4000 years old
and found worldwide,
mazes, they have only one path to
the center and
back, so you cannot get lost. Many find the
winding path slows the breathing, focuses
the mind, and brings
a peaceful state.
mysterious origins, the first labyrinth, according
Hermann Kern* may
have been a dance whose steps were later recorded.
The oldest ones are found on Syrian pottery
fragments and on clay tablets from Pylos, Greece
around 1200 B.C. A labyrinth, in a tomb in Luzzana,
Italy is thought to be 2300 BC.
Labyrinths find their
way into almost every country in
the world: Greece, Egypt, India, Peru, Iceland,
the American Southwest, to name a few. A Tohono
O'odham basket from southern Arizona has a Man
in the Maze design. The Hopi Indians have two
forms: a spiral sun father, and a square mother
earth with unborn child.
Three major patterns
are the Classic 7-circuit, believed to be the
oldest; the Concentric, formed from the meander
pattern, and the Chartres Design, seen on the
floor of that Medieval cathedral near Paris.
The labyrinth design combines the circle and
the spiral form found throughout the universe
from the galaxies to our DNA, and which is a
symbol for wholeness, unity, and transformation.
In most cultures labyrinths celebrate life's
major events: birthdays, weddings
and funerals, the cycles: birth, death, and
Today labyrinths are
found in parks and prisons, churches and retreat
centers, schools and playgrounds. Lying dormant
for centuries, they are undergoing a revival
for meditation, dance, rituals, decision making,
problem solving, and just plain fun. Children
love them, and researchers speak of their benefits
for those with such diseases as dyslexia, Parkinson's
In 1998, as a founding
The Labyrinth Society, Sandra Wasko-Flood directed
its traveling exhibit, "Labyrinths for
Peace: 2000" first shown the Cannon Rotunda
of the House of Representatives, which included
labyrinth walking on the east lawn of the U.S.Capitol.
At the turn of the millennium, labyrinths are
an apt symbol for peace within oneself, one's
communities, and the world.
* Kern, Hermann, Through
the Labyrinth: Designs and Meanings over 5000
Years, Prestel, 2000