Relaxing Saturday winter night. Liz and I are coloring mandalas and watching a documentary on Beat Generation poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Liz bought a book on Coloring Mandalas by Susanne F. Fincher. It contains 48 sacred circle designs for a means of entering the Circle of Life.
There are many ways to approach mandalas. We’ve decided to follow the structure of the mandalas of The Great Round, as identified by American art therapist, Joan Kellogg. There are 12 mandala forms associated with each stage of The Great Round. We’re starting with Stage 1, the Void, in January. Stage 2, Bliss, in February. Stage 3, Labyrinth, in March. Well, you get the idea.
Here’s an excerpt from the book about creating mandalas:
Creating a mandala begins with drawing a circle. It can be as simple as the circle a child draws or as complex as the sacred images created by Tibetan monks. Mandalas arise from the compelling human need to know our own inner reality, to align this knowing with our body’s wisdom, and to awaken in ourselves a sense of being in harmony with the Universe.
As Lama Nubpa Chodak Gyatso has explained, mandalas are “manifestations of the lucid radiance of being.” The word mandala, from Sanskrit, the ancient language of India, translates as “sacred circle.” In Tibetan the term for mandala is kyil-kor, which means “center and circumference.” In the Eastern tradition mandalas also suggest a complete cycle, such as the rituals that comprise a liturgical year.
-from Coloring Mandalas, For Insight, Healing, and Self-Expression by Susanne F. Fincher, Shambhala Publications, Inc., 2000
The word mandala also translates as “cycle,” as in a prayer cycle or a song cycle built around a single theme. A Labyrinth is a mandala. So is a Medicine Wheel, the 12 hexagrams of the I Ching, and the Buddhist concept of emptiness. What does the circle mean to you. Is it openness? Emptiness? Is it inviting, full, safe? Or scary, as in the empty circle of the Void.
As the Full Wolf Moon fades and we head into the next New Moon, it is a good time to begin something new. The New Moon symbolizes new beginnings. At the New Moon, you plant the seeds of what you want to come to fruition at the Full Moon. And then, start all over again. The Ouroboros. Yes, the Ouroboros is a mandala, too.
It’s time for me to start coloring. The show on Ferlinghetti is over. We’ve moved on to a PBS show on cheetahs. It’s fitting to be meditating on mandalas while listening to Lawrence read at City Lights Bookstore. I’ll keep you posted as we progress with our mandalas. We’d love to hear anything you’d like to share about your own experiences with these sacred circles.
-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, January 26th, 2008
-related to post, WRITING TOPIC – CIRCLES