Lessons from the Labyrinth

Labyrinth patternLast weekend, purely by chance, I walked a labyrinth for the first time. I entered it with no expectations and no instructions. In fact, I kept saying to Joseph, “Now, why do people walk labyrinths? What’s it supposed to do?” I fear I was not as quiet and respectful as most would be, but we were totally alone out in the boulder-strewn foothills of East San Diego. The labyrinth held a surprise for me.

Dusk was approaching, but the dusty, “brown-season” ground still retained some of the day’s warmth, a cooling breeze from the distant ocean not yet reaching the little dip of land in which we were walking. Even as my mouth kept running along, I had to focus intently on the bright red, blue, black and green tile pieces pressed lovingly into dirt that now bore the tamped character of many feet passing, marking out a pattern to be followed. Walk, walk, walk, switchback. Walk, walk, walk, switchback.

I began to wonder about the people who’d so reverently duplicated this design. Surely it wasn’t easy in the high-desert climate, bending over, settling in those tiles? And the circles so precise. How did they do it? Why did they do it? Why was I walking it? Curiosity, mostly, and a sense of fun.

I confused them with mazes.

We’d ventured out to Blue Sky Ranch for Joseph to meet with medical intuitive Cristina Smith, who also happened to be the organizer of a Subtle Energy Retreat on October 18-19, for which we’ll be presenting a workshop in “Maximizing the Power of Polarity.” I wanted to see the location; Joseph needed some help with a trick knee that’s kept us from dancing for the last three months.

After a wonderful session with Cristina (which will undoubtedly turn the tide toward healing for Joseph) and a brief tour of the spacious classroom, we were sent down the hill toward a visually obscured valley to “walk the labyrinth.” Okay, sure, I said, never having paid much attention to either the ancient ritual or current popularity of labyrinths. I had them confused with mazes, where one can be lost in high shrubbery forever, á la Harry Potter, and I couldn’t imagine growing that sort of lush vegetation in this high desert without irrigation.

But now I was following Joseph toward the circular center of the tile-laid pattern, ever elusive as new switchbacks and follow-throughs kept me moving toward, then away from that goal. Just beyond the labyrinth itself, I appreciated the rock-art symbols made, again, by loving hands, but still I wondered, What do they symbolize? Why? Who made them? Pagans, I thought, and that’s not an unpleasant notion to me. Dare I say, some of my best friends are dedicated to neo-paganism. I’d learned a little bit about it during my years in Michigan where it’s a very popular antidote to the overpopulation of Calvinistic churches found in some areas. My distant pagan friends could probably tell me details about those symbols in rock and it made me miss their company.

When Joseph and I both reached the middle, after long moments of intense walking, we stood for a moment, appreciating the little cairn marking the spot.

Until then, I’d been looking down so steadily, I barely noticed the towering, cast-concrete, rounded “standing stones” placed around the circular labyrinth, and I failed to count them. If I had, I’m pretty sure now that their number would be significant. Instead I wondered how much effort it had taken to mix and pour such large concrete structures and get them to emerge as perfectly shaped, fat columns in this unlikely landscape of rough foothills, desert scrub, rattlesnakes, and heat. I knew I was supposed to be thinking something “holy,” or at least I thought I was, but my mind kept turning to the practical details and the sheer fun of following the pattern with my feet.

“Now what do we do?” I asked Joseph irreverently, but without waiting for his answer, I turned around and realized I needed to walk back out the way I’d come—although it would have been easy to cheat and simply walk out over the flat tiles marking the pattern. After all, no one else was there to see. But no—I would follow the pattern on the way out, but wheeeeeeee, it immediately felt like I was going downhill!

I started to run through the straight sections and do spin turns, leaving a circle in the dust, at all the switchbacks. I put my arms out and played airplane like a little kid all the way back out to the beginning, rewinding the pattern in record time. I was laughing and happy and oh my gosh, I was acting like a little kid and hadn’t felt like that in ……….. waaaayyyy tooooo long!!! Wheeeee!!!!!

I suddenly realized that all my weeks of stress— publishing my latest book, then traveling on airplanes to see family and participate in a series of don’t-be-late events for days on end— had completely left me. I felt giddy in its absence!

Had the labyrinth done that to me?

I recognized while walking it that the pattern must be ancient, and the tradition as well. Since I, too, am ancient, it is highly likely that my guilty sense that I should be feeling “holy” came from other lives, sacred rituals faintly remembered, as well as the solemnity with which it had probably been built by its present owners. I couldn’t help but think that this design, this pattern to which I was synchronizing my body by walking it, must be calming my energies, aligning me to … what? Or was it merely discharging the heavy weight of little worries that had built up and magnified in recent weeks?

Does the ancient pattern replicate something in our internal energy design? I vowed to do some research when I got home, but I wanted to record my raw experience here before I do, so I still don’t have answers.

But what joy that labyrinth gave me! I hope I will retain the lesson of the labyrinth for many days to come. I definitely walked away a different person than when I began those first steps in the dust, and in gratitude I left a little addition to one of the entrance cairns, a pebble carefully balanced atop the piled stones.

Joseph was still behind me in the labyrinth, having taken a more dignified exit approach, but he called out, “Come and look at this!!” So I hurried back, thinking perhaps one of the rattlers had snuck out of the nearby scrub and it would be like Joseph to think that was a good thing.

“Look,” he pointed down near his feet.

“Where? I can’t see anything.”

“There,” he pointed again.

Bouncing in the wind was a tiny, dirty-lavender, daisy-like blossom, smaller than a dime, poking up out of one of the scraggliest miniature tufts of dirt-covered succulent I’ve ever seen. It was waving its smile at us from the side of the path where everyone who’d walked that dusty day managed to miss squashing this little bloom.

Once I’d seen that one, I noticed that the miniature flowers were scattered here and there, within and without the labyrinth, detailed with purple petals and yellow centers on scrubs of plantlets so small that they all but disappeared in the dusky, dirty light.

Our eyes had to be opened before we could see them.


Now I’ve Googled and Wiki’d labyrinth and I’ll spare you the links so you can enjoy finding your own version of this ancient pastime. My brief research tells me that my own unplanned labyrinth walk delivered up exactly what I needed at that moment: a returned sense of freedom and joy in my life! I am grateful!

Also, the designs are so old, no one really knows what their original purpose was, so I stand by my assumption that they replicate energy patterns in the human brain or body, syncing us up with the Infinite Source which also provides our body's life force in energy patterns.

In simple terms, the artifacts of ancient labyrinths that we now find may be dim echoes of the advanced interdimensional science once known by the Atlanteans and, previously, Lemurians, and further back in Earth’s extraterrestrial history. Such designs are often carried forward through generations of tradition, watered down by the passing of ages and the loss of the original science.

I’ll happily walk the labyrinth again at the next opportunity.