THE LABYRINTH; SYMBOL OF THE PATH IN RECOVERY

 
                   FINDING THE  PATH

 

                                                                               The path of the labyrinth is both literal and symbolic;

                                                                               it can act as a beautiful metaphor for finding,

                                                                               and staying,

                                                                               on the path of recovery. 

"Back into the labyrinth, where we are found or lost forever."

W.B. Yeats

Labyrinths have been a potent symbol in many cultures, for thousands of years. Found at different points in time, in places as diverse as Brazil, Arizona, Iceland, across Europe, in Africa, India and Sumatra, this symbol and its family of derivatives have been traced back 4000 years or more; but its origins remain mysterious.

“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." --Caroline Adams

The Labyrinth is an ancient symbol with a global presence.

There is a modern reemergence of the labyrinth now, there is a society dedicated to the history and study of the form, and groups dedicated to the ongoing creation of labyrinths in places such as hospitals, public gardens, spiritual centers, and in temporary forms at festivals.

While labyrinths are certainly literal in four dimensional terms they are also symbolic and can be seen as both Metaphor and Myth. What does this symbol, this metaphor and myth represent? One such myth is that of the Minotaur, and the myth of the Minotaur can be quite perfect as a metaphor for recovery. 

 

Remember that myth does not mean a "falsehood" but is, rather, like a symbol in story form…myths tell us something in a non-rational way. While many myths, such as that of the Minotaur, may be ancient, the stories stand the test of time and often have a foundation in a universal sense of truth: what it means to be human. 

 

This myth of the Minotaur is based on the story of King Minos and Queen Pasiphaë. She "fancied" a great white bull (one which Minos had refused to sacrifice to Poseidon) and as a result of the affair the “monster” of the Minotaur was born.  It was out of shame  that the "Half Animal/Half Man" was hidden in the maze/labyrinth of Crete. The Minotaur signifies shame and our desire to hide it away at any cost. When Theseus, our hero, entered into the maze/labyrinth and slayed the Minotaur, he defeated the beast at the heart of darkness - and created a victory that is still vibrant and evolving today.

There is another very important hero involved in this myth and that is Ariadne, who provided Theseus with the Golden Thread that would allow him to find his way back out from the inner journey. When Theseus entered into what was a maze, he would have become lost had he not received the gift of the thread that would transform the confusion of a maze into the pathway of a labyrinth.

Of Ariadne's "Golden Thread" Carl Jung had a lot to say; it is needed when one goes inward to meet the demon…the shadow self.  We in recovery know of this shadow self that we had been forever trying to keep hidden in the maze of our dis-ease and deception. 

There is a very significant difference between a maze and a labyrinth. One gets lost in the maze, with it’s dead ends and dark alleys…it is the perfect representation of confusion. Labyrinths, on the other hand, only have one path; one way in...to the center, and the same way back out.  Rather than confusing it is meditative. But both can be challenging.

 

Recovery can be seen as changing your life's path from the confusion of inner maze-work to the golden thread of a labyrinthine journey.

Jung referred to being lost in life as ‘losing the Ariadne thread’. In Jungian psychology the labyrinth and maze are some of the most powerful symbols of the subconscious. In his book ‘Man and His Symbols’, he explains its meaning:

“The maze of strange passages, chambers, and unlocked exits recalls the old Egyptian representation of the underworld, which is a well-known symbol of the unconscious with its abilities. It also shows how one is “open” to other influences in one’s unconscious shadow side and how uncanny and alien elements can break in.”

The golden thread is transformational.  It is a metaphor/myth for the thread of recovery; transforming those dead ends and dark alleyways of the mind into a journey of thought, enlightenment, and understanding. Where ever there is a maze work of confusion and dis-ease in our life, we can discover this same possibility of transformation. If one does not have hold of a thread one can get lost in the maze. The thread can be seen as community, recovery materials, and counseling.  

 

 
 
LABYRINTH MEDITATION RITUAL
NAVIGATING SYMBOLIC PERCEPTION

In this ritual, or meditation, we look at the places that labyrinth-like paths exist in our world, where we enter in and exit...symbolically, metaphorically and spiritually. Each of the following labyrinthine pathways are susceptible to becoming mazes, but with the practices and disciplines of active recovery the pathways are free and in harmony with life.

 

Some of these symbols can be integrated and related to the elemental system of  Air | Fire | Water | Earth | Spirit  or one can envision them as correlating to the Chakras. 

Here below are some organic "labyrinths" for you to consider in your meditation of the spiritual path.  Being human includes the endeavor of clearing your labyrinthine paths...whether they are patterns of perception, neural pathways, the channels of the heart, or the marks we leave on the world through our creative efforts.  When we engage in the discipline and principles of recovery we make the effort to stay on the path of the labyrinth (a connection with our higher consciousness) instead of falling into the ruts of the maze-work of dis-ease. 

LUNGS | AIR | BREATH | VOICE | LANGUAGE

Our breath gives power to our voice,

we breathe inward and speak outward

with our word, our peace.

Where are the limitations within our voice,

how do we speak, do we misuse the power of our word? 

How can we create clarity in our communication
and manifest the breath of meditation?

Respiration | Re-Spiriting | In-spiration

 
BRAIN | MIND | SYNAPSES | SERENITY  

Synapses firing...neural pathways alight.

What is it we put our mind toward?

How is our energy transformed into will?

Do our purposes and intentions

get undermined by blocks of negativity?

We gather in with our sight.

How can we clear the way

the pathways of perception...

learning to navigate our journey of inspiration

for our dreams to unfold?

How can we gather more meaning, depth & beauty 

with our vision…and develop our way of perceiving, imagining 

to have ever greater clarity and project this outward with purpose.

 
HEART | FEELINGS | EMOTION | TRUST & LOVE 

We receive, we gather in, we feel.

Our hearts...our emotional compass

finds our balance

between love…and fear.
How can we gain & hold courage

and deepen our well of love,

and nurture our sense of connection

with less fear and more trust?

 
 
 
 
BODY | IDENTITY | CREATIVITY 

Earth & Stone | Skin & Bone

We touch, we create, we build

our individual and collaborative world.
What holds us back?

What materials and knowledge do we need?

How can we clear the ground

for the foundation of our life’s manifestation?

How does care of self translate into

creation in the world?

 
GUTS | FUEL | ENERGY | GROUNDING

The Earth fuels us...how do we take in energy?

What feels healthy and feeds our whole being?

Are we mindful about what we eat, what can we

ingest that promotes our best well being and sustains

us for the journey? We can honor our body, and our

home, Earth, by being mindful with consumption.

 
 
 
DNA | SELF | SPIRIT | TRUTH 

We are all Star-Born…

We descend through our DNA like

a spiraling staircase from

our galactic human ancestry.

We are born to this "one precious life". 

How can we best stay on the path

of recovering & discovering

our truest self, our spirit?

Through practices of recovery one can become more increasingly aware of clearing the pathways. 
For example one of the "Four Agreements" is to be "impeccable with your word"...we breathe in, we breathe out; releasing energy and voice.  Clearing the way of non-constructive voice, or holding silence, is one way of clearing consciousness and creating a better community as a whole. 

A GUIDED WALK...

THERE IS A MONTHLY LABYRINTH WALK AT THE FIRST UNIVERSALIST CHURCH AT 3400 DUPONT AVENUE SOUTH, MINNEAPOLIS MN
 
First Universalist’s Labyrinth is located in the Social Hall. Each month from September through May, we offer an open walk from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month...MORE

 

There are many labyrinths to be walked in the Twin Cities Area, including the College of St. Catherine and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.  

There is a fun site called "World-Wide Labyrinth Locator" which you can use to find a path close to you as well as find a wealth of additional information.

You can also opt to use a labyrinth by means other than the soles of your feet! You can find or create a labyrinth made of clay, wood, metal, or ink.  Not all uses of the path must be literal!  Check out online craft sources such as Etsy for some beautiful options...or make your own!

HISTORICAL ASPECTS...

There are many prehistorical Labyrinths that offer insight into the imagination of world-wide ancestry.  These exist in India, Southern & Northern Europe, and Southwestern regions of North America

Labyrinths continued to be created throughout the medieval times up through the modern day.

The internet is a great source of information on the many forms and ancient history of labyrinths around the world.  The Labyrinth Society promotes education, preservation, and creation of labyrinths.

Ancient...Labirinto do Outeiro do Cribo, Galicia, Spain. Possibly dating from as early as the Bronze Age

 

 
 

Historical...Walking the Chartes Cathedral Labyrinth in France

Contemporary...Natural Labyrinth 

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