by Sally Burnley
Labyrinths with their very recognizable designs represent a universal single path of entering, walking a circuitous path, ending the journey in the center, receiving, and then walking out. Archeological discoveries believe that Labyrinths have been in existence for at least 4,000 years. The Labyrinth on the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in Chartres, France rebuilt for the fourth time between 1194 and 1250 CE is probably the most recognizable one with its rose pattern in the middle.
Today, as it may have been in the past, one thinks of a labyrinth as a doorway into a direct connection to the spiritual world to help an individual’s spiritual journey. If you have ever walked a labyrinth you may be able to recall the very personal, sacred, or healing connection you felt walking the path, entering its center and then exiting. In some areas of the world the participant walks out the same way they walked in, but in other parts of the world they walk directly out. The importance of the labyrinth is the gift of the journey in and being present in the center.
The basic instruction in walking a labyrinth is before you begin, you need to decide your intention, such as, with what you are needing help, in what direction you want to take your spiritual journey, what fear you want to release or face, or maybe you want to restore a sense of balance to your life, or you want to know how to handle a troubling situation, or a loved one. The possibilities are endless because you are seeking help from outside of yourself, which is really gaining stillness to discover the answer which could be already inside of yourself. Once you have decided on the intention of your journey and have asked the question, you begin. While you are standing at the entrance, you acknowledge the labyrinth and your spirit guide, and begin walking, always reflecting on the intention of your walk. The speed in which you walk makes no difference, the universe has figured that out for you, you simply walk, or dance, or move your feet any way they want to progress forward. When you reach the center, you stop, clear your mind, become still, totally present in the moment, and patiently wait for your answer. Some people like to acknowledge the four directions, by facing each direction and giving thanks, or simply stand in the center, with your thoughts still, letting the universe, or your inner Self connect you to your answer. Once you have received your answer, or have a feeling of completion, you walk out of the center and return the way you came, or go directly out, rejoicing in the answer or feeling you have received. As you exit the labyrinth, face the center, pause, and give thanks with a grateful heart for the sacred wisdom you have received and once more acknowledge your guides. You have now received the gift of the Labyrinth.
Experiencing the walk, or journey can be done in several ways. You may be alone or with a group. Some ways are walking or dancing quietly, chanting, praying, or having music playing in the background. I have experienced the gift of the journey in many ways. As a group we all had drums and drummed in with a pensive beat following each other to the center, and then played a celebration beat as we journeyed out. A beautiful experience was having someone continuously playing a singing bowl by the entrance as each person walked in and out and then receiving a gift from the leader as we left. Another way was dancing in and out with the Native American Flute interpreting the dance movements. Drumming was used in a different way. A group outside the labyrinth, took turns drumming staying attuned to the movements and body language of the walker, stopped drumming when the center was reached and began drumming again on the way out. The walker then exchanged places with one of the drummers after having the chance to write down what was received. At Diamond Heart we walk one by one with those waiting standing outside the labyrinth, facing the center and holding the space for the person walking. A candle is lit once the center is reached. One time as we walked we had a beautiful small harp creating music from the wind playing its strings. The possibilities are endless but the gift is the same; decide your intention, think about that intention or question as you journey in, receive the answer or feeling of completion in the center and walk out.
There are many designs for labyrinths. If you experience one that is divided into four quadrants the intention may be to represent spirit, mind, body and ether, or the four elements: earth, water, fire and air. If it looks like it began with a “Y” in the center, the reason may have been to represent, the Trinity: Father, Son, Holy Ghost, or Sat, Tat, Aum. One courtesy to remember, if you are walking with several people and it is a large labyrinth, a 5 or 7 circuit, it is common courtesy to wait to enter until the person in front of you has completed 3 turns and when you are walking out, step aside for those walking to the center.
Walking a Labyrinth, as with any spiritual tool, is about how you accept and use the gift presented to you. How much you are willing to surrender and open your heart to the journey and how you accept and use the information or message received is up you. The gift of the Labyrinth is available to all. Enjoy the journey.
Sally Burnley lives in Missouri, is an IIT Graduate who appreciates the last 10 years being able to study with Tanis and IIT. Favorite loves: children, grand children, facilitating drum circles, playing the Native American Flute, volunteering, playing Pickleball, and traveling. Contact Sally at togetherwithdrumming(at)yahoo.com