The Labyrinth

Facts about the labyrinth

Man has been creating labyrinths (mazes) for more than 4000 years. We can find them in different cultures, in different periods, in different parts of the world – from India and Sumatra to Crete, Island, Arizona and Brazil.












The classical, one-way labyrinth adapts to its surroundings; it is both attractive and intricate. Its construction is quite simple: the procedure is repeated until we get the appropriate size. Walking is essential, of course: the path must be adequately wound so as to give the feeling of hiding and exposing, nearing to and distancing from the centre – suddenly we find ourselves in the centre, without even knowing how did we get there. The modern, ramified labyrinth – as its name suggests – comprises multiple paths, entanglements and returns. In the past 50 years, large and complex variations have spread both throughout the real world (as parks, playgrounds, thematic parks) and the digital one (computer games, SF films, pyramid schemes). Regardless of technological contrivances, labyrinths still attract with their elementary charm and potential for transitory deferral of time and space.

Labyrinth – between superstition and reality

Labyrinth served as defence against the intrusion of evil: the wound and curved pathways were supposed to prevent the ancestral spirits dwelling in the centre of the labyrinth to break out into everyday life. 

It was also used as a ritual and reverential way, for pilgrimage, as a space for dance, or for courting the promising bride … 

It might be that the origin of cosmology – the ancient understanding of the revolution of time enciphered in numbers and movements – is hidden in labyrinth. The circular path widens and narrows, as if following the journey of the sun, its daily and yearly naissance; at the same time, it symbolises our life – from day to day, in every season, from birth to death and to rebirth. 

The original labyrinth had only one path leading from the entrance to the centre – without riddles and blind ways. Later, a multi-path, ramified labyrinth developed in addition to the single-path labyrinth. 
Cursorily we could claim that the world labyrinth entered the Slovene language quite late, in the time when multi-path labyrinths were already known. As the Dictionary of Slovene Language puts it: 
blodnjak (maze) – a place where one can wander around; labyrinth 
zabloditi (to wander around) – to go without a goal; to go astray 

The Western civilisation learned about labyrinths from the Greek mythology –Ariadne's thread, a ball of red thread that helped Theseus to come out of the labyrinth after killing the Minotaur, half man and half bull.