If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Labyrinths, Brain Science, and Mystery

Walking the Labyrinth at Chartres Catherdral by Daderot
My love of labyrinths must have started with the myth of Ariadne, that Cretan princess of long ago. She captivated me in a way that few mythic heroines did. Never mind that the first chapter of her life didn't end well (Theseus, the hero she fell in love with, the man she taught the secrets of the labyrinth to, eventually abandoned her on a deserted Greek island). The final part of the story – where the god Dionysus falls in love with her, marries her, and makes her immortal – now that's a happy ending.

I think of that story every time I walk a labyrinth. Luckily, there are many where I live. They can be found in chapels and green spaces, even backyards. Whenever I travel, I look to see if there will be one near my destination.

The labyrinth combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but meaningful path. It is a powerful metaphor for life's journey, but it also provides a particularly satisfying neurological experience. Our brains operate differently in a labyrinth, it seems, and therefore, we become different people, even for just a few minutes.

To understand labyrinths, you must first understand that a labyrinth is not a maze. Mazes must be solved, a left brain activity that involves choices and an active mind and logical, sequential, linear thinking. A maze is multicursal, with many paths. If you don't pay attention, you can get lost in one.

Not so with a labyrinth. It is unicursal – one way in, one way out. There are no decisions, no choices, no thinking required. The only choice is to enter. To walk one is a right brain activity involving intuition, creativity, and imagination, and it requires a receptive mindset. You must trust the path, surrender to it.

A labyrinth is not a puzzle; it is a mystery. Theologian Diogenes Allen illuminates the difference: "When a problem is solved, it is over and done with. We go on to other problems. But a mystery, once recognized, is something we are never finished with. Instead, we return to it again and again and it unfolds new levels to us. Mysteries, to be known, must be entered into. We do not solve mysteries. The deeper we enter into them, the more illumination we get. Still greater depths are revealed to us the further we go."

With a labyrinth, the journey really is the destination. We've all heard that old saying, but sometimes it seems little more than an admonition to enjoy the scenery, like life is a train ride, with all the countryside of Life just flying by unless one pays attention.

The labyrinth offers a different truth. It teaches that life is lived step by step. In the metaphorical labyrinth, like in real labyrinths, there is only one way in and one way out, so you can't get lost. And unlike the labyrinth of Greek myth, you will find no monster in the middle – only yourself.

You'll find yourself at the end too, only not the same you who went in. And likewise, the labyrinth has changed too, by your presence within it, so the only thing to do is go back inside, again and again and again.

If you're interested in exploring a labyrinth yourself, you can find one in your location by using the World Wide Labyrinth Locator. It lists the locations to over 5200 labyrinths; it's also a good place to learn about different types of labyrinths and other fascinating tidbits.

Happy spiraling!


Jim Jackson said...

When I think of labyrinth compared to maze, I think of internal-focused rather than external. A maze has walls of some sort to hide the truth of where you are and how to get out. Labyrinths are often open, so there is no issue of getting out, even if one did not choose to follow the one path. But in following that path, ignoring what goes on around you, you learn of yourself.

Or I could be all wrong.

~ Jim

Julie Tollefson said...

Fascinating and intriguing. And it appears there are eight labyrinths within about 25 miles of home - I have some exploring to do!

Margaret Turkevich said...

Cincinnati has all kinds, from a very public labyrinth in a new riverfront park near the stadiums, to a woodland labyrinth constructed of logs. I'll try several. The outdoor aspect is very appealing.

Tina said...

That is an aspect of labyrinths I'd never considered before, Jim the internal versus external focus. Labyrinths are all about the tension of this and that -- left and right, straight and curved, choice and fate -- this seems like a valuable addition to the perspectives.

Julie -- have fun! You too, Margaret! They are certainly addictive.

Kait said...

What a great thing to do. Just reading about it is relaxing. I've bookmarked the map. Can't wait to do my first labyrinth!

Grace Topping said...

Fascinating. I didn't realize that there was a difference between a maze and a labyrinth. And that you use different parts of your brain going though them.

Gloria Alden said...

Tina, I've walked several labyrinths on various vacations around the country, but I don't know of any in my area. I wish there was at least one.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Tina,
I'm fascinated by labyrinths. I made one on the floor of my meeting room library for a children's program a few years ago - masking tape on a carpeted floor worked surprisingly well. Funny how many grownups wanted to walk the path, and how peaceful everyone was after they walked it. There's an outdoor one not far from me and now I'm dying to try it. Thanks for the locator, too.

Tina said...

I wish I had one in my backyard -- barring that, I purchased a little finger labyrinth that I can trace when I get wistful for the spiral contemplative mood. Also, several friends of mine have roll-out labyrinths that can be laid out like a rug in a large enough room and walked. I find this especially interesting since one use of labyrinths is as a substitute for pilgrimage -- now you can even have a substitute for the substitute!

KM Rockwood said...

Interesting. The students in the alternative high school in which I worked for a while had a labyrinth that the students constructed.

Tina said...

I helped build the labyrinth in my minister's backyard, and creating one is just as satisfying as walking one, though it does require more conscious presence.