How to Design a Labyrinth Garden
By Lynae Burton
The word “meditation” often paints the mental picture of someone sitting cross legged, eyes closed, palms on the knees, and “clearing” the mind; how often do we consider walking meditations, like a garden labyrinth?
No, we’re not talking about Guillermo Del Toro or David Bowie (but you’re not too far off). We’re talking about the three-circuit unicursal labyrinth designed for clarity and reflection. Unlike a maze, which features false paths and dead ends, a labyrinth has only one way in and one way out, which is symbolic in and of itself. There are no wrong turns within a labyrinth! Creating a singular pathway provides a period of time in which we are able to pause, become present, and take time for introspection and reflection.
History of the Garden Labyrinth
Labyrinths possess a world of history and wisdom. Though we cannot pinpoint exactly when or where they originated, we know that it was somewhere around the Neolithic and Bronze Age through Greek mythology. The Romans often used coins imprinted with labyrinths to represent Knossos, Europe’s oldest city, for protection. And for similar reasons, labyrinths were often placed within the floor designs of many buildings, like churches. The legend goes that the architect, Daedalus, needed a way to protect the children of Athens from the monster, Minotaur. He created a labyrinth to confuse and, ultimately, hold the Minotaur captive, keeping Athens safe from its wrath.
Outside of Greek mythology, labyrinths have also been located in various caves throughout India and the American Southwest, a cultural export and likely result of imperialism over the course of many centuries. Regardless of climate, hemisphere, or any other circumstance, labyrinths have made their way across cultures. But why the spiral?
Sacred Geometry in the Labyrinth
In sacred geometry, the spiral is a symbol of growth, wisdom, and transformation. We can see the spiral naturally within plants, animals, the weather, the brain, our DNA and so much more, such is a vital part of life. Following the pathway of the divine spiral supports and invites contemplation, patience, and knowledge to the walker.
That’s right, labyrinths aren’t simply something nice to look at but also something to relax and rejuvenate the mind, body, and spirit. Essentially, as you move through the labyrinth and enter new circuits at a 180 degree angle, your sense of awareness shifts between the different sides of the brain. This practice helps make the mind more alert, active, and balanced while promoting a centered state of consciousness.
Physical and Mental Benefits of Walking a Labyrinth
Research done at Harvard Medical School has actually found that walking a labyrinth can aid in reduced breathing rate and blood pressure as well as a reduction in levels of stress, anxiety, and physical pain. This is why hospitals, schools, and churches are known to include labyrinths in their blueprints.
Along with the physical benefits, those who walk labyrinths have noticed an increase in mental clarity and inner peace. A large part of this is due to the fact that labyrinths are useful in the release of old and outdated mental patterns, behaviors, and habits. This brings the body into alignment with the mind and spirit, leading to an increase in overall joy and sound judgment.
How to Create a Garden Labyrinth
Now that we’ve given you a crash course, here’s how we actually make a 3-circuit labyrinth.
Gather your materials:
- Two sticks (or more)
- Rope, stones, wood/sticks, string/yarn, seeds/plants (for circuit creation)
- Decor, plants, toys (for the center)
- Stones, crystal, rocks (to mark dots)
Step 1: Choose Your Pattern
Get creative and look into different designs and the number of circuits for your labyrinth. Once you have chosen, draw it or print out a picture for your reference.
Step 2: Find Your Space And Choose Your Materials
You want to begin by finding a clear and open space in your backyard, preferably in the quietest area possible (ideally we’re looking for at least 20 x 20 feet) and choosing your materials. Keep in mind that you need enough space to create your seed pattern.
Step 3: Create Your Seed Pattern
The seed pattern is the “skeleton” of the labyrinth which acts as the border for each pathway in your garden. Create a cross with two sticks (or anything else of a similar shape and size) at least 2 feet wide in all directions and 1 foot between the ends of the sticks. Each end point is referred to as a “dot” within the four quadrants of your seed pattern.
Step 4: Create and Decorate Your Center
Following the placement of your seed pattern, you will create your center. Starting from the highest point or “dot” of your seed pattern, use your path-making materials to create a line upward & then curling inward (length and width depend upon your preference). Place your chosen decor in the center of the curl.
Step 5: Create Your Circuits
Following the creation of the center, move from left to right (clockwise) to create our circuits, the layers of paths that encircle the center of the labyrinth. You want at least a foot between the sticks surrounding the center and the stick border.
Proceed to return to the original point where the seed pattern was created, start from the dot to the left of the center dot and work your way around, making your way to what would now be the bottom dot of the seed pattern and marking it with your stone (remember to keep your paths at least a foot apart so you can comfortably walk them!)
You are now on your third circuit. Return to your starting point and begin creating a path from the bottom dot of the seed pattern, around the path that you previously made, ending a foot below the bottom dot. Congratulations, you have just created your very own labyrinth!
Tips for Creating and Walking the Labyrinth
It’s always best to follow your intuition when doing any sort of spiritual practice, but here are some tips to help you along the way:
- Lacking outdoor space to make your labyrinth? No worries! Construct it indoors, preferably in a low-lit room (candlelight is preferred, or a color aligned with your intentions) room. Play music that balances your spirit and light something that smells good to set the mood. Try to keep this space free of clutter and debris.
- Creating your labyrinth outdoors? Try your best to place it somewhere well shaded and as far away from excess noise and distractions as possible.
- Start simple. Create your first 3-circuit labyrinth and work your way up to more when you’re ready.
- Walk barefoot through your labyrinth as a way to not only meditate, but to get some Earthing in, who doesn’t love connecting with Mother Earth?
- Take it slow and leave your phone in the house. Distractions like Instagram notifications are not ideal when we’re trying to recenter our spirits.
- Consider a few things while walking the labyrinth and make note of them while you reflect:
- Are you hurrying yourself through the path?
- Are you conscious of your thoughts throughout the entirety of the journey?
- Do you feel impatient, frustrated, cloudy-headed, happy, centered, or anything along those lines while walking through the labyrinth?
- If you’re walking a path with others, do you move out of the way for them or do you wait for them to move?
- Where does your mind go when you allow it to wander?
- Want some additional clarity? Try to take note of the time when you enter the center and when you reach the exit of the labyrinth. Interpret the time as an Angel Number and look into the meaning for more messages!
Lynae Burton is a metaphysical geologist and spiritual practitioner on a mission to provide clarity and understanding about the spiritual realm. Using her experience as a mineral reader and crystal healer she helps guide people on their spiritual journey to deeper understanding and connection.