May 1st is World Labyrinth Day. While we are also celebrating Beltane, a walk in a labyrinth would be a lovely addition to your festivities. Whether you make your own or find a local one via the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator, walking a labyrinth can be a magical experience.
When I recognized that my life was a spiral, circling back to certain themes and events, I became obsessed with finding labyrinths near me. I often go to labyrinths when I need some meditative time outside, or when I am trying to puzzle through a problem or dilemma. It has been a transformative experience for me when I walk one, and I look forward to each new labyrinth I discover. My love of labyrinths is known among my friends, and recently, a few have reached out to me in puzzlement of what I actually get out of walking around one.
For me, labyrinths are a liminal space. Much like crossing a new threshold, I feel as if I step out of my present day, and step into a space that is mine alone. I love the feeling I get when I begin my journey in a labyrinth, and the best way to describe that feeling is that it’s similar to how I feel in airports. Most of the time, I don’t get excited about trips until I am in the airport. Why? Because once I go through the doors of the airport, my whole focus is then firmly on the trip ahead. Whatever I forgot to pack, whatever else needs to be done at home, it doesn’t matter in that moment. I literally feel the responsibility drop from my shoulders and I can relax and joyously anticipate the trip from that moment onward.
When I step into a labyrinth, it is a very similar feeling. I am stepping into a meditative place, putting one foot in front of the other, and my focus is the journey, not how quickly I get to the end of the labyrinth. Through the years, I have added a few magical rituals to my labyrinth walks, so I hope they resonate with you the next time you find yourself contemplating a journey through a labyrinth.
Offerings I always like to bring a little offering of thanks to leave at the end of my labyrinth journeys. It doesn’t have to be much, often a coin, a trinket, or a nature offering. I keep a stash in my car just for that purpose. Often I have left a flower blossom, or a shell, and sometimes even a few written words as well. If you have forgotten to bring an offering, look around as you walk the labyrinth. Often, you will find an item of nature that will catch your eye and become the offering you need.
Have zero expectations I don’t begin a labyrinth with the expectation of feeling any particular way, or that I will have solved a problem, or even that I am going to be magically transported during my meditative walk. Sometimes I do experience all of the above, and sometimes, I just appreciate the silence. I am never disappointed, because each journey is as unique and special as the labyrinth itself.
Drop into the space itself Like meditation, you can find yourself thinking of grocery lists or errands left to do, when you are supposed to be in a sacred space. To begin your labyrinth, take at least three deep breaths before you begin. Visualize all your responsibilities dropping from your shoulders, all the lists, the things to do, and issues occupying your mind. Gaze at the labyrinth as if you are about to go on a journey, because you are. Feel yourself drop down into the space, ground yourself by imagining roots growing down from your feet, and really feel the earth beneath your feet. When you feel you are ready, put one foot in front of the other, and begin.
Gain perspective Once you are in the space, stop about half-way through and look back to how far you’ve come. Take a breather, and a check-in on yourself. We are so focused on the end results sometimes, that we forget to look back at how far we have come. Then, look ahead to the end, and give thanks for that moment. If you have been struggling with being in the space, see if this shifts your energy.
The End is not The End Sometimes, people hop out of the labyrinth at the end, thinking once is enough, done and over. Nope. Turn around, and come back the way you came. Take a moment to notice what you missed on the walk inward, and see if your perspective has changed now that you are retracing your steps. When you get to the end, offer your thanks, along with whatever offering you have chosen, and take a moment to savor that spot. Take three or more deep breaths before you begin the journey back.
Cross the threshold When you finish the labyrinth, take a moment to pause again. Don’t hurry back to your car, or start gearing up for your errands. Take a moment to do a self-inventory. How are you feeling? How is your energy? Do you feel any different? Did you figure out a solution to your dilemma? Even if you haven’t been actively thinking about your problems while you were in the labyrinth, you may find that a solution bubbles up when you are done. When you feel complete, step out of the labyrinth, and cross the threshold back into your life. I usually offer a quick thanks here as well, either mentally, or via a monetary donation, if there is a donation box nearby.
If you have the space where you live, create your own labyrinth. You can create one with stones, flower petals, luminaries, tealights, or sticks. The next time you encounter a labyrinth, try a few of these suggestions, and see if it makes a difference in your journey. If you have some suggestions to add, or discover new insights when you celebrate labyrinths, let me know. Enjoy your magical journeys.