I have been having a little look at penance labyrinths online. It seems that there is a great deal of controversy about the uses of these mazes and their origins. Some claim them as central to pagan fertility rites and that the patterns have been preserved in the dances performed around May Poles each spring. Others claim mazes and labyrinths as the province of catholicism.
With Christianities habit of adopting existing traditions and the existence of labyrinths before Jesus - think Perseus and the Minotaur - it is likely that both are true. It is likely that an ancient labyrinth in Cornwall was pagan, then Celtic Christian before being forgotten and excluded from religious practice.
It is an area of much conflict. I found one site advising people to only visit mazes and labyrinths that they knew for certainty to be both ancient and Christian. To not encourage this pagan belief in them connecting us to the earth.
Why do things have to be one thing? Why does one thing have to be correct? Like a diamond with many facets, all views can be true, the more we see, the more we understand the true nature of something. No one side is more valuable or important.
It seems to be a labyrinth to celebrate fertility would be a perfect tool to make people go round on their knees in penance....
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