The term labyrinth comes from the Greek word ‘labyrinthos’. It refers to any maze-like building with a single path through it, unlike a genuine maze. The latter may have many intricately interwoven paths. The origin of the word is Lydian, although etymologically, it is related to Minoan labrys or ‘double axe’.Therefore, it most likely came to Crete through trade from Anatolia – Asia Minor.
The labyrinth is different from the maze. It traditionally has a single route that winds through it, whereas a maze can have many. Maze and labyrinth are still widely used interchangeably.
Want to know what is the meaning of this symbol? Or what is its history? Keep reading as we cover everything in this article.
Table of Contents
Daedalus was the legendary engineer who designed and constructed the complicated structure of Labyrinth for King Minos of Crete. This is according to Greek mythology. Daedalus had designed the Labyrinth so masterfully that he could hardly leave it after making it.
In the literary sense, it means a complex network of linked corridors or routes in which it is common to lose the way. This has also been a popular reference in John Green’s ‘Looking for Alaska’. However, if you visit a doctor’s office, the labyrinth will hold a different meaning. It is the inner ear structure containing tiny organs necessary for hearing and balance in human anatomy.
We clearly see one thing common in all the definitions. The term refers to a structure in which a person is likely to get lost.
Labyrinth definition in history
Neolithic period places marked the first origins of Labyrinths and labyrinthine symbols. They can be as different as modern Turkey, Ireland, Greece, and India. Mandalas in Tantric texts of India often contain labyrinths. Alternatively, in Britain and Ireland, it is commonly used in ring-and-cup patterns. Stonework and famous swirl designs such as those found at Newgrange also contain this feature.
Greek mythology’s most famous stories undoubtedly represent the notion of the labyrinth leading to fate. This is the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. As stated before, Daedalus created this labyrinth for King Minos of Knossos in Crete. The purpose was to indeed house the terrible half-man/half-bull known as the Minotaur. Minos prayed to Poseidon to give him a snow-white bull as a token of the god’s favour on his cause. This is when was competing for the throne alongside his siblings.
Minos was supposed to offer the bull to Poseidon. However, he was captivated by its beauty and kept it instead. Hence, he chose to keep it and give one of his own bulls of lower quality. Poseidon was outraged at Minos’ ungratefulness. He made Pasiphae, who was Minos’ wife, fall madly in love with the bull and reproduce with it. She thus gave birth to Minotaur which fed on human meat and was uncontrollable. Minos then commissioned the engineer Daedalus to construct a labyrinth to contain the monster.
Labyrinth definition: Greek Mythology
The myth is based on the prominent prince Theseus and his succession to the throne. As it is named after King Aegeus’s demise, the Aegean Sea also serves as a creation myth. Theseus is evidently the brilliant man who saves his friends and frees his city from the Minotaur’s curse. Yet, he also has a flaw, as he betrays the lady responsible for his triumph and unknowingly causes the death of his father.
In the tale, the labyrinth likewise acts as a vehicle for Theseus’ transition from a child to a king. He must pass a difficult test, defeat a beast, and return to the world he knows. Even though he succeeds, his immaturity costs him his father’s life. The labyrinth offered him the chance to change and grow, but he, like many others, refused. This was until he had to face the change at any cost.
Hence, the labyrinth becomes a symbol of change after facing difficulty.
Labyrinth definition in the bible
For a very long time the labyrinth has been a very sacred symbol for the christians. The labyrinth definition in christianity is very symbolic to the structure of the Labyrinth. Therefore, this symbolism means that there will be ups and downs, lows and highs and challenging times in life. Similarly, in the journey of life you might feel lost and hopeless. But in the end God will be there to lead you to your destination. You will find his salvation at the centre of your life.
The labyrinth is a manmade structure. Therefore, you won’t find it directly mentioned in the bible. However, the idea that the labyrinth conveys is found multiple times in the bible. Subsequently, you won’t find the so-called labyrinth definition in the bible.
Some of the ideas pertaining to the labyrinth are:
- “I am the way, the truth and the life”⸺ John 14:16
- “For we walk by faith, not by sight”⸺ Corinthians 5:7
Labyrinth definition: Great Gatsby
Authors seek to represent labyrinthine themes in their writing. They write their characters, stories, and items in the framework of a maze. Writers often use it to reveal symbolic literary meanings. It actually has plenty of tonal characteristics thus communicating a great deal of mood. An author frequently is simply attempting to borrow the romantic or legendary flavour of the image of a labyrinth as gothic or mystical buildings. They are frequently metafiction. The concept of the labyrinth is extensively used. It dates from 19th-century Gothic fiction to ultra-contemporary speculative work.
This eventually varies depending on the situation, although it can range from the mysterious to the scientific. Representations commonly emphasise the value of going through the puzzle rather than the start or end. Writers also use the metaphor of a labyrinth to represent complexity.The protagonist struggles through dead ends and unknown twists that tend to confuse him.
The ever popular novel, “The Great Gatsby” written by american writer F. Scott Fitzgerald has the term Labyrinth in it.
Quoting from the book “It was a rich cream color, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hat-boxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of wind-shields that mirrored a dozen suns”.
Here the Labyrinth definition is a complex system.
Labyrinth symbol puzzle
Labyrinthine is a horror game puzzle that is available on Steam. You can either play it alone or together with up to three additional people. It’s primarily a maze game with many puzzles to complete in each round. This helps to discover the area in a better way.
There are also many puzzles available on the classic labyrinth image. You can try solving these for fun! The image is attached below. Can you find an escape route away from the angry bull Minotaur?
Scroll over to find a solution for the same!
Labyrinth symbol tattoo
A Labyrinth symbol tattoo symbolises a trip to our centre and then back out into the real world. The iconography of the circle and spiral come together to form a long and meaningful path. Therefore, a labyrinth becomes a centuries-old symbol of completeness. People also used it as an instrument for prayer and meditation. When we walk one, it acts as a symbol for the road of life.
This makes it a popular choice for tattoos. Are you looking for some inspiration?
We have you covered!
- A simple maze tattoo design would be visible and charming.
- Our favourite is the maze on the lower neck which reminds you of its purpose!
- A plain but also elegant design would be a safe choice.
- People like to get the labyrinth symbol inked on their backs.
- Finally, you can combine yin and yang with this elegant design. Indeed, creativity has no limitations!
Labyrinth meaning in dreams
Dreaming of a maze or a labyrinth is pretty unusual. Nevertheless, It generally signifies some sort of struggle. It can express your feelings about how your life is going. It is crucial to recognise the difference between a maze and a labyrinth.
Mazes represent the choices we make. They can be either good or terrible. They are also tied to the surprises that life throws at us. People often associate Labyrinths with spirituality. They are more typically connected to your life. The completion of one is related to enlightenment and personal growth in life. You should aim to get an understanding of your inner self. Think of your direction in life if you dream of this symbol. A labyrinth signifies patience. Hence, one should also consider solutions to problems.
There are various possibilities of dreaming of this symbol. We have discussed their meanings and instances in the table below:
|● Someone is chasing you through it.||Facing pressure and difficulty to make a decision.|
|● You are getting Lost||A stressful and long journey in life awaits you.|
|● Finding a way through the puzzle||You have figured out the solution. Hence, this is a very good sign!|
|● It collapses||The knowledge you need to overcome obstacles clearly requires faith in yourself. It will overwhelm you otherwise.|
|● A familiar area slowly turns into a puzzle||Situations and places are getting stressful. Try facing every challenge one at a time.|
Labyrinth definition Antonyms
Mentioned here are a few antonyms of the word “Labyrinth”. They are as follows:
Labyrinth definition: Ear
Till now, we have talked a lot about the term “Labyrinth”, which is a structural symbol. However, we can also define it in terms of biology. Likewise, the inner ear of mammals is also known as “Labyrinth”. It mainly deals with the functionality of hearing and equilibrium in a mammal.
Labyrinth symbol spiral
A spiral labyrinth is a structured path and we use it for guided walking meditation or spirituality exercise. If you are a participant, then It is designed in a way you will go back and forth along the circular form. Finally, you will reach the centre of the spiral. It is called a unicursal. This actually means it has only one entry and therefore only runs in one way.
Mazes are multicursal. And even though we often use the term “maze” interchangeably with “labyrinth” this is not true. The participant has to make decisions at numerous places to exit it. Mazes frequently have multiple entrances and numerous false twists and dead ends. The Office is a popular show which featured a hay maze in one of its significant episodes.
Here, the activity of the left brain is temporarily suspended. Consequently, it can discourage activities like—logical cognition, analysis, and fact-based planning. Whereas, activities connected with the right brain such as intuition and imaginative creativity emerge.
You can try making this symbol on your own! People use different types of materials in outdoor as well as indoor spaces to create modern labyrinths. You can find them weaved into carpets and carved into the tightly packed dirt. In addition to this they are also built from canvas, mosaic tiles, or stones. The majority of current labyrinths are between 40 and 80 feet in circumference. The larger ones exceed these measures by a wide margin in contrast.
Labyrinth symbolism movie
The labyrinth represents young adults on the verge of adulthood in the 1986 film. The labyrinth is packed with unique individuals who have to face these challenges. The main character is Sarah. She is first shown as a naïve character. The audience later realises she is exactly like any teenager. Additionally, the labyrinth refers to the patriarchal world ruled by the Goblin King. As a result, Sarah’s quote, “You have no power over me” acts as a feminist protest against the prevalent sexism. Other symbols used in the film are the Bog of Eternal Stench and the Oubliette.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does the Greek labyrinth symbolise?
According to Greek mythology, labyrinths are the vehicle of change and transformation. Owing to the consequences Theseus had to face for the throne.
Are labyrinths spiritual?
They can be spiritual depending on the participant who either uses them for yoga or meditation. It is a matter of belief.
Did the labyrinth exist?
People still debate over the existence of the labyrinth because its origins stem from Greek mythology. Hence, you can describe it as a monument just in memory.
Who built labyrinths?
Daedalus, a legendary Greek architect, engineer, and artist created the iconic Labyrinth for King Minos of Crete. You must note how his name means ‘Skillfully Wrought’ in Greek.
What are labyrinths used for today? / What do people use labyrinths for?
People frequently use it for contemplation. They walk in it which causes them to lose focus of time and sense of direction. Therefore, the mind is peaceful. Churches, hospitals, and parks have labyrinths these days.
Why do people do labyrinths?
The old symbol represents wholeness and combines the images of spirals and circles to form a wandering but meaningful journey. For this reason,people utilised it as a relaxation and spiritual method for several years. It symbolises a peaceful journey to the core and out into the real world.
What is the centre of a labyrinth called?
The labyrinth has a single passage to the centre and a single exit. And we call the centre of the labyrinth unicursal.
How do you pray in a labyrinth?
There exists no right way to pray. Enter the puzzle at a pace that feels natural and choose a spot that seems right. You can now pray as you like.
What are the different types of labyrinths?
There are two distinct basic types based on the pattern – Trojaborg-type and the Chartres type. Many labyrinth floor layouts are based on either of the two. The common feature is that you have travelled all of the paths when you reach the core.