A labyrinth is unicursal with a well-defined path that leads to the center and back out again (as opposed to a maze which offers a choice of paths including dead ends and cul-de-sacs). Found in almost every religious tradition around the world, labyrinths have been known to the human race for over four thousand years. The oldest surviving labyrinth dates from 2500-2000 BCE.
The labyrinth concept developed significantly in the Middle Ages and found its way into European Christian cathedrals, one of the most famous being at Chartres Cathedral. During medieval times, those who were unable to make actual pilgrimages to sacred sites walked the Chartres labyrinth as a pilgrimage of the soul. Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, having first presented their labyrinth in 1991, played a large part in sparking the current resurgence of this ancient spiritual tool.
Our labyrinth was dedicated in 2004 as a gift to the community of Ashland from Trinity Episcopal Church. It is based on the circle - the universal symbol for unity and wholeness. Many labyrinth patterns were created using spiral designs found in nature. The exact origin of the Chartres labyrinth design is unknown. It derives, however from a lost art called sacred geometry that developed a balanced and serene environment for the human psyche and soul. The labyrinth is a tool to guide healing, deepen self-knowledge, provide solace and peace, empower creativity, urge action, and calm the chaos of life and its transitions. The path winds back and forth, a metaphor for our lives.