WALKING A SACRED PATH by Lauren Artress

WALKING A SACRED PATH

Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 An enthusiastic account of how the 12th-century labyrinth in Chartres' cathedral has become a tool for rediscovering the feminine in San Francisco. According to Artress, a therapist and the first woman canon of San Francisco's Episcopalian Grace Cathedral, the tyranny of the Age of Reason is losing its grip. Consequently, the Christian Church is faced with the challenge of people who are concerned more with spirituality, ``the inner growth that happens in each of us,'' than with the more outward forms of worship and doctrine. Artress suggests that the medieval labyrinth can give us the kind of integration of reason and imagination that we need today. Thousands of visitors at Grace Cathedral have walked a canvas reproduction of the Chartres labyrinth, and Artress quotes some of their testimonies to deep emotional and psychological healing. She tells us that, unlike a maze, which has many paths and calls on masculine powers of logic to choose the right one, a labyrinth offers only one profound choice and thus gives scope to our intuitive, feminine powers. She explains the effects in Jungian terms: integration of the Shadow and healing of the split between thought and feeling as we rediscover the need for ritual. Although Artress is eloquent in describing the spiritual impasse of many people today, she spoils her case for the labyrinth by basing it partly on a poorly researched view of the Middle Ages. She makes no real attempt to integrate her insights into the Church's tradition, which she caricatures as a kind of patriarchal Deism. Indeed, her credentials as a Christian theologian are undermined by her assertion that intercessory prayer to Mary only came with the 12th-century Cistercians and by equating Mary with the Holy Spirit or the ``feminine aspect of God.'' Sensitive in describing personal experiences but lacking in historical and theological depth--an illustration of how theology can become the handmaid of therapy.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1-57322-007-8
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Riverhead
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1995