I have noticed a couple of "discussions" about this, please note the correct spelling of "labyrinth" so others can find us when they search for it! (alternate spellings used so far: "labrinyth" and "labrinth")

I developed a station-based labyrinth for our men's group, FORGE, and was privileged to lead my own son through it: it is designed for young teen boys as a ceremonial transition to manhood.  Because it is "station-based" there is no path to follow, although the experience would be greatly enhanced if the location allowed us to create one: whether using duct tape on pavement, or paper arrows taped to carpeting, or scraped paths in beach sand, or whatever, depending on where we are doing the ceremony.

My labyrinth's stations run as follows: "Let Go, Cleanse, Take Hold, Mark the Way".  This follows the general pattern of labyrinth prayer, but was adapted to the occasion.  Each station can have simply the elements/object lessons described plus a printed sign that gives instructions, or a person can stand at each station and quietly lead participants through it as they arrive, or one facilitator can lead participants singly or as a group through each of the stations in turn. I did the latter. It went very well, my son loved it and occasionally mentions it years later. Still has the elements he was given, they are out on his desk or shelves where he can see them, except the sword, which he stores back in its box, where younger siblings won't mess with it. ;-)

The description of this labyrinth is on a site I set up for a small-group ministry that never really took hold. But it's a nice parking spot for notes like this.

The great thing about labyrinths is that once you understand the concept, you can adapt them to all sorts of situations. Here is a link to a company that builds (big ones) and sells (little ones) labyrinths of all sorts. Browse around and get ideas from them. Pay no attention to the wacky new-agey claims they make about labyrinths-- this is one brief description of a Christian application of themThis is another. Note the basic POSITIVE aspects of a labyrinth that you can adapt for your own purposes:

1. There is only one path, although in a traditional labyrinth, it winds around a lot and SEEMS like a maze... if you stay on the path you cannot get lost. Same with following Jesus.
2. There is an "inward" journey that involves "shedding". I once heard that in medieval times, the hedge labyrinths were popular with knights-errant. They would dismount from their horse and have to remove at least some of their armor and weapons in order to fit through the intentionally small entrances to the labyrinth-- symbolic of removing their defenses before God. There are lots of things we need to "shed" in order to quiet ourselves to hear God or receive from Him. Emphasize the ones that suit your purposes.
3. At the center you receive something: enlightenment, or grace, or forgiveness, depending on the purpose of your labyrinth. The Chartres labyrinth has six lobes in the middle, though I don't know what each lobe might symbolize... so your labyrinth can, along the journey or in the middle, have as many stations as you like.
4. There is an "outward" journey that involves "union" or "relationship" or, as I've heard it explained before, "taking up" (the opposite of "shedding").

Again, you can make your labyrinth as complicated or as simple as you like... put The Stations of The Cross in a labyrinth setting... etc. It is always about letting go, listening to God, and taking up something new again.

I am happy to talk about labyrinths with anyone who is interested in them, particularly their application to outdoor & camping ministry.

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  • oops, those tags should read "coming of age," etc... I must have punctuated them wrongly.
  • Thanks NIcolas for a very helpful explanation!

  • Aha, here is an even better article about the possibilities of a labyrinth in Christian prayer. And they mention that Group Publishing has a labyrinth-in-a-can... sounds interesting, and Group is a reputable source for that sort of thing.

    Note what she says about physical elements, "object lessons", manipulables: that is key to the labyrinth experience, to actually be able to DO things that represent a greater reality. I believe that's what sets a Christian labyrinth-walk apart from a new age labyrinth walk: the new age ones are a lot more abstract and vaguely heady and less concrete. Similar to the difference between Christian meditation and Eastern meditation: the goal in Eastern meditation is to empty the mind, the goal of Christian meditation is to fill the mind (with ONE truth at a time, or to fill the mind with a certain vision of God, etc.).

    Thanks for the kind words, Phil!

    Phil Miglioratti said:
    Thanks NIcolas for a very helpful explanation!

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