Home > DSO Events, Episcopal Labyrinths > DSO Events: Power prayer workshop on the labyrinth (UPDATED, with pretty picture)

DSO Events: Power prayer workshop on the labyrinth (UPDATED, with pretty picture)

21 September 2009
DSO youth gathered around a labyrinth

DSO youth gathered around a labyrinth

Excerpted from News from the Diocese of Southern Ohio e-newsletter, graciously forwarded by one of our Oysters  (And by the way – here we see yet another example of how this site is by and for the Oysters of DSO.   Oysters, if you see something odd going on in the diocese, please bring it here).  

“A Prayer Power workshop on the labyrinth is set for Christ Church, Glendale, for Sunday, Sept. 27, with Susan MacKellar, facilitator.  The event will include a lunch at 1 p.m., followed by the workshop, which will include information and experience using the labyrinth.”

Labyrinths are a ‘new / old’ thing.  One can find them in many Medieval French cathedrals.  One theory is that they were used as means for people intent on going on pilgrimages to fulfill their pilgrimage vows.  The modern usage is not the same.  Greg Griffith over at StandFirm put out a fascinating article several months ago about the resurgence of labyrinths, and the connection of this modern resurgence to the New Age Movement. It’s a bit of a read, but worth it.  But I digress.. the announcement continues:

” “Basically, the labyrinth is a meditation tool, a way of getting in touch with God,” says MacKellar. “Labyrinths have been around for thousands of years. They’ve existed in every culture, all over the world. Native americans called theirs the medicine wheel,” she adds. “

Um, no. The only thing certain about Medicine Wheels is that they were at one point, according to the Royal Alberta Museum: Collections and Research: Archeology: FAQ page,

“…built to commemorate the death place of, or the last tipi occupied by, a famous warrior.”

And that’s for some, not all Medicine Wheels.  The other uses for Medicine Wheels, according to the RAM FAQ page, are diverse, but lost to history:

“The purpose of all of the other types of medicine wheel are not known by archaeologists.”

Also, look at the designs of various types of medicine wheels.  Quite different from a labyrinth.  No, a medicine wheel is not like a labyrinth.

The Oyster who called this to my attention had this to say on the subject:

“I don’t know much about labyrinths. I have attached the news I sent out about DSO youth using them along with some info from Stand Firm and other places. My understanding is that in the right environment with proper guidance and right motives, they can probably be OK. I think though that they are mostly dangerous in less than ideal settings and are certainly tied to and used in occult practices.

The red flag in this case to me would be the “Native americans called theirs the medicine wheel” statement, which implies they see this as something tied to other religions, cults and gods but don’t seem to mind one bit and even highlight the fact.”

My reactions after my own web query are similarly mixed.  I’m not sure I agree with one website, that compared the labyrinth to a Ouija Board;  but I’m not sure this is like transforming a beer drinking song into a hymn, either.  What I found troubling was that there does seem to be a consistent spiritual aspect to the recent labyrinth movement, but that it doesn’t always focus on the Triune God.  In that manner, it is indeed troubling that something used in occultic practice is used for Christian worship.   It, ah, begs a lot of questions. 

I’ve decided that this needs further investigation.  Stay tuned, Oysters!

[H/T:  Pearls Before Swine]

– Elder

UPDATE:  The above (slightly modified) picture is from the Episcopal Youth Ministry in Southern Ohio website.

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