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Labyrinths and Ritual in Scandinavia

By Maria Kvilhaug

John Kraft, author or “The Goddess in the Labyrinth” has shown that a labyrinth symbol accompanied by myths and rituals that appear to have been common in the Mediterranean world as well as in Afghanistan and India during the Bronze Age was adopted by contemporary Scandinavians. This universal labyrinth symbol has been found carved into rock surfaces as far north as Northern Norway. Real stone and turf labyrinths still abound in Scandinavia, especially along the coastlines, and particularly along the coastlines between Sweden and Finland. But most of these surviving labyrinths are much younger – only between 20 and 30 labyrinths date back to the Viking Age, whereas many have been built later, many as late as the 18th or 19th century.’

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What connect the labyrinths across time and space is not only their shared design, but also essential myths or legends as well as rituals associated with them. It is well-known that walking the stone-labyrinths had a magical purpose: It was generally thought, up to the present time, that walking the stone labyrinths in the proper way gave fortune and protection, healing and magical aid – even fishermen used labyrinths in the hope of being able to control the weather and increase the catch, as well as protection against perils at sea.

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