Labyrinths

carole

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Can anyone tell me what is the purpose of mazes and labrynths?

I know in later years they became a form of entertainment, but was there originally a religious or other association? Or, thinking of the Minotaur, a more sinister origin?

Carole
 
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Anonymous

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I always assumed that they were places to put olde worlde criminals so that they would wander round for the rest of their lives and never find their way out, they would probably go mad in the process.
 

rynner2

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Some labyrinths are just convoluted single pathways (ie there are no braches or decision points). These are sometimes claimed to have been used for ritual processions. Something like a mini-pilgrimage, perhaps...
 

Pete Younger

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I always assumed the word maze originated from corn or maize fields, if you walk into a field of fully grown maize you would have quite a problem finding your way out and the trail you left by treading down the corn would become the maze.
 

marion

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Maize is a new world crop though , when was the word maze first used ? There are ancient mini mazes carved on rocks in Cornwall , I remember learning to draw them as a kid , you start with a cross and join it all up with curved lines . Some mazes were little journeys to God , I think you walked them on your knees as a sort of penence , must be Catholic !
Marion
 

rynner2

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Maze is certainly an old word. It's related to 'amazing', and the variants 'mazed, mazey' are still used in the West Country.
 
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Marion said:
There are ancient mini mazes carved on rocks in Cornwall
I know where these are! There are two of them and they're carved onto a cliff-face in a ravine near Boscastle. And is only a few yards from the phonebox where I found a purse full of cash .(which I wrote about yesterday on the money-finding thread! How's that for coincidence?)
They're reckoned to be well over 2000 years old.
 

FelixAntonius

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Some of the old mazes, carved in the turf, were known as: "troy towns", but I don't know the reason for this!!!!

There is also a maze made in the tiles, under the tower of Borne Church in Cambridgeshire, the only one in the UK (though there is one at Chartres Cathedral & supposedly others on the continent). As well as turf mazes at Saffron Waldon & at Hilton!!!!
 

rynner2

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Troy and Mazes

The link is an old legend that Britain was named for Brutus, a Trojan who came here after the fall of Troy. This Site gives a good outline of the tale. (The tale is supposed to originate from Holinshed's Chronicle.)
 

carole

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That's interesting, Rynner, thanks!

Some years ago I can remember visiting somewhere (in Leicestershire, I think) and there was a maze cut in the turf, it wasn't like the Hampton Court maze with high hedges, just the outline of the maze in the turf. Can't remember where it was now, does anyone else have any details?

Carole
 

marion

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Annasdottir said:
I know where these are! There are two of them and they're carved onto a cliff-face in a ravine near Boscastle.

And there is a wonderful simulacra of Queen Victoria's head on the cliff at Boscastle too !
Marion
 
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Anonymous

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carole said:
Some years ago I can remember visiting somewhere (in Leicestershire, I think) and there was a maze cut in the turf, it wasn't like the Hampton Court maze with high hedges, just the outline of the maze in the turf. Can't remember where it was now, does anyone else have any details?
Carole
Yes - it's at a place called Wing, and is apparently based on the Chartres maze (the design inlaid on the floor of Chartres Cathederal).
 

liveinabin

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In a village a mile or two from the one I grew up in, in Dorset, is a place called the Miz Maze.

I don't know it really is, but the school rumour was that it was where witches were tried and hung.
 

liveinabin

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Oooh look i've found it. The wonders of the internet.
It's at the bottom. The village is called Leigh (pron. lie)

http://www.indigogroup.co.uk/edge/mazes.htm

I've got a feeling they built houses on it. Not like they were short of space it's in the middle of nowhere.
 
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I've heard that old maze patterns, celtic knots, key patterns etc were to "distract" evil spirits. A spirit would become engrossed in solving the maze or merely in the complexity of the pattern that they would be delayed in their wicked deeds until morning, when they had no power.

"Troy" Towns might be "Trow" towns, the Trow being a kind of cornish troll that could shrink very small or grow very large.
 

escargot

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Celtic knots may also, I'm told, represent the complicated path of life.

Untying knots is also a witchy compulsion. Occult malice is dissipated in the effort to straighten the knot.

My pal Karen can bear this out. She had a huge bag full of wool which had become hopelessly tangled and she was about to throw it out when I visited. Of course I took it home and untangled it and wound it into neat balls.
(Otherwise I couldn't have turned her into a frog!)
 
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Anonymous

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Theres an interesting article by Graham Webster called Labyrinths and Mazes in Carvers "In Search of Cult" 1993 It goes into the religious background , the maze image on megalithic chambers , mazes that have been cut into the turf with low banks, and the relationship between mazes and dance. It is worth reading for the archaeological interest.
 
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Anonymous

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David said:
Some of the old mazes, carved in the turf, were known as: "troy towns", but I don't know the reason for this!!!!

There is also a maze made in the tiles, under the tower of Borne Church in Cambridgeshire, the only one in the UK (though there is one at Chartres Cathedral & supposedly others on the continent). As well as turf mazes at Saffron Waldon & at Hilton!!!!

Oh the article also says hy these mazes are called "troy towns". !
 

MrRING

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http://www.crystalinks.com/labyrinths.html

To journey of humanity is the separation from source and the return path to wholeness by creating balance in your life.

To walk the labyrinth is to create balance within one's brain as the soul seeks to restore balance within its male/female aspects - the duality of its creation - the electromagnetic polarities of its physical experience.

A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. It represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools. The spiral is the path of consciousness - the Phi Ratio - the Fibonacci Sprial of consciousness that forms the architectural constructs and blueprints of our reality through the patterns Sacred Geometry.

Labyrinths have also been linked with the teachings of the mystery schools that go back to ancient Egypt. These are the mystery school teachings - whose wisdom and knowledge is brought forth at this time - the knowledge of our creation.

A labyrinth is an archetype with which we can have a direct experience. We can walk it. It is a metaphor for life's journey. It is a symbol that creates a sacred space and place and takes us out of our ego to - As is Within - So is Without - As is Above - So is Below - The Emerald Tablets of Thoth - Alchemy of consciousness and transition from the physical mind.

Walking the labyrinth is a metaphor for your life's journey. This is similar to moving through the events of your dreams. Each is real in its own space-time. Each is there for you to embrace and to guide to the end of the game - the center of the labyrinth - the source of creation.

Walking the labyrinth - can be an Initiation in which you awaken the knowledge encoded withn your DNA.

I believe the labyrinth's in Ancient Crete were flat on the ground (as opposed to walls) and it would make more sense as a sacred procession....
 

many_angled_one

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I think the idea is that they are supposed to represent the path through life and thus the path to enlightenment, yes there are dead ends etc but there is always a way in/out, teaching patience, lateral thinking etc. That and they are fun!!
 
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Anonymous

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Some fun modern mazes to visit:- Legoland, 3 IIRC Windsor, Breamore House Hampshire, Longleat house- Wiltshire and of coure on my own turf- a turf maze- Bath, by the weir :D

Annic
 
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Anonymous

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Some fun modern mazes to visit:- Legoland, 3 IIRC Windsor, Breamore House Hampshire, Longleat house- Wiltshire and of coure on my own turf- a turf maze- Bath, by the weir :D

Annic
 

rynner2

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Restoration of medieval maze leaves its purpose still a puzzle

ALKBOROUGH The conservationists who have restored a rare medieval earth and grass maze say they are no closer to knowing why and when it was made.

Julian’s Bower, cut into the landscape at Alkborough, North Lincolnshire, above, is a labyrinth of interlocking rings measuring 44ft across. English Heritage unveiled the restored monument yesterday after a three-month closure for returfing. Its origins are a mystery, although it is mentioned in medieval documents, but it may combine elements of Greek myth, medieval penitence and innocent fun and games.

The maze is similar to a floor in the 13th-century French cathedral of Chartres. There pilgrims followed the circular route, sometimes on their knees, as an act of peity, penitence or meditation. Claims are made for a similar origin for Julian’s Bower.

The Alkborough maze has been returfed with a specially hard-wearing grass mix, as used for top football pitches, to help it to stand up to visitors’ footsteps.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 951306.ece
 

rynner2

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Hemp field becomes a folly in the mad spirit of King Ludwig

UTTING A picture of Neuschwanstein Castle, the retreat of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, took 1,200 hours to plough in a hemp field in Utting, Germany. The enterprise celebrates a king who was a promoter of the arts and architecture and littered Bavaria with imaginative castles.

Bavarians revere the eccentric King. Musicals and songs have been composed about him and Bavarian pubs still carry his portrait.

The King’s current popularity is based on admiration for his almost poetic love of building impractical castles.

His enthusiasm for castle-building was such that he bankrupted the state. The psychological explanation for his behaviour is most likely obsession, dubbed compulsive palace-building. [Doncha just love these complicated medical terms? ;) ] However, he was declared insane shortly before he drowned in the Starnberg Lake near Munich in 1886.

The 20,000 sq m (215,000 sq ft) hemp field labyrinth will be open to the public from July 19 to September 20.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/w ... 013285.ece
 

rynner2

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A new maze:

Italian creates world's largest maze
Franco Maria Ricci, the publisher behind Luigi Serafini's Codex Seraphinianus, creates seven-hectare maze at Fontanellato
John Hooper in Rome guardian.co.uk, Sunday 4 July 2010 19.05 BST

In a message announcing his retirement to the readers of art magazine FMR, the Italian publisher Franco Maria Ricci wrote: "To whoever asks me why, I shall answer in the same way as Voltaire: 'Laissez-moi cultiver mon jardin.' "

The full import of those words has only now become apparent six years later with the news that the man who published some of the world's most fantastical works ? and luxurious volumes ? has created its biggest maze. His labyrinth of bamboo hedges at Fontanellato near Parma reportedly covers some seven hectares (17.5 acres), which would make it more than five times larger than the Pineapple Garden Maze on Hawaii, the largest permanent hedge maze in the Guinness Book of Records.

The former publisher said he first confided his ambition to Jorge Luis Borges, who characteristically told him the world's largest maze already existed and was called a desert. The publisher of such flights of the imagination as Luigi Serafini's Codex Seraphinianus, an illustrated encyclopaedia dealing with a parallel world and written in an unintelligible alphabet, Ricci said he had based the design for his enormous labyrinth on mazes depicted in two Roman mosaics.

The maze will open to the public in 2012 when a visitors' centre has been built. Ricci said visitors would be advised to bring mobiles in case they needed help. A journalist from Corriere della Sera, which was given a first glimpse of the maze, recorded that he got lost on the return journey.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/ju ... maze-italy
 

skinny

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The former publisher said he first confided his ambition to Jorge Luis Borges, who characteristically told him the world's largest maze already existed and was called a desert.
That is profound. Because it's true, I suppose. A vast sandy desert or featureless ice cap would be far more difficult to escape - for anyone not Ranulph Feines anyhow. Same for those on the oceans or in space. Tricky business for most of us.

Preparation, research, training, familiarity, guidance tools and a good memory used to be basic requirements for the pioneers. Now it seems all one requires is a sense of adventure and a mobile telephone for the sticky bits.
 

McAvennie

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FelixAntonius said:
Some of the old mazes, carved in the turf, were known as: "troy towns", but I don't know the reason for this!!!!

There is also a maze made in the tiles, under the tower of Borne Church in Cambridgeshire, the only one in the UK (though there is one at Chartres Cathedral & supposedly others on the continent). As well as turf mazes at Saffron Waldon & at Hilton!!!!

Went to Chartres this weekend but unfortunately the chairs were all laid out in the cathedral so you could not really appreciate the maze. Would be best seen from above rather than floor level but with the chairs laid out down either side of the central aisle its effect was a bit lost.

Beautiful place though, the old part of the city really felt like stepping into a Ladybird fairy tale book while the Chartres En Lumieres after nightfall - light shows and projections on the facade of all the major buildings - was brilliant.

Really recommend visiting if anyone is holidaying in France this summer.
 

EnolaGaia

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FelixAntonius said:
Some of the old mazes, carved in the turf, were known as: "troy towns", but I don't know the reason for this!!!!

There have been allusive connections drawn between Troy and mazes / labyrinths since ancient times.

One discussion of these allusions (from: Mazes and Labyriths, by W. H. Matthews, [1922]) can be accessed online at:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/etc/ml/ml21.htm
 
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