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"Elements to Light Your Way"



Over 4000 years old and found worldwide, labyrinths symbolize life's journey. Unlike 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.

Of mysterious origins, the first labyrinth, according to labyrinth expert 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, Europe, and 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 rebirth.

Classical Labyrinth

Concentric Labyrinth

Chartres Labyrinth

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 and Alzheimer's.

In 1998, as a founding member of 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




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