Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Maze Child and the Labyrinth

It’s no secret that labyrinths and mazes are eternally appealing.  If you were read myths and legends as a child, as I was at bedtime, then the story of Daedalus building the maze in ancient Crete will be well known.  Daedalus fashioned a huge underground maze to help conceal King Minos’ step-son the Minotaur, half-beast half-man, from the world.  When the Greek Hero Theseus sets out to slay the beast within, his success rests on the crafty wit of a young woman, Ariadne, who lends the hero a ball of red wool.  As he travels further into the subterranean darkness, Theseus unravels the wool and once his enemy is dispensed, Theseus retraces his steps back to a hero’s welcome and the loving embrace of Ariadne. 

There are also plenty of real labyrinths and mazes too.  You may have seen labyrinths set in the paving stones of Medieval cathedrals of Europe, walked the hedge mazes of England, seen woven versions in Native American baskets, or any other replicas the world over. 

As a maze child from way back, imagine my pleasure when I came out of my parent’s farmhouse to find my father had created a maze out of two ropes and two hoses upon the lawn.  It took a couple of goes to explain to the children that “walk to the centre” meant between the ropes not over them, but once they mastered the concept they took great delight in racing through the winding corridors to find their way in and then out.  I promise that the idea would make the perfect party game or boredom buster. 

You can do this too.  If you have a patch of grass large enough, or perhaps even access to a park, oval, sandy beach or snowy lot, inscribe one pathway or many, and let the children walk or race their way around.  You can search for labyrinth/maze templates, or simply create your own.  Keep it simple by creating a single spiral, or make it more complex by experimenting with several interlocking curved paths... my suggestion is dream big but practice small.  If this seems to hard, then stay home, and print out template mazes to play with, draw them on stones with permanent markers, trace them with your finger in a bucket of sand, or make miniature ones out of blocks, as I mentioned before; the appeal and applications are endless.

PS – for those who are interested in definitions; labyrinths are made of a single, albeit winding path, the only choice you make when you travel is forward or backward, to proceed or retreat.  The primary purpose of a labyrinth seems to be based on contemplation, meditation, and the reenactment of a journey such as pilgrimage.   A maze is different, whilst also a winding path, there are many dead ends, whether to trap or entertain, the design is intended to deceive. 


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Happy Whimsical Hearts said...

Lovely post, I enjoyed learning more about mazes and labrinths. We went to a Waldorf school fete in Spring and they had a fantastic labrinth using rope and other simple items. I lost my child to it for a good long time!

Abbie said...

What fun! This is so clever and very cute. My daughter would probably want to walk on the hose and try to use it as a balance beam!
Pinned your image to the outdoor play link up ideas on Pinterest. Thanks so much for joining the outdoor play party this week! Be sure to let your readers know about the party so they can see you linked up and get lots of other outdoor play ideas.

Partycraft Secrets said...

thanks everyone - gotta love the great outdoors...!!

Mama Pea Pod said...

Fun! Thanks for linking up to the Outdoor Play Party - you can grab a button for it at if you prefer a button over a plain text link.

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