A labyrinth is distinct from a maze as there is only one path to the center. Although complicated, it’s not fruitless trickery, but an allegory for the meditative processes of life.
It is the archetypical representation of the Medicine Walk. The labyrinth does not just take us through life but also through ourselves. We can find this pattern repeated in the fold of the grey matter of the brain to the arteries of the heart to the intestines of the gut; our three major experiential processing and intuitive centers. The subtlety of what lies within the center is the cumulative experience of the walk, the diamond we chip our route through stone to reveal.
This is likewise the symbol of the Walkabout. I am using the Australian Aboriginal term Walkabout to describe the initiatory journey after the experience of separation occurs. Separation, like it says on the jar of nut butter, is a natural process. We separate at points in our paths in order to further ascend through the spiral of life. Those who resist experience harder separation, those who embrace often find they have more terra firma to return to following their Walkabout.
Separation is not only from family, or place, or community. Separation can be from a concept of self that is dying away. We can cling to concepts of self; ‘nice guy’, ‘wild one’, ‘responsible one’ and create great suffering for ourselves and those around us with this attachment. This happens either by refusing to journey outward and gather new tools for learning, loving and living, or by resisting the journey inward to integrate our shadow, our regrets, expectations and our truths.
The Walkabout is a process wherein we distinguish ourselves beyond conditioning and external narratives.
When we enter the labyrinth of the mind, either through journeying away from our normal life into a state of pilgrimage or liminality, or by retreating from social expectations and responsibilities, we begin to navigate towards what it is we essentially think. For example you may grow up in a society that decrees that the role of man is to own women, cattle and land, and that this is the Holy calling of Mankind. As you begin to question these ideals you will feel yourself called further away from your kin in order to gain perspective. Similarly, you may perceive the devastation of consumerist capitalism and it’s influence within you and begin to question the norms surrounding you as demonstrably toxic to a healthy life.
In our Walkabout through the mind what does not rest easy within will be met as personal demons. The Walkabout of the mind can likewise be experienced through the Labyrinth of Life. We can encounter these demons in human forms as those who trigger or repulse us. Our Minotaurs, who seek to slay us with our hypocrisies and attachments. In our minds they are the uncomfortable thoughts, the stifled memories and jack-in-the-box epiphanies. On this journey, either of intro(or extro)spection we also meet teachers, guides and versions of ourselves in those we admire or are assisted by.
On the Walkabout of the Heart we are often compelled by a lack of passion, a lack of meaning, a feeling of isolation. We begin to seek true love, real purpose. First we seek with grasping, then as we meet all the ideas that we had of true love, we realise it was not those we were looking for. As we begin to release what we thought true love looked like we create a space of trust i vulnerability of not knowing. Once this space is cleared we can allow for unconditional love to flow.
This Mantra offers insight to a route to this treasure within.
ॐ मणिपद्मे हूँ
Om Manipadme Hum
‘The Sound of Silence the Diamond in The Lotus’
My interpretation of this multifaceted Mantra;
‘In the absence of all Thought is Love, Beyond Judgement we find the Jewel of the Heart beneath the protective walls of the Labyrinth, or the guarded petals of the Lotus.’
Eventually the meander through twists and turns to reveal the sparkling source of this seeming chaos is the first two phases of the initiatory process of the labyrinth. The next challenge is to return with your treasure intact. On the Walkabout of the Will our mettle is tested in the change we want to effect in ourselves and in the world around us. This Walkabout is the Walkabout of the intuitive instinct, the ability to trust your knowing above all else, no matter what narratives attempt to sway, entice and compromise you. This is the initiation of determination and practice, wherein we must defeat remaining demons, overcome old obstacles and embrace new challenges so as to implement all that we have learned.
At all points in our lives we are navigating one type of labyrinth or another. To do this with awareness means we can further embrace our calling and better actualise our paradise. Doing this unconsciously can leave us circling through someone elses journey, as we attempt to evade our truth by avoiding the Initiation of Separation.
Life will create initiations where culture will not. By this it is meant that what we do not confront in a timely manner will enter into crisis. An example of this is delaying the ending of a relationship. Many times we can put off ending relationships in a timely fashion before greater interdependence grows (or co-dependence) due to there being something going on for one or both parties. The lesson is that painful endings are never going to be timed well, and the more we delay the more likely it is that the relationship dependency will deepen and it will become a greater and greater challenge for one or both to remove themselves. An example of this is a case where a woman who, after a decade, had finally committed herself to ending her marriage. When she waa ready to speak with her partner she was greeted with the news that her husband was dying of a terminal illness. The decade evolved into a further five years of mediocrity of life and stress. She remained with her husband on his journey through his illness rather than taking her opportunity to self-actualise. Had she left during her initial need for separation who knows what may have come of her life.
Choosing what North American Indians refer to as ‘The Red Road’, the personal Medicine or Power Path is to seek initiation consciously through mapping the contours of the psyche; so that others may walk their path more lightly. The Red Road is the path of authenticity and personal truth. The Red Road requires that we take opportunities to mature as they arise and we do not resist the growing pains of separation, disappointing others and ridicule. We know on this path that all we do is clearing the way for those who will come after. There is no sacrifice, as our engagement with our truth is how we honour our predecessors; and it is a blessing.
Choosing ‘The Black Road’ is to seek ‘ease’ through bypassing (and thus dishonouring) the sacred cycles of death and rebirth in this lifetime. The Black Road is the road of the status quo and stagnant culture. The road of excuses and avoidance, that does not seek integrity but simply accepts applied law and standards. Many will chose the Black Road. Many won’t realise that choice until the initiation of separation is forced on them through crisis. Those who can embrace the lessons of separation will transfer to the Red Road, those who run may never know true growth.
So Brothers and Sisters, Blessings on your Path and Remember;
Seek Initiation, Walk your Red Road, Find your Medicine, Keep the Treasures Safe, and Bring your Power Home.