Bethel Lutheran Church in Minneapolis is grateful to have a labyrinth that we can share with our community. Labyrinths are one of many contemplative practices that can help us become both more grounded in our bodies and transformed by the mystical elements that are part of our world.
What is a labyrinth and how do I walk a labyrinth?
The labyrinth is a walking meditation, a path of prayer, and a blueprint where the psyche meets the spirit. It has only one path that leads from the outer edge in a circuitous way to the center. There are no tricks to it and no dead ends. Unlike a maze where you might lose your way, a labyrinth is a spiritual tool that can help you find your way. The person walking it uses the same path to return from the center, and the entrance then becomes the exit. The path is in full view, which allows a person to be quiet and focus internally.
Generally, there are three stages to the walk: releasing on the way in, receiving in the center, and returning when you follow the path back out of the labyrinth. The gifts of the labyrinth walk can be symbolic or actual. Sometimes in a labyrinth walk, you bring back to the world what you have received in the labyrinth.
There is no right way or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. Use the labyrinth in any way that meets what you need while being respectful of others walking. You may go directly to the center to sit quietly -- whatever meets your needs.
To prepare, you may want to sit quietly to reflect before walking the labyrinth. Some people come with questions, others just to slow down and take time out from a busy life. Some come to find the strength to take the next step. Many come during times of grief and loss.
Children enjoy the labyrinth and we ask that parents supervise their young children so all may enjoy the meditative aspects of the walk. (https://labyrinthresourcegroup.org/childrens-reflections)
There are many ways to describe a labyrinth. It is a path of prayer, a walking meditation, a crucible of change, a watering hole for the spirit, and a mirror of the soul. (https://www.veriditas.org/New-to-the-Labyrinth)
As you walk the labyrinth here, please know that we hold you in our prayers: that you will be comforted and calmed where you need comfort and calm; that you will be stirred and encouraged where you need to be stirred and encouraged. If you would like to submit a specific prayer request to Bethel Lutheran, please do so through this form. We will hold you in prayer for one week after we receive your prayer request.
There are many resources available to learn more about labyrinths.
More about labyrinths
A labyrinth is a meandering path, often made of a single, continuous line, with a singular path leading to a center. Labyrinths are an ancient model dating back 4,000 years or more, used symbolically, as a walking meditation, choreographed dance, as sites of rituals and ceremonies, and for other uses. Labyrinths are tools for personal, psychological, and spiritual transformation, and thought to enhance right-brain activity. Labyrinths evoke metaphor, sacred geometry, spiritual pilgrimage, religious practice, mindfulness, environmental art, and community building.
Labyrinths are named by type and can be further identified by their number of circuits. Counting from the center, the drawing at the above-right illustrates a seven-circuit design. You begin a labyrinth walk at the entrance and proceed along the path. Lines define the path and often maintain a consistent width, even around the turns. Generally at the center, you have traveled half the distance, where it is common to pause, turn around, and walk back out again.
Left- or right-handed labyrinths
A left- or right-handed labyrinth is determined by the direction of the first turn after entering the labyrinth. It is estimated that approximately two-thirds of the ancient Classical labyrinths were right-handed (as depicted above) and two-thirds of the modern Classicals are left-handed. Neither is better than the other—it is totally up to personal preference.
An ever-evolving typology
As our awareness of labyrinths expands, it is important to keep our terminology consistent. One example of a now outdated name is calling the Classical labyrinth the Cretan labyrinth. Some people call the lines "walls," but as most labyrinths are two-dimensional this can lead to confusion. With this in mind, a number of people are collaborating to create a working labyrinth typology.