Veriditas receives many inquiries from people wanting to build a labyrinth in a variety of settings -- churches, hospitals, prisons, hospices, schools. or for private use. We're delighted to receive these enthusiastic inquiries and want to address many of the basic questions here.
One of the biggest challenges to the Labyrinth Movement is that costly labyrinths are going in quickly, but are poorly thought out. Labyrinths should stir the heart of the community for which it is created.
First, be aware that there is considerable learning curve to creating an effective labyrinth so walk as many labyrinths possible. (You can find them on our Labyrinth Locator on this site.) Attend labyrinth events to learn the history and use of labyrinths and to get ideas of your own.
Four questions to ask before constructing a labyrinth:
What do I mean by an "effective" labyrinth?
"The extent to which labyrinths are considered effective is directly connected with the experience they engender, the emotions and insights they ignite, the sense of calm or Presence they evoke, the depth of solace they bring and the activation of our interior symbolic realms that they stir." (P. 180 Walking a Sacred Path, Second Ed. Riverhead, 2006) An effective labyrinth creates a temenos; a sacred space set aside for healing, insight, revelation and release.
Archetypal and Contemporary Labyrinths
Archetypal labyrinths come from ancient roots. The Classical Seven-Circuit Labyrinth is four to five thousands years old and is known as the Hopi Medicine Wheel and the Celtic Labyrinth. Perhaps the most well known labyrinth is the Eleven-Circuit Medieval Labyrinth replicated from Chartres Cathedral in France and placed in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco.
In my opinion archetypal labyrinths are tried and true. They transform and integrate the mind, body and spirit. Psycho-spiritual healing occurs very frequently. They were most likely created from a spiritual tradition that we cannot identify easily. The Chartres labyrinth has an invisible template behind it based on Sacred Geometry, which may have originated from the School of Chartres during the fifth to the 10th century.)
However, when newcomers encounter the labyrinth, many are eager to change these ancient designs and do so without an appreciation as to how effective
labyrinths work. They do not realize that these archetypal designs were intentionally created to stir the human heart and order the chaos in the collective.
Hermann Kern states it like this:
"The Labyrinth is an ancient symbol, a collectively and anonymously fashioned design, shaped and given fuller meaning over time by hundreds of generations. This fails to comply with the modern notion of the individual genius of an artist being unique and free, coming from within, and being beholden only to oneself. Indeed, collective, anonymous experience and individual probings clash with one another." (Hermann Kern, Through the Labyrinth p. 305)
There is a place for contemporary labyrinths. They are fun to make, to walk and to build community. We need research in this area to measure the effectiveness of each labyrinth, but until we are able to determine the impact of these designs, I would caution a group with a serious intent not to put a lot of money behind a contemporary labyrinth. But again, the above questions that focus the purpose behind creating your labyrinth will guide you.
Please call the office if you'd like a referral to a labyrinth builder - 707 283-0373.
Once a labyrinth has been built, we often get requests as to how to createa program to use it. Our research says that when there is not a knowledgeable 'point' person, the labyrinth is used less often.
Veriditas Labyrinth facilitators are trained under the theme To Facilitate a Labyrinth is to Walk a Spiritual Path. This two-day training, presently taught by Lauren Artress, or one of our Master Teachers offers guidance to present professional quality labyrinth events and prepares presenters to receive the profound depth that the labyrinth can awaken.
Below is a video clip of a project headed up by Sister Lorry Villemaire and Cathy Rigali in which they built a labyrinth in their local jail.