Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Walking the Labyrinth in the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Chartres: The Lived Experience of Middle-aged North Americans while on Pilgrimage A Grounded Theory Study
by McGregor, Mary Jean, Ph.D., Union Institute and University, 2012, 216; 3502214
Abstract (Summary)

This grounded theory study investigated the embodied experience of middle-aged North Americans walking the labyrinth in the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Chartres, Chartres, France, while on pilgrimage at the turn of the twenty-first century.

Scant documentation is available on how a unique pattern, masterfully laid in stone in the nave of this medieval cathedral renowned for its architecture, has been encountered over the eight hundred years since its construction. This inquiry exploring the contemporary experience of walking the Chartres labyrinth pattern may modestly begin to fill the gap.

Research revealed the central theory that the lived experience of walking the medieval labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral involved a process of coming home to Self in a spiritual, archetypal, and mythic sense. Analysis of the research participants' narratives indicated a movement toward wholeness of self. The central theory emerged out of seven major themes interrelated and cogent to the lived experience disclosing that walking the labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral (1) mirrors life, (2) offers a safe container for transformation, (3) expands consciousness, (4) relates to the medieval cathedral context, (5) connects to the sacred, (6) moves to mystery, and (7) witnesses community.

An interdisciplinary perspective included the history and development of the labyrinth in the cathedral, its context in medieval studies, the labyrinth as a symbol of wholeness, and the mythology of journey and spiritual pilgrimage. Three complementary methodologies formed an approach to the research question: grounded theory, intensive interviewing, and a heuristic orientation. Grounded theory allowed a central theme to emerge from common elements carefully mined through data analysis of the participants' narratives. Intensive interviewing with open-ended, nonjudgmental questions invited participants to interpret their experience more fully, allowing stories and descriptions to unfold in unanticipated and surprising ways. An underlying heuristic approach aimed to discover the nature and meaning of the phenomenon stemming from the researcher's experience and interest in the subject.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Searl, Stanford J., Jr.
School: Union Institute and University
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 73/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religious history, Medieval history, Spirituality
Keywords: Archetype, Cathedral Notre-Dame de Chartres, France, Grounded theory, Labyrinth, Pilgrimage, Transformation
Publication Number: 3502214
ISBN: 978-1-267-24894-7
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