This page examines the occurences of labyrinths in myth, legend and history and the symbolism of circles and spirals which may have influenced the labyrinth pattern we recongise and walk on today.

The myth of Ariadne and Theseus tells us a story which may have been about a labyrinth or a maze; the two names are often used synonymously. The difference between the two  is you can get lost in a maze but a labyrinth has only one circular path into the centre and out again. Confusion between the two different symbols remains prevalent.

ammonite fossil spiral, image by sue watling

Circles and spirals may be the forerunners of the labyrinth. They are ancient symbols representing continuity and appear across all cultures and civilisations. 

spiral galaxy

Spiral galaxy image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:M101_hires_STScI-PRC2006-10a.jpg

Rock art double spiral image

Rock art spiral image

Images from the Beckensall Archive http://rockart.ncl.ac.uk/