But recently, Mike saw Pan's Labyrinth and thought that would be a movie I'd like. I was thrilled by it. It's a must see, in my opinion. And as rarely as I go to the movies, that is saying something. A fairy tale for adults, it's as full of fantasy and darkness as any traditional fairy or folk tale. Faithful to the form of classical fairy tales, the fantasy unfolded in layers of archetypal symbols, which were a relief and a guide to truth, set in sharp contrast to the real madness of the fascist Franco era.
Labyrinths have fascinated me for a long time. Long time readers who know I've mentioned labyrinths here before, please bear with me. It has been a structure that I've wanted to include in my garden someday, somewhere, and just haven't had the opportunity to do as yet.
Labyrinths are a very ancient design that are enjoying a revival of sorts, as we seek out ways to find answers to our stressful lives.
One of the earliest mentions of labyrinths is in reference to the palace of Minos, the Cretan "Moon King". Other early references to the design can be found on coins, caves, and tombs. For more pictures of various ancient occurrences of the labyrinthine design, here's a quick look.
Most authorities seem to agree that unlike a maze, which involves a lot of different paths and choices, a journey in which one can get lost, a labyrinth has only one path along which one travels through all parts of the design, often arriving at a "centre", then returns outward from the labyrinth, symbolically returning to the world of linear time and the 5 senses. It is thought that walking the labyrinth was a ceremonial or meditative act, the design often found at the entrance to a cave or holy site. Many people think it symbolically takes one on the journey into the other- or under-world and out again, similar to the pagan sacred kings' journeys into death and rebirth, a cyclic reference to the rhythms of the seasons and the earth-womb.
One of the most famous and beautiful labyrinth design can be found at Chartres, with the six-lobed device of Aphrodite at its centre. It may be an example of pagan designs insinuated into Christian architecture, either with intent by the church fathers who tried to adapt pagan rituals when they proved impossible to eradicate, or unconsciously or secretly by the masonic brotherhoods of builders and craftsmen who worked for many generations to build this breathtaking structure.
A nice modern example of a labyrinth is located west of the Eaton Centre at Yonge and Dundas streets in Toronto in Trinity Square Park. Two beautiful labyrinths are located at the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.