One of the celebrations we celebrate during the Waldorf Earthschooling year is Advent. However, contrary to popular belief, the Advent spiral done at Waldorf schools is not inherently Christian. It can be celebrated to honor a number of religious or spiritual traditions – depending on your family or students participating.
What are the origins of the Advent Spiral?
This quote pretty much sums it all up: “As a universal symbol the Spiral/Labyrinth appears throughout history dating some 4,500 years and appears cross-culturally over the face of our world throughout our known history.”
The meaning usually associated with the advent spiral today is more specific, however. In some Waldorf schools it symbolizes finding light in the darkness. In other schools and churches walking the spiral as an individual carries the image that every human being must make; a journey to an inner place; where we can find a light to carry back into the world to help us in our own journey. The labyrinth is said to be non-denominational because it can be related to many different religions and cultures and because it represents man’s journey on his own spiritual path within his religion, rather than the path of one specific religion.
There are many different kinds of spiral walks. The simplest is the spiral, however, some spirals are modified in to different or more intricate shapes. Some of the earliest forms of modified spirals, also known as labyrinths, are found in Greece, dating back to 2500-2000 B.C.E. This labyrinth is called the Cretan labyrinth or classical seven-circuit labyrinth. So much a part of the fabric of this early society was the labyrinth, that it was embossed on coins and pottery. Early Christian labyrinths date back to 4th century, a basilica in Algeria. The Chartres design labyrinth is a replica of the labyrinth laid into the cathedral floor at Chartres, France in the thirteenth century. The Chartres design is a classical eleven-circuit labyrinth (eleven concentric circles) with the twelfth being in the center of the labyrinth. Just to show you how high-tech spirituality has become I even found a labyrinth online you can walk with your fingers (computer mouse): www.labyrinthonline.com