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Taekwondo and the Martial Arts: Mere Exercise or Trojan Horse??

By the Rev. Dr.  Ed Hird

I was personally involved in Martial Arts, Karate in particular, for a number of years between the period of 1971 to 1991.  My enthusiasm for martial arts even led me to successfully recruit other Christians to join me.  Through the prayer ministry of the group Wholeness Through Christ, I chose to renounce my previous involvement in the martial arts.  Previously, I was opposed to some of my friends dabbling in community centre yoga, but had rationalized my involvement in the martial arts as something innocuous.

In the spring of 1999, my sons discussed with me the expectation that they would take part in Taekwondo as part of their Christian school gym class.  In discussing our concerns with their principal, it was agreed that my sons would be exempted from this expectation.  It was also agreed that I would do some research regarding our concerns about Taekwondo, and present my findings in a paper to the principal and the school board.

As a renewal-oriented Anglican, I believe that it is vital that the charismatic gift of discernment (1 Corinthians 12:10) not be neglected in this neo-gnostic, confused age.  As part of the discernment process, I carefully researched dozens of pro-martial arts books, with a special emphasis on taekwondo books.  I also consulted extensively with a good number of taekwondo and Martial Arts instructors from North America and around the world.  My research led me to believe that taekwondo and the Martial Arts (MA) are far more than just physical gym exercises.  Rather Taekwondo and MA are Zen Buddhist meditational techniques designed to bring a person into the experience of satori or Buddhist enlightenment.[1]  As Buddhism essentially is reformed Hinduism, so too the Martial Arts are essentially Martial Yoga.  Few westerners have enough experience with Zen Buddhism to initially notice the hidden religious nature of martial arts.  Chuck Norris, famous for his role as Walker on the TV show Texas Ranger, holds unreservedly that ‘the ancient system of Zen (is) the core philosophy behind the martial arts.’[2]  It is no coincidence that the occult circular symbol of Ying-Yang constantly appears on even many innocuous-looking Taekwondo websites and brochures.[3] One of the goals of Taekwondo and other martial arts is to enter a zazen meditational state so that ‘the everyday experience of the dualism of subject and object vanishes.’[4]

In the Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs , John Ankerberg and John Weldon state that “Because most (martial arts) methods incorporate eastern teaching and techniques, the martial arts are easy doorways into Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and other non-Christian religions.”[5]  They went on to comment that “Traditionally, martial arts are forms of spiritual education that function as means towards self-realization or self-enlightenment.  It is true that the spiritual dimension of martial arts can be downplayed or ignored, but that is not consistent with their ultimate purpose historically.”[6]

Taekwondo and other martial arts can be traced to a 6th century Buddhist monk Bodhidharma who travelled from India to China and established Zen Buddhism at the Shaolin temple of Ko San So Rim.  There he taught them both sitting meditation and the martial arts (moving meditation) to enable his disciples to free themselves from all conscious control in order to attain enlightenment.[7]

Since Taekwondo’s Olympic debut in 1988, its popularity has spread like wildfire across the world.[8] Taekwondo means ‘ Hand (Tae) and Foot (kwon) Way (do).  According to the official WTF Taekwondo book, Taekwondo ‘is now the national sport of Korea.’[9]  Eddie Ferrie holds that ‘every child in (Korean) school is compelled to practise Taekwondo…’[10]  David Mitchell notes that Taekwondo ‘is taught to all members of the Korean armed forces’.[11]  It is estimated that 20 –30 million people worldwide now have been initiated into Taekwondo.[12]

One of the major concerns by Christian researchers is the sitting meditation commonly done in Taekwondo and most Martial Arts.  The Fighting Back Taekwondo book describes the Chung Shin Tomil or sitting meditation as ‘another essential part of your taekwondo training’.[13] “Before and after any taekwondo class, the students meditate…first, you may be asked to clear your mind of all thought and to relax completely…The 2nd method of meditation is related to visualization.”[14]  Mitchell claims that ‘…the empty mind (is) needed to master taekwondo.’[15]  Key to both Buddhist and Hindu occult meditation is manipulation of one’s breathing, which is described as Hohup chojul and Jiptung (synchronized breathing) in Taekwondo.  In contrast, biblical meditation is meditating on God’s written Word the Bible, rather than meditating on the empty mind by using occult breathing and visualization techniques.

Another area of concern relates to the ritual forms or poomse used in Taekwondo.  The karate equivalent to the poomse is the kata patterns.  As the Taekwondo author and instructor Eddie Ferrie puts it, “Many of the patterns of taekwondo are rooted in semi-mystical Taoist philosophy and their deeper meaning is said to be far more important than the mere performance of a gymnastics series of exercises.  This is not immediately obvious, either when performing or watching the poomse being performed…”[16] The eight Taegeuk poomses performed in taekwondo are derived from the eight triagrams of the occult I’Ching.[17] Richard Chun holds that ‘the forms of Taekwondo…are more than physical exercises: they are vehicles for active meditation.’[18]

One of the most questionable poomse patterns is the Ilyo or Ilyeo poomse.  Ferrie teaches that the “Ilyo is a pattern which has a spiritual orientation containing 24 movements.  The title of the pattern refers to the development of a state of spiritual enlightenment which is one of the ultimate aims of the disciple of taekwondo.  The student who has attained Ilyo is capable of completely spontaneous reaction without any interference from the conscious mind.”[19] I was surprised to find out that the Ilyo poomse is done in the shape of an actual swastika.  Hitler stole this ancient occult symbol from the Buddhists and Hindus who had used it for centuries as a symbol of monism (all is one, and all is God).[20]  The Taekwondo Textbook teaches that ‘The line of poomse symbolizes the Buddhist mark (swastika) in commemoration of Saint Wonho (or Won Hyo), which means a state of perfect selflessness in Buddhism where origin, substance, and service come into congruity.’[21] The Buddhist swastika in Taekwondo ‘teaches that a point, a line, or a circle ends up after all in one.  Therefore the poomse Ilyeo represents the harmonization of spirit and body which is the essence of martial arts.’[22] The swastika in Taekwondo has the occult (i.e. Hidden) purpose of teaching the higher-level students that all is one and all is God.

In conclusion, my research and personal experience has led me to the conviction that Taekwondo and the Martial Arts are not merely physical exercise, but in fact are Zen Buddhist meditational practices, both in their sitting and moving forms.  Taekwondo and MA are a Trojan Horse in the House of the Lord, eroding the spiritual barriers between Zen Buddhism and the Christian Gospel, and potentially leading vulnerable children and teens into the early stages of eastern occultism.  As a result of this research, our Christian School Board decided to no longer offer Taekwondo or other Martial Arts.  The good news about religious syncretism is that it is never too late to repent and start afresh, serving one Master and one Master alone, Jesus Christ our Lord (Matthew 6:24)

 p.s. To explore more about the Yoga connection, click on my article Yoga: more than meets the Eyes?

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Past Chair, Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada

   -previously published in the February 2,000 Anglicans for Renewal Canada Magazine

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

[2] Chuck Norris, The Secret Power Within: Zen Solutions to Real Problems, Top Kick Productions, 1996, inside cover; ‘…Zen is integral to the Oriental martial arts…(p. 23)’

[3] Taekwondo Textbook, Oh Sung Publishing Company, Kukkiwon Edition, p. 235; The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Taekwondo, Karen Eden & Keith Yates, Alpha Books, New York, 1998, p. 22

[4] Encyclopedia Brittanica, 15th Edition, ‘Martial Arts’, p. 886

[5] John Ankerberg & John Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, Harvest House, 1996, Oregon, p. 351

[6] Ankerberg and Weldon, Op. Cit., p. 356

[7] Richard Chun, Tae Kwon Do: The Korean Martial Art, Toronto, 1976, p. 2

[8] Fighting Back: Taekwondo for Women, YH Park Publications, 1993, p. 8

[9] David Mitchell, Official WTF Taekwondo, Antler Books, London, 1986, back cover

[10] Eddie Ferrie, , Taekwondo: Traditional Art and Modern Sport, The Crowford Press, UK, 1989, p. 101

[11] Mitchell, Op. Cit., p. 9

[12] J.S. Eldon, Essential Taekwondo Patterns, Paul Crompton Ltd, London, 1994, p. 5; The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Taekwondo, Op. Cit., p. 18

[13] Fighting Back, Op. Cit., p. 150

[14] Op. Cit., p. 150

[15] Mitchell, Op. Cit., p. 12

[16] Ferrie, Op. Cit., p. 99

[17] Ferrie, Op. Cit., p. 99, p. 100

[18] Chun, Op. Cit., p. 34

[19] Ferrie, Op. Cit., p. 100

[20] Taekwondo Textbook, Op. Cit., p. 235, p. 506

[21] Taekwondo Textbook, Op. Cit., p. 506 “Won Hyo is a 28 movement form or poomse which is named after the 7th century monk who purportedly introduced Zen Buddhism to Korea. (Ferrie, p. 101)”

[22] Ferrie, Op. Cit., p. 506


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Gurdjieff and the Enigmatic Enneagram

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Note: The following article emerged out of a footnote to a larger investigation into the relationship between Dr. Carl Jung, neo-gnosticism, and the MBTI.

     Who is George Gurdjieff, and why is he having such a massive indirect impact on our churches today?  Why in particular are ‘post-charismatic’ Roman Catholics, especially well-meaning nuns, becoming caught up in his practices?[1]  The Rev. Dr. Robert Innes, Lecturer in Systematic Theology at St. John’s College: Durham, England, tells us that the man credited with bringing the Enneagram to the West is George Gurdjieff, a Greek-Armenian from what is now the Republic of Georgia. While still a teen, Gurdjieff became immersed in occultic practices such as astrology, mental telepathy, spiritism, table turning, fortune telling and demon possession. Gurdjieff claimed that  while he was in Afghanistan in 1897, he visited a monastery of the esoteric Sarmouni sect where he learned their mystical Sufi dancing, psychic powers and the Enneagram.[2]

     The massive popularity of the Enneagram in Christian circles, the 2nd most popular personality test after the MBTI[3], makes it well worth assessing what we are actually opening ourselves to.  Advocates like Barbara Metz and John Burchill describe the Enneagram as “a sleeping giant, awakened in our times…”[4]  Fr. Mitchell Pacwa SJ, Professor of Scripture and Hebrew at Loyola University, Chicago, has written a brilliant critique of Gurdjieff and the Enneagram, entitled “Tell Me Who I Am, O Enneagram”.[5]  Fr. Pacwa’s studies of ancient literature and archeology show that there is no hard evidence for the existence of the Enneagram in any form before Gurdjieff.  Rumours of the Enneagram’s antiquity(e.g.  pre-Muslim Christian influence of Persia, or Pythagorean or Platonic mathematics)[6] serve to give it an air of authority but have no proper historical basis.  Perhaps most incredible is the unsubstantiated claim by Ted Dobson & Kathleen Hurley that there “are indications that several of the New Testament writers were familiar with and used the Enneagram.”[7]

     The heart of Gurdjieff’s Enneagram teaching, which he described as esoteric

Christianity, is numerological divination.  Dividing one by three yields the decimals .3333, .6666, .9999 – the points joined by the triangle in the figure.  Dividing one by seven yields the decimal .142857: a recurring number which contains no multiples of three and the digits of which correspond to the oddly-shaped six pointed figure.  It seems that the Enneagram’s relation to these mystical numbers (three and seven) was held to give it a truly cosmic significance.[8]  Gurdjieff taught that “all things in life work on two laws –3 and 7”.  All psychological laws fall within the law of three — as within Gurdjieff’s three alleged personality centres (path, oth, & kath), and all material things fall within the law of seven.[9] Each human being on earth is claimed to have one, and only one, of the nine Enneagram numbers.[10]

Enneagram teaching holds that God has nine different faces, corresponding to the nine patterns of the Enneagram.[11]  Robert J. Nogosek, C.S.C., wrote a book along this line entitled “Nine Portraits of Jesus: Discovering Jesus Through the Enneagram” (Dimension Books), claiming that Jesus, being sinless, had all nine Enneagram personality types.[12]  Beesing, Nogosek, and O’Leary also teach that each of us has one of nine different totems [Enneagramic animals].  In the ‘christianized’ version of the Enneagram, a #2 “helper” personality can be redeemed from being a cat into becoming an Irish setter, and then receives the Enneagramic colour of Red.[13]

     Gurdjieff’s work led to the formation of the New-Age cult, Arica, founded by his disciple Oscar Ichazo.  It was Ichazo and his colleague Claudio Naranjo (an instructor at the Esalen Institute) who together developed the Enneagram in the 1960’s as an indicator of personality in its current form.[14]  Naranjo merged the Enneagram with 9 of Freud’s 10 personality defense mechanisms.  Fr. Pacwa notes that Ichazo claims to receive instructions from a higher entity called ‘Metatron, the prince of the archangels’.  Ichazo’s students are guided by an interior Master, the Green Qu’Tub.[15]

Ichazo and Naranjo taught the Enneagram in the 1970’s to Fr. Bob Ochs SJ who then taught this ‘secret wisdom’[16] at the Loyola Seminary, from which it spread heavily within the Roman Catholic and Anglican communities.  Gurdjieff’s role in the Enneagram was covered up by Ichazo, saying that he had “been ordered by his source not to reveal the name of the person or being who gave him the Enneagram.”[17]  Moral Theologian, Msgr. William B. Smith commented that “the more you read about it, the more it begins to resemble a college-educated horoscope…As a tool for spiritual direction, it seems to me most deficient, even dangerous.”[18]

     Barbara Metz, SND, and John Burchill, OP, recommend the Enneagram as a way of engaging in “kything prayer”.  Kything Prayer can be done with any other person, present or absent, dead or alive, whose Enneagramic reading ‘moves against your numerical arrows’. The key is to “let your center find itself within the person with whom you are kything” and to “Picture yourself within the [other] person.” An alternative form of Enneagramic kything is to “invite the other person’s spirit into themselves.”[19]

One may very well ask how appropriate it is for Christians to be inviting the spirits of the dead into themselves.  Does this not slide into occultic channeling/mediumistic practices that are clearly forbidden by Holy Scripture?[20]  Is it enough for Enneagram advocates like Jim Scully of Pecos Abbey to say “that ‘occult’ and ‘satanic’ are not synonyms?  God told me back in 1979 that the greatest issue facing the Church would be the deception of inter-faith syncretism.

Maybe it is time for us as Anglicans and Christians to truly wake up and repent of our syncretistic mixing of Christ and the occult, of good and evil, of truth and deception, of light and darkness.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

[1] (1) Theodore E. Dobson, who was a R.C. charismatic priest well-known for his inner healing books, has co-written an Enneagram book with Kathleen V. Hurley entitled “What’s My Type?”  Dennis, Sheila, & Matt Linn, also well known in the Roman Catholic charismatic sphere for inner healing, strongly endorsed Ted Dobson’s book, saying “This is an encyclopedia of information about the Enneagram. We are a One, a Six, and a Seven.” (Front Inside Cover).  David Geraets, OSB, Abbot of the Pecos R.C. Benedictine Abbey and self-described post-charismatic, comments that Hurley and Dobson “give us fresh and invigorating insight into the Enneagram.” (Front Inside Cover).

[2] Robert Innes, Personality Indicators & the Spiritual Life, Grove Spirituality Series, Cambridge, p. 12; “Tell Me Who I Am, O Enneagram”, Fr. Mitchell Pacwa, S.J; Christian Research Journal, Fall 1991, p. 14ff;  Renee Baron & Elizabeth Wagele (The Enneagram Made Easy, Harper Collins,1994, p. 1) say that “The Russian mystical teacher G.I. Gurdjieff introduced it to Europe in the 1920’s …”

[3] Robert Innes describes Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram as “the two indicators most widely used by Christian groups…”(p.3)  Baron & Wagele hold that “Many of the variations within the nine [Enneagram] types can be explained by relating the highly respected Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to the Enneagram.  This will increase accuracy, give greater breadth to the system, and lead to a more finely tuned understanding of ourselves and others. (p. 7, 136-149)  Suzanne Zuercher, author of “Enneagram Spirituality” (Notre Dame:Ave Maria Press, 1992, p. 157) “places the whole of the Enneagram within a basically Jungian framework.” (Robert Innes, op. cit., p. 14)

[4] Barbara Metz, SND, & John Burchill, OP, The Enneagram & Prayer, Dimension Books, p. 11

[5] Fr. Mitchell Pacwa, op. cit., p. 14ff

[6] Renee Baron & Elizabeth Wagele, The Enneagram Made Easy, Harper Collins, San Francisco,1974, p. 1:   Baron & Wagele claim that “The roots of the Enneagram go back many centuries.  Its exact origins are not known but it is believed to have been taught orally in secret Sufi brotherhood in the Middle East.”  Dobson & Hurley hint that the Magi (Wise Men) who visited the baby Jesus brought the Enneagram, teaching that the Magi were “Wisdom seekers from ancient Persia who were probably the originating or at least the first organized caretakers of the Enneagram.” (p.182)  Dobson & Hurley also allege that Pythagoras, the 6th century B.C. mathematician, “learned the Enneagram in Persia before founding his school…” (p. 183)

[7] Dobson & Hurley, p.3

[8] Robert Innes, Personality Indicators and the Spiritual Life, Grove Spirituality Series, Grove Books Ltd., Cambridge, p. 13

[9] Margaret Anderson, The Unknown Gurdjieff, London: Routledge, p.71-72.

[10] Dobson & Hurley, p. 15: “It is important to remember that each person has one, and only one, Enneagram number.”

[11] op.cit., p. 151.

[12] Robert Nogosek, Nine Portraits of Jesus, p. v

[13] Maria Beesing OP, Robert Nogosek CSC, & Patrick O’Leary SJ, p. 120.

[14] Innes, op.cit, p. 13

[15] Lilly & Hart, Transpersonal Psychologies,‘The Arica Training’, p. 341

[16] Hurley & Dobson: Again and again they refer to the Enneagram as “secret wisdom” (p. 1, 9, 14, 136, &167).  Claudio Naranjo claims that Fr. Bob Ochs and others promised not to teach others the Enneagram, but that they broke their promise of secrecy. “The Enneagram– Stumbling Block or Stepping Stone”, Audio Tape recorded at the Association of Christian Therapists, Feb. 1990, San Diego;  The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines the occult as: kept secret, esoteric…from the Latin word celare: to hide.

[17] “The Enneagram: a Critique”, St. Clair McEvenue, Catholic Insight, July/August

1996, p. 10  Beesing, Nogosek, & O’Leary, authors of “The Enneagram: a Journey of

Self-Discovery” (Dimension Books), claim that Oschar Ichazo was taught “the Enneagram in La Paz, Bolivia, by a man whose name he pledged not to reveal” (p. 1) See also “Psychology Today”, Sam Keen, Vol. 7, No. 2, July 1973, p. 64″.

[18] Msgr. W.B. Smith, The Homiletic & Pastoral Review, March 1993

[19] Metz & Burchill, op. cit., p. 107; p. 109: “The person does not need to be physically present (Barbara was in Kenya when I kythed with her), nor need the person be living.”

[20] See Lev. 19:31, Lev 20:6, Deut 18:10-11, 1 Chron 10:13, Jer 27:9-10, Acts 16:16-24, & Rev 22:15



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Dr Jean Houston and the Labyrinth Movement

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

 It was fascinating for me to visit the birthplace of the original Labyrinth movement, the Cretan palace of Knossos.  In North America, due to the influence of new-age leader Dr Jean Houston and Lauren Artress from San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, labyrinths have been appearing everywhere, including at my old alma mater and the church where my grandmother had her funeral.[1]   Ironically, the emphasis in the actual written documentation about Labyrinth usage was not how to enter the labyrinth but how to escape the labyrinth.

The labryinth story starts with King Minos, the legendary founder of the Cretan Minoan civilization.  Minos rejected a beautiful bull offered him by a Greek deity.  Because of this rejection, the Greek deity had Minos’ wife have physical intimacy with another bull, giving birth to a troublesome son, the Minotaur, half bull/half human.  To contain this difficult ‘teenager’, Daedalus built the labryinth, which essentially functioned as a prison for King Minos’ awkward step-child.[2]

You all understand how hungry ‘teens’ can be. So King Minos demanded six young Athenian men and six young Athenian women to be sacrificed at the Labryinth where they would be eaten by his Minotaur step-son.

The book Heritage Walks in Athens comments that “in myth again, Athens’ most important King was Theseus, son of Aigeus, who defeated the Minotaur and released the city from the vassal’s tax paid to Crete.”[3]  Theseus escaped from the labyrinth after his girlfriend Princess Ariadne gave him the thread to follow out of the Labyrinth back to freedom.[4]

The term Labyrinth comes from the Lydian term Labyrs which means “double-headed ax”, an object of cult worship among the Minoan Cretans.[5]  While at the National Museum of Crete, I took a picture of an actual historic “Labyrs/Double-Edged Ax”, an object of worship used in the labyrinth to devoFile:Theseus Minotaur Mosaic.jpgur the young.[6]  The Labyrinth is the place of the sacred ax used ritually to decapitate victims while offering them to the sacred Minotaur bull.  Similarly to the Canaanite/Philistine bull god Baal, the Cretan sacred bull was worshipped for its male sexuality and power.[7]

 

 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. [8] 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. An example of this might be how many people innocently get hooked into Hatha yoga through the guise of a community centre yoga course.  Because Hatha yoga appears to westerners to be merely physical in nature, we fail to see the religious syncretism that we are involving ourselves in.  Nothing from a Hindu perspective is merely physical, because for Hinduism, the physical is merely an illusion.  So-called physical yoga asanas are designed to open the psychic door to the Hindu deities through ritual reenactment of specific Hindu deities.  Community-Centre Yoga is in reality the ‘marijuana’ entry-level drug of the new age world.[9]

 

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.[10] 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.[12]  The alleged Chartres connection is somewhat like a post-modern sound bite, a recently invented media-driven ‘history’. There is no written history of labyrinth walking at Chartres. All we have is the fact of an unused labyrinth on the floor of the Chartres Cathedral. It is like an empty crab shell into which anything can crawl. Nature hates a vacuum. Is the Chartres situation being used as a legitimization for introducing new age practices into unsuspecting churches? There are also astrological symbols in the stained glass window at Chartres, but no one yet is recommending taking part in ‘christian’ astrology classes because of Chartres.

 

Dr. Jean Houston, who is ground zero for the labyrinth movement, is listed on the Internet as one of the 10 top New Age speakers in North America[13]  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.’[14]  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 a past president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, Jean makes use of her doctorate in ‘Philosophy of Religion’[15] to gain access to areas where most new-agers and occultists can’t go.  For example, as noted widely in media a number of years ago[16], she became a consultant to Hillary Clinton, helping her to ‘channel’ the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt.

 

The Labyrinth, also called the Dromenon[17], is the official symbol of Dr. Jean Houston’s new-age ‘Mystery School’ which one paid $3,775 to be initiated into over a series of 9 weekends.[18]    Houston describes her Mystery School students as ‘…the dancers of the Dromenon…’.[19]

 

In Houston’s 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.[20]

 

Heard, a Vedanta Yoga devotee of Swami Prabhavananda, was an early pioneer of the New Age and even the Hippy movements with his recommendation of LSD and fire walking as spiritual initiation exercises.[21]  Jean Houston notes:

Again I owe a considerable debt to Gerald Heard, for it was under the name of H.F. Heard that he published a remarkable fictional story ‘Dromenon’, the inspiration of which provided me with the naming of my own first center. In the story, an archeologist encounters a therapy in stone, a mystical transformation of body, mind and spirit…An example of the Dromenon can be found on page 1 (of Heard’s book The Great Fog).  This is the famous dromenon found on the floor of Chartres Cathedral.  I often use this in my seminars by inscribing it on the floor and having the participants walk its pathways, always to great effect.[22]

 

Heard’s novel tells the story of an architectural student who, with the help of an Orphic/hermetic soul-guide, gains gnostic enlightenment after dancing through a labyrinth concealed beneath a British church building.[23]  The labyrinth dance, according to Heard, is meant to be a reenactment of the dancing Hindu deity Shiva, the definitive symbol of yoga.[24]  Canon Lauren Artress from Grace Cathedral brought the Labyrinth back to her Cathedral after experiencing the Labyrinth at Jean Houston’s Mystery School.[25] Artress notes that she was

hardly prepared for the force of my own reaction. As soon as I set foot into the labyrinth I was overcome with an almost violent anxiety. Some part of me seemed to know that in this ancient and mysterious archetype, I was encountering something that would change the course of my life.[26]

It is interesting that Artress, with her Cathedral connection, became far more prominent in her labyrinth promotion than her new age mentor.  Artress notes:

I worked with Jean Houston in her Mystery School in 1985. In 1986, I was asked to serve as Canon Pastor at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco…These programs eventually led me to the rediscovery of the labyrinth in 1991 when I returned to the Mystery School for one weekend.[27]

 

Jean Houston wrote in her book The Possible Human about ‘…the growth of Dromenon (Labyrinth) communities.[28]  As acknowledged in labyrinth websites, the labyrinth is a mandala[29], which is actually a Hindu ‘occult’ meditation process brought to the Western world by the grandfather of the New Age, Dr. Carl Jung.[30]

 

Is it a mere coincidence that the labyrinth resembles the coiling of the yogic kundalini snake? Is the Labyrinth actually a form of walking yoga?  Might the labyrinth be a thinly disguised yogic initiation rite into new age oneness, into the gnostic reconciliation of gender opposites?[31]  It is unthinkable for many westerners to imagine that walking the labyrinth might yogically kill the mind and remove one’s sense of self.

 

The Labyrinth has since spread to thousands of towns and cities, and is making a measurable impact in Canada.  Artress claimed that “over a million people have walked the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral alone…”[32]  Even the infamous Starhawk, the self-declared practicing witch and colleague of Matthew Fox, is walking the labyrinth nowadays [33].  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 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.”[34]  Artress says that “You walk to the center of the labyrinth and there at the center, you meet the Divine.”[35] 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.”[36]  To Jean Houston, it seems that all of life is made up of polytheistic labyrinths.

 

In her 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.’[37]  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.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

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 [1] Dr Jean Houston & the Labyrinth Fad”, By Rev Ed Hird, Anglicans for Renewal Canada magazine,  May 2,000 http://www3.telus.net/st_simons/arm08.htm

[2] Barry Unsworth, Crete, National Geographic Society, Washington, DC, 2004  p. 48 In Chania, Crete,  is found “the  Ikarus Street, named for was the son of the great artificer Daedalus, who built the labyrinth.  Father and son were kept imprisoned in this same labyrinth by King Minos.  Daedalus made wings for them both out of wax and feathers (but the son flew too close to the sun and the wax melted).”

[3] Heritage Walks in Athens, Municipality of Athens Cultural Organization,  Athens, Greece, p. 8

[4] Hans  George Wunderlich, The Secret of Crete, (Macmillan Publishing Co, Inc., New York, NY, 1974), p. 44

[5] Unsworth, p. 116.

[6] During the Nazi takeover of Greece (1936-1941), the Greek Fascist Youth EON (Ethniki Organosi Neolaias) adopted the labyrs as their main symbol. Black Metal fans in Greece still use the labrys as a symbol of Greek Neopaganism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labrys (Accessed Nov 26th 2013)

[7]Nicholas Platon, Crete, Frederick Muller Limited, London, Nagel Publishers, 1966, p. 183 “…the important part played by the worship of the bull, suggests that the bull symbolized the male creative force and that the bull was worshipped in this form.” Some scholars say that the bull was a symbol of Zeus.

[8] One Grace Cathedral Labyrinth advocate said that “Labyrinths predate Christianity by over a millennium.  The most famous labyrinth from ancient times was the Cretan one, the supposed lair of the mythological Minotaur, which Theseus slew with the aid of Ariadne and her spool of thread. rituals…” 597 Peter Corbett, “Pathfinders: Walking medieval labyrinths in a modern world,” p. 2, http://www.gracecathedral.org/enrichment/features/fea_19981120_txt.shtml,  (Accessed April 1st 2,000) ;  Jean Houston, Life Force: The Psycho-Historical Recovery of the Self (Delacorte Press, a division of the Theosophical Publishing House, New York, 1980), p. 263-64 “Now looking at the labyrinth on the floor of Chartres, we remember the searching language of physicists who…describe the structure of our universe as a vortex ring.”

[9] My ‘Yoga: More than Meets the Eyes’ article has already been read by more than 75,000 people since April 2013. http://tiny.cc/wg856w

[10]Lee Penn, Fall 1999 issue of the Journal of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project www.scp-inc.org  http://fatima.freehosting.net/Articles/Art7.htm

[11] The Chartres labyrinth dates from sometime between 1194 and 1220. These dates are determined by the great fire of 1194, which destroyed most of the cathedral and the city of Chartres. By 1220 the section of the nave housing the labyrinth had been rebuilt by Bishop Fulbert.  Lee Penn LeePenn@aol.com has done careful research showing that the Labyrinth-based relationship between Chartres Cathedral to Grace Cathedral, San Francisco is a clear example of ‘the tail wagging the dog’, of ‘life imitating art’.  Grace Cathedral have been giving strong leadership in Chartres’ ‘reintroduction’ of the Labyrinth, even to the point of making Chartres’ Dean Legaux an honorary Grace Cathedral Canon.

[13] Voices of a New Age Video (1999), Penny Price Productions, E! Online Fact Sheet, “Ten different New Age luminaries voice their view about the possibilities of the human spirit for healing the body, the mind, and the earth.”; http://talkcity.com/transcripts/970313.Houston.html (Accessed April 1st 2,000)

[14]  Jean Houston, GodSeed: the Journey of Christ, Quest Books, The Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, USA, 1992, p. 50, p. 51.

[15] http://skepdic.com/houston.html  1998 Robert Todd Carroll (Accessed May 1998)

[16] Bob Woodward in ‘The Choice’; The Providence Journal Bulletin, Tuesday, 6/25/96, P. A3

[17] http://www.jeanhouston.org/labyrinth/dromenon.html

“drom-e-non. – n. Ancient Gk: a ritual pattern of dynamic expression, a therapeutic dance rhythm in which participants experience second birth into a higher order of consciousness and community;…” (accessed April 1st 2,000)

[18] http://www.jeanhouston.org/ms.physical1999/ms1999f.html  (Accessed April 1st 2,000); Houston, Life Force,“In 1975, I founded the Dromenon Center, which was named after ancient Greek rites of growth and transformation, in Pomona New York.” http://tiny.cc/2tr3fx (accessed May 18th 2014)

[19]  Jean Houston, The Possible Human (Torcher: Houghton, Mifflin Company, 1982), p. ix; Jean Houston, The Mythic Life (Harper San Francisco, 1996), p. 186.; “Mystery School 1997”, http://www.motley-focus.com/mysteryschool97.html (accessed May 18th 2014)

[20] http://www.cathedral.org/cathedral/nca/spiritual-

perspectives/sacred.html (National Episcopal Cathedral Website) “Keynote speaker, the Reverend Dr. Lauren Artress, Canon for Special Ministries at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, first encountered a labyrinth in a workshop at psychologist Jean Houston’s Mystery School.” (accessed April 1st 2000)

 [21] Houston, Life Force, pp. xxv, xviii, xix. http://tiny.cc/2tr3fx (accessed May 18th 2014), “The psycho-technology that Heard advised as providing an initiation of movement from one stage of life to the next was sometimes outrageous and often surreal (LSD, electrical stimulation, walking on fire.)”; http://www.geraldheard.com ; Note: Houston herself was a pioneering LSD researcher ‘working with hundreds of research subjects since 1965’.

[22] Houston, Life Force, p. xxv. http://tiny.cc/2tr3fx (accessed May 18th 2014)

[23] H.F. Heard, The Great Fog:Weird Tales of Terror and Detection (Vanguard Press, New York, NY, 1944); Houston,  Life Force, p. 279.http://tiny.cc/2tr3fx (accessed May 18th 2014)

[24] Houston, Life Force, quoting Heard “Waiting for the Third Act”, London Times Literary Supplement, June 6th 1960, p. 355ff. “Beyond tragedy lies metacomedy.  The central figure of that comedy is known in Asiatic drama… The central figure who dances out of the cosmos, Shiva, consummates laughter and tears in an ecstasis that goes beyond pleasure and pain.”; Note: The definitive symbol of yoga is the Nataraj asana, known as the dancing Shiva who ‘dances’ destruction upon any distinctions (avidya) between the Creator and creation, good and evil, male and female. http://www.theyogatutor.com/natarajasana The Yoga Teacher Tirusula Yoga, “Nata= Dancer. Raja = King / Lord” http://bit.ly/TNFTRV  (Accessed Dec 23rd 2012).

[25] Kristen Fairchild, “A Passion for the Possible: An Interview with Jean Houston,” The Spire, Textures 11/04/97 www.gracecathedral.org/enrichment (accessed April 1st 2,000) , p. 4, “Jean Houston, Ph.D. is the best-selling author of many books…She has been mentor and teacher of Dr.  Lauren Artress, Founder of Veriditas, at Grace Cathedral.”; Jean Houston, The Possible Human, 1982, p. 51

[26]  Lauren Artress, Walking a Sacred Path (Penguin Group, New York, NY, 1995) p. 2.

[27] “Collective Wisdom Initiative: Self-Portrait”, Reverend Lauren Artress “The work of symbolic fields has a Jungian base, since I am working with archetypes, symbol, shadow and encounters with collective unconscious.”  http://www.collectivewisdominitiative.org/files_people/Artress_Lauren.htm  (accessed May 18th 2014) Note: Is Artress’ Jungian connection merely coincidental or foundational to the Labyrinth fad?

[28]  Jean Houston, The Possible Human, 1982, p. 51

[29] Peter Corbett, “Pathfinders: Walking medieval labyrinths in a modern world,” http://www.gracecathedral.org/enrichment/features/fea_19981120_txt.shtml  “True meditation occurs when the physical brain has been pacified, kept busy with a mantra or a mandala, so the  spiritual mind is then free to wander on its own, and discover new truths.  “The walking back and forth seems very pendulous,” states Squires. “It’s a very slow frequency, a very long wavelength from one turn to the next.  You slowly walk along and slowly walk back, then slowly walk on again.  It’s hard to have your mind in a fretful kind of pace when you’re doing such a slow, pendulous, rhythmic walking like that.”  (accessed April 1st 2,000)

[30]  Occult, according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, means ‘kept secret, esoteric…from the Latin culere: hide’  It is not a synonym for Satanism.; “…the labyrinth, a sacred tool that has been used as a mandala in many spiritual traditions for thousands of years…” http://www.cathedral.org/cathedral/nca/spiritual- perspectives/sacred.html;  “The labyrinth is a mandala that meets our longing…”  Labyrinth Project, “What Is A Labyrinth,” http://www.gracecom.org/veriditas/press/whatlab.shtml, 1996 (Accessed April 1st 2,000);  http://www3.bc.sympatico.ca/st_simons/arm03.htm  , “Jung was also a strong promoter of the mandala, a circular picture with a sun or star usually at the centre. Sun worship, as personified in the mandala, is perhaps the key to fully understanding Jung.(ft.103)

[31]  Houston, Life Force, p. 244 “The knower, the knowledge, and the known become part of an undifferentiated unity that is the unus mundus, the eternal dance between the One and the Many, the Dromenon.”; p. 264 “But in the Dromenon the boundaries between body and soul, other and earth, are effaced.”  http://tiny.cc/2tr3fx (accessed May 18th 2014); For more on this, you can read my online article “Carl Jung and the Gnostic Reconciliation of Gender Opposites” http://tiny.cc/5uy3fx .

[32] http://www.gracecathedral.org/enrichment (Accessed April 1st 2,000)

[33] http://www.sfgate.com Starhawk, as a Wiccan/Witch leader of two covens, celebrated New Year 2,000 by walking the Labyrinth on her San Francisco area Ranch. (Accessed April 1st 2,000)

[34] Lauren Artress, Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Sacred Tool, Riverhead Books/G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995; sentence quoted by Pamela Sullivan, “Book Review,” Pacific Church News, June/July 1995, p. 8

[35]  Lauren Artress, “Q and A with Lauren,” Veriditas, Vol. 1, no. 2, Summer 1996, p. 18

[36] http://skepdic.com/houston.html  (Accessed Nov. 27th 2013)

[37] Jean Houston, The Hero & the Goddess, Aquarian/Thorsons (Harper Collins Publisher), 1992, p. 134