A pattern drawn on the ground, in paint, tile, or another medium, for the purpose of meditation while walking along the path.

A labyrinth of this kind is definitely not a maze, which presents a choice of paths; a meditative labyrinth has one continuous path to follow. Letting the path tell you where to walk helps to free your mind.

Labyrinths have recently become popular in mainstream Christianity in America, especially in Roman Catholic churches, although the tradition dates back for millennia.

Here is an example of a Labyrinth:

  • Note that this is not a very good labyrinth, it is asymmetrical and inelegant and generally not very symbolic. Mostly I just put it up here because I like to give graphic examples where possible.
  • Also, thanks to qousqous for reminding me that the first version here was in fact a maze. (Though I personally feel that a maze could do just as good a job at putting you in a contemplative mood, were you to wander around in one.)
/----------------------------|----------------------------\
|  ________________________  |  ________________________  |
| |  ________________________|________________________  | |  
| | |  ____________________  |  ____________________  | | |
| | | |  ____________________|____________________  | | | |
| | | | |  ________________  |  ________________  | | | | |
| | | | | |  ________________|________________  | | | | | |
| | | | | | |  ____________  |  ____________  | | | | | | |
| | | | | | | |  ____________|____________  | | | | | | | | 
| | | | | | | | |  ________  |  ________  | | | | | | | | |
| | | | | | | | | |  ________|________  | | | | | | | | | |
| | | | | | | | | |_____________________| | | | | | | | | |
| | | | | | | | | |  _________________  | | | | | | | | | |
| | | | | | | | | | |  _____________  | | | | | | | | | | |
| | | | | | | | | | | |  _________  | | | | | | | | | | | |
| | | | | | | | | | | | |  _____  | | | | | | | | | | | | |
| |___|___|___|___| | | | | Fin_| | | | | | | | | | | | | |
| |   |   |   |   | | | | |_______| | | | | | | | | | | | |
| | | | | | | | | | | | |___________| | | | | | | | | | | |
| | | | | | | | | | | |_______________| | | | | | | | | | |
| | | | | | | | | | |___________________| | | | | | | | | |
| | | | | | | | | | |  ___________________| | | | | | | | |
| | | | | | | | | | |_______________________| | | | | | | |
| | | | | | | | | | |  _______________________| | | | | | |
| | | | | | | | | | |___________________________| | | | | |
| | | | | | | | | | |  ___________________________| | | | |
| | | | | | | | | | |_______________________________| | | |
| | | | | | | | | | |  _______________________________| | |
| | | | | | | | | | |___________________________________| |
| | | | | | | | | | |  ___________________________________|
| | | | | | | | | | |___________________________________  |
| | | | | | | | | |_______________________________________/
\___|___|___|___|__________  |
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                          Start
(1986) Movie Written by Terry Jones, written and directed by Jim Henson, starring David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly, and of course, the real stars, Jim Henson's Creature Workshop. A beautiful modern-day fantasy about a young girl, Sarah (Connelly), who, in a moment of frustration at her baby brother, Toby (Toby Froud), idly wishes him to be taken away by the Goblin King (Bowie). Unfortunately for her, her wish is granted. She has thirteen hours to navigate the Labyrinth and rescue her brother from the Goblin City, or he'll be turned into a goblin.
A wonderful movie for all ages, featuring some of the most creative work ever to come out of the Henson workshop. The script was written by the wonderfully imaginative Terry Jones (of Monty Python fame), and small touches of British humour sneak in all over. This movie also has some of the most amazing special effects - including an entire Escherian set designed to be filmed from multiple angles. It's a definite must-see for everyone.

David Bowie's performance in Jim Henson's Labyrinth brought about another hit album for Bowie. The album Labyrinth was released on June 1986 by Jones and Labyrinth Enterprises, manufactured by Capitol Records. The tracks on this album are as followed:


Underground

Into the Labyrinth

Magic Dance

Sarah

Chilly Down

Hallucination

As the World Falls Down

The Goblin Battle

Within You

Thirteen O’clock

Home At Last

Underground

Bowie did not write all of the track on this album, but quite a few of them are his original works. Magic Dance, Chilly Down, As the World Falls Down, Within You, and Underground are Bowie's original works on this album. The others were written by Trevor Jones who also did the score for Henson’s "The Dark Crystal". Bowie did sing all the vocals except Chilly Down which was done as more of a group number. The producers of this wonderful album are David Bowie, Arif Mardin, and Trevor Jones .

The word labyrinth comes from Greek Mythology. The word comes from the greek root, labrys, meaning double-ax. The double-ax referred to the Minoan dynasty of ancient Crete. The labyrinth was devised by Daedalus to house the minotaur.

Labyrinth also refers to an organ found in some species of fish. These fish are of the Anabantid family and include bettas, gouramis, and paradise fish. The labyrinth organ is used by the fish to breathe gaseous air due to their natural environments of stagnant water that contains little or no dissolved oxygen. The labyrinth is named such because the organ is very maze-like to capture the air for absorption into the bloodstream.

This movie is the story of a girl who gets everything she always wanted, only to discover that it wasn't what she wanted after all. (It's also the movie that made a whole new generation of girls lust after David Bowie.)

Near the beginning, she tells a story, that there was a girl who was the slave of her father and stepmother, forced to care for her baby brother. But the Goblin King had fallen in love with the girl and given her the power to call upon him for aid. And one night, the girl had finally had enough and asked the king to take the baby away from her.

Every word of that story turned out to be true. (Although the slave bit was an exaggeration.)

Leaving his room, she said, "I wish the goblins would come and take you away, right now." And those were the magic words that let the goblins come out and take him. The King, Jareth (David Bowie), then appeared. She asked him to return her brother, saying she didn't mean to say the words, but he insisted that she said them and can't take them back. Then he offered her a crystal ball that would let her see all her dreams come true, but she could only have it if she let the boy go. She insisted that she couldn't, and so she had to get through the labyrinth to the castle inside to get him back.

On the way, her faults are brought to the forefront as they hold her back. The first person she meets, Hoggle, tells her that she takes too many things for granted, the first thing being that there is no entrance. Hoggle reappears several times, actually traveling with her and becoming her friend after he helps her get out of the oubliette (a variation of the French verb "oublier," to forget).

The next thing she takes for granted is that there are no branches to the first tunnel. A worm points one out to her, and then tells her not to go a certain way. She accepts this information and goes the other way. (Personally, at this point I would have asked a question that shortened the whole movie: "Why not?" For after she went through, the worm said that the bad way went straight to the castle.)

So now she is inside, trying different paths and marking her turns with lipstick. When she discovers that the marks are being changed, we hear the most common words out of her mouth: "It's not fair!" Later, when Hoggle says the same thing to her, she finally understands why people don't want to hear it from her: the old adage that life isn't fair. (One of my favorite quotes is from Marcus on Babylon 5: "Wouldn't it be terrible if life were fair, and all the bad things that happen to us are because we deserve them?")

Other friends she gathers on her way are Ludo, a huge but gentle beast who has the power to call rocks, and a knight-errant dog who rides a dog (which incidentally is the same type as her own dog, Merlin, and is even named Ambrosius, which was another name used to refer to that famous wizard).

Her last major setback is in eating the peach Jareth forced Hoggle to give her. It sends her into a dream, inside the crystal, where she is dancing with him at a ball, just like out of a fairy tale. But she knows something is not right, so she shatters a wall to get out and finds herself on a trash heap. An old lady with a pile of things on her back takes her into a copy of her room and starts handing her all her favorite toys, things she always loved. But then she sees the book she had been reciting lines from at the beginning of the movie: "The Labyrinth." She throws down all the toys, calling them junk, and breaks her way out of the room. Then she is with her friends again, just outside the walls of the Goblin City.

They make it to the castle, and she goes on to face Jareth alone. She begins to recite the lines from the book:

Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered,
I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City.
My will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great.

But at this point is the line she can never remember. As she hesitates, Jareth again offers her all her dreams. He claims that he put all those hardships in her path because that was what she expected. And although he does not say it, it is clear that he really does love her, but he doesn't understand her because she didn't understand herself (which is to be expected, considering she's a teenager).

Then she remembers the line, and says it: "You have no power over me." The world shatters, and she is returned to her room, and her brother to his. She gives him her old teddy bear, which she had guarded jealously before. At first she thinks it was a dream, but then her friends appear in the mirror and say they will always be there if she needs them. She say she does need them, and they all become real, there in her room.

Lab"y*rinth (?), n. [L. labyrinthus, Gr. laby`rinthos: cf. F. labyrinthe.]

1.

An edifice or place full of intricate passageways which render it difficult to find the way from the interior to the entrance; as, the Egyptian and Cretan labyrinths.

<-- said to be from from the ax symbol of the "labyrinth" at Knossos, Crete -- a multistoried royal palace with labyrinthine passages between rooms. -->

2.

Any intricate or involved inclosure; especially, an ornamental maze or inclosure in a park or garden.

3.

Any object or arrangement of an intricate or involved form, or having a very complicated nature.

The serpent . . . fast sleeping soon he found, In labyrinth of many a round self-rolled. Milton.

The labyrinth of the mind. Tennyson.

4.

An inextricable or bewildering difficulty.

I' the maze and winding labyrinths o' the world. Denham.

5. Anat.

The internal ear. See Note under Ear.

6. Metal.

A series of canals through which a stream of water is directed for suspending, carrying off, and depositing at different distances, the ground ore of a metal.

Ure.

7. Arch.

A pattern or design representing a maze, -- often inlaid in the tiled floor of a church, etc.

Syn. -- Maze; confusion; intricacy; windings. -- Labyrinth, Maze. Labyrinth, originally; the name of an edifice or excavation, carries the idea of design, and construction in a permanent form, while maze is used of anything confused or confusing, whether fixed or shifting. Maze is less restricted in its figurative uses than labyrinth. We speak of the labyrinth of the ear, or of the mind, and of a labyrinth of difficulties; but of the mazes of the dance, the mazes of political intrigue, or of the mind being in a maze.

 

© Webster 1913.

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