Because of our learned distrust of imagination and experience, there are many who fear what can happen in a labyrinth. There is fear that a person will be deceived into believing something that is not only false, but harmful to others. (Which is ironic since logic and reason are equally subjective and can also lead to very bad things.) We cannot address this fear without discussing authority for knowing truth in the church. After all, who or what has the right to say that something is not from God? This question has been around since the beginning of the church and still is not settled.
Depending on the time and place, authority over spiritual discernment has shifted between the following: Tradition and the community of faith, scripture, experience, and reason. Some would say scripture is a secondary authority because it is the Holy Spirit who works through scripture and who has the real authority anyway, while others say scripture inherently holds authority because it the record of God’s interaction with the world, including the teachings and actions of Jesus. This gets even messier when we consider the fact that scripture is interpreted differently depending on culture, time and place. One faith community (group of Christians) may interpret a piece of scripture differently than another. So suddenly tradition needs to have a say as well. After all, our generation is not the first to wrestle with scripture! And depending on what culture you live in will drastically effect you view. As stated before, modern western culture heavily favored reason as applied to scripture. Do you see how NOT black and white this issue is? Regardless, if we are willing to sit in humility, we can say that God is the ultimate authority and that we are in a position to try and figure out God’s desires as best we can in our limited capacity. And as such we should try to use all available tools while trusting that God will get done what God wants.
Turning our attention back to the labyrinth, we recognize that the authority in this spiritual discipline resides with the Holy Spirit and our experience of being moved towards reconciliation and love. This is difficult for many, due to modern church culture’s lack of trust in the intangible, intuitive and un-understandable. Therefore, for many, it requires a lot of trust in God and letting go of our desire to control other’s spirituality. Interestingly, many who walk a labyrinth are saying “finally, I can meet God on my own terms” which betrays how much a burden the churches attempt to control has been.
There is also a need for church community in our labyrinth experiences. Like any spiritual discipline, it is extremely rare that anyone ever receives a literal message during their experience. It is almost always symbolic. But, if there is a uncertainty about either, the best thing is to consult others in your faith community. Discern together. Also, it is fairly reasonable to say that anytime the direction given in the labyrinth (or any other spiritual discipline) hinders or hurts other people that it is being controlled by a distorted ego and not the Holy Spirit.
In the end it is about seeking God and trusting God’s Spirit to teach us with whatever means God deems necessary.
P.S. There is also a fear of the Labyrinths connection to other cultures and religion. If this is the case I suggest you immediately stop celebrating Easter and Christmas since they were both pagan holy days first. And you should stop reading the Old Testament entirely since it is Jewish. Shoot, even Jesus becomes a shaky issue since he was Jewish as well. And ignore all the writings of Paul since he fraternized with the Greeks and even acknowledge their gods in the temple along with the unknown god. OK, so I am being snarky…. But then I also find it ridiculous when people assume God is not involved in redeeming and reconciling other cultures and religions. I find it equally ridiculous when people assume that things are either all bad or all good and that there can be no inner mixing of both the true and the false.