Labyrinth Walking and the Missed Journey

I am traveling and thus I will be missing a labyrinth workshop this weekend (April 25) at my wonderful church on Sanibel Island, St. Michaels and All Angels. I have a deep love of labyrinths, which I have enacted all over the globe and shared with my closest friends and collagues. While I have been blessed with its graces in my personal growth, it has also served me as a research tool.

Labyrinth walking particularly helped me move through my most challenging and personal research project. I had engaged in somatic practices, such as yoga, throughout my various research projecs, but the labyrinth took my reflections to a deeper plane.

The labyrinth has appeared in world religions since ancient times (Artress, 1995). It is a physical structure, usually circular, containing a path arranged in patterns. Labyrinths are believed mystical, based on sacred geometry, “created in the realm of the collective unconscious, birthed through the human psyche and passed down through the ages” (Artress, p. 45). Unicursal, there is one defined path that leads to the center which is reversed to come out. In Christian tradition, labyrinth ritual is a 3-fold practice: a) Walking inward, or purgation, involves releasing control and suspending judgment; b) Illumination, at the center, is the source of insights; and c) Union, beginning with the outward path, integrates insights into greater meaning (Artress, pp. 29-30).

Interestingly, these stages mirror the stages of applied phenomenological research. I gave a paper (SPHS, 2012) about those parallels and on my experience in using labyrinth walking as a research tool. The entire paper is posted on ResearchGate (Fortune, 2012).

To my labyrinth walking friends: know I miss you and journey with you regularly in my imagination and meditations.


Artress, L. (2006). Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Practice. Berkeley, CA: Riverhead Trade.

Fortune, L. D. (2012). Retracing the Labyrinth: Applying Phenomenology for Embodied Interpretation. Paper presented at the Annual Meetings of the Society for Phenomenology and Human Studies, Rochester, NY. Retrieved from


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