The labyrinth is an ancient archetype of journey, pilgrimage, and centering. It is based on the spiral shape found in nature.
The symbol has appeared in various media, such as petroglyphs, pavement, grass and basketry, and sacred texts as illustrations. They are found throughout the world: Java, Native North and South America, Australia, India, and Nepal.
Labyrinths as spiritual tools within the Christian tradition date back to at least the fourth century. The first definitively Christian labyrinth is dated around 324 CE at Al-Asnam, in what is now Algeria. Many of these early labyrinths were designed for finger walking or visual contemplation.
Walking labyrinths have always existed. Fine examples include stone labyrinths in Scandinavian countries, near the ocean and bays.
Indoor labyrinths became popular when large cathedrals were built in the thirteenth century, such as Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres in France.
In 1991, the Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress, then Canon Pastor at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, visited the labyrinth at Chartres. She returned to America to awaken the Christian churches to the advantages of labyrinths.
Today, labyrinths are wide use by Christians across throughout the world.
Brendan, who is honored in our ministry, is the patron saint of navigators. Celtic Christians set out on pilgrimage to find their place of resurrection without, it must be said, a specific destination. And their coracles, small hide-covered twig boats, had no rudder and no oars. They trusted the Spirit to guide them through the winds and ocean currents. Such is often the journey of the labyrinth: a journey of faith, to parts unknown.
Our labyrinth design
Our main labyrinth is an original design by Dan Niven. It is installed on the floor of the parish hall as a gaffer tape, semi-permanent labyrinth. Dan has designed and installed many labyrinths in the Puget Sound region. His description follows:
Over the past fifteen-plus years, I’ve created many circular designs, and am also drawn to patterns which emerge out of a series of nested polygons. A common medieval labyrinth shape was octagonal with a flat base–imagine a stop sign–occasionally rotated 22.5 degrees to create on “on-point” look. I use this motif often, sometimes increasing the number of sides to twelve, creating the dodecagonal shape employed in this cruciform five-circuit design. Paths are wide enough for those using a walker. The middle is 3.5 circuits wide or about quarter of the overall width, a common ratio for labyrinths with an expanded center.
Our labyrinth is named “The Twelve Apostles,” reminding us of all the adventures Jesus’ original core group experienced, walking in the footsteps of Jesus and the Old Testament wanderers.
We also have a variety of table-top labyrinths for walking with a finger or with a stylus.
Church of the Redeemer
Church of the Redeemer is at 6210 Northeast 181st Street in Kenmore, Washington. We are a short distance north of Bothell Way, near the Burke-Gilman Trail. The entrance looks like a gravel driveway. The campus is larger on the inside than it is on the outside.
The Episcopal Church welcomes you.