Taurus connects us to our sense of groundedness. To be grounded is to be in our bodies, fully and completely. Many of us dislike being fully present in our bodies, this solid, weighty mass we all too often despise and harshly judge.
We tend to forget that our bodies are an integral part of our connection to the natural world. To be grounded is to understand that everything is connected, everything is part of the whole.
We all come from a sacred source, our Mother’s womb, and so we should treat our bodies as the sacred vessels they truly are. That means using our bodies as nature intended, to feel and express emotions, to engage in acts of pleasure, to indulge without guilt. But also to tend to our bodies, to nurture and care for them, to love and respect these sacred temples.
To be in the present moment is to be fully and completely into our bodies, that is, to be fully integrated, mentally, physically and emotionally. Presence includes being aware of the sensual world around us as well as our relationship to it. It’s about being authentic and expressing that authenticity through our body language.
Self-Blessing Ritual adapted from Z Budapest
Complete this ritual after bathing, when you are cleansed and refreshed. Focus on being right here, right now, in love with who you are, this precious temple that is your body.
You may wish to altar the words or bless body parts other than those mentioned. Those areas we like the least are usually the areas that need the most love and attention.
Using your fingertips, gently touch each body part listed below and say aloud the accompanying words.
Top of Head: “Bless me Mother, for I am your child.”
Third Eye (middle of forehead, between your brows): “Bless my Eyes, that I may see Your truth.”
Throat: “Bless my Voice, that I may speak Your truth.”
Heart: “Bless my Heart, that I may recognize Your truth.”
Solar Plexus: “Bless my Energy Center that I may be a conduit for Your truth.”
Womb: “Bless my Womb, that I may create from Your truth.”
Vagina/Labia: “Bless my Yoni that I may be rooted in Your truth.”
Hands: “Bless my Hands, that they may always do Your work.”
Feet: “Bless my Feet, that they may always walk on Your path.”
And, then, back to the top of your head: “Bless me Mother, for I am your child, I am a part of You.”
Dark Moon Blessings
The Divine Feminine and the Labyrinth
The Labyrinth is an archetype of the Divine Feminine. It has long been associated with ancient Mother Goddesses,the womb, a serpent, a regenerative place of death and rebirth and of transformation. Women who have been oppressed by patriarchy need to have a safe space within which to heal and reclaim their power. The Labyrinth provides that space, leading to a collective healing for all women. The Labyrinth conjures up many different and varied analogies that encompass the Sacred Feminine.
One common image is the Labyrinth as womb of the Great Mother. The entrance, which we can refer to as the labia, is a threshold, protects the sacred space within from the harshness of the outer world. The gentle back and forth motion of the walker reproduces the floating sensations experienced in the womb.
The center of the Labyrinth offers a safe space for transformation and rebirth. We may die to old beliefs and/or old patterns which may cause discomfort. The center of the Labyrinth is a nurturing environment in which to experience the struggles of growth and rebirth. It is also the place of pure, raw potential.
As we leave the warmth of the womb, we follow the path of the birth canal back out to the world. We may feel as vulnerable as a newborn. It can take time to integrate our newly created self. But we can return to the Labyrinth to renew any time, and once more feel Her embrace.
Another analogy we can use has the Labyrinth corresponding to the phases of the moon. At the entrance, we are in light. The path toward the center is like the path of the waning moon. Each step takes us deeper into ourselves. Like Inanna, we cast off parts of ourselves, until we arrive, naked, at the center, the place of the Dark Moon. This is a place of stillness, we remain dormant, until it is time to leave. The journey out corresponds to the waxing moon. Our light grows stronger and brighter, each step bringing us closer to full, until we emerge into the world.
The analogy, offered by Sig Lonegren, likens the Labyrinth to Cerridwen’s cauldron. As we walk the meandering path, we mimic the stirring of the cauldron. We may stir up stuff that has settled on the bottom, forgotten or denied. These can be old emotional wounds, recurring issues we’ve ignored or other matters that are needing to be looked at. We can allow these issues to rise to the surface as we walk. When we explore them honestly and with compassion, profound healing can occur.
The Labyrinth can experienced as a coiled serpent, and the act of walking uncoils the snake, freeing up blocked energy and allowing Kundalini to flow. We may also look at the coiled snake as potential energy. The act of walking raises energy which can then be directed toward healing, magick or sending out positive energies.
The Labyrinth can be utilized as a container to hold women’s stories, a space for women to gather in order to reclaim their power. The Labyrinth can be a place for collective healing of all women through the ages, as well as the personal healing that each of us needs. Often both types of healing occur at the same time.
The center of the Labyrinth is the realm of the Dark Goddess, the Primeval Void, Sloth Woman. It is a place where women can explore the parts of themselves that have remained in the shadows, often as a result of the oppression women experience within patriarchal culture. When we enter the Labyrinth with intent, we give ourselves permission to be who we are, we can shine light upon our dark aspects and bring them to consciousness. When we are able to acknowledge our darkness, we can choose what we want to integrate and what to discard. The Dark Goddess teaches us that there are alternatives to slaying the Minotaur.
Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur
In Homer’s Iliad, the Labyrinth is referred to as the dancing floor. It was created by Daedalus as a gift for Ariadne. Within the Labyrinth young people would dance together, holding hands. It was a joyous place of initiation, but eventually gained notoriety as the place that housed the dreaded Minotaur.
In the Greek myth, the young hero, Theseus, descends into the Labyrinth, aided by a ball of thread given to him by Ariadne. Theseus unravels the thread as he wanders the path to the center. At the center, he slays the Minotaur and then follows the thread back up to the surface.
The myth is a typical Hero’s Journey involving a Descent to the Underworld, a Conquest, and an Ascent. The notion of conquest is a patriarchal concept and the myth may have been describing the conquest of Crete by the more aggressive, male-dominated Greek culture.
Minoan Crete was a Goddess-centered society, Ariadne was known as the Mistress of the Labyrinth, and may have been the original Minoan Mother Goddess. The Minotaur, whose name is Asterion, (star) is half man- half bull. Bulls were sacred to the Goddess. The actual Labyrinth in Crete was likely a place of initiation, with initiates facing a symbolic death and rebirth.
In the myth, Theseus relies on the Goddess to show him the way. In some versions, along with the thread, Ariadne offers Theseus a lamp to light his way, much like Hecate does for Persephone when she descends to the realm of Hades.
The myth is also about missed opportunities. The Goddess met Theseus at the threshold, She provided safe passage and a lamp to light the way. Theseus chose to slay the Minotaur, but what can be learned if the monster is killed? Ariadne waited for Theseus to emerge, She loved him unconditionally, even though he eventually abandoned Her. Theseus did not recognize the important role the Goddess played in his initiation into the Underworld. How different the myth would be if the Goddess were given the proper respect due Her.
The Minotaur is a metaphor for the dark aspects within all of us. We can cultivate curiosity towards them rather than deny or suppress them. We can invite Ariadne to walk with us, shine Her lamp upon the Darkness and assist us to face that which we fear the most.
What does your Heroine’s Journey look like? What does the Minotaur represent in your life? How did it come into being? How does it manifest in your life? What can you learn from the Minotaur? What are its strengths and how can you integrate them into your life? Write your personal Labyrinth myth.
Shaindel Senensky, Sylvia Healing and Empowering the Feminine
Healing and the Labyrinth
Walking a Labyrinth promotes relaxation and de-stressing by focusing on the breath and stilling the mind. As the walker reconnects to her soul-spirit, she may be better able to see her illness as an ally and teacher. Inner healing can occur, regardless of whether or not physical recovery happens. The gently winding path guides the individual forward from one step to the next. The Labyrinth provides a safe space within which to dialogue with illness. By creating space for personal expression, the Labyrinth can promote stress reduction. This does not mean freedom from stress, but rather freedom to stress. Healing occurs when the walker is able to honour what she is feeling, openly and honestly, rather than suppress so-called “negative” emotions.
The Classical 7-circuit Labyrinth corresponds to the 7 Chakras and may be useful in bringing balance and wholeness to the walker. By focusing on a particular Chakra along each circuit, the individual may notice where there are blocked energies and clear them. Here is a link to a virtual Labyrinth Chakra Meditation created by the Lakeside Labyrinth. As you journey through each Chakra, you may wish to focus on where tensions and blocks arise. Breathe into those areas, with the intention to heal and bring about balance.
The winding path of the Labyrinth evokes images of the brain, and indeed, the back and forth movement can bring about balanced and enhanced connections between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. The intuitive and rational minds come together, bringing that which is unconscious to light. Ideas and images that arise in the right-brain can be made manifest in the left-brain.
Select a challenging event from your life. Ask the following questions: What made it tough? What supportive elements were missing? Does it still have an impact today? Are there recurring patterns? Write down any other pertinent questions.
Prepare your sacred space, meditate on the challenging area and when you are ready enter the Labyrinth. Allow each step to ground you further into yourself, and to truly feel the experience. You may experience a variety of uncomfortable emotions, fear, rage, shame. Allow these emotions to rise to the surface, notice them without judgment, and release them. Be receptive to any images that arise, but do not interpret them.
When you reach the center, stay as long as you need to. The center may provide comfort and nurturing, insight and clarity, or simply a space to be. When you are ready, follow the path out. If deep healing has occurred, you are likely to be feeling vulnerable and raw. Take the time you need to integrate the experience. The return journey also provides an opportunity to gain strength prior to stepping out into the mundane world. When you are finished, write about any insights that came up on the walk, or make a collage of the images that arose.
Artress, Lauren Walking a Sacred Path
Artress, Lauren The Sacred Path Companion