A labyrinth is not a maze. Mazes are puzzles, designed to vex the mind, but labyrinths are contemplative designs, designed to focus the mind.

It is an ancient design, found carved into churches, temples and tombs around the world.

They are also easy and fun to draw, once you have the key.

Step 1: The Key

The key is the simple pattern around which the labyrinth is constructed. Most are based on crosses, and it is the order in which the points are connected that creates the form of the paths.

Step 2: A Simple Key

The simplest key is a single cross plus four points (see the first image). If you join the points in the order they are numbered, you will produce the simplest unicursal ("single path") labyrinth - follow the path with your eye or finger, and you get to the centre. To get back, you re-trace your steps.

Step 3: The Common Key...

Most labyrinths start with a key like the one in the first image below. Following the numbered points also produces a simple unicursal labyrinth.

Step 4: ... Made Less Common.

Using the same keys, but re-ordering the points, produces more interesting labyrinths.

This is also unicursal, but with a twist. Try it to find out why (don't join a line to the point marked "X").

Step 5: Some Keys to Try.

The same basic key can be given more than one layer. Keys are also not restricted to simple crosses.

Try starting with the keys in the images below, experimenting with the ordering to see what happens to the path.

Step 6: Like Minds.

It turns out (thanks, Adam), that there are people dedicated to labyrinths as art, mathematics and mysticism.

Some of their ideas are a bit "new age" for my taste (the "Energy Keepers" need ti get a better grip on reality, I think), but there is still lots of useful stuff on their site:


that's interesting, I used to draw impressive labyrinths on squared sheets when I was at secondary school. Some of them filled a full double A4 sheet and my deskmate took a lot of time to solve them :-) <br>the most complex labyrinths had secret passages and keys to find to open doors! LOL
which are are you?<br>hoggle, ludo, or jereth (the goblin king played by David Bowie)?
I drew a 7-layer 'rinth on time. It was epic.
this is pure sweetness
Thank you very much, Kiteman! I'm going to use this in an upcoming English project.
sweet, mine turned out weird but cool
Very Cool! I'll totally give this a try!
this instructable is great i do it in school everyday i get in trouble but oh well : - )
You may want to add a link to <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.labyrinthsociety.org/">The Labyrinth Society</a> so people have somewhere else to turn if this instructable piques their interest, as it did mine.<br/><br/>For instance, the centralized design fungus amongus requested can be found on this page about <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.labyrinthsociety.org/html/classical04.html">classical concentric labyrinths</a> .<br/><br/>I'm hoping to build my own labyrinths and gardens, and this is a great starting instructable, thanks!<br/><br/>-Adam<br/><br/>Moving in southeast michigan? Buy my house: <a rel="nofollow" href="http://ubasics.com/house/">http://ubasics.com/house/</a><br/>Interested in electronics? Check out the projects at <a rel="nofollow" href="http://ubasics.com">http://ubasics.com</a><br/>Building your own house? Check out <a rel="nofollow" href="http://ubasics.com/home/">http://ubasics.com/home/</a><br/>
Thanks, Adam. I've added it as the final step.
The ones I was thinking of are the Medieval ones. Specifically, Chartres. Thanks for the link. The animated GIFs are great.
What about a technique for having the destination at the center? This seems to push it towards the bottom.
There are labyrinths with much more centralised designs, but that's what they are; designs. They take careful planning and laying out. This is by far the oldest form of the labyrinth, the one most likely to turn up on a stone-age tomb wall, because all you have to learn is the central key. After that, all it takes is a few strokes of the pen or scratches of the flint to produce a completed pattern.
Interesting. I've walked a few of the more designed ones. They're nice to meditate on and then have a good sit in the middle. Haven't researched the labyrinths though and I like geeking out on geometry so I'll check some of this out.

About This Instructable




Bio: The answer is "lasers", now, what was the question? If you need help, feel free to contact me. Project previews on Tumblr & Twitter: @KitemanX
More by Kiteman:Paper Castle Valentine's Heart FidgetCube 
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