A Monthly Column &
by Dana Reynolds
month, Dana Reynolds shares her life-transforming
thoughts, ideas, and sacred imagination based around our
"theme of the month." She also
presents the story and creativity of one chosen reader,
whose spiritual journey can touch all of our
lives. Dana is a visionary Spiritual Midwife, who
devotes herself to helping women birth their creative
gifts into the world.
"Journey to the
Center - The Sacred Mystery of the Labyrinth"
Solvitur ambulando…. It is solved by walking….
The spiritual journey is a
spiral journey. The labyrinth offers us a sacred
geometric form, a divine imprint, as a meditative tool.
Walking the labyrinth helps quiet the mind as the body
moves along the singular path leading from rim to center
and back to the rim again. The movement of the body
diffuses the energy that challenges the process of
quieting ever-constant thoughts. The labyrinth is
ancient…as ancient as human imagination itself.
"The product of the
creative imagination, found inside ourselves, not
"out there" or above us—-this is what people
are discovering in the labyrinth. It is the container
for the creative imagination to align with our heart’s
desire, it is a place where we can profoundly, yet
playfully, experience our soul’s longing and
intention." These are the words of Dr. Lauren
Artress, in her book, Walking a Sacred Path. Dr. Artess
is an Episcopal priest at Grace Cathedral in San
Francisco and founder of Veriditas, The Worldwide
Labyrinth Project. Her work has played an important part
in the rediscovery of the labyrinth around the planet.
Portable canvas labyrinths,
stone labyrinths carefully placed in backyards,
temporary labyrinths mowed into grassy fields,
labyrinths drawn in the sand on beaches, these are only
a few examples of the creative ways the labyrinth is
being experienced in modern culture.
Labyrinths differ from a maze because there are no
tricks or dead ends. A labyrinth has a singular path
leading from the entrance to the center, the same path
is followed as we return to where we began.
Labyrinths are divine imprints
holding great mysteries because we don’t know their
exact origin or how they facilitate insight in the human
heart and mind. They have been known to exist for over
four thousand years. Labyrinths are archetypal forms of
transformation. Dr. Artress states, "When we
contact an archetype, it is like releasing a time
capsule in the psyche. We contact the power of the
Nearly every major religious
tradition has a labyrinth. Examples include the tree of
life, an elongated labyrinth, found in the Kabbala, the
Jewish mystical tradition, Tibetan mandala sand
paintings, and Hopi Indian medicine wheels.
The Cretan labyrinth is the
oldest labyrinth design recorded. One of the great
labyrinth mysteries is that even though early
civilizations had no contact with one another, only one
archetypal labyrinth design appeared over thousands of
The labyrinth’s proportion
and power come from an ancient understanding of sacred
geometry. Its roots stem from music, mathematics,
astronomy, and geometry. According to Robert Lawlor in
his book, Sacred Geometry, "geometry" in
ancient terms meant contemplating forms (spirals,
circles, forms found in nature), "…a way by which
the essential creative mystery is rendered
Labyrinth maker, Robert Ferre,
quoted by Melissa Gayle West in her book, Exploring the
Labyrinth says, "I think the power of the labyrinth
is that it takes us back to a prescientific time when
our minds didn’t rule our bodies, spirits, or souls.
The labyrinth speaks directly to the proportions that we
are all actually even made of. The idea of sacred
geometry was to discover the sacred building blocks of
creation itself. There’s something very elemental
about the labyrinth that speaks to who we really are at
our deepest level…"
In the Middle Ages it was
customary for Christians to vow to make a pilgrimage to
Jerusalem sometime during their lives. History offered
obstacles to this desire when the Crusades made travel
dangerous and Jerusalem became a place of religious
upheaval. Because of this, the Catholic church
designated seven cathedrals to represent Jerusalem to
pilgrims. The labyrinths in many of these cathedrals
symbolized the entrance into the Holy City.
In 1998 I had the privilege to
make a modern day pilgrimage to the magnificent Chartres
Cathedral in France. I was part of a group facilitated
by Dr. Lauren Artress and The Very Reverend Alan Jones,
Dean of Grace Cathedral. The labyrinth became a part of
my life when I first experienced it through Dr. Artress
as part of a Transpersonal Psychology Conference some
years before. I was later inspired to become a labyrinth
facilitator through the training offered by Veriditas.
The pilgrimage to Chartres was fulfillment of my heart’s
desire to return to one of the world’s sacred taproots
of the labyrinth.
Entering Chartres Cathedral for
the first time on that steamy August afternoon stirred
something deep in the core of my cellular memory. As my
eyes adjusted from the bright sunlight outside to the
dark diffused light inside the ancient cathedral, I was
overcome with a sense of "remembering." At my
feet was the great stone labyrinth inlaid into the floor
of the nave, covered by folding chairs and the busy
movements of tourists. But for an instant, it was as
though I had a glimpse to another time, an ancient time,
when pilgrims entered on their knees to crawl reverently
and prayerfully to the center.
The next evening our group was
invited to the cathedral after hours for a private walk
through the crypt. We continued our procession upstairs
around the interior perimeter past the Virgin on the
Pillar, and the reliquary containing, what is believed
to be, the veil the Blessed Virgin wore when Christ was
born. Our walk at last brought us to the labyrinth.
Stepping barefooted onto the cool stone pathway
instantly connected me on a cellular level with all the
countless pilgrims who had walked here before me. It was
an experience that I have revisited countless times in
my memory as a meditation, as a prayer.
When one walks the labyrinth
there are many ways to approach the process. Melissa
Gayle West, in her book, Exploring the Labyrinth, gives
the following guidance. "The labyrinth invites us
to show up. Our best response to this powerful
invitation is mindful preparation for a walk. The more
consciously we prepare for the walk, the deeper and more
transformative that walk will be….
By being fully conscious of our
intentions for any particular walk, we harness the power
of the labyrinth. We can frame those intentions as
either a question or a statement; the power of the
intention is not in how it is worded but in that it is
consciously chosen and walked into."
Intentions may come in the form
of a question, "How can I resolve difficulty in my
relationship? Or "What might a creative solution be
for my project?" Intentions can also be in the form
of statement or prayer. "I am asking for guidance.
I am asking for healing."
When the intention is set, take
a few deep breaths to begin to quiet the mind. The
labyrinth invites the creative/sacred imagination to
present guidance. The images that begin to emerge often
appear from a metaphor encountered on the path.
Everything that happens on the walk, when experienced
through the intuitive and the sacred imagination gives
the journeyer whatever he/she needs to learn from a
place beyond the everyday ego.
Find your own rhythm as you
walk. You may encounter others on the path. Follow your
instinctive guidance. Pass another if you feel guided to
do so. You may feel the urge to cry, laugh, sing, or
dance. Allow your body to move freely.
Dr. Artress suggests that the
labyrinth walk can be seen from the perspective of three
stages defining the process. These are derived from the
Western Christian mystical tradition known as the
Threefold Path. The three stages leading us to an
ultimate sense of union with the Divine include
Purgation, Illumination, and Union.
Purgation is the first stage of
the walk. It is the emptying of the self as we walk from
the entrance to the center. This is a time of letting
Illumination, the second stage,
may be found in the center. When we have quieted the
mind during the walk we find the center to be a place
for meditation and prayer. This is where we have the
opportunity to discover clarity. Coming to this place
with an open heart and mind enables us to be receptive
to what is there for us.
Union, the third stage, is
defined as communing or communion with the Holy. This
stage enlivens us to return to the world, renewed and
guided. The melding of contemplation and action leads to
transformation. This is what makes the labyrinth such a
powerful spiritual tool and meditative practice.
We are pilgrims in the new
millennium. We are seeking ways to connect more deeply
to our spiritual centers while living in the midst of
hurried everyday life. Perhaps walking the labyrinth
offers us a portal to sacred dimensions. Perhaps the
ancient path of the labyrinth will carry us to a place
of remembering why we are here.
To learn more about Veriditas,
and labyrinth facilitator training and pilgrimages visit
or call Chris Rodgers at 415-749-6358.
invited to submit your story and accompanying
photos to be considered as a feature for the Sacred
Imagination column. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright© 2000 Dana
Imagination’s Story of the Month
by Tricia Kibbe,
This summer was a perfect time
for landscaping our front yard. The whole family was
enrolled in the project and we decided to do it
ourselves. The end result is beautiful, but after six
weeks, we were all exhausted. It was at this point that
the backyard began to call to me, "Don’t forget
the labyrinth!" Oh my, how could I now go to
everyone and ask for more help?
I asked anyway. They all looked
at me as though I must certainly have heat stroke.
"Maybe next year," was the universal cry. I
couldn’t argue so I quietly retreated to the backyard.
Standing very near the space
where my husband and I were married, I marveled at how
strong the pull was to put in a labyrinth. I had been
secretly wanting one for a long time. As a labyrinth
facilitator I am blessed to have two canvas indoor
labyrinths to use for workshops. How different it would
be though to have a meditative path to walk outdoors
whenever Spirit called. I could settle for a circle of
stones that I could do myself this year, and bring the
sacred energy to the spot in anticipation of the right
"Don’t forget the
labyrinth!" continued to ring in my ears. My son,
Mark, agreed to help wheelbarrow the stones we’d found
into the backyard. He helped find the circle’s center
in the yard’s most level and mossy spot.
We took a rope and measured a
24’ circle. Mark went back into the house. If this
stone circle were to happen, it was up to me. I began to
place the stones and an amazing transformation took
place. My husband, Adam, came to see what was happening
and began to help. The area immediately took on a sacred
quality. It was exhilarating. Just placing the stones in
a circle had created a sacred space. I was delighted
with this beginning.
I was satisfied, but Spirit had
something else in mind. Amazingly, when I went inside,
my husband was measuring a picture of the Santa Rosa
labyrinth on the computer. He was laying out the path’s
and stone’s measurement on a paper labyrinth he had
created. How wonderful! I was so grateful for his effort
and willingness to talk about how the construction might
We discussed how to begin by
marking the four directions using string and a compass.
I wanted the entry path to face eastward allowing us to
walk into the rising sun. Next, we discussed the seven
concentric circles and the material we would use to make
them. My friend Billy had sprinkled lime to create a
labyrinth in the woods, perhaps we would do something
similar. We decided to outline the paths with a
medium-sized light purple gravel, leaving the moss to
walk on. We were really beginning to create and birth
this labyrinth. What was going on?
Clearly, Spirit was moving this
project ahead despite any thoughts to the contrary. Only
a week later my friend Barbara and I had the seven
circles laid out using grain rather than lime. It took
about 15 pounds of wheat, bran and corn and some tired
backs but we were on our way. Again, the transformation
was remarkable. The next day Adam and I laid the gravel
over the grain. As we began, I lit candles and placed
them in the center and around the circle. With sacred
music playing in the background, we began to birth our
labyrinth. We graveled in the lines and turns first,
saving the center and altar for last. When it was
complete, we walked it together with great joy and
gratitude for its existence. Reaching the center and
looking at what was created was a very special and
emotional moment to be cherished.
Our labyrinth is a constant
reminder of the sacredness of the Earth. Friends have
come to walk the path and one remarked of picturing
"lovely fairies" surrounding it and filling it
with light and love. What a gift to have it where we can
walk it anytime! Just seeing it from the window can
cause one to take a deep breath and slow down a bit. I
encourage each of you to consider a sacred space
somewhere in or on your surroundings, it is truly
May your path be filled with
Tricia Kibbe lives in Sudbury,
MA. She is a Veriditas certified labyrinth facilitator
trained at Grace Cathedral in 1997. She facilitates
labyrinth workshops and walks around the Northeast. In
May 2000, Tricia co-coordinated the "Let Us Walk
With Mary" retreat sponsored by Veriditas at
Chartres Cathedral in France. She would love to help in
any way those who might wish to create a sacred path in
Please feel free to contact her
Dana's Soulful Living Feature Articles:
and the Sacred Imagination: The Dance of Co-creation
Dana's Past "Sacred Imagination" Columns:
2000 "The Heart and Craft of Healing"
2000 "Transforming Life’s Challenges into Beauty and Story"
2000 "Sacred Spaces Invite the
Muses of the Soul"
For ten years, Dana Reynolds has
been facilitating women’s spiritual presentations and
retreats nationwide. Her work as a Spiritual Midwife,
one who assists women as they birth their creative gifts
into the world, is the foundation of all her endeavors.
Her background as a visual artist and writer enriches
her Spiritual Midwifery: Birthing the Feminine Soul
As the creator of an art making
process known as visual prayer, Dana teaches
women how to combine ritual with sacred intention to
create altars, collages, spirit dolls, and other
touchstones. The creation of sacred spaces is also
paramount to the Spiritual Midwifery experience. Her
offers samplings of her visual prayer collages, poetry,
and a workshop catalogue.
Dana is the author of the
whimsical and colorfully illustrated book, Be An
Angel, a co-creation with illustrator and graphic
designer, Karen Blessen, (Simon & Schuster). Her
essay, Visual Prayers is included in the
anthology, Our Turn, Our Time: Women Coming of Age, edited
by Cynthia Black, (Beyond Words Publishing).
A trained labyrinth
facilitator, Dana incorporates the labyrinth and other
spiritual wisdom into her retreats and workshops. She
recently traveled to Chartres and Vezelay Cathedrals in
France to gather information pertaining to ancient
sacred mystical traditions. She currently lectures on
such topics as spiritual midwifery, sacred journal
keeping, feminine spiritual wisdom, and the early
Christian women saints and mystics.
Dana’s life follows the
spiral path from rim to center and back again. She looks
for the sacred in forgotten places and openly embraces
the great Mystery of life. Guiding women to the
discovery of their creative inner gifts is the passion
that fuels her soul.