Satanic or Godly?
A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. The Labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools.
A labyrinth is an archetype with which we can have a direct experience. We can walk it. 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 "That Which Is Within."
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 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 only one path. It is unicursal (starting & finishing at the same point). The way in is the way out. There are no blind alleys. The path leads you on a circuitous path to the center and out again.
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. The choice is to enter or not. A more passive, receptive mindset is needed. The choice is whether or not to walk a spiritual path.
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 you are.
FWM: Even though labyrinths have been around for a long time, you can certainly see hints of new age mentality here.
Ritual of Goodbye
Recently Kate, a friend and member of our healing group, was moving away to another state. At out last meeting together we wanted to say goodbye to her.
Since we were at our church where we have a labyrinth, we all gathered in front of it. Kate was asked to walk in first. Others followed after she completed the first circuit. We were entering with about one minute separating the walkers.
When Kate arrived in the center, she had time alone as she waited. One by one others entered the center with her and had a few moments to say a private goodbye. They then turned and slowly walked out. After the last goodbye, Kate walked back out of the labyrinth to a group hug.
This was a very meaningful and emotional experience. The labyrinth became the container for the emotions of parting and provide a safe and sacred place to share those feelings.
Such a ritual would work as well for saying, "Hello." It would be a warm welcome into any group.
FWM: Whatever happened to being able to talk to each other without a crutch? The application here is that the labyrinth has something to do with your feelings.
Where can you seek healing of the mind, body, and spirit? Where can you go to become centered and strengthened as you confront a chronic disease? How can you emotionally prepare for surgery? Where can you get the strength to support others through illness? How do individuals look deeply into themselves and gain helpful insights? Where can you go to celebrate life? Where can you have a ritual of remembrance? Where can you find a needed peaceful moment? Where can you learn about the journey of life and where you are in the process? The answer is in a labyrinth. The process of mindfully walking a labyrinth can bring aid or answers to all these concerns. FWM: But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26 The answer is NOT a labyrinth. It's Jesus!
New Year’s Eve
If possible construct a special labyrinth for the celebration. Invite the community to come and help build it. Get news coverage of the construction. Use an labyrinth. Use a canvas labyrinth. Light the labyrinth with luminaries. Invite participants to make a News Year’s resolution, wish, or prayer. Have them on either a craft stick (looks like a tongue depressor) or a slip of paper and the resolution, wish, or prayer into the labyrinth as they meditate on it. Have available outside the labyrinth a burning bowl with a small fire. Participants their sticks or paper slips into the fire to burn them releasing the energy to the universe to speed the resolutions, wishes, and prayers on their way. FWM: Not only does this smell of ritualistic behavior, but "releasing the energy to the universe" reeks of new age practices.
Celebration of Life
Once a month I bring a canvas labyrinth to the hospital where I work. It is available for staff, patients, and visitors. The labyrinth’s availability is announced in our weekly newsletter, by email, and over the public address system. The labyrinth has been used it in many different ways. One of these was for the celebration of life and life’s joy. The labyrinth was set up in a common area with flowers in the center. Along with the flowers was an empty glass bowl. Outside of the labyrinth slips of paper and pens were available for participants to write out their celebration, wishes, accomplishments, and joys. As they walked the labyrinth participants were asked to meditate upon what they had written and to leave the paper in the glass bowl at the center. At the end of the day all the slips of paper in the bowl were gathered and ritually burned to release them to the universe. FWM: Jesus is our burnt offering, it is not necessary to offer burnt offerings to God anymore. But, as we can see, they are teaching us to release the burnt offerings to the universe, not to God. New Age if I every heard it.
Grief, Loss, and Letting Go
On New Year’s Eve of 1999 one of the employees of the Medical Center where I work was tragically killed in an automobile accident. One of her young children was also killed. Joyce was a nurse manager on our cancer treatment floor and had been with the hospital over 20 years. Her death had a powerful impact on our staff and our community. At her funeral the church overflowed with mourners. Several days after her burial we used our portable canvas labyrinth to help the hospital staff grieve. It was setup in a common area. Flowers and music and were provided. It was announced to the hospital as a Labyrinth of Compassion. From 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. staff were invited to walk the labyrinth. Slips of paper were provided for writing down prayers, memories, and wishes for Joyce and her family. The messages were carried into the labyrinth and deposited in a glass bowl as a gesture of letting go. At the end of the day the contents of the bowl were ritually burned to release the energy of the expressions to the universe. Many hospital staff walked this labyrinth and informally reported that it was a meaningful experience for them. FWM: By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:10. Jesus is our burnt offering, it is not necessary to offer burnt offerings to God anymore. But, as we can see, they are teaching us to release the burnt offerings to the universe, not to God. New Age if I every heard it.
Traditional Rituals of Christianity
Communion, The Eucharist
Several times I have helped to facilitate a candlelight communion service using the labyrinth as the mindful path to the key elements of the ritual. The procedure is to place candles around the outside of the labyrinth and along some of its paths. Quiet, peaceful music is played. A small table is set at the center of the labyrinth. On it are placed a candle, flowers, and a goblet of wine. Participants gather near the entrance of the labyrinth. The priest or minister initiates the ritual with traditional readings and prayers. Standing at the entrance, the officiator gives each person the bread with a traditional statement such as, “The body of Christ broken for you and for many for the forgiveness of sin.” Once receiving the host, the participant must journey towards the center to the wine, the Blood of Christ, to complete the sacrament. In the typical communion service receiving the bread and wine are almost instantaneous occurrences. With the labyrinth there is a long thoughtful journey with the bread towards the wine. It requires concentration and care. You must guard and protect the host and make your way in the gathering darkness towards the light of the candle. There is ample time to become aware of your responsibility in this process. Other people are passed in the coming and going rhythm of the labyrinth. At the center the participants partake of the sacrament, and on the way out have time for more reflection, celebration, or thanksgiving. An opportunity for small group discussion of the process can be provided although often people are quite content to just take away the peace that they have received.
Another use of the labyrinth in the Christian context is at Christmas with a symbolic “Following of the Star.” As the wise men and shepherds were guided by a star in their spiritual quest, so we can follow a light in our search for spiritual awakening and rebirth. This is again a candlelight service and luminaries are beautiful when placed around the labyrinth. At the center of the labyrinth is set a lantern with star shaped holes through which the light shines. Participants gather at the entrance and are given unlit candles that they carry into the center. The candles are lighted at the star lantern and then slowly brought out of the labyrinth as a symbol of the light of spiritual enlivening. The first time I did this walk it was on a unexpectedly windy Christmas Eve. Once the candles were lit at the center, it was very difficult to keep the young flame burning. You had to protect it carefully using your hands and body as shields against the wind or the flame would be blown out. This challenging walk was a wonderful metaphor for spiritual awakening in which the initial flame is fragile and must be nurtured. Also, it highlighted one’s personal responsibility for guarding the spiritual process and ensuring its development.
Similar walks could be done at Easter as the Journey Towards the Cross or as the Walk to Amais. Group discussion could be used to help explore the insights gained.
FWM: Once again we have the same thing. Performing rituals instead of having a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior. All of us are given the ability to communicate with our God and Lord without the need of props or crutches. Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth and the life. no man cometh unto the Father but by me." John 14:6
The labyrinth is an archetypal pattern, a "divine imprint," found in religious traditions in various forms around the world. It is believed that the labyrinths in the European cathedrals were walked by thousands of the faithful as a symbolic way of making a pilgrimage to the Holy City, Jerusalem.
The labyrinth is not a maze - there is only one path and there are no tricks and no dead ends. It is designed to quiet the mind and lead the walker by a winding route to the center, and then, by the same route, to return to the exit.
In recent years, walking the Labyrinth has been rediscovered as a meditation tool connecting and integrating body, mind and spirit. It is used for prayer and meditation and as a metaphor for the spiritual journey, the labyrinth suggests insights and analogies for each person's place on the spiritual path. People of all ages are using the Labyrinth. Many churches use portable canvas labyrinths or integrate them into courtyards and meditation gardens. Several medical centers have placed a labyrinth on their grounds for use by staff, patients, and their families.
The Reverend Dr. Lauren Artress, Canon of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California, is credited with introducing labyrinths in the U.S. in the 1980's. Her book, Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool, (Riverhead Books) is considered the best resource book on the Labyrinth.
Information is also available locally through New Life Institute and their website:www.newlifetexas.org
The above article was taken directly from the Lake Travis United Methodist Church, Austin, Texas website. Rev. Ron & Rev. Linda Jean Myers, Pastors
FWM: Here we see how the Methodist Church has integrated the labyrinth into their belief system. This is just another step that many churches are taking to turn away from the Word of God and to pagan rituals.
The labyrinth also is being introduced as one of the spiritual practices in our new denominational curriculum, Covenant People, where it is set in the context of the story of Abraham and Sarah, and the unexpected twist their life held.
One of the first issues of Hungryhearts news that I edited featured an article on the labyrinth. That article inspired one of the (mercifully few) letters of complaint I have received. The letter writer asked to be removed from our mailing list, and asked, “What next? Rain sticks?!” Clearly, to that reader the labyrinth seemed a New Age gimmick that had no place in Presbyterian spirituality. Others, however, appreciated the article and have found the labyrinth to be a powerful prayer experience. Since that first article appeared in 1996, the labyrinth has continued to grow in popularity, becoming almost an icon of the contemporary climate of spiritual seeking. Hungryhearts Published by the Office of Spiritual Formation of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
FWM: Here we see how the Presbyterian Church has also joined the false practice of the labyrinth.
A Candlelight Labyrinth Walk will be Sunday at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 518 W. Randolph. Candles will be lit and walking may begin at 5 p.m. Dorton String Duet performs from 6 to 7. Kathryn and Alyx Dorton, members of the Enid High School orchestra and students of Daphney Daugherty, will play violin and cello and also will play for the midnight mass Dec. 24. Candlelight, string music and walking the labyrinth all are designed to help find silence and peace during this Christmas season, according to church officials.
FWM: The Episcopal Church follows suit with the Methodist and Presbyterians.
FWM: Many other churches have also followed suit after the Methodist, Presbyterians and the Episcopalians. These include Assembly of God, Church of God, Lutherans, Baptist and others.
"In an age when many Americans are looking beyond the church pulpit for spiritual experience and solace," said the Times "a growing number have rediscovered the labyrinth as a path to prayer, introspection, and emotional healing." from the New York Times newspaper
FWM: We pray that if your church promotes the labyrinth, that you will talk to your pastor about this and ask them to stop practicing pagan rituals and turn to the Lord of Host, our personal Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the only walk we need. Walk hand and hand with Jesus and you will far out distance any labyrinth journey.
It is my contention that the use of the labyrinth is another subtle ploy from Satan to get our attention turned away from Jesus and onto rituals.
We pray that the article has helped you to understand a little better the false pagan belief of the labyrinth.