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About Our Labyrinths

photo by Bob Schultz (see his article on local labyrinths in Davis Life Magazine at http://www.davislifemagazine.com/fun-stuff/people/walking-bob )

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LABYRINTH AND A MAZE? According to the Labyrinth Society of Edmonton, Canada,"A maze is designed to confuse you and challenge you to find your way to the exit or to the center and then back out again. It is designed to test your problem-solving skills, your memory, and your tolerance for frustration! A labyrinth is designed to give you a single path in and out (so there can be no confusion as to where to go). It is a confined, guided walk with many turns toward a center. It is designed to let you walk in a compact area while you let your mind relax and meditate."

HISTORY: The oldest known examples of labyrinths go back approximately 3,000 years and are found from Ireland to Syria. Labyrinths have been constructed of almost every material imaginable over the years. Turf labyrinths in Europe are known to date back to at least the 1500's.

While labyrinths have been used for everything from trapping evil spirits to simple games, there is a long history of their use as a form of spiritual contemplation, prayer, and penitence. Many famous cathedrals, from Chartres in northern France to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, have pavement labyrinths for use by religious practitioners.

The center of our northern turf labyrinth(near the cemetery office)most closely resembles the design of the classical labyrinth rather than that of the medieval labyrinth. The entrance and the "long path" sections are a more creative free form style.

Our southern labyrinth, located near the southwestern parking area, was recently designed by Eagle Scout Adam Borchard based on the Cretan style. This labyrinth is most easily identified by the bench at its center.

USE: To use our labyrinths, we suggest walking the path slowly and contemplatively, with eyes somewhat downcast and slow, even breathing. For the north labyrinth near the office, begin at the railings that lead up the wheelchair ramp. As you approach the driveway, cross it and continue on the "long path" section. When the "long path" brings you back to the driveway, cross back and continue into the central labyrinth area. When you reach the center, pause briefly, turn, and wind your way back out again.

The entrance to our southern labyrinth is just southeast of the swale area, near our southern parking lot.

For maximum benefit, allow 10 - 15 minutes to walk either labyrinth. As you slowly walk the path, you might try pondering the path as a metaphor for life, praying, meditating, being very aware in the present moment, or paying particular attention to each breath.

We invite you to enjoy our labyrinths and, if you wish, to share about your experience with us. Let your friends and neighbors know about these special spots.

Davis Cemetery District & Arboretum

820 Pole Line Rd.
Davis, CA 95618
PHONE 530-756-7807 FAX 530-756-7850
e-mail: cemetery@dcn.org