Classic and Traditional Labyrinths
Since the beginning of documented civilization, labyrinths and spiral patterns have been found everywhere ancient indigenous people have lived and traveled. Today labyrinths also appear on the Internet where people meet virtually as well as in the physical world in churches, recreation areas, schools and even prisons.
Print and "walk" these labyrinths with finger paints, color crayons or markers or use them as guides to create real labyrinths on lawns, driveways, in sand or snow. Use colored chalk to draw a hopscotch spiral onto the driveway to your house.
- Labyrinths are geometric unicursal patterns that define sacred space. There is only one entrance to a path marked with designated areas for meditative pauses that leads to a predetermined destination, usually the center of the design. Many people use labyrinths as a spiritual pilgrimage to a sacred mental place.
- Maze: are muticursal patterns which are more complex with several paths or branches and dead ends through which the solver must find a route to the destination.
Three Main Categories
There are three main categories for unicursal labyrinths:
- Roman - Classical or Cretan, four sectored symmetrical standard layout
- Church - Chartres or Medieval style
- (SAT) Simple Alternative Transitive - simple labyrinths
Labyrinths are structures with one winding path which leads from the entrance of the design to the center of the labyrinth then returns back to the entrance on the same path. Labyrinths frequently have designated stopping or resting points along the way for participants to engage in prayer or meditation.
How Labyrinths are Made and Used
Mazes and labyrinths are created with a variety of materials. Builders can cut into the ground to make turf Labyrinths completen with walls and rooms. Some mazes and labyrinth paths are constructed with mirrors, rocks, corn stalks, hay bales, books or with different colored paving stones, string, sticks or paving tiles such as bricks. Permanent labyrinth are usually created using concrete, marble or granite to resist erosion. Many stone labyrinths can be found in Lapland, Finland and Sweden.
Semi-permanent labyrinths may be built using flowers that bloom in the spring. Make a bird seed maze or labyrinth and watch the birds flitter as they enjoy the delicious treats. Foliage is often used to create paths. Dwarf shrubs and hedges of foliage can be planted in a labyrinth pattern and maintained by gardeners. Temporary or semi-permanent labyrinths can be drawn or painted on the outside walls of churches, frequently near the entrance ways.
Creative cloth labyrinths may be constructed by sewing fabrics and carpet materials together.
Corn stalk mazes are common in the fall when farmers clear their fields. Labyrinths and mazes created out of crops or otherwise temporary and seasonal materials are frequently promoted as seasonal tourist attractions. Two good examples of crop mazes are the Dole Plantation Pineapple maze in Hawaii, and the Carter County Fairgrounds Corn Maze in Kentucky.
Images in Scissorcraft of Labyrinths and mazes can be printed and traced with pencil, crayons or fingertips or used as a guide to creating simple designs drawn into soft sand, or drawn on sidewalks and driveways with chalk for kids to enjoy.
Some institutions use labyrinths and mazes:
- Peace - promote religious tolerance and peace and raise awareness about other religions, cultures, and communities
- Goddess - earliest labyrinths are through to have been used to worship the great goddesses
- Church - spiritual practices and activities and to build community and attract new members
- School - children play and dance on labyrinths as well as learn relaxation techniques
- Prison - provide calming relief from stress.
- Hospital - hospitals, health care facilities, spas and wellness centers use labyrinths for relaxation, support groups, and therapy treatments
- Tattoo - tattooes illustrated on skin
- Text - Christian designers in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries used word manuscript labyrinths to meditate and teach scripture
Resources and Places to Visit Labyrinths
Where in the world to find mazes and labyrinths open to the public.
These links go to Internet websites that discuss various types of mazes and labyrinths around the world. Many labyrinths and mazes are open to the public and available for tours.
World Labyrinth Locations and References
Visit these links to find activities, mumber games and other great learning references and resources for mazes and labyrinths.
- World-Wide Labyrinth Locator
- Corn Maze locater
- Toronto Public Labyrinth
- Ontario Labyrinth Directory
- South American Labyrinths
Labyrinths in General
- The Padmavyuha or Chakravyuha
- Celtic Maze
- The Labyrinth, at Versailles
- Man in Maze: Logan Museum of Anthropology