August 26, 2010
A ex-new-ager who attended our congregation participated a while ago in the Labyrinth. Upon walking to the centre of the circle, she immediately sensed a dark spiritual vortex sucking her down. Fortunately, being a Spirit-filled Christian, she later renounced her involvement in the Labyrinth and through prayer was cut free from the bondage that she was sensing.
Being westerners, we often fail to realize that seemingly harmless ‘physical’ techniques can have significant questionable spiritual impact on our lives. One of the patterns with the dozens of new-age fads sweeping North America and the West Coast in particular is that they all pop up out of the blue but claim to have rediscovered an ancient secret technique that we all need. Many of them, including the fast-growing Labyrinth fad, even reconstruct a plausible but misleading Christian history used to persuade well-meaning Christians. The Labyrinth, as currently practiced, has very little to do with the Chartres Cathedral, and very much to do with Dr. Jean Houston’s impact on the new-age-friendly Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.
Dr. Jean Houston is listed on the Internet as one of the 10 top New Age speakers in North America The inside cover of Jean Houston’s 1997 book A Passion for the Possible describes herself as ‘considered by many to be one of the world’s greatest teachers…’ Of concern to renewal-oriented Christians is that Houston teaches her students on the ‘Mystery School’ how to speak in occult glossolalia. She encourages her participants to ‘begin describing your impressions in glossolalia’ and even to ‘…write a poem in glossolalia.’ This counterfeit phenomenon, of course, does not discredit the genuine Christian gift of tongues/glossolalia that is available after renouncing the occult, receiving Jesus as Lord, and asking for the filling of the Holy Spirit.
As past president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, Jean makes use of her doctorate in ‘Philosophy of Religion’ to gain access to areas where most new-agers and occultists can’t go. For example, as noted widely in media a few years ago, she became a consultant to Hillary Clinton, helping her to ‘channel’ the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt.
The Labyrinth, also called the Dromenon, is the official symbol of Dr. Jean Houston’s new-age ‘Mystery School’ which one pays $3,775 to be initiated into over a series of 9 weekends. Over 5,000 people so far have attended the Mystery School over the past 15 years. Houston describes her Mystery School students as ‘…the dancers of the Dromenon…’.
In Houston’s 1996 book The Mythic Life, she credits H.F. Heard’s novel Dromenon with its ‘psychophysical state of ecstasy and spiritual awakening’ as the inspiration to adopting the image of the Dromenon/Labyrinth as the symbol of her work. Canon Lauren Artress from Grace Cathedral brought the Labyrinth back to her Cathedral after experiencing the Labyrinth at Jean Houston’s Mystery School. Jean Houston wrote in her 1982 book The Possible Human about ‘…the growth of Dromenon (Labyrinth) communities.
As acknowledged in Labyrinth WEBsites, the Labyrinth is a mandala, which is actually a Hindu occult meditation process brought to the Western world by the grandfather of the New Age, Dr. Carl Jung.
The Labyrinth has since spread to over 200 cities, and is making a measurable impact in Canada. Artress claims that “over a million people have walked the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral alone…” Even the infamous Starhawk, the self-declared practicing witch and colleague of Matthew Fox, is walking the labyrinth nowadays. One of the stated purposes of the Labyrinth is to connect us to the mother goddess, of which the labyrinth is a symbol. In her 1995 book ‘Walking A Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool’, Canon Artress states that “The labyrinth is a large, complex spiral circle which is an ancient symbol for the divine mother, the God within, the goddess, the holy in all creation.” Artress says that “You walk to the center of the labyrinth and there at the center, you meet the Divine.” Jean Houston claims that “As we encounter the archetypal world within us, a partnership is formed whereby we grow as do the gods and goddesses within us.” To Jean Houston, it seems that all of life is made up of polytheistic labyrinths.
In her 1992 book The Hero & the Goddess, she recommended: ‘Now, taking a favorite god or goddess by the hand, a Greek one this time, explore the labyrinthian winding of your left hemisphere…Take the deity by the hand and begin to explore the labyrinth winding of your right hemisphere, the place of intuition.’ My prayer, as Jean Houston’s new-age Labyrinth fad impacts the Church, is that we may be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.