A second problem is that I don’t think in a linear fashion: I’m more hypertextual but despite the technology of the Internet, I’ve yet to find a suitable way of visualizing the set-up of my life. I need to be able to look at everything all at once but thumbnails and hyperlinks just don’t cut it. iGoogle is somewhat helping where it offers visual packets of information but the technology just isn’t there yet. It’s too generalized. For example, iGoogle has access to YouTube but why can’t I access my YouTube account or log into my Facebook on iGoogle or my Yahoo! E-mail so I can have everything open together?
The mandala then becomes the perfect way of visually representing a magician’s life. By gathering together representations of one’s personal life together into one work of art, the magician has an object upon which to reflect and meditate.
At its simplest, a mandala is a magic circle. More complexly, a mandala is a map of the magician’s personal universe condensed into visual form. Unlike sigils which represent quick magickal intents, a mandala is like a map of the whole damn universe. It’s not something you can draw in your head while clicking the mouse or whacking off but rather a long drawn out endeavor of self-inspection and training.
Originally, Mandalas were rooms or locations consecrated to religious teaching. Monks would use sand or other media to create elaborate circles in the landscape, sectioning off the circles into units that represented aspects of the religion they were studying.
Every time you clean your room, you are creating an amateur mandala, figuring out what you need to keep handy, how to arrange and develop your personal space.
Smaller examples of mandalas include Aztec calendars, Celtic knots, and dream catchers. Scientifically, fractals are the new mandalas.
Starting exercises with mandalas should include some cheap artistic medium. High school Special Education classes typically use string or colored sand. Sand is the best original medium as many religions use sand to construct their mandalas. Colored sand can be used to represent different magickal or psychic elements, simply drawing the sand into circles that express the balance of your life.
In creating a mandala, the magician needs to gather and organize her life. This may take a long time.
Some guidelines to create a mandala are found in pre-existing mandalas.
The yin-yang is the simplest instructional mandala. This symbol represents a division of life into two basic concepts:
Yin: Soft, slow, water, cold, tranquil, gentle, night
Yang: Hard, fast, fire, hot, restless, brutal, day
To me, this is the basic set-up to dichotomy. Even though I don’t believe in duality, it is the easiest starting point in organizing one’s life.
I would consider dividing everything at first into two’s. Consider: masculine and feminine, night and day, right brain (artistic) and left brain (logical), etc.
A problem with magickal research is that is all-too-often uses too much right brain. I’ve found in my own research that too much art in magick upsets the balance of my life. Even a good Banishing doesn’t help. I’ve learned to work in pairs, logical exercises and artistic exercises, yin and yang. The mandala requires balance when being constructed, even if that balance doesn’t exist within the magician. Constructing the mandala forces the magician to find ways to balance his or her life.
A mandala starts with a square. Didn’t you say a mandala was a circle? Just hold your horses.
You add to that square a circle that fills the entirety of the square.
What you will have will be a circle in a square (duh) but also four corners created by the negative space. These corners are called gates. Typically gates had threshold guardians, symbols designed as warning signs towards entry into the squares of the mandala.
As recommended, a mandala should be cut in half to represent the yin/yang. But typically mandalas were cut into quarters in an X not a +. Although life is yin/yang, typically yin and yang are further sub-divided. For example, astrology and tarot both have yin (feminine) and yang (masculine) suits but each suit is divided into earth/pentacles and water/cups (yin feminine) and fire/wands and air/swords (yang masculine).
At the center of the initial mandala can be one of two things. In religious construction, a mandala has a chief god at the center (kind of like the Minotaur of the labyrinth) but for me, I think the center should be left blank, simply a small white or black circle symbolizing conception. Perhaps a yin/yang black and white might also work.
This central circle then forms the center for further larger concentric circles issuing out from the center. No specified amount is required; rather the magician decides.
The organization of these circles is then up to the magician creating the mandala.
In traditional religious teachings, mandala circles would include symbols of wrathful deities, peaceful deities, and in Tantra, sexual imagery.
Colors also played an important part in traditional mandalas. The five colors used were:
- White - Vairocana: The delusion of ignorance becomes the wisdom of reality.
- Yellow - Ratnasambhava: The delusion of pride becomes the wisdom of sameness.
- Red - Amitabha: The delusion of attachment becomes the wisdom of discernment.
- Green - Amoghasiddhi: The delusion of jealousy becomes the wisdom of accomplishment.
- Blue - Akshobhya: The delusion of anger becomes the mirror like wisdom.
However, a magician could simplify and use the four basic elemental colors red, brown, white, and blue and/or use color magic:
- Octarine – magic
- Black – death
- Blue – wealth
- Red – war
- Yellow – social
- Green – love
– trickery Orange
- Purple – sex
I won’t go too far into specifics because infinite variations and complications can be made. Below is a more complicated and elegant mandala:
To continue, creating a mandala next requires gathering together a list of “your life” which vaguely means a list of all items, concepts, activities, interests, hobbies, “things” that are important to you. For me, my list might include comic books, science fiction, fantasy, collecting, finances, sex, adventure, dating…Making this list is difficult. How precise does the list need to be?
These “things” then need to be prioritized. Those things that are most important go closest to the center while the least important go towards the outer rings.
In the same way that people uses pictures on their MySpace profiles to represent their interests and activities, consider how you might construct visual representations of your hobbies and interests. These visuals decorate the rings and sections of the mandala.
Below are some more elaborate mandalas:As you brainstorm your list of life things, you must meditate on what these things mean to you. What exactly do comic books mean to me? What is their value? In many cases, adding an item to the mandala requires an intense study of that item, so the comic book section of my mandala might require a history of comics tutorial or comic writing skills, etc.
As part of constructing your mandala, technical/artistic skills are likewise necessary to best represent a particular section. The comic book section might be drawn in comic book panels. If you do not possess the skills to do so, then you must learn! Different mediums must be used and learned to construct each section.
To make matters even more complicated, mandalas are meant to be instruction manuals. In the same way that a simple yin-yang teaches us about the balance of opposites in life, every mandala must visually instruct those strangers who view it. Can they see the balance of masculine and feminine, logical and artistic, practical, emotional, active, intellectual, can they see the organizational pattern and color co-ordination that arranges your universe into sense?
While sigils need to be created stylishly simple, mandalas are highly complex, but the magician still needs to memorize every square inch of the mandala’s construction. This represents intimate knowledge of the magician’s self.
Typically, religious mandalas took three years to create. Whelp, time to get started!