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Thread: Labyrinth Walking - Should a Christian Participate?

  1. #1

    Post Labyrinth Walking - Should a Christian Participate?

    While walking the Labyrinth in itself is essentially meaningless, the attributing metaphysical applications of clearing ones mind to allow entrance of other powers is playing with spiritual matches. Principalities and powers of the air lurk and wait, seeking willing or vulnerable hosts to enter. While not all walkers practice invitations of this kind, it is still another tool in the bag of the New Age for the purpose of misguiding beguiled souls.

    Published in the Christian Chronicle - Compiled By S. E. Ray - 05/14/06

    Within the last 20 years, an ancient practice that was abandoned by the ‘Early Church’ has once again been introduced within its very walls that are impacting thousands. In effect, an ancient tool has been ‘unearthed’ or re-discovered and seekers have begun to experiment in the practice of “Walking the Labyrinth.” This is a practice that reportedly brings a sense of spiritual well being for those participating. Labyrinths have been used as ceremonial pathways, protective sigils, traps for unwelcome spirits and for games and dancing. The twisting paths were revered by the ancients as guarding the central goal from direct penetration, for here the souls of the dead ancestors were often thought to reside, barred from escaping and causing trouble in everyday life, but contactable once the labyrinths coils had been traversed. Many of the fundamental beliefs surrounding the edifice are of pagan origin predating the advent of Jesus Christ and the faith in a monotheistic Godhead.

    The labyrinth is an ancient pattern found in many cultures around the world. Labyrinth designs were found on pottery, tablets and tiles date as far back as 4000 years to the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age. Many patterns are based on spirals from nature. In Native American culture it is called the ‘Medicine Wheel’ and ‘Man in the Maze.’ The Celts described it as the ‘Never Ending Circle.’ It is also called the ‘Kabala’ in mystical Judaism. One feature they all share is that they have one path that winds in a circuitous way to the center, and on occasions back out again.

    [See photo The Cathedral of Chartres Labyrinth ("Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres," French: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres), located in Chartres, about 50 miles from Paris, below.]

    The most famous labyrinth from ancient times was the Cretan labyrinth, the supposed lair of the mythological Minotaur, which Theseus slew with the aid of Ariadne and her spool of thread. It was at the center of the Labyrinth that the Minotaur did his devouring of unsuspecting humans. Turf labyrinths still exist in England, Germany and Scandinavia, and are believed to be linked with local feminine deities and pagan fertility rituals. In her 1995 book “Walking A Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool”, Canon Artress states that “The labyrinth is a large, complex spiral circle which is an ancient symbol for the divine mother, the God within, the goddess, the holy in all creation.”

    The adoption of the labyrinth by the Christian faith began during the Roman period, where they were used traditionally as a site of pilgrimage. Early Christians took a vow to visit the Holy City of Jerusalem at some point in their lives. During the Middle Ages, as the Crusades made travel to Palestine unsafe, other means were needed to honor that sacred commitment. Labyrinths were adopted by the Roman Church to offer the congregation a way of fulfilling their sacred vows. Christians made their pilgrimages to the cathedral cities of Chartres, Rheims or Amiens, completing their physical and spiritual journeys in the cathedral labyrinths.

    The first known pavement labyrinth with obvious Christian context is found in a basilica in Algeria. At first the labyrinth appeared mainly in manuscripts, but during the 12th century they began to appear in cathedrals and churches in Italy and during the 13th century spread to France, where many elaborate examples were constructed. Although the pavement labyrinths are well known, other examples formed of tiles and carved in stone are also found. They soon became popular across Europe, but many were destroyed from the 17th century thereafter as their ties to pagan and occult practices were realized. It is interesting to note that the connected geometrical properties of a flattened Cretan labyrinth form a pentagram, the symbol of the occult.

    The labyrinth tradition has taught that the power of the labyrinth comes not from the labyrinth, but from the walker of the labyrinth. In this view, sacred sites are made spiritual not so much by the ley lines (cosmic energy in the earth) or the water domes or innate energy, but by the people who come in sincere devotion and intention. Dowsers, on the other hand, tend to take the approach that the power of the labyrinth comes through the labyrinth, from the earth, to us. Divination has been used to find the proper construction location based on many ‘earth energy’ factors. Dowsers (those who use divining rods) and geomancers (diviners) were used then (and are still used today) to locate the earth energy center point for many of these labyrinths and then the cathedrals were constructed around the labyrinth.

    [See photo St. Paul's Episcopal Church Labyrinth - Louisville, KY below.]

    Even though the labyrinth is a Celtic concept, it shares some similarities with Asian monastic and spiritual practices. The patterns of the labyrinth are similar in design and conception to the mandalas of South Asian Buddhism, which are physical representations of the spiritual realm designed to aid in meditation. The mandala is a Hindu occult meditation process brought to the Western world by the grandfather of the New Age, Dr. Carl Jung. Labyrinths blend their visual symbolism with the process of walking, which is similar to the Japanese Zen practice of kinhin, literally ‘walking meditation,’ where all of the attention is focused on the process of each step, one foot in front of the other, and the breath is controlled and regulated. Both of these techniques are used in Buddhist meditation, which combines the elements of calming and insight into the single goal of samadhi, or ‘awareness.’

    It was recently, in the early 90's, when Jean Houston, one of the leading New Age teachers, introduced the Christian world again to the use of this practice for seeking spiritual enlightenment through walking the labyrinth. The Labyrinth, also called the Dromenon, is the official symbol of Dr. Jean Houston's new-age 'Mystery School'. As past president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, Jean makes use of her doctorate in ‘Philosophy of Religion’ to gain access to areas where most New Agers and occultists can't go, the Western church. Jean Houston claims, “As we encounter the archetypal world within us, a partnership is formed whereby we grow as do the gods and goddesses within us.” In her 1992 book “The Hero & the Goddess”, she recommended: “Now, taking a favorite god or goddess by the hand, a Greek one this time, explore the labyrinth winding of your left hemisphere… Take the deity by the hand and begin to explore the labyrinth winding of your right hemisphere, the place of intuition.”

    Why is the labyrinth subject to Christian scrutiny? Is it harmful or somehow unholy? The problem is in regard to its connection with pagan methodologies for inducing a meditative state. Some labyrinths are permanently built or rolled out from a portable matt anywhere, however many labyrinths are centered over dowsed locations that are found to have magnetic activity. What's wrong with that one might ponder? In itself, nothing, it is a natural physical occurrence generate by natural phenomenon, which can create a bodily sensation or self induced spiritual euphoria.

    Much like crystals, drums, and other New Age crutches, the problem is, the labyrinth relies much on natural phenomenon and physical sensations to enhance the meditative state. Pagan practices introduced into the Christian experience are a corruption of the Holy whereas one leans on the physical to be elevated into a spiritual. Genuine communion with the Father of creation through the divine Spirit is completely independent of methods utilizing earth properties, physical stimuli, or induced emotional experiences. Why? Pure and genuine communion with God is procured through the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the meditative state of prayer without any tool or methodology borrowed from the fallen physical world. The New Age incessantly strains to promote its unholy mystical paganism apart from God's genuine sanctioned methods.

    [See photo The Bethany Garden Labyrinth at St. Elisabeth's - Glencoe, IL below.]

    Misinformed leadership in the church may fling wide the doors to such practices, being themselves responsible for the induction of New Age paganism in the church. The church of Jesus Christ is called to be a Holy and pure body of believers, set apart from the world and its methods. Purified and untainted by the world's methods wherein lie the realm of darkness and the master of its domain, Lucifer. In the spirit realm, Paul mentions the 3rd heaven or shamayim in 2 Corinthians 12:2. It is God's domain, pure, outside of time in which our realm cannot physically access nor is decay known. The earth and its universe are in a fallen state of decay. Where the sphere of the two forces, darkness and light, forever struggling over human souls within the 1st heaven, our domain. Purified seekers of God are not to use any methods or tools of the earth because it is of the corrupt. The original church had nothing but hearts and minds seeking attunement with God in which miracles and conversions were the daily norm. Only later did mankind corrupt the divine communion by introduction of physical edifices and pagan practices. We are to put on the incorruptible through the Holy Spirit and commune with God in heart and mind alone.

    It is said that the labyrinth is the beginning of a ‘spiritual journey’ opening up relationships with the ancient masters who will in turn offer the knowledge and wisdom of the ages to all who will take the first step or ‘the initiation’ to enlightenment. Most Christians know or should know that the ancient masters are really ‘familiar spirits’ or seducing demons and the initiation is a bonding with the powers of the dark realm itself. Is this really a walk to life or a deception that will lure us onto a path to darkness? In Deuteronomy 12:1-14 and again in Exodus 34:10-17, God commands us not to participate in anything that has ever been used in pagan ritual for worship or for any other use.

    It is natural that false systems and tools of divination will seduce the unregenerate, but for Christians, there is no room for excuse. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to “prove all things” or “examine everything carefully” and to hold onto those things which are good. We are also told “believe not every spirit [The words that come from a person's mouth is from their spirit], but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” - If a person, group of people or church openly embrace things known not to be advocated by the God, then be careful of such and stand firm against the deceptions that seeks to ravage the undiscerning.
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  2. #2
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    I don't think quieting the mind has to open it to demons.

    I do think there are demons -- I'm not arguing agiainst the reality of demons.

    But in my understanding and experience, the lures of selfishness, lust for power or sex or material things, hatred of others, a desire to be approved by others, arrogance, etc., are the things that are the most dangerous to our souls, and the demonic is found in relation to these things, most often.

    Those who walk a labyrinth hoping to soothe their nerves and open up to inner peace and to relate to the spiritual world better, are not in any particular danger.

  3. #3

    Earthy devices not of God but of our fallen domain

    Labyrinth walking in itself is not harmful, but it is let's say a "step in the wrong direction" (pun intended).

    To briefly summarize, Christians are to worship God in Spirit and Truth. Even if the intent of Labyrinth walking is for good, one cannot scripturally justify the introduction of a physical edifice to enhance spiritual communication. Genuine communion with the Father of creation through the divine Spirit is completely independent of methods utilizing earth properties, physical stimuli, or induced emotional experiences. Pure and genuine communion with God is procured through the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the meditative state of prayer without any tool or methodology borrowed from the fallen physical world. We are to put on the incorruptible through the Holy Spirit and commune with God in heart and mind alone.
    .
    Paul writes in scripture, “I shall pray with the spirit and I shall pray with the mind also” (I Corinthians 14:15). He does not say that he will pray with the spirit and clear the mind, but with the spirit and the mind. Clearing ones mind as to be vacant, and trusting God to fill it with whatever He desires, not only has no biblical grounding but also is an open invitation to spiritual invasion of malevolent familiars. It is certainly one thing to struggle with the vices of the flesh, it is quite another to yield oneself to a physical earthly device hoping to communicate with God. Why not go away to a quiet place and pray to the Father as Jesus taught? Why use a physical edifice from our fallen domain in which earth-bound principalities dwell, instead insist on pursuing God in the manner which He has prepared for us through his Holy Spirit?

    Once again, the Labyrinth in itself is not the problem, its the heart and mind that trusts that an earthy device has any sanctioned relevance for the spirit man to communicate with the Spirit Creator.
    .

  4. #4
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    So what I'm hearing from you is...

    ...that the reliance on such methods, the emphasis or focus upon such tools, is the problem.

    ...and that efforts to clear the mind AS IF clearing the mind was the way for God to speak to us, are misguided and potentially dangerous.

    I can agree with that, but I'd add:

    Using a method or a tool itself may not be a problem, but often people over-emphasize the method or tool or physical thing or symbol and get sidetracked... So it could be healthy to use a technique while remembering that we shouldn't idolize techniques or be stuck on methods/things of this world.

    If one happens to quiet the mind, well fine, but a lot of what one might then find in one's quiet mind may be nonsense or confusion. At any rate one could aim to re-direct one's mind towards something spiritual when it gets distracted and jumbly, and arrive at a state of mind that is quite different than ordinary consciousness, without then taking any ideas or fantasies that come into one's mind as infallible messages from God.

  5. #5
    The main point is, one does not need an physical construct like the Labyrinth to walk and meditate in the manner as Christ taught. One only needs to spend time in prayer through the counsel of the Holy Spirit.

    We can be certain, if some physical tool, some ornament, jewel, scroll, or walking pattern was required to attained union with God, Jesus would have put a great deal of emphasis on it. However, as it is, the only tangible aspect of the spiritual is the partaking of the communion emblems or Mass in remembrance of Him. What many people a fail to grasp, when a person introduces an earthly object as a tool for divine worship, it is an attempt to consecrate that which is depreciately fallen, cursed, of the earth, imperfect to assist in the bridging of the perfect, divine, supernatural, ethrial. Like mixing oil and water, they simply are not cohesive.


    When Martin Luther posted the 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, he caused rioting and eventually the Protestant reformation due to his exegsis detailing the critical abuse of the indulgences. He also accurately condemned the Catholic church regarding their idolatry of the saints, relics and other physical methods and items that tied the spiritual realm to the physical. As if physical items are required for the divine experience, rather they often become idols in the hands of naive users dabbling in matters beyond their spiritual maturity to comprehend. Of course, the Edict of Worms excommunicated Luther as a criminal and heretic
    .

  6. #6
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    Necessity vs. Over-Emphasis

    >> The main point is, one does not need an antediluvian construct like the Labyrinth to walk and meditate in the manner as Christ taught.

    Correct.

    >> What many people absolutely fail to grasp, when a person introduces an earthly object as a tool for divine worship, it is an attempt to consecrate that which is depreciately fallen, cursed, of the earth, imperfect to assist in the bridging of the perfect, divine, supernatural, ethrial. Like mixing oil and water, they simply are not cohesive.

    Certainly if the tool is emphasized a bit, there's a question in my mind as to why it is so emphasized. Worshiping the mind is different from using the mind, worshiping a hammer is different from using a hammer, worshiping the Bible is different from using the Bible -- and turning towards God is different from all of these things.

    What is sufficient and necessary for a spiritual life shaped by Christ, is different than what is emphasized by human understanding at any given point in one's life.

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