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Bay Area Labyrinths

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Bay Area Labyrinths

There's a structural and philosophical distinction between a labyrinth and a maze. A labyrinth is a path to a central point -- with no obstacles, no intent to disorient. A maze, on the other hands, purposely erects dead ends and turns to confuse the participant.

The various labyrinth patterns are archetypal, designed to clear the mind. They're reflective and meditative. Enter the labyrinth to release mental clutter as you walk toward the center. Remain and contemplate at the center for as long as you like. Then follow the outward path, using that time to reconnect, rejoin your environment.

1. Grace Cathedral Labyrinth

San Francisco - Nob Hill
1100 California Street
See San Francisco Neighborhood Map

Don't expect to walk the Grace Cathedral Labyrinth on your own -- even though there are quiet moments when you can engage in this meditative tradition in solitude. This labyrinth is a replica of the Chartres labyrinth of Chartres Cathedral in France.

2. Lands End Labyrinth

San Francisco - Outer Richmond
Point Lobos Avenue & El Camino Del Mar
See Map of Outer Richmond

If you're walking the Coastal Trail at Lands End, you'll have to take the turn to Mile Rock Beach to reach the Lands End labyrinth. Eduardo Aguilera is responsible for this labyrinth as well as one in the Marin Headlands (since removed).

3. California Pacific Medical Center Labyrinth

San Francisco - Pacific Heights
Buchanan & Clay
See San Francisco Neighborhood Map

A painted labyrinth outside the waiting area lets patients and physicians alike clear their minds in the contemplative circles. The Labyrinth Garden was installed in 1997 by the Institute for Health and Healing.

4. Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve

Oakland - Alameda County/East Bay
See the Sibley Website for directions to the park

Along the Skyline Boulevard ridge in the Berkeley Hills you'll find the entrance to a favorite East Bay Park -- with resident Golden Eagles, and an overlook to a labyrinth. The main loop around Sibley doesn't take you to the labyrinth directly. But you'll reach an overlook at a steep ravine, at which point you'll see the dramatic design below, created by sculptor Helena Mazzariello.

Many such structures in public open spaces and parks are not officially sanctioned by the parks departments. If you visit, be sure to respect all parks and wilderness rules.

5. Willard Middle School Labyrinth

Berkeley - Alameda County/East Bay
Telegraph Avenue - Between Derby and Stuart

Painted yellow on the pavement, this labyrinth is not open to the public during school hours, but it is available at other times. It's next to the school's working garden which actually produces food for farmers' markets, homeless shelters, and neighborhood restaurants.

6. Contra Costa Labyrinth Project

Walnut Creek - Contra Costa County/East Bay
260 Walnut Avenue (near Ignacio Valley Road)

A permanent outdoor labyrinth open 24 hours to the public -- in the Chartres model. A proposed healing and meditation garden is in the works at this location.

7. San Francisco Theological Seminary (at San Anselmo)

San Anselmo - Marin County
See address for each of the labyrinths below

The San Anselmo campus offers two different styles of labyrinth:

  • Geneva Terrace Labyrinth: A seven-circuit modified Chartres style - At the top of Seminary Hill, outside of Geneva Hall
  • Spirit Walk Labyrinth: Classical style (Greek/Crete) - 17 Austin Avenue (between Lloyd Center and Baird Hall)

One additional indoor labyrinth is located in Duncan Hall at First Presbyterian Church (north of campus at 72 Kensington Road). Because this labyrinth is indoors, may walk this labyrinth only during posted hours.

8. Community Congregational Church

Tiburon - Marin County
145 Rock Hill Drive

This stone labyrinth, based on the Amien style, is in a garden setting and open to the public during daylight hours. An indoor labyrinth (Chartres pattern) is inside the church. The church holds quarterly labyrinth ceremonies.

9. All Saints Episcopal Church

Palo Alto - Santa Clara County
555 Waverly Street (at Hamilton)

The outdoor, painted labyrinth is open to the public during daylight hours. (Lunch hour on Thursdays and Fridays is not the best contemplative time since the courtyard area is used for a church meal event.) You can contact the church to arrange for a group labyrinth walk.

10. Stanford Memorial Church

Palo Alto - Stanford Campus - Main Quad
555 Waverly Street (at Hamilton)

The public can walk the portable labyrinth in Stanford Memorial Church each Friday between 8:00a and 1:00p. (It's a large mat with labyrinth pattern.)

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