Are we “A-Lone” or are we “All-One”? A-Lone or All-One? To believe that I am A-Lone is Illusion but that is what the world teaches. My yoga teacher presented this to me years ago and it was very powerful. I have felt Separation intensely at times. I knew this to be true, at a deep and wise part of my being, that we are All One and this knowing has brought me comfort and peace.
I have been drawn to rainbows and colors all of my life. I have found the perfect expression in Mandalas – sacred and magical circles which represent the universe. Mandalas are healing and beautiful and are universal throughout the world. Carl G. Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist adopted the Sanskrit word Mandala and used Mandalas to help himself and his patients heal. A circle organizes all that is within and as such, the Mandala is a microcosm of the macrocosm of the universe. Painting Mandalas is healing and fun for all ages. What amazes me is what the Mandalas reveal and what they teach us.
The brilliant art therapist, Joan Kellogg, developed the Great Round in order to help us understand our own stages of growth. It turns out that our subconscious and collective minds do reflect nature in its perfection. Nature is cyclical in nature. There are periods of growth, periods of stagnation and of death. The Tao and the I Ching interpret the cyclical flow of events. Mandalas and the Great Round are other tools that we can use. Kellogg studied thousands of mandalas and found that there was a recurring pattern in the drawings. Her revelation came in the form of a dream – where she saw a small man staring at her very intently while he walked backwards in a circle, drawing a pattern in the sand with a stick.
The Archetypical Stages of the Great Round, also called (MARI) is a series of developmental stages that we all go through, reflecting the cycles of growth of nature, numbering 12 stages. Each stage has a task. Here are the stages with a brief description:
1 – The Void – This is akin to fertile black soil of creation
2 – Bliss – Like a baby in its mother’s womb with images of water
3 – Labyrinth/Spiral – A quickening of life, like the Breath of God Upon the Waters
4 – Beginning – A trusting state where we are in the mothers world
5 – The Target – Separation from Paradise, an awareness of self as separateness
6 – Dragon Fight – A time of inner conflict during which we give birth to a new sense of self
7 – Squaring the Circle – A time to learn, plan and love, on top of the world at high noon
8 – The Functioning Ego Symbolized by a star, a clear sense of self is developed.
9 – Crystallization – feelings of satisfaction, harmony and fulfillment
10 – Gates of Death – the connection between ego and self grows distant.
11 – Fragmentation – The dark night of the soul, confusion, fear
12 – Transcendental Ecstasy – Returning home, able to accept the gift of grace
1. This being cyclical in nature, we go back to the void.
Stages 1 through 6 are related to the Mother. Stages 7 to 12 are related to the Patriarchy. Humans reflect nature in these stages and we repeat these stages over and over again in our lives.
How The Great Round has changed my life.
I can understand and be more accepting of myself and others as we all go through these stages. They are part of the human condition. There is a time to create and succeed and learn and grow. There are also times that we need to rest and go into the VOID, the source of all creativity and ideas. As a healer and massage therapist, I often find people are struggling with feelings of fatigue, confusion, sometimes no energy. I understand now that this is a part of our cycles that is not well-known but is essential and important. Take the time you need to rest and heal and be re-born. In Indigenous cultures, there were frequently times of purification for people where they would go into isolation deep into the earth, for example and rest in mother Earth’s womb. It is difficult to find such traditions in modern life. I suspect that the body gets sick sometimes to force people to rest and purify themselves. Frequently we resist the changes, that death that is necessary. New life has to come and parts of us have to die for this to occur. It is easier to flow through these stages when you are aware of them and know that they need not be permanent. It is easier to be compassionate to yourself and others knowing these cycles. It has been a great blessing for me to have this sacred knowledge. I come back to these principles again and again. Painting mandalas is way to see yourself in a new perspective and to create a healing and self-understanding.
I thank Susanne F. Fincher, local Atlanta author and Art Therapist for her incredible book – Creating Mandalas for Insight, Healing and Self Expression, Shambhala, Boston & London 1991
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