Labyrinth Walking

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Labyrinth walking is the practice of journeying to and then returning from the center. A labyrinth has a clearly marked path to follow, and is not a maze in which you can get lost. Labyrinths can be thought as symbolic forms of pilgrimage; you can walk the path ascending towards salvation or enlightenment.

During the middle ages, labyrinths were built in a number of large European churches. The full flowering of the medieval labyrinth design came about during the 12th and 13th centuries with the grand labyrinths of the gothic cathedrals, most notably Chartres and Amiens in Northern France and Siena in Tuscany.

There are also remarkable examples of the labyrinth shape from a whole range of ancient cultures. The symbol has appeared in forms and media, such as petroglyphs, pavement, grass and basketry, throughout most parts of the world, from Java, Native North and South America and Australia, to India and Nepal.

Many labyrinths exist today in churches and parks to provide people with a meditative way to relieve stress. Labyrinths can now also be found in retreat centers, hospitals, prisons, parks, airports and community centers. There are at least 2,000 permanent labyrinths in the United States alone.

Labyrinths may be created with stone, tape, fabric, sticks, chalk, plants, and many other materials. “Finger labyrinths” are also rising in popularity, as small wooden or metal plaques on which the labyrinth pattern is traced with a finger or a stylus.

Download a Finger Labyrinth
This labyrinth follows a medieval pattern. You can print it on heavyweight paper to use as a finger labyrinth.

Links

The Labyrinth Society
World-Wide Labyrinth Locator