Over the past few years there has been renewed interest in one of the most powerful of human mystical symbols - the "Labyrinth." It is unlike the "Maze," who's function is for entertainment, and where walking through it and getting lost in it is part of the fun.
The Sacred Labyrinth is Unicursal, ie. it has only one path to the center, covering the entire Labyrinth with no dead ends. The Unicursal Labyrinth is a symbol of wholeness, birth and transformation which has been used in many parts of the world for thousands of years. The Labyrinth is a symbol of spirit coming into matter (prima-materia) within the womb of the Mother Goddess. Birth, or coming into this world, is symbolized by the leaving of the Labyrinth for the first time. It is Universal symbol, known by most cultures of the world except China and Sub-Saharan Africa.
As a symbol it is unique because it can be of any size from the motif of a coin to one large enough to walk through. It has a difficult entry, and as a pathway of a pilgrim or soul or spirit it represents "transformation" by a singular, circular route.
Only the Unicursal Labyrinth has protective, initiatory and geomantic magic uses. In India, it is used as a "Yantra" (charged sacred diagram) for focusing the mind. To the Hopi of North America, it is an emblem called "Mother Earth."
Small flat stones with the classical Labyrinth design carved into them are used in Britain and Ireland as trance-inducing agents. These are known as brain-stones, troy-stones, moon-stones, or serpent-stones.
These Labyrinth carvings can be used to induce a state of mental hypnosis or trance. This is achieved by staring at the pattern, and following the path of the Labyrinth with a finger, in and out, in and out until one is "Amazed!" During this process, one can use a rhythmic hum or chant based on a deity's or rune's name and should be done until the desired state is achieved.
In the Norse tradition there are three basic types of Unicursal Labyrinths. The most widespread is the "Classical" Labyrinth, with a single, fairly simple pathway to the center. Simpler than this, but less common is the Labyrinth which has one-way loops leading to the center. Lastly related to this one is a type popular in Scandinavia and Germany, the 'in-and back' Labyrinth, where the path does not end at the center but returns the runner to the entrance.
Wherever a Labyrinth of traditional design is made, the character of the site is altered. A formerly unimportant area becomes a focus of human interest, and energies are generated there.
Brightest of Blessings,