Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Walking the Labyrinth to Your Center

Synchronicity abounds in my life these days; I'm connecting in marvelous and mysterious ways. At a spring equinox labyrinth walk that I co-facilitated, I met a woman who shared a wonderful story about engaging with the labyrinth. As it turned out, she is a writer, so I offered her the opportunity to be Engaging Inner Wisdom's first guest writer, and to share her experience with you.

Before I introduce you to our guest writer though, let me offer some background information about labyrinths. As a Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator I have supported hundreds of people in using the labyrinth as a method to engage their inner wisdom.

Chartres Style Labyrinth
Built by Myra Elaine Ryneheart
Labyrinths are ancient tools that help us hear and listen to the voice inside. Many people think they are mazes, but they aren't. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has only one path - the same path in, leads to the center, and then leads out again - walking the labyrinth is about taking a journey to your center. Used in a variety of settings like schools, hospitals, churches, parks, prisons, veteran's administrations, spas, and homes, and for many purposes, including contemplation, meditation, problem solving, grief processing, and enhancing creativity, labyrinths provide deeply meaningful experiences. Labyrinths are found throughout the world, and come in a variety of designs; to find a labyrinth near you visit If you are in the Los Angeles area come walk with me on World Labyrinth Day, May 4th.

I asked today's guest writer, Luella Wagner, to share what engaging inner wisdom means to her and the insights labyrinth walking evoke:

"Inner wisdom is a “knowing” that comes from deep inside; most of the time it is the “still small voice”, but it can be a dream, a thought, or that gut-wrenching feeling telling you that something isn’t right.  Basically, it is a person’s intuition.  It is one of the most valuable tools that one has at their disposal, yet rarely used.  Like any worthwhile endeavor it takes time, effort, and patience to develop.  The first step to tapping into your inner wisdom is to sit in silence.  That’s it.  Sit in silence.  You might not get an answer right away, but if you keep on practicing sitting in silence, the answers will eventually come to you.  It’s that simple"
~Luella Wagner

What’s in a Labyrinth?  Only You Know the Answer.  
by Luella Wagner
I had walked the labyrinth for years.  I had read about them, studied them, researched them, and taught them, but there was something missing. There is a Native American adage that says, “If you want to understand something, stand under it.”  I couldn’t stand under a labyrinth, so I decided to stand on one, by walking it every day until I found the secrets hidden beneath it.  There was a labyrinth close by my house and if I missed a day walking it, I resorted to my finger labyrinth that someone had given me a long time ago.  I started my quest on December 21, the winter solstice.  I purposely did not Google.  I wanted to see what would come from within or what would come to me without any effort.

So many times we wish that we could just concentrate on the spiritual and not have to worry about “paying the bills.”  I just wanted to walk the labyrinth, pray, and meditate, but I had to substitute teach.  The funny thing is, it was there that I found hidden mysteries of the labyrinth.  While teaching a class in Ancient Greek civilization, I came across the double-sided ax, the same design that is part of the turns in the labyrinth.  I discovered that the double ax was a symbol used by Greek priestesses as part of their ceremonies.  I started to see the labyrinth as a source of divine feminine energy.   I quickly discovered that the same design also symbolized the butterfly. 

Butterfly Gift
I knew all the analogies of the butterfly:  new life, resurrection, transformation, and then I came across the “butterfly effect.”   The term was coined by Edward Lorenz while studying for his doctorate at MIT.  In essence he discovered that the motion of the butterfly’s wings could alter the course of a tornado.  I suddenly saw the importance of every little step I took, choosing to use paper instead of plastic, letting someone on the freeway go ahead of me, holding the door open for someone as I left the 7/11 store, or smiling at someone in the elevator. Even saving a penny would make not only a difference, but a huge difference.  All of a sudden I realized that my tiny actions could have a great impact.  

I continued to walk the labyrinth.  I walked in the sun, in the rain, at night and during the day.   My favorite time was nighttime.  It was quiet, soothing.  The day was over and I could reflect. Again, through my substitute teaching, secrets of the labyrinth were revealed to me.  I was in a kindergarten science class.  The students were coloring an outline of the brain.  As I looked at the brain, I was reminded of the labyrinth.  In the center of the brain was the pineal gland, which many believe is the spiritual eye, just like labyrinth’s center is also the point of illumination.  I learned that the symbol of the pineal gland was the pine cone.  As I was walking to school one day, (yes, I do have that luxury every once in awhile) I found myself walking through a park filled with pine trees.  I couldn’t resist.  I caved in and did a little research on the pine tree.  I discovered that the tree has both male and female pine cones.  The male pine cones release their pollen and the wind carries it upward to the female pine cones which open to receive the pollen.  The pollen germinates for a year and then the female pine cone falls to the ground and releases the seed.  This had great symbolism for the labyrinth.  Sitting in the inner circle, like the pine cone, we receive, and then as we leave the inner circle, we release what we have learned to others.  This is the illumination of the labyrinth.

I continue my journey into the labyrinth and I continue to find insights and I look forward to sharing them with you after the next solstice.  But don’t wait for me.  Your personal mysteries of the labyrinth are waiting to be discovered.  

Luella Wagner
Luella Wagner is a teacher, writer, and documentarian.  She is currently writing her memoir which spans twenty years of teaching, including stints in Brazil, Samoa, and most recently an Indian reservation in southeastern Montana.  She lives in Woodland Hills, California with her cat Moo Moo.     


  1. there is a special labyrinth near you at Prince of Peace Episcopal Church.. it was made as part of an Eagle Scout project and is an all weather 8 circuit Renewal design by Paxworks.

    1. Hi John:
      Actually, both Luella and I walk that labyrinth. On May 16, 2013 and monthly thereafter I will be facilitating public labyrinth walks.

    2. By the way, thank you for posting :) I realized I should have said so at on the onset!

  2. Today is a good day.
    Today thanks to you I have discovered Labyrinths. It's not that I had not heard of them, I had, but I had always mistakenly associated them with mazes.

    The similarity of concept between walking a labyrinth and creating a mandala to aid meditation is exciting.

    Thank you for this insight.

    1. Yaay! I'm so glad that you found labyrinths! I'd love to hear about your experience walking them! Please make a point of letting us know!