A labyrinth is a convoluted path leading to a centre and back out by the same route. It has only one path. It is unicursal. The way in is the way out. There are no blind alleys or loops. The path leads on a circuitous spiral path to the center and out again. There are two concentric circles embedded in each other, one is clockwise, the other is counterclockwise.
Labyrinths and mazes have often been confused. When most people hear of a labyrinth they think of a maze. A labyrinth is not a maze. A maze is like a puzzle to be solved. It has twists, turns, confusing choices and blind alleys. A maze is a left brain task that requires logical, sequential, analytical activity and remembering a map to find the correct path into the maze and out. No map is needed for a labyrinth. It is like a key to success in life in that there is only one way or pattern already established by universal cosmic laws.
The labyrinth is the best known and most elaborate of a group of Sacred Geometry devices left by past civilisations. They are examples of two dimensional Mobius/Caduceus coils. Labyrinths are magical single path (unicursory) mazes which have been discovered in many parts of the world especially inSweden. The oldest labyrinth has been on theGolan Heightsfor 5000 years.
The classical labyrinth has seven circular or rectangular paths, figure 1. The oldest known classical labyrinths, one in Luzzanas, Sardinia, has been dated to 2500 BC, just before the Minoan civilisation inCrete. Another 5000 year old Bronze Age maze comprising five concentric stone circles of circumference one third of a mile, was uncovered in 1992 on theGolan Heights(3). Other examples are Stonehenge, Glastonbury Tor, and the most famous of all on the floor of Chartres Cathedral nearParis. Channeled information reveals that Hildegerd Von Bingen received this pattern in her trance states around the year 1160.
In the past the labyrinth was walked as a pilgrimage and/or for repentance. As a pilgrimage it was a questing, searching journey with the hope of becoming closer to God. When used for repentance the pilgrims would walk on their knees. Sometimes this eleven-circuit labyrinth would serve as a substitute for an actual pilgrimage to Jerusalem and as a result came to be called the “Chemin de Jerusalem” or Road of Jerusalem.
Like other sacred symbols and churches, they were built on power centres usually determined by dowsing. Druids, Hopis Indians, and other ancient religious groups would walk single file through the convoluted unicursory path of these labyrinth mazes while praying, singing, chanting, clapping, playing sound instruments, burning incense so that the flux of movement on one path would always be in opposite direction to and cancel the flux of adjacent paths. By cancelling or annihilating on this plane, the opposing flux waves, acting like a particle/anti-particle pair, give birth to a new energy form in the next higher dimensions – the Etheric, Astral, Mental, Causal, and Akashic. This flow to the Etheric evokes, from the higher dimensions, a response to release back transmuted energy in a form more useful on the Physical such as Healing, Inspiration, para-psychological phenomena.
Models based on this 11-circuit labyrinth are rapidly gaining popularity in Europe and theAmericas. Labyrinths are becoming a powerful tool for transformation to many on their spiritual journey
Power of the labyrinth
A labyrinth is a single path or unicursal tool for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation. Labyrinths are thought to enhance intuitive, right brain (non-dominant hemisphere) activity.
The Classical Seven Circuit Labyrinth in this example shows that you enter a labyrinth through the mouth and then walk on the paths or circuits. The walls keep you on the path. The goal is in the centre of the labyrinth. When you reach it, you have gone half the distance and reached a place or plane of Transcendence where you can reside for a while before commencing the journey back to conventional reality.
Activating the labyrinth
In chapter ten of his book “Labyrinths”, Sig Lonegren describes the usefulness of shutting off the Mind and getting lost while walking or visualising the labyrinth path during meditation and problem solving. He describes the seven circles and the critical turns as representing layers of existence – Physical, Emotional, Mental, Personal, Manifestation, Vision, Spiritual and also the seven Chakras. The maze entrance and the centre, like Alpha and Omega, are separated by only a single membrane (page 59).
Physics and Metaphysics
The Chartres Labyrinth and the Caduceus Coil are examples of a Mobius Coil. This is an electrical coil with two windings where the current flows in two opposite directions simultaneously so as to cancel their energy Flux in the Physical Plane. The energy then appears in higher planes carrying whatever esoteric information has been imparted through psychic fields such as prayer, intention visualization, meditation, chanting, Tantra. TheChartres
Labyrinth was known before the Cathedral of Chartres was planned around 1175 and was chosen by Hildegard Von Bingen, likely from one of her visions, as being the most powerful, clear Causal device of all the Sacred Geometry patterns at that time. Since then it has acquired even more power through the Morphic Fields impressed upon it through the centuries of use. It acts as a Cosmic antenna to amplify the transmission and reception of esoteric patterns. In other words it amplifies positive prayerful thoughts and intentions sent upwards and amplifies and facilitates patterns received by the users from higher dimensions. The labyrinth serves as a bridge between dimensions similarly as the Merkaba is an interdimensional vehicle.
Protective forces (The Guardians) are higher dimensional positive supportive loving entities at work to protect the labyrinth and to ensure the process and its further appreciation. Upon exiting the labyrinth the walkers now become part of the Guardian Consciousness who protect and disclose the path for others and teach the metaphoric lessons to be learned about navigating gracefully through life. The most outstanding lessons to be learned are
-The need for faith that the spiritual path exists and that it is continually being protected as pure and exerts a protective influence and spiritual resonance on the destiny of the user.
-Reassurance in times in life when the tides of fear and darkness rush in and threaten. It may become difficult to see the path you are on and you may feel lost and alone. You must travel in faith that the path, however circuitous, is being maintained.
-There are real Guardians, both spiritual and human, to help, guide and sustain you.
-Meeting others who are returning from the centre provides some assurance that the journey can be made.
-Reaching out to others, to give and to receive, is necessary on this spiritual journey.
-Reminding oneself that we are one with all that is and that separation is a convenient temporary illusion.
Life’s Spiritual Journey
Above all, God’s Grace remains the primary protector of the labyrinthine spiritual journey through life. This journey is taking you to your center for true insight and to prepare you to bring your gifts back out into the world. The fundamental teaching remains, “To love your neighbor as yourself.” You must first find your true nature so as to love yourself and then go forth into the world empowered to love your neighbour.
A labyrinth looks like a maze but is not. A maze is like a puzzle to be mentally solved. It has twists and turns and dead ends. You have to think and think and be alert for any clues you may find. A maze can be frustrating, frightening, or challenging. You can get lost in a maze.
A labyrinth, unlike a maze, has no dead ends. There is only one path, and while it does have twists and turns, you cannot get lost. The same path takes you into the labyrinth and out again. With a labyrinth you can turn the mind off, don’t have to think, or analyze, or solve a problem. With a labyrinth you just trust that the path will lead you to where you need to be. There are no wrong turns
Metaphors of the Labyrinth From http://www.lessons4living.com
Suddenly, I realized what a wonderful image! What a metaphor! This is what we all do. We try to solve the labyrinth of life. We seek the experience of life in our minds through our thinking. We want to understand the journey in advance. We want to be prepared and not be surprised. We want the security of a map. We want the map of intellectual concepts with the left-brain logical, sequential, analytical assurance that we are going in the right direction.
In reality the right or correct direction is always right before us, if we will just give up the distraction of the map. If we move from left-brain to right-brain, open our eyes, and drop the illusion of the map, then we can clearly see the path and recognize that we are already on it. It was there all the time. It is there all the time. The path is one of intuition and faith, and it always involves risk. The path is full of creativity and surprise and inevitably takes us off the beaten path, the well-known path, towards where no map can go, and where no map is of use. Each path in life is unique. My path is not yours, and yours is not mine. We must each find our own way.
There is no Labyrinth Map, nor is one needed. This is an extraordinarily difficult lesson to learn. We already have what we need. We are where we are supposed to be. This is it, if we drop the illusion that it is not. The map is not the territory. It never was. The map is not the experience. The map only points you towards it. Excessively relied upon, the map takes you away from the experience.
We are all like the young boy with the Labyrinth Map. We all have our strategies and plans and our schematic diagrams of where life either is or should be going. While clinging to the Labyrinth Map robs us of the lived labyrinth experience, such clinging may also be needed in order to lead us to the precipice where the trail disappears, and we are thrust onto our own resources. We may need the safety of a map until we learn to trust our experience and ourselves.
Such trust may begin at the entrance to one of life’s labyrinths, often disguised as one of life’s crises, where we are forced to discard the Labyrinth Map and step into the journey to our own deep selves through a leap of faith.
“Your life is a sacred journey. And it is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way. You are on the path… exactly where you are meant to be right now… And from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of healing of courage, of beauty, of wisdom, of power, of dignity, and of love.”
We are all on the path… exactly where we need to be. The labyrinth is a model of that path.
A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. The Labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools.
A labyrinth is a right brain task. It involves intuition, creativity, and imagery. With a maze many choices must be made and an active mind is needed to solve the problem of finding the center. With a labyrinth there is only one choice to be made. The choice is to enter or not. A more passive, receptive mindset is needed. The choice is whether or not to walk a spiritual path.
At its most basic level the labyrinth is a metaphor for the journey to the center of your deepest self and back out into the world with a broadened understanding of who you are.
“The labyrinth is an archetype of transformation. Its transcendant nature knows no boundaries, crossing time and cultures with ease. The labyrinth serves as a bridge from the mundane to the divine. It serves us well.” Kimberly Lowelle Saward, Ph.D., TLS President, Labyrinth Society at http://www.labyrinthsociety.org
“Chartres is a place of spiritual action. It is said to possess the power to transform people, to transmute them into a higher spiritual state, just as the alchemists would transmute base metal into gold. Pilgrims arriving at the Great West Door, the threshold of the cathedral, found they stood more upright with their heads upraised. For the interior design of the cathedral seems to create a definite uplifting effect on the body, as if to prepare it for the telluric emanations from below and divine inspiration from above. As Louis Charpentier, the French investigator ofChartres’ mysteries, states:”
“…physiologically, telluric and other currents can only enter human beings via a vertebral column that is straight and vertical. A person can only move to a higher state of consciousness by standing upright. The pilgrim would progress shoeless up the nave to the labyrinth, a maze 13m (42.5 ft.) across and set out in the flagstones of the floor. Dancing around and around until reaching the center, a ritual commonly seen at each of the four annual Virgin fairs, the pilgrim became more and more sensitive to the power accumulated in the vast cathedral chamber. Moving to the middle point where the transepts cross the nave, the pilgrim was supposed to receive the full alchemical force from the luminous light emanating from the three stained glass rose windows. If the pilgrim experienced the entire sensuousness of the cathedral, it would be because the body’s senses had apprehended all the musical and geometrical proportions, and all the numbers and lines expressed in the building’s interior. For the pilgrim came not to worship Our Lady the Virgin, nor to kneel in obedience, but rather to find awareness through her, to replenish spiritual energy and refresh the soul.” Quote from The Atlas of Mysterious Places, edited by Jennifer Westwood,Weiderfeld&Nicolson,New York; 1987. Dr Stewart’s
Dr Stewart’s Assignment
Around 1980, Dr John Stewart, a Scottish-Canadian scientist was visiting Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh during a visit to his native Scotland where he picked up a leaflet about churches in France. He was drawn to read about the cathedral in Chartres, a place he had never heard about, with description only of the famous Rose Window but no mention of a labyrinth. Against the judgement of his mind he decided to stop-over in Paris on his way home to Toronto. He was directed to take the bus trip to the ancient town of Chartres and while in the cathedral noticed the labyrinth embedded in the floor and was motivated to walk the circuitous pathway. As he was on the outgoing path he experienced a message telling him that the labyrinth was an antenna to tune into, amplify, receive and transmit spiritual messages, healing, psi ability and energy. He was instructed to obtain a picture of the labyrinth pattern, to later scan it into his computer, to include the labyrinth pattern on all of the etched printed circuit boards which he was in the habit of fabricating and to pass electrical energy through the pattern thus activating the labyrinth. The electrical energy and frequencies act as a carrier upon which the higher dimensional frequencies ride as it passes from the therapeutic device into the person being healed through skin electrodes or light beams.
Telluric – Latin tellur – of tellus earth.
1. pertaining or belonging to the earth; terrestrial
2. of or proceeding from the earth or soil [1830-1840]
3. of or containing element number 52, Tellurium, esp. in the hexavalent state.
4. containing Tellurium in a higher valence state than the corresponding tellurous compound [1790-1800] [from The American Heritage Dictionary]
LouisCharpentier, the French expert onChartres, in his book The Mysteries of Chartres Cathedral; Thorsons Publishers Limited, Wellingborough; 1983. talks about the “telluric forces” and the theory that the builders of the major European cathedrals, includingChartres, consulted and incorporated these forces in choosing the cathedrals’ location as well as planning their orientation.
PaulDevereux, in his Shamanism and the Mystery Lines;LlewellynPublications, MN; 1993. talks about the mysterious lines used by the ancients, including the builders ofChartres
It has been reported to me, and I myself have experienced, that occasionally during a particularly mindful and deliberate walk, a journey through the labyrinth undertaken with the very clearest of mind, one seems to experience a connectedness to some intangible force which appears to shift as one navigates the winding turns. One seems to loose the separateness and unites with the larger scheme of things.
In composing these pages, and searching for the meaning and a correlative experience of “telluric”, I thought it must, as a matter of course, be possible for any one of us, by setting intention, to bring to awareness our own electro-chemical processes?
I speculate that, if each element’s atoms carries with it a “valence”–i.e. to how many other atoms it can connect–, it is likely that any available atomic spaces offer a force of attraction inviting connectedness to such other atoms. We humans, being a collection of atoms, possibly have a cumulative atomic valence which calls/connects us to our terrestrial [earth being our source of elements] compliment(s).
If such were the case, would it not be likely that in walking the labyrinth, one engages a process of moving into one’s depth where personal telluric forces become apparent, as does the interaction between the personal forces and those of the universal field. [The ancient Egyptians utilized a language in which “land” could mean both earth, and corporal being.Egyptcould refer to a geographical location, as well as ones corporeal being. “Return to thelandofEgypt” could mean, return to an awakened state about your corporeal being.]
Might the rekindling of our awareness/consciousness to our electro-chemical forces and their relationship with those of the larger fields not be the gateway into the unity? into awareness of God, as well as ones’ participation in God’s creative drive? Did the ancients utilize the labyrinth for just such a purpose, to set aflame their consciousness?
There are three stages of walking the labyrinth:
Purgation (Releasing) ~ A releasing, a letting go of the details of your life. This is the act of shedding thoughts and distractions. A time to open the heart and quiet the mind.
Illumination (Receiving) ~ When you reach the center, stay there as long as you like. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive.
Union (Returning) ~ As you leave, following the same path out of the center as you came in, you enter the third stage, which is joining God, your Higher Power, or the healing forces at work in the world. Each time you walk the labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work you feel your soul reaching for.
Guidelines for the walk: Quiet your mind and become aware of your breath. Allow yourself to find the pace your body wants to go.
Around the year 1200, as the Cathedral of Chartres was being built, a large labyrinth about forty feet across was set with dark blue and white stones into the floor of the nave of the church. Similar labyrinths were placed in other French Gothic cathedrals, such asAmiens,Saint-Quentin,Rheims, Sens,Arrasand Auxerre. Around the 18th century, all of these labyrinths, except the ones atChartresandSaint-Quentin, were suppressed. The labyrinth atAmienswas later restored in 1894.
These cathedral labyrinths were laid out according to the same basic pattern: 11 concentric circles that contain a single meandering path which slowly leads one to the center rosette. The path makes 28 loops, seven on the left side toward the center, then seven on the right side toward the center, followed by seven on the left side toward the outside, and finally seven on the right side toward the outside, terminating in a short straight path to the rosette.
The Middle Ages was a time of pilgrimages. Since most people could not make the grand pilgrimage to Jerusalem, considered by Christians to be the center of the world, and symbolizing the Kingdom of Heaven, they would make pilgrimages to important cathedrals such as Canterbury, Santiago de Compostella and, of course, Chartres. Once atChartres, they would end their pilgrimage by walking the labyrinth to the center, and then slowly retracing their steps to regain the “outside world.”
“Theseus killing the Minotaur in the labyrinth ofCrete, and labyrinths in general, were favorite subjects for church pavements, especially among the Gauls. The custom is very ancient, a labyrinth having been represented in thechurchofS. VitaleatRavennaas early as the sixth century. Those of the cathedral atLucca, of S. Michele Maggiore atPavia, of S. Savino atPiacenza, of S. Maria in Trastevere atRome(destroyed in the restoration of 1867), are of a later date
The classical world’s labyrinths were at first seen by Christians as metaphors for sin and the powers of Hell, as can be seen from this inscription which was originally found at the center of theChartreslabyrinth:
This stone represents the Cretan’s Labyrinth. Those who enter cannot leave unless they be helped, like Theseus, by Ariadne’s thread.
Labyrinth at Notre Dame de Chartres
“Ariadne’s thread” — the help of the woman,Mary, who leads us from the pits of Hell by pointing toward her Divine Son. Interestingly, theChartreslabyrinth is situated at the Western end of the nave and has the same dimensions as the rose window, which is as high up on the facade as the labyrinth is away from the West wall. If you could fold the cathedral over onto itself as if it were hinged where the West facade and floor meet, the rose window depicting Our Lady would line up perfectly with — and cover — the maze.
Though originally seen as metaphors for the dark powers of Hell and our need to rely on Our Lady to show us her Son, over time labyrinths came to be seen quite differently. During the Crusades when Christians couldn’t make visits to the Holy Land, and in the same manner that the Way of the Cross devotion developed as a sort of substitute “pilgrimage” to the Holy City, labyrinths came to be used as substitute “Chemins de Jerusalem.” Christians, barred from earthlyZion, would walk the labyrinths, often on their knees in penance, meditating on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rose Window, Notre Dame de Chartres
The paths of theChartreslabyrinth make for a journey of 858 feet. Imagine walking on your knees on cold, hard marble for almost the length of three football fields!
At any rate, the entire symbology of the labyrinth was reversed: the center of the labyrinth was seen as the goal — physical Jerusalem or the Heavenly Zion — instead of that which is to be escaped — the pits of Hell. The classical and Carolingian name “labyrinth” gave way to “Chemin de Jerusalem” or “Rue de Jerusalem.”
No matter which Christian symbology used to perceive them, note that, unlike the mythological labyrinth of the Minotaur, church labyrinths, like classical representations of the Minotaur’s lair, are not designed with dead ends and trickery (for this reason, some refuse to call them “mazes,” though the terms are interchangeable); they are designed such that one begins at one end and walks the path, without veering, to the other, the symbol of the Heavenly Jerusalem (or the escape from Hell). There is only one way in (or out), one path toward (or away from) the center — and that path is direct, as the Way of Christ is direct. Though direct, that path, as in following Him as “The Way,” is a winding road, full of turns and suffering and hardship (especially if that path is “walked” on one’s knees!). But always, the Heavenly Jerusalem (or the “way out” from sin and its effects) — is in sight from any place in the labyrinth, and one knows that if one remains on that path, he will find himself where he wants to be.
Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was a remarkable woman, a “first” in many fields. At a time when few women wrote, Hildegard, known as “Sybil of theRhine”, produced major works of theology and visionary writings. When few women were accorded respect, she was consulted by and advised bishops, popes, and kings. She used the curative powers of natural objects for healing, and wrote treatises about natural history and medicinal uses of plants, animals, trees and stones. She is the first composer whose biography is known. She founded a vibrant convent, where her musical plays were performed. Although not yet canonized, Hildegard has been beatified, and is frequently referred to as St. Hildegard. Revival of interest in this extraordinary woman of the middle ages was initiated by musicologists and historians of science and religion. Less fortunately, Hildegard’s visions and music had been hijacked by the New Age movement, whose music bears some resemblance to Hildegard’s ethereal airs. Her story is important to all students of medieval history and culture and an inspirational account of an irresistible spirit and vibrant intellect overcoming social, physical, cultural, gender barriers to achieve timeless transcendence.
The Early Years
Hildegardwas born a “10”th child (a tithe) to a noble family. As was customary with the tenth child, which the family could not count on feeding, she was dedicated at birth to the church. She started to have visions of luminous objects at the age of tree, but soon realized she was unique in this ability and hid this gift for many years.
At age 8, the family sent this strange girl to an anchoress named Jutta to receive a religious education. Jutta was born into a wealthy and prominent family, and by all accounts was a young woman of great beauty. She spurned all worldly temptations and decided to dedicate her life to god. Instead of entering a convent, Jutta followed a harsher route and became an anchoress. Anchors of both sexes, though from most accounts they seem to be largely women, led an ascetic life, shut off from the world inside a small room, usually built adjacent to a church so that they could follow the services, with only a small window acting as their link to the rest of humanity. Food would be passed through this window and refuse taken out. Most of the time would be spent in prayer, contemplation, or solitary handworking activities, like stitching and embroidering. Because they would become essentially dead to the world, anchors would receive their last rights from the bishop before their confinement in the anchorage. This macabre ceremony was a complete burial ceremony with the anchor laid out on a bier.
Hildegard’s writings are also unique for their generally positive view of sexual relations and her description of pleasure from the point of view of a woman. They might also contain the first description of the female orgasm.
“When a woman is making love with a man, a sense of heat in her brain, which brings with it sensual delight, communicates the taste of that delight during the act and summons forth the emission of the man’s seed. And when the seed has fallen into its place, that vehement heat descending from her brain draws the seed to itself and holds it, and soon the woman’s sexual organs contract, and all the parts that are ready to open up during the time of menstruation now close, in the same way as a strong man can old something enclosed in his”
Hildegard of Bingen was born in 1098, to a family of minor German nobility. As the tenth child, she was dedicated to the church, and sent to an anchoress, Jutta, for education. When Jutta died in 1136, Hildegard was elected head of the small convent at Disibodenberg. She moved to Bingen on the banks of theRhinein 1150, where she administered a convent and a monastery. She died in 1179 at the age of 81.
Throughout her life, beginning as a young child, Hildegard had visions. But it was not till her early forties that she began to have the symbolic and didactic visions for which she became famous. At first she wrote nothing down, but when she fell seriously ill, she blamed this on the decision not to reveal her visions. After consulting with the pope and St Bernard of Clairvaux, she began to write the visions down and publish them.
She wrote several books, including The Book of Life’s Merits (1150-63); The Book of Subtleties of the Diverse Nature of Things (1150); and (most famously) The Book of Divine Works (1163).
She was a woman of extraordinary and diverse talents – part of that early flowering of culture known as the twelfth century renaissance. She corresponded with bishops, archbishops, popes and kings, and spoke out openly against corruption in the church. She had a broad familiarity with the science of her day – primitive and dogmatic though it was. She often describes the natural world in her books, most often as a symbol or example for some religious point.
Hildegard was also a gifted poet, writing plainchant songs in vibrant Latin. Today she is best know for the ethereal music to which she set her verse, in echoing voices which soar up and down the scales like angels singing in full flight.
Hildegard painted too – records of her visions, showing herself as a tiny seated figure with an open slate or book, gazing upwards at huge symbolic concentric mandalas of cosmic processes, full of angels and demons and winds and stars (see image above). The paintings have simple patterned borders, naive figures, and schematic arrangements. They are reminiscent, in a different style, of the paintings of William Blake and Samuel Palmer.
Her visions were quite detailed, and she also claimed to hear words, spoken in Latin. She saw them in her soul, not with her bodily eyes, which remained open. She often saw a brilliant light – more brilliant than a cloud over the sun. Inside this light she sometimes saw an even brighter light which she called “the living light.” This made her lose all sadness and anxiety.
Like all mystics she experienced total loss of self during her visions: “I do not know myself, either in body or soul. And I consider myself as nothing. I reach out to the living God and turn everything over to the Divine.” [Letter to Wilbert of Gembloux, 1175]
Her visions also seem to have been accompanied with pain and fainting fits:
“From the very day of her birth,” she writes of herself, “this woman has lived with painful illnesses as if caught in a net, so that she is constantly tormented by pain in her veins, marrow and flesh. This vision has penetrated the veins of the woman is such a way that she has often collapsed out of exhaustion and has suffered fits of prostration that were at times slight and at other times most serious.” [Book of Divine Works: Epilogue]
Recently Charles Singer and Oliver Sacks have interpreted these physical symptoms as migraine attacks. One of her visions was of falling stars turning black as they plunge into the ocean. Hildegard interpreted this as the rebel angels falling from heaven.
Hildegard has been canonized by the Creation Spirituality movement of Matthew Fox, a former Dominican priest, now excommunicated. Fox sees her as a precursor of feminism, of acceptance of the body, and of environmentalism.
Certainly she believed that God was present, through the Holy Spirit, in everything. But she also believed that God could never be fully known by living humans. In this sense she was not a pantheist (universe=divinity) but a panentheist – everything is fully in God, but God is not fully in everything.
She viewed the human body and soul as a microcosm, repeating the divine plan and the natural world in miniature. But she was no prophetess of interdependence in the modern sense. The external world and the human body are usually seen, not in their own right, but as symbols of divine and spiritual matter.
We explained in great detail the construction and the spiritual effects of labyrinths. Labyrinths have been around for over 4000 years and are found all over the world.
They have been an integral part of cultures such as Maya, Celtic, Greek, and even Native American (The Hopi called the labyrinth the symbol for “mother earth” and equated it with the Kiva). During the crusades, they were used to symbolically represent the pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Today, labyrinths are mainly being used for reflection, meditation and prayer. They are found in many sizes and shapes, and are created in various materials,
There are three basic designs — seven circuit, eleven circuit, and twelve circuit, from which the seven circuit one is the most popular. The Cathedral in Chartres, France is the most famous example of an eleven circuit design. Another famous aspect is the spectacular rose window over the great west doors. It has the same dimensions as the labyrinth and is exactly the same distance up the west wall as the labyrinth is laterally from the cathedral’s main entrance below the window.
An imaginary cosmic hinge located where the doors and floor intersect would, if closed, place the rose window directly on top of the labyrinth, thus the sparkling, coloured light of the window and the darkness of the labyrinthine pilgrimage are combined.
A labyrinth and a maze are not the same. A maze has dead ends and many trick turns. A labyrinth has only one path leading to the centre and back out again. There are no dead ends.
When you walk a labyrinth, you meander back and forth, turning 180 degrees each time you enter a different circuit. As you shift your direction you also shift your awareness from right brain to left brain. This is one of the reasons the labyrinth can induce receptive states of consciousness.
Each person’s walk is a personal experience. How one walks and what one receives differs with each walk. Some people use the walk for clearing the mind and centring. Others enter with a question or concern. The time in the centre can be used for receiving, reflecting, meditating, or praying, as well as discovering our own sacred inner space. What each person receives can be integrated on the walk out. Your walk can be a healing and sometimes very profound experience or it can be just a pleasant walk.
Labyrinths are truly spiritual places. The design itself is inherently powerful. The space and the experience of walking it are also very sacred and powerful and help us feel a greater sense of Oneness. It is a tool for people of all beliefs to come together for a common spiritual experience.
Willy De Maeyer
More information and picture are at our sister site http://www.raydionics.com/the-chartres-labyrinth.php
Good source at http://www.labyrinthos.net/photo_library14.html