Learn about Labyrinths
What is a Labyrinth?
A labyrinth is a meandering path, often unicursal (singular) and leading to a center. Labyrinths are an ancient archetype dating back 4,000 years or more, used symbolically, as a walking meditation, choreographed dance, or site of rituals and ceremony, among other things. Labyrinths are tools for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation, also thought to enhance right brain activity. Labyrinths evoke metaphor, sacred geometry, spiritual pilgrimage, religious practice, mindfulness, environmental art, and community building.
The 7-Circuit Classical Labyrinth in this example shows that you enter a labyrinth through the mouth and then walk on the paths or circuits. The walls keep you on the path. The goal is in the center of the labyrinth. When you reach it, you have gone half the distance – you now need to turn around and walk back out.
Keeping Our Terminology Consistent
As our awareness of labyrinths expands, it becomes more and more important to keep our terminology consistent. One example of an inconsistency is that some call the Classical seven-circuit labyrinth the Cretan labyrinth.
With this in mind, Jeff Saward and Sig Lonegren—with the help of Marty Cain, David Tolzman, Lea Goode-Harris, Alex Champion and Robert Ferré—worked together to created the following list of types. Thus began an ongoing dialog with the goal of providing clarity for a working labyrinth typology.
Left or Right Handed Labyrinths
A left- or right-handed labyrinth is determined by the direction of the first turn after entering the labyrinth. Jeff Saward estimates that approximately two-thirds of the ancient Classical labyrinths were right-handed and two-thirds of the modern Classical ones are left-handed. Neither is better than the other—it is totally up to personal preference.