Monday, November 28, 2011

Labyrinth Monday's -All Cultures Share the Mystery of the Spirit


Spirituality in one form or another has always been with us. The more awake and aware we are, the more we are able to see it. The Burden Basket was part of many Native American’s way of life. A Burden Basket was used to gather sticks for fire, seeds, herbs, and tubers. The basket was worn on the back leaving hands free for gathering of daily needs. When the basket was emptied, it was hung on the outside of the tipi or dwelling and used by visitors to announce their presence at the door. If no one came to the door, no feelings were hurt, as it was understood that the home is a sacred space. Also, the burden basket was symbolic, in that its presence invited guest to leave their personal burdens outside of the tipi and not bring them in to the sacred space of the home. It was considered rude and disrespectful to take your burdens to the neighbor’s house and douse their sacred space with unhappiness and negativity. If a person in the village had a problem, they were to take a gift of tobacco, a blanket, or some other gift to the medicine person in the village, and there share their burden. After sharing, the person had to wait three days for the medicine person to share a solution to the problem. During those three days, the medicine person was seeking guidance in a dream or vision from his/her spiritual guides and allies. Also, during the same three days the burden bearer was building self-reliance, knowing that they needed to responsible to act on the advice given to them by the medicine person. Thus, the village was able to live in peace and inter-confidence that their friends and neighbors could handle their own problems and learn the art of self-reliance. If we go back to original use of the burden basket, which was to collect enough of the necessities just for today, then we realize part of the solution to life is to stay in the present and focus on the here and now moment.

In reflection, I see the Labyrinth as a symbol of the burden basket. It is rich in symbolism of the self-reliance. The person entering the Labyrinth, often referred to as “pilgrim” is doing the work of walking. The pilgrim is responsible for taking the journey to the center of the Labyrinth. As a burden bearer, the pilgrim take his/her burden into the center of the Labyrinth and there lets it go, releases the burden to the womb or heart of the universe. The pilgrim needs to have a grateful heart when entering the mystery of womb, knowing that it is a sacred place that he/she can come any time of day or night and find that center of the Labyrinth is there to receive him/her and the burden on his/her heart. The joining of the two, the pilgrim and the heart of the universe is completely sacred and confidential between the two. No one else is invited into that sacred space.

By taking the journey to the center of the Labyrinth, the pilgrim is initiating responsibility for his/her burden and taking the first steps to release the burden to the care of the mysterious other that will take that burden and share wisdom, understanding, and clarity with the pilgrim. It is then up to the pilgrim to follow the direction that comes from the Center. Perhaps direction and wisdom will not come during the walk (as it often does not) but several days later, clarity and peace begin to settle in the soul of the pilgrim. It is hard to explain the mysterious; one has to experience it to become a “knower of mysteries.”

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