The Wild Honey Buzz: Dancing through '22 - In the Labyrinth on the Spring Equinox
Labyrinths are specially designed winding paths used for walking meditation. Unlike a maze, labyrinths consist of a single winding path laid out in a circuitous route from the outer edges to the center. They are found in various cultures around the world and have been around for centuries. One of the oldest and most famous is located in Chartres Cathedral in France.
I first discovered labyrinths around 2008 and have since walked numerous ones all around the United States. I joke that wherever I go, a labyrinth finds me! The general idea is to begin the walk on the labyrinth path with a question, intention or prayer and to pause once the center is reached to receive insight, and then to carry this newfound wisdom or inspiration back out into the world as the path is retraced to exit the labyrinth.
As much as I love labyrinths, I have a friend, Jean, who has an even greater affinity for them! In this blog I interview her about her experiences in walking them and their impact on her spiritual growth and development.
Thank you for sharing your reflections on labyrinths with my readers, Jean! Do you recall your first encounter with a labyrinth? Where did that happen and what was your initial reaction to the experience of walking it?
It was so many years ago, it’s hard to remember! I don’t think that my first encounter with a labyrinth had the emotional impact it does these days. It took me a few times walking labyrinths to really feel the power of the experience. I didn’t really trust in the spiritual possibilities of them back then and I also believe that I lacked the concentration necessary for it to resonate as intensely as it currently does with me.
What is it about a labyrinth that evokes such an emotional reaction and why is it different than say, walking a path through the woods with your dogs – something I know that you do frequently?
I believe it is in part my mindset and also a sense of the meditative quality of the ancient pattern of the labyrinth. There is a sense of comfort and rhythm in the walk and knowing that this pattern has been shared for over 4000 years (!) in spiritual venues all over the world gives you a sense of the significance of its power of mysticism. I don’t always understand its “magic”. I do know that when I walk the dogs in the woods that despite the calmness of nature around me, my mind is still often filled with thoughts of work, relationships and daily issues. In the stillness of the waiting labyrinth though, my mind calms and focuses on the thoughts I bring into it. Somehow it allows space for emotions to live and grow and encourages me to connect with this different part of myself.
Can you share an example of a time when you went into a labyrinth with a specific care or concern and received insight or help as a result of your walk?
One particularly powerful walk, which I’m sure you remember, was when we walked a labyrinth together with the intention of sending love, assistance and gratitude to our children. As I walked the labyrinth’s curved paths, my eyes downcast on the lines, I kept glimpsing your legs walking by me as you passed in the neighboring paths next to me. I felt an incredible sense of gratitude for our friendship bubble up inside of me. My eyes filled with tears at the strength of this emotion. By the time I reached the middle of the labyrinth I was fully crying with an overflow of emotion of gratitude for you. When I consider it now, I think the insight ultimately was that I could actually show such vulnerability - that I could hold such gratitude and trust and love for a great friend. It was a moment that I’m actually proud of because I rarely show such strong emotion and vulnerability with people. I already had great gratitude for our friendship, but had never realized I had this powerful of an emotion inside of me that I could bring out into the open.
I recently walked a labyrinth with you on the day after the Spring Equinox and we were especially focused on praying for peace in light of the war in Ukraine and other places of turmoil around the world. When we reached the center, you shared some ideas that I found very helpful in keeping perspective during these challenging times. I wonder if you can summarize the key messages that came to you?
So, I started walking the labyrinth, chanting the word “peace” with each step. As I walked the switchbacks, I heard the birds tweeting, glimpsed the pretty flowering bush nearby, sensed the mossy trees stoically observing us and our busy-ness. I witnessed peace all around me in the consistency of nature and I thought to myself about the four of us women, here, walking the labyrinth. Like millions of other humans, we desire peace - both outward and inward peace. Call me naive, but I believe that we are in the majority, in that we crave peace. We tend to hear more about those who bring strife, war and hatred than we do about the peace-holders. War and death is what makes the news and is feared and watched, of course. Let’s hold the peace for ourselves and for the millions of others who so desperately need it right now.
What advice would you give to someone who may wish to experience a labyrinth walk for the first time, or for anyone who’d like to deepen their experience of walking one?
My advice would be to trust in the experience, be open to the labyrinth and its mysteries and accept that it can bring you messages that you might not anticipate. Go into the labyrinth with a question or a thought and concentrate on that, but let things flow freely at the same time, allowing your thoughts to morph if they want to. Enjoy yourself and don’t take yourself too seriously!
What about you? Have you ever walked a labyrinth? How would you describe your experience? You are welcome to share your story in the comment section of this post.
Below are photos of some of the labyrinths which I've had the privilege to walk. You can use the World Wide Labyrinth Locator to find a labyrinth near you. Blessings on your journey!
This labyrinth has a name! It's called Failte which means "welcome" in the Gaelic language. It's located on the grounds of Saint Andrew's Episcopal Church in Seattle and is the one where we walked and danced in the video at the top of this blog. We were blessed to be able to do our walk on the day after the Spring Equinox, March 21, 2022. It was a typically rainy Seattle day, although the rain miraculously stopped just before we began our walk at noon! Our walk was one for peace and for an end to war in Ukraine and in other areas around the world. We prayed together at the center, especially remembering the children of the world.
Failte Labyrinth, Saint Andrew's Episcopal Church, Seattle. Photo Credit: www.kerchevalphotography.com
Author Wild Honey with friend, Jeana, in the Failte Labyrinth at Saint Andrew's Episcopal Church, Seattle. Photo Credit: www.kerchevalphotography.com
Wild Honey in the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA
Wild Honey in the labyrinth at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Orcas Island, WA (their website contains many links with information about labyrinths). One of my favorite books about labyrinths is "Walking a Sacred Path" by Lauren Artress.
Wild Honey in a canvas floor-style labyrinth in The Episcopal Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist in Spokane, WA
Wild Honey in the Labyrinth at The Grotto in Portland, Oregon
Center of the labyrinth on the grounds of Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA
Center of labyrinth at Christ Memorial Episcopal Church in Kilauea, HI on Island of Kauai