Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • Kelly Murphy MasonEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_383

The labyrinth is an archetypal form found in disparate cultures across eras spanning from prehistory to the present day, when it has experienced resurgence in popularity due to interest in its psychospiritual applications. Regardless of how it is styled, a labyrinth is marked by a shape, usually a symmetrical one, containing a unicursal path to or through a center point. This distinguishes it from a maze, which is multicursal and contains dead ends. Following the path of the labyrinth, the traveler is eventually and inevitably brought to the center and then back out again. While travelers may not know where exactly they are on this labyrinthine path, they are never lost, but rather, somewhere along the way they need to travel. As a result, the labyrinth has become common both as a metaphor and as a symbol of the human pilgrimage through life. A great deal of conjecture exists about its history, origins, and purposes, suggesting that the labyrinth has proven fertile ground for the...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Artress, L. (1995). Walking a sacred path: Rediscovering the labyrinth as a spiritual tool. New York: Riverhead.Google Scholar
  2. Attali, J. (1999). The labyrinth in culture and society: Pathways to wisdom (trans: Rowe, J.). Berkley: North Atlantic.Google Scholar
  3. Conty, P. (2002). The genesis and geometry of the labyrinth: Architecture, hidden language, myths, and rituals. Rochester: Inner Traditions.Google Scholar
  4. Curry, H. (2000). The way of the labyrinth: A powerful meditation for everyday life. New York: Penguin Compass.Google Scholar
  5. Kern, H. (2000). Through the labyrinth: Designs and meanings over 5000 years. New York: Prestel.Google Scholar
  6. Lonegren, S. (2007). Labyrinths: Ancient myths and modern uses (Rev. 4th ed.). Somerset: Gothic Image.Google Scholar
  7. Matthews, H. W. (1970). Mazes and labyrinths: Their history and development (New ed.). New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  8. Saward, J. (2002). Magical paths: Labyrinths and mazes in the 21st century. London: Mitchell Beazley.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychotherapy and Spirituality InstituteNew YorkUSA