The seven circuit Labyrinth is located on the south lawn and is available for everyone to walk. See below for more information. Please watch our video 'Journey to the Centre' to discover how the Labyrinth was created.
What is a labyrinth?
A labyrinth is a symbol found in many cultures from ancient to modern times. If you visit Chartres in Northern France, you will find it on the stone floor of the ancient Cathedral. The feet of the faithful have walked its path in prayerful meditation since the 13th century. It represents a pilgrimage of the soul which follows a long, winding yet purposeful path that finally comes to a centre, then winds its way out again. There are no obstacles, no puzzles; it is not a maze. There is one unbroken path to follow.
Sometimes the words ‘labyrinth’ and ‘maze’ are confused. While both refer to circling patterns, the two are totally different. A maze is a puzzle and thus designed to confuse; walkers must use their reason and cunning to escape. A labyrinth is a single path that leads the walker to the centre and back out. In an open, receptive frame of mind, the walker simply follows the path and experiences a refreshing form of meditation.
There are two basic designs, an eleven circuit and a seven circuit. We have chosen the seven-circuit design to provide easier access for wheelchairs and walkers and to provide more space for all walkers.
Why walk the labyrinth?
The experience of walking the labyrinth will be different for each person and different each time the path is walked. Many have found it to be a tool to guide healing (of the mind, spirit and body), to awaken the Spirit within them, to spark creativity. Walking the labyrinth quiets the busy mind and enables a person to see their life in the context of a path or journey. It often gives solace and peace, and encourages action empowered by the Spirit.
Metaphorically speaking, we are all spiritual seekers, on a path together, looking for meaning and purpose for our lives. The labyrinth provides a symbol that is also quite literal as it presents us with a real path upon which to really walk together.
The labyrinth is a spiritual tool that is used as a centering activity. It is meant to be walked as a form of meditation, and in the walking, the spirit finds healing and wholeness.
There is no absolutely right way to walk the labyrinth. Choose your pace: slow, moderate or fast. Most walk alone, but you may choose to walk with another. If you meet someone on the path, pass quietly or move aside and then continue. You may not want to make eye contact, or you may wish to touch in passing. The walking meditation may be used in several ways according to your needs and wishes.
Here are a few suggestions to help you begin:
Breathe deeply, centre yourself and enter the path. Begin to move forward and find the pace your body wants. If you have a particular issue you are praying about, hold that in your heart. You may silently repeat a phrase from a hymn or a prayer. If you wish, you can pause now and then to record your thoughts in writing. As you walk to the centre, relax and release the thoughts and concerns of life, allowing your mind to become quiet. When you reach the centre, stay there as long as you like. Listen for the voice of the Spirit within you. As you walk out of the centre, retracing the path that brought you in, allow a new perspective and a new energy to fill you as you continue on your spiritual path in life.
Why all the interest in labyrinths?
There has certainly been a great revival of interest in this spiritual tool in recent years. In the Victoria area, there are labyrinths on church property, in a city park, in retreat centres and in private gardens.
In 1991, the Reverend Doctor Lauren Artress, Canon for Special Ministries at Grace Episcopalian Cathedral in San Francisco, walked a temporary labyrinth taped on a floor in a conference. The path of the labyrinth became a metaphor for her spiritual path. This initial experience nurtured her spirituality and sent her imagination sparking with the idea of creating a universal walking ritual open to all people from all traditions. She has devoted much time and energy to writing a book, spearheading the creation of temporary and then permanent labyrinths in San Francisco and to giving talks and encouragement all around North America. Grace Cathedral has become a resource centre and support for the many labyrinths around the world.
The Mission and Outreach Team created a permanent labyrinth on our beautiful grounds as a Millennium Project. This spiritual tool is a visible sign of outreach to the community. Everyone is welcome to walk this labyrinth.
Walking the labyrinth...
does not require a great amount of concentration in order to benefit from the experience. The sheer act of walking a designated path helps to discharge energy and focus the mind. What seems to work best when preparing to walk is to take a few minutes to reflect on where you are in your life journey, and what issues confront you. You may wish to focus on a particular question that you have been asking yourself.
All this helps you into a receptive and quieted state in which insights may bubble up into the conscious mind that may not have emerged before.
Recognition and thanks to the many labyrinth web sites that so generously provided information and content used in this leaflet: Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA: www.gracecom.org/labyrinth
The St. Louis Labyrinth Project: www.labyrinthproject.com
Trinity Cathedral, Sacramento, CA: www.trinitycathedral.org/laby.htm. Garden City United Church, Victoria
Bethlehem Retreat Centre, Nanaimo