2nd Global Meeting from Inter-Disciplinary.net, Oxford University
Art, Art History and Design
Labyrinths have woven a meandering path through the human psyche for thousands of years. From ancient Ariadne and Medieval cathedral pilgrimage floors to modern movies and computer games, labyrinths are often at the heart of the quest for self-knowledge, creative awakening, personal integration, community building and transcendence. The labyrinth as a metaphor for the journey of life could be considered a localized concentrated pilgrimage and alternative exploration to exotic travel and the physical challenge usually required for breakdown/breakthrough growth. Unicursal, single pathway designs, like the seven-circuit Classical Cretan and the eleven-circuit Chartres, engage the body while freeing the mind. The physical turnings of the path, alternating right and left, disorient so the walker must quickly surrender control of the experience and trust the journey. Most labyrinth walkers find themselves in a heightened state of receptive discovery very similar to pilgrimage. Walking the labyrinth in a state of focused contemplation while holding a question or an intention of quiet attentiveness is a core pilgrimage practice. Both can evoke an almost visceral recognition of one’s own truth, a profound surprise of the potential for reimagining one’s life as a coherent story of meaningful events and cohesive purpose. We are called to the journey. Walking the labyrinth as personal pilgrimage is a powerful practice to find our way home.
Pavlinac, Cindy, "The Labyrinth as Heart and Holder of Personal Pilgrimage" (2015). Collected Faculty and Staff Scholarship. 323.
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