December 20, 2010 11:34 PM   Subscribe

Labyrinths – not to be confused with mazes – are being rediscovered as tools for contemplation, meditation, reflection, and community well-being, as well as inspiration for architecture, music, dance, ritual, business, and visual art.


Water labyrinths
Finger labyrinths
• Nordic stone labyrinths
• Labyrinth landscape architecture
Caerdroia, an independent journal for the study of mazes and labyrinths
Download a labyrinth
• Visit a hidden labyrinth
Read more about labyrinths
• Consider building a labyrinth, even in your own backyard
• Draw a Chartres labyrinth with the help of a cool animation
Get married in a labyrinth
Has the original labyrinth been found?
• Find a labyrinth using the world-wide labyrinth locator or the directory of labyrinth locators

(Previously: 1, 2).
posted by velvet winter (18 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
My favorite labyrinth: the Pattern from Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber.
posted by lumensimus at 12:23 AM on December 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

Nice stuff.

Since Theseus was in danger of losing his way, which you can't really do in a monocursal structure, it seems the original Labyrinth was not a labyrinth...?
posted by Segundus at 2:11 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Labyrinths have also been used for package delivery.
posted by explosion at 4:04 AM on December 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

lumensimus, that was my very first thought. I've often wanted to walk it. And then go... away.
posted by Splunge at 4:07 AM on December 21, 2010

Neat. The center of our church has a labyrinth based off of the Chartres one that people can walk in the evenings.
posted by charred husk at 6:24 AM on December 21, 2010

New Harmony, Indiana has two, well, OK, one is a hedge maze that dates to around 1815 but the other is a marble type that has an acompanying fountain that drowns out sounds that sits on top of an ancient native american burial mound.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:41 AM on December 21, 2010

Nice, thanks.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:01 AM on December 21, 2010

It has been used in some medical centers to assist healing.
posted by francesca too at 8:15 AM on December 21, 2010

OMG, every weekend I literally drive past one that's free and open to the public. Thanks much for the link to the locator--I needed that.
posted by Sublimity at 9:38 AM on December 21, 2010

I have a back issue of Parabola mag (which I love) that has some amazing writing on labyrinths. I'd recommend picking it up if you come across it.
posted by HumanComplex at 12:58 PM on December 21, 2010

Labyrinth or Maze?

a labyrinth is unicursal that is it has one path which will lead the walker without offering choices to the goal (at the centre in most designs)... A maze is multicursal and presents choices to the walker who must solve its puzzle to find the goal...

In summary: if you find yourself completely lost, you are in a maze, whereas if you are suddenly and inexplicably about to die at the hands of an angry Minotaur, you are almost certainly in a labyrinth.
posted by quin at 2:49 PM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Labyrinths – not to be confused with mazes

Pretty sure maze and labyrinth are interchangeable words in English. Perhaps the author is thinking of some other term?
posted by Mental Wimp at 6:57 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

For a couple of summers, I mowed a labyrinth (not a maze) in my back yard. It was about 1/3 mile long, round trip, which was pretty amazing since it was in only about 1/4 acre space. It really was a contemplative walk.
It also was my excuse for not mowing the whole lawn.
posted by MtDewd at 7:45 PM on December 21, 2010

HumanComplex: That issue of Parabola magazine looks fascinating. I'll have to track it down sometime. Thanks for the recommendation!
posted by velvet winter at 10:44 PM on December 21, 2010

Mental Wimp: As I understand it, the words maze and labyrinth are still used interchangeably in some contexts, but definitely not amongst modern labyrinth enthusiasts. Here is Helen Raphael Sands' take on it, from p. 24 of her book The Healing Labyrinth:
"Traditionally the words 'labyrinth' and 'maze' were used interchangeably, but they have since assumed quite different meanings: labyrinths are unicursal with only one pathway, which twists and turns to a central goal, while mazes are multicursal with one correct path leading to the center hidden amongst numerous dead ends and junctions. However, this distinction is a modern one, so you may find a number of older English turf labyrinths with the name 'Maze' or 'Mizmaze'."
posted by velvet winter at 10:53 PM on December 21, 2010

The 1984 Beatles Maze is also more acurately described as a labyrinth. It had four concurrent paths that reduced to three after the statue of John Lennon. Oddly, it has a very small web presence.
posted by saucysault at 7:52 AM on December 22, 2010

Mental Wimp, a labyrinth is a "maze" that has only one opening and is typically very easy to solve in that there is only one path, albeit very windy. Because there are no pathing choices, a labyrinth is often used for meditative walking and not for puzzlement.

I understand the author wants to draw that distinction, but it doesn't seem to be reflected in common parlance and even flies in the face of millenia-old usage.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:04 AM on December 22, 2010

My favorite labyrinth.

Package delivery, indeed!
posted by ostranenie at 7:36 PM on December 23, 2010

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