"They're omnipresent, cryptic and alluring...but what really are mandalas?" asks Altheia Luna in her article entitled, Mandala Meaning: How The Sacred Circle Helps Us Reconnect with Ourselves.
Luna states that the mandala is one of the most ancient and universal symbols known. Meaning "circle" in Sanskrit, the mandala can be found everywhere from Paleolithic engravings to medieval alchemy and Tibet Buddhism.
In her article on sacred circles, Luna says, "There are many interpretations. In Tibet, for example, mandalas are created as meditation aids for the Buddhist monks who design them. In Islam, mandalas are created purely for devotional purposes, and in Celtic paganism, the mandala represents the three worlds of body, mind and spirit."
For many tribal nations, says J.C. High Eagle, "Life is a circle of birth, maturity, decay and death. All living things follow this circle in the same cycle or path. From birth, each of us begins our journey path. Life is the path we walk and we all walk the path of this circle. True wisdom comes when we stop looking for it and start living the life, walking the path the Creator intended for us.
"When we walk this path, we are growing in its cycle of four stages: birth, vitality of youth, maturity of experience, and the wisdom of age," High Eagle continues. "If we lie down, we lie on the path. When we get up, we walk the path once more in accordance with time which also runs in a circle or cycle. When we walk the path on Mother Earth, we always walk softly because we know the faces of future generations are looking up at us from the ground beneath us."
High Eagle concludes in his article, Teachings of the Great Circle, "it is the fundamental belief of traditional people that there is one and only one Creator who is found at the center of any Sacred Circle - the center of all things."
Luna concluded, "Most importantly your mandala needs to be soulful. Don't concern yourself too much with making it look 'correct' or perfectly symmetrical. We use our analytical left-sided brains too much in daily life! Let your mandala art be free flowing. This way you'll enjoy creating it and it won't be a source of perfectionism or stress for you."