The labyrinth: a pathway to the Self

imagesThe labyrinth is one of the oldest symbols of mankind, and for that also a universal one. Since times immemorial it has provided mankind with a map of the cosmos, and a pathway to connect with the divine. It’s a sacred path towards the Self, that has enabled millions of people through history to find connection, love, peace and wisdom in their lives. It opens a door between Man as a microsmos and the larger macrocosmos that surrounds us. It’s a womb of the soul, and a space where we can experience the ‘as above, so below’…

chartresSince several decades the labyrinth is going through a remarkable comeback. It provides an ideal space for an inner pilgrimage. By walking a labyrinth we make a movement inside ourselves. Its twists and turns are symbolic for our journey through life, and enables us to circle around our inner centre. By making over and over again the ingoing and outgoing movement we can come closer the pearl of inner wisdom, and bring it out into the world again. What better symbol to guide us on the journey of soul?

The Etruscan labyrinth has a story to tell…

Years ago I got acquainted with the labyrinth in Switzerland, San Francisco and Chartres, and then started to make and walk them in my own country, the Netherlands. But it was through my journeys through the Etruscan landscapes – guided by the double tailed mermaid – that I learned to understand the ancient meaning of the labyrinth at a deeper level. In ancient societies the labyrinth provided an entrance to the body of the Earth Goddess.

It was a space where men and women were initiated in the mysteries of the sacred marriage and the cycle of life. It’s an archetypical story, that is nicely summarized in the picture to the right, engraved in a jar from 700 b.C. exhibited in the Capitoline Museum in Rome. See my book De glimlach van de sirene (Il sorrriso della Sirena) for further explanation.

Contemporary labyrinths

In the picture gallery below you can get a feeling for the wide variety of labyrinths that are recently created and walked all around the world, thanks to the creativity and the dedication of the people who are ‘holding the space’.

My own work with the labyrinth

Workshops

After having completed the training as a Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator, over the years my work with the labyrinth has grown in several directions:

  • It all started with a large portable labyrinth. Together with friends we introduced this labyrinth in the Dominicus Church in Amsterdam, and from there in many other Dutch churches and spiritual centers.
  • I designed a special portable peace labyrinth for Amsterdam, that I also brought to the United States and Taiwan. In Amsterdam I also worked with the model of the South African reconciliation labyrinth.
  • I developed thematic workshops, for example by combining the labyrinth with sound bowls, and by linking it to the spirituality of the water.
  • I give lectures about the history and the spiritual meaning of the labyrinth
  • I advise about the design and the construction of permanent labyrinths
  • And I developed a practice of making temporary labyrinths in nature, first at the Dutch beach, and later also at sacred places in Italy and Peru, as a way to honor the place and to connect with its stories and energies.

Training and networking

In 2008 I decided to share my expertise in broader circles. I started a yearly three day training ‘Working with the labyrinth’, facilitated by the Jungian Institute in the Netherlands. It’s still a popular and successful part of their curriculum. You can join us each year in November. More info here. I also provide this training on request in an adapted way for specific professional groups. And I am available to do it in other places and languages, f.e. in Italy.

In 2012 with a group of Dutch fellow labyrinth enthusiasts I transformed my practice ‘Labyrintwerk’ into a network of Dutch labyrinth workers, with a good presence on the net and a popular page on Facebook: www.labyrintwerk.nl and FB Labyrintwerk.

The heart labyrinth

The newest loot on the stem of my labyrinth work is the heart labyrint. I designed it years ago when walking through the Etruscan landscape, from a wish to give expression to my love for the earth. Slowly on the design started to lead a life of its own. I learned that it speaks to a wide audience, since it immediately shows what the journey of the soul is all about: it’s a walk to the wisdom of the heart.

In 2013 my work with the heart labyrinth made a large twist. Together with friends I made one of stones on an ancient pilgrims route next to a Tuscan river. Then, several months after, I was invited to make a labyrinth under the castle of Matilda of Canossa. It soon became clear to me that it should have the shape of a heart. Since 2014 It’s laying there, ‘Il Cuore di Matilda’.

After its opening I produced a similar heart labyrinth in portable version, that joins me on my workshops and book presentations, and on my journeys along sacred places.

It’s become my ideal to spread the heart labyrinth around the world, as a symbol of the path that we are looking for now on a larger scale:

a return to the heart and to love as a connecting force between people..

Traveller, the road is only your footprint, and no more; traveller, there’s no road, the road is your traveling.

Going becomes the road and if you look back, you will see a path none can tread again.

Traveller, every track leaves its wake on the sea, step by step, line by line…         

Antonio Machado

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