Meander with Me: The Symbolic Path to God

by Stephen Clearheart Johnson

There’s a labyrinth here in town.  Let’s go walk it.  It’s in the back yard of a church.  We’re welcome there any time.

On the way there, I’ll tell you a little bit about the history and uses of labyrinths.  The first one appeared about 4,000 years ago, back in Greek times.  Since then, they have found labyrinths on most continents, and have become a transcultural experience.  Along the way, there have been many variations .

Of course you want to know what a labyrinth is.  It is a simple pathway made up of curving lines punctuated by meanders that changes the direction by 180 degrees.  Unlike a maze, there are no decisions to make, and you can’t get lost.  Following the path will lead you to the center and back out again. In walking the path the left brain is busy with the motion while your right brain is freed. This is also a superb aid to meditation.   Walking a labyrinth is known as a “moving meditation.”

More deeply, labyrinths are said to be “symbolic of the path to God.”   No matter how curving the path, you will reach your goal. Yet, sometimes it seems that one is approaching the center only to suddenly turn away.  At some point one finds themselves on the very outer edge, seemingly a long way from God.  But each one comes out feeling calmer, with less anxiety and feeling more open.  Some use it for problem-solving.  Especially those pesky kinds of emotional deadlocks.

Many come out feeling they have had a spiritual experience.  A child once said walking the labyrinth was “like a telephone to God.” Labyrinth users and experts are convinced that there is some kind of spiritual energy present in or generated by the combined pattern and movement.

Back to the history.  Early Christians helped spread labyrinths throughout Europe, England, the Baltic, the far northern areas.  Because the labyrinth is made of two intertwining lines it has as its very root the shape of the cross.  It represents  the two opposing forces of chaos and order.  I believe that the labyrinth is a gift from the Gods to help humans cope within a world of polarized opposites.  Good and Evil, life and death, men and women. You know the list!

Vikings were early adopters of labyrinths.  Among other advantages, walking the labyrinth seemed to increase strength  and help focus them for the arduous and risky North Sea fishing.  They also used them for weddings and celebrations.  Like modern times, children loved to run and frolic in the labyrinth. Studies show that children engaged with labyrinths improve their agility, their focus, become calmer and more socialized, with a better sense of balance. It’s not just meditation, there’s dancing, too.

I believe that the labyrinth is a gift from the Gods to help humans cope within a world of opposites.  Good and Evil, life and death, men and women. You know the list!

Oh, so here we are.  You can see that the labyrinth is a simple series of lines on the ground .  In this case, they are made of small river stones.  And there’s a tree near the center, giving some shade.  All we have to do is stay between the lines.  I like to pause at the entrance to greet the spirit and the goddess of the labyrinth. Come meander with me.

Author’s Bio:

Stephen  Clearheart Johnson is a labyrinth fan that spends his doting years making ceramic finger labyrinths that can be used at home when it is incovienient to go to a walkable one.  You can find labyrinths near you by googling  Labyrinth Locator.  Check out Stephen’s work at

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