Through the ages, mandalas have been employed by Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and Native people the world over to create sacred spaces and focal points for prayer and meditation.
Often painted, they may also be made of stone, colored sand or stained glass, such as in the rose windows found in Gothic cathedrals. Some, like Tibetan sand mandalas, possess an impermanent quality, as their deconstruction is also part of the ritual surrounding their creation. Mandalas might be intended as representations of the universe, the unconscious self or the relationship between the inner and outer realms.
Mine are simple creations made with natural materials found in my yard: leaves, flowers, twigs and tree cones. The first mandala shown at the top of this post was made from the colorful leaves of a sugar maple and a yellow birch. The second was created on my gravel driveway from sea smoothed stones gathered near the ocean.
This peony leaf mandala also includes fern leaves, purple asters and two-flowered Cynthia blooms. A curled up wooly bear caterpillar is at its centre.
Above, heal-all flowers have been arranged with balsam fir cones around a mushroom centre. The creation of each mandala gave me an opportunity to reflect on autumn’s beautiful colours and textures. I’m thankful to live in a place where nature’s palette is ever changing and fresh.
My mandalas will slowly fall apart, be moved by the winds or wild creatures, decay and return to the earth. Their ephemeral quality only serves to enhance their present beauty.
Have you ever considered using natural materials to create a mandala outdoors?