The Labyrinth was used in Europe by medieval Christians and pilgrims to replace the longer journey to Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Today, people of all faiths may experience their own pilgrimage.
A Labyrinth has only one path, a winding passage that leads to a central space in the center and back out again. It is not a maze. There are no wrong turns or dead ends. One cannot get lost walking it. It effectively disengages the thinking mind, allowing one to “go within” the soul and open the heart. Many use it as a form of centering prayer and meditation leading to a closer union with God. Others find that it relieves tension, and gives a deep sense of peace and healing.
The Labyrinth is divided horizontally and vertically, making a cross. The Petite Chartres was created as a round, 7-circuit labyrinth designed to be a look-alike substitute for the full Chartres labyrinth. (The full Chartres labyrinth was created using 12 concentric circles, representing the 12 apostles and 12 months of the year. It spans a 40 foot width). However, the Petite Chartres, being 24 feet in diameter, can fit into smaller fellowship rooms. Petals and lunations (the perimeter partial circles) have been added so that it is closer to the design of the Chartres labyrinth. There are fewer circuits (concentric circular paths) and fewer lunations. Specifically, there are seven circuits and 84 lunations. The lunations of the Chartres labyrinth form a lunar calendar, sufficient for determining the date for Easter (the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox)
Three stages of a labyrinth prayer walk include:
1. the path to the center, the Path of Release or letting go;
2. the center is the Path of Illumination, the path of light or presence of God; and
3. the path returning from the center, the Path of Union.
You carry the gift you received and the presence of God back into the world.
The labyrinth is an archetype and people of all traditions will find embedded in it
metaphors for their own faith walk.
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