FROM THE EDITOR
Walk your meditation, speak your prayer in the labyrinth
LYNN S. LaFROTH
LABYRINTHS DATE BACK TO between three and six thousand years ago and were discovered in many ancient societies; their symbolism is multi-level, multicultural. All labyrinths share the basic features of having a single circuitous pathway ending in the center. It’s not like a maze; you can’t get it wrong because there are no loops, cul-de-sacs or forks. The path leads only to center.
The labyrinth that I walk every Friday during warm months with my women’s group is one of the two most common types: the Chartres, 11-circuit style. It is located near Webb Lake, WI on private land called The Sacred Grove: www.sacredgrove.us. (The other type is the Classic-7 and is considered the oldest style, with seven circuits, egg-shape and turns in the lower part of the labyrinth. See example below from Villa Maria Retreat Center in Frontenac, MN.)
The Chartres labyrinth was originally constructed around 1200 AD on the stone floor of Chartres Cathedral, France. It has 11 circuits or turns arranged in four quadrants around the perimeter and a six-petal rosette is the center. The center’s style varies from labyrinth to labyrinth and the one I walk has a huge stone that five people can jointly share to sit upon. The Chartres labyrinth was originally built as an alternative to taking—in those days—the hazardous pilgrimage to Jerusalem to walk the footsteps of Christ, similar to today’s Muslims who take “The Haj” or pilgrimage to Mecca. Walking the pathway is considered “a walking meditation” and is said to enhance prayer and personal growth.
The labyrinth in Wisconsin that I walk is 60 feet in diameter lined with local stones with a sawdust pathway. It’s located in the middle of about 10 acres of dense woods and has, in my opinion, an embracing and comforting quality to it. I’ll start my walk sometime tense or anxious and I leave the labyrinth ready to take a nap. It’s instantaneous sometimes. Many people set intentions before walking and will arrive at clarity during the walk or perhaps a day or so afterwards.
Our group will often offer prayers for those who need healing or comfort. Some of the women I know receive words or passages from spiritual texts as they walk in meditation. It varies person to person. Oftentimes eagles fly over or we’ll feel the energy of “Bear” nearby. Butterflies or dragonflies have been known to light upon walkers and often the wind speaks to us. Nature is definitely alive and powerful at our labyrinth in the woods, at the Sacred Grove.
The Sacred Grove labyrinth was built in 1999 by Pat and Lucy Basler, who bought the 10 acres near their home in northwest Wisconsin, designated it as spiritual space, and built the labyrinth, stone by stone. "Walking the labyrinth is a meditative experience and can be used for slowing down your life, or for gaining clarity to help make right decisions. Some are calmed and some are energized. It's unique to each person. But it is a tool to help one delve deeper inside themselves," said Lucy Basler.
For a complete list iof labyrinths n the Midwest go to http://www.pathsofpeace.com
The Sacred Grove is open 24/7 to everyone at no charge and is located at 27802 Thompson Road south off County Road A between Webster and Spooner in northwest Wisconsin. For more information on the Sacred Grove or for directions, call 715.866.7798 or email@example.com.
Lynn S. LaFroth is managing editor of Essential Wellness and co-producer of Living Well Northwoods events and publications. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.