Labyrinth Research Bibliography

Bibliography of Studies Related to Labyrinth Research (.pdf 517K)

This downloadable Bibliography has all entries sorted by author. The entries in the bibliography have been categorized below by topic and also by type (doctoral dissertation, journal article etc.).

Labyrinths in American contemporary religion: Rituals that engage a sacred cosmos

Laishley, B. L.

This dissertation is an examination of current trends in American religion as seen through rituals performed on the labyrinth. Using an ethnographic approach I have documented labyrinth rituals by people with diverse religious beliefs and spiritual practices including those of Christian, Buddhist, Jewish and Pagan in a wide variety of settings including hospitals, churches, backyards, and beaches. I argue that this diversity is possible because the geometric form of the labyrinth--a circle with a path to the center--acts as a template upon which people overlay their beliefs of the spiritual world and engage in these beliefs through ritual. Since the beliefs that have been enacted in labyrinth rituals expand beyond the confines of institutional religion, I have referred to them as beliefs in a 'sacred cosmos.' A sacred cosmos is a socially constructed framework that explains and justifies the seen and unseen world and provides order, placement, and meaning. Beliefs in a sacred cosmos range along a continuum from highly complex theories articulated in doctrines, to general ideas found in folklore, to personally negotiated worlds of meaning. Using Christian liturgical rituals of Advent, Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, and Holy Week I examine how the eleven-circuit Chartres labyrinth is used to purposely construct the sacred Christian cosmos. But many Americans, especially the baby boomer generation, are searching for a spiritual life outside of institutional religions. I observe this segment of spiritual seekers using Wade Clark Roof's (1993, 1999) proposal of a "quest culture" and Robert Fuller's (2001) discussion of those "spiritual but not religious." To demonstrate that meaningful ideas of a sacred cosmos can exist outside of institutional religion, I explicate rituals performed in nature on the seven-circuit Classical labyrinth using Catherine Albanese's (1990, 2002) concept of "nature religion." Ideas of time and space are central to any notion of a sacred cosmos and are examined fully as a method for people to establish a rhythm and place in the world. Ron Williams and James Boyd's (1993) theory of Virtual time/space is utilized to show how participating in ritual allows people to feel "as if" their sacred cosmos were real.

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