A puzzle place.
I imagine that you have heard of labyrinths in Harry Potter,
or in Jim Henson's movie of the same name,
or the scary "Pan's Labyrinth"
Or even (Merlyn asks hopefully) in the Mythology stories of legend and maybe even at your local Zen place for meditation.
They are all, in essence, a MAZE.
These mazes are multicursal patterns or unicursal. The unicursal pattern is the oldest being even featured on minted coins as early as 430 B.C.
As far as Mythology goes (oooh, I love Mythology!) the first story I ever heard or read with a labyrinth in it was that of Theseus and the Minotaur in the Labyrinth. Theseus went into the labyrinth to slay the beast, the man eating Minotaur (1/2 man, 1/2 bull).
There had been a decree that every 7th year, 7 beautiful maidens and 7 handsome young men would be put into the labyrinth to sacrifice to the Minotaur. Theseus does end up using a ball of string to unravel from the entrance and to find his way out again after killing the beast monster.
In Harry Potter and in the movie "Labyrinth" (with David Bowie), and "Pan's Labyrinth, the labyrinth was also featured as a "deadly game" to the players. If they were to actually triumph in traversing the labyrinth and coming out alive in the end, they would succeed.
So it is with the Zen maze as well, although not deadly, but definately a soul searching journey.
Years ago, I participated in several labyrinths, the best one being a HUGE labyrinth that had been painted on duck cloth and traveled with monks around the states. It was visiting the United Methodist Church's vast Community Room.
There was quiet and meditative music played by two musicians who sat by a gong, they played sitar and dumbek. At the start of the journey we were to dedicate ourselves to following the path.
We were to enter the labyrinth with a personal quest.
At certain points we were to stop, remember our question/quest and by the time we had traversed the maze to the center, we had come to some point of thought. Whereupon, we were to pick up a piece of paper from the dish directly in the center of the labyrinth. There was a basket there with about 100 slips of paper in it, with a secret word written on each one. We were to close our eyes, bend down, pick up our choice of slip of paper, read it and keep it and travel back out of the maze meditating upon that word.
I thought I'd try it. My personal quest at that time (and most of the time for me the ever Mercurial Gemini, is "Show me the next direction to go in").
I started on my journey, thinking of my past as I wound my way into the center. I paused at the core and stooped and picked up one of the secret slips of paper. It only had one word on it.
The word was "MUSIC".
My heart leapt for joy! Of all the many pieces of paper there, this was MY WORD.
I wound my way out of the labyrinth walking on air!
The labyrinth is in essence our way to conquer our own "beast" within. In this context, we are each our own "Minotaur". There is a part of us, deep within, that is animal, uncontrollable, unreasonable, one that follows instinct and cannot be tamed. We strive to follow the complicated path of our life. When we come to the core of our own essence, we must face our beast, our failings, our strengths.
We must focus on what we need to celebrate, follow and focus on the path that is OUR OWN SELF.
The Minotaur is US. We are 1/2 man and 1/2 beast.
We must allow for both in our makeup.
We must decide which one to feed.
The labyrinth helps us dig down to find it.
Once found, we must deal with it. Kill the beast or be killed by the beast.
Once conquered we can wind our way back out of the labyrinth, following the trail that we've left for ourself, to sure freedom out of the complicated maze of our hearts, spirits and past.
The Labyrinth makes us asks the hard questions...much like Jareth the Goblin King asks in his song:
"I only ask things I'd ask any superstar,
What is it that you have got that got you where you are?"
Sometimes, in order to be "Role Models" (like in the fun movie of the same name :)
We just have to experience what we are.....
To know ourselves truly.
Labyrinths in the Finger Lakes area