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On mazes, New Age and meaning in architecture

April 4, 2011 Leave a comment

It is a fact that buildings affect us. They are practical or impractical, spacious or cramped, beautiful or not, etc etc. We notice the truly spectacular examples or the really hideous ones, but we are nonetheless affected by all buildings we spend time in even if we don’t even notice them.

One way for buildings to affect us is when we assign meaning to them, apart from the practical function. Most theologians would agree that a church is only a building, but it is still common for people to feel reverance upon entering a church. This is true even for many atheists and it is true for desacralized churches as well. Others feel affected by prisons, asylums etc.

However, most rational people would realize that there is nothing there in the walls to create that effect. We create the effect.

One such example, is the old mazes which have been found in many parts of Europe, and beyond.

English maze

As such, they are no more and no less than a pattern in the ground. But once we assign meaning to it it becomes interesting, thoughtprovoking, fascinating and perhaps even scary. What happens when we walk through it? What happens to us? (And how is it possible that M. Night Shyamalan hasn’t made a movie on turf mazes?)

Rest assured, I have no supernatural beliefs in general and none relating to mazes, but I find them interesting in the same way I find fiction interesting.

New Agers on the other hand hold a firm belief in almost everything, so it is no wonder that they have embraced mazes and labyrinths. A favourite of theirs is the maze in Chartres.

This image taken from http://www.crystalinks.com/labyrinths.html. Hold on to your hat and your critical reasoning when you visit that site. As a general advice, if someone mentions crystals, don't believe a word they say.

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