FREQUENTLY  ASKED  QUESTIONS
ABOUT  "CHRISTIAN"  MYSTICISM

 

Index of FAQ about "Christian" Mysticism

 

What Is a Prayer Labyrinth?  /  What Does the Bible Say about Prayer Labyrinths?

 

“Primarily jump-started by a UK-based Christian movement in alternative spiritual expressions and by an influential San Francisco cathedral, denominations around the world are embracing labyrinths as a viable part of the ‘spiritual journey.’”1 The labyrinth is an ancient occult practice that uses a circuitous path to facilitate meditation. According to St. Boniface Episcopal Church’s explanation of their labyrinth in the courtyard:2

The labyrinth is an ancient pattern found in many cultures around the world. Labyrinth designs were found on pottery, tablets and tiles [that] date as far back as 4000 years. Many patterns are based on spirals from nature. In Native American culture it is called the Medicine Wheel and Man in the Maze. The Celts described it as the Never Ending Circle. It is also called the Kabala in mystical Judaism. One feature they all share is that they have one path which winds in a circuitous way to the center.

Likewise, according to the Glendale United Methodist Church’s website, “The Labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, found in all religious traditions in various forms around the world. By walking a replica of the Chartres labyrinth, laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France around 1220, we are rediscovering a long-forgotten mystical tradition that is insisting to be reborn.”3

The labyrinth has always maintained a position of prominence among pagan traditions. In ancient Greece, labyrinths were even imprinted onto the back of coins whose faces bore the image of the Greek gods Zeus, Apollo, and Athena.4 Today the labyrinth remains an important element in pagan rituals. Websites devoted to witchcraft and goddess worship offer many items which contain the image of the labyrinth. One such site exhorts its visitors to “use these wonderful labyrinths for meditation, focus, spellwork, aid in healing …”5 Another site offers a Chartres Labyrinth pendant. According to the description, “This Labyrinth is from the spectacular Chartres Cathedral, now replicated around the world in backyards and public places everywhere. The Labyrinth connects us with the earth energies and helps us to ground and focus.”6 Still another site offers a pewter bowl with an image of the Chartres Labyrinth engraved within it. The description of this bowl reads, “Chartres Labyrinth ritual bowl can be used for incense, salt, water and scrying. This hand poured and finished pewter bowl displays the Chartres Labyrinth ( the path of man ). The image is often found laid out in stone at ancient sites world wide, and is often used in ritual for an initiatory rite, or as a rite of passage into adult hood. It is the symbol of Grounding and Awakening to the earth energy’s and [their] good influence.”7

Notice that one of the recommended uses for the pewter bowl containing the Charters Labyrinth engraving is scrying. Scrying is a decidedly pagan and Occult practice. According to Scrying Mirror, “Scrying is the ancient act of divination for the purpose of clairvoyance. It is usually achieved by concentrating on or staring (gazing) at an object having a shiny surface until a vision appears. Scrying is one of the earliest forms of Divination in recorded history, appearing in China in 3000 BC, Egypt in 2500 BC, and Ancient Greece around 2000BC.”8

Despite the pagan and mystical nature of the labyrinth, today’s Christians are flocking to it. Never mind God’s command not to mimic the ways of the pagans in Deuteronomy 18:9, “‘When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations.’” Jill Geoffrion, a “certified labyrinth facilitator” and author of such books as Christian Prayer and Labyrinths and Praying the Labyrinth, writes:9, 10

We are currently in a period of historic labyrinth revival. Churches, retreat centers and Christian camps are placing these prayer tools inside and outside. Christians all over the world are installing labyrinths in their yards and gardens. Many are using the labyrinths as a ministry tool, bringing portable versions to prisons, national denominational conferences and church group meetings. It is conservatively estimated that there are over 5,000 labyrinths in the United States alone. God is blessing the use of the labyrinth; many are being drawn closer to Jesus, experiencing healing and gaining spiritual clarity as they pray on its path.

Prayer labyrinths are particularly popular among youth ministries. Even Youth Specialties—one of the largest evangelical youth ministry suppliers, serving more than 80,000 youth workers11—has begun promoting contemplative spirituality and prayer labyrinths.12, 13

The prayer labyrinth is not something that is embraced merely by the fringe elements within Christianity. Neither is it something which is relegated to ecumenical groups. This practice can be found within nearly every Christian denomination. Even some Baptist churches have begun to employ the prayer labyrinth.

In his 2006 article “Unwinding the Labyrinth: A Christian walk away from God,” Brian Flynn described the prayer labyrinth as “essentially contemplative prayer while walking.”14 It is a meditative tool which is geared toward those who struggle to control their minds while remaining in a sitting position. According to Veriditas, an organization “dedicated to inspiring personal and planetary change and renewal through the labyrinth experience,”15 “Many people have trouble with traditional meditation postures, which require sitting still for long periods. Walking the labyrinth literally circumvents this, by creating an easy method of focusing. Following a simple path, with many turns but no decisions, allows the mind to concentrate in a meditative state.”16

Similar to contemplative prayer, a key element of the prayer labyrinth is the quieting of the mind to induce a meditative state. A Canon of Grace Cathedral and author of the book which was instrumental in launching The Labyrinth Movement, Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool, Dr. Lauren Artress,17 says, “Labyrinths are currently being used world-wide as a way to quiet the mind, find balance, and encourage meditation, insight and celebration. They are open to all people as a non-denominational, cross-cultural tool of well-being.” She also writes, “There are many ways to pray. And each world religion whether it be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu has slightly different variations. However, there is a common core that unites these traditions: The mind has to quiet, the heart hopefully opens and we can listen to and respond from the deepest inner most part of ourselves that knows Wisdom.”18

According to the Grace Cathedral website, the labyrinth is “A profound meditation tool, a metaphor for the spiritual path, a feminist Christian icon, a symbol of Mary or even all Christianity, even perhaps an almost cult-like centerpiece of a movement – the labyrinth is, most everyone can agree, a powerful inspiration.” And according to their guidelines for the walk, in order to experience this profound meditation tool, “Quiet your mind and become aware of your breath.”

Given the prayer labyrinth’s parallels to contemplative prayer, it is not surprising to discover that its goal is to facilitate the suppression of the analytical mind and of sound doctrine in order to allow one’s intuition to provide a pathway to God. According to a promotional website for the Breemie Labyrinth in the United Kingdom, “The labyrinth is an archetypal spiritual tool, found across many times and cultures. While a maze is a left-brain, rational puzzle, the labyrinth involves the right side of the brain, and helps us access our intuition, providing a portal to the Divine.”19

In short, the prayer labyrinth is a pursuit of God through ritual means. It is a meditative tool used to suppress the analytical mind in pursuit of a spiritual experience. Done correctly, practitioners of all faiths can successfully receive such an experience.

 


1. Teichrib. “The Labyrinth Journey.”
2. “About Labyrinths.”
3. “Guided Walk Through the Labyrinth.”
4. Alan Tattersall, “Researching The Labyrinth.”
5. Ibid.
6. Goddess Gift, “Chartres Labyrinth Pendant.”
7. Lilitu’s Books and Music, “Chalices, Goblets and Bowls.”
8. Scrying Mirror, “What is Scrying?”
9. Teichrib. “The Labyrinth Journey.”
10. “I must admit her pronouncement sounds appealing. But this particular statement by Geoffrion doesn’t paint the whole picture. On her labyrinth prayer website, Geoffrion offers suggested prayers for different labyrinth events. In dedicating a new labyrinth, she suggests that those in attendance form a circle on the pattern and extend ‘the energy that is in our hearts and minds through their hands towards the labyrinth.’ Following this exercise is a meditative time where each person physically lays hands on the labyrinth and calls forth ‘the image of a loved one walking this labyrinth and receiving what is needed.’ After more ‘imaging,’ she recommends this responsive prayer:
‘Community: We dedicate this labyrinth to spiritual awakening and reawakening.
One: With hearts extending in many directions, Let us pray Sacred Sustainer, Way to wholeness, Creator of possibilities, Supporter of change, Forgiving Releaser, Freedom, Honesty, Wisdom, Hope, Joy we thank You for the beautiful spiritual tool on which we are standing’
Geoffrion suggests other reflective meditations for the labyrinth, including short prayers from the ‘Christian Tradition,’ ‘Egyptian Tradition,’ ‘Hindu Tradition,’ and ‘Sufi Tradition.’”
(Teichrib, “The Labyrinth Journey.”)
11. McMahon, “Please Contemplate This.”
12. Yaconelli, “Spirituality and Youth Ministry.”
13. Perschon, “Contemplative Prayer Practices.”
14. Flynn, “Unwinding the Labyrinth.”
15. Veriditas, “Home.”
16. Veriditas, “Frequently Asked Questions.”
17. Lauren Artress, “A Recognized Cultural Creative.”
18. Flynn, “Unwinding the Labyrinth.”
19. Teichrib, “The Labyrinth Journey.”

Works Cited

1. “About Labyrinths.” Saint Boniface Episcopal Church, January 20, 2009. Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.bonifacechurch.org/article168974.htm?body=1.
2. Alan Tattersall. “Researching The Labyrinth – Full Version.” YouTube video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnpmGKXlbS8 (accessed March 18, 2014).
3. Flynn, Brian. “Unwinding the Labyrinth: A Christian walk away from God,” Worldview Weekend, September 4, 2006. Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.worldviewweekend.com/news/article/what-labyrinth-walk-away-god.
4. Goddess Gift. “Chartres Labyrinth Pendant.” Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.goddessgift.net/labyrinths.html.
5. “Guided Walk Through the Labyrinth,” Glendale United Methodist Church. Accessed March 18, 2014. http://glendaleumc.org/guided-walk-through-the-labyrinth/.
6. Lauren Artress. “A Recognized Cultural Creative.” Accessed October 22, 2014. http://www.laurenartress.com/spiritual-pioneer/.
7. Lilitu’s Books and Music. “Chalices, Goblets and Bowls.” Accessed March, 18 2014. http://www.lilitu.com.au/chalice.htm.
8. McMahon, T.A. “Please Contemplate This.” The Berean Call Newsletter, March 1, 2000. Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.thebereancall.org/content/please-contemplate.
9. Perschon, Mike. “Contemplative Prayer Practices.” Youth Specialties, October 8, 2009. Accessed March 18, 2014. http://youthspecialties.com/articles/contemplative-prayer-practices/.
10. Scrying Mirror. “What is Scrying?” Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.scryingmirror.com/whatis.html.
11. Teichrib, Carl. “The Labyrinth Journey: Walking the Path to Fulfillment?” Worldview Weekend, May 10, 2012. Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.worldviewweekend.com/news/article/labyrinth-journey.
12. Veriditas. “Frequently Asked Questions About The Labyrinth and Veriditas.” Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.veriditas.org/faq.
13. Veriditas. “Home.” Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.veriditas.org/.
14. Yaconelli, Mark. “Spirituality and Youth Ministry: What Are We Doing?” Youth Specialties, October 8, 2009. Accessed March 18, 2014. http://youthspecialties.com/articles/spirituality-and-youth-ministry-what-are-we-doing.


  

The above comes from our book Sinister Spirit. Check out this book to see how "Christian" mysticism is linked to the spirit of antichrist.

 

Author: Timothy Zebell, 2014