Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Is walking a labyrinth, a pilrimage?

Labyrinth - Houston, Texas
Pilgrimage or not?
A pilgrimage is a journey to a sacred place.  The center of a labyrinth is for some folks a sacred place for meditation and prayer.  I walked this Chartes style labyrinth for meditation yesterday.  Here are my thoughts ....

Walking the labyrinth did not take me all day, just forty-five minutes or so.  If it had been raining I would not have walked, I would have waited for a better day.  So was this a pilgrimage? 

To walk the labyrinth I did not climb mountains or ouch, painfully walk down them.  The surface was soft pebbles not rocky gravel, slate, limestone, grass, mud, cobblestone or tarmac.  I did not walk all day with a heavy backpack, sleep the night before in one big room with a hundred other pilgrims (some of them snoring, farting, or like Bob (London) in 2007 - both).  I did not share the toilets and showers or get woken up at an ungodly hour by those who like to be on the Camino before the sun comes up and do not care who they wake in the process.  I did not have blisters to tend to, tendonitis, shoulder pain, or back pain but I did have pain in my left knee.  I did not have to continue on in the rain because there are no buildings for cover and I am x kilometers from my destination.  I did not have to walk under the hot sun from a cloudless sky with no shade tree in sight.  Walking a labyrinth is a short journey where you can see the entire route before starting off.  It took me forty-five minutes not forty-five days.  Keep your wits about you and you will not get lost.  Of course the same is true of the Camino, keep your wits about you, look for those golden arrows, and you will not get lost.

To me a pilgrimage is usually a long journey in unfamiliar territory.  Although there are many trials on a pilgrimage there are far more spectacular moments that outweigh the tough times.


  1. Maybe not, but it's clearly a meditation. Remember the labyrinth we walked in Santa Fe?


  2. Yes, not really a pilgrimage, though walking the labyrinth is important in a different and symbolic and meditative way. A pilgrimage has to have those hardships, friendships, lonelinesses, and the depth and intensity of a long duration!

    Bob, oh dear! However he obviously made some kind of an impresssion ;)

  3. Andrée, Yes I remember Santa Fé and looked for the photographs from there but could not find them. I have to plug in the scuzzy disk. :)

    SW, Certainly one can meditate when walking a labyrinth and stop awhile in the center. I am still working on understanding the 4,000 year symbology behind them.

    It was 2007: Bob (London) as opposed to a nice man Bob (Texas), was placed in the female room of the municipal albergue in Villamajor Monjardin. He kept us awake nearly all night, I have never heard somebody so bad, never. After that we purposely tried to lose him. In Logroño we spotted him walking toward us and all faced the other way. Did not see him, or hear of him after that but yes, he left us with a lasting impression and is always mentioned when we get together.