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Mandala: The Universe in a Circle

Updated: Apr 26

What an immense proposition! Seeing the universe in a circle.

Our world is round. And so are our sun and our moon. So we live on something round, and our days and nights are organised by two round celestial beings. We look out on these round orbs in the sky through two round eyes, and see these round eyes reflected back to ourselves in mirrors, and in the connecting power of eye contact with one another. Roundness is hard-wired into our beings as an organising  principle of life.

Earlier this week was the night of the full Egg or Pink  moon, and my purpose here is to begin gather up some thoughts and imagery from the time we have been spending in community, exploring mandalas in nature, and the idea of Holy perfection.

We began this journeying at the time of the new moon, at a monthly online community gathering called Soul Shed Sunday Openings. for the next one, please do click the pink button and have a look! when we meet we will continue to gather the mandala threads in the first part of our meeting, and then welcome in the new moon and our new theme to walk with: Belonging - Witnessing Trees and holy will/freedom.

I’m going to attempt this gathering up by conceiving mandala in three ways: As powerful to recognise, as a deeply meaningful form to create in,

and as transformative to correspond with.

I hope by bringing this journeying to life here, that you might better imagine how you could include it within your lexicon of intuitive creative practices.

Mandala: A powerful thing to recognise.

Many Mandalas are a part of  spiritual traditions that are not my own. Jan, who is currently travelling in India, unsurprisingly has been seeing mandalas everywhere - as they are such a part of spiritual practice and iconography in Hinduism and

Buddhism, and there is much overspill into the visual language of the wider culture. It is important to acknowledge that while I might draw on writings and thoughts from Buddhists and eastern religion here, the aspects of mandala I will be drawing on here will draw more heavily on traditions closer to home and onto the synthesising  thought of Jung and Jungians, who believe that mandala is a universal organising archetypal symbol of the unconscious moving to consciousness. Above :Jans Mandalas in India

That movement is perhaps why they are so compelling.  There is sacred geometry embedded in many mandalas, and alongside this theme we have of course been wrestling with the idea of Holy Perfection Like other holy ideas to sit with (think love, peace, forgiveness) this is not easy to do.

That’s because holy ideas are bigger than our human capacity  can naturally stretch to in ordinary consciousness. And our world does not make it any easier, since we have myriad examples of pain, suffering and disintegration playing out down here at any given moment. However, holding space for the possibility of a holy idea outside our ordinary range might be an important thing to attempt. Jungian Robert A. Johnson thinks so and related it to the mandala:

“Never before has mankind been in such need of the healing power of the mandala as at present. Our fractured, disintegrating world cries out for that cohesive force which is the great power of mandala….The psyche offers up the specific healing element, the mandala, when it is most needed, and we will be wise to hear its timely structure. Never have we needed it more.”

So – where can we see mandalas?

Spring is a wonderful time for this, since flowers in nature are a beautiful example.

Here Betsy has stayed with the beauty of the unfurling of a Zinnia in her garden in Atlanta, Georgia, over time. In our gathering she spoke movingly of the gradual appearence of the smaller orange compound flowers encircling the centre.

Here is Buddhist Pema Chodrun on your life as a mandala - a vast limitless circle.:

"Everything that shows up in your mandala is a vehicle for your awakening. From this point of view awakening is right at your

fingertips continually"

Now that these two photographs of zinnia have arrived in your own mandala, what do you notice as their effect on you? Can they be a vehicle for a moment of awakening in you too? You might like to stay with this experience and notices what arises in you, and journal with this for a few minutes. What do you see, feel, sense, arising in you in correspondence with these pictures?

When we shared  at our gathering about the correspondence between the idea of Holy Perfection and these mandalas in nature, Annie said two things. Firstly that she didn’t know what to do with the idea of holy perfection, but then she spoke about the miracle of a flower. Here is the first spring flower she saw in Vermont, where the snow lingers long. I wonder whether the profound simplicity of her subtle observation is offering us the sense of how the holy idea can come into our experience more easily via the body and our hearts sensing, and by our being present to ourselves somatically in the  environment,  than grappling with it on a cognitive level.


Mandala: A deeply meaningful form to create in.

Yesterday in preparation for the Full Egg moon, I went for a walk with the plan to make a mandala of wild flowers in the grave yard down the road. Some of the graves date back to the 1800s and are untended, so i thought i would feel out a good place to place my

flowers, which I snipped and gathered from the roadside on the way. There were so many; that the edges and cracks of the pavement have been filled with dandelions, cow parsley, forget-me-nots, red campion and more.

As it turned out, I didnt last long in the graveyard, since the wind got up and kept blowing my flowers away, but here I'm sharing the moment I did have there, along with my finished mandala on the garden table. This turned out to be an ideal base as I could poke the stems through the gaps in the ironwork!

I also want to share Ingrid's mandalas, with her blessing, that she made in a one to one Soul Shed creative session this month. She used her experiencing of the three centres: gut, heart and head and used the mandala circle to explore and express each one through intuitive collage and found poetry. This is what came. The purpose in such a process is not to make art to then interpret through the cognitive mind, but rather to allow the intuitive imagination to do its thing and reveal creative life force.

The making itself is transformative and allows for state change - transformation even. Ingrid has compared it to experiencing a kind of soul retrieval.

Here Buddhist teacher Julia Simmer Brown has an illuminating insight about mandala which also illuminates the power of this kind of creating:

"Our lives can only be seen as a mandala if we include everything, all positive qualities as well as everything we would like to ignore, reject or distance ourselves from".

Heres a link to one to one sessions at The Soul Shed

Mandala as Transformative to correspond with.

It might already be becoming obvious how allowing the creative imagination to be with this theme of mandala can start to generate a different way of seeing! After our new moon gathering, Tracey said she was seeing mandalas everywhere for a week! That Included this exhibit at Dallas museum of Art. This side of the pond,  I found myself stopping and peering closely at dandelions!

Mandalas are everywhere. Once you tune into this way of seeing, their patterning will begin to offer itself to your imagination, and become apparent in your own square mile. And if it does, I would absolutely love to hear from you about it!

I hope this has given you a sense of how Mandala might be something you would like to spend time with as part of an intuitive creative practice. Here's William Blake who was a poet and a mystic and upends our ordinary perceptions reviving them with the life force and mystery and wonder present in every moment of life if we choose to be present to it.

I look forward to creating with you soon


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