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Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church
Serving A Different Master... Labyrinths

 

003white  Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church   > Literal Doctrines of Demons   >    Labyrinths

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The Labyrinth

Carol Brooks

  For thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they are filled with customs from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they strike hands with the children of foreigners. (Isaiah 2:6. Emphasis Added). The word translated East (qedem) denotes antiquity, or that which is of old, as well as the East. Barnes)

ON THIS PAGE

Introduction
Quislings in The Church

Labyrinths Vs. Mazes
The Universal Labyrinth
Metaphysical Origin Of The Labyrinth
Greek Mythology
The Gothic Cathedrals

Jean Houston and her ‘Mystery School’
From Chartres to San Francisco and Beyond

The Labyrinth Walk
Purpose of The Ancient Labyrinths
Purpose Of The Modern Labyrinths

Altered State Of Consciousness
Hara

Labyrinths A Connection with the Divine... For Everyone

Labyrinths in Modern Pagan Spirituality
(The Sibley Mazes)

The Hidden Origins of the Labyrinth

The Labyrinth and The goddess
The Goddess or Divine Mother
Women's Dream Quest
Chartres Cathedral and the Cult of the Black Madonna
Connections With the Druids?

Chartres Cathedral’s Zodiacal and Astrological Imagery
Mandalas

The Den of Vipers Called Grace Cathedral
William Swing and the United Religions Initiative (URI)
Alan Jones and his Reimagining Christianity
Bishop Marc Andrus and the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade
Lauren Artress and The Bible Believing Christian Church

Labyrinth-Walking … Compatible With Christian Faith?

 

Introduction:
As expressed so succinctly by Carl Teichrib..  The evangelical Christian community talks about "spiritual warfare" and "putting on the full amour of God," but are often found embracing that which they claim to counter. [1]

While the seekers outside the church are focused on raising their level of consciousness and attaining enlightenment and self-actualization through an assortments of spiritual practices, Christians today are trying to find God or enhance their experience of Jesus often by using exactly the same tools… contemplative prayer, meditation, labyrinths, yoga etc. While firmly denying any part in classical mysticism many are actually participating in time-honoured mystical practices.

In the last couple of decades an ancient and pagan practice has not only been revived, but has been given a completely fake label that says “Christianity”. Deceived by renegade leaders, a completely gullible and Biblically illiterate church has embraced with open arms every form of fake spirituality, totally ignoring God’s own command on the matter.
 

Quislings in The Church
As pastor Gary Gilley points out…

    “Labyrinths are rapidly becoming a recognised form of worship in many evangelical organisations and churches. They are being promoted by Youth for Christ, Youth Specialties, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, The Emergent Church Convention, NavPress, Rick Warren (by recommending NavPress’ pro-contemplative magazine Discipleship Journal and speaking at Youth Specialties conferences), Zondervan Publishing, National Pastors Convention, Leadership Magazine, Group Publishing and a host of others.

    At the 2004 National Pastors’ Convention, held in San Diego, the daily morning schedule included the following: ‘Opportunities to walk the labyrinth (from 7.00am-10:30pm); Contemplative morning prayer exercise (8:30am-9:15am); [and] Sustainable life forum: Stretching and Yoga (8:30am-9:15am)’. Speakers at this convention included Rick Warren, Howard Hendricks, Dan Kimball and Brian McLaren” .  [Labyrinths by Gary Gilley]

Dan Kimball and his wife actually walked a labyrinth at this convention, which left them “calmed and refreshed” their perspective “uniquely restored” . He goes on to say “After the convention we knew we couldn't keep this experience to ourselves. A few months later we featured a labyrinth as part of Graceland's annual art event at Santa Cruz Bible Church…  Meditative prayer like that we experienced in the labyrinth resonates with hearts of emerging generations. If we had the room, we would set up a permanent labyrinth to promote deeper prayer. Until then, however, Graceland will continue to incorporate experiential prayer and encourage our people to stop, quiet themselves, and pray”. [2]

A Campus Crusade PDF document for something they call The Journey says

    The Journey is an interactive prayer experience based on a feature in European medieval cathedrals…The basic premise is that you are on a pilgrimage with God to the center of a labyrinth and back out again. At each station, you encounter God concerning a different aspect of your life. [The Journey]

      (Incidentally the page used to say.. “The Journey is based upon a feature of many medieval cathedrals – one of the best remaining examples is found in Chartres Cathedral in northern France.”)

Youth for Christ has an On-line Labyrinth

Doug Pagitt, pastor of Solomon's Porch in Minneapolis and author of several books says

    “… walking a prayer labyrinth, going on pilgrimage, and making the sign of the cross have served to connect the physical body to the life of faith through the centuries”. [3].


Labyrinths Vs. Mazes:
Although the words labyrinth and maze are frequently confused in the English language, they are not the same thing..

Mazes can have more than one entrance, numerous choices of path and direction and cul-de-sacs. They are designed to pose some difficulty in finding ones way in, or out of them. The walls are usually high enough to block one from seeing the way out. Mazes are essentially a game and a test of skill.

Labyrinths: Unlike the maze the labyrinth, sometimes called a “prayer walk” is not designed to be difficult to navigate. It has only a single winding path which leads to the center and out again through a number of twists and turns, with no diverging paths or dead-ends along the way. A "circuit" describes the number of times the path circles around the center of the labyrinth. The Cretan or Classical 7-circuit labyrinth pattern is the oldest and most used of all labyrinth designs. It consists of a single path winding back and forth in a series of seven concentric rings, all the while leading to a center point.

    What is especially intriguing is the fact that the shape of the 7-circuit labyrinth is said to mirror the motion of the planet mercury. It certainly is true that since we can only observe Mercury's motion from a moving earth, roughly three times a year the planet Mercury appears to slow down, stop and then appears to be going backwards (retrograde) in its orbit for about three weeks at a time.
     

The Universal Labyrinth:
Labyrinths are found in cultures around the globe, dating back as much as 3,500 years, although the earliest labyrinths are often difficult to date accurately. The symbol has appeared in various forms and media (petroglyphs, classic-form, medieval-form, pavement, turf, and basketry) at some time throughout most parts of the world, from Native North and South America to Australia, Java, India, and Nepal.

The Romans: The labyrinth was a design commonly used for ancient Roman floor mosaics usually derived from the simple classical labyrinths. An image of a minotaur often appears in the centre of these mosaic labyrinths.

Egypt: During the 19th century, the remains of the Labyrinth were discovered some 11 1/2 miles from the pyramid of Hawara. This complex of buildings with galleries and courtyards was called a "labyrinth" by Herodotus.

The Walls of Jericho depicted in 14c Farhi Bible are laid out in a well-known labyrinth pattern. [4]

Scandinavia: Some ancient stone labyrinths have been found in Scandinavia, Lappland, Iceland and the former Soviet Union. These were made on grass or on flat areas of bare rock, their paths usually marked out with stones, most often in the simple classical form. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries some 500 or more non-ecclesiastical labyrinths were constructed in Scandinavia. “Ancient Scandinavian sailors believed the labyrinth had magical properties and when walked could control the weather and ensure a good catch”.

Spain: A collection of labyrinth  designs carved on rock outcrops along the coastline of Galicia in Northwest Spain and a panel in León some 200 km away seem to date back to c.2500-1800 BCE. [5].

Britain: The earliest known use of the classical labyrinth pattern in the British Isles is on the Hollywood Stone, an incised granite boulder from County Wicklow, Ireland, dating from c. 550 AD. One ancient turf maze, called Julian's Bower, still survives at Alkborough in North Lincolnshire. “the nearby Alkborough church has a copy of the maze inlaid into the porch floor, and this is used as a template for the periodic re-cutting of the turf”. [6]Labyrinth-Man-Maze

Native Americans: The Hopi Indians called the labyrinth the symbol for “mother earth” while..  “Labyrinth petroglyphs found throughout Arizona, New Mexico and the northern states of Mexico are difficult to date, but provide the earliest evidence for labyrinths in the Southwest. Today the labyrinth remains popular and is found as the familiar "Man in the Maze" motif on hand woven baskets, silverwork and pottery produced by the native peoples of Arizona, especially the Tohono O’odham (from the Sonoran Desert of the southeastern Arizona and northwest Mexico) and Navajo.” [7]
 

Metaphysical Origin Of The Labyrinth
“The primary historical focal point for the lore of the labyrinth goes back to Cretan and Greek tales of Queen Pasiphaë, her perverse sexual desire for a specific sacrificial bull, an abominable act of bestiality, and the birth of a strange hybrid offspring - the dreaded Minotaur, which lived in a labyrinth built to cage him”. [1]

Greek Mythology: Intriguing clues include century BCE coins from Knossos (on Crete) struck with simple seven-circuit labyrinth symbols, spiral labyrinth designs on coins and pottery, hundreds of bull-horns carved in stone and wall paintings of young men leaping over charging bulls have led many to conclude that the Minoan palace at Knossos, a vast interconnected complex of small corridors, staircases and private courts, that once consisted of perhaps 1,300 rooms spread over three acres of land is usually identified as the location of the Minotaur’s labyrinth.

The Minotaur was a man-eating monster with the head of a bull on the body of a man.  It was the offspring of Pasiphaë the wife of King Minos of Crete (a civilization that pre-dates the ancient Greeks) and a snow-white bull sent to King Minos by the god Poseidon. The Minotaur dwelt at the center of an elaborate maze-like construction designed specifically by the architect Daedalus and his son Icarus for the purpose of holding captive the immense creature. The labyrinth was so skillfully designed that no one could escape from the maze or the Minotaur and it was here, at the centre of the Labyrinth, that the Minotaur devoured unsuspecting humans.. Daedalus revealed the secret of the labyrinth only to Ariadne, daughter of Minos, and she aided her lover, the Athenian hero Theseus, to slay the monster and escape.

Although the story is myth, Carl Teichrib makes a very valid point…

    “The labyrinth containing this Minotaur was not the typical single-path labyrinth of today, but rather a complex maze containing halls and chambers. However, esoteric philosophers have long understood that the Minotaur maze directly corresponds to the ancient (and now modern) spiritually-connected labyrinth walk; the long soul journey with its many twists and turns, the ultimate arrival at the central convergence point, the struggle with the inner monster - and the final victory over the forces of darkness and ignorance (which can only happen when one is illumined at the center), and the repeated journey back to wholeness and the light of day. This esoteric significance of the Cretan story has never been lost on the initiates of the Mystery Schools.

    Don't forget, this Grecian/Cretan story was immersed in the pagan religious context of the day, that's the metaphysical origin of the labyrinth as we can trace it. Hence the story of Pasiphaë, with its labyrinth journey and inner battle, is of interest first and foremost to the world of occult lore: for the simple reason that this is the intended context. [1]


The Gothic Cathedrals
It wasn’t until the twelfth and thirteenth centuries that the medieval labyrinth designs came into their own with the construction of hugely ornate labyrinths in various cathedrals, several of which are a short distance from Paris… such as the octagonal one at the Cathedrals of Amiens and the unique path pattern labyrinth in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame at Reims. The  Duomo di Siena in Tuscany (central Italy) dates from about the same period. Apparently more than twenty of the eighty Gothic cathedrals housed labyrinths.

Chartres Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres): However the most famous of these labyrinths is the large eleven-circuit one (43 feet in diameter) embedded in the paving stones of the nave floor oflabyrinth-Chartres Chartres Cathedral (50 miles from Paris). However the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral had been long forgotten, covered with furniture for seating, and, as far as anyone knew, hadn’t been used in decades. In fact, until recently, the cathedral was better known for its stained-glass windows than for the labyrinth on its floor. So how did a labyrinth go from being an almost forgotten relic in an old Gothic Cathedral in France to being the prototype for countless thousands of labyrinths around the world.

Remember the above statement by Carl Techreib about how the esoteric significance of the Cretan story has never been lost on the initiates of the Mystery Schools. Well that is entirely true.
 

Jean Houston and her ‘Mystery School’
labyrinth-Houston
The labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral is not only referred to on Jean Houston’s Mystery School Site.. but a labyrinth  is also pictured in the graphic at the top of every page on the site. [8] Although this article is not about Jean Houston, the fact that she is probably the one who introduced the ‘mother’ of the modern labyrinth movement to the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth, and by extension to the rest of the country, warrants knowing a little more about her and where this widespread fascination with the labyrinth originated. In other words... is the root sound or rotten? What we dare NOT do is underestimate the connection between her influence on Lauren Artress and the subsequent wildfire like spread of labyrinths.

For starters Houston assisted First Lady Hillary Clinton in trying to contact the departed spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt several years ago. Secondly, according to her site, Houston is

    “the founder and principal teacher since 1982 of the Mystery School, a school of human development, a program of cross-cultural, mythic and spiritual studies, dedicated to teaching history, philosophy, the New Physics, psychology, anthropology, myth and the many dimensions of human potential” [9]

In her words

    “Mystery Schools exist to train people in recognizing and remembering the great mystery that dwells within each of us” [10]

Wikipedia’s page on Jean Houston starts by saying she has been a leading figure in the cross-cultural study of New Thought spirituality and ritual processes, then goes on speak of her involvement with renowned cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

While time does not permit a detailed study, one of the articles and two of her books advertised on her site drew my attention. The article in question is called Goddess Sekhmet and the Goddess Reemergence, but I was not going to pay $5.00 to read it online.

The first book is called A Passion for the Possible: a guide to realizing your true potential is “Heralded and championed by Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson”, which pretty much says it all. [11]. The second is truly infuriating. The book, entitled Godseed : The Journey of Christ and described thus on her site…

    Jean Houston revitalizes the story of Christ by presenting to readers the possibility of "being Christs." Dr. Houston draws from philosophy, mythology, Jungian psychology, mysticism, anthropology, new science, and just plain creativity to present the familiar gospel stories in a new light. Focusing on experiencing the Christ life, exercises are presented which can be done individually or with a group, including creative arts, movement and dance, ritual and ceremony, drama and high play. Readers will experience the story of the Christ happening right now in the heart. [12]

Obviously the root is rotten and spreads it’s canker far and wide.
 

From Chartres to San Francisco and Beyond
The Veriditas site says that Canon Dr. Lauren Artress, priest at the new-age-friendly Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco, who in 1991, while on a brief sabbatical, Grace-Artress

    “walked an informal taped labyrinth through the work of Jean Houston”. [13]

So, having been introduced to the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth at Jean Houston’s Mystery School, Artress lets the idea gestate for a few months, then… [Emphasis Added]

    “… was compelled to go to Chartres Cathedral, where she moved the chairs and walked the medieval labyrinth. This courageous act has led to the rediscovery of the labyrinth”. [14]

The rest, as the saying goes, is history. In 1992, Artress had a replica of the Chartres labyrinth installed in the front of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, and began promoting the labyrinth among spiritual seekers and ignorant churches around the U.S.A.

    “Lauren not only introduced the walking meditation back into the Christian tradition but also introduced the labyrinth back into Western culture. By December 1991, she had replicated the Medieval Eleven Circuit Labyrinth at Grace Cathedral beginning in canvas form. Due to the enormous response of people desiring to learn a walking meditation, the tapestry labyrinth was installed inside the Cathedral in 1994”. [14]

See Lauren Artress walking the Amiens labyrinth in September of 1996. In the middle photo she is to the front left, in the pink sweater. HERE
 

Veriditas
Lauren Artress is author of more than one book on labyrinths including .. Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool, and The Sacred Path Companion: A Guide to Walking the Labyrinth to Heal and Transform.

She is also the Founder and Creative Director of Veriditas.. dedicated to introducing people to the ‘healing, meditative powers’ of the labyrinth. In their words

    In 1995, Lauren created the non-profit Veriditas as a 501c3, with the initial vision of "peppering the planet with labyrinths". After successfully launching thousands of labyrinths in churches, hospitals, cathedrals, prisons, spas, community parks, hospices and other settings, a new mission for Veriditas emerged: To facilitate the transformation of the human spirit through offering the Labyrinth Experience. [14]

And she certainly has a good head start on of "peppering the planet with labyrinths".

While the numbers can not be pinned down, Veriditas has on their site a “World-Wide Labyrinth Locator” with a database that contains more than 3100 labyrinths in over 65 countries. [15] This search provides clues as to the popularity of the labyrinths. For  example a search in a 100 mile radius of Seattle showed 66 labyrinths, including 20 in churches of various denominations… Episcopalian, Methodist, Baptist and Lutheran.

According to the ‘Reverend’ Jill Geoffrion, an apparently avid supporter of labyrinths… [Emphasis Added]

    We are currently in a period of historic labyrinth revival. Churches, retreat centers and Christian camps are placing these prayer tools inside and outside. Christians all over the world are installing labyrinths in their yards and gardens. Many are using the labyrinths as a ministry tool, bringing portable versions to prisons, national denominational conferences and church group meetings. It is conservatively estimated that there are over 5,000 labyrinths in the United States alone. God is blessing the use of the labyrinth; many are being drawn closer to Jesus, experiencing healing and gaining spiritual clarity as they pray on its path. [16]


The Labyrinth Walk:
Labyrinth walks are often accompanied by candles, soothing music, flowers and/or fragrance. All the trappings to spiritualize the atmosphere, or as they would put it.. create a setting ‘conducive for reflection’.

While every one seems to be united on the fact that there is no right way, or preferred method to walk a labyrinth, some suggestions include …Taking time to transition from everyday life to the labyrinth experience, slowing your breathing and stilling your mind while opening yourself to possibilities. They suggest walking at a measured pace and spending time in the center standing, sitting or kneeling and taking since this part of the journey is about being present to your inmost self and to the power of the divine.

Why does some of this bear eerie similarities to Kinhin which, in Zen Buddhism, is the walking meditation that is practiced between long periods of the sitting meditation known as Zazen. Both these practices are connected with the experience of the labyrinth and will be further explored later in the article.

The web site of Williams College in Williamstown Massachusetts says

    Enjoy the sensation of traveling without any particular sense of destination; for once, let yourself be a "holy wanderer," enjoy the meandering path and let yourself feel aimless. [18]

Grace Cathedral, which now boasts two labyrinths.. an indoor and an outdoor one, says..  There are three stages of the walk [Emphasis Added]

    Purgation (Releasing) ~ A releasing, a letting go of the details of your life. This is the act of shedding thoughts and distractions. A time to open the heart and quiet the mind.

    Illumination (Receiving) ~ When you reach the center, stay there as long as you like. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive.

    Union (Returning) ~ As you leave, following the same path out of the center as you came in, you enter the third stage, which is joining God, your Higher Power, or the healing forces at work in the world. Each time you walk the labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work you feel your soul reaching for. [19]

Apparently size does not matter as long as “the integrity of the design” is present.

    “Labyrinths come in all sizes--from the forty-two-foot labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral to the twenty four inch one found in the wall outside La Lucca Cathedral in Lucca, Italy. At the Lucca labyrinth, one traces the pattern with one's finger in order to quiet the mind before entering the cathedral.”
    [19]

In fact there is quite a business in hand-held Labyrinths, touted as an “easy and accessible way of anchoring the magic of the labyrinth pattern into your personal space”. Even the hand held ones say

    “moving inward represents your process of letting-go; at the center you may find illumination; and as you return to the outside, you bring your new awareness to the outer world of form”. [20]


Purpose of The Ancient Labyrinths
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia newadvent.org..

    These labyrinths were supposed to have originated in a symbolical allusion to the Holy City, and certain prayers and devotions doubtless accompanied the perambulation of their intricate mazes. [21]

While speculation abounds, there is seemingly no firm evidence, that ancient or medieval Christians literally walked through labyrinths, at Chartres or elsewhere.

    “Some proponents believe that medieval Christians walked through labyrinths as a substitute for pilgrimages to the Holy Land. To support their theory, they point to the placement of labyrinths on cathedral floors as opposed to walls or ceilings. Labyrinths in medieval cathedrals and churches almost certainly had symbolic meaning, although documentation is scarce to nonexistent. One possibility is that the ancient Greek myth was Christianized, so that the Minotaur represented the devil, and Theseus represented the victorious Christ. Doreen Prydes, a professor of medieval history at the University of Notre Dame, says there is absolutely no evidence of labyrinth walking in the Middle Ages. She believes that Christians of that era saw the labyrinth as a symbol of redemption, not pilgrimage. [22]

Artress herself says “While there are no known records of anyone walking the labyrinth”, and that she knows “of no Christian writers of artists who directly refer to the labyrinth as a spiritual tool”. She then speculates… “the fact that it was so often pictured”  leads her to believe one of two thing… “that it was used as a matter of course in the fabric of daily living, or that it was sacred tool that no one was allowed to talk about.” [23]


Purpose Of The Modern Labyrinths
Supposedly, the spiraling inward motion of the labyrinth is a physical replication of a spiritual quest to seek within oneself that which enables external freedom.  However when all is said and done, and one digs through the mountain of verbiage to the heart of what the labyrinth is about, what emerges is no different from the stated aims of the many other mystical practices being promoted today… discovery of self and a connection with ‘the divine’… whatever that is.

From a past president of The Labyrinth Society [Emphasis Added]

    “The labyrinth is an archetype of transformation. Its transcendent nature knows no boundaries, crossing time and cultures with ease. The labyrinth serves as a bridge from the mundane to the divine. It serves us well." [24].

The web site for the Breemie Labyrinth in the UK gives an almost identical explanation [Emphasis Added]

    The labyrinth is an archetypal spiritual tool, found across many times and cultures. While a maze is a left-brain, rational puzzle, the labyrinth involves the right side of the brain, and helps us access our intuition, providing a portal to the Divine. [25]

While an excerpt from Lauren Artress’s book The Sand Labyrinth: Meditation at your Fingertips, published on the Grace Cathedral web site says [Emphasis Added]

    “No one knows who created any of the labyrinth forms, but we do know from experience that embedded within each design is a pattern that somehow quiets our deep inner being so we can hear our own wisdom and the wisdom attempting to reach us. Whether walked or traced in sand, the labyrinth pattern is a powerful tool for reflection, meditation, realignment, and a deeper knowledge of the Self”. [26]

She also said..

    "You walk to the center of the labyrinth and there at the center, you meet the Divine." [27]


Altered State Of Consciousness
And how is this portal to the divine and deeper knowledge of the Self accessed? We do not have to guess at the answer, which has been clearly laid out by many deeply involved with Labyrinths. The first clue comes right from the horse’s mouth… [Emphasis Added]

    Many labyrinths, including the seven- and eleven-circuit ones, are "non-linear," meaning that the path goes through the four quadrants in a non-sequential way. One enters in the first quadrant, moves through the second, the back to the first, then to the third, and back to the second. As you move through a non-linear labyrinth, you lose your sense of where you are in the pattern, and enter into a pleasurable state of timelessness. Some people find this type of surrender particularly relaxing and refreshing. [28]

This is further emphasized by the mother of the modern labyrinth movement… Lauren Artress. An excerpt from her book The Sand Labyrinth: Meditation at your Fingertips, published on the Grace Cathedral web site says

    “…they are designed to help us find our way. They have only one path—from the outer edge into the center and back our again. Through the act of trusting the path, of giving up conscious control of how things should go and being receptive to our inner state, we can be opened up to a whole new world. It seems that through the beautiful flow of their sacred patterns, labyrinths help us ground ourselves. [29]

Kathy Doore, who’s journeys to ancient sacred sites is a passion and a profession says.. [Emphasis Added]

    Labyrinths are time windows, portals, where time stands still. They are known to facilitate altered states of consciousness and have parallels with reincarnation, initiation, prosperity, and fertility rites…. Moving through a Labyrinth changes ordinary ways of perception connecting the inner and the outer, the right brain and the left brain, the involutional and the evolutional through a series of paths that represent the realms of the Gods and Goddesses. These realms are associated with planetary movement as a process that induces Union with the One. [30]

Included in her instructions on using a hand-held labyrinth is the following.. [Emphasis Added]

    As you enter the area of separation from the physical and unification with the divine you may sense a rarefied atmosphere, hear tonal frequencies, and notice energy sensations run through various parts of your body. Relax. You have successfully initiated a state of altered consciousness enabling access to various levels of shamanic journey. [30]

And how is this supposed to work? One explanation I read makes a whole lot of sense..

    When a person walks the labyrinth he meanders back and forth, turning 180 degrees each time he enters a different circuit. It is said that each time the person shifts his direction he also shifts his awareness from the left brain to the right brain, or vice versa. For this reason, labyrinth walking is accredited with inducing receptive states of consciousness, which also helps to balance a person’s chakras (the body’s psychic centres).

At this point I strongly urge you to read this about the Altered State of Consciousness.. Contemplating The Alternative


Hara:
Interestingly Lauren Artress also speaks of how

    "Insights in the labyrinth are not always received verbally. One can sense something on the kinetic level that defies words. One friend of mine frequently experiences an opening of the Hara, a stream of energy moving in her body that begins in the abdomen, in the center of the labyrinth. This experience helps her feel more grounded, more alive in her body. [31]

So what is Hara? Hara is the Japanese term for the center of gravity in the belly or the center point in between the solar plexus and the pelvic bone. In Kundalini the second or Sacral Chakra is synonomous with Hara.. In fact when the Kundalini is awakened (a very dangerous practice) the Hara or Solar plexus chakra is the second stage in the Kundalini flow. [32]

 Zazen (literally "seated meditation") is a meditative discipline practitioners perform to calm the body and the mind and experience insight into the nature of existence and thereby gain enlightenment (satori). In Zen meditation anchoring the mind in the Hara is crucial since the Hara is considered to be the person’s spiritual centre and therefore very powerful. [33]

Additionally, the Theosophical Glossary by H. P. Blavatsky defines Hara as “A title of the god Siva” (In Hinduism, Shiva is the destroyer). [34]

To sum up… the labyrinth relies on natural phenomenon and physical sensations to enhance the meditative state. The path to the center of the labyrinth is not simply a nice walkabout, but an initiation into the mystical. Nothing, but nothing, could be less compatible with Christianity although…
 

Labyrinths A Connection with the Divine... For Everyone
...advocates of the labyrinth within the Christian Church today like to portray labyrinth walking as a “rediscovery” of a lost form of Christian spirituality. But is this true?

Remember we mentioned the goal of walking the labyrinth being, in common with many other mystical practices being promoted today, the discovery of self and a connection with ‘the divine’? Well this connection with the divine is supposed to take place irrespective of what religion one belongs to and what one’s beliefs may happen to be. The labyrinth is a device designed to bring a person into a higher spiritual realm whether they are Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, New Agers, atheists or even so called Christians. [Emphasis Added]

    Regardless of our differences, the labyrinth is a path we can all walk together” [35]

In the words of Grace Cathedral… [Emphasis Added]

    The Labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, found in all religious traditions in various forms around the world. By walking a replica of the Chartres labyrinth, laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France around 1220, we are rediscovering a long-forgotten mystical tradition that is insisting to be reborn. [19]
     

Sufi Teachers
In one of her books, Artress speaks of a group of musicians called Musica Divina that came to play and sing at the labyrinth when it was opened to the public. Among them was a "revered Sufi teacher named Hayar Stadlinger" who walked the labyrinth at the age of ninety two. Artress goes on to say

    "Knowing that Hayat was special to many people I granted permission for her followers to videotape her when she walked the labyrinth amid the many people who came to the third Wednesday event".... When Hayat died a friend wrote

      "...I was comforted seeing my darling Hayat walking that timeless symbol-the Labyrinth-the returning path to the Beloved" [36]

In the above quote a Sufi teacher is portrayed as walking a “returning path to the Beloved”. In one short sentence the entire Gospel message was been slung out of the proverbial window.

And remember ‘The Rev.’ Jill Kimberly Hartwell Geoffrion, whom we quoted earlier talking about how “Christians all over the world are installing labyrinths in their yards and gardens” and “using the labyrinths as a ministry tool, bringing portable versions to prisons, national denominational conferences and church group meetings…”? Well, the ‘Reverend’ includes on her site...

     “Prayers from Varying Traditions To Use At A Labyrinth” including Hindu, Sanskrit, Sufi, Egyptian and American Secular. [37]

The Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Springfield, Illinois pretty much sums it up..

    “A labyrinth is similar in terms of function to a rosary, the stations of the cross, the tao-te-ching and Buddhist meditation” and “As with those other traditions' spiritual devices, intentionality is crucial… Different people will choose different names to describe the experience.  Don't let that distract you.  Names are not as important as the experience itself.” [] 


Parallels With Contemplative Prayer
The situation is exactly the same as the one with so called Contemplative Prayer.. is widely accepted as Christian. But Eastern religions such Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism and Occult/New Age devotees have long practiced an almost identical form of ‘prayer’. Since what is considered sacred varies from group to group, the experience is therefore interpreted according to the beliefs and practices of the practitioner.

As Pastor Gary Gilley says in his review of Mysticism, an Evangelical Option?.. “The problem (or at least one of several problems) is that every mystic describes his experience in line with his belief system. Hindus believe they have union with the Hindu deities, the American Indian thinks he has contacted the Great Spirit, and the Christian mystic believes he is receiving revelation from God. Of course they cannot all be correct”. The terminology also varies.. Buddhist call this state Nirvana or Satori... New Age people call it at-one-ness, etc... Christian and Muslim mystics perceive they have experienced some kind of ecstatic union with God or encounters with saints or angels.

To say it is the Holy Spirit is just so much tosh, since there is not one, not two, but seven common themes of mysticism between Roman Catholic, Protestant, Hindu and American agnostic mystical experiences. [Read Contemplating The Alternative].

What should tell us a great deal is the fact the labyrinths are still used in pagan spirituality..


Labyrinths in Modern Pagan Spirituality

The Sibley Mazes
A druid site I recently ran across talked about the visit the author made to [All Emphasis Added]Labyrinths Sibley

    “… the mysterious complex of mazes located inside the remains of a ten million year old volcano in the 660 acre Robert Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve in Oakland, California”.

She adds that she

    “meditatively through the mazes as I reviewed my three years of study with OBOD. To me, they resonate with the magic of Druidism”. (OBOD: Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids)

See Footnote on The Druids

One of the mazes was built in 1989 by Helena Mazzariello, a local Montclair psychic and sculptor, but no one knows for sure who constructed the other mazes or even when they first appeared

    “they have been visited regularly since the 1980's. There are at least five of them, although mysterious mazes have been known to appear and disappear in the hidden hollows and crevices of the hilly grass covered terrain. Reports of people dressed strangely chanting under the full moonlight have also been reported. Local residents claim apprehensively that they were built by "witches and warlocks." … One of the mazes was built in 1989 by Helena Mazzariello, a local Montclair psychic and sculptor. She does not know who built the others.

    Whoever built them, the mazes are a favorite gathering place for many groups of people local walkers and hikers, tourists, dog-walkers, horse riders, bicyclers, curiosity seekers, miracle seekers, geologists, students, families, religious groups, New Age and spiritual groups, Pagans, Druids and Witches. To many people the mazes are a spiritual, mystical magnet that draws them back again and again. Travelers fall silent as they walk between the stones, and no one dares to cross over the stone lines of the path. Some have claimed that the labyrinthine walk rids them of chronic pain, depression, and migraines. Nobody knows for sure who tends the mazes, but the debris is cleared away and the rocky paths are maintained. Offerings by seekers are left in the central altar space of the mazes, and periodically removed”.

And goes on to say

    “I have visited the mazes alone and with friends for years. Those who are sensitive can feel the power, the force field, energy, or chi emanating from the dormant volcanic area, and focused within the mazes themselves. Wherever there is seismic activity, the earth forces are strong. These forces were sculpted into an ancient pattern by anonymous labyrinthine architects, who understood the local ley lines and placed these earthworks according to the earth's own internal energy pattern. The results are astonishing, disorienting and sometimes even disturbing”…

    … The extraordinary thing about the mazes is that they exist on many levels and are aligned with the spirit of all religions, so that every seeker finds a resonance with her or his own spiritual tradition in this holy place. The mazes whisper to us in our own language and frame of reference so that they validate the sacred path of everyone who comes here. People of all faiths share this hallowed site in love, understanding, and respect”. [39]

However the problem with labyrinths are far from done…


The Hidden Origins of the Labyrinth
Many feel there is a common origin of the Labyrinth because they are found in many countries and the major religious traditions in the world: India, France, Egypt, Scandinavia, Crete, Sumeria, America, the British Isles, and Italy. This is undoubtedly true and, whether she knows it or not, Lauren Artress was far closer to the mark than she ever dreamed when she made the following statement. [Emphasis Added]

    "My passion for the labyrinth has never let up! I think this is because I get so much from it. I also can teach everything I want to teach through the labyrinth: meditation, finding our soul assignments, unleashing our creativity, spiritual practice, psycho-spiritual healing; you name it! .... It [the labyrinth] has the exact cosmic rhythms embedded within it. I sense that this design was created by great masters of Spirit, who knew the pathway to integrating mind, body and spirit" (Interview with Arts and Healing Network, September 2003).

And who would these great masters of Spirit be? Beings that are more than happy to point a gullible world and an even more credulous Church in every direction but the right one..

For more information See
Alice Bailey and The Lucis Trust   Benjamin Creme and The Maitreya The Global Alliance:

 

The Goddess or Divine Mother
In every culture there are ideas that promise spirituality to the seeker, sometimes couched as finding the god or goddess within. And Artress faithfully follows the New Age pattern... She describes the labyrinth as a

    “.. large, complex spiral circle which is an ancient symbol for the Divine Mother, the God within, the Goddess, the Holy in all creation. ....For many the feminine aspect of the Divine has been painfully absent from our lives, our spirituality and our Western culture. The Divine Feminine is often the missing piece for which both men and woman are searching. [40]

Jean Houston claims that

     "As we encounter the archetypal world within us, a partnership is formed whereby we grow as do the gods and goddesses within us."

Women's Dream Quest
Lauren Artress’s Veriditas site advertises what they call Women's Dream Quest 2010 scheduled for October 29th and 30th.  Excerpts from the itinerary say

    “We gather as a group -- usually about 45 women. We learn several beautiful chants that we will use throughout the experience. We spend time greeting each other and preparing to enter the sacred space of the Quest. We then move to the Labyrinth and do a ceremony with song, movement and guided meditation that sets the tone and creates a safe and expansive environment for each woman to have her "dream" as well as a warm and nurturing environment for us all to experience a community of heart… After an hour of small group interaction, it is time for walking the Labyrinth, receiving healing, meditating, praying, journaling, singing, creating art or dolls, or even going to sleep… In the morning, the women are awakened with a song, and spend the first morning hour in meditation, body prayer, (movement, Yoga stretches etc.), or journaling. [41]

However it is the very top of the page that says “Click here to Meet the Goddesses We Will Encounter on the Quest!”, which is the eye opener… The link leads to a page [42] featuring a revolving circle of pictures of different Goddesses, which include… (Clicking on the image of each goddess bring up a short description, some of which has been quoted below).

    Quan Yin the Buddhist goddess of compassion in Japanese Buddhism. Guadalupe the manifestation of Mary in the Americas, who appeared in 1572 in Mexico and bridges the gap between Catholicism and paganism.
    Green Tara the earthly female Buddha in the Tibetan tradition.
    Brigid the Celtic Goddess of smithcraft, poetry and healing. Her archetypal quality is one of a shapeshifting trickster. She was Christianized as St Bridgid.
    Innana the Sumerian goddess of Ancient times.
    Spider Woman Mother of all creation to many south western Native American cultures.
    Demeter the Greek Mother goddess of fertility and the harvest
    Isis the ancient Egyptian goddess of motherhood and fertility
    Pachamama translated Mother Universe is revered by the indigenous people of the Andes.
    Gaia the Greek goddess of the whole world
    Durga a powerful Hindu goddess
    Shekhinah the indwelling presence of God in the Jewish tradition… “She comes on the Sabbath to infuse the world with holiness”.
    Mother Mary (of course)

Please Note: Just because the word Shekinah is a grammatically feminine word in the Hebrew language does in no way mean that it is a Divine Feminine or any other ridiculous concept. In fact the word Shekinah does not even appear in the Bible, but was coined by the Rabbis from a Hebrew verb that means literally to settle, inhabit, or dwell. It signified that it was a divine visitation or dwelling of God on this earth ), especially in the Temple in Jerusalem. In other words Shekhinah simply means "the presence of God. It is grammatically feminine, because humans made it so.

    Exodus 40:35, "Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting, for the cloud rested [shakhan] upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle."

However it also has to be remembered that the Shekinah, or presence of God, left the Temple and city of Jerusalem in the days of Ezekiel and will not be back for yet a while.. although not too long.

Lauren Artress and, by extension, Grace Cathedral takes you on a Dream Quest which involves encountering pagan goddesses. So did this idea originate in the dark recesses of Lauren Artress’s mind, or can we look further back in history for clues to this the whole goddess abomination.

[Reverence for the goddess is becoming increasingly prevalent in our day. See Section On Goddess Worship]

While it is certain that the “Great Masters” spoken of by Artress found a willing participant when they sent her to Chartres, it is equally certain that the ground work has been laid many centuries before she was ever dreamed of...


Chartres Cathedral and the Cult of the Black Madonna
Chartres Cathedral is known as the Virgin Mary’s Seat on Earth.. Why?

    According to tradition, Chartres Cathedral has housed the tunic of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the labyrinth-Black-MadonnaSancta Camisia, since 876. The relic was said to have been given to the cathedral by Charlemagne, who received it as a gift during a trip to Jerusalem. Because of this relic, Chartres has been a very important Marian pilgrimage center and the faithful still come from the world over to honor it.

    on the night of June 10, 1194, when lightning ignited a great fire that destroyed all but the west towers, the façade and the crypt.

    The people despaired when it seemed that the Sancta Camisia had also perished in the fire. But three days later it was found unharmed in the treasury, which the bishop proclaimed was a sign from Mary herself that another, even more magnificent, cathedral should be built in Chartres [43]

And certainly the focus of the Cathedral is Mary, or more accurately the Black Madonna. [All Emphasis Added]

    When you step into the 12th century Chartres Cathedral, directly in front of you is the main altar with a white marble sculpture of Mary being assumed into heaven by Bernini. Off to the side of the main altar there is a little side space with pews and people kneeling and praying. Banks of red votive candles are burning and people come and go in and out of this little prayer space most of the hours of the day.

    There, on a pillar about six feet high stands one of the Black or Dark Madonnas at Chartres enveloped in garments encrusted with gold embroidery. Directly below sits the Madonna “Sous Terre,” Under the Earth, in the crypt. This wooden statue of the Madonna and Child is also spoken of as a Dark or Black Madonna. How accurate this is remains a matter of debate. Precision and dogma aside, this is the Madonna that accomplishes miracles and healing, hence the many devotees who come to her site from all over the world. The draw to Chartres is not only the extraordinary library of biblical stories in stained glass and the Rose Window, the eleven circuit labyrinth that’s being copied and used world wide, but also these Black or Dark Madonnas.  [44]

(Note: The graphic at the top of the page shows the white statue of Mary at the far end of the aisle, beyond the labyrinth)

In an article entitled The Black Madonna: Primordial Ancestress by Deborah Rose (who researched the shrines to the Black Madonnas) says she [Emphasis Added]

    “…kept bumping into black and brown madonnas in the crypts and altars or very old churches. Inevitably, they were surrounded by many lit candles, more than around the statues of the white Mary or Jesus. I noted this phenomenon first at Chartres. While the tourists were wandering around admiring the beauty of the stained glass windows, dozens of other people were focused on a statue of a very black mother holding a very black child. I watched as people lit candles and left notes and kissed the pillar upon which she stood. It appeared to me that the spiritual pulse of the whole great cathedral was centered on this statue of a black mother.” [45]

[Read another excerpt from this article FootNote II]

And from another visitor to Chartres (misspelling in original)

    We visited Chartres cathedral on Assumption Day. Before the ceremony a Black Madonna was carried in and reverantly set upon a throne. The parishners each visited the Madonna with either a touch or a prayer [46]

Certainly Lauren Artress knows the appeal of the Black Madonna.. Her Veriditas site advertises what they call “contemplative pilgrimage retreat experience in order to deeply listen to that which is calling.” This pilgrimage includes a

    “private group tour of the 11th Century church including the largest crypt in the world, where you will meet a black Madonna called Sous Terre, our Lady under the earth...” [47]
     

Connections With the Druids?
There are those that believe the mother and child depicted by the Black Madonna are descended from the image of the Virgin forever giving birth, worshipped by ancient Druids. That the Druids held sway in the area of Chartes is of little doubt…

    …the very  name Chartres comes from Carnutes, a powerful Celtic people that lived in the heart of independent Gaul. In fact the territory of the Carnutes had the reputation among Roman observers of being the political and religious center of the Gaulish nations. [48].

    Julius Cesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War (De Bello Gallico) mentions “ The Druids of Gaul assembled at a fixed period of the year at a consecrated place in the territories of the Carnutes (now identified as Chartres) which was reckoned the central point of Gaul.” [49]

Author Jean Markale, in his book Cathedral of the Black Madonna, does not believe it to be a coincidence that Chartres where all the druids in Gaul gathered once a year, now houses the magnificent Chartres Cathedral dedicated both to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and to one of the most venerated Black Madonnas in Europe: Our Lady of the Pillar. He makes the case that this site was a clearing where druids worshiped a Virgo Paritura: a virgin about to give birth and the appeal of the Black Madonna harks back to the ancient widespread worship of Mother Goddesses such as Cybele and Isis.

Which is as it may be. Perhaps the last word should go to Philip Coppens who ends his article .. Chartres: the Virgin Mary’s Seat on Earth with the words… [Emphasis Added]

    Like modern Christians are willing to rewrite the Bible and carve out a larger role for Mary Magdalene, in the “age of the cathedrals”, the choice was made to do the same to the Virgin. Since the 11th century, Christianity has gone feminine, going as far as claiming that contact with God is possible only through the Virgin – the feminine aspect. That is similar to the Schekinah, the “female principle” that according to Jewish philosophers needs to be reunited with God. Perhaps it is therefore unsurprising to see that Jewish philosophers came to Chartres in the 11th century, creating a school, resulting in a new flowering of classical knowledge, based on Plato. Chartres soon became one of most important schools in Europe, a position it maintained for more than two centuries.

    And it may be the final reason why Chartres became so all-important: before, it had been a cathedral like several others. Now it had a school of learned men, who could push building technology into new and exciting new directions. With a renewed emphasis on the Virgin, Chartres’ pagan status as a site of Goddess worship, its Black Madonna and the Virgin’s Veil singled it out for a specific devotion. Chartres became the Virgin’s throne upon Earth, an earthly palace for the Queen of Heaven.” [50]
    Labyrinth-Chartres-Virgo

Chartres Cathedral’s Zodiacal and Astrological Imagery
The dim, vaulted interior of Chartres have 167 stained glass windows, most of which depict a Biblical or saint’s story; but one window features all 12 Zodiac Signs, along with the 12 labors for each Sign. The picture on the right, depicting Virgo, is a small square in the tall window.
 

Mandalas:

    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.’ [51]


The Den of Vipers Called Grace Cathedral
If we are going to trace the roots of the labyrinth, it is critical to talk a little about the beliefs of the people heading the organization that pioneered the labyrinth movement in the US.

I originally thought that Grace Cathedral reminded me of a hornets nest… chock a block full of nasty little buzzing creatures that you need to stay well away from, or suffer the consequences. However on further thought it more resembles a den of vipers… When bitten by one of these venomous snake, the victim's fate is very unpredictable and left untreated they are quite likely to die.

Remember that in the 1990's William Swing was Bishop of Grace Cathedral, and Alan Jones has been the Dean of Grace since 1985.

And how does this matter?
 

Grace-SwingWilliam Swing and the United Religions Initiative (URI): During the 1995 United Nations 50th Anniversary, Swing proclaimed that Grace would work towards the building of a global interfaith network. After an intense amount of travel and lobbying, Swing succeeded in forming the United Religions Initiative (URI)- one of the world's leading UN affiliated inter-religious partnerships. Today, the URI is a global organization is designed to bring all religions together to dialogue and seek common ground. You’re familiar with the old saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Thanks to Bishop William Swing  of the California Diocese of the Episcopal Church, that road is not only paved, but it’s being widened, and the lines are painted. [See The United Religions Initiative]

Alan Jones and Reimagining Christianity:
Here are two quotes fro his book Reimagining Christianity:Grace-Jones Reconnect Your Spirit without Disconnecting Your Mind, which just about says everything there is to say about his brand of Christianity.

    The Church's fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be reimagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it." (Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity p. 132)

"The image of the child Jesus sitting on the Buddha's lap appeals to me and captures the spirit of this book. It is an image of the Kingdom. "The Kingdom" is a sort of shorthand signifying an inclusive community of faith, love and justice." (Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity p. 12) [See More On Alan Jones

Incidentally Brian McLaren has endorsed Reimagining Christianity, saying (on the back cover)…

    “… Alan Jones is a pioneer in reimaging Christian faith that emerges from authentic spirituality. His work stimulates and encourages me deeply”

Bishop Marc Andrus and the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade: Grace Cathedral is currently presided Grace-Andrusover by Bishop Marc Andrus, who recently rode in the infamous 2007 San Francisco Gay Pride Parade along with "Nigeria's premier gay activist" Davis Mac-Illaya. The parade featured generous amounts of nudity and displays of gay sexual depravity. Oasis/California (the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of California) was so proud of this first participation in the parade by an Episcopal bishop that they created t-shirts titled "Marching with Bishop Marc" and are selling them at CafePress. [Read Article at http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/6915]

See Section on Homosexuality
 

Lauren Artress and The Bible Believing Christian Church
Lauren Artess, Canon for Special Ministries at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, is credited with starting the movement that has introduced the labyrinth to the modern world, yet..

Her contempt for fundamental Christians is obvious in one of her books where she claims their fear of the future “breeds small-mindedness and mean-spiritedness”. Then, going even further, says the “shadow of the human spirit that led to Hitler and World War II stalks us once again”.

    “The spiritual hunger that is present in the Western world is calling forth millions of people. They are seeking answers through a variety of paths ranging from fundamentalism to various New Age Spiritualities. Religious institutions of all faiths are baffled at how to respond. The branch of the Christian church that is not bound to a liturgical tradition and believes in the sole authority of Scripture seems to be the first group to respond to our chaotic times through fundamentalism. As fear for our individual as well as collective future increases, this flight into a literal interpretation of the Bible is experiencing a dramatic revival. This fear breeds small-mindedness and mean-spiritedness. The tyranny of the letter of the law, reflected in the Religious Right, is overshadowing the spirit of the Divine... The shadow of the human spirit that led to Hitler and World War II stalks us once again.”

I guess, inspite of being whatever the heck she is in a church that laughingly calls itself Christian, Lauren Artress knows absolutely NOTHING about the Christian hope. Of all people alive on this planet, Christians are probably the ONLY ones who are not at all fearful for their future. They know exactly what is going to happen, to this planet, to all evil does and lastly to themselves. They KNOW there is absolutely nothing for them to be afraid of. [See The Great Christian Hope Of Glorification and The Wrath of God]

But hear what else she has to say…

    The open-minded Christian church, with which I identify, unknowing abandoned its teaching on how to nourish and nurture the soul. The soul, that deep, hidden, knowing sense if malnourished. We mistakenly thought the intellect was the avenue to experiencing the Sacred, to nourishing the soul. We discounted the imagination and our other faculties of knowing mystery.

Nourishing the Soul? I plead guilty to knowing very little about this.. my job is to save the soul from eternal damnation.. [See Salvation]

    Most of us are aware of the severe limitations that rationalism has imposed on the human spirit and the discovery of the Sacred. This has left churches needing to rethink their approach, their language and the distance and boredom that rote liturgy can propagate...[17]

Note here how she has discounted rationality. In other words... don’t think, just feel. This stupidity is called Spirituality.. Check your brains in at the door and give yourself over to whatever without ever questioning it.. That, I am afraid, is the attitude of a moron.  Luckily Christianity asks you to give up neither rationality (See Faith and Facts) nor the blessing, peace and joy the Holy Spirit brings. But then again that takes being Born Again, something Artress certainly is not.

As Grace Cathedral reminded us, the mystical labyrinth belongs to "all religions traditions". It is quite simply just one more tool, one piece of ‘common ground’ in the effort to advance global religious unity.

How can any Christian trust anything that comes out of Grace Cathedral?
 

Labyrinth-Walking … Compatible With Christian Faith?
The question has to be now asked whether the practice of labyrinth-walking is compatible with the Christian faith? The Rev. Jill Geoffrion proclaimed that

     "God is blessing the use of the labyrinth; many are being drawn closer to Jesus, experiencing healing and gaining spiritual clarity as they pray on its path." [16]

For those Christians who have not done any homework at all, and who fail to distinguish between Catholic tradition and Biblical Christianity, the answer may well be in the affirmative. The fact that the labyrinth appears as a metaphor for Christian salvation in late medieval and renaissance Christian literature coupled with the fact that countless churches throughout this country have built labyrinths on their premises… All of which is rounded off by the endorsement of countless ‘Christian’ leaders does tends to suggest that there is some legitimacy for labyrinths in the Christian tradition.  

Unfortunately the mere appearance of something within a so called Christian church does not guarantee that it is automatically compatible with Biblical Christianity. This certainly holds true for the Catholic church which has deviated from Biblical Christianity in countless ways. [See Section on Catholicism]

In any case the labyrinth did not originate with the Gothic Cathedrals of the Catholic church, but existed as far back as 3500 years ago in cultures as diverse as the Romans, Cretes, Egyptians, Gauls, And American Indians, and in countries as diverse as India, France, Egypt, Scandinavia, Crete, Sumeria, America, the British Isles, and Italy.

How and why the labyrinth would up in the Cathedrals, especially the one at Chartres, is perhaps a question that no one is able to answer satisfactorily. And whether or not the Cathedral was built on an ancient Druid sacred site is not the point. The point is that the Catholic church, as they did with so many other things, used, or ‘borrowed’, the symbol of the labyrinth from pagan cultures, although, in the case of labyrinths, no one is entirely certain why.

The question is… How and why should God bless something that has its origins in esoteric doctrine and ancient pagan mythology? As shown above, the labyrinth has never lost its occult meaning and is still being used as an instrument of pagan ‘spirituality’. When did the Bible stop being enough? Why can’t Christians get it through their heads God has already outlined all that they need… in Jesus Christ.

While the majority of Christians would claim that their walk is completely focused on Jesus Christ, it DOES NOT rule out the fact that the labyrinth is an inter-religious and deeply mystical tool, and that it promotes an altered state of consciousness which is exceedingly dangerous for one who names the name of Christ. When all the layers are stripped away and we remove the ‘Christian’ labels we have stuck to it, the labyrinth is nothing but pagan spirituality.

Labyrinths came from a Cathedral where much of the worship is focused on the Black Madonna, and is leading many back to goddess worship. In essence I believe that the labyrinth is nothing but a tool of the recent resurgence of said goddess worship,  and the leaders who have told us that labyrinths are Christian are little but renegades, who will one day have to answer  for every soul they led astray.

We are in the midst of the Great Falling Away, which  has been so ill recognized simply because it has not adhered to what most people’s  perception of what a ‘Falling Away’ should look like. Most people probably expected humanity to become less religious and more materialistic... less spiritual and more worldly. While it is true that a large percentage of humanity has indeed become more carnal, a staggering number of people have actually become more spiritual, seeking out the divine in every possible nook and cranny, including within themselves. [See The Signs Of The Times]

I found one sentence on the web site of the Southminster-Steinhauer United Church (“An Affirming Congregation within the United Church of Canada”) which would be hysterically funny if it wasn’t so very tragic.  It reads..

    “Nearly all find it (the labyrinth) a powerful tool for discernment, allowing them to be more alert to what God might be trying to say.” [52]

God’s instructions are already crystal clear… it is time to sit up and pay attention.  [All Emphasis Added]

    "These are the statutes and the judgments which you shall carefully observe in the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess as long as you live on the earth. "You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. "You shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods and obliterate their name from that place. [Deuteronomy 12: 1-3]

    "Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst. But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim. [Exodus 34: 12-13]

    "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?..."  [2 Corinthians 6:14-16]

     

Footnote I
The Druids: A Druid was a member of the priestly and learned class active in Gaul, and perhaps in Celtic culture more generally, during the final centuries BCE. Rites and sacrifices were carried out by the Druids, who fulfilled a variety of roles in Celtic religion, as priests and religious officiants, but also as judges, sacrificers, teachers, and lore-keepers. Druids organized and ran the religious ceremonies, and they memorized and taught the calendar. They were suppressed by the Roman government from the 1st century CE and disappeared from the written record by the 2nd century. Most of what is known about them comes from the Roman writers who regularly discuss the practice of human sacrifice. Gruesome reports of druidic practices appear in Latin histories and poetry, including Lucan, Julius Caesar, Suetonius and Cicero. Human sacrifice was the reason why druidism, unlike other national religions within the empire, was outlawed under Tiberius. [PLACE IN TEXT]
 

Footnote II
Excerpt from The Black Madonna: Primordial Ancestress
by Deborah Rose [All Emphasis Added]

    From a book called The Cult of the Black Virgin, I learned there are two hundred or more active shrines to the black madonna in France. Most of them date back to the 11th and 12th century, some even earlier. They are all housed within Catholic churches and according to the author Ean Begg, the Church denies the significance of their darkness saying it is due to the soot of candle smoke over many years. His research, corroborated by a number of other books I have since read, reveals earlier pre-Christian goddess worship at almost all of the sites where black madonnas now exist.

    Some Examples

    In the great cathedral of Chartres, the black madonna statue I described above dates to the thirteenth century. A second madonna statue exists in the underground crypt next to an ancient and sacred well. The story is told that the Christian missionaries first coming to the area of Chartres found the indigenous peoples worshipping a statue of a woman giving birth. The missionaries concluded this was a "pre-figuration" of the Virgin Mary and that the people were already Christians — they just didn't know it. A sanctuary was built around the original mother statue. She continued as the center piece of each succeeding church including the present cathedral built in the 1100's. During the French revolution the statue was deliberately destroyed and in 1856 a dark wooden sculpture was created to replace it.

    Further south in the medieval town of Le Puy there is a high and holy hill that served as a pre-Christian sacred sight.  The worship of the Virgin Mary occurred here at a very early date and it is said to be descended from a cult devoted to the Celtic Mother Goddess Cerridwen. A cathedral was built upon the holy hill and on the main altar there is a very black madonna and child statue. In the Middle Ages five popes and fifteen kings came to see her as did Joan of Arc's mother, walking all the way from the west of France to pray for her daughter's victory.

    The original statue was burned by the French revolutionaries. In the place where the statue was destroyed, a local farmer found an oval red stone inscribed with hieroglyphs and an image of a woman standing in a boat wearing a headdress of a crescent moon. This is an ancient symbol of Isis and curiously, before the Christian era the worship of Isis was the most widespread religion in the Roman Empire extending from Spain to Asia Minor, from North Africa to Germany. Originally from Egypt, Isis was associated with the fertility of the black soil irrigated by the flooding of the river Nile. Her priests wore black and burned incense (as do Roman Catholic priests) and the most sacred of her images were made from black basalt.

    Cybele was another great Mother Goddess whose cult was spread throughout the Roman Empire. From Asia Minor she was brought to Rome in the form of a black stone and by the third century BC, she had become the main deity of Lyons. Nearby in the city of Clermont-Fermont she was associated with a holy well. The well is now part of the crypt of a church called Notre Dame du Port. Next to the well is . . . a very black madonna sitting in a marble throne.

    There are many goddesses associated with the black madonna shrines in France but the most common ones are Isis, Cybele and another dark skinned divinity named Artemis of Ephesus. Different from the huntress Artemis so popular in Greek mythology, the Artemis of Ephesus is portrayed with many breasts and in her native Ephesus (Turkey), her statue was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. [45] [PLACE IN TEXT]



End Notes
All URLs were accessed as of mid September 2009

[1] The Labyrinth Journey: Walking the Path to Fulfillment? By Carl Teichrib”. http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/05/teichrib/labyrinth.htm

[2] http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2001/fall/4.38.html

[3] Doug Pagitt. BodyPrayer: The Posture of Intimacy with God. Page 4

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_Jericho_
     in_14c_Farhi_Bible_by_Elisha_ben_Avraham_Crescas.jpg

[5] http://www.labyrinthos.net/firstlabs.html

[6] http://www.stone-circles.org.uk/stone/juliansbower.htm

[7] Native American Labyrinths. http://www.labyrinthos.net/photo_library05.html

[8] http://www.jeanhouston.org/mysteryschool-new.cfm

[9] http://www.jeanhouston.org/meetjean.cfm

[10] http://www.jeanhouston.org/mysteryschool-new.cfm

[11] http://store.jeanhouston.org/merchant2/merchant.mvc?
Screen=PROD&Store_Code=JH01&Product_Code=HCBpp1&Category_Code=0001

[12] http://store.jeanhouston.org/merchant2/merchant.mvc?
Screen=PROD&Store_Code=JH01&Product_Code=HCBg1&Category_Code=0001

[13] http://www.veriditas.org/SponsorWorkshop/presenterstaff.shtml

[14] http://www.veriditas.org/about/staff.shtml

[15] http://labyrinthlocator.com/

[16] Christian Uses of Labyrinths The Rev. Jill K H Geoffrion, Ph.D., http://www.jillgeoffrion.com/christuses.html

[17] Lauren Artress. Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth. Pages 7-9

[18] http://www.williams.edu/chaplain/labyrinthhowto.php

[19] http://www.gracecathedral.org/community/labyrinths/

[20] http://www.dailyom.com/cgi-bin/display/product.cgi?pid=683

[21] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08728b.htm

[22] Maze Craze. Labyrinths Latest Fad for Spiritual Seekers. by Mark Tooley

[23] Lauren Artress. Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth. Pages 54-55

[24] Kimberly Lowelle Saward, Ph.D., Past-President, The Labyrinth Society. Why are they walking in circles on the Ellipse? http://www.labyrinthsociety.org/media-info-pr

[25] http://www.sacredway.co.uk/Breemie%20main/mhaydenlabs.htm

[26] Excerpt from The Sand Labyrinth: Meditation at your Fingertips. http://www.gracecathedral.org/community/index.php?fn=excerpt_lauren_artress.shtml

[27] Lauren Artress, "Q and A with Lauren," Veriditas, Vol. 1, no. 2, Summer 1996, p. 18

[28] http://www.gracecathedral.org/enrichment/excerpts/exc_20010328.shtml

[29] Excerpt from The Sand Labyrinth: Meditation at your Fingertips. http://www.gracecathedral.org/community/index.php?fn=excerpt_lauren_artress.shtml

[30] http://www.labyrinthina.com/path.htm

[31] Lauren Artess. Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool, Page 86

[32] http://www.xtrememind.com/free-reiki.htm

[33] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zazen

[34] http://theosophicalglossary.net/

[35] Stephanie Blackton, D.C. Chair, Public Relations Committee, The Labyrinth Society. Press Releases. http://labyrinthsociety.org/media-info-pr

[36] Lauren Artess. Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool, Page 84- 85

[37] http://www.jillgeoffrion.com/prayers4labusedifreltrad.html

[38] http://www.aluuc.org/Labyrinth.html

[39] http://www.druidry.org/obod/sacred_sites/ca_mazes.html

[40] Lauren Artress. Walking A Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool. Page 67

[41] http://www.veriditas.org/programs/women.shtml

[42] http://www.circleway.com/wdq/oct09/Carousel2.html

[43] http://www.sacred-destinations.com/france/chartres-cathedral

[44] Chartres and the great mystery of the Black Madonna by China Galland http://us.penguingroup.com/static/html/blogs/post-2-china-galland

[45] http://www.ofspirit.com/deborahrose1.htm

[46] http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/France/Centre/Chartres-130153/General_Tips-Chartres-BR-1.html

[47] http://www.veriditas.org/programs/chartres.shtml

[48] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnutes

[49] History and Origins of Druidism By Lewis Spence. Page 20

[50] http://www.philipcoppens.com/chartres.html

[51] Labyrinth Walking - Should a Christian Participate? http://www.eternalpath.com/labyrinth.html

[52] http://www.smsuc.com/Pgms-Labyrinth.htm

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The Modern Church’s Literal Doctrines of Demons

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