Sunday, October 16, 2005

What is labyrinth prayer walking?

Continuing the series of Herescope posts that examine the occultic roots and definitions of new-fangled words that have risen to popularity in evangelicaldom. . . .

Labyrinths as a form of prayer walking are rapidly increasing in popularity as a personal way to gain more spirituality. Several examples can be found at:

According to Webster's Dictionary, a labyrinth is "a structure containing an intricate network of winding passages hard to follow without losing one's way; maze." In Greek mythology "such a structure built by Daedalus for King Minos of Crete, to house the Minotaur," a half-bull, half-man creature which was annually fed "seven youths and seven maidens from Athens." A labyrinth is synonymous with something complicated, perplexing in arrangment, puzzling, intricate, and difficult to follow.

According to the occult reference The Seeker's Handbook, the etymology of the word "labyrinth" has to do with "labor, birth, or rebirth. At sacred sites, such as Chartres, Glastonbury, and Knossos on Crete, a maze constructed of earthwalls, ruts, tiles, or underground windings, believed to have been used in initiations . . . ."

"In our times, the analogue of modern seeking -- a quest [see Herescope 2 posts back, ed.] that twists and winds, yet exhibits an amazing design, the kind of pattern produced as the seeker responds, moment by moment, to the lessons and opportunities for self-revelation posed by life itself. . . ." [emphasis added]

The Seeker's Handbook also postulates that the butterfly image is connected to the labyrinth myth "because in Greek it is the word psyche which is also used for human soul. It was also an emblem held sacred to the Great Goddess or Mother Earth. ". . . [T]he butterfly motif suggests that the meandering design of the labyrinth may have been derived, by some wild transposition, from tracking the flight of that elusive and beautiful creature." (John Lash, The Seeker's Handbook, Harmony Books, 1990, p. 307)

Another occultic definition for labyrinth can be found at "The labyrinth is an archetype of transformation. Its transcendant nature knows no boundaries, crossing time and cultures with ease. The labyrinth serves as a bridge from the mundane to the divine. It serves us well." (Kimberly Lowelle Saward, Ph.D., TLS President)

The Truth:

Walking through labyrinths, prayer walking, prayer journeys, quests, and every other sort of new terminology that has entered the neoevangelical lexicon are all spiritual activites per se. But, dear believer, just because something is "spiritual" doesn't make it biblical!

Clearly, the idea of labyrinth prayer walking originates from some very pagan rituals, rites of initiation (which included human sacrifice), myths and fables. The Christian believer is warned about engaging in mythology:

"Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do." (1 Timothy 1:4)

"But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness." (1 Timothy 4:7)

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (2 Timothy 4:3,4)

"For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty." (2 Peter 1:16)

The Christian walk is not a labyrinth. It is not a complex and intricate path. It is not a puzzle, nor is it crooked, nor is it obscure. The Lord has promised us that His Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105). As Christians, we are to run the race with perseverance, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2). And finally, brethren, remember the Lord Jesus Christ's words:

"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)

More tomorrow!