Posts Tagged ‘body maps’

Scar Geography, Burn Scar From An Art Project, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Scars may be an odd topic, I know. But scars, random warrior marks across body (and mind), remind us that we’ve lived a full life. A nick, a cut, a slice. I remember when I was a young girl, my mother sliced her finger open while peeling potatoes; the wound took several stitches and weeks to heal. And when I was about six, my young brother fell off his tricycle while standing on the seat, reaching for a pickle jar resting on the brick window ledge of our carport. There was blood everywhere; it scared me to death.

Scars have a long memory. They follow some kind of trauma in a life. Here is a little scar geography from the years that I have lived:


#1 — Index finger in the crease above the knuckle. I was sharpening dental tools in the late 70’s, when a blade caught on a grinding wheel and popped up into the air. I watched in slow motion; gravity took its course and the steel tip landed in my finger. (Occupational hazard of the dental tool sharpener.)  — Montana

#2 — Middle finger, second crease above the knuckle. While performing the perfect high dive at a pool party (showing off for my high school friends) I didn’t realize how shallow the deep end was. Bam! scraped my knuckles on the bottom and came up bleeding. Not cool. — Pennsylvania

#3 — Inside wrist, right side, a burn scar shaped like a lop-sided heart. I was helping an art school friend paint scalding hot bees wax on her senior project, a huge sculpture made of all natural materials. She’d heat up the dark brown bees wax in an old electric skillet her grandmother gave her and slather it across branches of wood. Memories of art school. — Minnesota

#4 — Inside of left calf – a light burn scar shaped like the edge of the tailpipe I brushed against when stepping off the saddle of my uncle’s Honda. I was about 13 and asked if he’d take me on a ride across Pennsylvania back roads around East Berlin. He forgot to tell me the first rule of the road about motorcycles – always step off the side without the 500-degree tailpipe. (Ironically, it’s the same day I fell in love with motorcycle riding.) — Pennsylvania

Do you have scars on your body, the kind of unexpected life happenings that leave a little mark? Or maybe you’ve had surgery under the knife (before the laser) and have a long zipper down your abdomen or across your right knee. My brother has had two liver transplants and I am awestruck by what he has endured, evidenced by the long scars down his chest. He recently became a candidate for a third transplant, and the last time I was home, he joked that he was going to tattoo a dotted line down his chest – – – – Cut Here.

Scars can also be psychological and emotional. Childhood trauma, abuse, post traumatic stress, or scars associated with cultural rites of passage. Stressful life events become markers, cairns on the journey. Scars provide a rich vein of material to be excavated. In your next Writing Practice, follow the scars across your body. They contain deep memories and feelings, a topographical map through the past.

Scars — 10 minutes, Go!

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CrossWings, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

CrossWings, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

ONE: Squaring the Circle creates an opening which connects the (“I”) Ego with the inner self, freeing up energy for the things that really matter to you. Opposites in conflict settle into balance (like these wings). Medium: Crayola markers and Reeves Water Colour Pencils.

Meditation, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Meditation, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

TWO: Stage 7 brings attention to thinking, learning, and discovering creative abilities. This mandala was designed during the Renaissance as an object of meditation. Committing it to memory was thought to draw up love, the life force in all things. Medium: Crayola markers and Reeves Water Colour Pencils.

Circle Squared, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Circle Squared, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

THREE: Learning to feel comfortable with yourself and your place in the scheme of things creates a firm foundation for identity. The balance between circles and squares signifies the harmony between masculine and feminine energies that reside together in each of us. Medium: marker paints.

Crusaders Shield, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Crusader’s Shield, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

FOUR: Resolution of inner conflict creates a stronger, more complex personality. You start to find yourself motivated by a sense of mission toward worthy goals that engage your whole being and allow you to find your place in the world. Medium: Crayola markers, Portfolio Brand Water-Soluble Oil Pastels, and Reeves Water Colour Pencils.

July Mandalas — Stage 7 – Squaring The Circle

One of the hardest things about this year-long practice of working with mandalas is getting them posted on or near the month I’ve actually created them. Isn’t it amazing how the older we get, the more a year goes by in the blink of an eye?

I was traveling most of July and completed these before I left for Georgia (I’ve had resistance to posting them). I am currently working on September’s mandalas, and have started a drawing on canvas that I hope to paint and complete by mid-November.

This mandala practice began with the post Coloring Mandalas when I decided to take a year to follow the twelve passages of Joan Kellogg’s The Great Round. According to Susanne F. Fincher, the healing benefits of The Great Round: Stage 7 – Squaring The Circle are:

  • choosing goals that accomplish more than Ego desires for wealth, health, and happiness
  • learning to recognize projects worthy of your best efforts, projects that challenge you to grow, create, and care for others
  • dedicating yourself to principles and practices that make life better for you and for those around you

Squaring The Circle is a stage that brings the intellect into sharper focus. For a child, it is going to school for the first time; as a young adult, it might be when you complete your formal education. You are energized with a sense of power, importance, and mission and have great potential to create in ways that may impact the rest of your life.

On the spiritual level, Squaring the Circle is about dedicating yourself to principles and practices that enhance life for you and others. From that perspective, I thought I’d use July’s mandalas to talk about color and the body’s spiritual energy centers — the chakras.

 Body Mapping, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Body Mapping, ancient illustration from Mapping The Body by Mark Kidel and Susan Rowe-Leete, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

The Chakras & Color

Chakra is from the Sanskrit word for wheel. It is believed that we have hundreds of energy centers inside and around us, all connected to major organs and glands that govern parts of our bodies. On a daily basis we collect energy from different levels of vibrations, including color, that are utilized by the body.

Here are the general ideas and color schemes for each chakra:

  • RED – 1st CHAKRA — base of spine: basic needs, physical health, security, survival, connections to first tribe, community
  • ORANGE – 2nd CHAKRA —  between navel and tailbone: autonomy, self-worth, issues around gender, sexuality, money, energy to create (including procreation)
  • YELLOW — 3rd CHAKRA — behind the navel, at the solar plexus: independence, self-esteem, ability to take action, to move toward your goals
  • GREEN — 4th CHAKRA — near the heart: attachment to parents, ability to nurture yourself and others, ability to form intimate relationships, the many ways we love
  • BLUE — 5th CHAKRA — throat area: creating and communicating in your own voice, sharing and expressing gifts, talents, and the spiritual within us
  • INDIGO — 6th CHAKRA — just above and between the eyes: the Third Eye, developing wisdom, center for creative visualization, learning to receive information from the Higher Self
  • VIOLET — 7th CHAKRA — crowns the top of the head: the 1000-petaled lotus, transcending separate existence, living in the moment, connecting with the Universe, belief that you are more than your physical body

What begin to emerge in a year-long mandala practice are patterns of color. As the months go by, you start to notice a gravitation to certain colors (the same way your body is drawn to certain foods that contain the vitamins and minerals you crave). Shades, hues, tints, values make up the thousands of color vibrations that help the body heal.

I am drawn to oranges and reds with certain undertones of blue and shades of black. The oranges and reds are at the base of the spine, connected to survival and root energies. It makes sense to me as I continue to dig into the past while working on my memoir. I revisit what has passed for rediscovery and healing. Certain materials draw me, too; those that create strong bold colors (while others may be drawn to pastels).

What Colors Are Showing Up In Your Mandalas?

RED – Is some part of you feeling vulnerable or in need of healing? How is your relationship with your tribe? Do you have a vibrant stirring of energy to create something new.

ORANGE – Are you honoring your own needs as well as those who are in relationship with you? Do you struggle with addictions to food, money, sex? Is your creative energy ebbing or flowing? Are you acting with integrity around your commitments.

YELLOW – Are you ready to learn, think, plan, take action for your future. Does your self-will overrun your common sense and good judgment. Do you accept yourself fully for who you are and stand up for what you believe in from your own unique point of view.

GREEN – Are you able to forgive (yourself and others)? Is your heart broken? Are you opening emotionally to new relationships or expanding your capacity to love and nurture.

BLUE – Is it time you spoke up about an issue you’ve been quiet about? Are you sharing your gifts with the rest of the world or hoarding them, keeping them close to your body. Do you feel you speak with integrity about your own points of view.

INDIGO – Are your intuitive abilities being expanded at this time. Do you feel a sense of wonder. Do you see the mysteries and joy in our everyday mundane existence.

VIOLET – Are you living in the present moment? Do you feel connected to something bigger than you, a larger Universal Consciousness. Do you share with others the wisdom you have gained from living in this world.

As artists and writers, color detail is of prime importance to us. Volumes of literature have been written about the meanings, color systems, and energies of the chakras. What I have posted is derived from the many books I’ve read over the years (I’ve barely scratched the surface).

For a primer, you can read An Introduction To The Chakras at Chakra Energy. And here are a few more links for exploration, including a Chakra Test to gauge strengths and areas of vulnerability:

There is so much to be learned from the things we take on as practices. Structure, repetition, and dedication to a practice prove to be excellent teachers. Practice helps me to become a better listener.

-posted on red Ravine, Monday, September 8th, 2008

-related to posts: The Void – January Mandalas, Dragon Fight – June Mandalas, Winding Down – July 4th Mandalas, and WRITING TOPIC – CIRCLES

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