The single path of the labyrinth is what distinguishes its ethos and sets it apart as a spiritual tool. Combining the imagery of the universal circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path, the labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and then back out again into the cosmos.
“Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer and spiritual tools,” says Patty Meyer, owner of Redsun Labyrinth, west of Victor. “They’ve historically been used in both group ritual and for private meditation.”
Patty Meyer knows about labyrinths; she understands their spiritual, physical, and intellectual meanings and implications. In fact, Patty has even attended a labyrinth facilitator training at the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, home of Verditas, a worldwide labyrinth project. Plus, she’s participated in labyrinth workshops and has worked as a group leader in similar projects across the globe.
Labyrinth: A Personal Journey
“The labyrinth is a personal journey,” says Patty. “It doesn’t impose religious beliefs. Everything that occurs on the labyrinth can be considered a metaphor for your own spiritual and personal life.”
The term labyrinth is often used interchangeably with maze, but Patty can easily explain away their differences by giving stricter definitions: A maze is an intricate combination of paths or passages in which it is difficult to find one’s way or to reach the exit; a labyrinth has an unambiguous through-route to the center and back and is not designed to be difficult to navigate.
“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 mostly for amusement.”
Maze: A Puzzle To Be Solved
A maze is like a puzzle to be solved. It has twists, turns, and blind alleys. It is a left brain task that requires logical, sequential, analytical activity to find the correct path into the maze and out. A labyrinth has just one path to be followed. The way in is the way out. There are no blind alleys. The path leads you on a circuitous route to the center and out again.
Opposite of a maze, 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: to enter or not. A more passive, receptive mindset is needed. Ultimately, the decision is whether or not to walk a spiritual path.
“There’s no wrong or right way to walk a labyrinth,” says Helmut Meyer, Patty’s husband and the labyrinth’s co-keeper. “You just have to walk and listen in a way that you feel comfortable and natural.”
“The walk should quiet the brain,” says Patty. “It appeals to the still and calm parts of life.”
A labyrinth can be represented symbolically or physically. Symbolically, it is represented in art or designs on pottery, as body art, or etched on walls of caves. Physical representations are common throughout the world, and are generally constructed on the ground, like the stone-patterned eleven-circuit Redsun Labyrinth, so they may be walked along from entry point to center and back again.
The Redsun Labyrinth
Indeed, even the walk to the Redsun Labyrinth is an oddly beautiful one: rock cairns dangle precariously defying fate and gravity; unencumbered trees and vines form natural arches above; donated bowling balls, or “Bitterroot gazing balls,” as Helmut calls them, shine with renewed aesthetic life and value and as unusual symbols of repurposed life.
The four quadrant Redsun Labyrinth is based on an 800 year-old ancient symbol pattern relating to wholeness and is an archetype with which we can have a direct contact and experience. We can walk it alone or with a partner. We may walk it seriously, mournfully, or playfully. Whichever way, it is a metaphor for life’s journey. It is a symbol that creates a sacred space and place and takes us out of our ego to some place less convoluted and hectic.
“The labyrinth represents the stages of life, from mineral to plant to human and then to the angelic and the unknown. It’s the path of life,” says Helmut.
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 and what you are.
“The labyrinth is a metaphor for life,” says Patty. “It’s a great place to open your mind to a new spiritual experience.”