Why the labyrinth is relevant in 2020

Buckminster Fuller wrote, ‘If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Give them a tool instead, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.’ The labyrinth is just such a tool with the capacity to show us a new way of being in the world. It is a gift for uncertain times because it is that rare and precious thing, a universal symbol within which all our perspectives can find a home. The labyrinth teaches acceptance, inclusion and flow. Acceptance of the path and its obstacles. Inclusion of the other, both within and without, and to be in flow with all that is. We are held by the structure of its winding path and received by its mystery.
 
Walking the labyrinth is often considered a threefold path: releasing on the way in, receiving in the middle and then returning. This idea blends well with Jungian analyst, Helen Luke’s principles of the Divine Feminine: ‘Receiving, Nourishing and Birthing’. If we synergise these concepts, then the path receives what we release on the way in, nourishes us with inspiration as we pause in the centre, then births us back out into the world, refreshed. It’s a symbolic integration of our capacity to give and receive, a true mystic path. Rather than merely a personal sense of activating the intuitive aspects of consciousness, it’s a much bigger idea of the Great Mother rising up to meet us, using the labyrinth as her portal.
 
As an archetype, the labyrinth has no opposite; but its shadow is the maze (ultimately just a complicated labyrinth). The labyrinth welcomes and soothes with the ease of its step by step journey, whereas the walls and dead ends of the maze are designed to frustrate and confuse. The maze has been the dominant paradigm for so long, most of us barely notice we’re in it. To its detriment, Western culture has valued head over heart and thought over feeling. The rules and hierarchies are so deeply woven into our social fabric that it’s hard to imagine any other way of being.
 
The maze is a game with more barriers than freedoms, whose primary goal is power and control. In corporate life, an organisation which operates like a maze would be adversarial and competitive, a dog-eat-dog environment in which the end justifies the means. Employees chasing individual agendas rather than working as a team. The labyrinth is a game with more freedoms than barriers, whose primary goal is flow and acceptance. An organisation which operates like a labyrinth would be more collaborative, an interdependent community of individuals.
 
The labyrinth is a form of ‘maze therapy’ offering us the opportunity to experience ourselves as vessels through which power flows, rather than seeing power as something external to self. It is a paradigm within which we can access real power. The power of our essential nature. Not power over, which is the obsession of the maze, but power with. A mutually expansive sharing of the destiny of our world.
 
So how do we know if we’re living in a labyrinth or a maze? It’s all a matter of perspective. When we feel lost and confused, we’ve probably turned our path into a maze. The signs are anxiety, comparison and a need to control things. The myth of the maze is that it is real, that there’s no alternative. When we surrender to fear we build walls and create dead ends. We can only be free when we accept our experience and see how it might be transformed into something useful; when we realise that what’s in the way, is the way. We are the alchemists of our own lives and the lead with which that alchemist is working and we are the gold it becomes.
 
The coronavirus has highlighted many problems at the heart of our social and economic systems. It could be seen as the minotaur of our times, the hidden beast that must be confronted in the maze of modern life. The minotaur represents the shadow of our nature, the unconscious material we choose to ignore about ourselves. In the myth, Theseus slayed the Minotaur and managed to escape the maze, but he couldn’t do it alone; he needed the spool of thread given to him by Ariadne, to find his way back out. The hero aspect of our nature ventures into the dark of the subconscious mind to slay the monster of fear or shame but it needs to be guided back to the light by the intuitive heroine within. The great task of individuation involves slaying all the monsters we keep locked in the heart of our interior labyrinth. Not just once, but over and over again.
 
Our cultural minotaurs are the aspects of modern life that are draped in shame. The choices made to serve the few at the expense of the many. The malignant delusion of endless growth on a planet with finite resources. The rape of the earth, the pollution of the seas, the enslavement of millions. These are truly monstrous realities which, when fully acknowledged can be overwhelming. The answer is to do what we can from where we are, one step at a time. To clean up our small patch of ground and support those who extend their reach beyond. The gift of these minotaurs is to wake us up to the interconnection of all things. To show us our power to destroy and to create. We have the power to change our minds and change the game; to honour and revere the immense blessing of the earth instead of claiming dominion over it. The labyrinth invites us to tune ourselves to what is possible. To reach down into the earth and up into the stratosphere, bridging spirit and matter within the vessel of our being. As a living metaphor, it helps us remember that we are held and blessed by all that is. Even this.
 
Emily Simpson, June 2020. 
Image by Kyle Murraya
 

Spring Labyrinth Festival – 23rd Sept

 

The 2018 Spring Labyrinth Festival, generously sponsored this year by the Vasudhara Foundation will be held in Centennial Park from 11am-4pm, Sunday 23rd September. Celebrating the labyrinth as a path of peace, there will be several different labyrinths painted onto the field beside the sandstone one and facilitated walks accompanied by acoustic music: frame drum, didgeridoo, djembe drum, crystal bowl and harp. Come and share a picnic with your friends and remind yourself what it feels like to be in community in a peaceful, gentle way. Free event – all welcome! Find out more about it on the Spring Labyrinth Festival Facebook page

There will be an Archimedes Spiral Labyrinth and a Chalice of Love labyrinth painted onto the field, as well as a Pilgrim Riverstone Labyrinth in which walkers can select a river stone near the threshold and walk it into the labyrinth, leaving their worries behind by placing the stone somewhere along the painted path. So the Pilgrim Labyrinth will emerge slowly over the day as one by one, each pilgrim lays their burden down.
 
Program
11.30am: Welcome to Country by Biripi elder, Aunty Ali Golding  
11.45am: Blessing of the path, accompanied by ‘Choir Rocks’
12pm: Frame Drum walk led by sound healer and shamanic teacher, Jane Elworthy
1pm:  Didgeridoo walk led by life mastery coach and didgeridoo teacher, Adrian Hanks
2pm:  Djembe Drum walk led by meditation teacher and drum circle facilitator, Jeremy Prangnell
3pm:  Alchemy Crystal Singing Bowl walk led by Seichim master, Elizabeth Brandis with Celtic Harp played by therapeutic musician, Jacqueline Spring
 

Mark Healy’s magnificent wooden labyrinth products will be on offer and you’ll be able to talk to Donna Mulhearn about her spectacular Blue Labyrinth Bush Retreat in the Blue Mountains.  Michele Macgregor will be offering her beautiful Luxmi beeswax candles.  Patrick Kayrooz will be offering his beautiful silver jewellery inspired by sacred geometry.  Alf from Bar Coco will be providing espresso coffee, cold drinks, sandwiches, muffins, gelato and milk shakes. Bring a picnic rug to share with your friends. Free event – all welcome!

Lauren Artress in Sydney

The woman who kick started the global labyrinth movement 20 years ago, Rev Dr Lauren Artress was in Sydney to train 30 new labyrinth facilitators. On Sunday 1st Feb she was guest of honour at the Dedication of the Labyrinth which included the beautiful music of Corrina Bonshek which is now available online.

Lauren Artress

To find out more about Lauren’s work with labyrinths around the world go to  www.veriditas.org.  Her much loved book is called “Walking A Sacred Path – Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Practice” and is available on Amazon

Simple guide to walking the labyrinth:

There’s really no right way or wrong way to walk a labyrinth, but generally speaking there are three phases:

1. Releasing on the way in – letting go of what no longer serves.
2. Receiving a sense of peace and calm as you pause in the centre.
3. Resolving to engage with the world in a new way as you follow the same path back out.

To prepare, you may want to sit quietly and reflect before walking the labyrinth. Some people come with questions, others just to slow down and take time out from a busy life. Some come to find the strength to take the next step during times of grief and loss. Its winding path becomes a metaphor for our journey and where we find ourselves on our path. If someone is walking more slowly than you, feel free to overtake (easier at the turns). The labyrinth is all about flow and acceptance. As Ram Dass says, “We are all really just walking each other home.”

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Lauren Artress in Sydney – Jan 2015

Sydney Postcard_rev1

Want to learn more about the labyrinth? The woman who kick started the global labyrinth movement 20 years ago, Rev Dr Lauren Artress is coming to Sydney to speak and teach in January 2015. Whether you want to bring the labyrinth to your community or simply deepen your understanding of it, then this is a rare opportunity.

The lecture will be held at the Paddington Uniting Church, 395 Oxford St, Paddington and the workshop and Facilitator Training will be held at Moore Park Golf Club. Lauren will also be holding a special dedication of the Centennial Park labyrinth on the evening of Sunday 1st February. All welcome. To find out more about her work with labyrinths around the world go to www.veriditas.org.  Her book is called “Walking A Sacred Path – Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Practice” and is available on Amazon

If you need accommodation:

http://www.wotif.com/hotels/crown-hotel-surry-hills.html

http://www.wotif.com/hotels/rydges-sydney-central-formerly-sebel-surry-hills.html

http://www.wotif.com/hotels/city-crown-motel.html

 

and if you have any questions please contact Emily Simpson

Quotes from the wisdom keepers

Wisdom Keeper line up

Walking home to country is a connection our people have always had with Mother Earth. Our culture is defined by the closeness of family circles and staying connected to the people within it. The labyrinth invites and welcomes people to walk the path together – it calls them to the land in oneness. (Aunty Ali Golding, Aboriginal Elder, Biripi Nation)

As the wind calls the trees to dance, may this walking reflection invite us to rediscover the genuine rhythm of our human journey.  The pilgrim deep within each of us is aware of an unseen world that shapes us. It calls us to a different tempo that can renew our life. The ancient gospel is a story of such a journey that reveals a new kingdom of love.  May this prayer of the labyrinth lead us gently into a new dance with our one precious life. (Monsignor Tony Doherty, Church of Mary Magdalene)

The labyrinth represents the spiritual journey, inward to our inner selves and the Sacred within, outward to the world held in God’s love and yearning for peace and justice. (Rev Dr Margaret Mayman, Pitt Street Uniting Church)

Meditative prayer connects us with the eternal, singular, conscious being known as ‘God’.  Prayer invites God’s presence to permeate our presence.  Prayer cannot bring water to parched fields, nor mend a broken bridge, but it can water an arid soul and mend a broken heart. Pray as if everything depends on God, but act as if everything depends on you. (Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins, Emanuel Synagogue)

A pilgrimage is a moment when people come from every corner of the world to share the spiritual experience. They come in humility and sincerity to God Almighty. (Imam Amin Hady, Zetland Mosque)

Look at your feet. There is your mind. See where your feet are. You are there. (Venerable Boan Sunim, Korean Puri Temple, Gordon)

Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.  When we are walking with mindfulness, then the walker and that which is walked upon become one, the division between self /other dissolves into the sacredness of walking with a peaceful heart. (Zen Roshi – Subhana Barzaghi, Sydney Zen Centre)

In the journey of faith through life, we are given paths which help us to live more fully within that one journey. In the Christian liturgical tradition, every year is a pilgrimage celebrating the two primary cycles of Advent-Christmas and of Lent-Easter. Among the ways of reflecting and meditating on our journey of faith and our relationship with God and others, are such treasures as the Labyrinth. (Father Martin Davies , St James Church)

Nothing can bar or mar the paths of those who truly believe in the name. They depart from here with honour. They do not lose the proper path. The spirit of those imbued with faith is wedded to the realization of truth. (Jaspal Singh, Sikh Temple,)

One of the first things we find God doing in the Bible is walking in the garden of Eden in the cool of the day (Gen 3.8).  God promises the people: ‘I walk among you and be your God’ (Lev 26.12).  The Bible can pay no greater compliment than to say of some people that they ‘walked with God’ (Gen 5.4).  The apostle Paul describes the Christian life as walking by ‘faith’ not sight (2 Cor 5.7). (Rev Dr Geoff Broughton, Paddington Anglican Church)

For me, prayer is walking. Every step is a prayer. The way unfolds, and all it asks is trust and humility. The road always leads home. Step by step.  (Ailsa Piper, Writer and Pilgrim)