August 15, 2013

Power in the Patterns of the Labyrinth

By Margaret Rappaport

Taking the Chartres style labyrinth as our example we are immediately struck by the patterns we see. There are six rosettes that make the center. There are lunations, small half circles, around the outside edge. As we begin to walk we experience the lines that outline the lanes we are following. We walk the lanes into the center and walk out from the center following the same pathway. There is one single lane but there seem to be many lanes. This spiraling pathway is 860 feet in length.

The patterns both expand and limit our choices as we walk. They give us the sense that our steps count for something because the slow walking changes our breathing, not just our pace. Walking the spiraling lane we become aware of “things changing” and of “transformation” as we can’t see ahead or behind. We are just on the path; we turn inward; time seems to expand.

Every walk in the labyrinth is a journey of self-discovery. Every walk in the labyrinth is a connection with people here and now and in times past. Every walk in the labyrinth connects us more fully to ourselves and to people in hundreds of diverse cultures.

Another set of patterns within our human bodies may be the inspiration for the sense of connection to self and to others. For example, the winding lanes resemble the cerebral spirals of our brains, as well as the structure and motion of our gastro-intestinal tract.

Spirals in nature abound and we may recognize them as we walk the labyrinth. We remember Fibonacci spiraling sequences in roses, pinecones, daisies and that we are dazzled by them. In shells and vines and galaxies we sense connections, convergences and coincidences in our experiences in the labyrinth.

Awareness of the myriad spiraling in nature and the similarities in patterns we experience in our bodies lead us as we walk the labyrinth to a greater understanding of the meaning of images, ideas and feelings as we live our lives individually and in community.

Margaret Rappaport