Building a labyrinth is a great project!
You can create something extraordinary and beautiful and have fun doing it. You can even get your kids involved in making them as well. Labyrinths have become increasingly popular as tools for meditation and mindfulness.
(Also, they’re just fun for kids to play in!)
In this article, we’ll take you through the different types of labyrinths and several different ways to make them.
Types of Labyrinth
As you might imagine, for an art form that’s been practiced for thousands of years, there are lots of different variations.
They all have a single path through them, BUT they can look very different in style.
The earliest labyrinths we have evidence for are practically all drawn in this form. They can be drawn with smooth circular passages or in square forms. These labyrinths have been found throughout Africa, India, Europe, and a few places in the American Southwest and South America.
This style has lasted such a long time because it’s so easy to create. It’s a ‘seed’ style labyrinth. This means you start from a simple starter drawing that guides you to designing your labyrinth.
These simple labyrinths have one single opening. The path loops around until you reach the center. Here you turn around and head back out.
How to Make a Classical Labyrinth
To draw a classical labyrinth, you start with your seed. You can easily draw a three circuit or seven-circuit labyrinth from a simple cross. This worksheet gives some simple instructions on just how to go about it.
What is a 7 Circuit Labyrinth
7 circuit labyrinths are labyrinths where you make 7 sweeps around the labyrinth center before you reach it. The number 7 has long been considered a sacred number which is why these labyrinths can be found carved into all sorts of archaeological sites around the world.
The Chartres Labyrinth is a labyrinth from the Middle Ages. The name comes from the most famous remaining example. You can find it in the Chartres Cathedral near Paris. These labyrinths were placed in Gothic cathedrals and churches across the world. Although many were later removed. The labyrinth was intended to be walked as part of a pilgrimage or for repentance.
The design is more complex than most classical labyrinths and takes the walker back and forth through each of the four quadrants creating a sense of anticipation about reaching the center. The center has a rosette design which was a symbol of enlightenment.
How to Make a Chartres Labyrinth
If you want to make a replica of a Chartres labyrinth, you can find many images online to copy the pattern. Because it is a specific labyrinth pattern, it’s pretty easy to recreate in whatever form you desire.
Roman Labyrinths are quite complex arrangements. They are easy to spot as they rely on straight passages that are often split into four quadrants. As you walk a Roman labyrinth, you’ll walk around each quadrant before making your way to the center. There are several different styles within this class of labyrinth, giving you plenty of options to play with.
Finger labyrinths are a great compact way to enjoy labyrinths. They can be as simple as a drawing on a page or something more elaborate. You can make a sensory finger labyrinth by creating raised borders on a page. The idea is that these miniature labyrinths offer the same meditative opportunity as a full-size labyrinth but are much more portable.
How to Make a Finger Labyrinth
You can make a finger labyrinth using any labyrinth style, so you can find a style you like and them. You can make finger labyrinths in almost any way you can imagine. You could draw on paper, stick rice down, or maybe even make a cross-stitch labyrinth on a pillow.
What Do You Need for Building a Backyard Labyrinth?
If you have space for a labyrinth in your backyard, there are several different ways to go about creating one. If you want to make it a permanent feature, there are many ways to make a permanent labyrinth in your back garden.
Of course, there are also more temporary options that mean you don’t have to give your garden permanently over to a labyrinth.
Long Term Constructions
If you want to make a labyrinth a feature of your garden, you first need to decide how you want to mark the paths. You can use rows of herbs to mark the boundaries, making walking your labyrinth a sensory experience. You also might choose to use logs. On the other hand, you could opt to create a pathway in brick or stepping stones.
Whichever option you choose, you should take care to mark out the center of your labyrinth first and map out where the paths will go. Using pegs and string is an excellent method to help you plan out your routes before making any permanent changes.
If you want smooth flowing paths, then a good method is to fix a rope to a center point and use it like a pair of compasses to create smooth lines. It can take a few tries to get it right, but it will be worth it in the end.
How Do You Build A Makeshift Labyrinth For Kids?
If you want some options for makeshift labyrinths, there are several different options you can try.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Create a Seed Labyrinth with Natural Materials
If you can learn how to draw a classical seed labyrinth, then you’ll have the tools to create a labyrinth pretty much anywhere. When you know how to draw a labyrinth, you can use your finger in the sand or a stick in the woods to sketch out a quick labyrinth.
If you want something a little more durable than lines on the ground, you could find small stones or loose branches to place over the lines or even hay and grass trimmings. All you need to do is look around for what pieces of natural material you can find. It’s a great creative endeavor to get kids involved with.
Create a Put-Away Labyrinth
If you want something quick and easy, you could paint a design onto an outdoor tarp. That way, when you want to get the labyrinth out, all you need to do is unroll your tarp, and you’re ready to go. When folded, even large tarps are easy to store. It’s a great, portable option for those who need it.
How To Make An Indoor Labyrinth
If the weather isn’t on your side, but you still want to enjoy the pleasure of walking a labyrinth, then here are some indoor options to try:
Just like you can use a painted tarp outside, you could repurpose a bed sheet as an indoor labyrinth. In fact, you could easily have a few painted up, so you have some variety. All you need is a bit of floor space to lay it out, and you’re good to go.
Finger labyrinths are the ultimate indoor labyrinth option!
You can enjoy making them as much as you do using them. The simplest option is to draw a labyrinth onto paper. A nice thick black marker on paper gives a lovely contrasting look. If you have a child who loves color, why not challenge them to create a rainbow-colored labyrinth. An excellent place to start is with a classic seed labyrinth.
For something a little different, you can try to make a 3D finger maze. There are so many different ways to achieve this, and it makes a great craft challenge for your kids. Give them some card, rice, pasta, pipe cleaners, or whatever you have in your craft pile/recycling box and a glue gun and see what they create.
What About Mazes
Mazes are like the sisters to labyrinths. The main difference between a maze and a labyrinth is whether the path branches or not. Labyrinths only have one single route, and it’s not possible to get lost. With a maze, there are branching options, some of which may lead to dead ends.
Making a great maze can be a challenge. Giving one to your kids can offer them a chance to practice their logic skills and problem-solving. It can also keep them out of trouble for a good few minutes. So here are a few tips for making one
- Plan ahead. It’s a good idea to always keep in mind your correct route. You can draw it in advance but just remember to leave junctions as you go.
- Don’t create a trivial solution. This can happen by accident. If you join up some of your branches, you may end up with an easy and unintended solution.
- Make a red herring route. A fun option is to throw in a path that looks like it will take them to the exit only to fall short.
- Mix up your junctions. There are many different ways to create junctions, and using different types makes your maze more interesting.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of walking a labyrinth?
Walking a labyrinth can be an excellent tool for helping with meditation and mindfulness exercises. It’s a calming and relaxing routine that can be a perfect tool for those who struggle to sit still but would like to try meditation techniques anyway.
Which direction should a labyrinth face?
There is no set rule about which way your labyrinth should face. However, it’s a good idea to make sure that the entrance faces a calming or beautiful vista, as this is the point where you will stand to collect your thoughts.
How wide should a labyrinth path be?
A path width of 1 foot is a good minimum size. This is a comfortable width for a single person to walk through. If you plan to have more than one person walking at a time, then 2 feet would be advisable.
How much space do you need for a labyrinth?
It depends on how big you want the labyrinth to be. But, smaller is usually better. You can always walk through it more slowly. You can get an excellent-sized labyrinth with a diameter of between 15-30 feet.