Lesson Two: "Cosmic Explosion"

For anyone who's just joined me: my mother and I are working our way together through Clare Goodwin's mandala course. (Information may be had if you click on the title of this post.) We did not purchase the full course with feedback; we bought the lesson plans and are working on it by giving each other feedback.

I became seriously interested in mandalas two years ago, as a result of teaching a course in comparative religions at a community college. As I delved more deeply into the subject, I discovered The Mandala Project and other wonderful resource websites, from which I learned about more recent uses of mandalas as personal and community spiritual projects.

I added a mandala-poster project to my religions course this past fall, and it was a resounding success! I am very excited about it, and will be continuing it this semester as well.

I found Clare's website a year ago, but had neither the time nor the money to pursue the course. Thanks to a gift from my parents, I began it in earnest this month. It has been so fulfilling to do it with Z&N (and this evening with my niece S), that I am considering teaching a course this summer in the college's non-credit program for parents and children.

Each lesson consists of at least six mandalas. I have just begun the second of seven lessons, in which I am to explore mandalas consisting of concentric circles. This evening, Z had another art project to work on, so N, S and I sat down to work on mandalas. This was a completely new word and art form for S, but she was game! And just see what she created!
I was really impressed. I love the central flower, which is both delicate and well-formed. S is 12 and in a target school for the arts - you can see that in addition to dance, harp and piano she has other artistic talents. She was quite self-depricating about it, but her mandala shows more imagination and less self-consciousness than my first mandala.

N played around with the compass for a while - she really enjoys it! and then settled in to color a mandala we had downloaded from the internet. After laboriously coloring it in (a task she does not enjoy - she has never enjoyed coloring, but she said she thought if she colored some of the shapes it would help her learn to draw them better), she drew a ballerina on top of it, with a tank of air since she was underwater. She loves to draw freehand.
I am beginning to think that N, like a member of the Dine (Navajo), finds the circle shape too confining. Perhaps I should next time give her a square and show her some of the many fine examples of square mandalas.

My assignment was as follows: "Create a mandala honoring a metaphorical doorway you wish to pass through." I was to use one of three templates of concentric circles.

I left a small space in the center and then drew a series of several circles around it. In the center, I experimented with a shape N had made a few days earlier, quite by accident - she'd been trying to make a star and it had quickly become lopsided. To me it had looked like an explosion of lightning, and I'd loved it. I had tried to convince her to keep it & build on it, but she had viewed it as a failure & thrown it away.

I salvaged it, and this evening I copied it for the center of my mandala. The whole thing is worked in silver pencil, silver gel pen and white pencil, on black paper. The elements of the design came to me, one by one. The doorway is at the bindu (center): it's the doorway I must pass through in order to learn spiritually what I need to create and teach others to create mandalas for healing and insight. All around the doorway you can see what is on the other side of the doorway. I call it "Cosmic Explosion," because it is what I felt while I was making it and when I was finished.
It's late, and I've got to go to sleep. I have a sense of promise and of good things to come.


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