Quotes and Excerpts

The Labyrinth

at Grace Cathedral (Episcopal) in San Francisco


Posted as reference for The Labyrinth

and The Labyrinth Journey: Walking the Path to Fulfillment?

 These two messages were posted on a column inside the grand cathedral:


The Labyrinth Project at Grace Cathedral:


“The Labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, that served as the central symbol for pilgrimage throughout the middle Ages. … Christians made a commitment to travel to the Holy land once during their lifetimes. When the Crusade swept across Europe and travel became expensive and dangerous, several pilgrimage cathedrals were designated to be the pilgrim's destination. Chartres Cathedral was a central place of pilgrimage and housed one of the largest and most magnificent labyrinths in the Christian world.


“For the pilgrim, walking the labyrinth was a ritual enactment of life's journey and served as an entryway into the spiritual life. The goal of pilgrimage was single: to reach the New Jerusalem, the place of clarity and union at the center of the labyrinth, where the inward path re-directs itself outward into the world.


“When we walk the labyrinth, the mysterious winding path becomes a metaphor for our spiritual journey. It becomes a mirror reflecting the place where we stand in our lives. We invite you to walk it with an open mind, and an open heart. By walking the labyrinth, you are rediscovering a long-forgotten Christian mystical tradition.


“The labyrinth is a mandala that meets our longing for a change of heart, for a change of ways in how we live together on this fragile island home, and for the energy, the vision, and the courage to meet the challenges of the 21st century.


“The goal of the labyrinth project is to recover the act of Pilgrimage You are invited to join workshops focused on Co-Creation work and Self-Knowledge."


See also the last part of  Chapter 1 in a Twist of Faith: "Our Father in Heaven or Our Mother the Earth?"



Natalie Angelier, "A Twisting Walk to Inner Peace on a Painted Purple Canvas," New York Times, August 29, 1992.


 “Stretched across the nave floor [of Grace Cathedral]  like a tarpaulin hauled in from a football field, the 35-foot-wide labyrinth is nothing more than a bright purple pattern painted on an expanse of bleached canvas, a replica of a labyrinth built into the stone floor of the Chartres.


 “It’s ‘a ceremony that is at once ancient and New Age mysticism called ‘walking the Labyrinth,’ explained Rev. Lauren Artress.


 “At Grace, Rev. Lauren Artress, canon pastor of the Episcopal Cathedral, is trying to revive the ancient tradition as a tool for encouraging introspection and spiritual transformation, whatever one's religion... 


“The Labyrinth, says Ms Artress, is a profound archetype seen in most cultures throughout history.  The ancient Greeks had the labyrinth at Minos, whose serpentine corridors on the island of Crete led to the Minotaur, a creature with the head of a bull, the body of a man, and a bottomless appetite for sacrificial young men and maidens.


“Hindus and Buddhist have the Mandala, a circular design symbolizing the universe and totality. For medieval Christians, the Labyrinth became a manageable substitute for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. 


“Going into the center, a walk is supposed to shed the solipsistic obsession of everyday life.  At the center of the labyrinth, a six-petal design [lotus?], the pilgrim looks for illumination. "I call it clarity," Ms Artress says, "You get insight into yourself."


“On the way out from the center, the walker should feel a sense of communion with the cosmos, God, or some sort of higher, healing power. [One woman called her experience, "a dance I do with my soul."]


“A permanent stone labyrinth will be built into the cathedral garden…. ‘You have to get the mystical figure in the center right,’ says[Rev. Artress]. ‘Underneath the center is a 13-pointed star. When  you lay that star right, then all the paths are perfectly balanced.’"