The Complementary Labyrinth

If we turn the inside out of a labyrinth, we obtain the dual labyrinth of it. The dual labyrinth has the same pattern as the original labyrinth, however, the pattern is rotated by a half-circle, and the entrance and the center are exchanged. This has already been extensively described on this blog (see related posts, below).

Now, there is another possibility for a relationship between two labyrinths with the same pattern. In this kind of relationship, the pattern is not rotated, but mirrored vertically. Also – other than in the relationship of the duality – the entrance and the center are not exchanged. At this stage, I term this relation between two labyrinths the complementarity in order to distinguish it from the relationship of the duality.

Here I will show what is meant with the example of the most famous labyrinth.

This labyrinth is the „Cretan“, „Classical“, „Archetype“ or how soever called alternating, one-arm labyrinth with 7 circuits and the sequence of circuits 3 2 1 4 7 6 5, that I will term the „basic type“ from now on.

Figure 1.The Original Labyrinth

Figure 1 shows this type in the concentric style.

The images (1 – 6) of the following gallery (figure 2) show how the pattern of the complementary type can be obtained starting from the pattern of the original type.

Image 1 shows the pattern of the basic type in the conventional form. In image 2 this is drawn slightly different. By this, the connection from the outside (marked with an arrow downwards) into the labyrinth and the access to the center (marked with a bullet point) are somewhat enhanced. This in order to show, that when mirroring the pattern, the entrance and the center will not be exchanged. They remain connected with the same circuits of the pattern. In images 3 til 5 the vertical mirroring is shown, divided up in three intermediate steps. Vertical mirroring means mirroring along a horizontal line. Or else, flipping the figure around a horizontal axis – here indicated with a dashed line. One can imagine, a wire model of the pattern (without entrance, center and the grey axial connection lines) being rotated around this axis until the upper edge lies on bottom and, correspondingly, the lower edge on top. In the original labyrinth, the path leads from the entrance to the third circuit (image 3). With this circuit it remains connected during the next steps of the mirroring (shown grey in images 4, 5 and 6). After completion of the mirroring, however, this circuit has become the fifth circuit.The path thus first leads to the fifth circuit (image 6) of the complementary labyrinth. A similar process occurs on the other side of the pattern. In the original labyrinth, the path reaches the center from the fifth circuit. This circuit remains connected with the center, but transforms to the third circuit after mirroring.

Figure 3: The Complementary Labyrinth

In the pattern of the complementary labyrinth we can find a type of labyrinth that has already been described on this blog (see related posts). It is one of the six very interesting (alternating) labyrinths with 1 arm and 7 circuits. That is to say the one with the S-shaped course of the pathway.

So, what is the difference between the dual and the complementary labyrinth?

Let us remember that the basic type is self-dual. The dual of the basic type thus is a basic type again.

The complementary to the basic type is the type with the S-shaped course of the pathway.

By the way: In this case, the dual to the complementary is the same complementary again, as also the complementary of the basic type is self-dual (otherwise it would not be a very interesting labyrinth).

This opens up very interesting perspectives.

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12 thoughts on “The Complementary Labyrinth

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  10. Thank you for this comment, dear Andreas !
    Of course you’re right too : these are two manifestations of the same reality…
    I’d say,it is like our two visions that could also be seen as dual, if there weren’t perhaps (or certainly !) many other ways to describe this magnificent reality.
    I like to say of mine, in French, the two aspects I refer to are like ‘cul et chemise’ i.e.’inséparables’. This certainly can be said of yours too.
    Cheers, and renewed thanks for your interesting work !


  11. Tx, Andreas. I use to call ‘dual labyrinths’ the labyrinth and its associated maze, i.e. its wall with choices and dead-ends. As this maze proceeds from a labyrinth, in the case of labyrinths like the Chartres, their maze dead-ends are opposed, so you can connect them by bridges, tunnels,Japanese steps or …drone flights, to get ‘circuits’ you can ever loop through. Kind regards, Sam


    • Dear Sam
      Thank you for your comment. So obviously we have different notions of duality. What you refer to is in my terms the two different graphical representations of the same labyrinth: a) by the Ariadne’s Thread (your labyrinth), b) by the walls (your dual or maze). To me this is the same labyrinth. The dual of it usually has another course of the pathway and of course also includes both, the Ariadne’s Thread and the walls delimiting the path.


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