Concept: Labyrinths

A labyrinth, simply as an idea, is a strange thing. It is a structure designed to confuse, deter, test and maybe in some cases even kill. Only a few come to mind at the mention of the word, but in truth there are a handful to be found out there, both ancient and modern. And according to this site, a labyrinth is not to be confused with a maze.

Essentially, the difference is that a maze offers a choice of direction; forks in the path and the like. A labyrinth, however, does not offer choice, and supposedly leads inexorably from the entrance to the goal. If this is the case, then one of the most iconic labyrinths in popular (fantasy) culture is downright wrong.

Sorry David — err, I mean Mr. Goblin King — turns out your realm is surrounded by a maze after all.


Which brings us back to what we think about when hearing the term labyrinth. The 1986 movie aside, what comes to mind for you? Chances are, one or both of two other examples present themselves.

Though Pan’s Labyrinth did not particularly feature a labyrinth, it did feature Pan quite nicely and you will hear almost no criticisms of this movie from me. But Pan, stands hoof-to-hoof with another creature of popular myth, the Minotaur of Crete. After all, the Cretan Labyrinth is from where we derive both the words labyrinth and Minotaur. Kudos to you, Daedalus, we need more designers like you.

Don’t recognize the name? Daedalus was the father of Icarus, who lost his wings after flying too close to the sun during their attempted escape from Crete. King Minos, you see, after having his labyrinth designed and built, did not want Daedalus to let slip his knowledge of the design, so he shut him up in a tower.


Recently it was brought to my attention, from someone I met via a chance encounter, that but a car’s drive from our familiar neighborhoods there exists something known as the Lexington Labyrinth. It has the smell of urban legend about it, but apparently the area in which it resides is sort of believable locale for this sort of thing. I will post more information when I learn more, but suffice it to say that this intrigues me enough to consider conducting interviews with real people. Maybe even visit real places.

Imagine that.




2 responses to “Concept: Labyrinths

  1. But what I don’t understand is, if a labyrinth does not offer choice, then what is the point in having different paths to follow when all lead to the same goal?

    • That’s the thing – if this definition is to be accurate, that would mean a labyrinth is technically a really, really long single path, like a pile of tangled rope. There could be traps, beasts, or otherwise other nasties along the way though…

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