Mysterious Mazes and Labyrinths
There is no need to build a labyrinth when the entire universe is one.Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings
Sometimes life may seem like one long maze or labyrinth. We don’t know where we’re going to end up: twisted in spirals and helixes with unexpected turns, bumps in the road, and dead ends, breaks in a forked path with hills and valleys…one can get lost! A labyrinth is a maze, but it’s more than just that; it’s even more complicated.
Labyrinths go back to ancient Greece and the legend of King Minos of Crete, who created such a maze beneath his palace to house the fantastical hybrid creature, the Minotaur (with the body of a man and the head of a bull). While there’s little evidence that this labyrinth ever existed, there are very old symbols of labyrinths around the world. Many can be found in cathedrals and are used for prayer, such as the labyrinth found in the Chartres Cathedral in France. Before Christianity, the labyrinth symbol was considered frightening and malevolent.
What is a Labyrinth?
The word “labyrinth” usually has a sort of ominous tone as it’s filled with “blind alleys” and “intricate passageways.” They are confusing and perplexing, to say the least. Most mazes have more than one path in which to exit, while labyrinths only have one. Labyrinths are ancient, puzzling symbols that are usually created in the form of a geometric shape that does not occur in nature. “As a result they point to the creative genius of humanity.”
Mazes in play:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.Robert Frost
We’ve all used a pencil to try and find our way through a curving maze drawn on paper or even gone through actual mazes carved from hedges and topiary (usually in a garden with a meeting place in the center). Games involving mazes usually result in an end goal, and the player must make it through the winding paths in order to win. Some mazes are more ambiguous than others, making almost no sense. This is a great thrill for the experienced navigator. Of course, mazes can be metaphorical as well, such as Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken.” This is usually one of the first poems children must memorize in school (usually in junior high, if not before) and instructs the reader to, literally, forge their own path in life.
Where to find labyrinths and amazing mazes
We usually think of cornfield mazes in autumn at Halloween festivals and how fun (and spooky) they can be if wandered at night. There are amazing mazes all over the world that tourists can visit and explore. Spartan and the Green Egg even have a couple on their list of explorer destinations!
- “The Catacombs of Paris are a series of underground tunnels (formerly part of a mining operation). In 1785, a portion of the labyrinth-like tunnel system was used to house human remains moved from the Saints-Innocents Cemetery. Remains from other cemeteries continued to be moved to the Catacombs throughout the 1800s.” Can you imagine navigating an underground network of passageways filled with skeletons?
- “Versailles, also known as the Palace of Versailles, was built in France in 1623 as a hunting lodge. It was expanded from 1661-1678 to become a royal palace. The 721,182-square-foot property has 67 staircases, 1,250 fireplaces, and over 700 rooms.” The hedged maze or “Labyrinth of Versailles” was created by André Le Notre in 1668 in the gardens of the palace. While the gardens can still be visited today (and are known as some of the most beautiful in the world), the labyrinth was destroyed in 1775.
To read more about the information mentioned in this blog, check out the links below:
To learn more about Spartan and the Green Egg and the specific travel destinations mentioned above, clink the links and see what’s on the website:
Also, you can check out an earlier blog post to read more about the Catacombs of Paris.