April draws to a close in a few hours. Though it snowed last Saturday, the light of April’s last day is clear and blue. The front yard is bursting with new life: erratic shoots of thick, green grass, day lilies skyrocketing out of tender wet ground, red-stemmed dogwood buds, one purple bloom in the rock garden on the hill.
We began Coloring Mandalas as a practice in January, following the twelve passages of The Great Round. The initial circulation of The Great Round coincides with early childhood, and physical development. Thereafter, the passages focus on spiritual exploration and maturation, awareness of one’s center, and seeking balance and harmony through working with the archetypal circle.
Beginnings, the fourth cycle of The Great Round, opens prior to the age of two, when a mutual bond is formed between baby and mother. The child develops trust; the mother takes pleasure in nurturing. Later, as adults, we learn to trust and nurture our own creative energy through avenues such as writing, music, and art.
In Stage Four we explore ways to quell the self-doubt and insecurity (Monkey Mind) that bubble to the surface when we create. On a spiritual level, we learn to nurture ourselves, to feel compassion (for ourselves and others); we learn the importance of giving service from the heart.
The April mandalas are drawn with Crayola markers, colored pencils, and Uniball gel pens. Liz’s mandalas are all hand-drawn. But April was the first time in The Great Round that I drew one of my own (from a blank circle with a dot at the center). The simple design is found on the walls of a birthing chamber in an ancient palace on the island of Crete (archeologists suggest it may represent the cervix). The dot becomes the beginning point of our own design, reflecting something we may be ready to birth.
According to the book Coloring Mandalas by Susanne F. Fincher, the healing benefits of The Great Round: Stage 4 — Beginnings are:
learning to contain and focus energy
deepening and nurturing the relationship with the inner self
understanding the value of service to others
developing patience and a belief in the process
knowing something new will be created and produced even though its form can not yet be seen
ONE: The first mandala (top of the page) was drawn by hand, unplanned and fluid, beginning with a circle and a dot. It is based on an illustration by Marija Gimbutas in The Language of the Goddess, where she illustrates a circle and dot found in a birthing chamber on the island of Crete.
TWO: The second mandala represents a flower or the sun. The center of the template started as empty white space. Everything within the blue center was added in the process of drawing and coloring. Beginnings are a time to contain and focus, to hold our projects and creations close to center, so they can develop. Talking, explaining, discussing, can dissipate valuable energy. Silence holds the space.
THREE: The third mandala draws from the heart chakra. Holding focused energy deepens the relationship to the self, intensifying and expanding the heart. Sustained effort toward nurturing our insides, allows more room outside to see the way clear for unconditional love — a generous love dedicated to serving others.
FOUR: In Beginnings, we learn to cherish the new, to care for what is young and tender. After Winter’s heavy runoff, we wait a few weeks before we rake and scrape the earth, protecting tender shoots of Spring grass. Be gentle with the self. Make room for and nurture your creative ideas, so they have room to come to fruition.
Trimotto, Signs Of Spring, Sliver, Find The Mandala, hand-drawn labyrinths created by Liz, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
The four mandalas above are hand-drawn by Liz, created for The Great Round – Stage 4. She agreed to let me photograph them from her sketchbook and post them with the April mandalas.
Mandalas have been used in Christian churches, in Eastern and Western traditions, by mystics and ancient peoples all over the world. Like labyrinths, mandalas cross all cultures, and represent Spirit coming into matter.
Spring teaches us about new beginnings. About trusting the process of movement — through Winter’s deadening hibernation, to the rebirth and new growth of Spring. We learn to trust ourselves. To know that what appear to be chaos and death, will be followed by renewal and prosperity.
-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, April 30th, 2008