The Handwork teacher

I am a mother to two beautiful girls and I teach Handwork and Fine Arts in our local waldorf charter school in Arizona.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

understanding the spiral walk for advent
From above site

The spiral has found its way into the art of almost all cultures, from ancient primitive rock carvings on all continents to today's corporate logos. They show up in celtic art, native American petroglyphs, Nazca earthworks, Arabic architecture, Japanese rock gardens, Hindu spiritual texts, Australian aboriginal paintings and African art. Surprisingly, no religious or political group has claimed exclusive rights to the spiral. It remains non-sectarian, or maybe pan-sectarian. The spiral belongs to everyone and excludes no one.

In various mythologies the spiral is a globally positive symbol. Here are some of the meanings that have been attributed to the spiral.

Carl Jung, the famous psychiatrist, said that the spiral is an archetypal symbol that represents cosmic force.

In ancient Britain, the spiral seems to have been associated with the feminine as the doorway to life.

It has been associated with the cycles of time, the seasons, the cycle of birth, growth, death, and then rebirth. The cycles of time and nature are the cycles of life.

Some consider the spiral a symbol of the spiritual journey. It is also considered to represent the evolutionary process of learning and growing. It seems that life doesn't proceed in a straight line. The path of life more closely resemble a spiral. We seem to pass the same point over and over again but from a different perspective each time. To walk and then stand in the center of a spiral or labyrinth has been a psycho-spiritual exercise for centering the consciousness.

The spiral stands for coming into being.

The spiral shows up often in nature - in hurricanes and tornados, in the pattern of seeds in a sunflower, in the growing tips of ferns, in the pattern that leaves grow on a stem, in the shape of a nautilus shell, and, as a helix, the shape of the DNA molecule.

The spiral is the journey of life

We join spokes
together in a wheel,

but it is the center hole

that makes the wagon move.

We shape clay into a pot,

but it is the emptiness inside

that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house,

but it is the inner space

that makes it livable.

We work with being,

but non-being is what we use.

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 11
Translation by
Stephen Mitchell

What are the origins of the Advent Spiral?

This quote pretty much sums it all up: As a universal symbol the Spiral/Labyrinth appears throughout history dating some 4,500 years and appears cross-culturally over the face of our world throughout our known history.

The meaning usually associated with the advent spiral today is more specific, however. In some Waldorf schools it symbolizes finding light in the darkness. In other schools and churches walking the spiral as an individual carries the image that every human being must make; a journey to an inner place; where we can find a light to carry back into the world to help us in our own journey. The labyrinth is said to be non-denominational because it can be related to many different religions and cultures and because it represents mans journey on his own spiritual path within his religion, rather than the path of one specific religion.

There are many different kinds of spiral walks. The simplest is the spiral, however, some spirals are modified in to different or more intricate shapes. Some of the earliest forms of modified spirals, also known as labyrinths, are found in Greece, dating back to 2500-2000 B.C.E. This labyrinth is called the Cretan labyrinth or classical seven-circuit labyrinth. So much a part of the fabric of this early society was the labyrinth, that it was embossed on coins and pottery. Early Christian labyrinths date back to 4th century, a basilica in Algeria. The Chartres design labyrinth is a replica of the labyrinth laid into the cathedral floor at Chartres, France in the thirteenth century. The Chartres design is a classical eleven-circuit labyrinth (eleven concentric circles) with the twelfth being in the center of the labyrinth.

Just to show you how high-tech spirituality has become I even found a labyrinth online you can walk with your fingers (computer mouse):

The Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress of Grace Episcopal in San Francisco is credited for re-introducing the labyrinth to the world as a contemporary psycho-spiritual tool in the early 1990s, having learned about the pattern from Dr. Jean Houston. Grace Cathedral was the first church to duplicate the Chartres labyrinth pattern in its Inter-Faith Garden using terrazzo marble.

Some people are really into spiral and labyrinth walks and do it all the time. Perhaps Ill keep mine in the backyardat least for a few days.anyway, if you really are into knowing some more about the many origins and extensive history of Labyrinths (spirals included) then read on

The Advent Spiral Walk

Myth and History of Labyrinths...


The spiral is the most generative form of subtle energy. When its coil is unwound the stored energy is released. The areas where straight ley lines cross, or where underground water run are places to build sacred temples, labyrinths. These places are rich in both yin and yang (yin underground water crossing yang energy lines). The labyrinth resonates to this numinous spiral, the Phi ratio known as the 'Golden Mean' found in all of nature.

The Hopi Indians of North America had a symbol for Mother Earth known today as the "Classical Seven-Path Labyrinth." It was this symbol of the Mother which identified the sacred in nature - that spiraling form found throughout nature. Labyrinths were woven into objects to personify man's connection to his source and were often placed at sacred places in nature to remind him of this union. When one walks the labyrinth it is in recreating this very ancient expression of thanks and remembrance of the divine in all things.

Some Ancient Labyrinths were for Healing...

The Labyrinth is an extension of man's desire to co-create with nature. When man consecrates space in nature as sacred he heals a part of himself. The earth has the capacity to heal us just as we have this capacity to heal the earth, it is a symbiotic relationship. In ages past when people worked closely with the earth the first and best fruits of the harvest were always returned to the Mother in thanks for her many gifts.

Some Labyrinths were for Gifting...

The Labyrinth is a beautiful form of this gifting process between man and his environment -- a precious spiraling pathway uniting us with our natural habitat. The conscious intent of creating this Sacred Space originates in our awareness of the divine and how we use the universal language of color, sound, movement and form to heal and regenerate our land, ourselves. We reveal ourselves by what we do and say, how we build, paint, and sing. The joy of unveiling the true self-freed of emotional restraints cannot be surpassed.

Some Labyrinths were to transcend the physical

Labyrinths are temples that enhance and balance and bring a sense of the sacred - a place where we can confirm our unity with the cosmos, awaken our vital force and elevate our consciousness. These structures are space/time temples where we can behold realities that oddly enough transcend space and time. The orientation, form and geometry of a labyrinth has symbolic as well as spatial importance. It is a mirror for the divine, a place to behold the beauty in nature.

The Labyrinth helps to create an Energy Release

Spiraling inward and out, this serpentine flow is the most generative form of subtle energy. The process of moving through the pathway unwinds this stored energy, releasing, magnifying, and ultimately harnessing the flow. Working directly in conjunction with the human energy fields this spiraling flow interacts with the energy coiled at the base of our spine converting the subtle energy into life force itself.

Some Labyrinths were thought to be sacred gateways

Labyrinths are known as sacred gateways and have been found at the entrance of ancient sites around the world. Often located at the center of subtle 'earth energies' these temples enhance, balance, regenerate and confirm our unity with the cosmos.

Some Labyrinths were used for childbirth meditation...

A type of Labyrinth known as a Yantra was used as a meditation by Hindu midwives to assist in childbirth and served as a means of relaxation for the birth canal, another labyrinthine form.

Labyrinths have always been associated with ancient pilgrimage routes and rituals of self-discovery. They were worn as a form of protection and ornamentation and were often found carved on doorways to bless a dwelling.

Some Labyrinths were Associated with Magic...

Labyrinths are time windows, portals, where time stands still. They are known to facilitate altered states of consciousness and have parallels with reincarnation, initiation, prosperity, and fertility rites. Ancient Scandinavian sailors believed the labyrinth had magical properties and when walked could control the weather and ensure a good catch.

Ancient Temples...

As a universal symbol the Labyrinth appears throughout history dating some 4,500 years and appears cross-culturally over the face of our world throughout our known history.

Labyrinths are found in many sacred cities

Labyrinths date back to early Crete, Egypt, Peru and India and were used for ritual walking and spiritual contemplation. Often called "city of turns" labyrinths were equated with Holy cities such as Troy, Jericho, and Jerusalem.

There is even a Chakra Labyrinth...

Resonating to the vibration of "seven" the Classical Labyrinth has a direct correlation with the primary Chakras, Tones on the scale, and Colors of the Rainbow.

The spiral walk and labyrinth is thought to cure illness...

Equated with the brain many cultures believed that the spiral and the labyrinth could cure illness. Today the labyrinth is known to have a curative effect on certain ailments by producing a sense of well-being and balance through a type of vestibular stimulation, accessing both left and right hemispheres of the brain.

The Phaistos Disc

Found in l908 on the Island of Crete the Phaistos Disk is at least 3500 years old. It's the first known disk of humanity on which information was stored and recorded. Stamped on both sides, the disk bears symbols of hieroglyphic script spiraling from the outside inwards in a Labyrinthine manner. It is one of the great unsolved mysteries of the Minoan Culture, famous for the legend of Theseus and the Minataur (who was locked in the Labyrinth at Knossos).

The Phaistos Disk is probably much older than currently assumed as the symbology pre-dates known Mineoan hieroglyphs. Interpretation ranges from a form of ancient calendar, to accessing multi-dimensional doorway's based on the Isis-Osiris mysteries. The Minoan language and writing is to this day completely unknown although there are many scholarly interpretations of the symbology as an ancient form of writing.

The actual Disk is a terra-cotta tablet, which was fired and measures six inches wide by one inch deep. It was found beside a tablet of Linear A writing of ancient Crete embossed with 48 unique symbols. The disk is known as the earliest printing press ever devised, the technology then abruptly disappeared and did not resurface for another 2,600 years!

According to researcher Claire Watson "the key to the understanding of the pictographs, and the disk, lies in the sacred geometry found on the disk." She has written an interesting book entitled "Interstellar Flight" depicting the correlation between the Labyrinth, Tree of Life, and the Phaistos Disc indicating it's use as a dimensional doorway.

The Disc of Phaistos is on display at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum on Crete.

Today, spirals are a popular form of meditation in churches throughout North America.
from the above site


sara said...

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