The Labyrinth at St. Luke's Anglican Church
The Labyrinth at St. Luke's in Ottawa. This labyrinth was installed as part of the church renovations in 2013.
Generally, a labyrinth is a complex and circuitous path that leads from a beginning point to a center. Some people consder mazes, which have branching paths, some of which lead to dead ends, to be a type of labyrinth. Others consider labyrinths to be patterns which have only a single path that winds its way from beginning to end, taking one alternately toward and away from the centre or goal. A single-path labyrinth is also called a 'meander.'
Labyrinths are ancient and are found in many cultures. The name comes from the myth of the Minotaur, a monster who lived in the centre of a labyrinth. When I visited Knossos, near Iralion in Crete, I was told that the word labyrinth was derived from 'labrys' which is the word for the double-bladed axe that was essentially the logo of the city of Knossos. Some think that the city (or palace) of Knossos itself was the original 'labyrinth' because it was a single large building that included residential apartments, craft shops, storehouses, a market, and the royal court, with hallways and corridors for getting around in the place of streets.
I think of labyrinths as a metaphor for navigating the world or finding your way in life. The original labyrinth at St. Luke's was installed in 2007. The current labyrinth was installed in the newly-renovated church in 2013.
Learn more about the St. Luke's Labyrinth and the associated activities here.
You can walk a labyrinth alone or with others. There are a number of labyrinths in the Ottawa area, including one that is part of the pavement in the courtyard at All Saint's Anglican Church in Westboro (see photo).
Unfortunately, it is not possible to gather at the physical space of the labyrinth for the time being. You can experience another kind of labyrinth meditation by downloading a labyrinth diagram and using your finger to follow the path. You can learn more about using a finger labyrinth here. If you have Flash Player, you can find a virtual labyrinth walk that can be navigated using a mouse here.
The original labyrinth at St. Luke's was part of Jane's Walk for several years. The 2013 walk description can be viewed here.
More information on labyrinths can be found at these sites:
The Labyrinth Society: https://labyrinthsociety.org/about-labyrinths
The Contemplative Mind: https://www.contemplativemind.org/practices/tree/labyrinth
The Theosophical Society: The Labyrinth: A Brief Introduction to its History, Meaning, and Use
World Labyrinth Day for 2020 is Sunday, May 3.